On Browning’s The Last Ride Together

Q1: What type of a poem is The Last Ride Together?

DO IT YOURSELF.

Q2: Comment on the title of the poem, The Last Ride Together.

OR, Do you think that the title of the poem is justified?

ANS: The title of the poem, The Last Ride Together is fully justified. It refers to the single theme of the poem, namely the attempt at seeking a resolution out of the greatest crisis of the speaker’s life created by the rejection of his love by his beloved. It is in the last ride together with her that he finds a theological and philosophical solution to his problem.

Q3: “Since now at length ….needs must be—“. Who is the speaker here? What makes him lament thus?

ANS: The rejected lover in Browning’s dramatic lyric is the speaker here. He has tried every means to retain her love, but now he understands that he has reached such point of discord where no reconciliation is possible. Therefore he tries to rationalise his failure and console himself by accepting the fact that the rejection must have been predestined.

Q4: “My whole heart rises up to bless

Your name in pride and thankfulness!” Who is the speaker here? Why does he use the words ‘pride’ and ‘thankfulness’?

ANS: Though he has been rejected, he now takes pride in the fact that she loved him once. Again since she loved him, he thanks her for doing so.

Q5: What does the speaker in Browning’s The Last Ride Together claim from his lady after being rejected by her? Why does he do so?

ANS: When the speaker of Browning’s poem The Last Ride Together understands that his relationship with the ladylove finally has reached such a point where no reconciliation is possible, he claims two things from her: first, he wants to keep the memory of their affair and secondly he proposes to her for a last ride together. He hopes to transform the ride into a journey towards the eternity and find out theological and philosophical resolution to his crisis.

Q6: Explain the expression “Those deep dark eyes …through”.

OR, “Fixed me a breathing-while or two….in balance”. What is the incident referred to here? What does the speaker try to mean by “life or death in the balance”?

ANS: When the lady begins considering whether she should accept the proposal for the last ride together, she goes through mixed emotions (reflected in her bent eyebrows). On the one hand, her pride objects to accepting such a proposal: on the other, she feels pity for him since it is she who has rejected him.



Q7: What does the speaker try to mean by “life or death in the balance”?

ANS: After being rejected by his beloved the speaker proposes to her for a last ride. When she begins considering her proposal, it seems to him as if her pronouncement would determine his death or life as he has invested his sole hope in transforming this journey on earth to heaven and thereby seek salvation.

Q8: “ The blood…again”. What is the incident referred to here?

ANS: When his beloved begins considering his proposal for a last ride together, the speaker remains in utmost suspense as whether she will accept it or not. He becomes so pale at the thought of the rejection of his proposal that it seems to him his blood gets frozen. But as she agrees, he understands that his mission will be fulfilled, and he feels coming back to life again.

*Q9: “So, one day more….end tonight!” Why does the speaker think so?

ANS: As the lady accepts his proposal for a last ride, the speaker feels elated since he considers that in love one experiences the divine and gets transfigured almost into a god-like personality. Again the speaker’s hope is sustained by the impermanence of the present or the earthly existence. If the world ends tonight, he thinks, he will carry forward his last ride to eternity.

*Q10: “…if you saw …heaven was here” (ll. 23-31). What makes the speaker to exclaim in this fashion? What is the lover’s concept of love implied here?

OR, “ Conscious grew, your passion drew….star-shine too”. Explain the how the speaker makes a comparison between the cosmic events and the effects of the touch of his beloved?

ANS: After accepting his proposal for a last ride the beloved leans on his breast for a moment. The touch generates such euphoric sensations in his mind that he feels to experience some divine events happening with him. Just as a breast-shaped cloud looks a little stooping by the load of light shed at a time by the setting sun’s and the rising moon’s and the rising evening star’s light or blessing, the lover feels experiencing the same kind of bliss at the physical contact with his beloved. Nevertheless this makes him forgetful of the fleshly existence, and he experiences love as a spiritual quality.



Q11. Explain the expression “billowy-bosomed”.



Q12: “Thus leant she and lingered—joy and fear!” Why does the speaker use the words ‘joy’ and ‘fear’?



Q13. “My soul/Smoothed…in the wind.” Why does the speaker compare his soul to ‘a long-cramped soul’?

ANS: The rejection of his love by the beloved shattered him mentally. When she agreed to his proposal for a last ride, he felt highly relieved, as he has hoped to transform the journey beyond this temporal world towards eternity. So while riding with his beloved against the wind, he feels his mind now free just as a folded paper gets unfolded and flutters in the wind.

Q14. “Had I done this…/…so might I miss./…the worst befell” Why does the speaker say so? Or, What does the speaker mean by this?

ANS: As the lady has accepted his proposal for a last ride and they are out for a ride now, the speaker in Browning’s dramatic lyric The Last Ride Together rationalizes his rejection by her. He says that it is useless to consider how he might have fared had he said this or that, done this or that. For, in either case she would either love him or hate him. He accepts the present as a blessing since he enjoys the ride with his beloved and hopes to transform it intellectually into one towards eternity.



Q15. “Fail alone I …/ who succeeds?” Who is the speaker here? Why does he think so?

