Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
Days, weeks, months, years
Afterwards, when both were wives
With children of their own;
Their mother-hearts beset with fears,
Their lives bound up in tender lives;
- Flash forward years later for this stanza. Both Laura and Lizzie are "wives" and have their own children.
- Like all mothers, they worry about their kids.
Laura would call the little ones
And tell them of her early prime,
Those pleasant days long gone
Of not-returning time:
Would talk about the haunted glen,
The wicked, quaint fruit-merchant men,
Their fruits like honey to the throat
But poison in the blood;
(Men sell not such in any town):
Would tell them how her sister stood
In deadly peril to do her good,
And win the fiery antidote:
- Laura tells their kids all about her own youth, and how she visited the "haunted glen" where the goblins were.
- She tells them the whole story. She says that the goblin fruit was so tasty, but was "poison in the blood."
- Line 556 is an echo from Line 101. It repeats that "men" don't sell fruit like theirs "in any town."
- Laura tells the kids about Lizzie's heroism – how she risked her own life to save Laura.
Then joining hands to little hands
Would bid them cling together,
"For there is no friend like a sister
In calm or stormy weather;
To cheer one on the tedious way,
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down,
To strengthen whilst one stands."
- As Laura repeats the story to her children, she tells them that the moral is that sisters should stick together, because "there is no friend like a sister/ In calm or stormy weather."
- Sisters save each other and "strengthen" each other.
- The poem ends with Laura's moral to her children.