A Critical Response Essay on Walt Whitman’s A Noiseless Patient Spider

Walt Whitman’s poem is obviously comparing the web spun by the spider and the soul of one’s self. The use of words pertaining to space is in abundance in the whole poem and this is both the case when the persona was describing the noiseless and patient spider (“explore the vacant, vast surrounding”, line 3) and when describing his own soul (“Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space”, line 7).

The most fascinating aspect of the poem is that Whitman uses a free-verse style and yet a rhythm is formed with the tempo and a beat of how a spider would have been doing and feeling while spinning the silver web and trying to latch it to open spaces around it or how the soul of the persona itself is trying to seek “spheres” and “to connect them” (line 8) to the open space present around the soul.

When a reader imagines the imagery presented in the poem, it is not the spider or the soul which is visualized. Instead, the reader sees the imagery of a spider being noiseless and patient with spaces around it and the soul being noiseless and patient as well. Thus, the spider and the soul are both the same with their need to cling to something outside the space and to venture forth outside that space.

Moreover, there is a sense of purpose and existence of both the soul and the spider since they both have to latch on to something. The spider has to in fact, launch “filament, filament, filament, out of itself” (line 4) and the soul has to fling its “gossamer thread” (line 10) until it “catch somewhere” (line 10).

Therefore, the spider and the soul is one and the same. The link or the parallelism of both the spider and the soul is their place in space. Other than that, the spider and the soul would be enormously different from each other.