Upon a Spider Catching a Fly

By Edward Taylor 1642–1729 Edward Taylor
Thou sorrow, venom Elfe:
      Is this thy play,
To spin a web out of thyselfe
      To Catch a Fly?
            For Why?

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

But as affraid, remote
      Didst stand hereat,
And with thy little fingers stroke
      And gently tap
            His back.

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

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

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

This Frey seems thus to us.
      Hells Spider gets
His intrails spun to whip Cords thus
      And wove to nets
            And sets.

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

But mighty, Gracious Lord
Thy Grace to breake the Cord, afford
      Us Glorys Gate
            And State.

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

Source: The Poems of Edward Taylor, edited by Donald E. Stanford (Yale University Press, 1960)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Edward Taylor 1642–1729

SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Subjects Nature, Religion, Christianity, Animals

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza


Edward Taylor was an American Puritan poet and minister of the Congregational church at Westfield, Massachusetts for over fifty years. Considered one of the more significant poets to appear in America in the 17th and 18th centuries, his fame is the result of two works, the Preparatory Meditations ... (written 1682-1725) and Gods Determinations touching his Elect ... (written 1682?). But he also wrote many other poems during his . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Religion, Christianity, Animals

SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.