Christina Georgina Rossetti was born in London on 5 December 1830.
She composed “Up-hill” in 1858 but the poem was not published until 1861, when it appeared in Macmillan’s Magazine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This allegorical poem, which compares human life with a painful journey, takes the form of a conversation between two friends while walking up a hill, a journey that takes a full day, a metaphor for the span of a life, from birth to death.
The first speaker appears unsure, anxious, and afraid. He lacks confidence and asks a lot of questions; he wants to know in advance.
The second speaker, by contrast, seems a sort of guide and patiently provides all the answers, showing no fear. This second voice that encourages, assures, may be a friend, a family member, or an internal voice (to each traveller it is someone different).
While his friend is struggling and seeking rest, the guide supports him and tells him he will de able to find rest at the end of the journey. There will be “a resting-place” for all who have successfully made the journey “uphill”, the promised release from all struggles, sorrows, illnesses, and disappointments. For some, this “inn” represents Heaven, for others the ground which opens to accept dead bodies.
La strada si snoda in salita fino in fondo? Sì, fino alla fine. Il viaggio richiederà l'intera giornata? Da mattina a sera, amico mio. Ma per la notte c’è un luogo in cui riposare? Un tetto per quando inizieranno le ore lente e buie. Ma l’oscurità non potrebbe celarlo ai miei occhi? Non puoi non scorgere quella locanda. Incontrerò altri viandanti di notte? Quelli che sono partiti prima. Allora devo bussare o chiamare appena sarò in vista? Non ti faranno attendere davanti a quella porta. Troverò conforto, indolenzita dal viaggio e stremata? Troverai la ricompensa alla fatica Ci sarà da dormire per me e per tutti quelli che cercano? Sì, ci saranno letti per tutti quelli che arrivano. (L.Z.)