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I. The FUNERAL.
Midnight, and yet no eye Through all the Imperial City closed in sleep! Behold her streets a-blaze With light that seems to kindle the red sky, Her myriads swarming thro' the crowded ways! Master and slave, old age and infancy, All, all abroad to gaze; House-top and balcony Clustered with women, who throw back their veils With unimpeded and insatiate sight To view the funeral pomp which passes by, As if the mournful rite Were but to them a scene of joyaunce and delight.
Vainly, ye blessed twinklers of the night, Your feeble beams ye shed, Quench'd in the unnatural light which might out-stare Even the broad eye of day; . And thou from thy celestial way Pourest, O Moon, an ineffectual ray! For lo! ten thousand torches flame and flare Upon the midnight air, Blotting the lights of heaven With one portentous glare. Behold the fragrant smoke in many a fold, Ascending floats along the fiery sky, And hangeth visible on high, A dark and waving canopy.
Hark!'t is the funeral trumpet's breath! T is the dirge of death! At once ten thousand drums begin, With one long thunder-peal the ear assailing; Ten thousand voices then join in, And with one deep and general din Pour their wild wailing. The song of praise is drown'd Amid that deafening sound; You hear no more the trumpet’s tone, You hear no more the mourner's moan, Though the trumpet's breath, and the dirge of death, Mingle and swell the funeral yell. But rising over all in one acclaim Is heard the echoed and re-echoed name, From all that countless rout: Arvalan! Arvalan' Arvalan' Arvalan Ten times ten thousand voices in one shout Call Arvalan' The overpowering sound, From house to house repeated rings about, From tower to tower rolls round.
The death-procession moves along, Their bald heads shining to the torches' ray; The Bramins lead the way, Chaunting the funeral song. And now at once they shout, Arvalan' Arvalan' With quick rebound of sound, All in accordant cry, Arvalan Arvalan! The universal multitude reply. In vain ye thunder on his ear the name!
Would ye awake the dead? Borne upright in his palankeen, There Arvalan is seen! A glow is on his face,—a lively red; It is the crimson canopy Which o'er his cheek the reddening shade hath shed. He moves,<-he nods his head, But the motion comes from the bearers' tread, As the body, borne aloft in state, Sways with the impulse of its own dead weight. Close following his dead son, Kehama came, Nor joining in the ritual song, Nor calling the dear name; With head deprest and funeral vest, And arms enfolded on his breast, Silent and lost in thought he moves along. King of the world, his slaves unenvying now Behold their wretched Lord; rejoiced they see The mighty Rajah's misery; For Nature in his pride hath dealt the blow, And taught the Master of Mankind to know Even he himself is man, and not exempt from woe.
O sight of grief" the wives of Arvalan, Young Azla, young Nealliny, are seen! Their widow-robes of white, With gold and jewels bright, Each like an Eastern queen. Woe! woe! around their palankeen, As on a bridal day, With symphony, and dance, and song, Their kindred and their friends come on. The dance of sacrifice! the funeral song! And next the victim slaves in long array, Richly bedight to grace the fatal day, Move onward to their death; The clarions stirring breath Lifts their thin robes in every flowing fold, And swells the woven gold, That on the agitated air Trembles, and glitters to the torches glare.
A man and maid of aspect wan and wild, Then, side by side, by bowmen guarded, came. O wretched father! O unhappy child! Them were all eyes of all the throng exploring— Is this the daring man Who raised his fatal hand at Arvalan ls this the wretch condemn'd to feel Kehama's dreadful wrath? Then were all hearts of all the throng deploring, For not in that innumerable throng Was one who lov'd the dead; for who could know What aggravated wrong Provoked the desperate blow! Far, far behind, beyond all reach of sight, In ordered files the torches flow along, One ever-lengthening line of gliding light: Far—far behind, Rolls on the undistinguishable clamour Of horn, and trump, and tambour; Incessant as the roar Of streams which down the wintry mountain pour, And louder than the dread commotion Of stormy billows on a rocky shore, When the winds rage over the waves, And Ocean to the Tempest raves.
And now toward the bank they go Where, winding on their way below, Deep and strong the waters flow. Here doth the funeral pile appear With myrrh and ambergris bestrewd, And built of precious sandal-wood. They cease their music and their outcry here; Gently they rest the bier: They wet the face of Arvalan, No sign of life the sprinkled drops excite; They feel his breast,-no motion there; They feel his lips, no breath; For not with feeble, nor with erring hand, The stern avenger dealt the blow of death. Then with a doubting peal and deeper blast, The tambours and the trumpets sound on high, And with a last and loudest cry They call on Arvalan.
