'Listen, Brahman!' answered Sita,-unsuspecting in her mind
That she saw a base betrayer in a hermit seeming kind,-

'I am born of royal Janak, ruler of Videha's land,
Rama prince of proud Kosala by his valour won my hand.

Years we passed in peaceful pleasure in Ayodhya's happy clime,
Rich in every rare enjoyment gladsome passed our happy time,

Till the monarch Dasa-ratha,-for his days were almost done,
Wished to crown the royal Rama as his Heir and Regent son.

But the scheming Queen Kaikeyi claimed a long-forgotten boon,
That my consort should be exiled and her son should fill the throne,

She would take no rest or slumber, nourishment of drink or food,
Till her Bharat ruled the empire, Rama banished to the wood!

Five and twenty righteous summers graced my good and gracious lord,
True to faith and true to duty, true in purpose, deed, and word,

Loved of all his loyal people, rich in valour and in fame,
For the rite of consecration Rama to his father came.

Spake Kaikeyi to my husband:-'List thy father's promise fair,
Bharat shall be ruling monarch, do thou to the woods repair,'-

Ever gentle, ever duteous, Rama listened to obey,
And through woods and pathless jungles we have held our lonely way.

This, O pious-hearted hermit, is his story of distress,
And his young and faithful brother follows him in wilderness,

Lion in his warlike valour, hermit in his saintly vow,
Lakshman with his honoured elder wanders through the forest now.

Rest thee here, O holy Brahman, rich in piety and fame,
Till the forest-ranging brothers greet thee with the forest game,

Speak, if so it please thee, father, what great rishi claims thy birth,
Wheref ore in this pathless jungle wand'rest friendless on this earth.'

'Brahman nor a righteous rishi,' royal Ravan made reply,
'Leader of the wrathful Rakshas, Lanka's lord and king am I,

He whose valour quells the wide-world, Gods above and men below,
He whose proud and peerless prowess Rakshas and Asuras know!

But thy beauty's golden lustre, Sita, wins my royal heart,
Be a sharer of my empire, of my glory take a part,

Many queens of queenly beauty on the royal Ravan wait,
Thou shalt be their reigning empress, thou shalt own my regal state!

Lanka girt by boundless ocean is of royal towns the best,
Seated in her pride and glory on a mountain's towering crest,

And in mountain paths and woodlands thou shalt with thy Ravan stray,
Not in Godavari's gorges through the dark and dreary day,

And five thousand gay-dressed damsels shall upon my Sita, wait,
Queen of Ravan's true affection, proud partaker of his state!'

Sparkled Sita's eyes in anger and a tremor shook her frame,
As in proud and scornful accents answered thus the royal dame:

'Knowest thou Rama great and godlike, peerless hero in the strife,
Deep, uncompassed, like the ocean?-I am Rama's wedded wife!

Knowest thou Rama proud and princely, sinless in his saintly life,
Stately as the tall Nyagrodha?-I am Rama's wedded wife!

Mighty-arméd, mighty-chested, mighty with his bow and sword,
Lion midst the sons of mortals,-Rama is my wedded lord!

Stainless as the Moon in glory, stainless in his deed and word,
Rich in valour and in virtue,-Rama is my wedded lord!

Sure thy fitful life is shadowed by a dark and dreadful fate,
Since in frenzy of thy passion courtest thou a warrior's mate,

Tear the tooth of hungry lion while upon the calf he feeds,
Touch the fang of deadly cobra while his dying victim bleeds,

Aye, uproot the solid mountain from its base of rocky land,
Ere thou win the wife of Rama stout of heart and strong of hand!

Pierce thy eye with point of needle till it racks thy tortured head,
Press thy red tongue cleft and bleeding on the razor's shining blade,

Hurl thyself upon the ocean from a towering peak and high,
Snatch the orbs of day and midnight from their spheres in azure sky,

Tongues of flaming conflagration in thy flowing dress enfold,
Ere thou take the wife of Rama to thy distant dungeon hold,

Ere thou seek to insult Rama unrelenting in his wrath,
O'er a bed of pikes of iron tread a softer easier path!'

About Valmiki

Valmiki (Sanskrit: वाल्मीकि, vālmīki) (during Lord Rama's time) is celebrated as the poet harbinger in Sanskrit literature. He is the author of the epic Ramayana, based on the attribution in the text of the epic itself. He is revered as the Adi Kavi, which means First Poet, for he discovered the first śloka i.e. first verse, which set the base and defined the form to Sanskrit poetry. The Yoga Vasistha is attributed to him. A religious movement called Valmikism is based on Valmiki's teachings as presented in the Ramayana and the Yoga Vasistha. At least by the 1st century AD,... Read more...

Poet of the day

Son of Thomas Godfrey (1704–1749), a Philadelphia glazier and member of Benjamin Franklin’s Junto Club, Godfrey produced some significant work in his short life.
Well known in literary circles in Philadelphia, he was a close friend of the poet Nathaniel Evans and the college provost William Smith. In 1758...

Poem of the day

First winter rain--
even the monkey
seems to want a raincoat.

Translated by Robert Hass