Study Guide

Goblin Market Stanza 26

By Christina Rossetti

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Stanza 26

Lines 507-512

Swift fire spread through her veins, knock'd at her heart,
Met the fire smouldering there
And overbore its lesser flame;
She gorged on bitterness without a name:
Ah! fool, to choose such part
Of soul-consuming care!

  • Now Laura's healing can begin. A fire spreads through her body from goblin fruit juice on Lizzie's skin, and overpowers the "lesser flame" that was burning in her heart.
  • (No, we can't explain how this works, medically. Just go with it.)
  • She "gorged," or feasted, on unspeakable bitterness.
  • The poet pulls back here and addresses Laura directly, as "fool," and shakes her finger at her for making bad decisions.
  • And eating goblin fruit, clearly, is a bad decision – it's "soul-consuming care."

Lines 513-523

Sense fail'd in the mortal strife:
Like the watch-tower of a town
Which an earthquake shatters down,
Like a lightning-stricken mast,
Like a wind-uprooted tree
Spun about,
Like a foam-topp'd waterspout
Cast down headlong in the sea,
She fell at last;
Pleasure past and anguish past,
Is it death or is it life?

  • Laura loses consciousness as her body battles for life (the "mortal strife" is the struggle for life).
  • Here's another string of similes!.
  • Laura faints just like a "watch-tower" of a town that collapses in an earthquake.
  • Or, she's like the "mast" of a ship that gets struck by "lightning."
  • She's also like a tree that gets "uprooted" and "spun about" by a strong wind or tornado.
  • Notice how short line 518 is? It's as though even the line of the poem is getting "spun about," or confused, by Laura losing consciousness.
  • Laura is also compared to a "waterspout" that falls into the sea.
  • So, she collapses. she's unconscious, and beyond both "pleasure" and "anguish."
  • The stanza ends with a question: is she alive or dead?

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