Page images

Of her fell ravisher. So looks the moon

With pure light cleaving a dark cloud in June. RAMA'S DESPAIR.

Rama returns to his cottage and finds it empty. Sita, his love, his life, is gone. He had borne the loss of father, mother, home, and friends, but beDeath this shock the hero's reason gives way.

Then Rama turning, with love-quickened pace,
Eager to look upon his Sita's face,
Came to his dwelling. But he found her not;
Lonely and empty was the leafy cot,
Like a sad streamlet in the winter's frost

With all the glory of its lilies lost.
He searcht, he called: no answering voice was heard,
But a faint shudder that the branches stirred;

And sad with woe each tree and bird and flower

Mourned round the ruin of the lady's bower ;
And nymph and faun in shady thickets sighed.

And Rama lifted up his voice and cried :
"Where is my darling ? Dead, or torn away,
Or has she ventured in the wood to stray
Gathering flowers farther and farther still ?

Or has she sought the stream, her jar to fill ?”
Through grove and glade he ran with maddened brain,
Seeking her wildly where all search was vain.
From brook to brook, from hill to hill he ran,
Each tree to question and each lawn to scan:
“Tell me, Acacia, has that fairest she,
Who loved thy flowers so well, been seen by thee?
Clad in pale silk and like thy clusters, fair,
If thou hast seen my darling, tell me where !
Thou Bel tree, laden with thy golden fruit
Round as my lady's breast, why art thou mute?

Where is she, Heartsease? 'Tis thy gentle part

To banish woe, come give me what thou art.
Thou Cassia, brilliant with thy pendent gold,
Tell me what shades my radiant Sita hold,
Palm, Mango, Jasmine, Amaranth, declare,

Where is my darling with the long soft hair?
It may be that my fawn-eyed love has strayed

To sport with fawns beneath some arching shade.
I see thee, dearest : come, no longer seek
To hide thee in the grove ; come forth or speak!
I see thee, lady of the lotus eye,

Thou art not hidden, and 'tis vain to fly.
Stay if thou lovest me, my Sita, stay !
Too much already of this cruel play.
I see thy garment shimmer in the brake:
Stay, my sweet darling, for dear pity's sake!
Why art thou angry? Have I done thee wrong?

0, come, my love, for I have sought thee long!

Ah! she is dead; her mangled limbs the feast Of wandering giant or some ravenous beast; That moon-bright cheek, that pure and polisht brow, Red lips and dazzling teeth-what are they now? Tossing her arms—her spray-soft arms—in vain, Shrieking for help, alas ! my love was slain. Why wast thou left within thy bower alone, For fiends to rend thee, oh, mine own, mine own? My Sita lost, I will not live, but go Hence to the after-world, weighed down by woe; The mighty king, our sire, will see me there, And sternly cry, 'False, perjured Rama, where, Where is thy faith, that thou, with evil speed,

Comest from exile ere the time decreed ?

Can I return from banishment to see

Those chambers empty where my queen should be? Can I return to hear my people cry

Shame on the wretch who failed to save or die?

How can I meet Videha's king, and brook
The speechless agony of the father's look ?
How will these lips endure to tell him all?
These eyes, to see him start and faint and fall ?

Now leave me here to mourn awhile and die :

Do thou, dear brother, to Ayodhya hie,
The beautiful city: thus to Bharat say,
With tender greating : ‘Rama bids thee sway
The righteous sceptre thou deservest well.'
Then, after reverent salutation, tell
With soothing words, my mother, his, and thine,
The mournful tale of Sita's fate and mine."

« PreviousContinue »