poem – mother’s blessing

Tears of sorrow and of suffering flowed from Queen Kausalya’s eye,
As she saw departing Sita for her blessings drawing nigh,

And she clasped the gentle Sits, and she kissed her moistened head,
And her tears like summer tempest choked the loving words she said:

‘Part we, dear devoted daughter, to thy husband ever true,
With a woman’s whole affection render love to husband’s due!

False are women loved and cherished, gentle in their speech and word,
When misfortune’s shadows gather, who are faithless to their lord,

Who through years of sunny splendour smile and pass the livelong day,
When misfortune’s darkness thickens, from their husband turn away,

Who with changeful fortune changing oft ignore the plighted word,
And forget a woman’s duty, woman’s faith to wedded lord,

Who to holy love inconstant from their wedded consort part,
Manly deed nor manly virtue wins the changeful woman’s heart!

But the true and righteous woman, loving, spouse and changeless wife,
Faithful to her lord and consort holds him dearer than her life,

Ever true and righteous Sita, follow still my godlike son,
Like a God to thee is Rama in the woods or on the throne!’

‘I shall do my duty, mother,’ said the wife with wifely pride,
‘Like a God to me is Rama, Sita shall not leave his side,

From the Moon will part his lustre ere I part from wedded lord,
Ere from faithful wife’s devotion falter in my deed or word,

For the stringless lute is silent, idle is the wheel-less car,
And no wife the loveless consort, inauspicious is her star!

Small the measure of affection which the sire and brother prove,
Measureless to wedded woman is her lord and husband’s love,

True to Law and true to Scriptures, true to woman’s plighted word,
Can I ever be, my mother, faithless, loveless to my lord?’

Tears of joy and mingled sorrow filled the Queen Kausalya’s eye,
As she marked the faithful Sita true in heart, in virtue high,

And she wept the tears of sadness when with sweet obeisance due,
Spake with hands in meekness folded Rama ever good and true:

‘Sorrow not, my loving mother, trust in virtue’s changeless beam,
Swift will fly the years of exile like a brief and transient dream,

Girt by faithful friends and forces, blest by righteous Gods above,
Thou shalt see thy son returning to thy bosom and thy love!

Unto all the royal ladies Rama his obeisance paid,
For his failings unremembered, blessings and forgiveness prayed,

And his words were soft and gentle, and they wept to see him go,
Like the piercing cry of curlew rose the piercing voice of woe,

And in halls where drum and tabor rose in joy and regal pride,
Voice of grief and lamentation sounded far and sounded wide!

Then the true and faithful Lakshman parted from each weeping dame,
And to sorrowing Queen Sumitra with his due obeisance came,

And he bowed to Queen Sumitra and his mother kissed his head,
Stilled her anguish-laden bosom and in trembling accents said:

Dear devoted duteous Lakshman, ever to thy elder true,
When thy elder wends to forest, forest-life to thee is due,

Thou hast served him true and faithful in his glory and his fame,
This is Law for true and righteous,–serve him in his woe and shame,

This is Law for race of Raghu known on earth for holy might,
Bounteous in their sacred duty, brave and warlike in the fight!

Therefore tend him as thy father, as thy mother tend his wife,
And to thee, like fair Ayodhya be thy humble forest life,

Go, my son, the voice of Duty bids my gallant Lakshman go,
Serve thy elder with devotion and with valour meet thy foe

poem – bathed and washed

“Bathed in fragrance,
do not brush your hat;
Washed in perfume,
do not shake your coat:

“Knowing the world
fears what is too pure,
The wisest man
prizes and stores light!”

