In the poem "The Last Ride Together," why does the lover say, "The petty done, the undone vast"?
I thought,--All labour, yet no less 50
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. (www.online-literature.com)
Above is the stanza in which the line you refer to is included. The narrator of the poem points out people work hard for what they want. They keep trying, despite not being successful. There are bumps and obstacles along the way, but they must press on and be persistent and keep trying. They still hold hope. The narrator is no different; he is hopeful that his lover will love him in another life, when they are both in Heaven together.
The rejected lover accepts his fate in a spirit of calm resignation. He knows that, in this world, actual achievement always falls short of what had been originally aimed at. This is one of the inescapable laws of our imperfect existence on earth. Thus he feels that his failure to win the love of his beloved is only a part of this general rule of existence. He derives consolation from the thought that his fate has not been worse than that of most other people.
The rejected -lover , in comparison to his failure of getting his lady , only gets a last ride with her .He invites self pity , and tries to explain his position in an way of an idealist philosopher .
To him there is no perfect success in this world . Everybody , even the most successful person , is a failure .The labour , perseverance , and fortitude , spent for achiving an object , do not go altogether vain .We must attain a part of what we attempt .If we compare our presen achievement with with our past desire regarding that object , then , we realise the truth .
The lover thus advocates the limitations of human success , and acknowledges his failure as a part of his success.
Subrata Ray .Mousumipara .Uluberia .West Bengal .India .