Goblin Market
By Christina Rossetti

Transcription, correction, editorial commentary, and markup by Students and Staff at the University of Virginia, Tonya Howe
    Page Images    


Cambridge : MacMillan and Co., 1862Base XML drawn from the Tapas Project version of "Goblin Market" and corrected to match page images. The first edition was illustrated by her brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, a key memnber of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, an artist collective of the mid-nineteenth century. Page images are drawn from the digitized copy in The University of Virginia Special Collections library (https://search.lib.virginia.edu/sources/uva_library/items/u862518).

Editorial Statements

Research informing these annotations draws on publicly-accessible resources, with links provided where possible. Annotations have also included common knowledge, defined as information that can be found in multiple reliable sources. If you notice an error in these annotations, please contact lic.open.anthology@gmail.com.

Original spelling and capitalization is retained, though the long s has been silently modernized and ligatured forms are not encoded.

Hyphenation has not been retained, except where necessary for the sense of the word.

Page breaks have been retained. Catchwords, signatures, and running headers have not.

Materials have been transcribed from and checked against first editions, where possible. See the Sources section for more information.


Rossetti, Christina. "Goblin Market". Goblin Market and Other Poems, MacMillan and Co., 1862 , pp 1-30 . Literature in Context: An Open Anthology. http://anthology.lib.virginia.edu/work/Rossetti/rossetti-goblin-market. Accessed: 2024-04-18T00:39:49.68Z

Linked Data: Places related to this work.

