I remembered enjoying Christina Rossetti's "The Goblin Market" when I was in college. Something brought it to mind the other day, and, I decided to seek it out again. I ended up choosing a chunkster volume of poetry. At first, my intentions were just to read "The Goblin Market" and perhaps a few other poems too. Before I knew it, I was halfway through the book! I read the book in three days, and I was loving every minute of it. That isn't to say that I loved each and every poem equally. But for a person who doesn't typically "like" poetry to get swept up and away by a volume of poetry, well, it says something.
The edition I read was divided into five major sections: Goblin Market and Other Poems, Devotional Pieces, The Prince's Progress and Other Poems, Devotional Pieces, and A Pageant and Other Poems.
I loved the variety of the poems. Some poems told stories. Some were light-hearted. Some were serious. Some were reflective. Some were hopeful. Some were melancholy. Quite a handful were about death. Some were about love: love lost or love won. Some were about nature and the seasons. One thing that modern readers might not be expecting is the volume of "sacred" or "devotional" pieces. That was a big, big bonus for me.
"Goblin Market" is a great poem, a great story. I loved it very much. I'll include a few excerpts to give you a taste of it. But essentially, it is about two sisters: Laura and Lizzie. One sister, Laura, can't resist temptation. She tastes the forbidden fruit, and it changes her forever. Lizzie slowly watches her sister decline and pine away, and she decides to act...
Morning and eveningand
Maids heard the goblins cry:
"Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:
Apples and quinces,
Lemons and oranges,
Plump unpecked cherries,
Melons and raspberries,
Wild free-born cranberries,
Leering at each other,and
Brother with queer brother;
Signalling each other,
Brother with sly brother.
One set his basket down,
One reared his plate;
One began to weave a crown
Of tendrils, leaves, and rough nuts brown
(Men sell not such in any town);
One heaved the golden weight
Of dish and fruit to offer her:
"Come buy, come buy," was still their cry.
One may lead a horse to water,Here are excerpts from a few other poems I enjoyed.
Twenty cannot make him drink.
From "A Birthday"
My heart is like a singing birdFrom "The Master Is Come, And Calleth For Thee"
Whose nest is in a watered shoot;
My heart is like an apple tree
Whose boughs are bent with thick-set fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
Because my love is come to me.
Who calleth?--Thy Father calleth,From "Advent"
Run, O Daughter, to wait on Him:
He Who chasteneth but for a season
Trims thy lamp that it burn not dim.
Who calleth?--Thy Master calleth,
Sit, Disciple, and learn of Him:
He Who teacheth wisdom of Angels
Makes thee wise as the Cherubim,
We weep because the night is long,From "What Would I Give?"
We laugh, for day shall rise,
We sing a slow contented song
And knock at Paradise.
What would I give for a heart ofFrom "Saints and Angels"
flesh to warm me through,
Instead of this heart of stone
ice-cold whatever I do;
Hard and cold and small, of all
hearts the worst of all.
The road to death is life, the gate of life is death,
We who wake shall sleep, we shall wax who wane;
From "Who Shall Deliver Me?"
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible
God strengthen me to bear myself;and
That heaviest weight of all to bear,
Inalienable weight of care.
All others are outside myself;
I lock my door and bar them out,
The turmoil, tedium, gad-about.
I lock my door upon myself,
And bar them out; but who shall wall
Self from myself, most loathed of all?
This coward with pathetic voiceFrom "Dost Thou Not Care?"
Who craves for ease and rest and joys:
Myself, arch-traitor to myself;
My hollowest friend, my deadliest foe,
My clog whatever road I go.
I love and love not: Lord, it breaks my heartFrom "Good Friday"
To love and not to love.
Am I a stone and not a sheepFrom "For Thine Own Sake, O My God"
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy Blood's slow loss,
And yet not weep?
Yet give not o'er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.
Wearied of sinning, wearied of repentance,From "Behold the Man!"
Wearied of self, I turn, my God, to Thee;
To Thee, my Judge, on Whose all-righteous sentence
Hangs mine eternity:
I turn to Thee, I plead Thyself with Thee,--
Be pitiful to Me.
Shall Christ hang on the Cross, and we not look?
Heaven, earth, and hell stood gazing at the first,
While Christ for long-cursed man was counted cursed;
Christ, God and Man, Whom God the Father strook
And shamed and sifted and one while forsook:--
Cry shame upon our bodies we have nursed
In sweets, our souls in pride, our spirits immersed
In wilfulness, our steps run all a crook.
Cry shame upon us! for He bore our shame
In agony, and we look on at ease
With neither hearts on flame nor cheeks on flame:
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible