The Last Ride Together

The Last Ride Together

By Robert Browning

I SAID—Then, dearest, since ‘tis so,
Since now at length my fate I know,
Since nothing all my love avails,
Since all, my life seem’d meant for, fails,
Since this was written and needs must be—
My whole heart rises up to bless
Your name in pride and thankfulness!
Take back the hope you gave,—I claim
Only a memory of the same,
—And this beside, if you will not blame;
Your leave for one more last ride with me.

My mistress bent that brow of hers,
Those deep dark eyes where pride demurs
When pity would be softening through,
Fix’d me a breathing-while or two
With life or death in the balance: right!
The blood replenish’d me again;
My last thought was at least not vain:
I and my mistress, side by side
Shall be together, breathe and ride, CAESRA
So, one day more am I deified.
Who knows but the world may end to-night?

Hush! if you saw some western cloud
All billowy-bosom’d, over-bow’d
By many benedictions—sun’s
And moon’s and evening-star’s at once—
And so, you, looking and loving best,
Conscious grew, your passion drew
Cloud, sunset, moonrise, star-shine too,
Down on you, near and yet more near,
Till flesh must fade for heaven was here!—
Thus leant she and linger’d—joy and fear!
Thus lay she a moment on my breast.

Then we began to ride. My soul
Smooth’d itself out, a long-cramp’d scroll
Freshening and fluttering in the wind.
Past hopes already lay behind.
What need to strive with a life awry?
Had I said that, had I done this,
So might I gain, so might I miss.
Might she have loved me? just as well
She might have hated, who can tell!
Where had I been now if the worst befell?
And here we are riding, she and I.

Fail I alone, in words and deeds?
Why, all men strive and who succeeds?
We rode; it seem’d my spirit flew,
Saw other regions, cities new,
As the world rush’d by on either side.
I thought,—All labour, yet no less
Bear up beneath their unsuccess.
Look at the end of work, contrast
The petty done, the undone vast,
This present of theirs with the hopeful past!
I hoped she would love me; here we ride.

What hand and brain went ever pair’d?
What heart alike conceived and dared?
What act proved all its thought had been?
What will but felt the fleshly screen?
We ride and I see her bosom heave.
There ‘s many a crown for who can reach.
Ten lines, a statesman’s life in each!
The flag stuck on a heap of bones,
A soldier’s doing! what atones?
They scratch his name on the Abbey-stones.
My riding is better, by their leave.

What does it all mean, poet? Well,
Your brains beat into rhythm, you tell
What we felt only; you express’d
You hold things beautiful the best,
And pace them in rhyme so, side by side.
‘Tis something, nay ‘tis much: but then,
Have you yourself what ‘s best for men?
Are you—poor, sick, old ere your time—
Nearer one whit your own sublime
Than we who never have turn’d a rhyme?
Sing, riding ‘s a joy! For me, I ride.

And you, great sculptor—so, you gave
A score of years to Art, her slave,
And that ‘s your Venus, whence we turn
To yonder girl that fords the burn!
You acquiesce, and shall I repine?
What, man of music, you grown gray
With notes and nothing else to say,
Is this your sole praise from a friend,
‘Greatly his opera’s strains intend,
But in music we know how fashions end!’
I gave my youth: but we ride, in fine.

Who knows what ‘s fit for us? Had fate
Proposed bliss here should sublimate
My being—had I sign’d the bond—
Still one must lead some life beyond,
Have a bliss to die with, dim-descried.
This foot once planted on the goal,
This glory-garland round my soul,
Could I descry such? Try and test!
I sink back shuddering from the quest.
Earth being so good, would heaven seem best?
Now, heaven and she are beyond this ride.

And yet—she has not spoke so long!
What if heaven be that, fair and strong
At life’s best, with our eyes upturn’d
Whither life’s flower is first discern’d,
We, fix’d so, ever should so abide?
What if we still ride on, we two
With life for ever old yet new,
Changed not in kind but in degree,
The instant made eternity,—
And heaven just prove that I and she
Ride, ride together, for ever ride?

