Uphill by Christina Rossetti: Allegory

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“Uphill” is a poem that was written by Christina Rossetti in 1861. According to our textbook Discovering Poetry, this poem uses allegory, which is when various “symbols work together in a set pattern”. The various symbols portrayed by the author in this poem are consistent with those of a journey; a road, an inn, a resting place at night, and other wayfarers. The poem consists of four stanzas, in which an individual is posing questions in the first and third lines of each stanza, and in the second and fourth lines of the stanza someone is responding to those questions. In my initial readings of the poem, I was thinking of the communication taking place as that of a conversation between two individuals. For example, the person posing the questions was talking to their priest, or a child was asking their parents questions about life. However, after reading the poem numerous times, I began to view the interaction as not being an actual conversation, but rather an individual deep in prayer and having a conversation with God. Although God doesn’t usually speak directly to us, we often seem to find the answers we seek through prayer. In this poem the individual is posing their questions in prayer, and then receiving the response in their minds, which then offers comfort. I believe that the various symbols that are used in this poem are the authors attempt to describe our journey through life, and her vision that our place in the afterlife will be dependent on how we lived in our earthly life. The first stanza poses the questions “Does the road wind uphill all the way?”, and “Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?” Here the author is using the symbols of a road, a day, and a journey to describe our life here on earth. Using “uphill” as a metaphor is indicative of the fact that she perceives life as difficult and challenging , and is wondering if the road through life will always be that way. The responses indicate that yes, the road will be an uphill...
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