Spider Spinning Silently

I confess my ignorance. I wrote this before my attention was drawn to Walt Whitman’s poem A Noiseless, Patient Spider which is not only more concise (surprisingly, for WW) but also far more sublime. I also apologise for my ignorance – it is a poem I should have known and am pleased to have discovered: better late than never.

I offer my humble Spider nonetheless in defence of these truly amazing creatures, so maligned and sadly so often unnecessarily stamped on … 

The spider spins her thread
And abseils down the pane
Swings to the mullion
Spinning a span
Strong as a girder for her purposes
Scrambles still spinning
Back to the top corner of the window
And strings another thread from mullion to transom.
So gauging angles, stresses, strains,
Performing non-stop
Static and dynamic calculations
She single-mindedly spins the woof and weft
To weave her platonically perfect web
So that she can then retire
Back into the corner of the window pane
To wait for form to fulfil its function
And pay her salary in kind.

I who have watched
This engineering feat
Of Ariadne’s art
Admiring the achievement,
Of consummate creation
Cannot now bear to open the window –
So it stays closed
All day
To preserve the masterpiece

But that was yesterday.
Today she has abandoned
What she built.
The gossamer fabric hangs
Forgotten, tattered, torn
Where a moth gatecrashed
Frayed around the edges
Its design undone
And the spider has reset
Her program to point 0
Is once again abseiling, swinging,
Computing, dimensioning,
On the next window.

We too spin and weave our webs
And then move on
Leaving a tattered fragment
Of ourselves behind.


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