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Canto CIV. The Meeting With The Queens.

Vasishtha with his soul athirst
To look again on Ráma, first
In line the royal widows placed,
And then the way behind them traced.
The ladies moving, faint and slow,
Saw the fair stream before them flow,
And by the bank their steps were led
Which the two brothers visited.
Kausalyá with her faded cheek
And weeping eyes began to speak,
And thus in mournful tones addressed
The queen Sumitrá and the rest:
"See in the wood the bank's descent,
Which the two orphan youths frequent,
Whose noble spirits never fall,
Though woes surround them, reft of all.
Thy son with love that never tires
Draws water hence which mine requires.
This day, for lowly toil unfit,
His pious task thy son should quit."

As on the long-eyed lady strayed,
On holy grass, whose points were laid
Directed to the southern sky,
The funeral offering met her eye.
When Ráma's humble gift she spied
Thus to the queens Kausalyá cried:
"The gift of Ráma's hand behold,
His tribute to the king high-souled,
Offered to him, as texts require,
Lord of Ikshváku's line, his sire!
Not such I deem the funeral food
Of kings with godlike might endued.
Can he who knew all pleasures, he
Who ruled the earth from sea to sea,
The mighty lord of monarchs, feed
On Ingudí's extracted seed?
In all the world there cannot be
A woe, I ween, more sad to see,
Than that my glorious son should make
His funeral gift of such a cake.
The ancient text I oft have heard
This day is true in every word:
"Ne'er do the blessed Gods refuse
To eat the food their children use.' "

The ladies soothed the weeping dame:
To Ráma's hermitage they came,
And there the hero met their eyes
Like a God fallen from the skies.
Him joyless, reft of all, they viewed,
And tears their mournful eyes bedewed.
The truthful hero left his seat,
And clasped the ladies' lotus feet,
And they with soft hands brushed away
The dust that on his shoulders lay.
Then Lakshman, when he saw each queen
With weeping eyes and troubled mien,
Near to the royal ladies drew
And paid them gentle reverence too.
He, Dasaratha's offspring, signed
The heir of bliss by Fortune kind,
Received from every dame no less
Each mark of love and tenderness.
And Sítá came and bent before
The widows, while her eyes ran o'er,
And pressed their feet with many a tear.
They when they saw the lady dear
Pale, worn with dwelling in the wild,
Embraced her as a darling child:
"Daughter of royal Janak, bride
Of Dasaratha's son," they cried,
"How couldst thou, offspring of a king,
Endure this woe and suffering
In the wild forest? When I trace
Each sign of trouble on thy face--
That lotus which the sun has dried,
That lily by the tempest tried,
That gold whereon the dust is spread,
That moon whence all the light is fled--
Sorrow assails my heart, alas!
As fire consumes the wood and grass."

Then Ráma, as she spoke distressed,
The feet of Saint Vasishtha pressed,
Touched them with reverential love,
Then near him took his seat:
Thus Indra clasps in realms above
The Heavenly Teacher's(380) feet.
Then with each counsellor and peer,
Bharat of duteous mind,
With citizens and captains near,
Sat humbly down behind.
When with his hands to him upraised,
In devotee's attire,
Bharat upon his brother gazed
Whose glory shone like fire,
As when the pure Mahendra bends
To the great Lord of Life,
Among his noble crowd of friends
This anxious thought was rife:
"What words to Raghu's son to-day
Will royal Bharat speak,
Whose heart has been so prompt to pay
Obeisance fond and meek?"
Then steadfast Ráma, Lakshman wise,
Bharat for truth renowned,
Shone like three fires that heavenward rise
With holy priests around.