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Page 4

Darryl Emmerson

Then, at last, it was no more to be resisted, and my words began, in a hesitant, hollow tone.

Mum, can I read something to you?

Of course.

Many times in our lives I had read to her, everything from Tolstoy's "Anna" to Thurber, Willa Cather and Cardinal Newman, and my own pleasure in these things had gained greatly from the instant, generous attention she always gave any attempt at beauty, or sincere feeling. I sometimes thought my serious-mindedness pleased and slightly amused her.

It's a poem, by Christina Rossetti. It's called "Uphill". And so I started.

     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.

It was getting hard to continue, and I glanced a little nervously at my mother's face. It was, as always at such moments, alert, not encouraging exactly, but certainly not bored. I went on a little.

     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.


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