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How does Shakespeare's Sonnet 60 compare with Christina Rossetti's poem "Uphill"?

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kimberly2308 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 3, 2012 at 6:24 PM via web

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How does Shakespeare's Sonnet 60 compare with Christina Rossetti's poem "Uphill"?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 13, 2012 at 6:30 AM (Answer #1)

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Both Shakespeare's Sonnet 60 and Christina Rossetti's poem "Uphill" deal with the themes of life's struggles and growing old.

In Sonnet 60, Shakespeare clearly refers to aging in the line, "Nativity, once in the main light, / Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown'd." The word "nativity" refers to birth. This line can be interpreted to mean that birth, which is first important, soon progresses, or "crawls," to "maturity," or age, which then becomes important.

While "Uphill" does not directly mention birth or age, one can interpret the line, "From morn to night, my friend," to refer to birth and aging. The word "morn" would refer to birth, while "night" refers to death.

Another similarity between the two poems is that both characterize the aging process as a forward motion. Shakespeare describes the waves of the ocean rushing forwards to the shore in his line, "the waves make towards the pebbled shore." Furthermore he describes all of humanities' labor throughout life as constantly being driven forward in the line, "In sequent toil all forwards do contend." Likewise, Rossetti's poem describes life as not only a forward motion, but as an uphill motion, in the opening line, "Does the road wind uphill all the way?" Since one must walk forward to travel even a winding road, this line also paints the image of a forward motion.

Also, just as Shakespeare refers to "sequent toil," meaning successive labor, painting the picture of man suffering through endless labor, Rossetti also paints the picture of suffering through her word choice "uphill." Climbing uphill, especially continuously, is one of the hardest things to do. Hence, Rossetti also paints the image of life being a continuous struggle.

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