Gandhari’s Lament for the Slain by Romesh Chunder Dutt
GANDHARI’S LAMENT FOR THE SLAIN.
Stainless Queen and stainless woman, ever righteous ever good,
Stately in her mighty sorrow on the field Gandhari stood!
Strewn with skulls and clotted tresses, darkened by the stream of gore,
With the limbs of countless warriors was the red field covered o’er,
Elephants and steeds of battle, car-borne chiefs untimely slain,
Headless trunks and heads dissevered filled the red and ghastly plain!
And the long-drawn howl of jackals o’er the scene of carnage rings,
And the vulture and the raven flap their dark and loathsome wings,
Feasting on the blood of warriors foul pisachas fill the air,
Viewless forms of hungry rakshas limb from limb the corpses tear!
Through this scene of death and carnage was the ancient monarch led,
Kuru dames with faltering footsteps stepped amidst the countless dead,
And a piercing wail of anguish burst upon the echoing plain,
As they saw their sons or fathers, brothers, lords, amidst the slain,
As they saw wolves of the jungle feed upon the destined prey,
Darksome wanderers of the midnight prowling in the light of day!
Shriek of pain and wail of anguish o’er the ghastly field resound,
And their feeble footsteps falter and they sink upon the ground,
Sense and life desert the mourners as they faint in common grief,
Death-like swoon succeeding sorrow yields the sufferers short relief!
Then a mighty sigh of anguish from Gandhari’s bosom broke,
Gazing on her anguished daughters unto Krishna thus she spoke:
“Mark my unconsoled daughters, widowed queens of Kuru’s house,
Wailing for their dear departed, like the osprey for her spouse!
How each cold and fading feature wakes in them a woman’s love,
How amidst the lifeless warriors still with restless steps they rove,
Mothers hug their slaughtered children all unconscious in their sleep,
Widows bend upon their husbands and in ceaseless sorrow weep!
Mighty Bhishma, hath he fallen? quenched is archer Karna’s pride?
Drupad monarch of Panchala sleeps by foeman Drona’s side?
Shining mail and costly jewels, royal bangles strew the plain,
Golden garlands rich and burnished deck the chiefs untimely slain,
Lances hurled by stalwart fighters, clubs of mighty wrestlers killed,
Swords and bows of ample measure, quivers still with arrows filled!
Mark the unforgotten heroes, jungle prowlers ‘mid them stray,
On their brow and mailed bosoms heedless perch the birds of prey!
Mark the great unconquered heroes famed on earth from west to east,
Kankas perch upon their foreheads, hungry wolves upon them feast!
Mark the kings, on softest cushion scarce the needed rest they found,
How they lie in peaceful slumber on the hard and reddened ground!
Mark the youths who morn and evening listed to the minstrel’s song,
In their ear the loathsome jackal doth his doleful wail prolong!
Mark the chieftains with their maces and the swords of trusty steel,
Still they grasp their well tried weapons,—do they still the life-pulse feel?”
Romesh Chunder Dutt -(1848–1909)