By Bluewater
an old angler sat:
You and I together,
Let us go home.

poem – good old moon

When I was a boy I called the moon a
white plate of jade, sometimes it looked
like a great mirror hanging in the sky,
first came the two legs of the fairy
and the cassia tree, but for whom the rabbit
kept on pounding medical herbs, I
just could not guess. Now the moon is being
swallowed by the toad and the light
flickers out leaving darkness all around;
I hear that when nine of the burning suns out
of the ten were ordered to be shot down by
the Emperor Yao, all has since been quiet
and peaceful both for heaven and man,
but this eating up of the moon is for me
a truly ugly scene filling me with forebodings
wondering what will come out of it.

poem – to his two children

In the land of Wu the mulberry leaves are green,
And thrice the silkworms have gone to sleep.
In East Luh where my family stay,
I wonder who is sowing those fields of ours.
I cannot be back in time for the spring doings,
Yet I can help nothing, traveling on the river.
The south wind blowing wafts my homesick spirit
And carries it up to the front of our familiar tavern.
There I see a peach tree on the east side of the house
With thick leaves and branches waving in the blue mist.
It is the tree I planted before my parting three years ago.
The peach tree has grown now as tall as the tavern roof,
While I have wandered about without returning.
Ping-yang, my pretty daughter, I see you stand
By the peach tree and pluck a flowering branch.
You pluck the flowers, but I am not there
How your tears flow like a stream of water!
My little son, Po-chin, grown up to your sister’s shoulders,
You come out with her under the peach tree,
But who is there to pat you on the back?
When I think of these things, my senses fail,
And a sharp pain cuts my heart every day.
Now I tear off a piece of white silk to write this letter,
And send it to you with my love a long way up the river.

