ANTONY H. HARRISON oubtless the most familiar references to illness in the poetry of Christina Rossetti appear in Goblin Market after Lizzie's sister Laura has banqueted on the sumptuous fruits proffered by the demonic Goblin men (the only males, one recalls, who actually appear in the poem). Ecstatic for the moment, Laura returns to the maidens' garden cottage promising to bring her sister "plums . . . / Fresh on their mother twigs" and "cherries worth getting." She describes her feast in detail: "You cannot think what figs My teeth have met in, What melons icy-cold Piled on a dish of gold Too huge for me to hold, What peaches with a velvet nap, Pellucid grapes without one seed: Odorous indeed must be the mead Whereon they grow, and pure the wave they drink With lilies at the brink, And sugar-sweet their sap."1 Such delicate fruits would, in our own age, appear to be a tonic for any illness, but Laura's allusion to iconic lilies, in this context, suggests the delusory quality of her gustatory experience: soon, in fact, "her tree of life drooped from the root" (l. 260). She is overwhelmed by "her heart's sore ache" and
Victorian Poetry – West Virginia University Press
Published: Jan 3, 2008
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