Wednesday, 4 November 2009


Here's a picture of a spider's web. It's not a particularly good photo (I was just learning about my new camera and, sadly - the misty season of web-building has now passed for another year....) but I was eager to show it. Why? Because the spider gets such a bad press! It is such a clever creature and their fantastic homes/traps would surely make most architects swoon with envy.

Okay, I concede that they're scary....particularly when they're mouse-sized and scuttling across the floor. But life is too short to be scared of spiders and that's why I have included the following childhood rhyme. I was only going to put in the first two stanzas - but it turns into such a magnificent morality tale that I've included the entire poem. Because, like me - you may have only ever heard the first few lines.

Mary Howitt (1799-1888)
The Spider And The Fly

"Will you walk into my parlor?" said the spider to the fly;
"'Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you may spy.
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many curious things to show when you are there."
"Oh no, no," said the little fly; "to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne'er come down again."

"I'm sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high.
Well you rest upon my little bed?" said the spider to the fly.
"There are pretty curtains drawn around; the sheets are fine and thin,
And if you like to rest a while, I'll snugly tuck you in!"
"Oh no, no," said the little fly, "for I've often heard it said,
They never, never wake again who sleep upon your bed!"

Said the cunning spider to the fly: "Dear friend, what can I do
To prove the warm affection I've always felt for you?
I have within my pantry good store of all that's nice;
I'm sure you're very welcome - will you please to take a slice?"
"Oh no, no," said the little fly; "kind sir, that cannot be:
I've heard what's in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!"

"Sweet creature!" said the spider, "you're witty and you're wise;
How handsome are your gauzy wings; how brilliant are your eyes!
I have a little looking-glass upon my parlor shelf;
If you'd step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself."
"I thank you, gentle sir," she said, "for what you're pleased to say,
And, bidding you good morning now, I'll call another day."

The spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly fly would soon come back again:
So he wove a subtle web in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready to dine upon the fly;
Then came out to his door again and merrily did sing:
"Come hither, hither, pretty fly, with pearl and silver wing;
Your robes are green and purple; there's a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead!"

Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little fly,
Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by;
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer grew,
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes and green and purple hue,
Thinking only of her crested head. Poor, foolish thing! at last
Up jumped the cunning spider, and fiercely held her fast;
He dragged her up his winding stair, into the dismal den -
Within his little parlor - but she ne'er came out again!

And now, dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly flattering words I pray you ne'er give heed;
Unto an evil counselor close heart and ear and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale of the spider and the fly.

Do you have a favourite childhood poem?


  1. I like it, Sharon! - It's a very artistic photo and sometimes unusual subjects are the best things to immortalize.

    I'm not scared of spiders too - I hate cockroaches more *brrr* - and also Tobey Maguire made of spiders such a charming thing with his superhero movies!

    Unfortunately I don't remember particular poems I loved when I was a child (I also wrote rigmaroles when I attended primary school but I'm afraid those writings have been lost - *sigh*)

    Anyway I loved Aesop's fables very much, with his genial wit he composed the most famous fables for children about animals, which also included transparent allusions to men and an important morality for them.

    My favourite was the following one, showing that "Little friends my prove great friends"


    Once when a Lion was asleep a little Mouse began running up and down upon him; this soon wakened the Lion, who placed his huge paw upon him, and opened his big jaws to swallow him. "Pardon, O King," cried the little Mouse: "forgive me this time, I shall never forget it: who knows but what I may be able to do you a turn some of these days?" The Lion was so tickled at the idea of the Mouse being able to help him, that he lifted up his paw and let him go. Some time after the Lion was caught in a trap, and the hunters who desired to carry him alive to the King, tied him to a tree while they went in search of a wagon to carry him on. Just then the little Mouse happened to pass by, and seeing the sad plight in which the Lion was, went up to him and soon gnawed away the ropes that bound the King of the Beasts. "Was I not right?" said the little Mouse.

  2. That's lovely, Michela - and easy to see where C. S. Lewis got his inspiration for the scene in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - where the mice gnaw away all the ropes which tether the sheared Asan.

  3. I love fantasy novels, Sharon - and The chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis is one of the most magic work of all times.

    Moreover I'm a devoted fan of Harry Potter, he's simply my favourite! I love Hogwarts, Quidditch and all those latin formulas! How interesting that a book can be good for children and adults. And the movies are amazing too!

  4. Lovely pic, Sharon.

    Fave childhood poem? The Highwayman. Terribly gory, and terribly sad (and terribly romance novel-y), but that line about the moon being a ghostly galleon is just fantastic.

    My other big fave (as a really tiny tot) was The Owl and the Pussycat.

    And my littlies both loved Eleanor Farjeon's "Scat, Cat!"

  5. I don't know the Highwayman, Kate - so am now going to look it up.