Sunday, July 16, 2017

Such Pretty Words...

The Spider
—Illustrations of Mary Howitt’s Poem by Tony DiTerlizzi (2002)

—Mary Howitt (1799-1888)

“Will you walk into my parlor?” said the spider to the fly;
’Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy.

The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,

And I have many pretty things to show when you are there.”

“O 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.”

“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.”

“O 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 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?”

“O 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 have a little looking-glass upon my parlor 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 be 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 parlor; 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 counselor close heart, and ear, and eye,

And take a lesson from this tale of the Spider and the Fly.


Our thanks to Carl Schwartz (“Caschwa”) for reminding us of this poem about being “Stuck”, our Seed of the Week. Carl writes: "This old poem is relevant not only to our SOW, but to the very national predicament in which we find ourselves." To hear the poem read aloud, go to For more about 19th-century woman poet Mary Howitt, see For more about Tony DiTerlizzi's book of the poem, go to 

Then read the last stanza of this poem again. Twice.


Celebrate Poetry!—And don’t forget that today you have 
a choice of two area readings, one in Sacramento at  
Avid Reader on Broadway, 2pm, featuring 
readers from the Women’s Wisdom Anthology; and also  
Poetry in Placerville at Love Birds Coffee and Tea on 
Broadway, 1pm, featuring Tom Goff and Jeanine Stevens 
plus open mic. Scroll down to the blue column 
(under the green column at the right) for info 
about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—
and note that more may be added at the last minute.

Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back
to Medusa.