"Goblin Market" and Sisters

Because today is Christina Rossetti's birthday, I decided to re-read "Goblin Market", a great favorite of mine from childhood. My dad first read it aloud to me from Harold Bloom's Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages (an anthology, which, despite its incredibly pretentious title, is excellent and well worthy of the inch and a half of bookshelf space it occupies), and I've returned to it several times over the years, though a good space of time has passed since I last read it.
I found it just as eerie as I remember, and it made me think quite fondly of my long held obsession for the fae world that began when I was a good ten years younger. I still believe in fairies now, but in a very different way... but that conversation I'll save for another time...
This time reading the poem through, I was fascinated with the relationship between the two sisters, Lizzie and Laura. I love sisters, from my own two biological sisters, Megan and Fiona, to my unbiological sister (and roommate) Jori, to the various sets of famous fictional sisters that grace literature and film: the Dashwoods, the Bennets, and, of course, the Haynes sisters from White Christmas.  I identify with the cautious Lizzie, who squinched her eyes tight shut and stopped her ears with her fingers when the goblin men passed, else she be tempted by the wild and wonderful glamour of their magic wares; but I don't blame Laura for being curious and lingering to try and buy. (She reminds me so of my sweet unbiological sister... so much that not long after she awoke this morning--right after offering to make coffee--I bounded over to her bed to tell her the story of these sisters. She loves it when I rave about literature early in the morning. ;) Lizzie may have been cautious and chastising of her sister when she came back having tasted of the poisonous fairy-fruits, but she was not hard-hearted to Laura's suffering when the poison began to take effect. A sister will give her good advice but be there to pick up the pieces when it goes foolishly unheeded.  When Lizzie overcomes her fears and braves the goblin market, it is her selflessness that stays her resolve to not eat the goblin offerings even as the little men try to first sweetly coerce, then later force her to eat. Her love for her sister keeps her strong till the goblins finally give up and leave, and she returns to Laura, scratched and bruised, but with the juices as a cure. As the cure take its effect on poor Laura, burning out the poison in her veins, Lizzie still stays by her side, keeping watch. Thankfully, (else I would probably have a fit and scream at Laura, through she's only a character on the page) Laura recognizes the selfless love of her sister and passes it on to her own children in what is, perhaps, my favorite bit of the whole poem,
Then joining hands to little hands
Would bid them cling together,
“For there is no friend like a sister
In calm or stormy weather;
To cheer one on the tedious way,
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down,
To strengthen whilst one stands.”
Thank God for sisters, biological and un-; without them, where would we be?

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