The Ramayana/Book II/Canto LI: Lakshman's Lament

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The Ramayana of Valmiki , translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Canto LI: Lakshman's Lament

As Lakshman still his vigil held
By unaffected love impelled,
Guha, whose heart the sight distressed,
With words like these the prince addressed:
'Beloved youth, this pleasant bed
Was brought for thee, for thee is spread;
On this, my Prince, thine eyelids close,
And heal fatigue with sweet repose.
My men are all to labour trained,
But hardship thou hast ne'er sustained.
All we this night our watch will keep
And guard Kakutstha's son asleep,
In all the world there breathes not one
More dear to me than Raghu's son.
The words I speak, heroic youth.
Are true: I swear it by my truth.
Through his dear grace supreme renown
Will, so I trust, my wishes crown.
So shall my life rich store obtain
Of merit, blest with joy and gain.
While Raghu's son and Sítá lie
Entranced in happy slumber, I
Will, with my trusty bow in hand,
Guard my dear friend with all my band.
To me, who oft these forests range,
ls naught therein or new or strange.
We could with equal might oppose
A four-fold army led by foes.'

Then royal Lakshman made reply:
'With thee to stand as guardian nigh,
Whose faithful soul regards the right,
Fearless we well might rest to-night.
But how, when Ráma lays his head
With Sítá on his lowly bed,--
How can I sleep? how can I care
For life, or aught that's bright and fair?
Behold the conquering chief, whose might
Is match for Gods and fiends in fight;
With Sítá now he rests his bead
Asleep on grass beneath him spread.
Won by devotion, text, and prayer.
And many a rite performed with care.
Chief of our father's sons he shines
Well marked, like him, with favouring signs.
Brief, brief the monarch's life will be
Now his dear son is forced to flee;
And quickly will the widowed state
Mourn for her lord disconsolate.
Each mourner there has wept her fill;
The cries of anguish now are still:
In the king's hall each dame, o'ercome
With wearines of woe is dumb.
This first sad night of grief, I ween,
Will do to death each sorrowing queen:
Scarce is Kaus'alyá left alive;
My mother, too, can scarce survive.
If when her heart is fain to break,
She lingers for S'atrughna's sake,
Kaus'alyá mother of the chief,
Must sink beneath the chilling grief,
That town which countless thousands fill,
Whose hearts with love of Ráma thrill,--
The world's delight, so rich and fair,--
Grieved for the king, his death will share.
The hopes he fondly cherished, crossed.
Ayodhyá's throne to Rama lost,--
With mournful cries. Too late, too late!
The king my sire will meet his fate.
And when my sire has passed away,
Most happy in their lot are they,
Allowed, with every pious care,
Part in his funeral rites to bear.
And O, may we with joy at last,--
These years of forest exile past,--
Turn to Ayodhyá's town to dwell
With him who keeps his promise well.'

While thus the hero mighty-souled,
In wild lament his sorrow told,
Faint with the load that on him lay,
The hours of darkness passed away.
As thus the prince, impelled by zeal
For his loved brother, prompt to feel
Strong yearnings for the people's weal,
   His words of truth outspake,
King Guha grieved to see his woe.
Heart-stricken, gave his tears to flow,
Tormented by the common blow,
   Sad, as a wounded snake.