The spider’s tale

Apparently male house spiders prowl our homes in October, looking for a mate

Spiders are perhaps most often associated with perseverance; the story of Robert the Bruce’s eventual victory over the English king at Bannockburn is probably apocryphal, but salutary all the same. If the Scottish laird was indeed holed up in a cave on the Isle of Arran, watching a spider trying, over and over again, to spin its web would have been a very typical past-time.

The lesson learned, however, handed down through the ages, was that perseverance can pay. Or, from a slightly different perspective: if you don’t try, you won’t succeed. It’s the persistence that’s hard though.

I hope to persevere today, and I’ve found a new challenge to be getting on with too. Now that my story exploring the oral tradition of the indigenous people of Newfoundland is finished, a story that moves on from a mythic tale, I’m intrigued by a competition celebrating the centenary of James Joyce’s Ulysses. The brief is to deal, in poetry or prose, with a myth from any culture, much as Joyce worked on the Greek myths of an intrepid adventurer. Well, I’ve got an intriguing myth to set to poetry then, haven’t I?

To be honest, I thought of submitting my story effort again, but I decided against that stratagem. No, I shall see what I can develop in a poem, covering the same ground, as an exercise in discovery. The exercise promises to be enlightening.

I’ve never won any writing competition I’ve entered, but I guess that puts me in the same territory as a web-building spider, or indeed in that mental terrain inhabited by Robert the Bruce those 700 years ago.

Try, try, and try again. But bear in mind that the trying is the important battle, not the winning. Thanks spidey!

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