[frontispiece] [TP] GOBLIN MARKET
and Other Poems
by Christina Rossetti
"Golden head by golden head"
London and Cambridge
Macmillan and Co. 1862.
1 GOBLIN MARKET. 1Morning and evening 2Maids heard the goblins cry: 3"Come buy our orchard fruits, 4Come buy, come buy: 5Apples and quinces, 6Lemons and oranges, 7Plump unpecked cherries, 8Melons and raspberries, 9Bloom-down-cheeked peaches, 10Swart-headed mulberries, 11Wild free-born cranberries, 12Crab-apples, dewberries, 13Pine-apples, blackberries, 14Apricots, strawberries; — 15All ripe together 2 16In summer weather, — 17Morns that pass by, 18Fair eves that fly; 19Come buy, come buy: 20Our grapes fresh from the vine, 21Pomegranates full and fine, 22Dates and sharp bullaces, 23Rare pears and greengages, 24Damsons and bilberries, 25Taste them and try: 26Currants and gooseberries, 27Bright-fire-like barberries, 28Figs to fill your mouth, 29Citrons from the South, 30Sweet to tongue and sound to eye; 31Come buy, come buy." 32Evening by evening 33Among the brookside rushes, 34Laura bowed her head to hear, 3 35Lizzie veiled her blushes: 36Crouching close together 37In the cooling weather, 38With clasping arms and cautioning lips, 39With tingling cheeks and finger tips. 40"Lie close," Laura said, 41Pricking up her golden head: 42"We must not look at goblin men, 43We must not buy their fruits: 44Who knows upon what soil they fed 45Their hungry thirsty roots?" 46"Come buy," call the goblins 47Hobbling down the glen. 48"Oh," cried Lizzie, "Laura, Laura, 49You should not peep at goblin men." 50Lizzie covered up her eyes, 51Covered close lest they should look; 52Laura reared her glossy head, 53And whispered like the restless brook: 54"Look, Lizzie, look, Lizzie, 4 55Down the glen tramp little men. 56One hauls a basket, 57One bears a plate, 58One lugs a golden dish 59Of many pounds weight. 60How fair the vine must grow 61Whose grapes are so luscious; 62How warm the wind must blow 63Through those fruit bushes." 64"No," said Lizzie, "No, no, no; 65Their offers should not charm us, 66Their evil gifts would harm us." 67She thrust a dimpled finger 68In each ear, shut eyes and ran: 69Curious Laura chose to linger 70Wondering at each merchant man. 71One had a cat"s face, 72One whisked a tail, 73One tramped at a rat"s pace, 74One crawled like a snail, 5 75One like a wombat prowled obtuse and furry, 76One like a ratel tumbled hurry skurry. 77She heard a voice like voice of doves 78Cooing all together: 79They sounded kind and full of loves 80In the pleasant weather. 81Laura stretched her gleaming neck 82Like a rush-imbedded swan, 83Like a lily from the beck, 84Like a moonlit poplar branch, 85Like a vessel at the launch 86When its last restraint is gone. 87Backwards up the mossy glen 88Turned and trooped the goblin men, 89With their shrill repeated cry, 90"Come buy, come buy." 91When they reached where Laura was 92They stood stock still upon the moss, 6 93Leering at each other, 94Brother with queer brother; 95Signalling each other, 96Brother with sly brother. 97One set his basket down, 98One reared his plate; 99One began to weave a crown 100Of tendrils, leaves, and rough nuts brown 101(Men sell not such in any town); 102One heaved the golden weight 103Of dish and fruit to offer her: 104"Come buy, come buy," was still their cry. 105Laura stared but did not stir, 106Longed but had no money. 107The whisk-tailed merchant bade her taste 108In tones as smooth as honey, 109The cat-faced purr"d, 110The rat-faced spoke a word 111Of welcome, and the snail-paced even was heard; 112One parrot-voiced and jolly 7 113Cried "Pretty Goblin" still for "Pretty Polly;" 114One whistled like a bird. 115But sweet-tooth Laura spoke in haste: 116"Good folk, I have no coin; 117To take were to purloin: 118I have no copper in my purse, 119I have no silver either, 120And all my gold is on the furze 121That shakes in windy weather 122Above the rusty heather." 123"You have much gold upon your head," 124They answered all together: 125"Buy from us with a golden curl." 126She clipped a precious golden lock, 127She dropped a tear more rare than pearl, 128Then sucked their fruit globes fair or red: 129Sweeter than honey from the rock, 130Stronger than man-rejoicing wine, 131Clearer than water flowed that juice; 8 132She never tasted such before, 133How should it cloy with length of use? 134She sucked and sucked and sucked the more 135Fruits which that unknown orchard bore; 136She sucked until her lips were sore; 137Then flung the emptied rinds away, 138But gathered up one kernel stone, 139And knew not was it night or day 140As she turned home alone. 