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.