Ancient Ballads of Hindustan - Part 3


Death in his palace holds his court,
His messengers move to and fro,
Each of his mission makes report,
And takes the royal orders, — Lo,
Some slow before his throne appear
And humbly in the Presence kneel:
" Why hath the Prince not been brought here?
The hour is past; nor is appeal
Allowed against foregone decree;
There is the mandate with the seal!
How comes it ye return to me
Without him? Shame upon your zeal! "

" O King, whom all men fear, — he lies
Deep in the dark Medhya wood,
We fled from thence in wild surprise,
And left him in that solitude
We dared not touch him, for there sits,
Beside him, lighting all the place,
A woman fair, whose brow permits
In its austerity of grace
And purity, — no creatures soul
As we seemed, by her loveliness,
Or soul of evil, ghost or ghoul,
To venture close, and far, far less.

To stretch a hand, and bear the dead;
We left her leaning on her hand,
Thoughtful; no tear-drop had she shed,
But looked the goddess of the land,
With her meek air of mild command. " —
" Then on this errand I must go
Myself, and bear my dreaded brand,
This duty unto Fate I owe;
I know the merits of the prince,
But merit saves not from the doom
Common to man; his death long since
Was destined in his beauty's bloom. "
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