The starting point for my forthcoming fairy novel Named and Shamed is the discovery of a very unusual manuscript copy of Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti. Which is, ostensibly, a narrative poem about two sisters - one who falls for the wiles of wicked goblins and eats their, *ahem*, poisonous fruits, after which she craves MORE AND MORE, and the other sister who rescues her.
Written in 1859 (when Rossetti was 28), Goblin Market is a most peculiar work - not least because although it was touted as a children's poem (and was hugely popular as such) it is full of sexually charged verbal imagery.
Was this totally unconscious? Really?
And this is not just any old sex - it's incestuous lesbian sex! Which ultimately triumphs over the horrors of drug(/heterosexual sex) addiction!
Christina Rossetti was a very successful poet - she wrote the carol "In the Bleak Midwinter" - but she wrote nothing else like Goblin Market. Her interior life revolved around a particularly masochistic Christianity in which she strove to give up everything she enjoyed, for the betterment of her soul, and longed to be dead and safely in heaven. I think we can safely say her attitude to sex was not one of carefree indulgence:
Goblin Market comes across to me as the last crazed firework display of her libido before she buried it forever. It's a moral fable, warning of how indulging in the "joys brides hope to have" leads to obsession, addiction and death.
But it's also a rollicking good read, full of brilliant rhymes and sumptuous temptations. The full text is here, among many other places - or you can read the poem and a lovely article on it over at Billierosie's blog
To enjoy as my protagonist Tansy does, read it out loud while someone gives you oral :-) But beware ... the themes of Goblin Market come back to haunt Tansy in a very personal and literal way...