The Spider to the Fly

The Spider and the Fly 

A FABLE

by Mary Botham Howitt

I.
“Will you walk into my parlour?” said a spider to a fly;
” ‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy.
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I have many pretty things to shew 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.”

II.
“I’m sure you must be weary, with soaring up so high,
Will 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 awhile, 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!”

III.
Said the cunning spider to the fly, “Dear friend, what shall 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.”

IV.
“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 parlour shelf,
If you’ll 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.”

V.
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 he went out to his door again, and merrily did sing,
“Come hither, hither, pretty fly, with the pearl and silver wing;
Your robes are green and purple—there’s a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead.”

VI.
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 drew,
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.

VII.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den,
Within his little parlour—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 counsellor, close heart, and ear, and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale, of the Spider and the Fly.

“The Spider and the Fly” is a poem by Mary Howitt (1799–1888), published in 1829. The story tells of a cunning spider who entraps a fly into its web through the use of seduction and manipulation. The poem is a cautionary tale against those who use flattery and charm to disguise their true intentions.

About the Author:

Mary Botham Howitt was a 19th century English author who is best remembered for her famous children’s poem “The Spider and the Fly.”  Her literary output was considerable and, collaborating on many projects with her husband, she had over 180 books to her name.

Besides her large output of fictional work Howitt also wrote factual books such as The Literature and Romance of Northern Europe, published in 1852, and two volumes of a Popular History of the United States in 1859.  Her renown as a writer won her many awards including a civil list pension of £100 per year from April 1879.  

Having converted to Catholicism late in life (she’d been raised a Quaker), she was selected as one of a delegation chosen to meet the Pope on the 10th January 1888.  Unfortunately within three weeks of this great occasion, she was dead. Howitt contracted bronchitis and died in Rome on the 30th January 1888 at the age of 88.  She was remembered as a spreader of “good and innocent literature,” a description that appeared in her Times Obituary.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

Thank you for commenting. I always want to know what you have to say. However, I have a few rules: 1. Always be kind and considerate to others. 2. Do not degrade other people's way of thinking. 3. I have the right to refuse or remove any comment I deem inappropriate. 4. If you comment on a post that was published over 14 days ago, it will not post immediately. Those comments are set for moderation. If it doesn't break the above rules, it will post.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: