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Goblin Market

Goblin Market

5.0 2
by Christina Rossetti, George Gershinowitz (Illustrator)

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Experience the temptation, pleasure, punishment, and redemption of Christina Rossetti's brilliant poetic masterpiece in this classic keepsake edition, gorgeously illustrated with Pre-Raphaelite paintings by Christina's brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Published in 1862, this phantasmagoric tale of two maidens seduced by lewd goblin men provides a startling glimpse


Experience the temptation, pleasure, punishment, and redemption of Christina Rossetti's brilliant poetic masterpiece in this classic keepsake edition, gorgeously illustrated with Pre-Raphaelite paintings by Christina's brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Published in 1862, this phantasmagoric tale of two maidens seduced by lewd goblin men provides a startling glimpse into the depths of the Victorian psyche. Full color throughout. 80 pp.

Product Details

Godine, David R. Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st U.S. ed

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Read an Excerpt

Goblin Market

By Christina Rossetti, Arthur Rackham

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 2010 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-13200-6



    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;

    "Look, Lizzie, look, Lizzie, Down the glen tramp little men"

    How warm the wind must blow
    Through those fruit bushes."
    "No," said Lizzle: "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 skurry.
    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 noonlight
    She pined and pined away;
    Sought them by night and day,

    Found them no more, but dwindled and grew grey;
    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;
    To-morrow night I will
    Buy more" . and kissed her:
    " Have done with sorrow;
    I'll bring you plums to-morrow
    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 forbore to fly,
    Not a bat flapped to and fro
    Round their nest:
    Cheek to cheek and breast to breast
    Locked together in one nest.

    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 homewards said: "The sun- set 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 glowworm 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, naught 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 moon waxed bright
    Her hair grew thin and grey;
    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

    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.


Excerpted from Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti, Arthur Rackham. Copyright © 2010 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Christina Georgina Rossetti was part of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, along with her brothers Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William M. Rossetti. She served as a model for them, but also shared in that artistic community, with written contributions to The Germ, a Pre-Raphaelite journal.
This poem was published in 1862 and helped establish her reputation, mainly as a writer for children. She wrote poems and religious books. Illness restricted her activities, perhaps adding to the intensity of feeling in her works.

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