The Spider and the Fly (poem)

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The Spider and the Fly 
by Mary Howitt
Subject(s) fable
Children's verse
Publication date 1829 (1829)
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 a many curious 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.

~By Mary Howitt, 1829

The Spider and the Fly is a poem by Mary Howitt (1799-1888), published in 1829. The first line of the poem is "'Will you walk into my parlour?' said the Spider to the Fly." The story tells of a cunning Spider who ensnares a naive Fly through the use of seduction and flattery. The poem is a cautionary tale against those who use flattery and charm to disguise their true evil intentions. When Lewis Carroll was readying Alice's Adventures Under Ground for publication he replaced a parody he had made of a negro minstrel song[1] with a parody of Howitt's poem. The "Lobster Quadrille", in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, is a parody of Howitt's poem; it mimics the meter and rhyme scheme, and parodies the first line, but not the subject matter, of the original.[2]

An illustrated version by Tony DiTerlizzi[3] was a 2003 Caldecott Honor Book.[4]

Cultural influence[edit]

The opening line is one of the most recognized and quoted first lines in all of English verse.[5] Often misquoted as "Step into my parlour" or "Come into my parlour", it has become an aphorism, often used to indicate a false offer of help or friendship that is in fact a trap. The line has been used and parodied numerous times in various works of fiction.[citation needed]

Music
  • English Rock band The Cure make reference to the poem in their 1989 song "Lullaby" in which Smith whispers an adapted extract from the poem toward the end of the song.
  • Heavy Metal band Heaven & Hell made reference to the poem in their song "Atom & Evil" from the album The Devil You Know. - Lines: I'm here for you, said the spider to the fly. And, Into the parlor came the spider.
  • The Hutchinson Family Singers performed a version of the poem that was adapted to song by Jesse Hutchinson, Jr.
  • 1965 song by The Rolling Stones — One is left wondering: who is the spider, and who is the fly?
  • "Arachnitect": title song for the 2008 album by Kristen Lawrence — Rock song with a harpsichord, electric guitar and bass creating quirky spider sounds as the spider chases the fly[6]
  • Noise-rock band The Paper Chase references the poem in their song, "Said the Spider to the Fly".
Film
Television
  • In the NCIS episode "Spider and the Fly" (2010), the poem is mentioned in the last words of Paloma Reynosa: "Paloma: Come into my parlor, said the spider to the fly. Have you ever heard that poem Gibbs?"
  • Doctor Who. Several times, in the widely acclaimed British Television series, "Doctor Who", the Doctor references the first line of this poem when he is suspicious of help by mentioning to his companion, the line as a warning that they are about to walk into a trap.
Gaming
  • In Video game Gears of War 2 there is an achievement for killing an opponent with a grenade tagged to a wall named "Said the Spider to the Fly".

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gardner, Martin; The Annotated Alice, 1998 (updated, Lewis Carroll ; with illustrations by John Tenniel ; introduction; Gardner, notes by Martin (1999). The annotated Alice : Alice's adventures in Wonderland & Through the looking glass (Definitive ed.). New York: Norton. ISBN 0393048470. )
  2. ^ Carroll's parody of Howitt's poem accessed 3 October 2007
  3. ^ DiTerlizzi, based on the poem by Mary Howitt ; with illustrations by Tony (2002). The spider and the fly (1st ed. ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. ISBN 978-0-689-85289-3. 
  4. ^ "2003 Caldecott Medal and Honor Books"[dead link] Association for Library Services to Children. Retrieved October 8, 2007
  5. ^ "The Spider and the Fly". Book Description. Amazon.com. Retrieved 24 November 2012. 
  6. ^ Lawrence, Kristen. "Arachnitect". Halloween Carols Website / Music. Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  7. ^ "The Fable of the Spider and the Fly". IMDb. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  8. ^ "The Spider and the Fly (2006)". Theiapolis Cinema. Theiapolis. Retrieved 24 November 2012. "*Sources: Playtone Productions, Universal Pictures" 

External links[edit]