Up-Hill – a 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.

Christina Rossetti (Shmoop Editorial Team, 2008)

Before you read look up these words in your dictionary – roof, inn, wayfarer, knock, weak

How many people are “speaking” in the poem? Who are they?

Describe the conversation your own words. DO NOT quote directly from the poem. Fill in the blanks.
Yesterday I met someone who told me about……………….
He said the journey would be ……………………………..
He said we could stay at …………………… and it would be……………………………………
I asked if I would be alone on the journey and was told …………………………………

Could this poem be a metaphor? For what?

What is the meaning of the reply to the question “Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?“) (See * below for a suggestion)

How many words can you think of about hills and mountains? Write them in your notebook. Make the page look like a mountain, with all the words climbing up the page to the word “peak” at the top!!

Writing your own poem

Choose a geographical topic. (Possibilities could be the sea ; dark places such as caves or gorges; a holiday home or hotel; a river or lake ; a village, town or city; a building; a country or region; or of course your journey itself).

Brainstorm the vocabulary into a diagram – following the mountain example.

Underline in red words that make you feel “negatively” about this place. And underline in the colour of your choice words that make you feel happy!!

Make questions and answers using some of the words in your diagram – Following Christina Rosetti’s example.

Arrange your questions and answers into a poem!!!

Other ways to use this poem in the classroom
You could ask the students to rewrite the dialogue as if it were taking place today, or write a report of a journey to a mountain in modern times…. The possibilities are endless. For many more ideas and activities for using this poem in the classroom please visit http://www.shmoop.com/up-hill-poem/ For more tips on using poetry in the language classroom see this website from the British Council https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/using-poetry

*Travellers that have worked hard to climb up the mountain will find the rest they deserve from this labour.

Works cited
Shmoop Editorial Team. “Up-Hill Poem Text.” Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 14 Jul. 2017.

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Muddy Road

Tanzan and Ekido were travelling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was falling.
Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection.
“Come on, girl,” said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud.
Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. He could no longer restrain himself. “We monks don’t go near females,” he told Tanzan, “especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?”
“I left the girl there,” said Tanzan. “Are you still carrying her?”

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I Categorically Deny It

I categorically deny it
You’ve got to be kidding
In no way did I do

Whatever it is you’re accusing me of
Ask him
He was there
He’ll back me up
Go on
Tell him
Go on
I don’t believe this
I thought you were my friend
On my side
Through thick and thin you said
Two peas from the same pod
You know who your friends are
Who you can count on in a pinch
Not you
I might have may have
Not saying that I did
May have
But it was so tempting
Fish in a barrel
Just sitting there, alone, forlorn
Looking sad for itself
There was no one around
Well him and he said go on
No one will know
So I did
I ate it
The last piece of chocolate cake


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Don’t Use Big Words!!

In promulgating your esoteric cogitations
or articulating your superficial sentimentalities and amicable philosophical and psychological observations,
beware of platitudinous ponderosities.

Let your conversational communications
possess a clarified conciseness,
a coalescent consistency and a concatenated cogency.

Eschew all conglomerations of flatulent garrulity,
jejune babblement and asinine affections.

Let your extemporaneous descantings and
unpremeditated expatiations have intelligibility and
veracious vivacity without rodomontade orthrasonical bombast.

Sedulously avoid all polysyllabic profundity,
setatious vacuity,
ventriloqual verbosity or
vain vapidity,
obscurant or apparent.

Shun double entendre,
purient jocosity and
pestiferous profanity.

In other words…
Say what you mean and
mean what you say,
and don’t use big words!!

Author Unknown


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Words of wisdom from Chief Tecumseh

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.

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Poetry Group Slam

Performance poetry for group bonding and team work. A Henry Brothers’ Blog Post

The Henry Brothers' Jim Jam Slam

Poetry can be contemplative and reflective but it can also be performed to an audience. Performed by an individual or, as in this activity, by a group.  You’ll need a text or texts suitable for a group performance.

Students should be made aware of how they can orchestrate poems in various ways.

By varying the speed or pace, pitch, rhythm, mood of the poem. By varying the number of voices speaking at the same time. Or, by adding special effects, such as echo, overlapping lines, movements or sound effects.

What you do –

Students work in groups of three or more.

Distribute the texts, one per student and allow 15 minutes for discussion and planning of how the text will be performed. This will need to be monitored carefully.

Groups then rehearse their poems two or three times before they’re called to perform.

This activity is excellent for group bonding…

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From Havamal, a Viking poem

Don’t say, ‘It’s been a good day’ till sundown.
Don’t say, ‘She’s a good wife’ till she’s buried.
Don’t say, ‘It’s a good sword’ till you’ve tested it.
Don’t say, ‘She’s a good girl’ till she’s married off.
Don’t say, ‘The ice is safe’ till you’ve crossed it.
Don’t say, ‘The beer is good’ till you’ve drunk the last of it.

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