Goblin Market

Here’s something a little different. Dr Dinah Roe is a Senior Lecturer in 19th-century literature at Oxford Brookes University. She has just produced this truly insightful introduction to Christina Rossetti’s 1859 mind-bending poem Goblin Market. Is it just the wild imagining of a drugged-up Pre-Raphaelite, a treatise on lesbian incest, a feminist tract, or a vision of the more sinister aspects of the faeries? Maybe all of the above. Rossetti certainly captures the maleficent essence that is often prevalent in faerie-tales. Evidently, she seems quite familiar with the metaphysical realities of these supernatural entities, and weaves them into a dark, dreamlike poem that is both revolutionary for the time and deeply personal. Her extensive use of Laudanum may have contributed to her ability to see into the world of the faeries, and it remains one of the most authentic poetic manifestations of the Otherworld. Dinah Roe’s text is reproduced here (it is freely available through the Creative Commons License), followed by the full text of the poem.

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Poem Summary

Set in a fairytale world and exploring themes of temptation, sacrifice and salvation, ‘Goblin Market’ tells the story of a fraught encounter between sisters Laura and Lizzie and evil goblin merchants. When Laura exchanges a lock of her golden hair for the chance to taste the goblins’ enchanted ‘fruit forbidden’, she deteriorates until she is ‘knocking at Death’s door’. Her sister Lizzie offers to pay the goblins ‘a silver penny’ for more of their wares, which she hopes will act as an antidote to Laura’s malady. The goblins violently attack Lizzie, smearing their fruits ‘against her mouth’ in a vain attempt ‘to make her eat’. After the goblins are ‘worn out by her resistance’, Lizzie returns home, and Laura kisses the juices from her sister’s face and is restored.

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Form and genre

On first reading ‘Goblin Market’, eminent Victorian critic John Ruskin declared that Rossetti’s ‘irregular measures’ were the ‘calamity of modern poetry’ and that she ‘should exercise herself in the severest commonplace of metre until she can write as the public like’.[1] Ruskin’s tin-eared critique unwittingly identifies one of ‘Goblin Market’s’ greatest strengths: its experimental form. A poem whose compelling narrative is animated by a surprising lyric energy, it never conforms to a set rhyme scheme or metrical pattern. For instance, the goblin merchants’ cries in the opening lines tempt not through lavish verbal description, but through form.

Apples and quinces,
Lemons and oranges,
Plump unpeck’d cherries,
Melons and raspberries,
Bloom-down-cheek’d peaches,
Swart-headed mulberries,
Wild free-born cranberries,
Crab-apples, dewberries,
Pine-apples, blackberries,
Apricots, strawberries;-

gob
James McPartlin

The sing-song rhythm of alternating dactylic and trochaic feet mimics the sound of street vendors hawking their wares, while the rhyme scheme eschews traditional corresponding rhyme words in favour of the incantatory repetition of ‘berries’ and a seductive sibilance that hints at the fruits’ dark properties. What is essentially a shopping list is transformed by the musical qualities of Rossetti’s technique, anticipating Walter Pater’s Aesthetic creed that ‘all art constantly aspires towards the condition of music’.[2] Drawing on the conventions of a variety of literary genres including the gothic, fantasy, biblical, children’s literature and fable, Rossetti creates a disorienting fairytale atmosphere that is simultaneously seductive and alienating.

Context

Rossetti wrote this poem in 1859 while volunteering at the St Mary Magdalene Penitentiary for ‘fallen women’ in Highgate. Dedicated to the reform and rehabilitation of prostitutes, this Anglo-Catholic institution was remarkable in the period for its conviction that women who had transgressed sexually could be redeemed. Biographers and critics have argued that the themes of temptation, sexual exchange and sisterly redemption in this poem are influenced by its poet’s experience working as an ‘Associate Sister’ at Highgate.

The poem first appeared in Goblin Market and Other Poems (1862). Rossetti’s skilful and original blend of sound and sense delighted critics and readers alike, although critical plaudits initially exceeded commercial sales. Its fairytale cadences led the Spectator to declare it ‘a true children’s poem’, yet the paper also noted that its adult themes of

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Arthur Rackham

temptation, transgression and redemption also appealed to a mature readership.[3] The poem was greeted with rapturous applause when the publisher Alexander Macmillan read a manuscript version out loud to a working men’s society in Cambridge. Rossetti herself was not writing for children during this period, emphatically declining to contribute to a children’s book on the grounds that ‘children are not among my suggestive subjects’.[4] Literary admirers included Algernon Charles Swinburne, Alfred Tennyson and Lewis Carroll, whose Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland (1865) was partially inspired by the poem. Rossetti returned the compliment in 1874, writing a book of children’s stories entitled Speaking Likenesses, which she hoped would imitate Carroll’s success in the booming children’s market.

