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The Spider and the Fly

The Spider and the Fly


“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,

“Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;

The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,

And I’ve many curious things to show 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 never come down again.”


“I’m sure you must be weary, dear, 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!”


Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, “Dear friend what can 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!”


“Sweet creature!” said the Spider, “you’re witty and you’re wise,

How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!

I’ve 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.”


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 came 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!”


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.

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.


- Mary Botham Howitt


About the Author

Mary Botham Howitt (1799-1888) was an English poet. She was born at Coleford, in Gloucestershire. She was educated at home and read widely. She commenced writing verses at a very early age. Together with her husband William Howitt, she wrote over 180 books.


Glossary

parlour (n) - a tidy room in a house used for entertaining guests

winding (v) - a twisting movement or course

weary (v) - very tired, especially from hard work

pantry (n) - a room where beverages, food, dishes are stored

subtle (adj.) - delicate or faint and mysterious

flattering (v) - to praise or compliment insincerely

counsellor (n) - a person who advises


Read the following lines from the poem and answer the questions in a sentence or two.


1. " The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,

And I’ve many curious things to show when you are there"


a) How can the fly reach the spider’s parlour?

Ans: The fly can reach the spider’s parlour through a winding stair.


b) What will the fly get to see in the parlour?

Ans: The fly will get to see many curious things in the parlour.


2. " 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!"


a) Is the fly willing to enter the spider’s pantry?

Ans: No. The fly is not willing to enter the spider’s pantry.


b) Can you guess what was in the pantry?

Ans: The pantry may be filled with other foolish flies.


3. "Sweet creature!” said the Spider, “You’re witty and you’re wise,

How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!"


a) List the words used by the spider to describe the fly.

Ans: Sweet, witty, wise, handsome, gauzy, brilliant.


b) Why does the spider say that the fly is witty?

Ans: The spider wants to praise the fly and trap him. So he said that the fly is witty.


4. " The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den,

For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again:"


a) Why is the poet using the word 'den' to describe the spider’s web?

Ans: The spider is the only resident of its home and no fly wishes to enter it as they cannot come out.


b) Why was the spider sure that the fly would come back again?

Ans: The fly was silly and ignorant. So the spider was sure that the fly would come back again.


5. "With buzzy wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew,

Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue —"


a) Who does ‘she’ refer to?

Ans: She refers to the fly.


b) What was ‘she’ thinking of?

Ans: She was thinking of her brilliant eyes and green and purple hue.


6. "And now dear little children, who may this story read,

To idle, silly flattering words, I pray you ne’er give heed:"


a) Who does ‘I’ refer to?

Ans: I refers to the poet.


b) What is the advice given to the readers?

Ans: The poet advices the readers to not fall prey to flattery and sweet words.


Complete the summary by filling in the spaces with suitable words.

The poem begins with the spider’s_________ of the fly. He __________ to the fly to come into its home. The spider describes his parlour as the _______ one. The spider kindles the curiosity of the fly so that she may enter his home. Fortunately, the fly was _________ and refused to get into his home. Now the spider pretends to be a __________and asks her to come and rest in his home. He offers her __________ and a __________ to rest. This time also the fly __________ the spider's offer very politely. The next weapon that the spider uses is_________. The spider praises the ______ and _____of the fly and also praises her ________. He invites her to look at herself in the ______which is in his parlour. The fly is_______ by the words of the spider and she falls a _________ to his ________.


Answer:

The poem begins with the spider’s friendlinessof the fly. He requests to the fly to come into its home. The spider describes his parlour as the prettiest one. The spider kindles the curiosity of the fly so that she may enter his home. Fortunately, the fly was wise and refused to get into his home. Now the spider pretends to be a good one and asks her to come and rest in his home. He offers her bed and a fine sheets to rest. This time also the fly refuses the spider's offer very politely. The next weapon that the spider uses is flattery. The spider praises the wing and eyes of the fly and also praises her head. He invites her to look at herself in the mirrorwhich is in his parlour. The fly is tempted or attracted by the words of the spider and she falls a prey to his enemy.


Figures of speech


1. Consonance: Repetition of similar consonant sounds in the neighbouring words. The repetition of consonant words in adjacent or closely connected words is called Consonance. (It is the main category under which alliteration falls).

(e.g.) T’is the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;


Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by;

So he wove a subtle web, in a little corner sly.


2. Assonance: Repetition of similar vowel sounds in the neighbouring words

(e.g.) ‘T is the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;


The spider turned him roundabout and went into his den,

“I’m sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high.”


Identify the figures of speech

”Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead!” – Simile

 

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