The Spider and Soul in Walt Whitman's A Noiseless Patient Spider
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The Spider and Soul in Walt Whitman's A Noiseless Patient Spider
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In “A Noiseless Patient Spider”, Walt Whitman compares the images of a spider creating a web to catch its prey to his own soul. In the first stanza, he describes the spider creating its web. In the second stanza, he begins to describe his own soul searching for something it needs. Throughout the poem, Whitman is relating the spider to the human soul by showing how both would pursue and capture what they need to continue to exist in this life.
In line one, “A noiseless, patient spider” shows a spider that seems to be waiting for what it is searching for. Perhaps it is waiting for a chance to strike at its prey if it were detected in…show more content…
The words “launched” and “speeding” could mean that the spider must act quickly in order to catch its prey. The verbs “venturing, throwing, seeking” (line 8) may show how the soul searches for what it needs to survive. To venture is to do something daring or perhaps something that may involve danger. “Throwing” shows the soul, much like the spider, casting its lines as a connection to whatever surrounds it in order to find what it is looking for. “Seeking shows that the soul is looking for what it needs. Perhaps what the souls is looking for is what it needs to make the person feel complete.
The poet also decides to describe the spiders’ and the soul’s surroundings. The spider is seen on “a little promontory” as “it stood isolated” (line 2). The spider also “Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding” (line 3). The poet is showing that the spider, though the natural world around him carries on without end, the spider does not notice it. The spider is isolated by the fact that he is so focused upon obtaining his prey, that he does not care what is going on around him. In other words, the spider is not detracted from his quest by his surroundings to continue his own life. The poet then writes that his soul is “Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space” (line 7). The poet, like the spider, is surrounded by the outside world. The outside world contains many different ideas and
With the arrival of spring, high school seniors around the country wait impatiently for admissions decisions from colleges. A year ago, I, too, waited nervously for the fateful day to arrive. When I applied to Barnard College, I did not realize the potential implications. Of the 10 schools I applied to, I rarely envisioned myself attending Barnard. For most Barnard-ians I know, Barnard was their top choice. This wasn't the case for me. In fact, it was quite the opposite: Barnard was hardly on my radar. Fall of senior year, I applied early decision to Columbia College. To my dismay, I was deferred. The waiting ensued, spring came around, and to my dismay once again, I was not offered admission. As most people know, rejection is difficult to deal with because it feels so personal. However, being rejected from CC didn't crush me partially because the day I was rejected from Columbia College was also the day I was accepted to Barnard. That day, I began questioning the nature of the college application process. Why was I accepted to Barnard and rejected from CC? It took some time for me to realize that many factors determined my collegiate fate, but one in particular came to mind—the application questions. I returned to the supplemental application questions that Barnard required me to answer. Three of them stick in my mind. One: "How were you first made aware of Barnard College? What intrigues you about Barnard's approach to the liberal arts and sciences?" Two: "Pick one woman in history or fiction to converse with for an hour and explain your choice. What would you talk about?" Three: "Alumna and writer Anna Quindlen says that she majored in unafraid' at Barnard. What does that mean to you?" These questions vary in scope, but more importantly, they require self-reflection. I remember these questions took me significantly more time to answer than most other supplemental questions—I labored over them for weeks. After I was accepted to Barnard, I realized that the self-analytical nature of these questions encouraged me to share more about myself than I had in most of my other applications, including my application to CC. CC's supplemental question broadly asked what appealed to me about Columbia and why. Penn's supplemental question simply asked me to envision myself as a Penn student. Johns Hopkins' supplemental question asked me to choose a major I would consider pursuing and explain my interest in the chosen discipline. Barnard's supplemental questions went deeper. The questions Barnard asked of me transcend the traditional: "Why do you want to be at X college? What makes you a strong candidate for X University?" As a result, they produced creative and thoughtful responses that actually reflect the applicant's personality—strengths, weaknesses, habits of mind. Barnard isn't the only institution that extracts unique responses from its applicants. The University of Chicago, to which I also applied, allowed students to choose from an array of eccentric supplemental essay prompts. I chose "Find X," for which I wrote an essay detailing the cultural battlefield in my household. Better questions create better responses, and by "better questions," I mean questions that integrate the mission of the college and allow applicants to respond in insightful ways. As a current Barnard student, I appreciate the questions Barnard's application asked. Barnard offers students the opportunity to explore many disciplines, and for someone like myself who has multiple passions—dance, biology, and a newfound love for anthropology—I couldn't have found a more suitable academic environment. I was accepted to Barnard because I was qualified, yes, but more importantly because I was compatible with the rigorous education Barnard College and Columbia University have to offer. Barnard's unique educational philosophy strives to empower young women by teaching them about the world through the lenses of multiple disciplines. To be successful at Barnard College and Columbia University, compatibility with this very mission is necessary, and many such students can be found through the multifaceted nature of Barnard's supplemental application questions and the responses they elicit. I have come to conclude that the stimulating nature of a liberal arts education makes the most sense for me, despite its many challenges. Barnard has welcomed me to a world of disciplines previously unfamiliar to my naïve mind. I have grown dramatically since my arrival on campus in ways that words cannot do justice—and to think it all came down to those three questions. Rose Schutzberg is a Barnard College first-year.