Tag Archives: spider

Arachnid prism: Morning light refracted through a spider’s silk


From Keats’ Lamia:

…and, for the sage,
Let spear-grass and the spiteful thistle wage
War on his temples. Do not all charms fly
At the mere touch of cold philosophy?
There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
We know her woof, her texture; she is given
In the dull catalogue of common things.
Philosophy will clip an Angel’s wings,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine –
Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made
The tender-person’d Lamia melt into a shade.

Rest easy, John, the spinnerets of awareness are still weaving rainbows. Consciousness dwells in its gnomed skull-mine. Ontological mystery remains, despite the sages’ best efforts to clip and conquer.

Yet, it is not the sage, but the rainbow-spider herself who is most enamored with rule and line: the geometry that will snare her sustenance from the insect-haunted air. Her silk is woof and texture of protein, stranded and coiled, a fiber of living glass.


Now I am sensible all this is a mere sophistication (however it may neighbor to any truths), to excuse my own indolence – so I will not deceive myself that man should be equal with Jove – but think himself very well off as a sort of scullion-Mercury, or even a humble Bee. It is no matter whether I am right or wrong, either one way or another, if there is sufficient to lift a little time from your shoulders. — Keats letter to Reynolds, 1818