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Short poem

Edward Taylor (ca. 1642-1729)

Upon a Spider Catching a Fly

              1Thou sorrow, venom Elfe:
              2    Is this thy play,
              3To spin a web out of thyselfe
              4    To Catch a Fly?
              5        For Why?

              6I saw a pettish wasp
              7    Fall foule therein:
              8Whom yet thy Whorle pins did not clasp
              9    Lest he should fling
            10        His sting.

            11But as affraid, remote
            12    Didst stand hereat,
            13And with thy little fingers stroke
            14    And gently tap
            15        His back.

            16Thus gently him didst treate
            17    Lest he should pet,
            18And in a froppish, aspish heate
            19    Should greatly fret
            20        Thy net.

            21Whereas the silly Fly,
            22    Caught by its leg
            23Thou by the throate tookst hastily
            24    And 'hinde the head
            25        Bite Dead.

            26This goes to pot, that not
            27    Nature doth call.
            28Strive not above what strength hath got,
            29    Lest in the brawle
            30        Thou fall.

            31This Frey seems thus to us.
            32    Hells Spider gets
            33His intrails spun to whip Cords thus
            34    And wove to nets
            35        And sets.

            36To tangle Adams race
            37    In's stratigems
            38To their Destructions, spoil'd, made base
            39    By venom things,
            40        Damn'd Sins.

            41But mighty, Gracious Lord
            42    Communicate
            43Thy Grace to breake the Cord, afford
            44    Us Glorys Gate
            45        And State.

            46We'l Nightingaile sing like
            47    When pearcht on high
            48In Glories Cage, thy glory, bright,
            49    And thankfully,
            50        For joy.


8] Whorle: a flywheel (i.e., its legs).

17] pet: take offence.

Online text copyright © 2004, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text:
Publication date note: Text: The Poems of Edward Taylor, ed. Donald E. Stanford with a forward by Louis L. Martz (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1960): 464-65. First published: The poetical works of Edward Taylor, ed. Thomas Johnson (New York: Rockland editions, 1939): 114-115.
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition:
Recent editing: 1:2004/7/7

Other poems by Edward Taylor