Up-Hill Poem by Christina Rossetti Summary, Notes and Line by Line Explanation in English for Students


“Uphill” is the final poem in Christina Rossetti’s collection of Goblin and other poems, published in 1862. The poem is written in question-and-answer format. Thus, it has two narrators. The poem indicates the journey towards heaven. The uphill refers to the journey of everyone’s life, which ends in death. So, through this poem, the poet has informed the readers that death is universal.

About the poet:

Christina Rossetti is one of the most important female poets of the Victorian era. She not only wrote romantic poems but also excelled in devotional and children’s poems. Initially, she wrote under the pseudonym Ellen Alleyne and contributed seven poems to the pre-Raphaelite journal “The Germ”. Rossetti is well known for her ballads and her religious lyrics. Her poems include symbolism and intense feelings. Rossetti is best known for her work, Goblin Market and Other Poems, which was published in 1862. This collection made Rossetti a significant poet in the Victorian era.

Speaker of the poem:

There are two narrators in the poem. One asks questions, and the other answers them. But it is Rossetti who is asking questions to God. Rossetti has seen so many struggles in her personal life since the 1850s. This poem was written in the year 1858. She was exhausted because of personal life problems. As she is a strong follower of Anglican Catholics, her poems had more spiritual elements in them. In the same way, “Up Hill” is a poem about the journey of a human life from birth to death. She is confused in her journey through life and has found God as a companion to answer her questions.


The poem contains four quatrains in total. Each quatrain has four lines. The poem is written in the form of questions and answers. The speaker asks questions in the first and third lines of each quatrain. The guide answers the question in the second and fourth lines of each quatrain.


The speaker is taking an uphill journey with a guide to help her. As she is new to this journey, she asks many questions to clarify her doubts. The speaker asks the guide about the distance and time to cover the uphill journey. The speaker feels tired and asks for a place to rest herself. When she finds out there will be a roof to protect her, she feels comfort. As she is travelling alone with the guide, she longs to meet other people who are taking this journey.

The guide answers that she could meet them at the inn and assures her that when they find her standing at the door, they will invite her. The speaker has not stopped yet; she asks for a place to get comfort. The guide says that her hard work will pay off at the end of the journey. Finally the speaker asks whether she could get a bed for her. The guide in a positive note said, there will be a place for everyone who has taken this journey.

Poem Analysis:

Lines 1-4:

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.

The speaker is asking whether the life journey proceeds with struggles and pain until the end. The guide answers that the journey will contain all the elements, including joy and pain, until the end of life. The speaker is tired of travelling with struggles in her life. So, she asks the guide about the timeframe for the struggle to end. To which guide answers, it is a part of life to face struggles in certain circumstances throughout the day.

Lines 5-8:

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.

The speaker is unhappy with the answer and desires to take a rest from her uphill journey. The guide answers that she will be protected by a roof when it is time to take a rest on the journey. The speaker is upset and wants to get away from the problems on her journey. To which guide answers, one cannot miss that part in their life.

Lines 9-12:

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.

The speaker asks the guide whether she could meet other people during the trip. The guide replies that she can meet the people who have gone before her. The speaker is confused about how to approach them. The guide helps her by saying that once they reach the inn, the people will invite them inside.

Lines 13-16:

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.

As the speaker is so tired, she longs to find comfort. The guide responded that her efforts would be rewarded in the end. Finally, the speaker asks whether she will have a place to sleep. According to the guide, there will be beds for everyone coming to the inn.


The inn:

 The inn is the symbol of a resting place. The term can also suggest heaven. Because throughout the uphill journey, the speaker gets tired of the continuous struggles. Once he completes the task with willpower and hard work,He reaches the destination of having a peaceful life in heaven.

Up-hill Journey:

Up-hill journey symbolises the journey to heaven. In this journey, they find many circumstances. They get joy, pain, and struggles. Sometimes they even commit sins. But the one who completes this journey with the help of God is permitted to have a place in heaven. 


Thus the poem “Up-Hill” by Christina Rossetti is an allegorical poem.