Robert Browning’s optimism has led him often been called the most philosophical of all the dramatic poets . Born in an age of skepticism , he was strangely free from its “strange disease of sick hurry . . . divided aims” . And with his “one aim,one business , one desire” , he had an unconditional trust in God . In ‘Pippa Passes’, he says :
” God ‘ s in his heaven
All’s right with the world “
Browning saw the evils of life – failures , frustrations and disappointments as necessary ingredients for the perfection and purification of man . Failures strengthen man and thereby help his spiritual development . So he says in Epilogue to ‘ Asolando ‘ ,”we fall to rise , are battled to fight better / Sleep to wake” . Infact , to show that it is within the power of man ‘ s spirit to pluck the sting out of failure and make of it something better than success – was Browning ‘ s constant endeavour. In other words , while the theory of evolution brought pessimism in most of his contemporaries , he looked scorned at all sorts of pessimistic schools of poetry growing all around him and was considerably elated by the possibility of the perpetual progress oil and his infinite capacity for improvement. Robert Browning’s optimism in ‘The Last Ride Together’ is an instance to this.
The lover in the poem is indeed an exceptional man who does not break down under the pressure of failures . He hoped to gain the love of the lady , but when let down , he sees it as a common verdict of fate . Instead of cursing the lady’s inconstancy or infidelity , he father feels blessed to get an opportunity of the last ride with his aspired lady . No past thought disturbs the serenity of his ride with his lady : ” What need to strive with a life awry? . He is , infact , not alone to fail in life :
“ Fail i alone in words and deeds ?
Why , all men strive and who succeeds ?
The rejected lover finds that the achievements of man can never go in pair . Moreover , he compares his achievement with people engaged in other sorts of profession , and finds that he has achieved more than that a poet , musician , sculptor or soldier can achieve in their life . Their works and deeds are valued only after their lives , but the lover atleast gets the physical companionship of the lady as well as her mental sympathy for him in his life time :
” And we ride, in fine” believe that the whole worth of life lies not in perfection but in the effort to become perfect , not in the accomplishment but in the effort to accomplish . The rejected lover expresses this aspect of his creator ‘ s philosophy when he says
“ Who knows what ‘ s fit for us ? Had fate Proposed bliss here should sublimate My being -had I signed the bond –
Still one must lead some life beyond . . . ”
Robert Browning’s optimism made him believed in the immortality of the soul . Hence , if the lover gets his heart ‘ s desire in this world , he will have nothing to look forward to in the shape of perfect happiness in heaven :
” Earth being so good , could heaven seen best ?” The joy of life really consists in the pursuit of an ideal and not in the attainment of it :
“Life’s a probation and earth no goal
But starting point of man . ”
And so better for him to die with his ideal unattained in this world
” This foot once planted on the goal
This glory – garland round my soul ,
Could i descry such?”
Life on earth is a ‘broken arc’ , and in heaven it is a perfect round ‘.
Hence to conclude, Robert Browning’s The Last Ride Together has thus used the concept of unrequited loves as a symbol of unattained goal in life. Mark Roberts is right in classifying the poem as that of life “….dominant interest in the poem is not in the exploration of the love – relationship . . . but in the question posed by the failure of the lover ‘ s suit , a failure which is taken as the type of unsuccessful striving towards a goal”
Analysis of Poem The Last Ride Together by Robert Browninghttps://englishliteraturenotes.co.in/robert-brownings-optimism-brownings-philosophy-as-revealed-in-the-last-ride-together/
Critical Appreciation of the poem The Last Ride Togetherhttps://englishliteraturenotes.co.in/robert-brownings-optimism-brownings-philosophy-as-revealed-in-the-last-ride-together/