Study Guide

Up-Hill Religion

By Christina Rossetti


You seriously cannot talk about "Up-Hill" without throwing a little God, faith, and religion in the mix. A huge portion of Rossetti's life and character was defined by her belief in God, so it's only natural that her poetry would reflect that. In a faith-based interpretation of "Up-Hill," the climb described in the poem represents the hard journey to salvation in Christ and the promise of eternity in heaven. The difficulties anticipated along the way, like darkness and the steepness of the climb, are there because they're referenced in the Bible, but is there a chance they represent some of the potholes of Rossetti's own religious journey, too? Let's all stroke our chins thoughtfully and say, "Hmm."

Questions About Religion

  1. How do the symbols of darkness and light play into the religious interpretations of this poem?
  2. What do you think is the most significant line in this poem from a religious perspective? Why did you choose that line?
  3. If you didn't know about Rossetti's personal belief in God, how else might you know that this poem can be read as a parable of the Christian faith?
  4. Is there a difference between the role of faith and the role of religion in "Up-Hill"? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Another religious interpretation of "Up-Hill" argues that the climb is the speaker's journey to Christ (i.e. the series of events that causes the speaker to turn to God), which makes the inn the speaker's initial salvation, as opposed to the climb representing the Christian life and the inn standing for heaven. There are just so many ways to read this little poem, scads we tell you.

By Jove, we think we have it: if we accept a Christian reading of the poem, the relationship between Speaker #2 and Speaker #1 must represent the relationship between God and people on Earth, respectively.