The spider as an artist…


The Spider as an Artist
Has never been employed —
Though his surpassing Merit
Is freely certified

By every Broom and Bridget
Throughout a Christian Land —
Neglected Son of Genius
I take thee by the Hand —

Emily Dickinson

Recently I came across this Emily Dickinson one. I have rather been inactive on my blog site for quite sometime and this gem from Emily led me to two other poems of hers on the less celebrated artist called Spider. Emily’s spider has nothing in comparison with the cunning, scheming and wily spider who asks the fly “Will you walk into my parlour? ( Mary Howitt). The Spider in Emily’s poems is a gifted artist. Incredibly creative, self employed, tirelessly weaving unconcerned about any recognition! She calls the spider “neglected son of genius”, whose art work is soon to be swept away by diligent housewives’ brooms. We can consider this as a poem of exaltation.

In another poem of hers, the Spider spins his yarn of pearl from nought to nought with amazing dexterity! As sincere as Penelope, he weaves his gossamer. The man made curtains are replaced by his delicate work of art. He has some divine aura here. Alas! how transient his hard work is… it has to meet its end at the tip of a broom!

The Spider holds a Silver Ball
In unperceived Hands —
And dancing softly to Himself
His Yarn of Pearl — unwinds —

He plies from Nought to Nought —
In unsubstantial Trade —
Supplants our Tapestries with His —
In half the period —

An Hour to rear supreme
His Continents of Light —
Then dangle from the Housewife’s Broom —
His Boundaries — forgot —

But in “A spider sewed at night..” the determined spider works the entire night not concerned about the end product. The spider believes in a philosophy similar to the Bhagavad Gita quote “Let the focus be not on the fruits of action, but on the action itself”. Whether it is going to be ruff for a pretty damsel or a shroud of a gnome his deft hands would focus on the perfection and would strategically decide later what the outcome is to be. His duty is to spin and weave; he has great confidence in himself and the immortality of his work.


A Spider sewed at Night
Without a Light
Upon an Arc of White.

If Ruff it was of Dame
Or Shroud of Gnome
Himself himself inform.

Of Immortality
His Strategy
Was Physiognomy.

Emily made the ‘neglected son of genius’ a hero in her poems, a divine artist par excellence!

2 thoughts on “The spider as an artist…

  1. These are wonderful poems about fantastically talented — and determined — creatures. You wouldn’t believe how many spiders live on boats, and I deal with them daily in the course of my work. Every day, I have to sweep down certain of their webs, since I don’t want the webs or their creators in my varnish. (And it’s not so good for the spider to land there, either!) But the next day, the webs are back, rewoven and in the same place. I always feel bad that I have to do away with some of them, but at least I’m not a predator ready to eat the artists!

    Liked by 1 person

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