My former sister-in-law passed this week from cancer; she was only 62 years old. She left behind a husband, two grown daughters, and a young grandson. It made me sad to think of her passing. She was such a sweet, beautiful lady who loved her family. I know she is in Heaven and not suffering anymore. Still, I feel sad she is no longer with us in physical form. As I was thinking of Rennie and especially her struggles at the end of her life, I thought of this poem by Christina Rossetti.
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.
I like this poem; I find it comforting. It is simplistic, yet it is deep as well. I interpret it as discussing life’s journey. There are actually two speakers who converse back and forth, with the first one asking questions and the second one answering. The traveler asks questions about life’s journey that will eventually end in Heaven at the inn. The second speaker answers with knowledge of the journey. Perhaps this speaker is an angel or maybe just a person whose faith is so great that they speak with confidence of what is. The identity of the second speaker is unknown, but the individual appears knowledgeable. Notice the journey is winding up-hill and will last from morning to night, or from birth to death. I suppose the journey could have spiraled crazily downward instead of winding up-hill, but knowing the sad nature of that direction, I am glad the journey went up!
The traveler is assured that someone will meet her at the door of the inn and that she will be able to rest, as obviously she will be tired from her long life’s journey. She voices concern for those who have gone on before and the knowledgeable speaker reassures her that they will be there as well. The inclusiveness of this poem is something that I also like. The traveler asks will there be beds for all who seek and is assured that there will be beds for all who come. To me, this means that everyone will be welcome. Considering this poem was written in 1861, I find that a relatively modern stance. There are still so many even now who offer that Heaven will be exclusive.
One more notable thing about this poem is the rhythm. The rhythm strikes me as I read it out loud because it is comparable to a person walking or trudging uphill. It is slow and methodical as the poem is as well. This rhythm causes my mind’s eye to be able to visualize the scenery as the weary traveler continues to the top of the mountain. I can almost hear the footsteps and taste the dust of the road. Mary and Joseph were turned away at the inn, but that will not be the case for this Heavenly inn. If you knock, the door will be opened for you. I know Rennie has traveled that road now and our Lord and all who have gone before have welcomed her with open arms.
Gracyk, Tim. “Up-hill” by Christiani Rossetti video on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLnG6ONl9Bw Accessed July 19, 2017.
Rossetti, Christiani. “Up-hill”. The Poetry Foundation website. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45002/up-hill. Accessed July 19, 2017.