Walt Whitman – Happy Birthday

Walt Whitman is one of my favorite New Yorkers. Today is his birthday.

Although best known for “Leaves of Grass,” Whitman also immortalized the spider in his poem – “A Noiseless Patient Spider.”

A Noiseless Patient Spider

A noiseless, patient spider,
I mark’d, where, on a little promontory, it stood, isolated;
Mark’d how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself;
Ever unreeling them—ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you, O my Soul, where you stand,
Surrounded, surrounded, 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.

Traditionally, spiders and spider webs were included in Victorian quilts as a symbol of good luck; modern quilters like Allie Aller incorporate them into patchwork quilts sewn together in an irregular pattern – “crazy quilts.” Aller demonstrated her technique as guest artist at the Asilomar Conference Center this week.

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