poem – the death of love

Is eager gaze the sovereign of the skies
looked full on Káma with his thousand eyes:
E’en such a gaze as trembling suppliants bend,
When danger threatens, on a mighty friend.
Close by his side, where Indra bade him rest,
The Love-God sate, and thus his lord addressed:
‘All-knowing Indra, deign, my Prince, to tell
Thy heart’s desire in earth, or heaven, or hell:
Double the favour, mighty sovereign, thou
Hast thought on Káma, O, command him now:
Who angers thee by toiling for the prize,
By penance, prayer, or holy sacrifice?
What mortal being dost thou count thy foe?
Speak, I will tame him with my darts and bow.
Has some one feared the endless change of birth,
And sought the path that leads the soul from earth?
Slave to a glancing eye thy foe shall bow,
And own the witchery of a woman’s brow;
E’en though the object of thine envious rage
Were taught high wisdom by the immortal sage,
With billowy passions will I whelm his soul,
Like rushing waves that spurn the bank’s control.
Or has the ripe full beauty of a spouse,
Too fondly faithful to her bridal vows,
Ravished thy spirit from thee? Thine, all thine
Around thy neck her loving arms shall twine.
Has thy love, jealous of another’s charms,
Spurned thee in wrath when flying to her arms?
I’ll rack her yielding bosom with such pain,
Soon shall she be all love and warmth again,
And wildly fly in fevered haste to rest
Her aching heart close, close to thy dear breast.
Lay, Indra, lay thy threatening bolt aside:
My gentle darts shall tame the haughtiest pride,
And all that war with heaven and thee shall know
The magic influence of thy Káma’s bow;
For woman’s curling lip shall bow them down,
Fainting in terror at her threatening frown.
Flowers are my arms, mine only warrior Spring,
Yet in thy favour am I strong, great King.
What can their strength who draw the bow avail
Against my matchless power when I assail?
Strong is the Trident-bearing God, yet he,
The mighty Śiva, e’en, must yield to me.’
Then Indra answered with a dawning smile,
Resting his foot upon a stool the while:
‘Dear God of Love, thou truly hast displayed
The power unrivalled of thy promised aid.
My hope is all in thee: my weapons are
The thunderbolt and thou, more mighty far.
But vain, all vain the bolt of heaven to fright
Those holy Saints whom penance arms aright.
Thy power exceeds all bound: thou, only thou,
All-conquering Deity, canst help me now!
Full well I know thy nature, and assign
This toil to thee, which needs a strength like thine:
As on that snake alone will Krishṇa rest,
That bears the earth upon his haughty crest.
Our task is well-nigh done: thy boasted dart
Has power to conquer even Śiva’s heart.
Hear what the Gods, oppressed with woe, would fain
From mighty Śiva through thine aid obtain.
He may beget—and none in heaven but he—A
chief to lead our hosts to victory.
But all his mind with holiest lore is fraught,
Bent on the Godhead is his every thought.
Thy darts, O Love, alone can reach him now,
And lure his spirit from the hermit vow.
Go, seek Himálaya’s Mountain-child, and aid
With all thy loveliest charms the lovely maid,
So may she please his fancy: only she
May wed with Śiva: such the fixt decree.
E’en now my bands of heavenly maids have spied
Fair Umá dwelling by the Hermit’s side.
There by her father’s bidding rests she still,
Sweet minister, upon the cold bleak hill.
Go, Káma, go! perform this great emprise,
And free from fear the Rulers of the Skies;
We need thy favour, as the new-sown grain
Calls for the influence of the gentle rain.
Go, Káma, go! thy flowery darts shall be
Crowned with success o’er this great deity.
Yea, and thy task is e’en already done,
For praise and glory are that instant won
When a bold heart dares manfully essay
The deed which others shrink from in dismay.
Gods are thy suppliants, Káma, and on thee
Depends the triple world’s security.
No cruel deed will stain thy flowery bow:
With all thy gentlest, mightiest valour, go!
And now, Disturber of the spirit, see
Spring, thy beloved, will thy comrade be,
And gladly aid thee Śiva’s heart to tame:
None bids the whispering Wind, and yet he fans the flame.’
He spake, and Káma bowed his bright head down,
And took his bidding like a flowery crown.
Above his wavy curls great Indra bent,
And fondly touched his soldier ere he went,
With that hard hand—but, O, how gentle now—
That fell so heavy on his elephant’s brow.
Then for that snow-crowned hill he turned away,
Where all alone the heavenly Hermit lay.
His fearful Rati and his comrade Spring
Followed the guidance of Love’s mighty king.
There will he battle in unwonted strife,
Return a conqueror or be reft of life.
How fair was Spring! To fill the heart with love,
And lure the Hermit from his thoughts above,
In that pure grove he grew so heavenly bright
That Káma’s envy wakened at the sight.
Now the bright Day-God turned his burning ray
To where Kuvera holds his royal sway,