141Lizzie met her at the gate 142Full of wise upbraidings: 143"Dear, you should not stay so late, 144Twilight is not good for maidens; 145Should not loiter in the glen 146In the haunts of goblin men. 147Do you not remember Jeanie, 148How she met them in the moonlight, 149Took their gifts both choice and many, 150Ate their fruits and wore their flowers 9 151Plucked from bowers 152Where summer ripens at all hours? 153But ever in the moonlight 154She pined and pined away; 155Sought them by night and day, 156Found them no more, but dwindled and grew gray; 157Then fell with the first snow, 158While to this day no grass will grow 159Where she lies low: 160I planted daisies there a year ago 161That never blow. 162You should not loiter so." 163Nay, hush," said Laura: 164Nay, hush, my sister: 165I ate and ate my fill, 166Yet my mouth waters still; 167Tomorrow night I will 168Buy more;" and kissed her: 169"Have done with sorrow; 170I"ll bring you plums tomorrow 10 171Fresh on their mother twigs, 172Cherries worth getting; 173You cannot think what figs 174My teeth have met in, 175What melons icy-cold 176Piled on a dish of gold 177Too huge for me to hold, 178What peaches with a velvet nap, 179Pellucid grapes without one seed: 180Odorous indeed must be the mead 181Whereon they grow, and pure the wave they drink 182With lilies at the brink, 183And sugar-sweet their sap." 184Golden head by golden head, 185Like two pigeons in one nest 186Folded in each other"s wings, 187They lay down in their curtain"d bed: 188Like two blossoms on one stem, 189Like two flakes of new-fall"n snow, 11 190Like two wands of ivory 191Tipped with gold for awful kings. 192Moon and stars gazed in at them, 193Wind sang to them lullaby, 194Lumbering owls forbore to fly, 195Not a bat flapped to and fro 196Round their rest: 197Cheek to cheek and breast to breast 198Locked together in one nest. 199Early in the morning 200When the first cock crowed his warning, 201Neat like bees, as sweet and busy, 202Laura rose with Lizzie: 203Fetched in honey, milked the cows, 204Aired and set to rights the house, 205Kneaded cakes of whitest wheat, 206Cakes for dainty mouths to eat, 207Next churned butter, whipped up cream, 208Fed their poultry, sat and sewed; 12 209Talked as modest maidens should: 210Lizzie with an open heart, 211Laura in an absent dream, 212One content, one sick in part; 213One warbling for the mere bright day"s delight, 214One longing for the night. 215At length slow evening came: 216They went with pitchers to the reedy brook; 217Lizzie most placid in her look, 218Laura most like a leaping flame. 219They drew the gurgling water from its deep; 220Lizzie plucked purple and rich golden flags, 221Then turning homeward said: "The sunset flushes 222Those furthest loftiest crags; 223Come, Laura, not another maiden lags, 224No wilful squirrel wags, 225The beasts and birds are fast asleep." 226But Laura loitered still among the rushes 227And said the bank was steep. 13 228And said the hour was early still 229The dew not fall"n, the wind not chill: 230Listening ever, but not catching 231The customary cry, 232"Come buy, come buy," 233With its iterated jingle 234Of sugar-baited words: 235Not for all her watching 236Once discerning even one goblin 237Racing, whisking, tumbling, hobbling; 238Let alone the herds 239That used to tramp along the glen, 240In groups or single, 241Of brisk fruit-merchant men. 242Till Lizzie urged, "O Laura, come; 243I hear the fruit-call but I dare not look: 244You should not loiter longer at this brook: 245Come with me home. 246The stars rise, the moon bends her arc, 14 247Each glowworm winks her spark, 248Let us get home before the night grows dark: 249For clouds may gather 250Though this is summer weather, 251Put out the lights and drench us through; 252Then if we lost our way what should we do?" 253Laura turned cold as stone 254To find her sister heard that cry alone, 255That goblin cry, 256"Come buy our fruits, come buy." 257Must she then buy no more such dainty fruit? 258Must she no more such succous pasture find, 259Gone deaf and blind? 260Her tree of life drooped from the root: 261She said not one word in her heart"s sore ache; 262But peering thro" the dimness, nought discerning, 263Trudged home, her pitcher dripping all the way; 264So crept to bed, and lay 265Silent till Lizzie slept; 15 266Then sat up in a passionate yearning, 267And gnashed her teeth for baulked desire, and wept 268As if her heart would break. 