Stumbled across this guy on a walk at the weekend. So had to do another Goblin Market post…!
So without further parleying, If you will not sell me any Of your fruits though much and many, Give me back my silver penny I toss’d you for a fee.”— They began to scratch their pates, No longer wagging, purring, But visibly demurring, Grunting and snarling. One call’d her proud, Cross-grain’d, uncivil; Their tones wax’d loud, Their looks were evil. Lashing their tails They trod and hustled her, Elbow’d and jostled her, Claw’d with their nails, Barking, mewing, hissing, mocking, Tore her gown and soil’d her stocking, Twitch’d her hair out by the roots, Stamp’d upon her tender feet, Held her hands and squeez’d their fruits Against her mouth to make her eat…’
‘The robin flew from his swinging spray of ivy on to the top of the wall and he opened his beak and sang a loud, lovely trill, merely to show off. Nothing in the world is quite as adorably lovely as a robin when he shows off—and they are nearly always doing it.’
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Chapter 8. “The Robin Who Showed the Way.
An autumn walk around Bateman’s gardens and this engaging robin reminded me of Frances HodgsonBurnett’s The Secret Garden. A childhood favourite book.
We took a road trip recently to Cambridge , England. While there we did a chauffeured punt down the River with local company Scudamore’s Punting: https://www.scudamores.com/punting-quayside. As we sailed the river past the university colleges, listening to our very knowledgable chauffeur, I was reminded of the Romantic poet William Wordsworth’s ‘Composed upon Westminster Bridge September 3, 1802…’ :
Earth has not any thing to show more fair: Dull would he be of soul who could pass by A sight so touching in its majesty: This City now doth, like a garment, wear The beauty of the morning; silent, bare, Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie Open unto the fields, and to the sky; All bright and glittering in the smokeless air. Never did sun more beautifully steep In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill; Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep! The river glideth at his own sweet will: Dear God! the very houses seem asleep; And all that mighty heart is lying still!
The poem was about the river Thames, not the River Cam, however Wordsworth did study at St. John’s College Cambridge, so I felt my connection was valid.
Goblin Market (published in 1862) is a narrative poem which tells the story of Laura and Lizzie who are tempted with fruit by goblin merchants. It is one of my favourite poems generally and my favourite Rossetti poem in particular.
Evening by evening Among the brookside rushes, Laura bow’d her head to hear, Lizzie veil’d her blushes: Crouching close together In the cooling weather, With clasping arms and cautioning lips, With tingling cheeks and finger tips. “Lie close,” Laura said, Pricking up her golden head: “We must not look at goblin men, We must not buy their fruits: Who knows upon what soil they fed Their hungry thirsty roots?” “Come buy,” call the goblins Hobbling down the glen.
“Oh,” cried Lizzie, “Laura, Laura, You should not peep at goblin men.” Lizzie cover’d up her eyes, Cover’d close lest they should look; Laura rear’d her glossy head, And whisper’d like the restless brook: “Look, Lizzie, look, Lizzie, Down the glen tramp little men. One hauls a basket, One bears a plate, One lugs a golden dish Of many pounds weight. How fair the vine must grow Whose grapes are so luscious; How warm the wind must blow Through those fruit bushes.” “No,” said Lizzie, “No, no, no; Their offers should not charm us, Their evil gifts would harm us.” She thrust a dimpled finger In each ear, shut eyes and ran: Curious Laura chose to linger Wondering at each merchant man. One had a cat’s face, One whisk’d a tail, One tramp’d at a rat’s pace, One crawl’d like a snail, One like a wombat prowl’d obtuse and furry, One like a ratel tumbled hurry skurry. She heard a voice like voice of doves Cooing all together: They sounded kind and full of loves In the pleasant weather.
It’s a fairytale world of temptation and mystery, exploring themes of temptation, sacrifice and salvation.
Ancient themes magically visited in beautiful lyrical language.
A large and conspicuous waterbird, the cormorant has an almost primitive appearance with its long neck making it appear reptilian. It is often seen standing with its wings held out to dry. Regarded by some as black, sinister and greedy, cormorants are supreme fishers which can bring them into conflict with anglers and they have been persecuted in the past. The UK holds internationally important wintering numbers.
The Common Cormorant or shag Lays eggs inside a paper bag. The reason you will see no doubt It is to keep the lightning out. But what these unobservant birds Have never noticed is that herds Of wandering bears may come with buns And steal the bags to hold the crumbs.
There’s a breathless hush in the Close to-night— Ten to make and the match to win— A bumping pitch and a blinding light, An hour to play and the last man in. And it’s not for the sake of a ribboned coat, Or the selfish hope of a season’s fame, But his captain’s hand on his shoulder smote ‘Play up! play up! and play the game! ‘
The sand of the desert is sodden red,— Red with the wreck of a square that broke; — The Gatling’s jammed and the Colonel dead, And the regiment blind with dust and smoke. The river of death has brimmed his banks, And England’s far, and Honour a name, But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks: ‘Play up! play up! and play the game! ‘
This is the word that year by year, While in her place the school is set, Every one of her sons must hear, And none that hears it dare forget. This they all with a joyful mind Bear through life like a torch in flame, And falling fling to the host behind— ‘Play up! play up! and play the game!
“We had seen an advertisement of her, and we reached her down an enlarged rabbit-hole of a lane. At very first sight the Committee of Ways and Means [Mrs Kipling and himself]said ‘That’s her! The only She! Make an honest woman of her – quick!’. We entered and felt her Spirit – her Feng Shui – to be good. We went through every room and found no shadow of ancient regrets, stifled miseries, nor any menace though the ‘new’ end of her was three hundred years old…”
Rudyard Kipling on discovering Batemans, his future home.