The Ramayana/Book II/Canto XLVII: The Citizens' Return

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The Ramayana of Valmiki , translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith
Canto XLVII: The Citizens' Return

The people, when the morn shone fair,
Arose to find no Ráma there.
Then fear and numbing grief subdued
The senses of the multitude.
The woe-born tears were running fast
As all around their eyes they cast,
And sadly looked, but found no trace
Of Ráma, searching every place.
Bereft of Ráma good and wise.
With drooping cheer and weeping eyes,
Each woe-distracted sage gave vent
To sorrow in his wild lament:
'Woe worth the sleep that stole our sense
With its beguiling influence,
That now we look in vain for him
Of the broad chest and stalwart limb!
How could the strong-armed hero, thus
Deceiving all, abandon us?
His people so devoted see,
Yet to the woods, a hermit, flee?
How can he, wont our hearts to cheer,
As a fond sire his children dear,--
How can the pride of Raghu's race
Fly from us to some desert place!
Here let us all for death prepare,
Or on the last great journey fare. [1]
Of Ráma our dear lord bereft,
What profit in our lives is left?
Huge trunks of trees around us lie,
With roots and branches sere and dry.
Come let us set these logs on tire
And throw our bodies on the pyre.
What shall we speak? How can we say
We followed Ráma on his way.
The mighty chief whose arm is strong,
Who sweetly speaks, who thinks no wrong?
Ayodhyá's town with sorrow dumb,
Without our lord will see us come,
And hopeless misery will strike
Elder, and child, and dame alike.
Forth with that peerless chief we came,
Whose mighty heart is aye the same:
How, reft of him we love, shall we
Retuming dare that town to see?'
   Complaining thus with varied cry
They tossed their aged arms on high.
And their sad hearts with grief were wrung.
Like cows who sorrow for their young.
A while they followed on the road
Which traces of his chariot showed,
But when at length those traces failed,
A deep despair their hearts assailed.

The chariot marks no more discerned,
The hopeless sages backward turned:
'Ah, what is this? What can we more?
Fate stops the way, and all is o'er.'
With wearied hearts, in grief and shame
They took the road by which they came,
And reached Ayodhyá's city, where
From side to side was naught but care.
With troubled spirits quite cast down
They looked upon the royal town,
And from their eyes, oppressed with woe,
Their tears again began to flow.
Of Ráma reft, the city wore
No look of beauty as before,
Like a dull river or a lake
By Garud robbed of every snake.
Dark, dismal as the moonless sky,
Or as a sea whose bed is dry,
So sad, to every pleasure dead,
They saw the town, disquieted.
On to their houses, high and vast,
Where stores of precious wealth were massed,
The melancholy Bráhmans passed,
   Their hearts with anguish cleft:
Aloof from all, they came not near
To stranger or to kinsman dear,
Showing in faces blank and drear
   That not one joy was left.


  1. The great pilgrimage to the Himalayas, in order to die there.