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Up-Hill

Up-Hill

by Christina Rossetti

Stanza 2 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 5-6

But is there for the night a resting-place?
 A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.

  • We're officially into the second quatrain, and the conversation has progressed. Now Speaker #1 is asking about what to do once he (we're just assuming it's a he—we really have no clue at this point) gets to his final destination. Like all weary travelers, his main concern is having somewhere to sleep.
  • Speaker #2 says not to worry: there will be a roof over his head, but doesn't give many details other than that.
  • The fact that Speaker #1 asked if there was a place to rest "for the night" implies that his journey will continue into the next day—whatever is at the end of the uphill path mentioned in the first stanza is only a temporary destination. 
  • Before we move on, take another look at Speaker #2's answer to this question. It's pretty vague, and Shmoop thinks that's, well… weird. We mean, seeing as Speaker #1 seems to be dealing with a 12-hour hike up a windy mountain path in the dark, you'd think that Speaker #2 might want to be a little more specific than "a roof," ya know? Let's hope some more details are in the lines to come.
  • Also, notice here how Speaker #2's response is a little bit longer here than either response in quatrain 1. It's too early to fully assess the meaning of that change, but keep that—and other deviations from the general 10-syllable line, 6-syllable line pattern—in mind.

Lines 7-8

May not the darkness hide it from my face?
 You cannot miss that inn.

  • In these lines, Speaker #1 expresses a fairly legitimate concern. If the journey is going to take "the whole long day" as we learned back in line 3, what if it gets dark before he reaches his destination? Most importantly, what if it's so dark that he can't find this "roof" that was mentioned in line 5?
  • Speaker #2 insists, however, that the roofwhich we've now learned belongs to an inncannot be missed.
  • We get an answer to our roof question from lines 5 and 6, but it wasn't just because Speaker #1 pushed for the juicy deets.
  • Have you noticed yet how, no matter how vague of an answer Speaker #2 gives to a question, Speaker #1 always takes him at his word? Everything that Speaker #2 says is implicitly assumed to be correct and has yet to be questioned, in spite of the fact that there are a lot of questions that could (and perhaps should) be resolved. How does that unilateral trust influence your opinion about the person (or people) speaking in the poem?
  • What is it about the inn, for example, that makes it so hard to miss? Does it just appear in the middle of the road? Does it have a crazy sign? Is it the size of a Las Vegas casino? The logical answer seems to be that it's lit up in some way, but we don't actually have any confirmation of that. We'll keep reading though (you should, too).
  • Speaking of light, this pair of lines digs into an interesting theme of the poem—that of night and day, and darkness and light.
  • This dichotomy, or contrast between two opposing things, is central to the symbolism in the poem, so stay tuned as the imagery continues to develop.
  • The lines further suggest that, no matter how fast he goes, this place is so far away and hard to reach that Speaker #1 is probably not going to get there before sunset. And traveling in the dark is a whole different ballgame (that's, you know, way less fun).
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