This is a Good Poem October 1st

October is a good month to read one of the most subversive poems ever read to little kids.  I wanted to do my first master’s thesis on it, but my committee said Christina Rosetti wasn’t important enough.  However, they said, I could write about her brother, Dante . . . .  Goblins, all of them.

“Goblin Market” by Christina Rosetti (1859) is after the jump.  It’s a long poem, but well worth the trip.  I tried pasting it in here, but it was just too much for the blog, so follow the link, please.

And if you don’t have time for Laura and Lizzie (although they are SO worth it), here’s “Promises Like Piecrust” (1861):

Promise me no promises,
So will I not promise you;
Keep we both our liberties,
Never false and never true:
Let us hold the die uncast,
Free to come as free to go;
For I cannot know your past,
And of mine what can you know? 

You, so warm, may once have been
Warmer towards another one;
I, so cold, may once have seen
Sunlight, once have felt the sun:
Who shall show us if it was
Thus indeed in time of old?
Fades the image from the glass
And the fortune is not told.

If you promised, you might grieve
For lost liberty again;
If I promised, I believe
I should fret to break the chain:
Let us be the friends we were,
Nothing more but nothing less;
Many thrive on frugal fare
Who would perish of excess.





20 thoughts on “This is a Good Poem October 1st

  1. Jenny the link didn’t work for me so I googled it. I cannot understand why they wouldn’t let you do your thesis on this, I would love to have read your take on this work. In the bleak midwinter by Christina is my favourite carol.

  2. My curiosity is tweaked by Goblin Market, but sadly my cursor could find no link on which to click.

    Also, I’m sending a big BOO to your first master’s committee members! Were they all men?

    1. I can’t remember. My thesis advisor was a woman and I don’t think she had problems with it. The men on my committee were pretty open-minded, but it was the 80s.

      Link should work now.

      1. A friend of mine’s adviser told him that if he pursued the thesis topic he wanted, the prof would see that my friend never graduated. When the same prof won a Nobel prize (20 years later) all my friend’s grad school buddies called to tell him, “That should have been yours.”

    1. Thanks for the link I have this somewhere in the house. (Aged English lit major who’s never been able to part with any of her college books.)

    Someone clever once said
    Women were not allowed pockets
    In case they carried leaflets
    To spread sedition
    Which means unrest
    To you & me
    A grandiose word
    For commonsense
    So ladies, start sewing
    Dangerous coats
    Made of pockets & sedition

    by Sharon Owens

    1. I love this.
      I need to send it to my mother who loves pockets and is enraged when clothes don’t include them. (She taught school.)

  4. Scholarly work on “Goblin Market” and other C. Rosetti poems is now ongoing. At McDaniel seniors write their theses on this poem as well. Times change, thank heaven.

  5. I love Christina Rossetti. At my wedding I read “Birthday” to Richie (the birthday of my life has come, my love has come to me.”)

  6. I had forgotten how much I love poetry. I’ve written tons of it. Starting when I was nine or ten. Stopped writing poems when I started writing books, but at this moment it’s seducing me.

    I read a Silvia Plath out loud in class in college and the silence when I was done was deafening. At the time I thought I’d read it poorly, but now, of course, I believe it was the content. It was about physical abuse. I imagine it was clear that I had suffered some.

    My grandmother once told me I should send one of my poems to the country singer that sang Achy Breaky Heart. That was in my broken hearted twenties. She never let that go “Kate, have you sent that poem to that country singer yet?” was the first thing she said to me for years.

  7. My kids had to read Goblin Market in elementary school. They went to a bilingual school in Germany and Christina Rosetti was required reading.

  8. Thank-you for posting that poem. It has so many layers of juicy awesomeness to it. It was such a brain and heart treat. 😀

  9. A friend of mine’s adviser told him that if he pursued the thesis topic he wanted, the prof would see that my friend never graduated. When the same prof won a Nobel prize (20 years later) all my friend’s grad school buddies called to tell him, “That should have been yours.”

  10. I love this. And I’m not a fan of anyone deciding whose work is “important” enough to study. Grrr to that.

    I praise unsalted butter

    by Sharron Singleton

    it is cheap for the price
    and pearl buttons which keep
    all the secrets, translucent
    parings from babies fingernails.
    And the danger of color. Dare
    to enter delphinium’s cobalt—
    I will wait at the gate and hope
    for your return. And this is just
    here and now. What about
    the Assyrians, their white colts
    and amber bracelets, the frogs
    that rained down on Leicester,
    Massachusetts in 1953. What about
    nipples and contrails, gold lamé,
    branching dendrites you will
    never see. What about that bright
    planet that does a little jig
    when you look at it. Yes, I know
    there’s more. There will always be
    the thin Vietnamese girl, arms
    flung out, running naked down
    the end of the world. I am not
    strong enough for that, so I must
    praise spores and otter dung,
    kaleidoscopes and saliva,
    Fritz Nielsen, a bearded man
    who spends his time in tops of trees
    in the Amazonian rain forest.
    They all want in—freckles,
    the Sangre de Christo mountains,
    burnt sugar, the tall Maasi woman
    who yelled at me, the pale
    honey-colored toes of mice.
    If I could spend my life
    praising I would choose to die
    with rhubarb on my lips—it closes
    with a piercing but opens with
    the spirit’s breath.

    1. In the committee’s defense, they let me do my thesis on women’s roles in early mystery fiction instead.


Comments are closed.