“Last Ride Together” as a love poem

“The Last Ride together” is one of the loveliest of love lyrics, in which thought, emotion and melody are mingled in perfect measure; which has the lyrical cry and objectiveness of the drama. Poets have often sung of unrequited love; but here there is nothing but a manly and dignified resignation. A man, who has spent years in passion for a young girl, just realises his error when he is told that he can hope no more. Possessed of that strength which emanates under failure in a strong cheerful fatalism, he has courage enough to crush the rising despair in him, and requests for a last ride with her. And in the rapture of that companionship, passion and thought slowly transfigure and glorify his fate, till from the lone limbo of outcast lovers he seems to have penetrated to the innermost fiery core of life and love, which art and poetry grope after in vain:

"And that’s your Venus, whence we turn

To yonder girl that fords the burn."

He, on the other hand, has been able to possess that supreme moment on earth, which, if prolonged, is Heaven:

Ride, ride together, and for ever ride!

The dramatic situation appears to be one in which the lover, upon being rejected by his mistress, asks for, and is granted, one last horseback ride with her across a mysterious landscape. The poem echoes the ‘carpe diem’ motif of seizing the present. The lover basks in the glory of the present moment of riding together with his beloved. The ride seems to stretch out to eternity; there is no sense of time demarcation, but a continuous unfurling of landscape.

Browning's poem emphasizes the idea that the love one has shared on earth will be shared even after "The Last Ride" together. These are lovers who are moving beyond what they have had on earth. He blesses her name in "pride and thankfulness" and takes back from her the hope she has always given him. In this way, he has hope for the future. He wants to share as many moments with her as he can since "Who knows but the world may end tonight?" Still, his hope for the future and their future after death makes this "one last ride" (in case that is what it would turn out to be) that much more special.

The lover as he rides with his beloved continues to think about the world. He says that brain and hand cannot go together hand in hand. Conception and execution can never be paired together. Man is not able to make pace with his actions to match with his ambitions. He plans a lot but achieves a little. The lover feels that he has at least achieved a little success by being able to ride with his beloved. He compares himself with a statesman and a soldier and finds them wanting in luck. The lover then compares his lot with that of a poet. He believes that a poet’s reward is too small compared with his skills. Compared to the poet, the lover considers himself luckier as he has at least achieved the consolation of riding with his lover for the last time. The lover thinks that it would be a heaven on earth for him if he continues to ride with his beloved forever. He wishes that the moment should become everlasting so that they could continue to ride together forever and ever. That would indeed be heavenly bliss for him.

Browning's philosophy about love is very interesting in this poem and seems surprisingly modern in that the woman seems to have control, as she has ended the affair. Rather than being sad, Browning is suggesting, through his narrator, that we should be grateful for the love that was and revel in its memory. The poem seems to be about 'fixing' this moment in the mind so that it can live forever and bring fond memories. Browning is suggesting that few people succeed in the endeavor to find real love but nevertheless love is very important; more important than wars and even art. For Browning, striving seems to be the most important thing and regret pointless.    

Last modified: Wednesday, 12 July 2017, 1:19 AM