Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
Her lips began to scorch,
That juice was wormwood to her tongue,
She loath'd the feast:
Writhing as one possess'd she leap'd and sung,
Rent all her robe, and wrung
Her hands in lamentable haste,
And beat her breast.
- The goblin fruit juice doesn't taste good to Laura – it actually burns her lips.
- It tastes like "wormwood," or bitter poison to her.
- Laura "writh[es]," or squirms, in pain.
- It's as though she's "possessed" with an evil spirit.
- She jumps around, crying out, tearing at her dress, and generally freaking out.
Her locks stream'd like the torch
Borne by a racer at full speed,
Or like the mane of horses in their flight,
Or like an eagle when she stems the light
Straight toward the sun,
Or like a caged thing freed,
Or like a flying flag when armies run.
- We then get another stream of similes describing Laura.
- First, we're told that her hair is "stream[ing]" behind her like the flame held by a racer (imagine someone running while carrying the Olympic torch).
- Then we're told that her hair is like the mane of a horse that's running.
- Or maybe it's like an eagle flying "toward the sun."
- Or, maybe her hair flying free like something that has been caged for a long time and is enjoying its freedom.
- Finally, her hair is compared to a "flag" held up by a soldier in an advancing army.