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Goblin Market

4.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,875 Ratings  ·  153 Reviews
Today as in 1862 when Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market first appeared, the "little grey men who tramp the glen" still offer their tempting wares to any Laura who cannot resist. "Come buy, come buy," is still their cry. Laura, captured by the sugar-baited words, tastes their magic offerings and is lost to a consuming hunger. Only the courage of her living sister pulls Lau ...more
Hardcover, 47 pages
Published 1969 by Franklin Watts (first published 1862)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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J.G. Keely
The intellectual critic is able to remove himself from this poem's pomophilic lesbianism and focus on an analysis of the many literary elements present. The lesser man simply counts himself lucky to find two such beautiful events in utopic cohabitation.
Apr 28, 2015 Cecily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember enjoying some of Rossetti's shorter poems as I child (not that this is especially long), but was not familiar with this until I heard an extraordinary reading on BBC Radio 4 by Shirley Henderson a few months' ago. I've tried to find a link, but can only find a very short sample:

It is a hypnotic poem about temptation, salivation, and salvation via sacrifice, told in contrasts: a sensible sister and a weak-willed one; gorgeous fruit, from hideou
K.D. Absolutely
Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894) was an English poet during the Victorian age. She had this fondness to write poems about death. Examples of this are Remember that is her most famous poem and my mum's favorite, When I am Dead My Dearest.

But this long poem, Goblin Market is not about death. Rather it is about succumbing to temptation, repentance and social redemption. According to Wiki (link above), Rossetti was working as a volunteer in a charity house and her interactions with former p
Gloria Mundi
What a peculiar story this is. Laura and Lizzie are two sisters who go to fetch some water every day and on their way they hear the cries of the goblin men selling all manner of luscious exotic fruit:

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;—
All ripe together
In summer weather

Wise Lizzie keeps
This poem was a ton of fun! I especially liked the part where the nubile young woman sucks nectar off her sister's neck. I was all, "Aw yeah! High five!" But I was alone, so I had to high five myself. It's less depressing than it sounds. No it's not.

It's a weird, wicked poem. The meter and rhyme scheme are schizophrenic; I tried to track it for a while, but you actually can't. Rosetti has no intention of being consistent. That adds to the creepy feel of the poem, as you're constantly off balance
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Christina "When I Am Dead My Dearest Sing No Sad Songs For Me" Rossetti was born in London on 5 December 1830. Four days from now, or on 29 December 2013, it'll be her 129th death anniversary.

Like Kate Chopin whose short stories I've been reading, Christina Rossetti was probably a very horny woman but whose sexuality was repressed because of the social milieu she lived in. She was also deeply pious, as she called off two engagements to two different men on religious grounds.

Like Chopin, however
Lizzie and Laura explore the poetic beauty of nature and life, but Goblin-Men haunt the forest and the local town. They have infested friends with seductive fruit turned poison, to the death and sickness of others. They sell fruits the girls find hard to resist, and if they refuse a price becomes forced.

"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
Mar 12, 2016 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I fell in love with Christina Rossetti's poetry when I read "After Death". Although "Goblin Market" was an entirely different poem, I still like it. In fact, I've become even more desperate to scour the bookstores for any of her collection. I haven't really read much Victorian poets, but of the few that I've read lately, I prefer Rossetti most of all (I might have started out wrongly with Robert Browning; I should have read his more accessible works first). "Goblin Market" is along the vein of o ...more
Oct 31, 2014 Suvi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mouth-wateringly beautiful (as are the illustrations by Arthur Rackham), the verses aren't drowned in overly obscure metaphors, but they form a crisp narrative allegory about temptation and whatnot. Magical and subtle enough that it's suitable for children, but no adult can ignore the sensuality (juice sucking and so on). Laura is taken advantage of, and the hideous goblins are not interested in already spoiled maidens (and when their advances are rebuffed, they become furious and abusive), but ...more
Jun 09, 2015 Mosca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-be-re-read

Cristina Rossetti is the author of a number of favorite poems from my childhood. But "Goblin Market" is an adult poem with a serious sexual subtext. And my own feelings about this are very contradictory.

