William Blake Month: the Spider’s anxious little heart

Gina Gershon photographed by Ellen Von Unwerth.

The Spider sits in his laboured Web,
eager watching for the Fly
Presently comes a famished Bird
& takes away the Spider
His Web is left all desolate,
that his little anxious heart
So careful wove;
& spread it out with sighs and weariness.

(William Blake, “Enion’s Lament.”)

I love this poem because it’s an unusual perspective: you begin by feeling repulsion for the spider, waiting in his web for a fly, and you end by pitying him. The idea of a spider having an anxious heart and sighing and being weary is surprising and touching. Sympathy for the devil.

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