When all the toil and search was vain
He sought his leafy home again.
'Twas empty still: all scattered lay
The seats of grass in disarray.
He raised his shapely arms on high
And spoke aloud with bitter cry:
"Where is the Maithil dame?" he said,
"O, whither has my darling fled?
Who can have borne away my dame,
Or feasted on her tender frame?
If, Sítá hidden by some tree,
Thou joyest still to mock at me,
Cease, cease thy cruel sport, and take
Compassion, or my heart will break.
Bethink thee, love, the gentle fawns
With whom thou playest on the lawns,
Impatient for thy coming wait
With streaming eyes disconsolate.
Reft of my love, I needs must go
Hence to the shades weighed down by woe.
The king our sire will see me there,
And cry, "O perjured Ráma, where,
Where is thy faith, that thou canst speed
From exile ere the time decreed?"
Ah Sítá, whither hast thou fled
And left me here disquieted,
A hapless mourner, reft of hope,
Too feeble with my woe to cope?
E'en thus indignant Glory flies
The wretch who stains his soul with lies.
If thou, my love, art lost to view,
I in my woe must perish too."
Thus Ráma by his grief distraught
Wept for the wife he vainly sought,
And Lakshman whose fraternal breast
Longed for his weal, the chief addressed
Whose soul gave way beneath the pain
When all his eager search was vain,
Like some great elephant who stands
Sinking upon the treacherous sands:
"Not yet, O wisest chief, despair;
Renew thy toil with utmost care.
This noble hill where trees are green
Has many a cave and dark ravine.
The Maithil lady day by day
Delighted in the woods to stray,
Deep in the grove she wanders still,
Or walks by blossom-covered rill,
Or fish-loved river stealing through
Tall clusters of the dark bamboo.
Or else the dame with arch design
To prove thy mood, O Prince, and mine,
Far in some sheltering thicket lies
To frighten ere she meet our eyes.
Then come, renew thy labour, trace
The lady to her lurking-place,
And search the wood from side to side
To know where Sítá loves to bide.
Collect thy thoughts, O royal chief,
Nor yield to unavailing grief."
Thus Lakshman, by attention stirred,
To fresh attempts his brother spurred,
And Ráma, as he ceased, began
With Lakshman's aid each spot to scan.
In eager search their way they took
Through wood, o'er hill, by pool and brook,
They roamed each mount, nor spared to seek
On ridge and crag and towering peak.
They sought the dame in every spot;
But all in vain; they found her not.
Above, below, on every side
They ranged the hill, and Ráma cried,
"O Lakshman, O my brother still
No trace of Sítá on the hill!"
Then Lakshman as he roamed the wood
Beside his glorious brother stood,
And while fierce grief his bosom burned
This answer to the chief returned:
"Thou, Ráma, after toil and pain
Wilt meet the Maithil dame again,
As Vishnu, Bali's might subdued,
His empire of the earth renewed."(508)
Then Ráma cried in mournful tone,
His spirit by his woe o'erthrown;
"The wood is searched from side to side,
No distant spot remains untried,
No lilied pool, no streamlet where
The lotus buds are fresh and fair.
Our eyes have searched the hill with all
His caves and every waterfall,--
But ah, not yet I find my wife,
More precious than the breath of life."
As thus he mourned his vanished dame
A mighty trembling seized his frame,
And by o'erpowering grief assailed,
His troubled senses reeled and failed.
Too great to bear his misery grew,
And many a long hot sigh he drew,
Then as he wept and sobbed and sighed,
"O Sítá, O my love!" he cried.
Then Lakshman, joining palm to palm,
Tried every art his woe to calm.
But Ráma in his anguish heard
Or heeded not one soothing word,
Still for his spouse he mourned, and shrill
Rang out his lamentation still.