The Spider and the Fly (poem)

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The Spider and the Fly 
by Mary Howitt
Subject(s) Fable
Genre(s) 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 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 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 naïve 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.

Cultural influence[edit]

The opening line is one of the most recognized and quoted first lines in all of English verse.[4] 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]


  • 1930 song by Barbecue Bob.
  • 1938 song by Fats Waller, Andy Razaf, and J. C. Johnson.
  • 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)[5]
  • Noise-rock band The Paper Chase references the poem in their song, "Said the Spider to the Fly".


The Spider and the Fly lobby card
1907 cartoon, 'Will you walk into my parlor?' said the Spider to the Fly. Railroad tycoon E. H. Harriman is depicted as a fly on a spider web labeled "The Law," subject to the control of the Interstate Commerce Commission, depicted here as the spider.


  • The 1987 animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV series parodied the poem. In the episode "Enter the Fly", where Shredder says "Step into my parlor, said the Knucklehead to the fly", referring to recently-mutated Baxter Stockman as "the Fly". In the end of the episode "Bye, Bye, Fly" of the same TV series, fly-Baxter Stockman crashes a spacecraft on a planet and falls into a spider's web, as a giant spider approaches.
  • 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?"
  • 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 it to his companion, the line serving as a warning that they are about to walk into a trap.


  • 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".
  • In World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, one of the spider-like bosses in the Naxxramas raid, Anub'Rekhan, says "Welcome to my parlour..." when a player steps into his room.
  • In Undertale, one of the characters is a spider-lady named Muffet. During the boss battle with her, she can be examined for the help text "If she invites you into her parlor, excuse yourself."
  • In Overwatch, one of the playable characters Widowmaker has an unlockable voice line: "step into my parlour, said the spider to the fly."
  • In Just Cause 3, the lady from Eden in the sky fortress says "welcome to my parlour, said the spider to the fly."
  • In Blade & Soul, a daily quest is available titled "Come into my parlour" in reference to the spider boss at the end of the quest.
  • in Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, the final quest is titled "Come into my parlor" alluding to the manipulation endured by the player character throughout the game.

See also[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.). New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. ISBN 978-0-689-85289-3. 
  4. ^ "The Spider and the Fly". Book Description. Retrieved 24 November 2012. 
  5. ^ Lawrence, Kristen. "Arachnitect". Halloween Carols Website / Music. Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  6. ^ "The Spider and the Fly (1916) - Overview -". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  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]