Summary of The Last Ride Together

  • Popularity of “The Last Ride Together”: Written by Robert Brown, a British poet and writer popular for his monologues, this poem “The Last Ride Together” is rather a long love poem. It first appeared in 1855 in his collection Men and Women. The poem highlights the pleas of a rejected lover to have a last ride with his beloved before they part from each other for good. The poem presents his conversation as if his beloved is present before him. The popularity of the poem lies in its rhythmic beauty and the pleas of the lover.
  • “The Last Ride Together” As a Representative of the Rejection of Love: The speaker is a rejected lover who pleas his beloved detailing his love affair and adding that he wants only the last ride with her since they are going to part ways. Then he sees that the beloved has bent toward him, showing mercy on his pleas, but he also sees that it seems that in showing love toward him, she has caused the blessings of heaven to come to him. The rejected lover takes this time as a moment of blissful thing that she may start loving him again, but he has also failed like all other heroes who fail in performing great exploits.
    Following this feeling, he pleases the poet to put this last ride into rhymes asks the sculptor to carve it in their art and sees that perhaps heaven has blessed him with this last ride. Yet, she does not open her mouth and when she seems agreeing to his pleas, he hopes against hope that this moment may prolong into eternity, and they would continue riding together.
  • Major Themes in “The Last Ride Together”: Rejected love, hopes against hope, the blessing of love, the last ride and the blessings of heaven are some of the major thematic strands of this poem. Robert Browning has beautifully presented a rejected lover who is desperate to have a last ride with his beloved, hoping that if she is kind enough, God may be kinder than her and prolong this moment into eternity. This could be the prolongation of his love.
    Yet, she does not seem to agree, breaking his hope, but he continues expressing his thoughts about his love, about the art and the poetry and states that only poetry and sculpture could preserve his love despite the fact that heaven has showered his blessings upon him due to her love. These expressions, the description of the blessings of God, the beauty of his beloved, her reticence and her kindness show that the speaker is highly desperate to take this long ride, but it stays a question mark whether his pleas got accepted or not.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in The Last Ride Together

Robert Browning has used multiple literary devices to enhance the intended impact of “The Last Ride Together.” Some of the major literary devices he used in this poem are as follows.

  1. Anaphora: It is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is repeated in the beginning of the verses. The poem shows the use of several examples, such as “Since…”, “Thus…”, “What…” and “This.”
  2. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /a/ in “Take back the hope you gave,—I claim” and the sound of /o/ in “Your leave for one more last ride with me” and /e/ in “My last thought was at least not vain.”
  3. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick successions, such as the sound of /d/ in “deep dark” or /s/ in “saw some”, or /y/ in “you yourself.”
  4. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /f / in “Till flesh must fade for heaven was here”, the sound of /s/ in “My last thought was at least not vain” and the sound of /r/ in “Conscious grew, your passion drew.”
  5. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Robert Browning used imagery in this poem, such as “Cloud, sunset, moonrise, star-shine too”, “And moon’s and evening-star’s at once” and “Till flesh must fade for heaven was here.”
  6. Irony: Irony is a figure of speech in which words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meaning of the words. For example, there are many examples of irony in that he loves her intensely and knows that she would reject his offer and that she is going to part, yet he continues pleading.
  7. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between objects different in nature. The poet used different metaphors, such as his spirit compared to a bird or the brain of his beloved compared to a musical instrument.
  8. Paradox: It means to use contradictory ideas of words or phrases in a verse or a sentence. The poem shows the use of paradoxes such as;
  • The petty done, the undone vast.
  • What we felt only; you expressed.
  • The instant made eternity.
  1. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. The poem shows symbols such as dark eyes, life, death, cloud, moon and even star to show his love for his beloved.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in The Last Ride Together

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is an analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Diction: It means the type of language. The poem shows very good use of formal, direct, poetic and direct diction.
  2. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. Robert Browning has used end rhyme in this poem, such as strong/long, upturned/discerned, and abide/ride.
  3. Repetition: It is a rhetorical device that means to repeat words or phrases repeated for impact. The poem shows the use of repetition, such as ride.
  4. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows AABBCDDEEEC rhyme scheme in the first stanza, which continues until the end.
  5. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are ten stanzas in this poem, with each comprising eleven verses.
  6. Tone: It means the voice of the text. The poem shows a didactic, ironic and loving tone.

Quotes to be Used

The following lines are useful to quote about how and when to make the last-ditch effort and hope for the best.

As the world rush’d by on either side.
I thought,—All labour, yet no less
Bear up beneath their unsuccess.
Look at the end of work, contrast
The petty done, the undone vast,
This present of theirs with the hopeful past!
I hoped she would love me; here we ride