(1500 BC? / Kalpi, Jalaun, Uttar Pradesh / India)

Mahabharata, Book V - Forst Life

In the dark and pathless forest long the Pandav brothers strayed,
In the bosom of the jungle with the fair Draupadi stayed,

And they killed the forest red-deer, hewed the gnarléd forest wood,
From the stream she fetched the water, cooked the humble daily food,

In the mom she swept the cottage, lit the cheerful fire at eve,
But at night in lonesome silence oft her woman's heart would grieve,

Insults rankled in her bosom and her tresses were unbound,-
So she vowed,-till fitting vengeance had the base insulters found!

Oft when evening's shades descended, mantling o'er the wood and lea,
Men Draupadi by the cottage cooked the food beneath the tree,

Rishis came to good Yudhishthir, sat beside his evening fires,
Many olden tales recited, legends of our ancient sires.

Markandeya, holy rishi, once unto Yudhishthir came,
When his heart was sorrow-laden with the memories of his shame,

'Pardon, father! ' said Yudhishthir, 'if unbidden tears win start,
But the woes of fair Draupadi grieve a banished husband's heart,

By her tears the saintly woman broke my bondage worse than death,
By my sins she suffers exile and misfortune's freezing breath!

Dost thou, sage and saintly rishi, know of wife or woman born,
By such nameless sorrow smitten, by such strange misfortune torn,

Hast thou in thy ancient legends heard of true and faithful wife,
With a stronger wif e's affection, with a sadder woman's life? '

'Listen, monarch! ' said the rishi, 'to a tale of ancient date,
How Savitri loved and suffered, how she strove and conquered Fate! '

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