 

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Heidi Burton

Illustrations and design

The manuscript version is dedicated to Rossetti’s older sister Maria, but the influence of Christina’s painter-poet brother Dante Gabriel is more obvious in the published text. He convinced his sister to abandon her somewhat cloying original title, ‘A Peep at the Goblins’, provided illustrations from ‘Goblin Market’ for the volume’s frontispiece and title page, designed the binding and advised her on page size and the type of paper to be used. He was also involved in the design of the second edition in 1865, correcting the jawline of one of the sleeping sisters in the title page illustration.

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A founding member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of artists who were particularly interested in the interactions of words and images in general and of poetry and art in particular, Dante Gabriel had previously illustrated William Allingham’s The Music Master and an edition of Tennyson’s poems published by Moxon in 1857. Christina was aware that her brother’s commercial savvy and artistic skill contributed to the success of her first volume of poetry, writing that she preferred her brother as illustrator of her works ‘to the world in general’.[5] As Lorraine Janzen Kooistra has persuasively argued, ‘Goblin Market’ is a landmark publication in the history of English illustration, influencing book design and illustration from the mid-19th century to the present day. The poem has been illustrated upwards of 20 times, ranging from the more traditional Laurence Housman (1893) and Arthur Rackham (1933) gift-book editions to the Pacific Comics version by John Bolton (1984). The detailed surviving correspondence between both Rossetti siblings and Alexander Macmillan about the production of Goblin Market and Other Poems reveals the extent to which the Rossettis shared an artistic vision and exercised control over their work. This Pre-Raphaelite collaborative spirit is also evident in Arthur Hughes’s illustrations for Christina’s later book of children’s verse, Sing-Song (1872), some of which were based on the poet’s own pencil drawings.

Interpretations

Initially received as a moral allegory about the dangers of giving in to temptation, the poem was recast by feminist classic The Madwoman in the Attic (1979) as a parable of female resistance and solidarity. By contrast, in 1973 Playboy Magazine presented the poem as unambiguously pornographic; the text was accompanied by a Kinuko Craft illustration of the goblin attack on Lizzie that left little to the imagination. ‘Goblin Market’ continues to appeal to a popular audience; it has been set to music many times and adapted as a play by Polly Pen and Peggy Harmon in New York (1986) and Nick Hedges in London (1995).

619aarbd4alThe 20th-century revival of interest in the poem opened the floodgates for Feminist, Marxist, Freudian, Queer Theory and New Historicist critiques which variously interpreted the poem as a warning about the dangers of a free-market economy, a protest against hazardous practices in 19th-century food-adulteration, a Christian tale of sacrifice and salvation, a parable of lesbian empowerment, a fable about anorexia, an expression of incestuous yearning and a tribute to the delicious oral and aural pleasures of poetry itself. ‘Goblin Market’ has continued to thrive in the academic marketplace. The poem continues to attract critical interpretations and artistic adaptations as colourful and diverse as the goblin merchants’ wares, challenging Christina Rossetti’s surely disingenuous claim that she ‘did not mean anything profound by this fairytale’.[6]

Footnotes

[1] John Ruskin to Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 24 January, 1861, Letters of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, ed. by Oswald Doughty and John Robert Wahl, vol. 2 (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1965), p. 391.

[2] Walter Pater, The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Literature (London: Macmilllan, [1873] 1913), p.140.

[3] Spectator 12 April 1862, 414-15, quoted in Jan Marsh, Christina Rossetti: A Literary Biography (London: Jonathan Cape, 1994), p.282.

[4] Christina Rossetti to Unknown Recipient, 7 March 1862 in The Letters of Christina Rossetti, ed. by Antony H Harrison, vol. 1 (Carolottesville: University Press of Virginia), p.159.

[5] Ibid., p. 232.

[6] William Michael Rossetti, ‘Notes’ from The Poetical Works of Christina Georgina Rossetti (London: Macmillan, 1904), p.459.

