The Ramayana/Book II/Canto LIII: Ráma's Lament

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

When evening rites were duly paid,
Reclined beneath the leafy shade,
To Lakshman thus spake Ráma, best
Of those who glad a people's breast:
'Now the first night has closed the day
That saw us from our country stray,
And parted from the charioteer;
Yet grieve not thou, my brother dear.
Henceforth by night, when others sleep,
Must we our careful vigil keep,
Watching for Sítá's welfare thus,
For her dear life depends on us.
Bring me the leaves that lie around,
And spread them here upon the ground,
That we on lowly beds may lie,
And let in talk the night go by.'

So on the ground with leaves o'erspread,
He who should press a royal bed,
Ráma with Lakshman thus conversed,
And many a pleasant tale rehearsed:
'This night the king,' he cried, 'alas!
In broken sleep will sadly pass.
Kaikeyí now content should be,
For mistress of her wish is she.
So fiercely she for empire yearns,
That when her Bharat home returns,
She in her greed, may even bring
Destruction on our lord the king.
What can he do, in feeble eld,
Reft of all aid and me expelled,
His soul enslaved by love, a thrall
Obedient to Kaikeyí's call?
As thus I muse upon his woe
And all his wisdoms overthrow,
Love is, methinks, of greater might
To stir the heart than gain and right.
For who, in wisdom's lore untaught.
Could by a beauty's prayer be bought
To quit his own obedient son,
Who loves him, as my sire has done!
Bharat, Kaikeyí's child, alone
Will, with his wife, enjoy the throne,
And blissfully his rule maintain
O'er happy Kos'ala's domain.
To Bharat's single lot will fall
The kingdom and the power and all,
When fails the king from length of days,
And Ráma in the forest strays.
Whoe'er, neglecting right and gain,
Lets conquering love his soul enchain,
To him, like Das'aratha's lot,
Comes woe with feet that tarry not.
Methinks at last the royal dame,
Dear Lakshman, has secured her aim,
To see at once her husband dead,
Her son enthroned, and Ráma fled.
Ah me! I fear, lest borne away
By frenzy of success, she slay
Kaus'alyá, through her wicked hate
Of me, bereft, disconsolate;
Or her who aye for me has striven
Sumitrá, to devotion given.
Hence, Lakshman, to Avodhyá speed,
Returning in the hour of need.
With Sítá I my steps will bend
Where Dandak's mighty woods extend.
No guardian has Kaus'alyá now:
O, be her friend and guardian thou.
Strong hate may vile Kaikeyí lead
To many a base unrighteous deed,
Treading my mother 'neath her feet
When Bharat holds the royal seat.
Sure in some antenatal time
Were children, by Kausalyá's crime.
Torn from their mothers' arms away,
And hence she mourns this evil day.
She for her child no toil would spare
Tending me long with pain and care;
Now in the hour of fruitage she
Has lost that son, ah, woe is me.
O Lakshman, may no matron e'er
A son so doomed to sorrow bear
As I, my mother's heart who rend
With anguish that can never end.
The Sáriká, [1] methinks, possessed
More love than glows in Ráma's breast.
Who, as the tale is told to us.
Addressed the stricken parrot thus:

'Parrot, the capturer's talons tear,
While yet alone thou flutterest there.
Before his mouth has closed on me:'
So cried the bird, herself to free.
Reft of her son, in childless woe,
My mother's tears for ever flow:
Ill-fated, doomed with grief to strive.
What aid can she from me derive?
Pressed down by care, she cannot rise
From sorrow's flood wherein she lies.
In righteous wrath my single arm
Could, with my bow, protect from harm
Ayodhyá's town and all the earth:
But what is hero prowess worth?
Lest breaking duty's law I sin,
And lose the heaven I strive to win,
The forest life today I choose,
And kingly state and power refuse.'

Thus mourning in that lonely spot
The troubled chief bewailed his lot,
And filled with tears, his eyes ran o'er;
Then silent sat, and spake no more.
To him, when ceased his loud lament,
Like fire whose brilliant might is spent.
Or the great sea when sleeps the wave,
Thus Lakshman consolation gave:
'Chief of the brave who bear the bow,
E'en now Ayodhyá, sunk in woe,
By thy departure reft of light
Is gloomy as the moonless night.
Unfit it seems that thou, O chief.
Shouldst so afflict thy soul with grief,
So with thou Sítá's heart consign
To deep despair as well as mine.
Not I, O Raghu's son, nor she
Could live one hour deprived of thee:
We were, without thine arm to save,
Like fish deserted by the wave.
Although my mother dear to meet,
S'atrughna and the king, were sweet,
On them, or heaven, to feed mine eye
Were nothing, if thou wert not by.'

Sitting at ease, their glances fell
Upon the beds, constructed well.
And there the sons of virtue laid
Their limps beneath the fig tree's shade.


  1. The Mainá or Gracula religiosa, a favourite cage-bird, easily taught to talk.