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When Ráma saw his brother stand
With none beside him, all unmanned,
Eager he questioned why he came
So far without the Maíthil dame:
'Where is my wife, my darling, she
Who to the wild wood followed me?
Where hast thou left my lady, where
The dame who chose my lot to share?
Where is my love who balms my woe
As through the forest wilds I go,
Unkinged and banished and disgraced,--
My darling of the dainty waist?
She nerves my spirit for the strife,
She, only she gives zest to life,
Dear as my breath is she who vies
In charms with daughters of the skies.
If Janak's child be mine no more,
In splendour fair as virgin ore,
The lordship of the skies and earth
To me were prize of little worth.
Ah, lives she yet, the Maíthil dame,
Dear as the soul within this frame?
O, let not all my toil be vain,
The banishment, the woe and pain!
O, let not dark Kaikeyí win
The guerdon of her teacherous sin,
If, Sítá lost, my days I end,
And thou without me homeward wend!
O, let not good Kaus'alyá shed
Her bitter tears to mourn me dead,
Nor her proud rival's hest obey,
Strong in her son and queenly sway!
Back to my cot will I repair
If Sítá live to greet me there,

p. 299

But if my wife have perished, I
Reft of ray love will surely die,
O Lakshman, if I seek my cot,
Look for my love and find her not
Sweet welcome with her smile to give,
I tell thee, I will cease to live.
O answer,--let thy words be plain,--
Lives Sita yet, or is she slain?'
Didst thou thy sacred trust betray
Till ravening giants seized the prey?
Ah me, so young, so soft and fair,
Lapped in all bliss, untried by care,
Rent from her own dear husband, how
Will she support her misery now?
That voice, O Lakshman smote thine ear,
And filled, I ween, thy heart with fear,
When on thy name for succour cried
The treacherous giant ere he died.
That voice too like mine own, I ween,
Was heard by the Videhan queen.
She bade thee seek my side to aid,
And quickly was the hest obeyed,
But ah, thy fault I needs must blame,
To leave alone the helpless dame,
And let the cruel giants sate
The fury of their murderous hate.
Those blood-devouring demons all
Grieve in their souls for Khara's fall,
And Sítá, none to guard her side.
Torn by their cruel hands has died.
I sink, O tamer of thy foes,
Deep in the sea of whelming woes.
What can I now? I must endure
The mighty grief that mocks at cure.'
   Thus, all his thoughts on Síta bent,
To Janasthán the chieftain went,
Hastening on with eager stride,
And Lakshman hurried by his side.
With toil and thirst and hunger worn,
His breast with doubt and anguish torn,
   He sought the well-known spot.
Again, again he turned to chide
With quivering lips which terror dried:
   He looked, and found her not.
Within his leafy home he sped,
Each pleasant spot he visited
   Where oft his darling strayed.
'Tis as I feared', he cried, and there,
Yielding to pangs too great to bear,
   He sank by grief dismayed.

Next: Canto LX.: Lakshman Reproved.