Textual Analysis Practice

Language, Textual Analysis

Read the following Robert Frost poem and answer the questions below. Please bring your answers and a copy of the poem to class tomorrow.


I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,
On a white heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth –
Assorted characters of death and blight
Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
Like the ingredients of a witches’ broth –
A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth,
And dead wings carried like a paper kite.

What had that flower to do with being white,
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
What but design of darkness to appall?
If design govern in a thing so small.

Robert Frost


a) In what ways does the choice of words to describe the spider in line 1 seem inappropriate or surprising?

b) Explain how the poet suggests fragility and beauty in the following images:

         “a moth / like a white piece of satin cloth”

         “dead wings carried like a paper kite.”