Hobbles and Gobbles, Sweet Fruits and Pheins
The rhythmic scheme of this whimsical poem is young, lighthearted, and jovial. The descriptions of Lizzie and Laura are specific and strong. By analyzing body language, the reader can see Lizzie as the protector and Laura as the stereotypical Goldilocks meets the less conventional Pearl Prynne.
Laura stretched her gleaming neck
Like a rush-imbedded swan,
Like a lily from the beck,
Like a moonlit poplar branch,
Like a vessel at the launch
When its last restraint is gone.
The goblins are evil, repugnant frat boys. The little men carry spellbinding treasures of sweet, seductive fruits of the world that house harsh consequence. The girls walk through the forest and the goblins whisper in persuasive, slithering tone to tempt them. Laura falls to the whispers which creates in her a change of character. In giving away herself, she takes the goblins fruit and becomes very intoxicated.
"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,
All ripe together…”
Do you not remember Jeanie,
How she met them in the moonlight,
Took their gifts both choice and many,
Ate their fruits and wore their flowers
Plucked from bowers
Where summer ripens at all hours?
But ever in the moonlight
She pined and pined away;
Sought them by night and day,
Found them no more, but dwindled and grew gray;
Then fell with the first snow,
While to this day no grass will grow
We identify Laura’s obsession with the fruits in her description of them. The fruits are described in a way that I interpret as sexual ecstasy of the supernatural. The fruit embodies sin, rapture, a fleeting moment of mind blowing pleasure. Just as Eve or Snow White in the forest, Laura loses herself in entrancing fever that her mind cannot forget. Through daily activities, Laura is described as behaving absentmindedly, internally craving the night. This reference to being a woman of the night gives rise to a further perception of her character.
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 wine,
Clearer than water flowed that juice;
She never tasted such before…
As the two girls go to the forest, Lizzie beckons Laura to come home with her. At this point, we greet the climax as Laura’s demeanor changes and channels Pearl Prynne. The image depicts an otherworldly view of Laura, wide eyed with foam at the mouth for the thrill of fruit. Her heart breaks in lust and obsession at the abandonment she feels by the disappearance of the goblins when she seeks them that night.
Till Lizzie urged, "O Laura, come,
I hear the fruit-call, but I dare not look:
You should not loiter longer at this brook:
Come with me home.
Her innocence along with the fire of her soul dim out with time, lost at her coveting. Laura falls victim to bitterness. Then death comes looking for Laura. Lizzie, caring and compassionate, joins Laura on her death bed.
She no more swept the house,
Tended the fowls or cows,
Fetched honey, kneaded cakes of wheat,
Brought water from the brook:
But sat down listless in the chimney-nook
And would not eat.
Discerning Lizzie, full of wisdom and integrity, seeks out the goblins and gives them a coin, yet takes no fruit. They become enraged and passionately angry. The goblins maliciously try to destroy Lizzie and force themselves upon her. She stands unmoved. In her strong sense of self, she sends the goblins away to find their spell broken. They flee in anger and without power, and Laura’s youth is restored.
Though the goblins cuffed and caught her,
Coaxed and fought her,
Bullied and besought her,
Scratched her, pinched her black as ink,
Kicked and knocked her,
Mauled and mocked her,
Lizzie uttered not a word…
Once grown, the sisters tell their children the stories of the loathsome goblins with destructive intentions. They look back on their younger years and remember the days when they found that in the right circumstance they would’ve given up their own life in exchange for their sister’s.
Days, weeks, months,years
Afterwards, when both were wives
With children of their own;
Their mother-hearts beset with fears,
Their lives bound up in tender lives;
Laura would call the little ones
And tell them of her early prime,
Those pleasant days long gone
Of not-returning time:
Would talk about the haunted glen,
The wicked, quaint fruit-merchant men,
Their fruits like honey to the throat,
But poison in the blood;
(Men sell not such in any town;)
Would tell them how her sister stood
In deadly peril to do her good,
And win the fiery antidote…