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"A Noiseless Patient Spider"

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by

Emily Bryson

on 30 September 2013

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Transcript of "A Noiseless Patient Spider"

"A Noiseless Patient Spider"
Title
What we know about Uncle Walt
And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, 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.
What is the Attitude?
What is this spider really surrounded by?
Repetition
"filament, filament, filament,"
- as if the thread (webbing) keeps extending and never ends

“Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them."
- never ending, will never give up

What the answers say...
The Biography Questions
1) When was he born?
2) What were his major works mentioned in the movie?
3) How does Leaves of Grass break with prior poetic conformity?
4) Why were his accounts of the Civil War so important?
5) What kind of schooling did he have?
6) How did Whitman begin his writing career?
7) Why was Whitman called the “Bard of Democracy?”
8) What was one social issue that Whitman was adamantly against?

Epiphany
Second stanza makes a jump from talking about a spider comparing it to a soul.

"O my soul where you stand,"
- Whitman now relating the spider to his own soul

"Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul."
- Just like the spider, we ceaselessly seek to connect to something

Catalogs
Uses repetition of words to bring attention to the list

"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."

Enjambment
Breaking the unit or clause between lines
Contributes to the free verse Whitman is so well known for

"And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded..."

"...to connect them,
Till the gossamer thread..."
Title is repeated so we know it's important. But how can we find the meaning behind it?

Denotative: literal, dictionary
definition.

Connotation: the implied
meaning associated with
words or ideas
A
Noiseless
Patient
Spider
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.
VOCAB
promontory:
A high area of land jutting out and over a body of water
Lonely or sad
- "isolated"
- "vacant vast"
Nothingness
VOCAB
filament:
a thread-like substance which can carry some sort of current
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, detached, 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.

In search of what?
something to grab onto
(in order to build that web)

By Walt Whitman
1819-1892
Born during Transcendental period
Lived through city booms and most notably, the Civil War
Nontraditional Education
Was pulled from school early on
Became a teacher for 5 years until he moved to journalism
- where he got his real start in writing
Breaking with social traditions
Personal convictions:
- women's property rights
- immigration
- slavery
His poems :
- free verse
- lists or catalogs
Works Mentioned
Democratic Vistas
Passage to India
Leaves of Grass
Drum Taps
Importance of Civil War writings
Whitman is one of few writers to write about this period who actually experienced it
The "Bard of Democracy"
Bard: professional poet
SO Whitman was the offical poet of American Democracy
Believed in the universal brotherhood we could create through democracy
What could that something be?

What makes us similar to that spider?

What do we as humans turn to in times of loneliness?
VOCAB
gossamer: spider's webbing
VOCAB
ductile: metal capable of being pulled and molded into different shapes
#1
#2
#3
#4
#5
#6
#7
#8
By Ms. Fraser
Remind you of any other ideas from Emerson or Thoreau?
- Can even be surrounded by people and feel completely alone
- seek real connections
Working to remind the reader that human souls will keep throwing out their threads until 1) that sturdy holding place exists 2) the thread is strong enough to hold and 3) the webs finally make that connection
from small and concrete to large and abstract
So...

Denotative meaning: spiders are noiseless and are known for waiting for prey to fall into their webs

Connotative meaning: making no noise, a quiet, calm, and reserved spider waiting for something, but we don't know what, yet.
Full transcript