Victorian repression and sexual loathing--tangled with desire--permeate the poetry.

This image from the Wikipedia commons:


was the published image from the 1862 edition. It was done by her brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti; and it helps very much to clarify some of the
Mar 06, 2010 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hadn't read this poem in at least 10 years, but when I woke up at 3am last night and couldn't get back to sleep, I took it off the shelf. What a strange poem--so simple and yet so elusive. You pretty much get what she's driving at, but whenever you try to nail it down, the nails turn to water. Or in this case maybe the juice of luscious pomegranates. The perceptive afterword in this edition by Joyce Carol Oates pretty much summarizes all the poem's ambiguities, and its limitations which are so ...more
Jun 03, 2010 Stasha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, horror
I fell in love with the Pre-Raphaelites in college. Christina Rossetti was an enigma. Praised for her Christian virtue and religious writings, Goblin Market broke from her tradition. Seen as vaguely pornographic and shockingly aberrant from the "women always suffer" stories of Adam and Eve, Pandora and other curious women, Lizzie and Laura survive to achieve the Victorian ideal of children of their own.

It shocked the time that Lizzie stood her ground against men and won, she saved her sister by
Apr 28, 2014 Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A poem about two sisters who face the temptation of goblin men and how they overcome desire together. Christina Rossetti tackles so many topics in this work, ranging from the strength of sisterhood to the inevitability of sin to the idea of female sexuality within the Victorian era. "Goblin Market" is more than it seems to be, in every sense, because it is not just a cautionary tale for young girls about sex. It is not just a Rossetti's foray into lesbianism and morality. Instead, several elemen ...more
Aug 09, 2013 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
During my final English sequence class in college. I wrote my final paper on two of Christina Rossetti's poems, though I put more focus on "Goblin Market" than I did with her shorter poem "A Triad."

Goblin Market fascinated me for obvious reasons. It is a beautiful poem, lyrical in the words and descriptive to the point where it provides the mind of the reader with the most clear and beautiful pictures to portray each and every scene. Still, as an English major I was required to look beyond the
Billierosie Billierosie

Goblin Market, is a poem by Christina Rossetti. It was published 1862. It is a fairy- tale which has been subjected to many interpretations, some seeing it as religious allegory, others see it as sexual symbolism; it tells the story of two sisters, tempted by goblins with forbidden fruit.

To me, the poem is sumptuous with erotic menace and it is the erotica that I shall be concentrating on! (No surprises there then!)

The story narrated in "Goblin Market" is simple. Two sisters, Laura and Lizzie,
Althea Ann
Jan 26, 2014 Althea Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another classic that I hadn't read for many, many years. While generally I appreciate authors who are loath to have their work read as allegory, this is too clear to be denied. The message I get out of this? "While men may be very tempting, it's generally safer to have sex with other women before marriage (Although the men won't think much of that plan)."
Jan 02, 2016 Christina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This remains one of my favorite pieces of literature. There are so many layers of subtle and not-so-subtle meaning. It's brilliant and vividly alive.
Aug 14, 2012 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rossetti's lyric/epic of entwined female protagonists is a triumph of insistent rhythms and distaff imagery. The tropes proliferate as lushly as the beckoning goblin fruit "sweet to tongue and sound to eye"--for both maidens and readers. Like ripples reverberating from a core of metaphor, a "gleaming neck" is not only a "rush-imbedded swan" but also "a lily from the beck","a moonlit poplar branch", and "a vessel at the launch / When its last restraint is gone." Not to be outdone, here's the quic ...more
Jul 25, 2008 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Used to read this in secret as a child. My copy had Arthur Rackham illustrations.


*covets symbolic fruit*
Jul 17, 2014 Kaethe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, sisters
I'm not sure I understand it.

