Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Curdie's song

The princess Irene and her nurse, Lootie, have taken a walk up the side of the mountain and unintentionally stayed out after dark. They have gotten lost in their haste to get back home, and Lootie is terrified. Irene doesn't realize that the strange shapes she sees peeping out at them from the shadows are goblins who are the enemies of her King Papa and mean to harm her.

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Before, however, she had time to grow thoroughly alarmed like [Lootie], she heard the sound of whistling, and that revived her. Presently she saw a boy coming up the road from the valley to meet them. He was the whistler; but before they met his whistling changed to singing. And this is something like what he sang:

'Ring! dod! bang!
Go the hammers' clang!
Hit and turn and bore!
Whizz and puff and roar!
Thus we rive the rocks,
Force the goblin locks. -
See the shining ore!
One, two, three -
Bright as gold can be!
Four, five, six -
Shovels, mattocks, picks!
Seven, eight, nine -
Light your lamp at mine.
Ten, eleven, twelve -
Loosely hold the helve.
We're the merry miner-boys,
Make the goblins hold their noise.'

...

'Hush! scush! scurry!
There you go in a hurry!
Gobble! gobble! goblin!
There you go a wobblin';
Hobble, hobble, hobblin' -
Cobble! cobble! cobblin'!
Hob-bob-goblin! -
Huuuuuh!'

'There!' said the boy, as he stood still opposite them. 'There! that'll do for them. They can't bear singing, and they can't stand that song. They can't sing themselves, for they have no more voice than a crow; and they don't like other people to sing.'

(George MacDonald, The Princess and the Goblin)

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This passage and yesterday's are connected by the idea of poetry as spiritual warfare -- something I'd like to keep an eye out for in the future.

2 comments :

  1. "poetry as spiritual warfare"

    or

    poetry as a shield against spiritual attack?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think it's both -- or they're both warfare, offensive in the case of Curdie's song, defensive in the case of John's poem.

    ReplyDelete

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