The Last Ride Together

by Robert Browning

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"The Petty Done, The Undone Vast"

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Context: Rejected by the sweetheart he had hoped to win, a lover recalls how he accepted the rejection, not bitterly but "in pride and thankfulness," blessing her who had, for a while at least, given him hope. He had asked that, before parting, they might take a last ride together, and she had granted his wish. As they rode, he mused on the failure not only of his own hopes but of those of other men as well:

Fail I alone, in words and deeds?
Why, all men strive and who succeeds?
We rode; it seemed my spirit flew,
Saw other regions, cities new,
As the world rushed 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.

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"All Men Strive, And Who Succeeds?"