269Day after day, night after night, 270Laura kept watch in vain 271In sullen silence of exceeding pain. 272She never caught again the goblin cry: 273"Come buy, come buy;" — 274She never spied the goblin men 275Hawking their fruits along the glen: 276But when the noon waxed bright 277Her hair grew thin and grey; 278She dwindled, as the fair full moon doth turn 279To swift decay and burn 280Her fire away. 281One day remembering her kernel-stone 282She set it by a wall that faced the south; 283Dewed it with tears, hoped for a root, 16 284Watched for a waxing shoot, 285But there came none; 286It never saw the sun, 287It never felt the trickling moisture run: 288While with sunk eyes and faded mouth 289She dreamed of melons, as a traveller sees 290False waves in desert drouth 291With shade of leaf-crowned trees, 292And burns the thirstier in the sandful breeze. 293She no more swept the house, 294Tended the fowls or cows, 295Fetched honey, kneaded cakes of wheat, 296Brought water from the brook: 297But sat down listless in the chimney-nook 298And would not eat. 299Tender Lizzie could not bear 300To watch her sister"s cankerous care 301Yet not to share. 17 302She night and morning 303Caught the goblins" cry: 304"Come buy our orchard fruits, 305Come buy, come buy:" — 306Beside the brook, along the glen, 307She heard the tramp of goblin men, 308The voice and stir 309Poor Laura could not hear; 310Longed to buy fruit to comfort her, 311But feared to pay too dear. 312She thought of Jeanie in her grave, 313Who should have been a bride; 314But who for joys brides hope to have 315Fell sick and died 316In her gay prime, 317In earliest Winter time 318With the first glazing rime, 319With the first snow-fall of crisp Winter time. 320Till Laura dwindling 18 321Seemed knocking at Death"s door: 322Then Lizzie weighed no more 323Better and worse; 324But put a silver penny in her purse, 325Kissed Laura, crossed the heath with clumps of furze 326At twilight, halted by the brook: 327And for the first time in her life 328Began to listen and look. 329Then Lizzie weighed no more 330Better and worse; 331But put a silver penny in her purse, 332Kissed Laura, crossed the heath with clumps of furze 333At twilight, halted by the brook: 334And for the first time in her life 335Began to listen and look. 336Laughed every goblin 337When they spied her peeping: 338Came towards her hobbling, 339Flying, running, leaping, 340Puffing and blowing, 341Chuckling, clapping, crowing, 342Clucking and gobbling, 343Mopping and mowing, 344Full of airs and graces, 345Pulling wry faces, 346Demure grimaces, 19 347Cat-like and rat-like, 348Ratel — and wombat-like, 349Snail-paced in a hurry, 350Parrot-voiced and whistler, 351Helter skelter, hurry skurry, 352Chattering like magpies, 353Fluttering like pigeons, 354Gliding like fishes, — 355Hugged her and kissed her: 356Squeezed and caressed her: 357Stretched up their dishes, 358Panniers, and plates: 359"Look at our apples 360Russet and dun, 20 361Bob at our cherries, 362Bite at our peaches, 363Citrons and dates, 364Grapes for the asking, 365Pears red with basking 366Out in the sun, 367Plums on their twigs; 368Pluck them and suck them, 369Pomegranates, figs." — 370"Good folk," said Lizzie, 371Mindful of Jeanie: 372"Give me much and many:" — 373Held out her apron, 374Tossed them her penny. 375"Nay, take a seat with us, 376Honour and eat with us," 377They answered grinning: 378"Our feast is but beginning. 379Night yet is early, 380Warm and dew-pearly, 381Wakeful and starry: 382Such fruits as these 383No man can carry; 384Half their bloom would fly, 385Half their dew would dry, 21 386Half their flavour would pass by. 387Sit down and feast with us, 388Be welcome guest with us, 389Cheer you and rest with us." — 390"Thank you," said Lizzie: "But one waits 391At home alone for me: 392So without further parleying, 393If you will not sell me any 394Of your fruits though much and many, 395Give me back my silver penny 396I tossed you for a fee." — 397They began to scratch their pates, 398No longer wagging, purring, 399But visibly demurring, 400Grunting and snarling. 401One called her proud, 402Cross-grained, uncivil; 403Their tones waxed loud, 404Their looks were evil. 405Lashing their tails 22 406They trod and hustled her, 407Elbowed and jostled her, 408Clawed with their nails, 409White and golden Lizzie stood, 410Like a lily in a flood, — 411Like a rock of blue-veined stone 412Lashed by tides obstreperously, — 413Like a beacon left alone 414In a hoary roaring sea, 415Sending up a golden fire, — 416Like a fruit-crowned orange-tree 417White with blossoms honey-sweet 418Sore beset by wasp and bee, — 23 419Like a royal virgin town 420Topped with gilded dome and spire 421Close beleaguered by a fleet 422Mad to tug her standard down. 423One may lead a horse to water, 424Twenty cannot make him drink. 