Study Guide

Goblin Market Sex

By Christina Rossetti


Like a vessel at the launch
When its last restraint is gone. (85-86)

Laura is compared to a ship after all the lines have been drawn in and the anchor is up. She seems to have completely lost her self-"restraint." No more inhibitions. It's time to go for some goblin fruit.

She sucked and sucked and sucked the more
Fruits which that unknown orchard bore;
She sucked until her lips were sore. (134-136)

These lines hardly need our commentary – they're like fruit porn.

"Do you not remember Jeanie,
How she met them in the moonlight,
Took their gifts both choice and many,
Ate their fruits and wore their flowers
Plucked from bowers
Where summer ripens at all hours?" (147-152)

Jeanie is used as a cautionary tale in this poem – an example of what happens to women who eat the fruit but don't have a sister to redeem them. The word "bowers" here could have a double meaning, since "bower" can mean both a shady part of a garden and a woman's dressing room. And "plucking flowers" from a woman's private dressing room sounds an awful lot like a metaphor for sex.

While to this day no grass will grow
Where she lies low:
I planted daisies there a year ago
That never blow. (158-161)

Lizzie is describing how grass won't grow on Jeanie's grave. Even the daisies Lizzie planted there won't "blow," or bloom. Why is this? Was Jeanie's body so corrupted by her contact with the goblin fruit that the soil on top of her grave won't support plants?

But who for joys brides hope to have
Fell sick and died (314-315)

And what are the "joys brides hope to have"? This might be a reference to sex. Jeanie couldn't wait for her marriage, so she dawdled with the goblin men and ate their fruit. We now know that this was a big mistake.

In her gay prime (316)

"Gay" means happy and carefree, but during the period when Christina Rossetti was writing, it was commonly applied to prostitutes or women who were promiscuous. So this line could suggest that Jeanie had had sex before marriage.