A Noiseless Patient Spider







Written for DKMU in November 2010

(written as an audio glitterbomb for a room full of catholics)


A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
It launched forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

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

There is an organization that incorpates spiders into their servitor, Ellis. They are iconoclasts; their manifesto states their intent as “attempting to deconstruct reality.” Their books and videos portray this; exemplifying avenues such as books, treasure hunts, graffiti tagging, protest and more. But at the heart, buried beneath this cloak of guerilla warfare against tradition and society is the truth; they are searching for knowledge– perhaps the truths that society represses and buries.

Walt Whitman did this as well. He sought out universal truths in the world around him and wrote about taboo things like homosexuality. He was searching…

“A noiseless patient spider” is a poem about the search; whether this search is personal, a group jointure, or humanity itself. As I read this poem I felt the echoes of my own search, and was often reminded of Ellis. She is often portrayed as a spider in a web of knowledge, and the first line brings me to that image: the spider, noiseless and patient, waiting. The “vacant vast surrounding” called to me of this endless search to know. For there is always more to be learned. The “filaments”, “unreeling” and “tirelessly speeding” in the last two lines of the first stanza once more remind me of the red queen, her spiders networking across the globe. At the same time it reminds me of a scholar and her query and the search for the answer.

When, in the first line of the second stanza, he says “you O my soul”, it brings this search for knowledge to a new level, including the search for the universal truth of belonging. Why are we here? This truth, that religion so desperately tries to answer. “Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,” this line portrays the individual, and their search among the countless religions and spiritualities. The next line “Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking” is this individual’s search among them for the one that fits them and their beliefs; the perfect mythos. The final line signifies this connection; the bridge from simple humanity to the knowledge of something greater– the transcending of a soul. This can be anything; the immortality of publishing for an author, or the hope of faith for a born-again believer. Or perhaps, the touch of something like Ellis.


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