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Goblin Market

Goblin Market


by Christina Rossetti

Analysis: Sound Check

Christina Rossetti always insisted that "Goblin Market" was a children's poem, and it definitely sounds like one. The short lines, vivid imagery, and frequent repetitions and lists make it sound sing-song-y, like a child's nursery song. Parts of it seem so catchy they should be used in TV ads:

Morning and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry:
'Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy.'
(lines 1-4)

The rhythm and the rhyme seem so deceptively simple that you could imagine toddlers reciting these lines and bobbing their little heads in time to the rhythm of the words. The repetition of the goblins' cry, "Come buy! Come buy!" sounds like a chorus, or refrain – very much like in a children's song. But then you get to lines like this:

She sucked and sucked and sucked the more
Fruits which that unknown orchard bore'
She sucked until her lips were sore
. (lines 134-136)

It's harder to imagine preschoolers reading this part, right? "Goblin Market" is like an unrated foreign movie that looks family-friendly, until all of a sudden the parents have to clap their hands over their kids' eyes. Even the sound of "Goblin Market" keeps the reader guessing.

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