'How They Brought The Good News From Ghent To Aix' by Robert Browning

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I sprang to the stirrup, and Joris, and he;
I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three;
``Good speed!'' cried the watch, as the gate-bolts undrew;
``Speed!'' echoed the wall to us galloping through;
Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest,
And into the midnight we galloped abreast.


Not a word to each other; we kept the great pace
Neck by neck, stride by stride, never changing our place;
I turned in my saddle and made its girths tight,
Then shortened each stirrup, and set the pique right,
Rebuckled the cheek-strap, chained slacker the bit,
Nor galloped less steadily Roland a whit.


'Twas moonset at starting; but while we drew near
Lokeren, the cocks crew and twilight dawned clear;
At Boom, a great yellow star came out to see;
At Dffeld,'twas morning as plain as could be;
And from Mecheln church-steeple we heard the half-chime,
So, Joris broke silence with, ``Yet there is time!''


At Aershot, up leaped of a sudden the sun,
And against him the cattle stood black every one,
To stare thro' the mist at us galloping past,
And I saw my stout galloper Roland at last,
With resolute shoulders, each hutting away
The haze, as some bluff river headland its spray:


And his low head and crest, just one sharp ear bent back
For my voice, and the other pricked out on his track;
And one eye's black intelligence,---ever that glance
O'er its white edge at me, his own master,askance!
And the thick heavy spume-flakes which ayeand anon
His fierce lips shook upwards in galloping on.


By Hasselt, Dirck groaned; and cried Joris, ``Stay spur!
``Your Roos galloped bravely, the fault'snot in her,
``We'll remember at Aix''---for one heard the quick wheeze
Of her chest, saw the stretched neck and staggering knees,
And sunk tail, and horrible heave of the flank,
As down on her haunches she shuddered and sank.


So, we were left galloping, Joris and I,
Past Looz and past Tongres, no cloud in the sky;
The broad sun above laughed a pitiless laugh,
'Neath our feet broke the brittle bright stubble like chaff;
Till over by Dalhem a dome-spire sprang white,
And ``Gallop,'' gasped Joris, ``for Aix is in sight!''


``How they'll greet us!''---and all in a moment his roan
Rolled neck and croup over, lay dead as a stone;
And there was my Roland to bear the whole weight
Of the news which alone could save Aix from her fate,
With his nostrils like pits full of blood to the brim,
And with circles of red for his eye-sockets' rim.


Then I cast loose my buffcoat, each holster let fall,
Shook off both my jack-boots, let go belt and all,
Stood up in the stirrup, leaned, patted his ear,
Called my Roland his pet-name, my horse without peer;
Clapped my hands, laughed and sang, any noise, bad or good,
Till at length into Aix Roland galloped andstood.


And all I remember is---friends flocking round
As I sat with his head 'twixt my knees on the ground;
And no voice but was praising this Roland of mine,
As I poured down his throat our last measure of wine,
Which (the burgesses voted by common consent)
Was no more than his due who brought good news from Ghent.

Editor 1 Interpretation

How They Brought The Good News From Ghent To Aix: A Literary Analysis

Have you ever read a poem that left you breathless? That made you feel like you were right there, riding with the messengers as they raced through the night to deliver their message? That's the kind of experience you get when you read Robert Browning's "How They Brought The Good News From Ghent To Aix."

This poem is a masterpiece of storytelling and poetry, seamlessly blending action and emotion to create a thrilling ride for the reader. In this literary analysis, we will explore the themes, structure, and language of the poem to understand why it continues to captivate readers centuries after it was written.


Before we dive into the analysis, let's first recap the poem's plot. "How They Brought The Good News From Ghent To Aix" tells the story of three horsemen who are given an urgent mission: to deliver a message from the city of Ghent to the city of Aix. The poem is divided into ten stanzas, each describing a different leg of the journey.

The three horsemen are unnamed, but they are described in detail: the first is strong and grizzled, the second is a lithe and youthful rider, and the third is a roan-colored horse with a rider who is "a stripling" (a young man). The poem begins with the three riders meeting in the market square of Ghent, where they are given the message by the town council.

From there, they race off into the night, galloping through forests, across rivers, and over hills. They encounter various obstacles along the way, including a group of highwaymen who try to rob them, but the horsemen manage to outwit and outrun them.

As they near Aix, the horses begin to tire, and the riders start to worry that they won't make it in time. But they push on, spurred by their determination to deliver the message. Finally, they arrive in Aix and deliver the message to the duke. The poem ends with the triumphant riders celebrating their success.


One of the main themes of "How They Brought The Good News From Ghent To Aix" is the importance of perseverance and determination. Throughout the poem, the riders face numerous obstacles that could have stopped them from completing their mission. They are pursued by highwaymen, their horses begin to tire, and they have to navigate difficult terrain. But they never give up. They push through the pain and the fatigue, driven by their sense of duty and their desire to complete their task.

Another theme of the poem is the power of teamwork. The three horsemen work together seamlessly, each contributing their strengths to the mission. The grizzled rider sets the pace, the lithe rider helps to navigate the difficult terrain, and the young rider provides the courage and enthusiasm to keep going. Together, they are able to overcome the challenges they face and deliver the message to Aix.

