Scene I

A room in the palace at Cowsambie.

Alurca, Vasuntha.

He’ll rule Cowsambie in the end, I think.

Artist, be an observer too. His eyes
Pursue young Vuthsa like a hunted prey
And seem to measure possibility,
But not for rule or for Cowsambie care.
To reign’s his nature, not his will.

This man
Is like some high rock that was suddenly
Transformed into a thinking creature.

His charm for Vuthsa who is soft as spring,
Fair like a hunted moon in cloud-swept skies,
Luxurious like a jasmine in its leaves.

When will this Vuthsa grow to man? Hard-brained
Roomunwath, deep Yougundharayan rule;
The State, its arms are theirs. This boy between
Like a girl’s cherished puppet stroked and dandled,
Chid not prescribed the postures it must keep,
Moves like a rhythmic picture of delight
And with his sunny smile he does it all.
Now in our little kingdom with its law
Of beauty and music this high silence comes
And seizes on him. All our acts he rules
And Vuthsa has desired one master more.

There is a wanton in this royal heart
Who gives herself to all and all are hers.
Perhaps that too is wisdom. For, Alurca,
This world is other than our standards are
And it obeys a vaster thought than ours,
Our narrow thoughts! The fathomless desire
Of some huge spirit is its secret law.
It keeps its own tremendous forces penned
And bears us where it wills, not where we would.
Even his petty world man cannot rule.
We fear, we blame; life wantons her own way,
A little ashamed, but obstinate still, because
We check but cannot her. O, Vuthsa’s wise!
Because he seeks each thing in its own way,
He enjoys. And wherefore are we at all
If not to enjoy and with some costliness
Get dear things done, till rude death interferes,
God’s valet moves away these living dolls
To quite another room and better play, –
Perhaps a better!

Yet consider this.
Look back upon the endless godlike line.
Think of Parikshit, Janmejoya, think
Of Sathaneke, then on our Vuthsa gaze.
Glacier and rock and all Himaloy piled!
What eagle peaks! Now this soft valley blooms;
The cuckoo cries from branches of delight,
The bee sails murmuring its low- winged desires.

It was to amuse himself God made the world,
For He was dull alone! Therefore all things
Vary to keep the secret witness pleased.
How Nature knows and does her office well!
What poignant opposition she combines!
Death fosters life that life may suckle death.
Her certainties are snares, her dreams prevail.
What little seeds she grows into huge fates,
Proves with a smile her great things to be small!
All things here secretly are right; all’s wrong
In God’s appearances. World, thou art wisely led
In a divine confusion.

The Minister
Watches this man so closely, he must think
There is some dangerous purpose in his mind.

He is the wariest of all minister
And would suspect two pigeons on a roof
Of plots because they coo.

All’s possible.

Vuthsa enters with Gopalaca.

Yes, I would love to see the ocean’s vasts.
Are they as grand as are the mountains dumb
Where I was born and grew? Or is its voice
Like the huge murmur of our forests swayed
In the immense embrace of giant winds?
We have that in Cowsambie.

Wilt thou show
Them to me, Vindhya’s crags, where forests dimly
Climb down towards my Avunthie?

We will go
And hunt together the swift fleeing game
Or with our shafts unking the beast of prey.

If we could range alone wide solitudes,
Not soil them with our din, not with our tread
Disturb great Nature in her animal trance,
Her life of mighty instincts where no stir
Of the hedged restless mind has spoiled her vasts.

It is a thing I have dreamed of. Alurca, tell
The minister that we go to hunt the deer
In Vindhya’s forests on Avunthie’s verge.
That’s if my will’s allowed.
Alurca goes out to the outer palace.

He will, Vuthsa,
Allow thy will. Where does it lead thee, king?

A scourge for thee or a close gag might help.

A bandage for my eyes would serve as well.

Shall we awaken in Alurca’s hands
The living voices of the harp? Or will’st thou
That I should play the heaven-taught airs thou lov’st
On the Gundharva’s magical guitar
Which lures even woodland beasts? For the elephant
Comes trumpeting to the enchanted sound,
A coloured blaze of beauty on the sward
The peacocks dance and the snake’s brilliant hood
Lifts rhythmed yearning from the emerald herb.

Vuthsa Udayan, suffer me awhile
To walk alone, for I am full of thoughts.

Thou shouldst not be. Cannot my love atone
For lost Avunthie?

Always; but a voice
Comes to me often from the haunts of old.

Returns no dim cloud-messenger to whisper
To thy great father’s longing waiting heart
Far from his banished son?

Thy satire’s forced.

Thy earnest less?

One hour, a long pale loss,
I sacrifice to thy thoughts. When it has dragged past,
Where shall I find thee?

Where the flowers rain
Beneath the red boughs on the river’s bank.
There will I walk while thou hearst harp or verse.

Without thee neither harp nor verse can charm.

Gopalaca goes.

The harmony of kindred souls that seek
Each other on the strings of body and mind,
Is all the music for which life was born.
Vasuntha, let me hear thy happy crackling,
Thou fire of thorns that leapest all the day!
Spring, call thy cuckoo.

I give enough I think for all the world.

It is your trade to occupy the world.
Men have made kings that folly might have food,
For the court gossips over them while they live
And the world gossips over them when they are dead.
That they call history. But our man returns.

Do here and in all things, says the minister,
Thy pleasure. But since upon a dangerous verge
This hunt will tread, thy cohorts armed shall keep
The hilly intervals, himself be close
To guard with vigilance his monarch’s life
Against the wild beasts and what else means harm.

That is his care; what he shall do, is good.

To lavish upon all men love and trust
Shows the heart’s royalty, not the brain’s craft.

I have found my elder brother. Grudge me not,
Alurca, that delight. Thou lov’st me well?

Is it now questioned?

Then rejoice with me
That I have found my brother, joy in my joy,
Love with my love, think with my thoughts; the rest
Leave to much older wiser men whose schemings
Have made God’s world an office and a mart.
We who are young, let us indulge our hearts.

Thou takest all hearts and givest thine to none,
Udayan. Yet is this prince Gopalaca,
This breed from Titans and from Mahasegn,
Hard, stern, reserved. Does he repay thy friendship
As we do?

Love itself is sweet enough
Though unreturned; and there are silent hearts.

Suffer this flower to climb its wayside rock.
Oppose not Nature’s cunning who will not
Be easily refused her artist joys.
Fierce deserts round the green oasis yearn
And the chill lake desires the lily’s pomp.

He is the rock, I am the flower. What part
Playest thou in the woodland?

A thorn beneath rose
That from the heavens of desire was born
And men call Vuthsa.

Poet, satirist, sage,
What other gifts keepst thou concealed within
More than the many that thy outsides show?

I squander all and keep none, not like thee
Who trad’st in honey to deceive the world.

O, earth is honey; let me taste her all.
Our rapture here is short before we go
To other sweetness on some rarer height
Of the upclimbing tiers that are the world.