Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Goblin Market

Goblin Market is an 1862 narrative poem by Christina Rossetti. In a letter to her publisher, Rossetti claimed that the poem, which is interpreted frequently as having features of remarkably sexual imagery, was not meant for children. The most climactic moments of the poem, as well as the most notorious for their possible sexual innuendo, all involve the fruit. The fruit is engendered in lush terms and in vast lists.

The introductory stanza of the poem, the girls’ first salacious glimpse of the goblins’ proffered goods, lists no fewer than twenty-nine different “orchard fruits” being offered by the goblins. Laura sucks the globes of fruits “until her lips were sore,” corrupted by those “peaches with a velvet nap” and “Pellucid grapes without one seed.” The rape scene, the scene of Lizzie’s heroic self-sacrifice, shows the goblins attempting to force-feed her the fruit until it “syruped all her face,/And lodged in dimples of her chin.” Laura’s final salvation is accomplished when she kisses from her sister those “juices/Squeezed from goblin fruits,” the “Goblin pulp and goblin dew.” The fruit is vividly spotlighted because fruit is itself an apt symbol for the transition from green to ripe, youth to maturity. Fruit exactly mimics the process that Lizzie and Laura undergo in the story.

Goblin Market has been variously illustrated, by our old friend Arthur Rackham, and in a 1973 issue of Playboy by Kinuko Craft: "A Ribald Classic". There is also a sapphic comic book version of Goblin Market published in the 1980's, and illustrated by John Bolton. Below I have mixed up several illustrations from Goblin Market, but it doesn't take much to differentiate them to be honest.








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