Ian Jack and Robert Inglesfield (eds), The Poetical Works of Robert Browning, Vol. 5: Men and Women

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In this poem Browning again takes up one of the traditional topoi of love poetry. It is a Valediction, like Drayton's 'Since there's no help, come let us kiss and part' and the four Valedictions by John Donne: in fact it is a Valediction forbidding Mourning. For all the self-abnegation in certain of his love letters to Elizabeth, nothing could remind us less of Browning than this speaker's acceptance of failure. By endowing the lover with his own skill in casuistry, indeed, Browning enables him to regard failure as a kind of transcendental success, the Last Ride becoming a sort of image of eternity. One is reminded of a much greater poem, the 'Ode on a Grecian Urn'. Where we expect a complaint, we find a celebration. It is not surprising that the piece has been parodied, if never with any great degree of success.1

Each of the ten stanzas consists of eleven iambic tetrameters, rhyming aabbcddeeec. The strict regularity of the beat is varied in the fifth, tenth, and eleventh line of each stanza, where an anapaest occurs as the second or third foot.

Date: 1853/5

1863: Dramatic Romances

Notes

1 The best known attempt is 'The Last Ride Together (from her Point of View)', by J. K. Stephen, Lapsus Calami (1891).

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