425Though the goblins cuffed and caught her, 426Coaxed and fought her, 427Bullied and besought her, 428Scratched her, pinched her black as ink, 429Kicked and knocked her, 430Mauled and mocked her, 431Lizzie uttered not a word; 432Would not open lip from lip 433Lest they should cram a mouthful in: 434But laughed in heart to feel the drip 435Of juice that syrupped all her face, 436And lodged in dimples of her chin, 437And streaked her neck which quaked like curd. 24 438At last the evil people, 439Worn out by her resistance, 440Flung back her penny, kicked their fruit 441Along whichever road they took, 442Not leaving root or stone or shoot; 443Some writhed into the ground, 444Some dived into the brook 445With ring and ripple, 446Some scudded on the gale without a sound, 447Some vanished in the distance. 448In a smart, ache, tingle, 449Lizzie went her way; 450Knew not was it night or day; 451Sprang up the bank, tore thro" the furze, 452Threaded copse and dingle, 453And heard her penny jingle 454Bouncing in her purse, — 455Its bounce was music to her ear. 456She ran and ran 25 457As if she feared some goblin man 458Dogged her with gibe or curse 459Or something worse: 460But not one goblin skurried after, 461Nor was she pricked by fear; 462The kind heart made her windy-paced 463That urged her home quite out of breath with haste 464And inward laughter. 465She cried "Laura," up the garden, 466"Did you miss me? 467Come and kiss me. 468Never mind my bruises, 469Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices 470Squeezed from goblin fruits for you, 471Goblin pulp and goblin dew. 472Eat me, drink me, love me; 473Laura, make much of me: 474For your sake I have braved the glen 475And had to do with goblin merchant men." 26 476Laura started from her chair, 477Flung her arms up in the air, 478Clutched her hair: 479"Lizzie, Lizzie, have you tasted 480For my sake the fruit forbidden? 481Must your light like mine be hidden, 482Your young life like mine be wasted, 483Undone in mine undoing, 484And ruined in my ruin, 485Thirsty, cankered, goblin-ridden?" — 486She clung about her sister, 487Kissed and kissed and kissed her: 488Tears once again 489Refreshed her shrunken eyes, 490Dropping like rain 491After long sultry drouth; 492Shaking with aguish fear, and pain, 493She kissed and kissed her with a hungry mouth. 494Her lips began to scorch, 27 495That juice was wormwood to her tongue, 496She loathed the feast: 497Writhing as one possessed she leaped and sung, 498Rent all her robe, and wrung 499Her hands in lamentable haste, 500And beat her breast. 501Her locks streamed like the torch 502Borne by a racer at full speed, 503Or like the mane of horses in their flight, 504Or like an eagle when she stems the light 505Straight toward the sun, 506Or like a caged thing freed, 507Or like a flying flag when armies run. 508Swift fire spread through her veins, knocked at her heart, 509Met the fire smouldering there 510And overbore its lesser flame; 511She gorged on bitterness without a name: 512Ah! fool, to choose such part 28 513Of soul-consuming care! 514Sense failed in the mortal strife: 515Like the watch-tower of a town 516Which an earthquake shatters down, 517Like a lightning-stricken mast, 518Like a wind-uprooted tree 519Spun about, 520Like a foam-topped waterspout 521Cast down headlong in the sea, 522She fell at last; 523Pleasure past and anguish past, 524Is it death or is it life? 525Life out of death. 526That night long Lizzie watched by her, 527Counted her pulse"s flagging stir, 528Felt for her breath, 529Held water to her lips, and cooled her face 530With tears and fanning leaves: 531But when the first birds chirped about their eaves, 29 532And early reapers plodded to the place 533Of golden sheaves, 534And dew-wet grass 535Bowed in the morning winds so brisk to pass, 536And new buds with new day 537Opened of cup-like lilies on the stream, 538Laura awoke as from a dream, 539Laughed in the innocent old way, 540Hugged Lizzie but not twice or thrice; 541Her gleaming locks showed not one thread of grey, 542Her breath was sweet as May 543And light danced in her eyes. 544Days, weeks, months, years 546Afterwards, when both were wives 547With children of their own; 548Their mother-hearts beset with fears, 549Their lives bound up in tender lives; 550Laura would call the little ones 551And tell them of her early prime, 30 552Those pleasant days long gone 553Of not-returning time: 554Would talk about the haunted glen, 555The wicked, quaint fruit-merchant men, 556Their fruits like honey to the throat 557But poison in the blood; 558(Men sell not such in any town:) 559Would tell them how her sister stood 560In deadly peril to do her good, 561And win the fiery antidote: 562Then joining hands to little hands 563Would bid them cling together, 564"For there is no friend like a sister 565In calm or stormy weather; 566To cheer one on the tedious way, 567To fetch one if one goes astray, 568To lift one if one totters down, 569To strengthen whilst one stands."