While the sad South in whispering breezes sighed
And mourned his absence like a tearful bride.
Then from its stem the red Aśoka threw
Full buds and flowerets of celestial hue,
Nor waited for the maiden’s touch, the sweet
beloved pressure of her tinkling feet.
There grew Love’s arrow, his dear mango spray,
Winged with young leaves to speed its airy way,
And at the call of Spring the wild bees came,
Grouping the syllables of Káma’s name.
How sighed the spirit o’er that loveliest flower
That boasts no fragrance to enrich its dower!
For Nature, wisest mother, oft prefers
To part more fairly those good gifts of hers.
There from the tree Palása blossoms spread,
Curved like the crescent moon, their rosiest red,
With opening buds that looked as if young Spring
Had pressed his nails there in his dallying:
Sweet wanton Spring, to whose enchanting face
His flowery Tilaka gave fairer grace:
Who loves to tint his lip, the mango spray,
With the fresh colours of the early day,
And powder its fine red with many a bee
That sips the oozing nectar rapturously.
The cool gale speeding o’er the shady lawns
Shook down the sounding leaves, while startled fawns
Ran wildly at the viewless foe, all blind
With pollen wafted by the fragrant wind.
Sweet was the Köil’s voice, his neck still red
With mango buds on which he late had fed:
Twas as the voice of Love to bid the dame
Spurn her cold pride, nor quench the gentle flame.
What though the heat has stained the tints that dyed
With marvellous bloom the heavenly minstrel’s bride?
Neither her smile nor sunny glances fail:
Bright is her lip, although her check be pale
E’en the pure hermits owned the secret power
Of warm Spring coming in unwonted hour,
While Love’s delightful witchery gently stole
With strong sweet influence o’er the saintly soul.
On came the Archer-God, and at his side
The timid Rati, his own darling bride,
While breathing nature showed how deep it felt,
At passion’s glowing touch, the senses melt.
For there in eager love the wild bee dipp’d
In the dark flower-cup where his partner sipp’d.
Here in the shade the hart his horn declined,
And, while joy closed her eyes, caressed the hind.
There from her trunk the elephant had poured
A lily-scented stream to cool her lord,
While the fond love-bird by the silver flood
Gave to his mate the tasted lotus bud.
Full in his song the minstrel stayed to sip
The heavenlier nectar of his darling’s lip.
Pure pearls of heat had late distained the dye,
But flowery wine was sparkling in her eye.
How the young creeper’s beauty charmed the view,
Fair as the fairest maid, as playful too!
Here some bright blossoms, lovelier than the rest,
In full round beauty matched her swelling breast.
Here in a thin bright line, some delicate spray,
Red as her lip, ravished the soul away.
And then how loving, and how close they clung
To the tall trees that fondly o’er them hung!
Bright, heavenly wantons poured the witching strain,
Quiring for Śiva’s ear, but all in vain.
No charmer’s spell may check the firm control
Won by the holy o’er the impassioned soul.
The Hermit’s servant hasted to the door:
In his left hand a branch of gold he bore.
He touched his lip for silence: ‘Peace! be still!
Nor mar the quiet of this holy hill.’
He spake: no dweller of the forest stirred,
No wild bee murmured, hushed was every bird.
Still and unmoved, as in a picture stood
All life that breathed within the waving wood.
As some great monarch when he goes to war
Shuns the fierce aspect of a baleful star,
So Káma hid him from the Hermit’s eye,
And sought a path that led unnoticed by,
Where tangled flowers and clustering trailers spread
Their grateful canopy o’er Śiva’s head.
Bent on his hardy enterprise, with awe
The Three-eyed Lord—great Penitent—he saw.
There sate the God beneath a pine-tree’s shade,
Where on a mound a tiger’s skin was laid.
Absorbed in holiest thought, erect and still,
The Hermit rested on the gentle hill.
His shoulders drooping down, each foot was bent
Beneath the body of the Penitent.
With open palms the hands were firmly pressed,
As though a lotus lay upon his breast.
A double rosary in each ear, behind
With wreathing serpents were his locks entwined.
His coat of hide shone blacker to the view
Against his neck of brightly beaming blue.
How wild the look, how terrible the frown
Of his dark eyebrows bending sternly down!
How fiercely glared his eyes’ unmoving blaze
Fixed in devotion’s meditating gaze:
Calm as a full cloud resting on a hill,
A waveless lake when every breeze is still,
Like a torch burning in a sheltered spot,
So still was he, unmoving, breathing not.
So full the stream of marvellous glory poured
from the bright forehead of that mighty Lord,
Pale seemed the crescent moon upon his head,
And slenderer than a slender lotus thread.
At all the body’s nine-fold gates of sense
He had barred in the pure Intelligence,
To ponder on the Soul which sages call
