Mumal and Mendra.

A Legend of Scinde. 1

Read it again, and tell me, who was she ?’1
Well, wines are best to drink where they are grown,2
And tales to tell where they are old and known ;3
But Mumal was a fair false sorceress,4
Whose wiles brought half the East to nakedness,5
Whom Mendra and the king set out to see.6
Before her house what seemed a river ran,7
And here they met a crazy beggar man8
Who said “ Ye soon shall be forlorn like me.”9
The king turned back, the river ran too high :10
Mendra went forward, and he found it dry.11
He passed the roaring lions, made of stone,12
The seven couches, where her shadows lie,13
Who stretched to clasp him as he hurried by,14
And found the couch where Mumal sat alone,15
Too idle to do anything but love.16
So he went back and made his boast thereof,17
Nor showed her to the envious king, save he18
Would serve them at their feast on bended knee :19
Who paid the scorn with bonds, yet nightly freed20
In the dear prison of her arms he slept21
Till once he found not whom her sister kept.’22
And lost his faith, but not his love ; now read :’23
In the seven-gated hold24
Mendra sits, bound sevenfold25
With the meshes of fine gold ;26
There they cast him to grow old.27
And the hold hath seven eyes,28
Where the king hath set his spies,29
Set to spin the captive’s sighs30
To a deadlier web of lies.31
There when night is at the noon32
Mendra wails beneath the moon.33
Cf. ‘Tuhfatu-l Kiram’ in Sir H. Elliott’s History of India, vol. i., pp. 345—347,
and Captain Burton’s Sindh, pp. 114—125.
Where did she go when I could not follow ?34
Where is she gone whom I held so dear ?35
She is false and fair, and her heart is hollow ;36
I called her name and she did not hear.37
If she had loved me she would have heard,38
Though my voice were only the voice of a bird,39
Singing far away as the flight of a swallow,40
She would have heard me, called me to follow ;41
If she had loved me she would have heard.42
Faster than any swallow can fly,43
I came to her under the cloudy sky,44
With neither moon nor stars above,45
And never a guiding light but Love,46
And the fleetest steed that would follow my track47
Panting after me under the spur,48
Should journey three days ere he turned back,49
But I journeyed in three hours to her ;50
And all my magic was only Love.51
She taught me Love’s magic, I know it yet,52
She taught me, and how could she forget ?53
She could have heard me, I know, far away,54
If she could not hear she had only to stay,55
To stay for her love where the roses blow,56
If she loved me, what ailed her to go ?’57
In the garden at Mayapûr,58
Where the magic lions of Mumal roar,59
Sitting alone on the magic bed,60
Mumal also made moan, and said :61
Seven weeks, and day by day,62
I make the fountain of gladness play ;63
Seven weeks, and night by night,64
I burn in my bower the lovers’ light ;65
Seven weeks, and I always wear66
The lovers’ flower in my scented hair ;67
Seven weeks, and I watch and pray,68
Saying, “ Surely he comes to-day ;”69
Seven weeks and he is away.70
Is Mendra dead that he comes no more71
To the garden of love at Mayapûr ?72
If he lives, he can come if he will,73
Yet I know while he lives he loves me still.’74
Over against the prison tower,75
Mumal hath spoken the word of power.76
In heaven the Lord of lovers heard,77
Before she spake it the mighty word,78
And none of the seventy-seven spies79
Beheld her palace of love arise :80
But Mendra saw it with hungry eyes,81
And he marvelled what Mumal came to do,82
And he said, ‘ The false is seeking the true ;’83
And he waited a space while the palace grew84
’Twixt the prison bars and the boundless blue.85
When the palace builders went away,86
Mumal stood at the window the livelong day.87
Mendra looks forth every morn88
To greet his love with a smile of scorn.89
Mendra looks forth every eve90
To see if his love still waits to grieve ;91
From morning to eve his curtains fall,92
Lest his beloved, who loves him well,93
Should see but his shadow upon the wall,94
And all day the loveless laugh in hell,95
To think that one night’s fickleness96
Should have put her delight so far away,97
That she might not find it in many years ;98
Though she never had loved her love the less99
For the night that her sister made her stay100
But every morn and every even101
Tears are shed in the lovers’ heaven,102
And the tears of heaven are healing tears.103
Over against the tower again104
Mumal hath builded a palace of pain ;105
She watched there as she watched before106
To lure Mendra home unto Mayapûr ;107
And Mendra also will never miss108
The exquisite pain, the shuddering bliss,109
To sit in his chains, and to know what a queen110
Is pining to see him, and he unseen.111
About the seven-gated hold112
She builded her palaces seven fold ;113
Seven moons she watched in each114
To see her love and to hear his speech ;115
Moonlit scenery of a river flanked by trees. Large deciduous trees line the banks; there are several interspersed palm trees on the left bank and in the distance. Shrubs and marshy grasses stand in the foreground in and around the water. The top of a building is visible in the background. The full moon is high in the sky and obscured partially by clouds. Full-page illustration contained within a single-ruled border at the top and sides. The top of the frame is rounded and the bottom is rectangular.
All her reward was, morn by morn,116
To know that he watched how she brooked his scorn ;117
All her rest was to know at eve118
He had known she was there to love and grieve ;119
While he did not forget, though he did not forgive,120
He loved her enough to help her to live.121
But when six times seven moons were past,122
And she entered the fairest palace and last ;123
She panted greatly in hope and fear,124
Saying, ‘ I have done and the end is near ;125
Will Love accept of me even yet ?126
I have been patient and sorely tried,127
There is only one night for Love to forget,128
Only one little stain for Love to hide,129
When he wraps me up into the light at his side.130
O Love, accept of me even yet,131
For the tears wherein I am purified.’132
And the Lord of death who is Lord of love,133
Who is over and under the souls of all,134
Considered her voice when he heard her call :135
And he strengthened her out of his house above.136
And she walked to the window with steady pace,137
And she looked her last with a quiet face.138
She looked forth into the dewy dawn,139
And already the curtains of black were drawn ;140
She looked again through the noon-day skies,141
And the sable curtains did not rise ;142
She watched till she saw golden moon,143
And the curtains were drawn as at morn and noon,144
O love, there is nothing to see,’ she said,145
O love you will have me cover my head ;146
If love hideth himself what is left to see,147
Though I hide myself love shall discover me,148
Love shall behold me, and only he,149
O love, there is nothing to do,’ she said,150
And she bowed to her love, and she was dead.151
And because of the love that had made them one,152
Binding their souls in a band for ever,153
That either might tangle, but never sever,154
He understood that her watch was done,155
That she had forgotten that love was pain,156
In the land of the Lord who makes all things plain,157
And he said, ‘ She is gone where I must follow,158
She will guide me now, for she holds me dear,159
To the land beyond the flight of the swallow,160
To the far-off land that is always near.’161
Now the spies had said, ‘ O king, we see162
No sin in Mendra concerning thee ;’163
So the king commanded to set him free.164
But ere they came to his release, 165
He also had entered into peace.166
Long ago, and long ago,167
Mumal and Mendra ceased from woe,168
In the land where seven rivers flow,169
Yet they, whose hearts are molten in one,170
By the fire that burns beyond the sun,171
Thank the Lord of lovers unto this day172
For Mumal’s and Mendra’s love, and pray173
To the Lord, who healed the pain and strife,174
They had while they sought to the Lord of life,175
Crying out, with short ecstatic breath,176
To the Lord of love, who is Lord of death,177
Laughing at life which is hard and hollow,178
Till out of the prison of hope and fear179
The fluttering spirit is free to follow180
To the far-off land that is always near.181