Woe! woe! for Azla takes her seat Upon the funeral pile ! Calmly she took her seat, " Calmly the whole terrific pomp survey'd As on her lap the while The lifeless head of Arvalan was laid. The young Nealliny' Woe! woe! Nealliny, They strip her ornaments away,” Bracelet and anklet, ring, and chain, and zone; Around her neck they leave The marriage knot alone, 3– That marriage band, which when Yon waning moon was young, Around her virgin neck With bridal joy was hung. Then with white flowers, the coronal of death, Her jetty locks they crown. O sight of misery' You cannot hear her cries, all other sound In that wild dissonance is drown'd;— But in her face you see The supplication and the agony, See in her swelling throat the desperate strength That with vain effort struggles yet for life; Her arms contracted now in fruitless strife, Now wildly at full length Towards the crowd in vain for pity spread, They force her on, they bind her to the dead. 4
Then all around retire: Circling the Pile, the ministring Bramins stand, Each lifting in his hand a torch on fire. Alone the Father of the dead advanced And lit the funeral pyre.
At once on every side The circling torches drop, At once on every side The fragrant oil is pour’d, At once on every side The rapid tames rush up. Then hand in hand the victim band Roll in the dance around the funeral pyre; Their garments flying folds Float inward to the fire. In drunken whirl they wheel around; One drops, another plunges in 2°
And still with overwhelming din
The tambours and the trumpets sound; And clap of hand, and shouts, and cries,
From all the multitude arise: While round and round, in giddy wheel,
Intoxicate they roll and reel,
Till one by one whirld in they fall, And the devouring flames have swallow'd all.
Them all was still: the drums and clarions ceas'd; The multitude were hush'd in silent awe; Only the roaring of the flames was heard.
The GURSE. Alone towards the Table of the dead, Kehama mov’d; there on the altar-stone Honey and rice he spread. There with collected voice and painful tone He call'd upon his son. Lo! Arvalan appears." Only Kehama's powerful eye beheld The thin etherial spirit hovering nigh; Only the Rajah's ear Receiv'd his feeble breath. And is this all 1 the mournful Spirit said, This all that thou canst give me after death This unavailing pomp, These empty pageantries that mock the dead! In bitterness the Rajah heard, And groan'd, and smote his breast, and o'er his face Cowl'd the white mourning west.
ARWA i. An. Art thou not powerful,-even like a God And must I, through my years of wandering, Shivering and naked to the elements, In wretchedness await The hour of Yamen's wrath? I thought thou wouldst embody me anew, Undying as I am, 7– Yea, re-create me!—Father, is this all ! This all ! and thou Almighty!
But in that wrongful and upbraiding tone, Kehama found relief, For rising anger half supprest his grief. Reproach not me! he cried, Had I not spell-secur'd thee from disease, Fire, sword, all common accidents of man,— And thou!—fool, fool—to perish by a stake And by a peasant's arm'— Even now, when from reluctant Heaven, Forcing new gifts and mightier attributes, So soon I should have quell'd the Death-God's power.
Waste not thy wrath on me, quoth Arvalan,
308 SOUTHEY'S POETICAL WORKS.
Sheds on their happy being, and the stars In pity didst thou see the suffering maid!
Aud the curse shall be on thee For ever and ever,
There where the Curse had stricken him, There stood the miserable man, There stood Ladurlad, with loose-hanging arms, And eyes of idiot wandering. Was it a dream alas, He heard the river flow, He heard the crumbling of the pile, He heard the wind which shower'd The thin white ashes round. There motionless he stood, As if he hop'd it were a dream, And fear'd to move, lest he should prove The actual misery; And still at times he met Kehama's eye, Kehama's eye that fasten’d on him still.
The Rajah turn'd toward the pile again, Loud rose the song of death from all the crowd; Their din the instruments begin, At once again join in With overwhelming sound. Ladurlad starts, he looks around. What hast thou here in view, 0 wretched man! in this disastrous scene? The soldier train, the Bramins who renew Their ministry around the funeral pyre, The empty palankeens, The dimly fading fire. Where too is she whom most his heart held dear, His best-beloved Kailyal, where is she, The solace and the joy of many a year Of widowhood' is she then gone, And is he left all-utterly alone, To bear his blasting curse, and none To succour or deplore him? He staggers from the dreadful spot; the throng Give way in fear before him; Like one who carries pestilence about, Shuddering they shun him, where he moves along. And now he wanders on Beyond the noisy rout; He cannot fly and leave his curse behind, Yet doth he seem to find A comfort in the change of circumstance. Adown the shore he strays, Unknowing where his wretched feet shall rest, But farthest from the fatal place is best.
By this in the orient sky appears the gleam of day. Lo! what is yonder in the stream, Down the slow river floating slow, In distance indistinct and dimly seen? The childless one with idle eye Followed its motion thoughtlessly; Idly he gaz'd, unknowing why, And half unconscious that he watch'd its way. Belike it is a tree Which some rude tempest, in its sudden sway,
Tore from the rock, or from the hellow shore The undermining stream hath swept away.
But when anon outswelling by its side, A woman's robe he spied, Oh then Ladurlad started, As one, who in his grave Had heard an angel's call. Yea, Marriataly, thou hast deign'd to save! Yea, Goddess! it is she, Kailyal, still clinging senselessly To thy dear image, and in happy hour Upborne amid the wave By that preserving power.
Headlong in hope and in joy
Ladurlad dash'd in the water.
Blind to the miracle,
And clasps and saves his child.