Eternal Spirit, highest, over all.
How sad was Káma at the awful sight,
How failed his courage in a swoon of fright!
As near and nearer to the God he came
Whom wildest thought could never hope to tame,
Unconsciously his hands, in fear and woe,
Dropped the sweet arrows and his flowery bow.
But Umá came with all her maiden throng,
And Káma’s fainting heart again was strong;
Bright flowers of spring, in every lovely hue,
Around the lady’s form rare beauty threw.
Some clasped her neck like strings of purest pearls,
Some shot their glory through her wavy curls.
Bending her graceful head as half-oppressed
With swelling charms even too richly blest,
Fancy might deem that beautiful young maiden
Some slender tree with its sweet flowers o’erladen.
From time to time her gentle hand replaced
The flowery girdle slipping from her waist:
It seemed that Love could find no place more fair,
So hung his newest, dearest bowstring there.
A greedy bee kept hovering round to sip
The fragrant nectar of her blooming lip.
She closed her eyes in terror of the thief,
And beat him from her with a lotus leaf.
The angry curl of Rati’s lip confessed
The shade of envy that stole o’er her breast.
Through Káma’s soul fresh hope and courage flew,
As that sweet vision blessed his eager view.
So bright, so fair, so winning soft was she,
Who could not conquer in such company?
Now Umá came, fair maid, his destined bride,
With timid steps approaching Śiva’s side.
In contemplation will he brood no more,
He sees the Godhead, and his task is o’er.
He breathes, he moves, the earth begins to rock,
The Snake, her bearer, trembling at the shock.
Due homage then his own dear servant paid,
And told him of the coming of the maid.
He learnt his Master’s pleasure by the nod,
And led Himálaya’s daughter to the God.
Before his feet her young companions spread
Fresh leaves and blossoms as they bowed the head,
While Umá stooped so low, that from her hair
Dropped the bright flower that starred the midnight there.
To him whose ensign bears the bull she bent,
Till each spray fell, her ear’s rich ornament.
‘Sweet maid,’ cried Śiva, ‘surely thou shalt be
Blessed with a husband who loves none but thee!’
Her fear was banished, and her hope was high:
A God had spoken, and Gods cannot lie.
Rash as some giddy moth that wooes the flame,
Love seized the moment, and prepared to aim.
Close by the daughter of the Mountain-King,
He looked on Śiva, and he eyed his string.
While with her radiant hand fair Umá gave
A rosary, of the lotuses that lave
Their beauties in the heavenly Gangá’s wave,
And the great Three-Eyed God was fain to take
The offering for the well-loved suppliant’s sake,
On his bright bow Love placed the unerring dart,
The soft beguiler of the stricken heart.
Like the Moon’s influence on the sea at rest,
Came passion stealing o’er the Hermit’s breast,
While on the maiden’s lip that mocked the dye
Of ripe red fruit, he bent his melting eye.
And oh! how showed the lady’s love for him,
The heaving bosom, and each quivering limb!
Like young Kadambas, when the leaf-buds swell,
At the warm touch of Spring they love so well.
But still, with downcast eyes, she sought the ground,
And durst not turn their burning glances round.
Then with strong effort, Śiva lulled to rest,
The storm of passion in his troubled breast,
And seeks, with angry eyes that round him roll,
Whence came the tempest o’er his tranquil soul.
He looked, and saw the bold young archer stand,
His bow bent ready in his skilful hand,
Drawn towards the eye; his shoulder well depressed,
And the left foot thrown forward as a rest.
Then was the Hermit-God to madness lashed,
Then from his eye red flames of fury flashed.
So changed the beauty of that glorious brow,
Scarce could the gaze support its terror now.
Hark! heavenly voices sighing through the air:
‘Be calm, great Śiva, O be calm and spare!’
Alas! that angry eye’s resistless flashes
Have scorched the gentle King of Love to ashes!
But Rati saw not, for she swooned away;
Senseless and breathless on the earth she lay;
Sleep while thou mayst, unconscious lady, sleep!
Soon wilt thou rise to sigh and wake to weep.
E’en as the red bolt rives the leafy bough,
So Śiva smote the hinderer of his vow;
Then fled with all his train to some lone place
Far from the witchery of a female face.
Sad was Himaláya’s daughter: grief and shame
O’er the young spirit of the maiden came:
Grief—for she loved, and all her love was vain;
Shame—she was spurned before her youthful train.
She turned away, with fear and woe oppressed,
To hide her sorrow on her father’s breast;
Then, in the fond arms of her pitying sire,
Closed her sad eyes for fear of Śiva’s ire.
Still in his grasp the weary maiden lay,
While he sped swiftly on his homeward way.
Thus have I seen the elephant stoop to drink,
And lift a lily from the fountain’s brink.
Thus, when he rears his mighty head on high,
Across his tusks I’ve seen that lily lie.

