Up-Hill Summary & Analysis | Christiana Rossetti | Compulsory English Class 9 by Suraj Bhatt


Up-Hill Summary & Analysis | Christiana Rossetti | Compulsory English Class 9 by Suraj Bhatt
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Up-Hill Summary & Analysis | Christina Rossetti | Compulsory English Class 9 by Suraj Bhatt

Up-Hill by Christina Rossetti


Up-Hill by Christina Rossetti 

The poem "Up-Hill" is a famous piece of poetic work that has been composed by English poet Christina Rossetti. 

She is well-known for her ballads and mystic religious lyrics. She was born on December 5, 1830. She started writing at an early age. She is regarded as one of the major Victorian poets.

This poem is packed with metaphorical meanings. It is composed in question-answer form. In the poem, the speaker (a traveller) seems confused and nervous about her journey. She asks a series of questions to her guide, and the guide answers her in a very convincing way.

The use of the question-answer format in the poem further helps readers understand it better. The poem is also considered a devotional one as it discusses the themes of death and the afterlife. The poem consists of sixteen lines, which are divided into four quatrains. Each quatrain of the poem follows the rhyme scheme of ABAB. Though the speaker of the poem is unknown, we can surely say that she is a traveller. She has asked eight different questions to her guide regarding her journey ahead.


Up-Hill by Christina Rossetti

Stanza One

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.


In the very first stanza, we find the speaker or traveller asking questions regarding her journey to her guide. She asks her guide about the uphill road's condition, saying whether the road winds up all the way. Her guide tells her yes and informs her about the wind-up road until the end. Next, she puts forward her doubt regarding the length of her journey. She adds her question, asking whether the journey will take the whole day from morning until night. The guide addresses her as "my friend" and informs her that it will take from morning to night to complete the journey.

Here, the first stanza presents the conversation between two people. These two people have been metaphorically presented as humans and God. Here, humans are questioning God about whether the road (the path of life) is winding uphill all the way, which means: Is the path of life filled with difficulties till we reach the end of the journey (death)? Humans get a clear answer from God, which is 'Yes'. Here we get the idea that human life is packed with difficulties or problems. Next, humans ask God about the length of this particular life. God replies that life is long and moves from the starting stage (morning) to the end stage (night). (Birth to Death)

The first stanza ends with “my friend," indicating that the person answering the questions is someone who cares about the speaker and that they should trust them. In this opening stanza, it is as if someone is facing a hard time in their life and is praying to God for answers.

Stanza Two

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.


In the second stanza, the speaker asks about accommodations along her journey. She asks if there is a place to rest for the night when she reaches there. She is assured by her guide about her safety that she will surely find shelter when the darkness slowly begins. He tells her about a roof for her shelter when the night falls. Next, she seems fearful about the particular resting place. She again asks whether the darkness will hide the mentioned resting place from her view. Here, in a real sense, she has the fear of missing her final destination due to darkness. Her guide assures her that the resting place now referred to as an ‘inn’ is impossible to miss. With the phrase "impossible to miss," it seems certain that the inn would be so fine and brilliant with lights that the speaker couldn’t possibly miss it.

In the second stanza, we find a shift in 'day' from the first stanza to 'night'. The first stanza presents 'the day' which is our life on this planet, whereas the second stanza presents 'the night' which is a time of the afterlife.

Here, the human is wondering and asking God if there will be a place of “rest” or safety after death. The answer from God is 'Yes'. According to God, there will be a “roof” over our heads for safety and shelter. This statement of God again follows the allegorical vision of a journey, with a person travelling an uphill road throughout the day of our lives, and at the end, when darkness comes, we all humans want a place of safety. The human being is being told by God that when it gets dark, or in the afterlife, we will have a roof over our heads. This means we will be in a safe place even after our deaths. Later, the human wishes, “May not the darkness hide it from my face?" In response to this wish of the human, God replies, “You cannot miss that inn." Here, the human is worried that after death there may be nothing but darkness. However, the human is assured that he or she cannot miss the inn. Here, God means that there is certainty of arrival in this place (inn) of safety. In this stanza, the human is continuing his prayer to God. He/she has already received a response that life is going to be difficult and challenging, and now he/she is being assured by God that there is an afterlife and that it will be a place of safety.

Stanza Three

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.


In the third stanza, the speaker asks her guide her fifth question: whether she will meet other travellers at the inn, where she is supposed to take a rest. Whether some other travellers would also be taking shelter at that inn during the darkness of the night. She again asks whether she has to knock or call once to inform them that she is near the inn. This statement shows her underlying fear about whether the door will be locked for her. Her guide provides her with a very calm and clear answer: the door will open immediately, allowing her to enter, and she will not have to keep standing or waiting at the door.

Here in the third stanza, being quite inquisitive, the human puts forward another question to God. According to him/her, “Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?" with the response being “Those who have gone before." The use of the word “wayfarers” continues the vision of a journey, and here the human is asking if he or she will see other people in the afterlife. “Wayfarers” would be those other people who have been on the same journey through life. Later, the human asks, “Then must I knock or call out when just in sight?" and is given the response by God that they will not keep him or her standing at the door.”

Stanza Four

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.


In the final stanza of the poem, the speaker asks her guide if she would find comfort and a bed to rest in the inn, as she would be weary and weak due to her journey. Her guide assures her that there will be many things to ease her burdens and share her labours, and there will definitely be rest for the weary travellers.

The speaker asks her final question to her guide regarding the beds for her and for all those who seek shelter at the inn. Her guide assures her that there will be beds for all those whose journey ends at the inn. Here, the speaker is assured that when they arrive at the inn, or place of safety, their loved ones will be waiting to greet them.

Here in this stanza, the human again asks God, “Shall I find comfort, travel, soreness, and weakness?"

God convinces the human, saying that the comfort humans achieve will depend on their “labour” or work in their earthly lives. This indicates that there is some kind of judgement in the afterlife about how we conduct our lives here on earth. Later, the human asks, “Will there be beds for me and all who seek?" and is assured, “Yeah, beds for all who come." The term “seek” is important here because God is telling humans that there isn’t a bed for everyone, only for those who seek Him. Humans attain salvation after the judgement. Salvation is attained if it is tried to find out the proper way.

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