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Ravven78’s Goblin Market

Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti (1859)

Morning and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry:
“Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:
Apples and quinces,
Lemons and oranges,
Plump unpecked cherries,
Melons and raspberries,
Bloom-down-cheeked peaches,
Swart-headed mulberries,
Wild free-born cranberries,
Crab-apples, dewberries,
Pine-apples, blackberries,
Apricots, strawberries; –
All ripe together
In summer weather, –
Morns that pass by,
Fair eves that fly;
Come buy, come buy:
Our grapes fresh from the vine,
Pomegranates full and fine,
Dates and sharp bullaces,
Rare pears and greengages,
Damsons and bilberries,
Taste them and try:
Currants and gooseberries,
Bright-fire-like barberries,
Figs to fill your mouth,
Citrons from the South,
Sweet to tongue and sound to eye;
Come buy, come buy.”
Evening by evening
Among the brookside rushes,
Laura bowed her head to hear,
Lizzie veiled her blushes:
Crouching close together
In the cooling weather,
With clasping arms and cautioning lips,
With tingling cheeks and finger-tips.
“Lie close,” Laura said,
Pricking up her golden head:
“We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots?”
“Come buy,” call the goblins
Hobbling down the glen.
“Oh,” cried Lizzie, “Laura, Laura,
You should not peep at goblin men.”
Lizzie covered up her eyes,
Covered close lest they should look;
Laura reared her glossy head,
And whispered like the restless brook:
“Look, Lizzie, look, Lizzie,
Down the glen tramp little men.
One hauls a basket,
One bears a plate,
One lugs a golden dish
Of many pounds’ weight.
How fair the vine must grow
Whose grapes are so luscious;
How warm the wind must blow
Through those fruit bushes.”
“No,” said Lizzie: “No, no, no;
Their offers should not charm us,
Their evil gifts would harm us.’
She thrust a dimpled finger
In each ear, shut eyes and ran:
Curious Laura chose to linger
Wondering at each merchant man.
One had a cat’s face,
One whisked a tail,
One tramped at a rat’s pace,
One crawled like a snail,
One like a wombat prowled obtuse and furry,
One like a ratel tumbled hurry scurry.
She heard a voice like voice of doves
Cooing all together:
They sounded kind and full of loves
In the pleasant weather.
Laura stretched her gleaming neck
Like a rush-imbedded swan,
Like a lily from the beck,
Like a moonlit poplar branch,
Like a vessel at the launch
When its last restraint is gone.
Backwards up the mossy glen
Turned and trooped the goblin men,
With their shrill repeated cry,
‘Come buy, come buy.’
When they reached where Laura was
They stood stock still upon the moss,
Leering at each other,
Brother with queer brother;
Signalling each other,
Brother with sly brother.
One set his basket down,
One reared his plate;
One began to weave a crown
Of tendrils, leaves, and rough nuts brown
(Men sell not such in any town);
One heaved the golden weight
Of dish and fruit to offer her:
“Come buy, come buy,” was still their cry.
Laura stared but did not stir,
Longed but had no money.
The whisk-tailed merchant bade her taste
In tones as smooth as honey,
The cat-faced purr’d,
The rat-paced spoke a word
Of welcome, and the snail-paced even was heard;
One parrot-voiced and jolly
Cried “Pretty Goblin” still for “Pretty Polly”;
One whistled like a bird.
But sweet-tooth Laura spoke in haste:
“Good folk, I have no coin;
To take were to purloin:
I have no copper in my purse,
I have no silver either,
And all my gold is on the furze
That shakes in windy weather
Above the rusty heather.”
“You have much gold upon your head,”
They answered all together:
“Buy from us with a golden curl.”
She clipped a precious golden lock,
She dropped a tear more rare than pearl,
Then sucked their fruit globes fair or red.
Sweeter than honey from the rock,
Stronger than man-rejoicing wine,
Clearer than water flowed that juice;
She never tasted such before,
How should it cloy with length of use?
She sucked and sucked and sucked the more
Fruits which that unknown orchard bore;
She sucked until her lips were sore;
Then flung the emptied rinds away
But gathered up one kernel stone,
And knew not was it night or day
As she turned home alone.
Lizzie met her at the gate
Full of wise upbraidings:
‘Dear, you should not stay so late,
Twilight is not good for maidens;
Should not loiter in the glen
In the haunts of goblin men.
Do you not remember Jeanie,
How she met them in the moonlight,
