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Key Idea and Purpose of Walt Whitman’s Poem ‘A Noiseless Patient Spider’

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In Walt Whitman’s poem, ‘A Noiseless Patient Spider’, Whitman explores the idea of a reserved individual taking on the unknown of his/her new step in life. The poem is voiced subjectively by an individual who has already reached the desired stance in his/her life. This speaker is attempting to reach many other individuals who have achieved their desired position life and now have no idea where to go from there. The poem’s purpose is to try to radiate inspiration and exemplify a model to follow for a stable lifestyle.

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In the poem, the first thing we learn about is a “noiseless patient spider”, who stood on a “promontory” and is “isolated”. From this given information, we can symbolize an individual, who has already achieved a life goal and who currently does not know which direction to go, as the spider. This individual does not complain where they stand, hence the “noiseless” and is very tolerant of the events that are going on around him/her, hence the “patient” information. By definition, when someone is on a promontory, the individual is literally on a high standing point and is physically above a lower level ground. From this, we can assume figuratively that an individual has reached his/her peak and is looking down on the unknowns of the world that is yet to be confronted and/or looking down on the missed opportunities they had to sacrifice for the sake of their goal.

The targeted audience is encouraged to “ceaselessly muse, (and) venture”. In other words, they are encouraged to continue to explore the unknown and explore what they might have missed out on despite having the fear of standing outside their comfort zone. Their comfort zone is resisting them from fully showing the world what they are capable of outside the realm of their strengths. They are also inspired to build a “bridge” between what they are comfortable with and what they are not comfortable with, between the unknown and the known. They ought to build a connection with the unknown so strong that it becomes a piece of their “soul”. When such establishments have been achieved, an individual may obtain the ability to live a stable and well-rounded lifestyle. It is a well-rounded lifestyle because the individual can then shift between taking things seriously with their achieved goal, and taking a break by having fun and discovering the new things the world can offer.

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Key Idea and Purpose of Walt Whitman’s Poem ‘A Noiseless Patient Spider’. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from
“Key Idea and Purpose of Walt Whitman’s Poem ‘A Noiseless Patient Spider’.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022,
Key Idea and Purpose of Walt Whitman’s Poem ‘A Noiseless Patient Spider’. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 8 Feb. 2023].
Key Idea and Purpose of Walt Whitman’s Poem ‘A Noiseless Patient Spider’ [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 25 [cited 2023 Feb 8]. Available from:
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