21 Days/21 Poems: Up-Hill by Christina Rossetti

Today’s poem for 21 Days/21 Poems is about life and living.

Up-Hill

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
They will not keep you standing at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
Yea, beds for all who come.

Quite a doleful but touching poem.  It is about life but also evokes the journey at life’s end.  The two speakers represent doubt and certainty respectively, like two sides of person.  It asks , Can I do this?  I see talk heaven too.  The line ” Of labour you shall find sum” gives me the most trouble. All doubt is silenced by talk of beds, the symbol for rest, comfort and death.

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894), born to Italian parents in London, was an English Victorian poet.  She wrote In the Bleak Midwinter, a popular Christmas carol.

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8 comments

  1. I like this. I need to read more Christina Rossetti. I love In the Bleak Midwinter, even though that one is a rather mournful Christmas song. Sometimes I like slower Christmas songs.

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    • Me too, I like slower Christmas songs. Talking of which, my toddler has been singing carols all week. He’s already in a Christmas mood. Can’t get him to accept that December is some months away!

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    • Yes, I think the one asking the questions is quite sad. There is an underlying desperation and fear to know what the end entails. A fear of the journey itself. I think in the end, the speaker accepts the answer but she is not necessarily mollified. A certain resignation is required, don’t you think?

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