""Will You Walk Into My Parlor?" Said The Spider To The Fly"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Mary Howitt and her husband, William, were both devoted to literary activity; and both were prolific writers. She published over 100 works, and he produced about fifty. A number of other volumes were produced jointly. The husband began his career as a poet, but his abilities in this respect were inferior to those of his wife; his best work is found in descriptive books which deal with English history and life, in connection with the land's natural scenery. In 1840 the couple visited Germany and remained there for three years; during that time they wrote two books on their life in that country, which were translated into German. The books proved quite popular. During this period Mary Howitt translated the tales of Fredrika Bremer from Swedish into English, and also undertook the translation of several stories by Hans Christian Andersen. Andersen was enthusiastic over her work and encouraged her to translate all his writings, but she declined. In addition to her translations, Mary Howitt produced a number of other works for children, including poetry. The Howitts are virtually forgotten today in spite of the large amount of material they produced; it should be noted that while their books are not of the sort which become classics, they were nonetheless well written, carefully produced, and consisted of good popular fare. Mary Howitt's best work is in the poems she wrote for children, and among these is the universallyknown and still delightful "The Spider and the Fly." This is a moral fable told with great good humor, depicting a common human weakness. The spider extends a cordial invitation to his potential victim, following it with all manner of inducements. The fly, well aware of the danger, fends him off until he appeals to her vanity. Preening herself, the fly enters his trap.

"Will you walk into my parlor?" said the Spider to the Fly.
"'Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many curious things to show when you are there."
"Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "to ask me is in vain;
For who goes up your winding stair can ne'er come down again."
. . .
"Sweet creature," said the Spider, "you're witty and you're wise;
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I have a little looking-glass upon my parlor shelf;
If you'll step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself."
"I thank you, gentle sir," she said, "for what you're pleased to say,
And bidding you good morning now, I'll call another day."
. . .
Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Fly,
Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by:
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew,–
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue;
Thinking only of her crested head–poor foolish thing! At last,
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den
Within his little parlor–but she ne'er came out again!