The "Uphill" Struggle
“Uphill,” this poem written by Christina Rossetti, is completely description of symbolism. In this poem, the narrator seems to be two different people. The first narrator asking questions is just an ordinary person with questions that most people have. The second narrator seems to be a higher being answering the questions by the first narrator. The definition of the symbolism according to The American Heritage Stedman's Medical Dictionary and Dictionary.com are “the principles and practice of symbolists in art or literature. The art or practice of using symbols especially by investing things with a symbolic meaning or by expressing the invisible or intangible by means of visible or sensuous representations.” Symbolism, in short, means using something to describe another means. Symbolism is used by many poets to portray a message that is not exactly written. Christina Rossetti uses the element of symbolism to ask people's most difficult questions and with every other line answers these questions.
Christina Rossetti's poem “uphill” starts the first line with symbolism. The author writes, “Dose the road wind uphill all the way?” (1). Here are four ways of seeing this line. 1. Is this spoken after death? 2. Or is it spoken during life? 3. Is this the voice, instead, of the believer, the person? 4. Could this be the voice of the poet, the artist, doubting her own potential? This is an example of symbolism used in the poem. “Does the road wind uphill all the way” refers to a question that has been asked by almost everybody at some point in their life: this question being “Is life always going to be full of struggles?” Most people would want an answer that makes them feel better about this question. This question is often answered by many with “Life will get better.” In this poem, the author does not lie about the answer as most people's friends or family members would. The author writes, “Yes to the very end” (2). This means that life will always be full of uphill struggles. The author also writes, “Will the day's journey take the whole long day?” (3). This quote from the poem refers to a similar question; this question being “Is life going to difficult all the way to the end?” The author answers this question with, “From morn to night, my friend” (4). This answer explains that day is our life, our struggle, our journey, and at the end, our strength gives out. This answer also explains that life is going to be a struggle from youth to old age.
The rest of the poem refers to the question that has been around for all of time. This question being, “What happens after life?” The author writes, “But is there for the night a resting-place?” (5). This quotation refers to the question “Is there something after death or do people just get buried and that is the end?” The author writes the question with,” A roof for when the slow dark hours begin” (6). The roof is symbol of heaven. This quotation from the poem gives the reader a good feeling about what happens after death. The author also writes, “Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?” (9). This refers to another question most people have, this question being, “when we got to heaven will we see our loved ones who have passed on before us?” The author answers this question with, “Those who have gone before” (10). This answer from the poem tells the reader that they will meet all who have died before them. The author's last question is, “Will there be beds for me and all who seek?” (15). The author's last line of the poem reads, “Yes, beds for all who come” (16). This symbolizes that there is room in heaven for all who come, and there is a resting place for all people who seek it. The line is particularly powerful for the Protestant reader, who has been told of an exclusive heaven that only admits the elect few.
Symbolism, in short, means using something to describe another means. Symbolism is used by many poets to portray a message that is not exactly written. Symbolism is an element of in writing that has been used in poetry to display an underlying message. The “Uphill” is no different. The author uses symbolism throughout the whole poem. The author uses symbolism to ask the difficult questions in life. The author then uses symbolism to answers the questions in a way that gives the reader hope about life after death.
"Symbolism." The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Company. 05 Feb. 2010.
"Symbolism." Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 05 Feb. 2010.
Rossetti, Christina. “Uphill.” Literature: An Introduction to fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Ed. X. J. Kennedy and Gioia. 6th Compact ed. New York: Longman, 2010. 610-611. Print.