Koreans are familiar with the bird swallow. Even the children who must have never seen the bird know it and sometimes like it. Koreans learn about the bird from the folklore tale "Heungbu and Nolbu," which they read very young. The swallow in the tale is smart enough to distinguish whom to return the favor to or revenge. It is even capable of making a person rich. What people think of the bird in the real world is not so different. Many say they are wise because traditionally swallows always come on the third day of the third lunar month and leave on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month.
In the first part of the poem lies the word "Samjinnal," meaning the third day of the third lunar month. The word conveys a powerful association with swallows because it is the day they return, making us believe that the bird is the leading figure. But a twist: the actual leading figure of the poem is the spider living next to the swallow. Considering how auspicious the bird is as it is known to bring luck to people, a spider can be trivial, let alone the one living next to the bird, which may mean the bug can be eaten anytime.
As if the hardship was not enough, the spider is a mother. The mother spider works hard to create a web of its own without any support whatsoever, without a warp and a weft or a shuttle a person would need for weaving such a net. The spider has no option but to work hard, even without help, no matter how hard life seems. She has to survive to save her baby inside her. The moment we realize that the trivial bug is a mom, the moment the word “mom” comes in, the association with the auspicious bird and luck is gone. And we find ourselves rooting for that spider. Moms struggling hard to endure such extreme hardships must survive. And they should live happily ever after. It is just so amazing to see that such a short poem can show us our moms and the moms of our moms and all the moms in the world.