What is the summary of the poem "Uphill" by Christina Rossetti?

Expert Answers
literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Christina Rossetti's poem "Uphill" is written using questions and answers. Readers are not told who each of the voices are--they remain unnamed.

The poem is metaphorical in nature (meaning that one thing is compared to another). In regards to this poem, life is compared to a journey uphill. What this means is, given walking uphill is challenging, life is challenging.

The first stanza is as follows:

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.

Here, the speaker is questioning if life is a continual journey upwards. The answer states that it is. The reference to the journey taking "from morn to night" refers to the beginning of life (morn) to death (night).

The second stanza is as follows:

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.

Here, the speaker questions if there are any places along the road where one can rest. The answerer states that only one place exists--"when the slow dark hours begin." The answerer assures that darkness will not mask the inn. Everyone can find it. What this refers to is the end of life and the one place where all will go.

The third stanza is as follows:

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.

Here, the speaker questions if the inn will have a "resting-place." The answerer states that a roof will be available and that those who have come before the speaker will allow the speaker to come into the inn unopposed.

The final stanza is as follows:

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.

Again, the speaker asks if there will be somewhere where rest can be found. The answerer replies that there is plenty of room for all who have successfully made the journey "uphill." The poem speaks to the fact that life is a constant struggle and challenge. Those who are able to succeed at passing the uphill journey will be rewarded by having a place where they will be able to rest. For some, this inn represents Heaven (where the angels will welcome the newly dead in). Others may attribute the inn to metaphorically represent the ground which opens to accept dead bodies. Essentially, the poem speaks to the questions one has regarding life and the unknown. The answerer of the questions eases the speaker's mind--saying all will be well after the journey has been completed.

Read the study guide:

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question