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A noiseless, patient spider,

I mark’d where, on a little promontory, it stood, isolated;

Mark’d how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,

It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself;

Ever unreeling them–ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you, O my Soul, where you stand,

Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,

Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,–seeking the spheres, to connect them;

Till the bridge you will need, be form’d–till the ductile anchor hold;

Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul.

I’ve always been fond of this poem, its image of the spider flinging pieces of itself into the unknown as an analogue to the poet’s s effort. It’s a good encapsulation of the creative act, even though I do have to say that Whitman gets a little too obvious about it in the second stanza. But that’s Whitman for you — I love the guy’s work, but indirection is not his strong point.

My tendency in my prose is toward excessive indirection — so perhaps I should take a lesson from Whitman occasionally and lay my meanings out there for everyone to see.

Mmm, nah.

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