Whose narrative poem is “Goblin Market”?

Goblin Market, poem by Christina Rossetti, published in 1862 in the collection Goblin Market and Other Poems. Comprising 567 irregularly rhyming lines, the poem recounts the plight of Laura, who succumbs to the enticement of the goblins and eats the fruit they sell. 

Christina Georgina Rossetti was born on December 5, 1830, in London, England, the fourth child of an Italian immigrant family with strong literary and artistic leanings. Her father, Gabrielle Rossetti, was an Italian poet and political exile whose support for revolutionary nationalism drove him to seek refuge in England. One of Rossetti’s brothers was the painter and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti. His work is also discussed and studied today. Her other brother, William Michael Rossetti, was a writer and critic who later acted as her editor. Both brothers were members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood art movement. Rossetti’s sister, Maria Francesca Rossetti, was an author who later in life became an Anglican nun. Indeed, Rossetti dedicated “Goblin Market” to Maria. Rossetti’s mother, Frances Polidori (later Rossetti), was the daughter of another Italian exile and the sister of John Polidori, the physician of the famous poet Lord Byron.

Rossetti had struggled with ill health since her teens, when a doctor (probably inadequately) diagnosed her condition as “religious mania.” In 1871, she became seriously ill with Graves’ disease. The illness affected her heart and permanently altered her appearance, causing her eyes to protrude. In May, 1892, Rossetti was diagnosed with breast cancer. A mastectomy performed in her home proved ineffectual, and she died in London two years later on December 29, 1894. Her brother William continued to edit and publish her poetry after her death.


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