Spider and Fly

THE spider achieves his cornered home
Against a soft and sheltering dark.
A faint diaphanous lair,
A slack grace in careful air,
This radiant tomb
Hung high in morning’s room
Awaits the sudden prodigals
That go upon a too fantastic lark.
The reveling fly careers about the walls,
Exploring time athwart its space
In gay and foolish flight. . . .
The vacant lace
Serenely swings into a pulse of light
And then swings back.
Incurious, the spider curls within a crack,
Discreet and out of sight.
Like a drunken roisterer the fly gyrates
And reels into the vague complacent net!
Young freedom shocked into a thing
Like very death hangs swaying — and then still.
The honeyed web, long-spun of plotter’s sweat
To artless labyrinths, insinuates
The ooze about a rainbow wing
That starts a rapid thrill
And innocently lifts the maze to rend it free.
Soon the zoom of agony
Begins to sing along the roof.
The spider feigns a scornful pose,
And sits aloof.
Convulsions jeopardize the gentle jail:
No frenzied wing or hurtling body can avail
To snap the silken bars when those
Are twisted tenuous of subtlety.
The humming and vibrations spend until they fail. . . .
Exhaustion sprawls the fly,
Hushes the throb, and clouds the eye.
Manœuvre: the spider stirs,
Swings along his balusters,
And lightly sidles through the air;
Tentative, he fingers . . . but afraid
Of victory, retreats into his ambuscade.
The fly is pricked to second anguish,
Finally ferments the web
With delirious despair:
The capers of a puppet at his string-ends languish —
The frantic music and the torment ebb. . . .
Now the spider elegantly mounts the torn
Retaining stair
Of suave insistent silk.
At the funeral feast, compounded with the body’s milk,
He dines upon the twitching corpse clean-shorn
Of tuneful wings and six betraying
Legs; the rent and fraying
Arras beaded with the legend of these bare
And alien fragments flaunts the torso and the head.
The false fat mourner leaves forlorn
The web, the welter and the woe,
Leaves the lost, the dead,
On delicate tiptoe. . . .