Uphill Poetry Analysis Essays

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1Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.2And he said to them, When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.3Give us each day our daily bread,4and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.5And he said to them, Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, Friend, lend me three loaves,6for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him;7and he will answer from within, Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything?8I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.9And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.10For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.11What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent;12or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?13If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!14Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled.15But some of them said, He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,16while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven.17But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls.18And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul.19And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.20But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.21When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe;22but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil.23Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.24When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, I will return to my house from which I came.25And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order.26Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.27As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!28But he said, Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!29When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.30For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.31The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.32The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.33No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.34Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.35Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.36If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.37While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table.38The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner.39And the Lord said to him, Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.40You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also?41But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.42But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.43Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.44Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.45One of the lawyers answered him, Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.46And he said, Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.47Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed.48So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs.49Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,50so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation,51from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation.52Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.53As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things,54lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.

1And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.2And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.3Give us day by day our daily bread.4And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.5And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;6For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?7And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.8I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.9And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.10For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.11If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?12Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?13If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?14And he was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered.15But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils.16And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven.17But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth.18If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub.19And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges.20But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.21When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace:22But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.23He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.24When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out.25And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished.26Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.27And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked.28But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.29And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.30For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.31The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.32The men of Nineve shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.33No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light.34The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.35Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.36If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.37And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat.38And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner.39And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.40Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?41But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you.42But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.43Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.44Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.45Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also.46And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.47Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.48Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres.49Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute:50That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation;51From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.52Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.53And as he said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things:54Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.

Summary:

Over the course of a journey, the narrator asks her guide eight questions about the road ahead. The narrator asks if the roads are all up-hill and if the journey will take all day. The guide replies in the affirmative. Next, the narrator asks if there is a place to rest for the night and if the darkness will obscure said resting-place from their view. The guide assures the narrator that there is an inn and they will not be able to miss it. The narrator's fifth question is about which other travelers will be on the road. At the inn, the narrator asks if the other travelers would prefer for her to knock or call out. The guide tells the narrator that someone will open the door. Lastly, the narrator asks if there will be a bed for her. The guide tells her that there are beds for everyone.

Analysis:

The question and answer form is common in devotional writing, because it encourages the reader to contemplate his or her own response to the question. The guide addresses the narrator as “my friend," which is also what Christ called his disciples. The poem is comprised of four stanzas with four lines each, following the ABAB rhyme scheme. In this way, the rhyme scheme separates the traveler from the guide, and the simplicity alleviates the pressure of the difficult topic. The meter starts with a trochee and shifts into alternating iambic pentameter and trimeter. The pace is consistent, just like the narrator's steady up-hill climb.

The journey is the prominent symbol in this poem, and is open to a few different interpretations. The first interpretation is that the poem symbolizes the journey from birth to death. The darkening sky foreshadows the end of life, and the inn represents the final resting place. Considering Rossetti’s religious background, this final resting place could be interpreted as Heaven. The act of knocking on the door represents the Christian confession of sin and the need for forgiveness before admittance into Heaven. When describing this moment, Rossetti chooses to use a nearly verbatim quote from the Gospel of Matthew. Rossetti frames death as a form of respite after the tiring journey of life.

There is a slight possible variation on the interpretation that the road represents the journey of life. Already careworn, the weary traveler wonders if life grows easier as she grows older. However, the guide tells her that the road that remains is up-hill and arduous. This interpretation does not resolve the symbolism behind the inn. It is possible that the inn could represent death, which also provides an opportunity for rest at the end of the road.

A third reading seems less likely because of Rossetti’s religious views, but it is worth examining. This school of thought considers the journey to represent Christian purgatory. In this case, the inn would also represent Heaven, just like in the first interpretation. “Up-hill” is a classic example of Rossetti’s devotional literature, which dealt with doubt as well as eternal assurance. The road takes on several meanings, each revealing a facet of Rossetti's contemplation of life and its hardships.

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