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“ The sudden cause of all this wrath and woe,
Why thou art angry, why thine eyes
Who has offended thee, or dared to slight
My love, my lady, and my sole delight?
Tell me, my dearest, art tbou faint or ill?
I have physicians of unrivalled skill,
One for each varied malady and pain :
Come, speak, Kaikeyi, and be well again.
Wouldst thou for foe or friend have dole or meed?
The guiltless punisht or the guilty freed?
The low exalted or the proud disgraced ?
The poor made wealthy or the rich abased ?
Tell but thy secret wish, dear love, I pray ;
My lords and I thy slightest word obey.
By all the merit that
life has won I swear, my darling ; speak, and it is done. The whole broad earth whereon the sunbeams shine,
And all her flocks and corn and gold are mine;
Choose what thou wilt: no bounds shall bar thy choice,
But let me hear again thine own dear voice,
And all thy grief and pain shall pass away
Like hoar frost shrinking from the God of Day."
The queen replied: "No insult has distrest,
No fault of others has enraged my breast.
Come, with a mighty oath thine honour bind
To grant the boon for which my soul has pined.”
She ceased. The king, by his great love betrayed,
Leapt, like a roedeer, to the snare she laid.
With a fond smile beneath his darling's head
He placed his hand, and raised her up, and said :
“Hast thou not learnt, my foolish love, till now,
That on this earth there is none dear as thou
To me, save only Rama? By his life
I swear to grant thee what thou wilt, dear wife :
I swear by him most worthy long to live,
Blest with all blessings that the Gods can give,
My peerless boy, pride of mine aged eye,
Whom but one hour to see not, is to die.”
“Now hear,” she cried, “ye thirty Gods and three,
Witness the oath that he has sworn to me!
Hear it, ye Sun and Moon; thou Ether, hear;
O Night and Day, 0 World and Space, give ear!
Listen thou Heaven above; attend O Earth,
With visitants of more than mortal birth!
Angel, and demon, and night-wandering shade,
And Household Deities, our present aid ;
Each Power and high Intelligence, with all
That think and know, to hear his oath I call.
And now, I pray thee, O my lord and king,
A time long past to thy remembrance bring,
When Gods and demons met in furious fray,
And I preserved thee on that awful day.
Call to thy mind the guerdon promised then,
And grant my double prayer, O king of men,
If thou refuse to do as thou hast sworn,
Despised by thee I will not live till morn.
This solemn pomp in Rama's name begun,
Grace Bharat with it: consecrate my son ;
And forth to Dandak's distant forest drive
Thy Rama, banisht for nine years and five :
There let him lead a hermit's life, and wear
The deerskin mantle and the matted hair.”
Like a poor doe who sees the tigress near, Lost and amazed and stupified with fear,
He spoke no word, but, sinking on the ground,
Sighed like a serpent by the charmer bound.
At length, when slowly voice and sense returned,
He bent upon the queen fierce eyes that burned
With flashes of intolerable ire,
Eager to scorch her with their furious fire :
“What wrong," he cried, “ have I or Rama done,
Scourge of my house, thou fell and wicked one ?
Hast thou the heart to ruin my sweet boy,
And him who loves thee as a son, destroy ?
Ah! woe is me that e'er I made thee mine,
And brought thee home, the ruin of my line,
In name the daughter of a king, in truth
A deadly serpent with a venomed tooth.
Tell me, what fault can I pretend to find
In virtuous Rama, praised by all mankind ?
How can I then my darling son forsake?
No, take my life, my royal honours take,
Be either queen from my embraces torn ;
But not my Rama, not mine eldest born.
Gazing on him mine aged eyes are glad,
And when I see him not my soul is sad,
The world may live without the sun, the grain
Spring from the earth without the genial rain ;
But I without my son should be no more:
Take Rama from me, and my life is o'er.
Banish the thought ! thine impious plan forego;
How couldst thou scheme a plot so full of woe?
Canst thou no mercy find, no sorrow feel ?
See, with thy feet upon my head, I kneel.
Thou dost not mean it: 'tis a cruel jest
To try the love that warms a father's breast.
Hast thou not oft, when in thy lap he smiled,
Sworn he was dear to thee as thine own child ?
Has he not since, to youth and manhood grown,
Most sonlike love and sweet obedience shown ?
Never from man or woman have I heard
Against my Rama one accusing word.
His gentle manners, ever soft and kind,
All hearts to him in firm affection bind.
Truthful and just, that noble prince of men
Is loved and honoured by each citizen.
A docile pupil, prompt to succour woe,
Feared by the foeman for his matchless bow,