The Goblin, the Grocer and the Student
Let us begin with the grocer’s wife; talkative
and very long of tongue. A student
who makes a marvellous find
when it is a page of a poetry book,
and not newspaper, wrapping his purchase
of candles and cheese. (About which Health
and Safety I would suggest, agitate some dis-ease.)
Here comes the student who says the grocer
is a practical man but that he knows no more about
poetry than the nearby tub. Porridge and pats
of butter bring in the grotesque goblin, who lives in
the smallest corner of the household and whose
blood pressure is raised and who then acts
mischievously on behalf of the tub, though
both student and grocer saw the remark as a joke.
You can lose a tongue when a point must be made
and so the goblin; borrows, we are told, the wife’s
long tongue for the tub. The tongue is passed around
from the coffee mill to the cash box and back to the
tub whose opinion is that poetry comes at the bottom
of the page in newspapers. And because of the student’s
perceived insult the goblin is about to lay into him but
is made a convert when he monitors the student
and his poetry, so that he comes to love it well. When
a fire breaks out everyone rushes to save their most
precious treasure but the goblin heads up to the garret,
where naturally, the student lives, and in order to save
the book of poems he does very well by wrapping
the precious book in his red hat.
RED ALERT because a red hat on a goblin spells danger
and blood so that the tongue is not returned to the wife.
A tongue that says poetry is neither, news, truth or even
legendary therefore such a tongue should end up
in the river in more pieces than two, the goblin now says.
(That verdict has yet to be proved – Health and Safety never
punctilious in Fairy Tales.) But we are not about to end
this poetic fable with the unpoetic grocer’s wife. We go
back to the goblin who decides he must now serve
two masters; the grocer and the student. He remains
grotesque and mischievous and outright greedy
when it comes to poetry and still enjoys his porridge
and pats of butter at Christmas time.
Benita Kape © 15.4.2018
And now for our prompt (optional, as always). In her interview, Blake suggests writing a poem in which a villain faces an unfortunate situation, and is revealed to be human (but still evil). Perhaps this could mean the witch from Hansel & Gretel has lost her beloved cat, and is going about the neighbourhood sticking up heart-wrenching “Lost Cat” signs, but still finds human children delicious. Maybe Blackbeard the Pirate is lost at sea in an open boat, remembering how much he loved his grandmother (although he will still kill the first person dumb enough to scoop him from the waves).