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 DO NOT quote directly from the poem.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.


About The Henry Brothers

We are English teachers involved in ELT publishing in Turkey, and also touring the country giving workshops and presentations to English teachers, mainly on the use of poetry, storytelling and other lively activities in the classroom. We can be contacted by e-mail to canmoorcroft@gmail.com or paul.zarraga@gmail.com
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