Perverse or Folly? Is the “Goblin Market” Really a Kids Poem?

After reading the “Goblin Market” poem, I was left with an uneasy feeling between the perverse and folly; I was left pondering the multiple end meanings of the poem. Christina Rossetti, the poem’s creator, embodies these two feelings by punning on the sexual/temptation of experience, and the foolish/folly of child archetypes. As an adult I was left with mixed emotions because of having experienced the innocence in folly, and at the same time, fully understanding sexuality and temptation.

Perverse or Folly? By Willy Martinez on Mind on Fire Books

To begin with, Rossetti attracts both child and adult readers with epanalepsis: “come buy, come buy” (line 4). The repetition continues throughout this work, setting a playful tone; the conflict in interest lies when epanalepsis is used to reiterate something sexual: “She sucked and sucked and sucked the more Fruits which that unknown orchard bore; she sucked until her lips were sore” (134). Clearly, this is borderline sexual. Laura sucks fruits from the goblin’s unknown orchard until her lips became sore – this orchard represents a tree, shooting out of the earth, offering it’s seeds. The orchard tree can be viewed as the goblin’s sexuality, and her sucking on the fruits can be viewed as her enjoyment in sensual seduction.

Join 5,963 other subscribers
If you are enjoying this article, perhaps you would like “Faceless – 100 word short story”

Yet, in accordance with the ‘innocence’ of the potential reader, assuming we all experience innocence at one time, the poem still reads as jubilee and silly with a quick rhythm. Could only an adult mind see it as perverse and folly?

Another manner in which Rossetti concocts this scheme is by leaving the end open. In the last stanza, she jumps from Lizzie and Laura being young, to both of them being mothers. An explanation is never dispelled for the exact antidote that Lizzie brings to Laura. Perhaps it is because as adult readers we are just expected to know what the cure is, since we have experienced life, which might be one explanation for the two sisters handing down their knowledge, from the experienced to the innocent. But “Goblin Market” never distinguishes what really cured Laura, leaving the reader to wonder and at the same time still have an idea of what occurred. Rossetti plays on both realities to conflict what is really going to the adult reader.

Perverse or Folly? By Willy Martinez on Mind on Fire Books

To the child reader, the scenes are seen as comical or colorful but to the adult reader, whose knowledge would also include the child reader, the scenes can be seen as explicitly sexual with euphemisms. These sexual euphemisms serve as visual guides to the perverse and folly. “Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices” are not normal words one would find in a child’s poem.

If you are enjoying this article, perhaps you would like “12 Things to do on a Bookstore Date

Within the poem, “Goblin Market,” the sexual is sublime and it’s childlike folly is apparent for us adult readers. Rosetti has fused both of these elements to seduce both, our experience and our innocence, and once again, question ourselves about what is learned in our very own lives.

On Writing Horror Willy Martinez

  • On Writing Horror amassed from an obsession to learn where the power of fear resides. An anthology of works studying the way in which writers evoke fear and how it may affect us. On Writing Fear is an index of terror, drawing from Aristotle, Longinus, Edmund Burke, Che Guevarra, Wordsworth, Foucault, H.P. Lovecraft, Todorov, and many more.

    Available for download below for Free as Epub PDF, and Mobi. All we ask is for an honest review!

    Chapters include digital illustrations created by the author.


    A must have collection of research on the power of Horror- a tormented treatment of the human passions!

    Table of Contents for On Writing Horror

    Ch 1. Fear and War: Crafting the War on Terror Using Fear Appeals Ch 2. The Art of the Coup D'etat Ch 3. The Feminine Supernatural versus the Male Supernatural Writers Ch 4. Projecting Ghost Children to Find Identity Ch 5. The Supernatural Power of the Sublime in Wordsworth's Poetry Ch 6. Disorienting Characters with Haunted Spaces and Auditory Hallucinations Ch 7. Modern Ghosts Ch 8. The Fantastic in Fear Ch 9. The Fun Side of Fear: Faustus' Tricky Imp of Satan Ch 10. Glorifying Satan

    Some of the art included:

    [caption id="attachment_4846" align="alignnone" width="188"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4847" align="alignnone" width="200"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4848" align="alignnone" width="194"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption]



    On Writing Fear amassed from an obsession to learn where the power of
    horror resides. When I returned to study for my masters in English, the
    University was in tumult. The union of professors was on strike against
    the University. And of course, the students were pawns in the battle. As a
    student, I realized I was powerless in this situation, yet both the professors
    and University felt the need to deploy a rhetoric of fear. On the one hand, the
    school was threatening to lower our grades if we did not attend a class
    that was being covered by fill-in teachers and administrators, and on the
    other, we knew our teachers would be back so we didn’t want to show that
    we attended classes, and did not support them in their strike.

    their abuse of power, the University sent letters and emails to both
    students and their parents explaining that the students were still expected
    to attend class. The University then controlled its social media space and
    print by removing comments that were made regarding the strike – they
    wanted to continue as if nothing was going on. They were in control of the
    narrative and we were left to rumors. The school paper was not allowed to
    print any stories on the matter and the University was threatening to hold
    us accountable.

