What Is “Upon a Spider Catching a Fly” by Edward Taylor About?

Edward Taylor’s poem, “Upon a Spider Catching a Fly,” is a religious poem that uses animals as metaphors for believing in God to help fight against Satan. It is about the struggles that Christians face and how easy it is to get wound in Satan’s web.

The spider in this poem, which Taylor refers to as “Hells Spider,” depicts Satan. He weaves a web as a way to entrap his prey. The wasp and the fly who are both trapped in his web represent his human victims. The wasp was strong and could sting back, but the spider knew that the fly was easy prey. The wasp is a symbol of Christians who follow and believe in God and are therefore able to more easily fight against Satan. The fly represents those who have lost sight of God or given up on him. Without their belief, they are no match against Satan. Edward Taylor was a Christian Puritan minister and used his poems to highlight the importance of staying devoted to God and fighting against the evil that Satan tempts Christians with everyday. The nightingale at the end of the poem represents God. He swoops in and sings his song while perched above the spider and his web.