poem – rati’s lament

Sad, solitary, helpless, faint, forlorn,
Woke Káma’s darling from her swoon to mourn.
Too soon her gentle soul returned to know
The pangs of widowhood—that word of woe.
Scarce could she raise her, trembling, from the ground,
Scarce dared to bend her anxious gaze around,
Unconscious yet those greedy eyes should never
Feed on his beauty more—gone, gone for ever.
‘Speak to me, Káma! why so silent? give
One word in answer—doth my Káma live?’
There on the turf his dumb cold ashes lay,
Whose soul that fiery flash had scorched away.
She clasped the dank earth in her wild despair,
Her bosom stained, and rent her long bright hair,
Till hill and valley caught the mourner’s cry,
And pitying breezes echoed sigh for sigh.
‘Oh thou wast beautiful: fond lovers sware
Their own bright darlings were like Káma, fair.
Sure woman’s heart is stony: can it be
That I still live while this is all of thee?
Where art thou, Káma? Could my dearest leave
His own fond Rati here alone to grieve?
So must the sad forsaken lotus die
When her bright river leaves his channel dry.
Káma, dear Káma, call again to mind
How thou wast ever gentle, I was kind.
Let not my prayer, thy Rati’s prayer, be vain;
Come as of old, and bless these eyes again!
Wilt thou not hear me? Think of those sweet hours
When I would bind thee with my zone of flowers,
Those soft gay fetters o’er thee fondly wreathing,
Thine only punishment when gently breathing
In tones of love thy heedless sigh betrayed
The name, dear traitor! of some rival maid.
Then would I pluck a floweret from my tress
And beat thee till I forced thee to confess,
While in my play the falling leaves would cover
The eyes—the bright eyes—of my captive lover.
And then those words that made me, oh, so blest—
‘Dear love, thy home is in my faithful breast!’
Alas, sweet words, too blissful to be true,
Or how couldst thou have died, nor Rati perish too?
Yes, I will fly to thee, of thee bereft,
And leave this world which thou, my life, hast left.
Cold, gloomy, now this wretched world must be,
For all its pleasures came from only thee.
When night has veiled the city in its shade,
Thou, only thou, canst soothe the wandering maid,
And guide her trembling at the thunder’s roar
Safe through the darkness to her lover’s door.
In vain the wine-cup, as it circles by,
Lisps in her tongue and sparkles in her eye.
Long locks are streaming, and the cheek glows red:
But all is mockery, Love—dear Love—is dead.
The Moon, sweet spirit, shall lament for thee,
Late, dim, and joyless shall his rising be.
Days shall fly on, and he forget to take
His full bright glory, mourning for thy sake.
Say, Káma, say, whose arrow now shall be
The soft green shoot of thy dear mango tree,
The favourite spray which Köils love so well,
And praise in sweetest strain its wondrous spell?
This line of bees which strings thy useless bow
Hums mournful echo to my cries of woe.
Come in thy lovely shape and teach again
The Köil’s mate, that knows the tender strain,
Her gentle task to waft to longing ears
The lover’s hope, the distant lover’s fears.
Come, bring once more that ecstasy of bliss,
The fond dear look, the smile, and ah! that kiss!
Fainting with woe, my soul refuses rest
When memory pictures how I have been blest.
See, thou didst weave a garland, love, to deck
With all spring’s fairest buds thy Rati’s neck.
Sweet are those flowers as they were culled to-day,
And is my Káma’s form more frail than they?
His pleasant task my lover had begun,
But stern Gods took him ere the work was done;
Return, my Káma, at thy Rati’s cry,
And stain this foot which waits the rosy dye.
Now will I hie me to the fatal pile,
And ere heaven’s maids have hailed thee with a smile,
Or on my love their winning glances thrown,
I will be there, and claim thee for mine own.
Yet though I come, my lasting shame will be
That I have lived one moment after thee.
Ah, how shall I thy funeral rites prepare,
Gone soul and body to the viewless air?
‘With thy dear Spring I’ve seen thee talk and smile,
Shaping an arrow for thy bow the while.
Where is he now, thy darling friend, the giver
Of many a bright sweet arrow for thy quiver?
