So, who has read this little gem? If you're an English Lit major you probably would have. If you're a Victorian Era specialist you probably would have. If you haven't read it ... you should but SPOILER ALERT!
We're going over this poem in class. I don't know what it is about this poem but I like it, despite one professor's reading that it seems highly sexualized. For example lines 125 - 140 "'Buy from us with a golden curl.'/She clipped a precious golden lock/she dropped a tear more rare than pearl/ then sucked their fruit globes fair or red/ sweeter than honey from the rock/Stronger than man-rejoicing with wine/clearer than water flowed that juice/she never tasted such before/how should it cloy with length of use/She sucked and sucked and sucked more/Fruits which that unknown orchard bore/She sucked until her lips were sore/then flung the emptied rinds away.But gathered up one kernel-stone/and knew not was it night or day/as she turned home alone."
Line 134-136 is apparently as close to being erotic as Victorians got. But it makes sense! Okay not really just those lines. If you take it apart stanza by stanza... the first stanza completely sets up the scene for temptation, sin, lust and a moral at the end. The way Rossetti describes the fruit the goblins are hauling to market is enough to make a young girl desire them. (Temptation/lust) The way Laura eats the fruit is really sexual (I suppose) but it's her reaction to how they taste... she lusts after the goblin fruit and can't rest until she has more, despite what her sister, Lizzie, said to her. The sin is taking the fruit after Lizzie warns her not to! There it is. That's the only sexualized part in the poem.
But couldn't this poem be about something else? It was suggested Tuesday in class that it could be a study in addiction. Yes! Laura became addicted to the fruit and in drug addition it can lead to death. But it isn't what you think! There was a price for her lust. Her golden locks suffered as well as her health. Her sister, as sisters should, took pity on her for her condition. She goes to the goblins to bring fruit back to Laura. But (you could describe this scene as a kind of attempted rape) the goblins wanted her to eat with them and she refused. Yay! She stood her ground and took some remnant of fruit back to Laura.
Oops, I lied. There is one other part that could be considered a bit sexual. Lines 465 -510 "Did you miss me/Come and Kiss me/Never mind my bruises/Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices/Squeezed from goblin fruits for you/Goblin pulp and goblin dew/Eat me, drink me, love me/Laura, make much of me...Flung her arms up in the air/Clutched her hair/"Lizzie, Lizzie, have you tasted/For my sake the fruit forbidden...She clung about her sister/Kissed and kissed and kissed her...She kissed and kissed her with a hungry mouth." I could go on but I won't.
Another taboo thing in Victorian London. Did it happen? Probably. Was this something that Rosseti was familiar with? She had a strange relationship, from what I understand, with her own siblings.
So what do you think? Is this a Victorian Era erotic poem or is it more of a tale with a moral?
College graduate, Army vet, single mom, Husky mom, Movie lover, writer