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Then Ráma, when the morning rose,
Called Lakshman gently from repose:
'Awake, the pleasant voices hear
Of forest birds that warble near.
Scourge of thy foes, no longer stay;
The hour is come to speed away.'
   The slumbering prince unclosed his eyes
When thus his brother bade him rise,
Compelling, at the timely cry,
Fatigue, and sleep, and rest to fly.
The brothers rose and Sítá too;
Pure water from the stream they drew,
Paid morning rites, then followed still
The road to Chitrakúta's hill.
Then Ráma as he took the road
With Lakshman, while the morning, glowed,
To the Videhan lady cried,
Sítá the fair, the lotus-eyed:
'Look round thee, dear; each flowery tree
Touched with the fire of morning see:
The Kins'uk, now the Frosts are fled,--
How glorious with his wreaths of red!
The Bel-trees see, so loved of men,
Hanging their boughs in every glen.
O'erburthened with their fruit and flowers:
A plenteous store of food is ours.
   See, Lakshman, in the leafy trees,
     Where'er they make their home.
   Down hangs, the work of labouring bees
     The ponderous honeycomb.
   In the fair wood before us spread
     The startled wild-cock cries:
   Hark, where the flowers are soft to tread,
     The peacock's voice replies.
   Where elephants are roaming free,
     And sweet birds' songs are loud,
   The glorious Chitrakúta see:
     His peaks are in the cloud.
   On fair smooth ground he stands displayed,
     Begirt by many a tree:
   O brother, in that holy shade
     How happy shall we be!' 1

Then Ráma, Lakshman, Sitá, each
Spoke raising suppliant hands this speech
To him, in woodland dwelling met,
Válmiki, ancient anchoret:
'O Saint, this mountain takes the mind,
With creepers, trees of every kind,
Vith fruit and roots abounding thus,
A pleasant life it offers us:
Here for a while we fain would stay,
And pass a season blithe and gay.'
   Then the great saint, in duty trained,
With honour gladly entertained:
He gave his guests a welcome fair,
And bade them sit and rest them there,
Ráma of mighty arm and chest
His faithful Lakshman then addressed:
'Brother, bring hither from the wood
Selected timber strong and good,
And build therewith a little cot;
My heart rejoices in the spot
That lies beneath the mountain's side,
Remote, with water well supplied.'
Sumitrá's son his words obeyed,
Brought many a tree, and deftly made,
With branches in the forest cut,
As Ráma bade, a leafy hut.
Then Ráma, when the cottage stood
Fair, firmly built, and walled with wood,
To Lakshman spake, whose eager mind
To do his brother's will inclined:
'Now, Lakshman as our cot is made,
Must sacrifice be duly paid
By us, for lengthened life who hope,
With venison of the antelope.
Away, O bright-eyed Lakshman, speed:
Struck by thy bow a deer must bleed:
As Scripture bids, we must not slight
The duty that commands the rite.'
   Lakshman, the chief whose arrows laid
His foemen low, his word obeyed;
And Ráma thus again addressed
The swift performer of his hest:
'Prepare the venison thou hast shot,
To sacrifice for this our cot.
Haste, brother dear, for this the hour,
And this the day of certain power.'
Then glorious Lakshman took the buck
His arrow in the wood had struck;
Bearing his mighty load he came,
And laid it in the kindled flame.

p. 162

Soon as he saw the meat was done,
And that the juices ceased to run
From the broiled carcass, Lakshman then
Spoke thus to Ráma best of men:
'The carcass of the buck, entire,
Is ready dressed upon the fire.
Now be the sacred rites begun
To please the God, thou godlike one.'

Ráma the good, in ritual trained,
Pure from the bath, with thoughts restrained,
Hasted those verses to repeat
Which make the sacrifice complete.
The hosts celestial came in view,
And Ráma to the cot withdrew,
While a sweet sense of rapture stole
Through the unequalled hero's soul.
He paid the Vis'vedevas  1 due.
And Rudra's right, and Vishnu's too,
Nor wonted blessings, to protect
Their new-built home, did he neglect.
With voice repressed he breathed the prayer,
Bathed duly in the river fair,
And gave good offerings that remove
The stain of sin, as texts approve.
And many an altar there he made,
And shrines, to suit the holy shade,
All decked with woodland chaplets sweet,
And fruit and roots and roasted meat,
With muttered prayer, as texts require,
Water, and grass and wood and fire.
So Ráma, Lakshman, Sítá paid
Their offerings to each God and shade,
And entered then their pleasant cot
That bore fair signs of happy lot.
They entered, the illustrious three,
The well-set cottage, fair to see,
Roofed with the leaves of many a tree,
   And fenced from wind and rain;
So, at their Father Brahmá's call,
The Gods of heaven, assembling all,
To their own glorious council hall
   Advance in shining train.
So, resting on that lovely hill,
Near the fair lily-covered rill,
   The happy prince forgot,
Surrounded by the birds and deer,
The woe, the longing, and the fear
   That gloom the exile's lot.


161:1 'We have often looked on that green hill: it is the holiest spot of that sect of the Hindu faith who devote themselves to this incarnation, of Vishnu. The whole neighbourhood is Ráma's country. Every headland has some legend, every cavern is connected with his name; some of the wild fruits are still called Stáphal, being the reputed food of the exile. Thousands and thousands annually visit the spot, and round the hill is a raised foot-path, on which the devotee, with naked feet, treads full of pious awe.' Calcutta Review, Vol. XXIII.

Next: Canto LVII.: Sumantra's Return.