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English Poetry. James Kenneth Stephen. The Last Ride Together (after Browning). Джеймс Кеннет Стивен.






James Kenneth Stephen (Джеймс Кеннет Стивен)

The Last Ride Together (after Browning)

(From Her Point of View)

When I had firmly answered 'No',
And he allowed that that was so,
I really thought I should be free
For good and all from Mr B.,
    And that he would soberly acquiesce:
I said that it would be discreet
That for a while we should not meet;
I promised I would always feel
A kindly interest in his weal;
I thanked him for his amorous zeal;
    In short, I said all I could but 'yes'.

I said what I'm accustomed to,
I acted as I always do;
I promised he should find in me
A friend, - a sister, if that might be:
    But he was still dissatisfied:
He certainly was most polite;
He said exactly what was right,
He acted very properly,
Except indeed for this, that he
Insisted on inviting me
    To come with him for 'one more last ride'.

A little while in doubt I stood:
A ride, no doubt, would do me good:
I had a habit and a hat
Extremely well worth looking at:
    The weather was distinctly fine:
My horse too wanted exercise,
And time, when one is riding, flies:
Besides it really seemed, you see,
The only way of ridding me
Of pertinacious Mr B.:
    So my head I graciously incline.

I won't say much of what happened next:
I own I was extremely vexed:
Indeed I should have been aghast
If anyone had seen what passed:
    But nobody need ever know
That, as I leaned forward to stir the fire,
He advanced before I could well retire,
And I suddenly felt, to my great alarm,
The grasp of a warm unlicensed arm,
An embrace in which I found no charm;
    I was awfully glad when he let me go.

Then we began to ride: my steed
Washer fresh, too fresh indeed,
And at first I thought of little, save
The way to escape an early grave,
    As the dust rose up on either side.
My stern companion jogged along
On a brown old cob both broad and strong:
He looked as he does when he's writing verse,
Or endeavouring not to swear and curse,
Or wondering where he has left his purse,
    Indeed it was a sombre ride.

I spoke of the weather to Mr B.,
But he neither listened nor spoke to me;
I praised his horse, and I smiled the smile
Which was wont to move him once on a while;
    I said I was wearing his favourite flowers:
But I wasted my words on the desert air,
For he rode with a fixed and gloomy stare:
I wonder what he was thinking about:
As I don't read verse, I shan't find out:
It was something subtle and deep, no doubt,
    A theme to detain a man for hours.

Ah! there was the corner where Mr S.
So nearly induced me to whisper 'yes':
And here it was that the next but one
Proposed on horseback, or would have done,
    Had his horse not most opportunely shied;
Which perhaps was due to an unseen flick
He received from my whip: 'twas a scurvy trick,
But I never could do with that young man:
I hope his present young woman can.
Well, I must say, never, since time began,
    Did I go for a duller or longer ride.

He never smiles and he never speaks:
He might go on like this for weeks:
He rolls a slightly frenzied eye
Towards the blue and burning sky,
    And the cob bounds on with tireless stride,
If we aren't at home for lunch at two
I don't know what Papa will do;
But I know full well he will say to me
'I never approved of Mr B.;
It's the very devil that you and he
    Ride, ride together, for ever ride.'

James Kenneth Stephen’s other poems:

  1. After the Golden Wedding (Three Soliloquies)
  2. Steam-Launches on the Thames
  3. The Philosopher and the Philanthropist
  4. My Education
  5. Wordsworth




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