by Christina Rossetti
Stanza 20 Summary
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
"Good folk," said Lizzie,
Mindful of Jeanie:
"Give me much and many: -
Held out her apron,
Toss'd them her penny.
- Lizzie keeps reminding herself what happened to Jeanie, so she tells the goblins that she wants to buy some fruit, and tosses them her "silver penny."
- It's interesting that Lizzie uses a coin to buy the fruit, while Laura traded a lock of her "golden hair."
- Lizzie holds out her apron for them to fill with fruit to go.
"Nay, take a seat with us,
Honour and eat with us,"
They answer'd 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,
- The goblin market doesn't work as a to-go operation, though.
- They tell Lizzie to have a seat and eat her fruit with them
- After all, they tell her, it's still early, and the stars are out.
- And besides, they say, the fruits don't travel well – "half their flavour" would be lost and they'd get all dry and gross if she tried to take the fruit home.
"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 toss'd you for a fee." -
- Lizzie isn't convinced: she tells them she wants the fruit to go, or not at all – if they're not interested in sending her away with any, she wants her penny back.
- After all, Laura is waiting at home for her, by herself. She doesn't want to waste time sitting out by the brook with the goblins.
- She says she's not interested in "parleying," or negotiating, any more about it.
They began to scratch their pates,
No longer wagging, purring,
But visibly demurring,
Grunting and snarling.
One call'd her proud,
Their tones wax'd loud,
Their look were evil.
- The goblins start getting mad – they're not excited about giving take-out goblin fruit.
- They scratch their heads ("pates"), trying to decide how to deal with this troublesome girl.
- They're not smiling or "purring" anymore, but are "demurring," or delaying.
- The goblins start insulting Lizzie, saying she's too "proud" and "cross-grained," or stubborn, to sit and eat with them.
- They start getting louder and are obviously up to no good.
Lashing their tails
They trod and hustled her,
Elbow'd and jostled her,
Claw'd with their nails,
Barking, mewing, hissing, mocking,
Tore her gown and soil'd her stocking,
Twitch'd her hair out by the roots,
Stamp'd upon her tender feet,
Held her hands and squeez'd their fruits
Against her mouth to make her eat.
- The goblins start "lashing their tails" like whips, and "hustle," or shove Lizzie around, and "elbow" her in the ribs."
- They're getting pretty violent. Again, the poet gives us a list of –ing words that describe the various ways the goblins harass and physically assault Lizzie.
- They even tear at her dress, dirty her "stocking," or tights, and yank her hair.
- Then things get violent: some of them grab her hands while others try to force the fruit into her mouth.