If you wish to live and thrive,
Let the spider run alive.
The spider’s touch, how exquisitely fine!
Feels at each thread, and lives along the line…
~Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man, in Four Epistles, to H. St. John, Lord Bolingbroke, Epistle I, 1733
Two-legged creatures we are supposed to love as well as we love ourselves. The four-legged, also, can come to seem pretty important. But six legs are too many from the human standpoint. ~Joseph Wood Krutch, “August,” The Twelve Seasons: A Perpetual Calendar for the Country, 1949
There is a granddaddy longlegs stalking about on the floor, with his stilt-like dignity. However can he contrive to walk on such basting-threads? I never saw a living thing with such invisible means of support, — and there’s really nothing to him but a couple of eyes, when you look closely at him. ~Dorothy Scarborough, “Entomology on a Country Porch,” From a Southern Porch, 1919
The surveyors brought back more tarantulas with them, and so we had quite a menagerie arranged along the shelves of the room. Some of these spiders could straddle over a common saucer with their hairy, muscular legs, and when their feelings were hurt, or their dignity offended, they were the wickedest-looking desperadoes the animal world can furnish. If their glass prison-houses were touched ever so lightly they were up and spoiling for a fight in a minute. Starchy?— proud? Indeed, they would take up a straw and pick their teeth like a member of Congress. ~Mark Twain, Roughing It, 1872
The Spider is a lovely lady.
She knows just what to do.
She weaves a dainty web
to catch the morning dew…
The spiders with their pot-bellied bodies and beady eyes, are not beauteous objects, but a spider-web in the sunshine with dew upon it, is one of the loveliest things in the world. ~Dorothy Scarborough, “Entomology on a Country Porch,” From a Southern Porch, 1919
How’d you get
Those legs to grow
So very long
And lean in size?
Did you drink milk?
Or chew on cheese?
And by the way,
Where are your knees?…
~Douglas Florian, “The Daddy Longlegs,” Insectlopedia, 1998
Worse than seeing a spider is suddenly no longer seeing that spider. ~Saying
Spiders have the brains of first-class mathematicians. ~Charles-Noël Martin (1923–2005) [a little altered
Of the SPIDERS and SCORPIONS, five thousand kinds:
These are scattered abroad, on the sea and the shore,
Quite unpleasant to think of, but still it reminds
To be glad there are not many thousand kinds more.
These are eight-legged beauties, with schemes of their own,
And the safest precaution is: Leave them alone!
~William Pallister, Poems of Science, 1931
But for the robin and the wren,
A spider would o’ercome a man.
~Isle of Wight Words, compiled by Henry Smith, c. 1870
Throughout the night he spun a thread…
Each radius exactly drawn
With trellised filaments between,
And over all bright diamonds shone;
In meshed and tenuous design
It was a fragile, wayside sonnet—
The maker, heedless of acclaim,
Had left no signature upon it.
~Bertha Wilcox Smith, c. 1957
“Will you walk into my parlour?” said a Spider to a Fly;
“’Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy…”
~Mary Howitt, “The Spider and the Fly,” 1821
Original post date: 2003 Sept 28
1st major revision: 2019 Oct 29