Is he too sent upon death’s dreary path,
Scorched by the cruel God’s inexorable wrath?’
Stricken in spirit by her cries of woe,
Like venomed arrows from a mighty bow,
A moment fled, and gentle Spring was there,
To ask her grief, to soothe her wild despair.
She beat her breast more wildly than before,
With greater floods her weeping eyes ran o’er.
When friends are nigh the spirit finds relief
In the full gushing torrent of its grief.
‘Turn, gentle friend, thy weeping eyes, and see
That dear companion who was all to me.
His crumbling dust with which the breezes play,
Bearing it idly in their course away,
White as the silver feathers of a dove,
Is all that’s left me of my murdered love.
Now come, my Káma. Spring, who was so dear,
Longs to behold thee. Oh, appear, appear!
Fickle to women Love perchance may bend
His ear to listen to a faithful friend.
Remember, he walked ever at thy side
O’er bloomy meadows in the warm spring-tide,
That Gods above, and men, and fiends below
Should own the empire of thy mighty bow,
That ruthless bow, which pierces to the heart,
Strung with a lotus-thread, a flower its dart.
As dies a torch when winds sweep roughly by,
So is my light for ever fled, and I,
The lamp his cheering rays no more illume,
Am wrapt in darkness, misery and gloom.
Fate took my love, and spared the widow’s breath,
Yet fate is guilty of a double death.
When the wild monster tramples on the ground
The tree some creeper garlands closely round,
Reft of the guardian which it thought so true,
Forlorn and withered, it must perish too.
Then come, dear friend, the true one’s pile prepare,
And send me quickly to my husband there.
Call it not vain: the mourning lotus dies
When the bright Moon, her lover, quits the skies.
When sinks the red cloud in the purple west,
Still clings his bride, the lightning, to his breast.
All nature keeps the eternal high decree:
Shall woman fail? I come, my love, to thee!
Now on the pile my faint limbs will I throw,
Clasping his ashes, lovely even so,—
As if beneath my weary frame were spread
Soft leaves and blossoms for a flowery bed.
And oh, dear comrade (for in happier hours
Oft have I heaped a pleasant bed of flowers
For thee and him beneath the spreading tree),
Now quickly raise the pile for Love and me.
And in thy mercy gentle breezes send
To fan the flame that wafts away thy friend,
And shorten the sad moments that divide
Impatient Káma from his Rati’s side;
Set water near us in a single urn,
We’ll sip in heaven from the same in turn;
And let thine offering to his spirit be
Sprays fresh and lovely from the mango tree,
Culled when the round young buds begin to swell,
For Káma loved those fragrant blossoms well.’
As Rati thus complained in faithful love,
A heavenly voice breathed round her from above,
Falling in pity like the gentle rain
That brings the dying herbs to life again:
‘Bride of the flower-armed God, thy lord shall be
Not ever distant, ever deaf to thee.
Give me thine ear, sad lady, I will tell
Why perished Káma, whom thou lovedst well.
The Lord of Life in every troubled sense
Too warmly felt his fair child’s influence.
He quenched the fire, but mighty vengeance came
On Káma, fanner of the unholy flame.
When Śiva by her penance won has led
Himálaya’s daughter to her bridal bed,
His bliss to Káma shall the God repay,
And give again the form he snatched away.
Thus did the gracious God, at Justice’ prayer,
The term of Love’s sad punishment declare.
The Gods, like clouds, are fierce and gentle too,
Now hurl the bolt, now dropp sweet heavenly dew.
Live, widowed lady, for thy lover’s arms
Shall clasp again—oh, fondly clasp—thy charms.
In summer-heat the streamlet dies away
Beneath the fury of the God of Day:
Then, in due season, comes the pleasant rain,
And all is fresh, and fair, and full again.’
Thus breathed the spirit from the viewless air,
And stilled the raging of her wild despair;
While Spring consoled with every soothing art,
Cheered by that voice from heaven, the mourner’s heart,
Who watched away the hours, so sad and slow,
That brought the limit of her weary woe,
As the pale moon, quenched by the conquering light
Of garish day, longs for its own dear night.