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The RÁMÁYAN of VÁLMÍKI - Part 2 - 33

Canto XXXIII. 
The People's Lament.
Thus Sítá and the princes brave

Much wealth to all the Bráhmans gave.

Then to the monarch's house the three

Went forth the aged king to see.

The princes from two servants took

Those heavenly arms of glorious look,

Adorned with garland and with band

By Sítá's beautifying hand.

On each high house a mournful throng

Had gathered ere they passed along,

Who gazed in pure unselfish woe

From turret, roof, and portico.

So dense the crowd that blocked the ways,

The rest, unable there to gaze,

Were fain each terrace to ascend,

And thence their eyes on Ráma bend.

Then as the gathered multitude

On foot their well-loved Ráma viewed,

No royal shade to screen his head,

Such words, disturbed in grief, they said:

“O look, our hero, wont to ride

Leading a host in perfect pride—

Now Lakshmaṇ, sole of all his friends,

With Sítá on his steps attends.

Though he has known the sweets of power,

And poured his gifts in liberal shower,

From duty's path he will not swerve,

But, still his father's truth preserve.

And she whose form so soft and fair

Was veiled from spirits of the air,

Now walks unsheltered from the day,

Seen by the crowds who throng the way.

Ah, for that gently-nurtured form!

How will it fade with sun and storm!

How will the rain, the cold, the heat

Mar fragrant breast and tinted feet!

Surely some demon has possessed

His sire, and speaks within his breast,

Or how could one that is a king

Thus send his dear son wandering?

It were a deed unkindly done

To banish e'en a worthless son:

But what, when his pure life has gained

The hearts of all, by love enchained?

Six sovereign virtues join to grace

Ráma the foremost of his race:

Tender and kind and pure is he,

Docile, religious, passion-free.

Hence misery strikes not him alone:

In bitterest grief the people moan,

Like creatures of the stream, when dry

In the great heat the channels lie.

The world is mournful with the grief

That falls on its beloved chief,

As, when the root is hewn away,

Tree, fruit, and flower, and bud decay.

The soul of duty, bright to see,

He is the root of you and me;

And all of us, who share his grief,

His branches, blossom, fruit, and leaf.

Now like the faithful Lakshmaṇ, we

Will follow and be true as he;

Our wives and kinsmen call with speed,

And hasten where our lord shall lead.

Yes, we will leave each well-loved spot,

The field, the garden, and the cot,

And, sharers of his weal and woe,

Behind the pious Ráma go.

Our houses, empty of their stores,

With ruined courts and broken doors,

With all their treasures borne away.

And gear that made them bright and gay:

O'errun by rats, with dust o'erspread,

Shrines, whence the deities have fled,

Where not a hand the water pours,

Or sweeps the long-neglected floors,

No incense loads the evening air,

No Bráhmans chant the text and prayer,

No fire of sacrifice is bright,

No gift is known, no sacred rite;

With floors which broken vessels strew,

As if our woes had crushed them too—

Of these be stern Kaikeyí queen,

And rule o'er homes where we have been.

The wood where Ráma's feet may roam

Shall be our city and our home,

And this fair city we forsake,

Our flight a wilderness shall make.

Each serpent from his hole shall hie,

The birds and beasts from mountain fly,

Lions and elephants in fear

Shall quit the woods when we come near,

Yield the broad wilds for us to range,

And take our city in exchange.

With Ráma will we hence, content

If, where he is, our days be spent.”

Such were the varied words the crowd

Of all conditions spoke aloud.

And Ráma heard their speeches, yet

Changed not his purpose firmly set.

His father's palace soon he neared,

That like Kailása's hill appeared.

Like a wild elephant he strode

Right onward to the bright abode.

Within the palace court he stepped,

Where ordered bands their station kept,

And saw Sumantra standing near

With down-cast eye and gloomy cheer.