The Sandals – Valmiki

Tears nor sighs nor sad entreaty Rama’s changeless purpose shook, 

Till. once more with hands conjoinéd Bharat to his elder spoke: 
‘Rama, true to royal mercy, true to duties of thy race, 

Grant this favour to thy mother, to thy brother grant this grace, 
Vain were my unaided efforts to protect our father’s throne, 

Town and hamlet, lord and tiller, turn to thee and thee alone! 
Unto Rama, friends and kinsmen, chiefs and warriors, turn in pain, 

And each city chief and elder, and each humble village swain, 
Base thy empire strong, unshaken, on a loyal nation’s will, 

With thy worth and with thy valour serve thy faithful people still!’ 
Rama raised the prostrate Bharat to his ever-loving breast, 

And in voice of tuneful hansa thus his gentle speech addrest: 
‘Trust me, Bharat, lofty virtue, strength and will to thee belong, 

Thou could’st rule a worldwide empire in thy faith and purpose strong, 
And our father’s ancient min’sters, ever faithful, wise and deep, 

They shall help thee with their counsel and thy ancient frontiers keep. 
List! the Moon may lose his lustre, Himalaya lose his snow, 

Heaving Ocean pass his confines surging from the caves below, 
But the truth-abiding Rama will not move from promise given, 

He hath spoke and will not palter, help him righteous Gods in heaven!’ 
Blazing like the Sun in splendour, beauteous like the Lord of Night, 

Rama vowed his Vow of Duty, changeless in his holy might! 
‘Humble token,’ answered Bharat, ‘still I seek from Rama’s hand, 

Token of his love and kindness, token of his high command, 
From thy feet cast forth those sandals, they shall decorate the throne. 

They shall nerve my heart to duty and shall safely guard thy own, 
They shall to a loyal nation absent monarch’s will proclaim, 

Watch the frontiers of the empire and the people’s homage claim!’ 
Rama gave the loosened sandals as his younger humbly prayed, 

Bharat bowed to them in homage and his parting purpose said: 
‘Not alone will banished Rama barks and matted tresses wear, 

Fourteen years the crownéd Bharat will in hermit’s dress appear, 
Henceforth Bharat dwells in palace guised as hermit of the wood, 

In the sumptuous hall of feasting wild fruit is his only food, 
Fourteen years shall pass in waiting, weary toil and penance dire 

Then, if Rama comes not living, Bharat dies upon the pyre!’

poem – the wedding

Sage Vasishtha skilled in duty placed Videha’s honoured king,
Viswa-mitra, Sata-nanda, all within the sacred ring,

And he raised the holy altar as the ancient writs ordain,
Decked and graced with scented garlands grateful unto gods and men,

And he set the golden ladles, vases pierced by artists skilled,
Holy censers fresh and fragrant, cups with sacred honey filled,

Sanka bowls and shining salvers, arghya plates for honoured guest,
Parchéd rice arranged in dishes, corn unhusked that filled the rest,

And with careful hand Vasishtha grass around the altar flung,
Offered gift to lighted AGNI and the sacred mantra sung!

Softly came the sweet-eyed Sita,-bridal blush upon her brow,
Rama in his manly beauty came to take the sacred vow,

Janak placed his beauteous daughter facing Dasa-ratha’s soil,
Spake with father’s fond emotion and the holy rite was done:

‘This is Sita child of Janak, dearer unto him than life,
Henceforth sharer of thy virtue, be. she, prince, thy faithful wife,

Of thy weal and woe partaker, be she thine in every land,
Cherish her in joy and sorrow, clasp her hand within thy hand,

As the shadow to the substance, to her lord is faithful wife,
And my Sita best of women follows thee in death or life! ‘

Tears bedew his ancient bosom, gods and men his wishes share,
And he sprinkles holy water on the blest and wedded pair.

Next he turned to Sita’s sister, Urmila of beauty rare,
And to Lakshman young and valiant spake in accents soft and fair:

Lakshman, dauntless in thy duty, loved of men and Gods above,
Take my dear devoted daughter, Urmila of stainless love,

Lakshman, fearless in thy virtue, take thy true and faithful wife,
Clasp her hand within thy fingers, be she thine in death or life! ‘

To his brother’s child Mandavi, Janak turned with father’s love,
Yielded her to righteous Bharat, prayed for blessings from above:

‘Bharat, take the fair Mandavi, be she thine in death or life,
Clasp her hand within thy fingers as thy true and faithful wife! ‘

Last of all was Sruta-kriti, fair in form and fair in face,
And her gentle name was honoured for her acts of righteous grace,

‘Take her by the hand, Satrughna, be she thine in death or life,
As the shadow to the suistance, to her lord is faithful wife! ‘

Then the princes held the maidens, hand embraced in loving hand,
And Vasishtha spake the mantra, holiest priest in all the land,

And as ancient rite ordaineth, and as sacred laws require,
Stepped each bride and princely bridegroom round the altar’s lighted fire,

Round Videha’s ancient monarch, round the holy rishis all,
Ughtly stepped the gentle maidens, proudly stepped the princes tall!

And a rain of flowers descended from the sky serene and fair,
And a soft celestial music filled the fresh and fragrant air,

Bright Gandkarvas skilled in music waked the sweet celestial song
Fair Apsaras in their beauty on the greensward tripped along!

As the flowery rain descended and the music rose in pride,
Thrice around the lighted altar every bridegroom led his bride,

And the nuptial rites were ended, princes took their brides away,
Janak followed with his courtiers, and the town was proud and gay!

Mariana In The North – Victoria Sackville West

All her youth is gone, her beautiful youth outworn, 

Daughter of tarn and tor, the moors that were once her home 

No longer know her step on the upland tracks forlorn 

Where she was wont to roam. 
All her hounds are dead, her beautiful hounds are dead, 

That paced beside the hoofs of her high and nimble horse, 

Or streaked in lean pursuit of the tawny hare that fled 

Out of the yellow gorse. 
All her lovers have passed, her beautiful lovers have passed, 

The young and eager men that fought for her arrogant hand, 

And the only voice which endures to mourn for her at the last 

Is the voice of the lonely land.

Trio – Victoria Sackville West

So well she knew them both! yet as she came 

Into the room, and heard their speech 

Of tragic meshes knotted with her name, 

And saw them, foes, but meeting each with each 

Closer than friends, souls bared through enmity, 

Beneath their startled gaze she thought that she 

Broke as the stranger on their conference, 

And stole abashed from thence.