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Analysis


Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Welcome to the land of symbols, imagery, and wordplay. Before you travel any further, please know that there may be some thorny academic terminology ahead. Never fear, Shmoop is here. Check out our...

Form and Meter

As is almost always the case with Whitman, this poem is written in free verse. That means that it doesn’t rhyme, and there’s no set rhythm or meter. This form of poetry was pretty contr...

Speaker

All right, Whitman is a genius and all, but, let’s take a step back. Imagine that some guy comes up to you on a bus, and tells you that he was looking at this spider and watching it try to sp...

Setting

We don’t get a lot of help with the actual setting of this poem. In fact, the only place we hear much about is "a little promontory." Thanks a bunch, Walt – that makes everything clear....

Sound Check

Repetition is a huge part of this poem’s style. Words, phrases, and sounds all come rolling in again and again. To us, it sounds a little like waves rolling in on a beach. They are repetitive...

What's Up With the Title?

Well, it matters a lot that it’s exactly the same as the poem’s first line. A title always gives a poet an important chance to draw our attention to a particular part of the poem. Here,...

Calling Card

Whitman’s poems almost always burst with excitement and curiosity about the world. That’s not to say that they are happy, but you can usually recognize his infectious energy. This energ...

Tough-O-Meter

There are a few tricky words here, but once you’ve figured out the main image in the poem, it should be smooth sailing. Whitman likes to make his poems clear and accessible. Sometimes, though...

Brain Snacks

Sex Rating

We’re pretty low on sex here. If you find spiders sexy, that’s fine with us, but we don’t think that’ll change the rating much.
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