The Ramayana/Book II/Canto LXVI: The Embalming

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The Ramayana of Valmiki , translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Canto LXVI: The Embalming

Kaus'alyá's eyes with tears o'erflowed.
Weighed down by varied sorrows's load;
On her dead lord her gaze she bent,
Who lay like fire whose might is spent,
Like the great deep with waters dry,
Or like the clouded sun on high.
Then on her lap she laid his head.
And on Kaikeyí looked and said:
'Triumphant now enjoy thy reign
Without a thorn thy side to pain.
Thou hast pursued thy single aim,
And lulled the king, O wicked dame.
Far from my sight my Ráma flies,
My perished lord has sought the skies.
No friend, no hope my life to cheer,
I cannot tread the dark path here.
Who would forsake her husband, who
That God to whom her love is due,
And wish to live one hour, but she
Whose heart no duty owns, like thee?
The ravenous sees no fault: his greed
Will e'en on poison blindly feed.
Kaikeyí, through a hump-back maid,
This royal house in death has laid.
King Janak, with his queen, will hear
Heart rent like me the tidings drear
Of Ráma banished by the king,
Urged by her impious counselling.
No son has he, his age is great,
And sinking with the double weight,
He for his darling child will pine,
And pierced with woe his life resign.
Sprung from Videha's monarch, she
A sad and lovely devotee,
Roaming the wood, unmeet for woe,
Will toil and trouble undergo.
She in the gloomy night with fear
The cries of beast and bird will hear,
And trembling in her wild alarm
Will cling to Ráma's sheltering arm.
Ah, little knows my duteous son
That I am widowed and undone--
My Ráma of the lotus eye,
Gone hence, gone hence, alas, to die.
Now, as a living wife and true,
I, e'en this day, will perish too:
Around his form these arms will throw.
And to the fire with him will go.'
Clasping her husband's lifeless clay
A while the weeping votaress lay,
Till chamberlains removed her thence
O'ercome by sorrow's violence.
Then in a cask of oil they laid
Him who in life the world had swayed,
And finished, as the lords desired,
All rites for parted souls required.
The lords, all-wise, refused to burn
The monarch ere his son's return;
So for a while the corpse they set
Embalmed in oil, and waited yet.
The women heard: no doubt remained,
And wildly for the king they plained.
With gushing tears that drowned each eye
Wildly they waved their arms on high,
And each her mangling nails impressed
Deep in her head and knee and breast:
'Of Ráma reft,--who ever spake
The sweetest words the heart to take,
Who firmly to the truth would cling,--
Why dost thou leave us, mighty King?
How can the consorts thou hast left
Widowed, of Raghu's son bereft,
Live with our foe Kaikeyí near,
The wicked queen we hate and fear?
She threw away the king, her spite
Drove Ráma forth and Lakshman's might,
And gentle Sítá: how will she
Spare any, whosoe'er it be?'
Oppressed with sorrow, tear-distained,
The royal women thus complained.
Like night when not a star appears,
Like a sad widow drowned in tears,
Ayodhyá's city, dark and dim,
Reft of her lord was sad for him.
When thus for woe the king to heaven had fled,
   And still on earth his lovely wives remained.
With dying light the sun to rest had sped,
   And night triumphant o'er the landscape reigned.