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Spiders & Spider Webs
If you wish to live and thrive,
Let the spider run alive.
I stopped to admire a spider's web... Threads of gossamer had that mite woven in a symmetrical net of perfect lines that was now embellished by droplets of dew, each globule a minute mirror that returned images of the sky and the grasses and the trees, tiny cameos enameled in color against a background of burnished silver. In the heart of the masterpiece was the builder, a small, crouched being all furry and gray and black, whose shining legs gripped the silks they had so carefully arranged. ~R. D. Lawrence (1921–2003), The North Runner, 1979
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
...In the evening
The silver business of the spider fills
The fields: for in that heavy interim,
When lightning blooms upon a livid stem,
The spider, drawing beauty from his bowels,
Dresses the earth in nets of pearl and cloth
Of silver… Strange, how many yards of silk
The spider wastes to catch one fly. And yet
How worth the cost...
~Joseph Auslander, "Letter to Sappho," 1920s
Heavy dew this morning and every spider web in the garden is strong with pearls of moisture.... webs wherever I look, all shining things of silver beauty. The difference between utility and utility plus beauty is the difference between telephone wires and the spider's web. ~Edwin Way Teale, Circle of the Seasons, 1953
"Oh, look at that great ugly spider!" said Ann;
And screaming, she brushed it away with her fan;
"'Tis a frightful black creature as ever can be,
I wish that it would not come crawling on me."
"Indeed," said her mother, "I'll venture to say,
The poor thing will try to keep out of your way;
For after the fright, and the fall, and the pain,
It has much more occasion than you to complain.
"But why should you dread the poor insect, my dear?
If it hurt you, there'd be some excuse for your fear;
But its little black legs, as it hurried away,
Did but tickle your arm as they went, I dare say.
"For them to fear us we must grant to be just,
Who in less than a moment can tread them to dust;
But certainly we have no cause for alarm;
For, were they to try, they could do us no harm.
"Now look! it has got to its home; do you see
What a delicate web it has spun in the tree?
Why here, my dear Ann, is a lesson for you:
Come learn from this spider what patience can do!
"And when at your business you're tempted to play,
Recollect what you see in this insect to-day,
Or else, to your shame, it may seem to be true,
That a poor little spider is wiser than you."
~Jane Taylor (1783–1824), "The Spider"
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 spider's humble handiwork shows fine
With jewels girdling every airy line...
~Louise Imogen Guiney (1861–1920), "Cobwebs"
How dare we call them horrid pests
Or uncouth names in clumsy Latin!
They weave such lovely, downy nests
Of vari-colored silk and satin.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Rhymed Reviews: The Life of the Spider by J. H. Fabre," in Life, 1913
Spider telegraph wires
Flash from oak to sage!
~Winifred Waldron, "Arpeggio," c.1921
Spinning, leaping, darting, shaking,
Somewhere in the sun outside
Venomed spiders now are making
Whirls of madness circle-wide.
~Audrey Wurdemann, "Tarantella," The House of Silk, 1927
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
T'is here the Prince of Spiders
Weaves his silken lair,
And basking in the sunlight
Plumes his prismy hair,
Awhile drip drops of moisture
From the glossy palms and fronds,
O'er cruelly captive weaver birds,
Soft bound with silken bonds...
~D.C.L.D., "The Tarantula," Castalian Splashes, 1916
Spiders are busy spinning webs in the grass, in the bushes, wherever there is prey to be caught... made of silken strands only a few millionths of an inch thick but stronger than steel. Structures that are pure beauty when jeweled with morning dewdrops. ~Hal Borland, Seasons, 1973
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 –tg]
The fairest Home I ever knew
Was founded in an Hour
By Parties also that I knew
A Spider and a Flower...
~Emily Dickinson, c. 1877
The wary golden spiders hang
in webs like spun and splintered glass:
where late the rainy robin sang
they swing above the dewy grass...
~Frances Frost, Woman of this Earth, 1934
The spider weaves a windy woof,
And cells of clay the mud-wasp packs.
~Madison J. Cawein (1865–1914), "The Haunted House"
sprightly little yellow butterflies
flitter their aërial dance in pairs
through tireless mud dauber paths
and webs sway vacant in the breeze
of poor spiders caught unawares
Only the spider paid no mind when the unicorn called softly to her through the open door. Arachne was busy with a web which looked to her as though the Milky Way had begun to fall like snow. The unicorn whispered, "Weaver, freedom is better, freedom is better," but the spider fled unhearing up and down her iron loom. ~Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn, 1968
Web after web, a morning snare of bliss
Starring with beauty the whole neighbourhood...
~Louise Imogen Guiney (1861–1920), "Cobwebs"
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
Each pendant spider winds with fingers fine
His ravel'd clue, and climbs along the line...
~Erasmus Darwin, "The Botanic Garden: The Loves of the Plants," 1799
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
Like most "creepy-crawly" creatures, spiders have been given a bad press for many centuries, yet they are extremely useful, environmentally friendly animals, the majority of which prey actively on insect pests. ~R. D. Lawrence, "The Silk Weavers," A Shriek in the Forest Night: Wilderness Encounters, 1996
"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
published 2003 Sep 28
revised 2019 Oct 29
last saved 2023 Dec 25