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Goblin Market by Christina Rosetti I believe this poem tells a story, a story about temptation and lust, about the desire to obtain something the narrator clearly is not meant to take or have. It has similarities to the Story in the bible about the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve have been told “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for if you eat you will surely die. ” When I read the poem by Christina Rosetti it makes me think about that story because of the opening lines “I ate and ate my fill, Yet my mouth waters still;”
The narrator, like Adam and Eve, felt discontented with what they were getting. They were always going to want more, never satisfied. There are subtle hints that the narrator should not be eating the fruit, but this makes the fruit taste better and more appealing. The words that have been used are double edged for example “Cherries worth getting” On it own this sounds innocent and appears to be about fruit! The double meaning here, I believe, suggests that something or someone is desired. Wanting to taste but not being quite sure; this also links with virginity, ‘untouched’ and this is where the lust comes in
I think the words Christina Rosetti has chosen are extremely clever because you have to read the poem time and time again to get the true meaning; this keeps the reader interested for longer. Every time you look at this poem you find something else you didn’t notice before. I feel that to try and pull out the striking words would not be of benefit, as they are all seemingly striking and without the rest of the poem attached they would not appear as exceptional; I believe this would not be doing justice to the poem.
For example the word “Pellucid” to me is very striking but alone, without the rest of the sentence, it makes no sense and the feeling is not the same. The line “Pellucid grapes without one seed” To me has much more of an effect and shows a lot more about the narrator’s emotions. I think the tone of this poem is unpredictable as there are different meanings. When you first read this poem and you see that it is about fruit, one may start to feel that the narrator is babbling, as it does not make a great deal of sense. For example “To-morrow night I will buy some more; and kissed her”.
This, in the context of fruit, seems out of place and somewhat irrelevant. It is only when you read the poem again, this time realising that it is not quite as ‘innocent’ as it first seemed, that the tone changes; it becomes more exciting and profound. I would say that the mood of the poem changes when the realisation of the poem’s true meaning sinks in. While the poem just seems to be about fruit I found the persona offered no excitement or anticipation. This changes quite dramatically when you realise that the poem is actually quite unconventional as it is hinting at a sexual relationship between two women.
For example “Cheek to cheek and breast to breast Locked together in one nest” At this point the voice then seems to become playfully mischievous. There are a lot of similes in this poem, for instance “Like two pigeons in one nest” I think Christina Rosetti wanted the reader to really visualise what was going on; also I feel that she used simile to create a feeling of anticipation, using a familiar image of closeness. “Like two flakes of newly fallen snow” Is very clearly talking about two people who are having a sexual relationship, but also telling us that it is the first time and in actual fact they are both virgins.
Snow, when it has just fallen, is untouched and perfect in everyway thus symbolising purity. “Not a bat flapped to and fro Round their nest” Is an example of the use of metaphor in this poem. People do not sleep in a nest and yet these two people are being likened to animals. This I believe creates a feeling of peacefulness, nothing moving. This is representing that they have reached a climax and they are now enjoying the serenity of the moment. An illustration of the use of personification in this poem is “Wind sang to them a lullaby”
The wind of course cannot sing but the image is used to create a peaceful atmosphere. I image it would be really calming and relaxing to have the wind singing a lullaby. Alliteration is not strongly used in this poem I could only find one example which is “And sugar sweet their sap” I feel this is to heighten the readers’ experience, making them almost taste the sugariness, thus allowing the reader to really get in touch with what is happening in the poem. This poem uses a lot of run on lines an there are only two full stops in the poem.
I think this increases the anticipation as well as the feeling of expectation as you can never see how it is going to end. The metre is quite smooth and sinuous and it is used by the narrator to keep the sequence of events told in the poem flowing. The tempo and manner of the poem, as I said earlier, changes when you realise its true meaning. I feel that this happens to keep the suspense. This poem has a sporadic rhyming style because some lines rhyme and others don’t but I feel that this is in keeping with the rest of the poem’s style as it is all rather unconventional.