Christina Rossetti’s “Uphill,” written in 1861, is a poem of spiritual searching. Two voices speak in call-and-response form. The first is a traveller set along a winding, uphill road. The second is a mysterious guide who understands the course of the road. The traveller poses a series of questions, and the guide replies with terse answers. What appears at first to be a roadside chat about directions reveals itself to be a spiritual conversation. The “uphill” road is the road of life, with all of its struggles and unpredictable turns. At road’s end lies an inn, a resting-place where the traveller hopes for a warm reception by those who have gone before. The poem maintains the tone of a parable, and the spiritual questions and quandaries are gestured at through metaphor but never pinned down.

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