ANS: …As he is now riding with his beloved for the last time, he remembers the past and rationalizes his failure by saying that he is not the sole person in the world, who has failed. In fact, all men try hard for success, but a few succeed. He finds satisfaction in the fact that he has succeeded in realizing the favour of riding with his beloved for the last time.

Q16. “…it seemed my spirit flew/…on either side” Explain.

As the speaker in Browning’s dramatic lyric The Last Ride Together began his last ride together with is beloved, he felt so euphoric that it seemed to him that his soul was on its wings. While the landscape rushed past his eyes, he seemed to have seen new regions and cities never explored before.



Q17. “All labour…/…/…hopeful past.” Explain how the speaker justifies his failure of securing his beloved’s love here.

ANS: In order to justify his failure the speaker in Browning’s dramatic lyric The Last Ride Together refers to the fate of humanity in general. He says that in spite of trying hard for success, men at the end achieve little in the form of success; there always remains wide gap between hope and realization, between ambition and achievement. On the other hand, in his attempt to win his beloved’s love he has at least secured a last ride together, which, according to him, is a no mean achievement.



Q18. “What hand and brain…/…/…/…the fleshly screen?” Where do these line occur? Why does the speaker say so?

OR, Explain how the speaker justifies his failure.



Q19. “Ten lines, a statesman’s life in each!” Where does the line occur? Explain why the speaker exclaims in this way.

ANS: In order to justify his failure the speaker in Browning’s dramatic lyric The Last Ride Together speaks of the reward a statesman gets after the end of his active political career. After his death he is rewarded with a short ten-line obituary. His point is that achievement always falls short of ambition and endeavour.



Q20. “The flag stuck…Abbey-stones…” Explain.



Q21. Explain how the speaker in Last Ride Together draws a comparison between his achievement and that of a poet.

ANS: The rejected lover in Browning’s dramatic lyric The Last Ride Together draws a comparison between his achievement and that of a poet in order to justify his failure. According to him, a poet tries hard to express the feelings and thoughts in rhythm and melody, which others feel but cannot express. The poet holds beauty as the highest ideal and tries all through his life to glorify this in poetry. But the reward he gets in return, according to the speaker, is a trifling: he lives in poverty and becomes sick and prematurely old. The poet expresses but does not experience the sublime bliss of love. On the other hand the rejected lover is now having the bliss of riding with his beloved. In other words, to him life is greater than art.



Q22: “And that’s your Venus—whence …/fords the burn!” Explain the significance of the lines in relation to the speaker’s own personal situation.



Q23: “But in music we know how fashions end.” Where do this line occur? Why does the speaker insert this comment into the poem?



Q24. “…Had fate/ Proposed bliss here should sublimate…bond.” Explain.

ANS: The rejected lover in Browning’s The Last Ride Together justifies his failure of securing his beloved’s love by saying that it is not possible for us to know what is good for us and what is not. Even if he had entered into a contract with fate that he should be given the highest happiness on earth itself, he would still seek some happiness after his death. In other words, the speaker in his failure is sustained by his belief in the life after death, in the existence of life in heaven.



Q25.”This foot once planted…ride.” Explain.

OR, What does the speaker want to mean by “Could I descry such?”

OR, What is the ‘quest’ referred to here? Why does he “sink back shuddering “ from it?

OR,”Earth being so good…seem best?” Explain the significance of this line.

ANS: The rejected speaker in Browning’s The Last Ride Together justifies his failure of securing his beloved’s love by saying that he will be appalled if he finds the highest happiness of life in this temporal world. For, he looks forward to life-after-death or heaven for the fulfilment of his highest ideal. If this world provides the highest happiness, heavenly life then will be meaningless. And that is why, the speaker is content with and values the last ride so much, as he hopes to continue this beyond this earthly existence to heaven.



Q26. “And yet—she has not spoke so long!” Explain what the speaker wants to mean by the line.

Q27.”What if Heaven…so abide?” How does the speaker come to this conclusion?

ANS: Towards the end of his monologue the rejected lover in Browning’s The Last Ride Together projects himself and his beloved—representing the strong and the fair at the prime of their life—as an embodiment of heaven itself. Again he imagines himself and his beloved partaking of the heavenly quality by remaining constant and fixed in their ride together.



Q28. Explain the significance of the line, “Whither life’s flower is first discerned…”

OR, What is here referred to by the speaker as “life’s flower” and why?

The speaker here in Browning’s The Last Ride Together refers to heaven as the “life’s flower”. According to him, heaven is the culminating point of human life. Human beings can realize the highest reward, the heavenly bliss only in heaven.



Q29. “What if we still…eternity…” How does the speaker come to this conclusion?

OR, Explain the speaker’s logic behind this statement.

ANS: Towards the end of his monologue the rejected lover in Browning’s TLRT speculates on the chance of transforming the present ride into an everlasting one by just continuing it from this world to heaven. If it were so, then their old relationship will continue with the difference that the degree of emotional intensity will go on increasing. Thus he hopes to transform the ‘instant’, that is, the present bliss of riding together into an everlasting one in heaven.

1 Comment

  1. These questions and answers became very much useful to me in preparing for the wbssc examination. –Sima. Birbhum.

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