What happens to you when you read?
What happens to you when you read?

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What happens to you when you read?

7.1 Story world and genre

You may find as a reader that some stories are more transporting, whilst others might be harder for you to access or get into. Readers often have preferences for the type of literature that they choose, for example some readers find that novels work best to transport them, and you looked at some examples from novels in activities above. Some readers find instead that poetry is especially transporting. We invite you to read the poem below to see if, and how, this example works for you in this way. If you are not accustomed to reading poems, you could read it as if it were a mini-story. This poem is a kind of conversation and we hope it draws you in.

Up-Hill by Christina Rossetti [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

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.

Selected Poems, Wordsworth Editions, 145

The world of this poem is the world we live in, where at times everything can seem an uphill struggle. The speaker asking the questions seems quite mournful but is still asking as though there could be a positive answer. The other speaker, the one answering, seems to be at least a bit reassuring, saying that the inn will be reached, and that hard work will have its reward. This poem may have transported you into identifying with both speakers here and you may have wondered if they imply the two sides of every person? In this way, a poem can become a larger metaphor, standing in for life itself. As we write this, the poem also seems to speak to our present moment, in the Covid-19 pandemic.

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