Took their gifts both choice and many,
Ate their fruits and wore their flowers
Plucked from bowers
Where summer ripens at all hours?
But ever in the moonlight
She pined and pined away;
Sought them by night and day,
Found them no more, but dwindled and grew gray;
Then fell with the first snow,
While to this day no grass will grow
Where she lies low:
I planted daisies there a year ago
That never blow.
You should not loiter so.”
“Nay, hush,” said Laura:
“Nay, hush, my sister:
I ate and ate my fill,
Yet my mouth waters still:
Tomorrow night I will
Buy more;’ and kissed her:
“Have done with sorrow;
I’ll bring you plums tomorrow
Fresh on their mother twigs,
Cherries worth getting;
You cannot think what figs
My teeth have met in,
What melons icy-cold
Piled on a dish of gold
Too huge for me to hold,
What peaches with a velvet nap,
Pellucid grapes without one seed:
Odorous indeed must be the mead
Whereon they grow, and pure the wave they drink
With lilies at the brink,
And sugar-sweet their sap.”
Golden head by golden head,
Like two pigeons in one nest
Folded in each other’s wings,
They lay down in their curtained bed:
Like two blossoms on one stem,
Like two flakes of new-fall’n snow,
Like two wands of ivory
Tipped with gold for awful kings.
Moon and stars gazed in at them,
Wind sang to them lullaby,
Lumbering owls forebore to fly,
Not a bat flapped to and fro
Round their rest:
Cheek to cheek and breast to breast
Locked together in one rest.
Early in the morning
When the first cock crowed his warning,
Neat like bees, as sweet and busy,
Laura rose with Lizzie:
Fetched in honey, milked the cows,
Aired and set to rights the house,
Kneaded cakes of whitest wheat,
Cakes for dainty mouths to eat,
Next churned butter, whipped up cream,
Fed their poultry, sat and sewed;
Talked as modest maidens should:
Lizzie with an open heart,
Laura in an absent dream,
One content, one sick in part;
One warbling for the mere bright day’s delight,
One longing for the night.
At length slow evening came:
They went with pitchers to the reedy brook;
Lizzie most placid in her look,
Laura most like a leaping flame.
They drew the gurgling water from its deep.
Lizzie plucked purple and rich golden flags,
Then turning homeward said: “The sunset flushes
Those furthest loftiest crags;
Come, Laura, not another maiden lags.
No wilful squirrel wags,
The beasts and birds are fast asleep.’
But Laura loitered still among the rushes,
And said the bank was steep.
And said the hour was early still,
The dew not fall’n, the wind not chill;
Listening ever, but not catching
The customary cry,
“Come buy, come buy,”
With its iterated jingle
Of sugar-baited words:
Not for all her watching
Once discerning even one goblin
Racing, whisking, tumbling, hobbling –
Let alone the herds
That used to tramp along the glen,
In groups or single,
Of brisk fruit-merchant men.
Till Lizzie urged, “O Laura, come;
I hear the fruit-call, but I dare not look:
You should not loiter longer at this brook:
Come with me home.
The stars rise, the moon bends her arc,
Each glow-worm winks her spark,
Let us get home before the night grows dark:
For clouds may gather
Though this is summer weather,
Put out the lights and drench us through;
Then if we lost our way what should we do?”
Laura turned cold as stone
To find her sister heard that cry alone,
That goblin cry,
“Come buy our fruits, come buy.”
Must she then buy no more such dainty fruit?
Must she no more such succous pasture find,
Gone deaf and blind?
Her tree of life drooped from the root:
She said not one word in her heart’s sore ache:
But peering thro’ the dimness, nought discerning,
Trudged home, her pitcher dripping all the way;
So crept to bed, and lay
Silent till Lizzie slept;
Then sat up in a passionate yearning,
And gnashed her teeth for baulked desire, and wept
As if her heart would break.
Day after day, night after night,
Laura kept watch in vain
In sullen silence of exceeding pain.
She never caught again the goblin cry,
“Come buy, come buy”; –
She never spied the goblin men
Hawking their fruits along the glen:
But when the noon waxed bright
Her hair grew thin and gray;
She dwindled, as the fair full moon doth turn
To swift decay and burn
Her fire away.
One day remembering her kernel-stone
She set it by a wall that faced the south;
Dewed it with tears, hoped for a root,
Watched for a waxing shoot,
But there came none.
It never saw the sun,
It never felt the trickling moisture run:
While with sunk eyes and faded mouth
She dreamed of melons, as a traveller sees
