critical appreciation of the poem 'The Last Ride Together'
Robert Browning's poem, "The Last Ride Together," consists of ten stanzas each containing eleven lines. The lines are written in the relatively regular iambic tetrameter. The rhyme scheme is AABBCDDEEEC.
The poem is a dramatic monologue. It is spoken in the voice of a male speaker reflecting on a final ride with his beloved after she has indicated that she does not want to reciprocate his feelings. The use of the term "mistress" does not imply an illicit or adulterous relationship in this context, but simply refers to a female whom the speaker loves.
The setting of the poem is not really described. Although we know that the speaker and the woman set out for a ride in the third stanza (we also know that the general references to nature suggest that the ride occurs outdoors), we do not even really know if the ride is real or imaginary. The time sequence is not portrayed realistically; instead, time expands and contracts, reflecting the speaker's mood and imagination, as we see in the lines, "sun’s/ And moon’s and evening-star’s at once ..."
In the final stanzas of the poem, we get the sense that even as the real relationship ends the speaker's love is being transmuted into poetry or art. Within the imaginary world of the poem, the speaker wonders if "I and she/Ride, ride together, for ever ride?"
This poem is a dramatic monologue of a rejected lover who expresses his undying love for his beloved. The title gives the idea that this is their last time together and the speaker is attempting to live fully in that moment. The poem appears to suggest that the phrase 'carpe diem' is actually one to live by and that the speaker will be happy with the memory of this last ride.
Browning suggests, as he does in other poems, that the speaker has failed in some way but that this is not important as 'all men strive and who succeeds?' For Browning the present is all important as men spend too much time concentrating on the past or future as things are set out for us by fate and we cannot control them. Even art is not that important as the sculptor's gaze moves away from Venus to 'yonder girl that fords the burn'.
This poem is an interesting one as it explores ideas of how we should live in the moment and be content with that.