Upon the farther side a level shore of sand was spread: thither Ladurlad bore His daughter, holding still with senseless hand The saving Goddess; there upon the sand He laid the livid maid, Rais'd up against his knees her drooping head; Bent to her lips, her lips as pale as death,If he might feel her breath, His own the while in hope and dread suspended; Chafd her cold breast, and ever and anon Let his hand rest, upon her heart extended.
Soon did his touch perceive, or fancy there, The first faint motion of returning life. He chafes her feet, and lays them bare In the sun; and now again upon her breast Lays his hot hand; and now her lips he prest, For now the stronger throb of life he knew: And her lips tremble too ! The breath comes palpably, Her quivering lids unclose, Feebly and feebly fall, Relapsing as it seem'd to dead repose.
So in her father's arms thus languidly, While over her with earnest gaze he hung, Silent and motionless she lay, And painfully and slowly writh'd at fits, At fits to short convulsive starts was stung. Till when the struggle and strong agony Had left her, quietly she lay repos'd: Her eyes now resting on Ladurlad's face, Relapsing now, and now again unclos'd. The look she fix’d upon his face, implies Northought nor feeling, senselessly she lies, Compos'd like one who sleeps with open eyes. Long he leant over her, In silence and in fear. Kailya!!—at length he cried in such a tone As a poor mother ventures who draws near, With silent footstep, to her child's sick bed. My Father! cried the maid, and rais'd her head,
Awakening then to life and thought, thou here?
And hath he spar'd us then? she cried, Half rising as she spake, For hope and joy the sudden strength supplied; In mercy hath he curb’d his cruel will, That still thou livest? But as thus she said, Impatient of that look of hope, her sire Shook hastily his head; Oh! he hath laid a Curse upon my life, A clinging curse, quoth he: Hath sent a fire into my heart and brain, A burning fire, for ever there to be The winds of Heaven must never breathe on me; The rains and dews must never fall on me; Water must mock my thirst and shrink from me; The common earth must yield no fruit to me; Sleep, blessed Sleep! must never light on me; And Death, who comes to all, must fly from me; And never, never set Ladurlad free.
This is a dream exclaim'd the incredulous maid, Yet in her voice the while a fear exprest, Which in her larger eye was manifest. This is a dream : she rose and laid her hand Upon her father's brow, to try the charm; He could not bear the pressure there;—he shrunk,He warded off her arm, As though it were an enemy's blow, he smote His daughter's arm aside. Her eye glanced down, his mantle she espied And caught it up; Oh misery ! Kailyal cried, He bore me from the river-depths, and yet His garment is not wet!
Reclin'd beneath a Cocoa's feathery shade Ladurlad lies, And Kailyal on his lap her head hath laid, To hide her streaming eyes. The boatman, sailing on his easy way, With envious eye beheld them where they lay; For every herb and flower was fresh and fragrant with the early dew, Sweet sung the birds in that delicious hour, And the cool gale of morning as it blew, Not yet subdued by day's increasing power, Rufiling the surface of the silvery stream, Swept o'er the moisten’d sand, and rais'd no shower. Telling their tale of love, The boatman thought they lay At that lone hour, and who so blest as they !
But now the Sun in heaven is high,
They pant and palpitate with heat;
To catch the passing air; They hear it not, they feel it not, It murmurs not, it moves not. The boatman, as he looks to land, Admires what men so mad to linger there, For yonder Cocoa's shade behind them falls, A single spot upon the burning sand.
There all the morning was Ladurlad laid, Silent and motionless, like one at ease; There motionless upon her father's knees, Reclin'd the silent maid. The man was still, pondering with steady mind, As if it were another's Curse, His own portentous lot; Scanning it o'er and o'er in busy thought, As though it were a last night's tale of woe, - Before the cottage door By some old beldame sung, While young and old, assembled round, Listened, as if by witchery bound, In fearful pleasure to her wonderous tongue.
Musing so long he lay, that all things seem Unreal to his sense, even like a dream, A monstrous dream of things which could not be. That beating, burning brow, why it was now The height of noon, and he was lying there In the broad sun, all bare! What if he felt no wind the air was still, That was the general will Of nature, not his own peculiar doom; Yon rows of rice erect and silent stand, The shadow of the Cocoa's lightest plume Is steady on the sand. Is it indeed a dream? he rose to try, Impatient to the water-side he went, And down he bent, And in the stream he plung’d his hasty arm To break the visionary charm. With fearful eye and fearful ear, His daughter watch'd the event; She saw the start and shudder, She heard the in-drawn groan, For the Water knew Kehama's charm, The Water shrunk before his arm. His dry hand mov’d about unmoisten'd there; As easily might that dry hand avail To stop the passing gale Or grasp the impassive air. Ile is Almighty then: Exclaim'd the wretched man in his despair; Air knows him, Water knows him; Sleep His dreadful word will keep ; Even in the grave there is no rest for me, Cut off from that last hope, the wretch's joy; And Veeshnoo hath no power to save, Nor Seeva to destroy.
Oh! wrong not them: quoth Railyal, Wrong not the Ileavenly Powers: Our hope is all in then : They are uot blind! And iighter wrongs than ours, And lighter crimes than his, Have drawn the Incarnate down among mankind Already have the Immorials heard our cries,