    We have other books specializing in Horror and sci-fi here. Thank you for your interest in “On Writing Horror.”

Mad Men Mad Men

  • Mad Men is a collection of three disturbing horror shorts from authors living in the Midwest. The themes explored in this collection range from man versus self, man versus man, and man versus creature. [caption id="attachment_4742" align="alignleft" width="188"]Mad Men eBook Mad Men eBook at Mind on Fire Books[/caption] Mad Men begins with Matt’s tale, a thought-provoking thriller that causes the reader to question his reality and what he fears within himself. The second tale explores the grotesque juxtaposed with beautiful nature, where the ending unfolds into a horrific dream, waking in even more terrible pain. The third tale is by seasoned horror writer, A.R. Braun – and his diabolical creatures never disappoint!  A.R. Braun’s goal is to be on the banned book list; we think this tale may just be evil enough to be considered. A must-read before it does get banned! Mainstream Horror Shorts don’t always satisfy us in the way they should. They don’t open conversations about what it is that we fear or why we fear such things, they focus mainly on pop culture and gore. The writers in the Mad Men anthology understand the need for literate horror, opening discussions of man’s psyche. When these writers set out to tell a story, they are less interested in conveying fear and more interested in wonder, the sublime, and the infinite strangeness that drives all men and women. Highly recommended for tweens, teens, and adults. The Mad Men anthology was published by Mind on Fire Books. Written by Willy Martinez, A.R. Braun, and Matt Lavitt. No part of this book shall be copied without permission from the publisher.

Ghost Children Willy Martinez

  • The ghost children in “The Lost Ghost” and “The Wind in the Rose-Bush” are not restricted ghosts, and this is how these ghosts differ from the other ghosts of writers of Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman's time such as Henry James, Sarah Jewett or Ambrose Bierce. These apparitions may seem cute but think twice as these ghost children will leave you with goosebumps. This double feature of Mary E. Wilkins's short fiction is creepy enough to leave you sleeping with the lights on. Mary E. Wilkins was an American author born on October 31(Halloween), in 1852. She was at first dismissed as a serious writer because of her Feminine subjects. More recent scholarship has argued the importance of her work regarding spinster heroines or abandoned ghost children.

    The Lost Ghost

    The story of “The Lost Ghost” begins with two women conversing while they sew. Mrs. Meserve tells the story of a fine house that has just been rented but has been said to be haunted, declaring that she is done with haunted homes, yet she then goes into a story about her past experience with a haunted situation and the ghost story thus begins. As a young lady, Mrs. Meserve moved into a house with roommates, Mrs. Bird and Mrs. Dennison. Mrs. Meserve tells how she had just started school as a teacher and it was a cold year so she had a heavy coat to keep warm.
    One night while staying up she heard the sounds of a “very timid” knock with “little hands” at her door which she at first dismissed.
    She offered for them to enter but when they didn’t, Mrs. Meserve got up to check. She opened the door to the smell of what she associated with a cellar and noticed a little face holding up her heavy coat the little face says: “I can’t find my mother.” The child then flitters away and Mrs. Meserve calls to her landladies for help. The two roommates were aware of the hauntings and had come to accept the little ghost girl. Mrs. Meserve decided to stay regardless of the ghost and came to learn that the child had been poorly treated by her mother and father. The child was abandoned and found dead in one of the bedrooms by the townspeople. Then one morning Mrs. Bird wasn’t feeling too well and stayed in bed. During breakfast, Mrs. Meserve noticed a shadow walk by the window and when she got up to look she noticed the little girl walking hand in hand with Mrs. Bird. Mrs. Bird had died that morning.

    The Wind in the Rose Bush

    The second ghost story that will be examined is “The Wind in the Rose Bush”. This story is about a woman named Rebecca Flint traveling a great distance to bring back her niece Agnes to live with her. Rebecca’s sister had passed away and her sister’s husband had re-married. Rebecca came across some money and thought she would take her niece Agnes and raise her now that she had some money in the bank and also because she had no other family left. On her travels to find her niece she encounters the strangest of folks who either grunt at her or speak to her as an outsider, which adds to the resistance that Rebecca encounters on her journey. Rebecca arrives at the house and is greeted by Mrs. Dent, her niece’s stepmother.
    On the way into the house, Rebecca notices a pretty little rose bush being “agitated violently” except there was no wind.
    A short while later the two ladies are having tea and discussing the arrangements of having Agnes go home with her Aunt Rebecca when Rebecca sees Agnes pass by the window. The girl doesn’t enter and Mrs. Dent tells Rebecca that she must have been mistaken, Agnes never walked by. Rebecca stays the night and wakes the next day with still no sign of Agnes’s return. Mrs. Dent continues to make up excuses for Agnes not returning and Rebecca continues to be haunted by Agnes: she awakes at night by the sounds coming from the piano and also finds in her room that a dress was laid out with the rose from the rose bush lying on it. Rebecca continues to drill Mrs. Dent with questions but is forced to return home due to a letter she received calling her home to a sick cousin. Rebecca goes back home and through research and letter writing comes to find out that her niece Agnes had died a year ago; it was suspected to have been due to neglect but there was not enough evidence.
Join The Tribe!

Leave a Reply