This poem is based on Sita, the heroine of The Ramayana (one of the two great Indian epics) who followed her husband Rama, the prince of Ayodhya, in his 14-year exile to the forest. There Sita was kidnapped by Ravana, the demon-king of Lanka. Sita was forced to undergo agnipariksha, or fire-test, to prove her chastity before Rama when he refused to accept her back after she returned.
Should I laugh or should I cry?
Shocked to find only disgust
When I looked into his blue lotus eyes
Where love had reigned once
How? Why? I knew not what to say
When he ordered, “Light the pyre”
And I looked at the averted eyes
My fury flamed with the fire
“Why the war? Why the pain?
Why save my life in vain?”
He replied without a falter,
“My honor had been stained.
I laughed then, low and harsh
Though dead, Ravana had been right;
Rama never cared for me, or anyone else
For his honor did he fight —
“So now you doubt my worth?” said I,
So low that only he could hear.
All the pain I suffered was for naught
And I asked, “Are you yourself pure?”
Oh, would that he had screamed!
Torn me apart in monstrous rage
Anything but those frozen eyes
Yet not a word was said
Shards of broken belief tore through me
And pain fueled the raging fire
I mocked a smile through my tears
And stepped onto the pyre.
But my tears scalded the flames
I was born once again
Yet not whole, untouched
My blind love for God was dead
I see you, King, now lifeless
And I say, “Please forgive me.
Your words ring now, so true!
He never did come to love me.”
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