Pretty is That Pretty Does


Who is Alice Cary

Alice Cary (1820 – 1871) was an American poet, and the older sister of fellow poet Phoebe Cary (1824–1871). She grew up on a large farm with a large family. After the death of her mother, she and her sister were not given much support to pursue their love for writing since their step-mother thought they should focus on household chores. The two sisters were persistent and did not let their passion for poetry and writing dwindle.


1. The spider wears a plain brown dress,
     And she is a steady spinner;
   To see her, quiet as a mouse,
   Going about her silver house,
   You would never, never, never guess
     The way she gets her dinner.

2. She looks as if no thought of ill
     In all her life had stirred her;
   But while she moves with careful tread, And
   while she spins her silken thread,
   She is planning, planning, planning still
     The way to do some murder.

3. My child, who reads this simple lay,
     With eyes down-dropt and tender, Remember
   the old proverb says
   That pretty is which pretty does,
   And that worth does not go nor stay
     For poverty nor splendor.

4. ‘Tis not the house, and not the dress,
     That makes the saint or sinner.
   To see the spider sit and spin,
   Shut with her walls of silver in,
   You would never, never, never guess
     The way she gets her dinner.
                                          Alice Cary (1820 – 1871).



Poem and worksheets exercises for Poem Pretty is that Pretty Does. Click on the links below.

5 Replies to “Pretty is That Pretty Does”

  1. Micah Jurawan says:

    I love this poem because it is very interesting. how they referred to the spider as a murder because of how it catches its dinner.

  2. Antonio Worrell says:

    This was a really great poem, I enjoyed reading it very much.

  3. Akiel Richardson says:

    It had a lot of rhymes i loved it.

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