Seeta And Rama - A Tale Of The Indian Famine.

A poem by Ramakrishna, T.

It was by far the loveliest scene in Ind: -
A deep sunk lonely vale, 'tween verdant hills
That, in eternal friendship, seemed to hold
Communion with the changing skies above;
Dark shady groves the haunts of shepherd boys
And wearied peasants in the midday noon;
A lake that shone in lustre clear and bright
Like a pure Indian diamond set amidst
Green emeralds, where every morn, with songs
Of parted lovers that tempted blooming maids
With pitchers on their heads to stay and hear
Those songs, the busy villagers of the vale
Their green fields watered that gave them sure hopes
Of future plenty and of future joys.
Oh, how uncertain man's sure hopes and joys!
In this enchanted hollow that was scooped -
For so it seemed - by God's own mighty hand,
Where Nature shower'd her richest gifts to make
Another paradise, stood Krishnapore
With her two score and seven huts reared by
The patient labour of her simple men.

In this blest hamlet one there was that owned
Its richest lands: beloved by all its men,
Their friend in times of need, their guide in life,
Partaker of their joys and woes as well,
The arbiter of all their petty strifes.
By him his friend the village master lived
That at his door a group of children taught;
A man he was well versed in ancient lore;
And oft at night, when ended was their toil,
The villagers with souls enraptured heard him
In fiery accents speak of Krishna's deeds
And Rama's warlike skill, and wondered that
He knew so well the deities they adored.
One only daughter this schoolmaster had,
And Seeta was her name, the prettiest maid
In all the village, nursed by the fond cares
Of her indulgent sire, and loved with all
The tender feelings that pure love inspires
By the rich villager's only son, the heir
Of all his father's wealth; the best at school,
The boldest of the village youths at play,
And the delight of all those that saw him;
And these seemed such a fitting pair that oft
The secret whisper round the village ran
That Seeta was to wed the rich man's son.
Thus, in this Eden, its blest inmates lived
And passed their days, the villagers at the fields,
Their busy women at the blazing hearths,
The village master at his cottage door,
And Rama and fair Seeta in true love.

Hither a monster came, that slowly sucked
The vigour, the very life of Krishnapore.
The brilliant lustre of the diamond lake,
The emerald greenness of the waving fields,
The shady groves and pleasant cottage grounds,
And all the beauties of the happy vale
Soon vanished imperceptibly, as if
Some unconsuming furnace underneath
Had baked the earth and rendered it all bare,
Until its inmates wandered desolate,
With hollow cheeks, sunk eyes, and haggard faces,
Like walking skeletons pasted o'er with skin.
No more would blooming girls with pitchers laden
Repair to the clear lake while curling smoke
Rose from their cottage roofs; no more at morn
Would Rama be the first at school to see
His Seeta deck her father's house with flowers;
No more at eve the village master pour
From Hindu lore the mighty deeds of gods
To the delighted ears of simple men;
For these have left their lands and their dear homes.
And Seeta with her father left her cot,
And cast behind, with a deep, heavy sigh,
One ling'ring look upon that vale where she
Was born and fondly nursed, - where glided on
Her days in pleasure and pure innocence, -
Where Rama lived and loved her tenderly.
Her father died of hunger on the way,
And the lone creature wandered in the streets
Of towns from door to door, and vainly begged
For food, till some, deep moved by the sad tales
Of the lone straggler, safely lodged her in
A famine camp, where, heavy laden with
A double sorrow (for her lover too,
She thought, had died), her tedious life she spent.
And days and weeks and months thus rolled away,
Until at last her love for the dead youth
Mysterious waned, and, like a shallow lamp,
Burnt in her breast with nothing to feed it.

One day the news went through the famine shed
That a lean youth, plucked from the very arms
Of cruel death, was tenderly nursed there;
And all its inmates hurried to the scene.
Poor Seeta saw the youth, and that sad sight
She ne'er forgot; the youth was in her mind
Too firmly rooted to be rooted out,
Who ev'ry day in strength and beauty grew, till he
Appeared the fairest youth in all the camp.
First pity for the youth, then love for him
Mysterious came to her, until at last
The flick'ring flame shone sudden in her breast.
"This stranger I must wed, for him I love,
I know not how; that pleasant face is like
The face of him I dearly loved; I see
Appearing ev'ry day upon that face,
As if by magic wrought, those beauties that
Were seated on dead Rama's face." Thus mused
This maiden of the camp, and the fair youth
Thus kindled in her breast the hidden flame
Of love and fed it ever with new strength,
Which shone again in all its purity.

As the moon whose effulgence hidden lies
When dimmed by clouds, suddenly blazes forth
And in her wonted beauty shines again
What time she darts into the cloudless vault,
So shone again in lovely Seeta's breast
The lamp of love by clouds of sorrow dimmed.
The smothered passion suddenly blazed forth
In brighter lustre, and to her returned
With double force, as when the flaming fire
Is smothered when more fuel is on it thrown,
And straightway flames and gives a brighter light.

At last the monster left the land, the camp
Was broke, its inmates left it for their homes.
England, would that one of thy sons were there
To hear what words, what blessings now burst from
Their inward hearts for nursing them when they
From all estranged had poured into thine arms!
Poor Seeta hastened to the youth she loved,
And to him with a gladdened heart thus spake: -
Her rosy lips, just oped to speak, were like
A half-blown rosebud blossoming all at once;
Such magic was wrought on her ere she spake:
"Kind stranger, whither goest thou? I am
A lonely maiden, and friends I have none;
And thee alone I trust as my safe guide
To Krishnapore."
"Dear maid! thy sorrows cease;
My way now lies through Krishnapore: fear not,
I shall restore thee to thy home and friends;
Trust me as your safe guide and dearest friend."
She, overjoyed, recounted to the youth
Her tale - how she, her father's only hope
And pride, reluctant left their native vale
And cottage home; how he died on the way,
And she, a lonely creature, wandered in
The streets from door to door and begged for food;
How she was taken to the famine camp;
How he, with hollow cheeks and sunken eyes,
Was brought one day and there nursed tenderly;
And how in beauty ev'ry day he grew
Until like her dead Rama he appeared.
The village youth, unable any more
Now to suppress him, suddenly exclaimed,
"Look here, whose name is on this arm tattooed?"
"O Rama, Krishna, Govinda, and all
Ye Gods that I adore, ye have blest me;
This is the happiest moment in my life,
And this the happiest spot in all the earth,
For now my long-lost Rama I have found."
So saying, she intently gazed on him.

As a rich mine pours forth its hidden wealth
To the delight of those that day and night
Court eagerly its treasures them t' enrich;
So from this lovely pair's deep mine of feelings,
What honeyed words escaped now through their lips
To their intense joy, better far than all
The treasures any ample mine bestows!
With sweet talk they beguiled their tedious way;
The verdant hills sublime rose to the view;
The broad lake glittered diamond-like again;
And wreathing smoke curled from the cottage roofs;
The lovely vale became the lovely vale
Again, and all the long forgotten scenes
In quick succession flowed before them both;
And never was a happier marriage seen
In all that happy vale of Krishnapore.

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