Page images
PDF
EPUB

Kind, slow to anger, prompt at misery's call,
He loved the people and was loved of all.
Proud of the duties of his Warrior race,
His soul was worthy of his princely place,
Resolved to win, by many a glorious deed,
Throned with the Gods in heaven, a priceless meed.
What though Brihaspati' might hardly vie
With him in eloquence and quick reply,
None heard the music of his sweet lips flow
In idle wrangling or for empty show.
He shunned no toils that student's life befit,

But learned the Vedas and all Holy Writ;
And e'en eclipsed his father's archer fame,

So swift his arrow and so sure his aim.

Then rose a longing in the monarch's breast :

“O, that the Gods would take me to their rest;
Might I but see, ere yet my course be run,
The hallowed waters poured upon my son :
See in mine age, a worthy heir, mive own
Beloved Rama on Ayodhya's throne.”

| The Preceptor of the Gods.

Then with his friends he counselled that his heir

Should ease his burthen and divide the care.

For, old and worn, he felt that death was nigh,
And dark signs threatened both in earth and sky.
But still he quailed not, for he knew how dear
All held Prince Rama, and this banisht fear,

Forth with he summoned, for the solemn day,
People and princes near and far away.
They came : and splendid in his king's attire
He looked upon them, as the Eternal Sire,
In all the glory of a God arrayed,
Gazes
upon

the creatures he has made.

Like heavenly music, very sweet and loud,
Thus spake the monarch to the gathered crowd:
“ Needs not for me, ye noble lords, to show,
How like fond fathers, as full well ye know,

The ancient monarchs of our famous line

[ocr errors]

Have ruled this mighty realm which now is mine.
Their glorious steps forbade my feet to stray,

And I have laboured, with a loving sway,

’Neath the white canopy's imperial shade,'
Till strength is vanisht and my health decayed,
To bless my people, if they have been blest.
And now my weary spirit longs for rest;
For
many

thousand years have o'er me flown,

And many generations round me grown
And past away. No longer can I bear
The ruler's labour and the judge's care,
The royal power and dignity, a weight
Too vast but for the young and temperate.
I long to rest, mine anxious labour done,
And on the throne to set my darling son.
For all the virtues lent to me adorn
Rama my dearest and my eldest born.
Ye have the plan which I have pondered long:
Approve it now, or, if ye deem it wrong,

Show, after due consult, a wiser way,
Which I will strive to follow if I may.”

| The white umbrella was one of the insignia òf royalty.
2 The ancient kings of India enjoyed lives of more than patriarchal length :

“While thus, as Indra reigns above the sky,
He ruled the earth, ten thousand years flew by.”

Raghuvansa. X. 1.

He ceased.

A murmur of so loud acclaim

From lords and commons in glad answer came,

As when wild peacocks at the rain rejoice,
And hail the big cloud with their jubilant voice.
The general shout from all the people round
Shook the high palace with a storm of sound,
And when the crowd, assembled there, had learned

The will of him who right and gain discerned,
After a brief debate, with one accord,
They spake in answer to their sovereign lord :

Rest, aged king, and let Prince Rama share The toil too sore for thee, as Regent Heir : Our own dear prince so gallant and so strong, All tongues will bless him as he rides along : All hearts rejoice above his brow to see The canopy that long has shaded thee. .

Amid the noblest of the world not one

Can match the virtues of thy godlike son.
In him alone all peerless graces blend,
The fearless foeman and the faithful friend;

Versed in the statutes, kind to all in need,

Quick to encourage every noble deed;

of age.

True to his promise, resolute of soul,
Curbing each passion with a firm control;
Kind to the Brahmans skilled in Scripture's page,
The friend of learning and the prop
Matchless on earth with spear and sword and shield,
Lord of the arms which heavenly warriors wield;
Thine order bids him tame some foeman's pride ;
He comes a victor, Lakshman at his side.
Then from his elephant, or car, he bends
To greet the townsmen as beloved friends :
Asks how each man and child and servant thrives,
How fare our young disciples, babes, and wives,
And like a loving father bids us tell
That Heaven accepts our rites, and all is well.
Long has each matron, long each tender maid,
At morn and eve for Rama's welfare prayed :
And Rama's glories every hour are sung
In town and village by the old and young.
Then grant the prayer, by us this day renewed,
And consecrate our Prince, Lord Rama, lotus-hued.”

« PreviousContinue »