The Curse of Kehama
Against a Cocoa trunk
Laderlad lay reclin’d,
And Kalyal hid her face
Upon her fathers knees.
The boatman as he saild along
With envious eye beheld them where they
For every herb & every tree
Was fresh & fragrant with the gleamy
Sweet sung the birds above.
And the cool morning gale, that now
Rolld ruffling up the stream,
Swept oer the moistened sand & raisd
He did not marvel that they lingered
Amid their tale of love.
But now the Sun hath climbd the heights
The little songsters of the sky
Sit silent in the sultry hour.
They pant & palpitate with pain
Their bills are open languidly
To catch the passing air,
They hear it not, they feel it not,
It murmurs not, it moves not.
The boatman as he saild along
Admires what men so mad to linger
For yonder Cocoas shade behind them falls
A single speck upon the burning sand.
There all the morning hours Laderlad
Silent & motionless.
There motionless upon her fathers
The silent maid reclind.
The man was still, pondering in steady
As tho it were anothers curse
His own mysterious doom,
As tho it were last-nights tale
Of wonderment by some old storyer
Sitting at moonlight by the cottage
All seem’d a dream at length.
A monstrous dream of things that could
That throb of forehead .. was it not full
And he was lying there
All bare to the broad sun!
What if he felt no wind?
Why all the winds were hushd.
There came no rustling from yon field of
The shadow of the Cocoas lightest
Was steady on the sand.
He rose, he ran impatient to the
He stopt to break the visionary
He plunged his head amid the stream.
Kalyal with fearful eye observed his
She saw the start & shudder.
She heard the half-uttered groan.
For the Water knew Kehamas curse
The Water shrunk before him.
His dry hand moved unmoistened thro
As easily might that dry hand
Have clenchd the winds of heaven!
‘He is almighty then!’
The desperate wretch exclaimd,
‘Air knows him, Water knows him. Sleep
‘Will do his dreadful will,
‘And Veeshnoo has no power to save
‘Nor Seeva to destroy!’
‘Oh wrong not them!’ quoth Kalyal. art
‘A man opprest? & lighter crimes than
Have drawn the Incarnate down.
‘Already in their mercy have the Gods
‘Beheld us,’ – & she claspd her
Round Mariatales image .. ‘it was
‘Twas my own Goddess saved me!
‘Here – here – my father,’ she
‘Raise the preserving Power.
‘The mighty of the earth despise her
‘She loves the poor who serve her. lift
‘For jealously would she resent
‘Neglect & thanklessness.
So saying on here knees the Maid
Began the pious toil.
Soon their joint hands have hollowed the
They raise the Image up
And heap the sand around its rooted
‘My Goddess!’ then quoth Kalyal, ‘pardon
‘The unwilling wrong that I no more
‘Can do, thy daily sacrifice
‘From childhood up so willingly
‘O Mariatale! from that happy home
‘The Almighty Man hath forced us! –’
And her involuntary eye,
Went homeward with the thought.
That way aloft, all bright in the blue
The summits of the Golden Towers were
‘Father away!’ she cried – ‘away
‘Why linger we so near?
‘For not to him hath Nature given
‘The thousand eyes of Deity
‘Always & every where with open
‘To watch our steps! – away –’
She took Laderlads hand, & like a
He followed where she led.
So till evening hand in hand
The wanderers went their way
Then overwearied with their wretched
By a wood-side they paused.
And there beneath oerarching boughs
On Kalyals lap Laderlad laid his head
And never word spake he.
Nor heaved he one complaining sigh,
Nor groand he with his misery.
But silently for her dear sake
He lay in patient pain.
The night comes on – dark night –
There is no moon above
And yonder clouds that float along the
Bedim the feeble stars.
She could not see her fathers cheek
How dark with fever fire,
She could not see his eye
How red with burning agony.
And he lies on still & quietly –
So quietly – so still.
Is then the throbbing brain at rest.
And hath the pang abated?
Now forward from the tree
She bends her head & leans
And listens to his breath.
Laderlads breath was short &
Yet regular it came
In equal pantings, like a sick mans
Oh! if he sleeps! – her lips unclose
All eager listening to the sound,
The equal sound so like repose:
And he lies still so quietly
Nor sigh – nor groan, nor motion.
Then is there in Kehama’s heart
One human feeling yet?
Hath the Almighty Man relaxed his
Or Mariatales power divine
Assuaged the agony?
That was a hope that filled her gushing
And made her heart in silent thank &
Yearn to the Goddess. then against the
Her weary head she laid,
Still listening fearfully her fathers
That still came regular like sleep.
She listened long, till the long
Exhausted Nature. Nature to her toil
Yielding at length obeyed the imperious
And Kalyal sunk to rest.
Alas He did not sleep!
The curse was burning in his brain
Sleep knew Kehamas curse.
The dews of night fell fast,
They never bathed Laderlads brow,
They fell not upon him,
They knew Kehamas curse.
The night-breeze is abroad.
Aloft it moves among the stirring
He only hears the wind,
It never fannd his cheek
It knew Kehamas curse.
He lay & listened if his daughter
For wherefore should that dear one see
His hopeless misery? why should he
Better alone to suffer. – from her
Gently he lifts his head –
She moves not – gently & with fearful
Laderlad rises, – then she starts – she
Her father gone – she calls –
No voice replied. she heard
His footstep fast in flight. 
x x x x x x x
The rest of the book this week. You would
have had this long ago but for causes with which you are
already acquainted. I have been harrassed with
Reviewing.  & last week was
obliged to go some way from home to pay a visit which had
been somewhat discourteously from time to time delayed. I
have still the remainder of this week to drudge – & then
shall have cleared off this lumber. three weeks more work at
Amadis  after that, & then – thank God – a
little breathing time – for I am worried.
I forgot to thank Nicol  for offering to lend me the prints –
but the risque is too great. & moreover I meditate a
journey to London for a few days in April & then can see
them. At Bownham  last week I fell in with Craufords
Sketches of the Hindoos  &
gutted them. so you need not hunt for me there. Holwells
book  would be new
ground to beat. with my first leisure I shall look well over
your Ovid.  indeed I
have had no time – I have worked like a post horse.
It vexes me to think of Brixton –
God bless you Grosvenor!
March 9. 1803.