Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
Golden head by golden head,
Like two pigeons in one nest
Folded in each other's wings,
They lay down in their curtain'd bed:
Like two blossoms on one stem,
Like two flakes of new-fall'n snow,
Like two wands of ivory
Tipp'd with gold for awful kings.
- Lizzie and Laura lie down to go to bed together.
- The poet compares the two of them to lots of different things as they cuddle up together. The girls are like "two pigeons" that are sharing a nest as they curl up in their canopy ("curtained") bed.
- But the poet can't seem to decide on one analogy—. They're not just like pigeons, they're also just like two flowers coming off of one "stem."
- Another comparison: they're like two flakes of snow.
- Finally, the two girls are compared to scepters made out of "ivory" with "gold" on the "tips." This is the strangest comparison yet. The girls are "ivory" because their skin is very fair and white, and the "gold" on the "tips" is their "golden" hair. But why compare two young women to scepters or "wands" for "awful kings"?
- "Awful" means "awe-inspiring," and not "horrible."
- Both the flower and the snow comparisons suggest that the girls are both equally pure and innocent. (You can think of this as being like the expression, "pure as the driven snow.")
- The long list of comparisons emphasizes that the two girls look almost identical, like two peas in a pod. But there's some irony here – we know that the two girls aren't the same anymore. Laura has tasted the goblin fruit, and Lizzie hasn't.
Moon and stars gaz'd in at them,
Wind sang to them lullaby,
Lumbering owls forbore to fly,
Not a bat flapp'd to and fro
Round their rest:
Cheek to cheek and breast to breast
Lock'd together in one nest.
- As the girls sleep, everything is silent around them.
- All of nature seems to want them to sleep well – "the wind" even sings them a "lullaby."
- "Owls" and "bats" don't fly too near, for fear of disturbing the girls' sleep.
- They sleep all cuddled up, "cheek to cheek" in their bed.