Fasten your seat belts, its what everyone wants.
I know poetry isn’t everyone’s cup of tea per say but I love it and so I’m going to write about it.
I’ve gotten into some cool slam poetry on YouTube, getting myself all fired up about rights and injustice again so thought I would do a review on one of the first poems that made me feel like this.
Oh yes. It’s Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti.
This is a poem which is notorious for its look into violence of men against women and of how women love and protect each other. On one level this love is sisterly and innocent…
It wouldn’t be literature if there wasn’t a HUGE overtone of lesbian lovings.
But I skip ahead. It is a classic Eve situation. Temptation by a non human being, in this case the Goblins. What is interesting is the fact that the Goblins are gendered very specifically as men, being described as ‘goblin men’ and ‘sly brother’.
They are not attractive and with this ugliness is portrayed a definite threatening tone. The are described as ‘cat-like and rat-like’ and as ‘leering’ creatures. These negative descriptions clearly portray a sense of distrust around these goblin men.
As we see through firstly the eyes of Laura, the only trustworthy character in the poem is Lizzie. This is seen when ‘full of wise upbraidings’ she tells her of the horrible fate of another girl in the village. This trustworthy figure is the one who ultimately saves her.
But where is the lesbianness. Well let me show.
‘Golden head by golden head,…
They lay down in their curtained bed…
Moon and stars gazed in at them…
Cheek to cheek and breast to breast,
Locked together in one nest.’
Now obviously the language is incredibly suggestive. But not only does this create a rather sexual image, it also enforces the idea that being safe means being with women. It implies that a nest, a safe haven is with ones sister. When I say this language is incredibly suggestive it must be remembered that this poem was written in 1862 and so images of sex would have been very few and far between.
As well as the idea of security being emphasized in this cocoon of womanhood, the affiliation of violence with men is also shown. As I said before the goblins are hideous. This mixed with the idea of Laura sucking ‘until her lips were sore’ and the goblin men who ‘held her hands and squeezed/ their fruits against her face’ emphasizes the link of violence with men.This section of the poem, where Laura goes to the goblins to try and help Lizzie, is probably the most famous for the depiction of rape. The next stanza goes onto describe how the goblins ‘Mauled and mocked her… coaxed and fought her’ how they ‘Tore her gown and soiled her stocking’. This is all very visceral imagery of rape and of how Laura is ‘white and golden’ and not tempted. She is the ideal. She is what all women should be when presented with the temptation that men offer.
What I take from this poem is that it is your sisters, your fellow women who you should trust and love. And when you stray from that some form of female identity must be tested.
So yeah. Go read and tell me what you think 🙂
Happy reading! x