Crossing The Tamasa: The Citizens' Return - Poem by Valmiki
Evening's thickening shades descended on Tamasa's distant shore,
Rama rested by the river, day of toilsome journey o'er,
And Ayodhya's loving people by the limpid river lay,
Sad and sorrowing they had followed Rama's chariot through the day,
'Soft-eyed Sita, faithful Lakshman,' thus the gentle Rama said,
'Hail the first night of our exile mantling us in welcome shade,
Weeps the lone and voiceless forest, and in darksome lair and nest,
Feathered bird and forest creature seek their midnight's wonted rest,
Weeps methinks our fair Ayodhya to her Rama ever dear,
And perchance her men and women shed for us a silent tear,
Loyal men and faithful women, they have loved their ancient king,
And his anguish and our exile will their gentle bosoms wring!
Most I sorrow for my father and my mother loved and lost,
Stricken by untimely anguish, by a cruel fortune crost,
But the good and righteous Bharat gently will my parents tend,
And with fond and filial duty tender consolation lend,
Well I know his stainless bosom and his virtues rare and high,
He will soothe our parents' sorrow and their trickling tear will dry!
Faithful Lakshman, thou hast nobly stood by us when sorrows fell,
Guard my Sits, by thy valour, by thy virtues tend her well,
Wait on her while from this river Rama seeks his thirst to slake,
On this first night of his exile food nor fruit shall Rama take,
Thou Sumantra, tend the horses, darkness comes with close of day,
Weary was the endless journey, weary is our onward way!'
Store of grass and welcome fodder to the steeds the driver gave,
Gave them rest and gave them water from Tamasa's limpid wave,
And performing night's devotions, for the princes made their bed,
By the softly rippling river 'neath the tree's umbrageous shade.
On a bed of leaf and verdure Rama and his Sita slept,
Faithful Lakshman with Sumantra nightly watch and vigils kept,
And the stars their silent lustre on the weary exiles shed,
And on wood and rolling river night her darksome mantle spread.
Early woke the righteous Rama and to watchful Lakshman spake:
Mark the slumb'ring city people, still their nightly rest they take,
They have left their homes and children, followed us with loyal heart,
They would take us to Ayodhya, from their princes loth to part!
Speed, my brother, for the people wake not till the morning's star,
Speed by night the silent chariot, we may travel fast and far,
So my true and loving people see us not by dawn of day,
Follow not through wood and jungle Rama in his onward way,
For a monarch meek in suffering should his burden bravely bear,
And his true and faithful people may not ask his woe to share!'
Lakshman heard the gentle mandate, and Sumantra yoked the steed,
Fresh with rest and grateful fodder, matchless in their wondrous speed,
Rama with his gentle consort and with Lakshman true and brave,
Crossed beneath the silent starlight dark Tamasa's limpid wave.
On the farther bank a pathway, fair to view and far and wide,
Stretching onwards to the forests spanned the spacious country-side,
'Leave the broad and open pathway,' so the gentle Rama said,
'Follow yet a track diverging, so the people be misled.
Then returning to the pathway we shall march ere break of day,
So our true and faithful people shall not know our southward way.'
Wise Sumantra hastened northward, then returning to the road,
By his master and his consort and the valiant Lakshman stood,
Raghu's sons and gentle Sita mounted on the stately car,
And Sumantra drove the coursers travelling fast and travelling far.
Morning dawned, the waking people by Tamasa's limpid wave,
Saw not Rama and his consort, saw not Lakshman young and brave,
And the tear suffused their faces and their hearts with anguish burned,
Sorrow-laden and lamenting to their cheerless homes returned.
Poet's Notes about The Poem
CONDENSED INTO ENGLISH VERSE
By Romesh C. Dutt (1899)
EPIC OF RAMA, PRINCE OF INDIA
DASA-RATHA-VIYOGA (The Death of the King)
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