King Bruce And The Spider

[This poem is written by Eliza Cook (1818-1889). Born in London she was the youngest of eleven children. She was entirely self-educated and wrote verses from the age of fourteen. Her first volume being published at seventeen. In 1849, she edited and published "Eliza Cook's Journal." Her work is simple and highly moral. In this poem, she teaches the reader what she always practised in her own life: to keep on trying and never to be discouraged.]

King Bruce of Scotland flung himself down
In a lonely mood to think;
Tis true he was monarch and wore a crown,
But his heart was beginning to sink.                                                                            4

For he had been trying to do a great deed,
To make his people glad;
He had tried and tried, but couldn't succeed,
So became quite sad.                                                                                                   8

He flung himself down in a low despair,
As grieved as man could be,
And after a while, as he pondered there,
"I'll give it all up" said he.                                                                                            12

Now just at the moment a spider dropped,
With its silken cobweb clue,
And the King in the midst of his thinking stopped
To see what the spider would do.                                                                               16

T was a long way up to the ceiling dome,
And it hung by a rope so fine,
That how it would get to its cobweb home
King Bruce could not divine.                                                                                         20

It soon began to cling and crawl
Straight-up with strong endeavour;
But down it came with a slippery sprawl.
As near to the ground as ever.                                                                                    24

Up, up it ran, not a second, could stay,
To utter the least complaint,
Till it fell still lower, and there it lay,
A little dizzy and faint.                                                                                                  28

It's head grew steady again it went,
And travelled a half-yard higher;
T was a delicate thread it had to tread,
And a road where its feet would tire.                                                                           32

Again it fell and swung below,
But again it quickly mounted,
Till up and down, now fast, now slow
Nine brave attempts were counted.                                                                             36

"Sure," cried the King, "that foolish thing
Will strive no more to climb,
When it toils so hard to reach and cling,
And tumbles every time."                                                                                              40

But up the insect went once more-
Ah me! 'tis an anxious minute
He's only a foot from his cobweb door'
Oh, say, will he lose or win it?                                                                                       44

Steadily, steadily, inch by inch,
Higher and higher he got,
And a bold little run at the very last pinch
Put him into his native cot                                                                                             48

"Bravo! bravo!" the King cried out,
All honour to those who try!
The spider up there defied despair-
He conquered, and why should not I?"                                                                         52

And Bruce of Scotland braced his mind,
And gossips tell the tale
That he tried once more as he tried before
And that time did not fail.                                                                                              56

Eliza Cook

A: Notes
1. to fling oneself down: to throw oneself violently on a bed or on the floor,
3. monarch: king.
9. in a low despair: downhearted; discouraged.
11. pondered: thought.
14. cobweb: fine network of single thread made by a spider.
clue: here it means a thread. 17. ceiling dome: rounded roof. 20. to divine: to make out.
23. down it came with a slippery sprawl: came slipping down along the wall and hung in an awkward position.
26. utter:, to speak.
28. dizzy: giddy; having a feeling that everything is turning round.
29. head grew steady: came to its senses; here it means gained balance.
31. delicate thread: of fine texture
tread: to walk.
34. to mount: to climb.
38. to strive: to struggle, to try hard.
39. to toil: to work hard.
40. to tumble: to fall over.
47. the last pinch: the last little bit of distance.
48. native cot: his own home; here the spider's web.
49. bravo: well done.
53. braced his mind: determined.
54. gossips tell the tale: people talk about it.

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