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.
Picture in your mind the little scene of the first stanza, looking at the first three lines, the second three, then the last two and putting them in your own words. Then restate the three questions in the second stanza. Stop and think about the meanings of the words, perhaps looking up words like "blight," "froth," "kindred," and "appall."
Here is how I put this poem into my own words.
I found a spider, fat from a previous victim, it was white
It sat on a white flower holding a dead white moth
The moth is rigid and rolled in a satin coffin
These three characters of doom and decay
Brought together as if by arrangement,
Ready to begin this evil rite
Like the elements in the formula from a witch's concoction
A spider still alive in the winter, a flower with fermentation on it like the ugliness and horror from a diseased animal.
As the spider rips the wings from the moth they float away quietly
The flower was turned white, the color of innocence, this flower, heal-all, has medicinal qualities. The question is can medicine help the...