A Comparison of Langston Hughes’ End and Cristina Rossetti’s Uphill
The two poems, End and Uphill, by Langston Hughes and Cristina Rossetti respectively, have a common theme: death. However, the overall message of the poems is very different, as two distinct perspectives on death and its meaning unfold.
Thus, Hughes’ poem describes death as an absolute final destination, as the title also indicates. The brief but effective title, “End”, suggests an ultimate state of nothingness, from which there is no respite. The poem’s form is also very significant: the text is formed exclusively of negations instead of assertions. The images constructed in the poem are all negated: there are no clocks on the wall, there is no time, there are no shadows, there is neither light nor darkness and there is no door. These negated enumerations are symbolic: the absence of clocks and of time and the disappearance of light and darkness point to the abolishment of the indispensible principles of life and existence. The imagery of absolute nothingness culminates with the last exclamation of the poem, which suggests that this state of non-existence is also final and inescapable. The absence of the door therefore indicates a closure, an absolute end which leaves not possibility for escape. Thus, through a very short and simple poem, Hughes manages to create a very powerful effect: he describes death as an ultimate state, a scene of nothingness from which all else is gone. The negations in the poem serve to erase all the signs of life from this ultimate state, while the last image suggests that death is an ending and not a step and that it offers no possibility for continuation. What Hughes depicts in his poem therefore is death as a state of non-existence which cannot be reversed.
Rossetti’s Uphill, on the other hand, speaks of death in different terms. The form and the punctuation of the poem are again significant: the author constructs he...