False waves in desert drouth
With shade of leaf-crowned trees,
And burns the thirstier in the sandful breeze.
She no more swept the house,
Tended the fowls or cows,
Fetched honey, kneaded cakes of wheat,
Brought water from the brook:
But sat down listless in the chimney-nook
And would not eat.
Tender Lizzie could not bear
To watch her sister’s cankerous care,
Yet not to share.
She night and morning
Caught the goblins’ cry:
“Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:” –
Beside the brook, along the glen,
She heard the tramp of goblin men,
The voice and stir
Poor Laura could not hear;
Longed to buy fruit to comfort her,
But feared to pay too dear.
She thought of Jeanie in her grave,
Who should have been a bride;
But who for joys brides hope to have
Fell sick and died
In her gay prime,
In earliest winter time,
With the first glazing rime,
With the first snow-fall of crisp winter time.
Till Laura dwindling
Seemed knocking at Death’s door.
Then Lizzie weighed no more
Better and worse;
But put a silver penny in her purse,
Kissed Laura, crossed the heath with clumps of furze
At twilight, halted by the brook:
And for the first time in her life
Began to listen and look.
Laughed every goblin
When they spied her peeping:
Came towards her hobbling,
Flying, running, leaping,
Puffing and blowing,
Chuckling, clapping, crowing,
Clucking and gobbling,
Mopping and mowing,
Full of airs and graces,
Pulling wry faces,
Demure grimaces,
Cat-like and rat-like,
Ratel- and wombat-like,
Snail-paced in a hurry,
Parrot-voiced and whistler,
Helter-skelter, hurry skurry,
Chattering like magpies,
Fluttering like pigeons,
Gliding like fishes, –
Hugged her and kissed her:
Squeezed and caressed her:
Stretched up their dishes,
Panniers, and plates:
“Look at our apples
Russet and dun,
Bob at our cherries,
Bite at our peaches,
Citrons and dates,
Grapes for the asking,
Pears red with basking
Out in the sun,
Plums on their twigs;
Pluck them and suck them,
Pomegranates, figs.” –
“Good folk,” said Lizzie,
Mindful of Jeanie:
“Give me much and many:” –
Held out her apron,
Tossed them her penny.
“Nay, take a seat with us,
Honour and eat with us,”
They answered grinning:
“Our feast is but beginning.
Night yet is early,
Warm and dew-pearly,
Wakeful and starry:
Such fruits as these
No man can carry;
Half their bloom would fly,
Half their dew would dry,
Half their flavour would pass by.
Sit down and feast with us,
Be welcome guest with us,
Cheer you and rest with us.” –
“Thank you,” said Lizzie: “But one waits
At home alone for me:
So without further parleying,
If you will not sell me any
Of your fruits though much and many,
Give me back my silver penny
I tossed you for a fee.” –
They began to scratch their pates,
No longer wagging, purring,
But visibly demurring,
Grunting and snarling.
One called her proud,
Cross-grained, uncivil;
Their tones waxed loud,
Their looks were evil.
Lashing their tails
They trod and hustled her,
Elbowed and jostled her,
Clawed with their nails,
Barking, mewing, hissing, mocking,
Tore her gown and soiled her stocking,
Twitched her hair out by the roots,
Stamped upon her tender feet,
Held her hands and squeezed their fruits
Against her mouth to make her eat.
White and golden Lizzie stood,
Like a lily in a flood, –
Like a rock of blue-veined stone
Lashed by tides obstreperously, –
Like a beacon left alone
In a hoary roaring sea,
Sending up a golden fire, –
Like a fruit-crowned orange-tree
White with blossoms honey-sweet
Sore beset by wasp and bee, –
Like a royal virgin town
Topped with gilded dome and spire
Close beleaguered by a fleet
Mad to tug her standard down.
One may lead a horse to water,
Twenty cannot make him drink.
Though the goblins cuffed and caught her,
Coaxed and fought her,
Bullied and besought her,
Scratched her, pinched her black as ink,
Kicked and knocked her,
Mauled and mocked her,
Lizzie uttered not a word;
Would not open lip from lip
Lest they should cram a mouthful in:
But laughed in heart to feel the drip
Of juice that syruped all her face,
And lodged in dimples of her chin,
And streaked her neck which quaked like curd.
At last the evil people,
Worn out by her resistance,
Flung back her penny, kicked their fruit
Along whichever road they took,
Not leaving root or stone or shoot;
Some writhed into the ground,
Some dived into the brook
With ring and ripple,
Some scudded on the gale without a sound,
Some vanished in the distance.
In a smart, ache, tingle,
Lizzie went her way;
