Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
But sweet-tooth Laura spoke in haste:
"Good folk, I have no coin;
To take were to purloin:
I have no copper in my purse,
I have no silver either,
And all my gold is on the furze
That shakes in windy weather
Above the rusty heather."
- Laura doesn't want there to be any misunderstanding, so she blurts out that she doesn't have any money, so taking any fruit would be "to purloin," or to steal.
- She says that she has neither "copper" (i.e., pennies) nor "silver" (i.e., more valuable coins) to pay for the fruit.
- Instead of just saying, "I don't have any gold, either," she says that the only gold she has is "on the furze," which is a kind of evergreen shrub that has gold-colored flowers.
- She politely calls the goblins "Good Folk." "Folk" is capitalized, which could be a reference to old British myths that describe elfish, magical people as "Fair Folk" or "Good Folk."
"You have much gold upon your head,"
They answer'd all together:
"Buy from us with a golden curl."
She clipp'd a precious golden lock,
She dropp'd a tear more rare than pearl,
Then suck'd their fruit globes fair or red:
- The goblins point out that Laura ha plenty of "gold" on her head. Her blond hair, apparently, counts as gold money at the goblin market.
- So the goblins ask Laura to give them "a golden curl" in exchange for some fruit.
- Laura cuts a "precious golden lock," but cries while doing it.
- Just as her hair is "precious" and "golden" like a gold coin, her tear is compared to a "rare" "pearl."
- So Laura's various body parts are being compared to different precious minerals and gemstones.
- Having traded in that "precious golden curl," Laura starts "suck[ing]" on the goblin "fruit globes."
Sweeter than honey from the rock,
Stronger than man-rejoicing wine,
Clearer than water flow'd that juice;
She never tasted such before,
How should it cloy with length of use?
- The goblin fruit is tasty. Laura thinks that the fruit is "sweeter than honey" and "stronger than […] wine."
- Does that mean she's getting drunk on goblin fruit? Maybe, because she sure seems to be getting excited about that goblin fruit.
- The fruit juice is "clearer than water." What kind of fruit has juice that's "clearer than water"? What kind of fruit is this?
- Laura sure doesn't know – she's never tasted anything like this before.
- The poet then asks how the taste of the fruit could ever "cloy," or get old. But just by asking the question, the poet suggests that the fruit could indeed "cloy" after a while.
She suck'd and suck'd and suck'd the more
Fruits which that unknown orchard bore;
She suck'd until her lips were sore;
- Laura keeps "suck[ing]" on the fruit the goblins give her. It's so tasty that she can't stop.
- The word "sucked" is repeated three times in line 134, possibly to emphasize that Laura just can't bring herself to stop.
- If you think that these lines are starting to sound kind of erotic, you're not alone. It's hard to avoid reading these lines as sexual.
- We're reminded that the fruit she's "suck[ing]" comes from an "unknown orchard." (If you're going to go to town on fruit in a vaguely sexual way, it's best to know where that fruit came from.)
- Laura just keeps "suck[ing]" until she's physically exhausted. Her "lips were sore."
- The repetition of her "suck[ing]" on the fruit is emphasized by the rhyme in these lines. The rhyme scheme doesn't have a set pattern, and then suddenly three lines in a row all have rhyming end words ("more," "bore," "sore").
Then flung the emptied rinds away
But gather'd up one kernel stone,
And knew not was it night or day
As she turn'd home alone.
- Once Laura's done with the "suck[ing]", she tosses the "rinds" and fruit cores aside, pausing to pick up a single "kernel stone" (i.e., a seed or pit).
- Laura is so dazed that she can't tell whether it's "night or day" as she heads home by herself. Yep, sounds like those goblin fruits were laced with something nasty.