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Goblin Market

Goblin Market


by Christina Rossetti

Stanza 14 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 281-285

One day remembering her kernel-stone
She set it by a wall that faced the south;
Dew'd it with tears, hoped for a root,
Watch'd for a waxing shoot,
But there came none;

  • Finally, Laura remembered that she had saved a "kernel stone," or seed, from the goblin fruit she'd eaten.
  • She tries planting it in a nice, warm spot in their garden.
  • After all, she figures, if she can't find her dealer, she might as well try to grow her own.
  • But even though she waters it "with tears," it doesn't take root.
  • Laura's not much of a gardener if she thinks that salty tears are enough to start a plant from seed.

Lines 286-292

It never saw the sun,
It never felt the trickling moisture run:
While with sunk eyes and faded mouth
She dream'd of melons, as a traveller sees
False waves in desert drouth
With shade of leaf-crown'd trees,
And burns the thirstier in the sandful breeze

  • Lines 286-287 literally describe the seed, which "never saw the sun," but they could also describe Laura herself, who is wasting away.
  • Laura can't stop dreaming about the fruit, but it's like a "traveler" who sees mirages of water in a "desert." None of it is real, but her dreams make her withdrawal symptoms even worse.

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