But Ráma bade the chariot stay,
And halting in his airy way,
In Bharadvája's holy shade
His homage to the hermit paid.
"O saint," he cried, "I yearn to know
My dear Ayodhyá's weal and woe.
O tell me that the people thrive,
And that the queens are yet alive."
Joy gleamed in Bhardvája's eye,
Who gently smiled and made reply:
"Thy brother, studious of thy will,
Is faithful and obedient still.
In tangled twine he coils his hair:
Thy safe return is all his care.
Before thy shoes he humbly bends,
And to thy house and realm attends.
When first these dreary years began,
When first I saw the banished man,
With Sítá, in his hermit coat,
At this sad heart compassion smote.
My breast with tender pity swelled:
I saw thee from thy home expelled,
Reft of all princely state, forlorn,
A hapless wanderer travel-worn,
Firm in thy purpose to fulfil
Thy duty and thy father's will.
But boundless is my rapture now:
Triumphant, girt with friends, art thou.
Where'er thy wandering steps have been,
Thy joy and woe mine eyes have seen.
Thy glorious deeds to me art known,
The Bráhmans saved, the foes o'erthrown.
Such power have countless seasons spent
In penance and devotion lent.
Thy virtues, best of chiefs, I know,
And now a boon would fain bestow.
This hospitable gift(1024) receive:
Then with the dawn my dwelling leave."
The bended head of Ráma showed
His reverence for the grace bestowed;
Then for each brave companion's sake
He sought a further boon and spake:
"O let that mighty power of thine
The road to fair Ayodhyá line
With trees where fruit of every hue
The Vánars' eye and taste may woo,
And flowers of every season, sweet
With stores of honeyed juice, may meet."
The hero ceased: the hermit bent
His reverend head in glad assent;
And swift, as Bharadvája willed,
The prayer of Ráma was fulfilled.
For many a league the lengthening road
Trees thick with fruit and blossom showed
With luscious beauty to entice
The taste like trees of Paradise.
The Vánars passed beneath the shade
Of that delightful colonnade,
Still tasting with unbounded glee
The treasures of each wondrous tree.