Knew not was it night or day;
Sprang up the bank, tore thro’ the furze,
Threaded copse and dingle,
And heard her penny jingle
Bouncing in her purse, –
Its bounce was music to her ear.
She ran and ran
As if she feared some goblin man
Dogged her with gibe or curse
Or something worse:
But not one goblin skurried after,
Nor was she pricked by fear;
The kind heart made her windy-paced
That urged her home quite out of breath with haste
And inward laughter.
She cried, “Laura,” up the garden.
“Did you miss me?
Come and kiss me.
Never mind my bruises,
Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices
Squeezed from goblin fruits for you,
Goblin pulp and goblin dew.
Eat me, drink me, love me;
Laura, make much of me;
For your sake I have braved the glen
And had to do with goblin merchant men.”
Laura started from her chair,
Flung her arms up in the air,
Clutched her hair:
“Lizzie, Lizzie, have you tasted
For my sake the fruit forbidden?
Must your light like mine be hidden,
Your young life like mine be wasted,
Undone in mine undoing,
And ruined in my ruin,
Thirsty, cankered, goblin-ridden?” –
She clung about her sister,
Kissed and kissed and kissed her:
Tears once again
Refreshed her shrunken eyes,
Dropping like rain
After long sultry drouth;
Shaking with aguish fear, and pain,
She kissed and kissed her with a hungry mouth.
Her lips began to scorch,
That juice was wormwood to her tongue,
She loathed the feast:
Writhing as one possessed she leaped and sung,
Rent all her robe, and wrung
Her hands in lamentable haste,
And beat her breast.
Her locks streamed like the torch
Borne by a racer at full speed,
Or like the mane of horses in their flight,
Or like an eagle when she stems the light
Straight toward the sun,
Or like a caged thing freed,
Or like a flying flag when armies run.
Swift fire spread through her veins,
knocked at her heart
Met the fire smouldering there
And overbore its lesser flame;
She gorged on bitterness without a name:
Ah! fool, to choose such part
Of soul-consuming care!
Sense failed in the mortal strife:
Like the watch-tower of a town
Which an earthquake shatters down,
Like a lightning-stricken mast,
Like a wind-uprooted tree
Spun about,
Like a foam-topped waterspout
Cast down headlong in the sea,
She fell at last;
Pleasure past and anguish past,
Is it death or is it life?
Life out of death.
That night long Lizzie watched by her,
Counted her pulse’s flagging stir,
Felt for her breath,
Held water to her lips, and cooled her face
With tears and fanning leaves:
But when the first birds chirped about their eaves,
And early reapers plodded to the place
Of golden sheaves,
And dew-wet grass
Bowed in the morning winds so brisk to pass,
And new buds with new day
Opened of cup-like lilies on the stream,
Laura awoke as from a dream,
Laughed in the innocent old way,
Hugged Lizzie but not twice or thrice;
Her gleaming locks showed not one thread of grey,
Her breath was sweet as May,
And light danced in her eyes.
Days, weeks, months, years
Afterwards, when both were wives
With children of their own;
Their mother-hearts beset with fears,
Their lives bound up in tender lives;
Laura would call the little ones
And tell them of her early prime,
Those pleasant days long gone
Of not-returning time:
Would talk about the haunted glen,
The wicked, quaint fruit-merchant men,
Their fruits like honey to the throat
But poison in the blood;
(Men sell not such in any town):
Would tell them how her sister stood
In deadly peril to do her good,
And win the fiery antidote:
Then joining hands to little hands
Would bid them cling together, –
“For there is no friend like a sister
In calm or stormy weather;
To cheer one on the tedious way,
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down,
To strengthen whilst one stands.”

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Frank Adams

The original article by Dr Dinah Roe is published by the British Library here: An Introduction to Goblin Market.

This is an audio version of the poem: Goblin Market.

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Author: neilrushton

I write about my subversive thoughts... a lot of them are about those most ungraspable of creatures; faeries. I have a published novel, "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun", and a second novel is on its way... there'll be many subversive faeries in it... http://www.austinmacauley.com/author/rushton-neil

5 thoughts on “Goblin Market”

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