Finally, the poem also touches on the idea of duty and responsibility. The town council of Ghent entrusts the riders with an important message, and they take that responsibility seriously. They know that the fate of their city and their country may depend on their success, and they are willing to risk their lives to do what needs to be done.


The structure of "How They Brought The Good News From Ghent To Aix" is a key part of its success. The poem is written in rhyming couplets, with each stanza consisting of two lines that rhyme. This gives the poem a sense of rhythm and momentum, driving the action forward. The regularity of the rhymes also helps to create a feeling of unity and cohesion, reinforcing the theme of teamwork that runs throughout the poem.

The poem is divided into ten stanzas, each one describing a different leg of the journey. This helps to break the poem up into manageable chunks, making it easier for the reader to follow the action. It also allows Browning to build tension gradually, as the riders encounter more and more obstacles on their journey.


Browning's use of language in "How They Brought The Good News From Ghent To Aix" is masterful. He creates vivid images with his words, bringing the journey to life in the reader's mind. For example, in the second stanza, he describes the riders galloping "through the purple glow of the night," conjuring up a beautiful and mysterious image.

Browning also uses repetition to great effect in the poem. The phrase "and still as they ran, or e'er they halted once" is repeated several times throughout the poem, emphasizing the relentless pace of the journey. The repetition of the phrase "galloped" also helps to create a sense of momentum, driving the poem forward.

Another key aspect of Browning's language is the use of dialect. The poem is set in Flanders, and Browning uses dialect words and phrases to give the poem an authentic feel. For example, in the first stanza, he writes "At the Sign of the Pike and Musket," using a Flemish inn name to set the scene. This attention to detail helps to immerse the reader in the world of the poem.


In conclusion, "How They Brought The Good News From Ghent To Aix" is a masterpiece of storytelling and poetry. Its themes of perseverance, teamwork, and duty still resonate with readers today, and its structure and language are masterful. Whether you're a lover of poetry or a fan of adventure stories, this poem is sure to leave you breathless.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

How They Brought The Good News From Ghent To Aix: A Masterpiece of Robert Browning

If you are a fan of poetry, you must have come across the name of Robert Browning, one of the most celebrated poets of the Victorian era. His works are known for their complexity, depth, and vivid imagery. Among his many famous poems, "How They Brought The Good News From Ghent To Aix" stands out as a masterpiece of narrative poetry. In this article, we will delve into the poem's structure, themes, and literary devices to understand why it has stood the test of time and continues to captivate readers.

The poem tells the story of three horsemen who ride from Ghent to Aix to deliver an urgent message to the Duke of Aix. The message is not revealed in the poem, but it is clear that it is of great importance and urgency. The horsemen ride through the night, facing various obstacles and challenges, including a river, a forest, and a group of hostile soldiers. Despite these challenges, they manage to reach their destination and deliver the message to the Duke.

The poem is structured in six stanzas, each consisting of twelve lines. The rhyme scheme is ABABCDCDEFEF, with the first and third lines of each stanza rhyming with each other. The poem's meter is iambic tetrameter, which means that each line has four iambs, or metrical feet, with each iamb consisting of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. This regular meter and rhyme scheme give the poem a sense of momentum and urgency, reflecting the horsemen's journey.

The poem's themes are many, but the most prominent ones are courage, loyalty, and duty. The horsemen are portrayed as brave and determined individuals who are willing to risk their lives to deliver the message. They are also loyal to their cause and their leader, who has entrusted them with this important task. The poem celebrates these virtues and shows how they can overcome even the most daunting challenges.

One of the most striking aspects of the poem is its use of vivid imagery. Browning paints a vivid picture of the horsemen's journey, describing the landscape, the weather, and the various obstacles they face. For example, in the first stanza, he describes the horsemen riding through the night, with the moon shining above them and the wind blowing in their faces. In the second stanza, he describes the river they have to cross, with its "black depths" and "foaming spray." In the fourth stanza, he describes the forest they ride through, with its "gloomy boughs" and "rustling leaves." This imagery not only adds to the poem's beauty but also helps to create a sense of atmosphere and tension.

Another literary device used in the poem is repetition. The phrase "galloped, galloped" is repeated several times throughout the poem, emphasizing the horsemen's speed and urgency. The phrase "and the white foam flew" is also repeated, emphasizing the horsemen's determination and the physical exertion required to complete their journey. These repetitions create a sense of rhythm and momentum, adding to the poem's overall effect.

The poem's language is also worth noting. Browning uses archaic words and phrases, such as "spurs were struck in the horses' flanks," "the white road smoking behind," and "the foam-flakes mounted high." These words and phrases give the poem a sense of timelessness and add to its beauty. They also create a sense of distance between the reader and the events of the poem, as if we are observing them from a different era.

In conclusion, "How They Brought The Good News From Ghent To Aix" is a masterpiece of narrative poetry that celebrates courage, loyalty, and duty. Its regular meter and rhyme scheme, vivid imagery, and literary devices create a sense of urgency and momentum, reflecting the horsemen's journey. The poem's language and archaic words add to its beauty and timelessness. It is a testament to Robert Browning's skill as a poet and his ability to capture the human spirit in all its glory.

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