It's a simple story: Two sisters, Lizzie and Laura, and Laura is tempted to try the delicious fruits sole by the goblin-men who are animal-like. In exchange for a lock of her hair the goblin men give her all the most delicious fruits, quite a long list, and she eats, but thereafter falls into a decline. She longs for more such fruit, but doesn't hear the goblin-men any more. Then Lizzie, fearing that her sister is soon to die, goes to the goblin-men, and offers them
Lynn Beyrouthy
Mar 13, 2014 Lynn Beyrouthy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Christina Rossetti, one of the most notable female poets of the Victorian era, was known for her excessive religious devotion and chastity (She rejected suitors and remained unmarried). One would be shocked to read a poem containing so much erotic potential written by an apparently so virtuous and virginal woman.
Incest, oral sex and gang rape are all implicitly referenced but never explicitly mentioned. So let's be fair, this poem is a fairytale, it was meant to be a children's book (and God do
Apr 17, 2012 haripriya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-readings
Come, sample..come, sample a sensual piece of Pre-Raphaelite fantasy fiction of the sweet-juice-drippings-from-a-luscious-full-and-fine-pomegranate variety. Written in the form of a narrative poem,it revolves around two sisters -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.
They are tempted by insidious goblin merchants who seduce the maidens with sumptuous fruits, perhaps an allusion t
Alyssa Tabor
Jul 07, 2015 Alyssa Tabor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Haunting and beautiful. Disturbing and interesting. I love this kind of fantasy allegory.
Mar 11, 2016 Lyndsay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
Actual Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
My favourite poem!!
Mary Victoria
Nov 13, 2015 Mary Victoria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An old favourite. It's not the fruit: it's who you're buying from...

I read this poem for the first time as a child, probably around the age of eleven. I remember taking away a feeling of absolute triumph from that reading. It's bizarre, it's lush, it has all the possible erotic subtexts and more. And it is also strangely celebratory, despite the cautionary tone. The sisters win. We win. We win, using the goblins' own methods. Take that, goblins.

So much of modern fantasy literature is indebted to
Lilaia Melville
Oct 06, 2015 Lilaia Melville rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
''Goblin Market'' rightfully claims a place among the most sensual and delightful poems of the English canon. Mouth-watering, sexual and erotic in its nature and with luscious, sugary juices cloying its every verse, it is an exquisite work of art. I was drenched in pleasure while reading it. Rossetti makes it really elusive to bring its meaning to the light. Various interpretations can be presented on the table. Is it a feminist tale about homosexual politics? Is it about feminine sexuality (Eve ...more
Mona Anvari
i haven't read that many English poetry before this, maybe a little Shakespeare here and there but i have no point of reference, if i have to compare this to Persian poetry i admire so much, i have to say it lacks the subtleties and the consistent structure but perhaps i am wrong in doing so! it was beautiful and i am really happy i read it is all i can say.

"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,
Nov 02, 2011 Izzy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just such an awesome poem. It was a favourite of my old English teacher and I was so glad I read it. It reads like a musical story and is so rich in detail. It's heavily influenced a lot of the faery based fiction books of today. It's one of them catchy poems that I find myself randomly quoting to myself from time to time--despite being so long.
Tijl Vandersteene
Poëzie. Het is wat.

In deze bundel staan een twintigtal gedichten van Rossetti. Daarvan is het eerste en langste, Goblin Market, ook het beste. Rossetti schrijft rijmende (outch!), romantische, dromerige dingen over de natuur, de liefde, de dood, geloof, het verleden e.d. In het titelgedicht werkt dat goed, in vele andere blijft het een oppervlakkig kunstje. Dit lijkt poëzie die fictief, gemaakt, geconstrueerd is, zonder noodzaak, niet dwingend, zonder ziel.

Het stijgt zelden boven doorsnee rijm
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Christina Georgina Rossetti, one of the most important women poets writing in nineteenth-century England, was born in London December 5, 1830, to Gabriele and Frances (Polidori) Rossetti. Although her fundamentally religious temperament was closer to her mother's, this youngest member of a remarkable family of poets, artists, and critics inherited many of her artistic tendencies from her father.

More about Christina Rossetti...

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“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 forbore to fly,
Not a bat flapped to and fro
Round their rest:
Cheek to cheek and breast to breast
Locked together in one nest.”
“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.” 7 likes
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