History of Literature








 

THE RAMAYAN OF VALMIKI

 

Translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith, M.A.


Illustrations by Raja Ravi Varma



 
 




THE RAMAYAN OF VALMIKI


 

Translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith, M.A.

1870-1874


Illustrations by Raja Ravi Varma

 

 
 


 

 
 


BOOK V.


Canto I. Hanumán's Leap.
Canto II. Lanká.
Canto III. The Guardian Goddess.
Canto IV. Within The City.
Canto VI. The Court.
Canto VII. Rávan's Palace.
Canto VIII. The Enchanted Car.
Canto IX. The Ladies' Bower.
Canto X. Rávan Asleep.
Canto XI. The Banquet Hall.
Canto XII. The Search Renewed.
Canto XIII. Despair And Hope.
Canto XIV. The Asoka Grove.
Canto XV. Sítá.
Canto XVI. Hanumán's Lament.
Canto XVII. Sítá's Guard.
Canto XVIII. Rávan.
Canto XIX. Sítá's Fear.
Canto XX. Rávan's Wooing.
Canto XXI. Sítá's Scorn.
Canto XXII. Rávan's Threat.
Canto XXIII. The Demons' Threats.
Canto XXIV. Sítá's Reply.
Canto XXV. Sítá's Lament.
Canto XXVI. Sítá's Lament.
Canto XXVII. Trijatá's Dream.
Canto XXX. Hanumán's Deliberation.
Canto XXXI. Hanumán's Speech.
Canto XXXII. Sítá's Doubt.
Canto XXXIII. The Colloquy.
Canto XXXIV. Hanumán's Speech.
Canto XXXV. Hanumán's Speech.
Canto XXXVI. Ráma's Ring.
Canto XXXVII. Sítá's Speech.
Canto XXXVIII. Sítá's Gem.
Canto XLI. The Ruin Of The Grove.
Canto XLII. The Giants Roused.
Canto XLIII. The Ruin Of The Temple.
Canto XLIV. Jambumáli's Death.
Canto XLV. The Seven Defeated.
Canto XLVI. The Captains.
Canto XLVII. The Death Of Aksha.
Canto XLVIII. Hanumán Captured.
Canto XLIX. Rávan.
Canto L. Prahasta's Questions.
Canto LI. Hanumán's Reply.
Canto LII. Vibhishan's Speech.
Canto LIII. The Punishment.
Canto LIV. The Burning Of Lanká.
Canto LV. Fear For Sítá.
Canto LVI. Mount Arishta.
Canto LVII. Hanumán's Return.
Canto LVIII. The Feast Of Honey.
Canto LXV. The Tidings.
Canto LXVI. Ráma's Speech.

 

 
 


 

 
 




BOOK V.


Canto I. Hanumán's Leap.
Thus Rávaṇ's foe resolved to trace
The captive to her hiding-place
Through airy pathways overhead
Which heavenly minstrels visited.
With straining nerve and eager brows,
Like some strong husband of the cows,
In ready might he stood prepared
For the bold task his soul has dared.
O'er gem-like grass that flashed and glowed
The Vánar like a lion strode.
Roused by the thunder of his tread,
The beasts to shady coverts fled.
Tall trees he crushed or hurled aside,
And every bird was terrified.
Around him loveliest lilies grew,
Pale pink, and red, and white, and blue,
And tints of many a metal lent
The light of varied ornament.
Gandharvas, changing forms at will,
And Yakshas roamed the lovely hill,
And countless Serpent-Gods were seen
Where flowers and grass were fresh and green.
As some resplendent serpent takes
His pastime in the best of lakes,
So on the mountain's woody height
The Vánar wandered with delight.
Then, standing on the flowery sod,
He paid his vows to saint and God.
Svayambhu788 and the Sun he prayed,
And the swift Wind to lend him aid,
And Indra, sovereign of the skies,
To bless his hardy enterprise.
Then once again the chief addressed
The Vánars from the mountain crest:
“Swift as a shaft from Ráma's bow
To Rávaṇ's city will I go,
And if she be not there will fly
And seek the lady in the sky;
Or, if in heaven she be not found,
Will hither bring the giant bound.”
He ceased; and mustering his might
Sprang downward from the mountain height,
While, shattered by each mighty limb,
The trees unrooted followed him.
The shadow on the ocean cast
By his vast form, as on he passed,
Flew like a ship before the gale
When the strong breeze has filled the sail,
And where his course the Vánar held
The sea beneath him raged and swelled.
Then Gods and all the heavenly train
Poured flowerets down in gentle rain;
Their voices glad Gandharvas raised,
And saints in heaven the Vánar praised.
Fain would the Sea his succour lend
And Raghu's noble son befriend.
He, moved by zeal for Ráma's sake,
The hill Maináka789 thus bespake:
“O strong Maináka, heaven's decree
In days of old appointed thee
To be the Asurs bar, and keep
The rebels in the lowest deep.
Thou guardest those whom heaven has cursed
Lest from their prison-house they burst,
And standest by the gates of hell
Their limitary sentinel.
To thee is given the power to spread
Or spring above thy watery bed.
Now, best of noble mountains, rise
And do the thing that I advise.
E'en now above thy buried crest
Flies mighty Hanumán, the best
Of Vánars, moved for Ráma's sake
A wonderous deed to undertake.
Lift up thy head that he may stay
And rest him on his weary way.”
He heard, and from his watery shroud,
As bursts the sun from autumn cloud,
Rose swifty, crowned with plant and tree,
And stood above the foamy sea.790
There with his lofty peaks upraised
Bright as a hundred suns he blazed,
And crest and crag of burnished gold
Flashed on the flood that round him rolled.
[pg 395]
The Vánar thought the mountain rose
A hostile bar to interpose,
And, like a wind-swept cloud, o'erthrew
The glittering mountain as he flew.
Then from the falling hill rang out
A warning voice and joyful shout.
Again he raised him high in air
To meet the flying Vánar there,
And standing on his topmost peak
In human form began to speak:791
“Best of the Vánars' noblest line,
A mighty task, O chief, is thine.
Here for a while, I pray thee, light
And rest upon the breezy height.
A prince of Raghu's line was he
Who gave his glory to the Sea,792
Who now to Ráma's envoy shows
High honour for the debt he owes.
He bade me lift my buried head
Uprising from my watery bed,
And woo the Vánar chief to rest
A moment on my glittering crest.
Refresh thy weary limbs, and eat
My mountain fruits for they are sweet.
I too, O chieftain, know thee well;
Three worlds thy famous virtues tell;
And none, I ween, with thee may vie
Who spring impetuous through the sky.
To every guest, though mean and low.
The wise respect and honour show;
And how shall I neglect thee, how
Slight the great guest so near me now?
Son of the Wind, 'tis thine to share
The might of him who shakes the air;
And,—for he loves his offspring,—he
Is honoured when I honour thee.
Of yore, when Krita's age793 was new,
The little hills and mountains flew
Where'er they listed, borne on wings
More rapid than the feathered king's.794
But mighty terror came on all
The Gods and saints who feared their fall.
And Indra in his anger rent
Their pinions with the bolts he sent.
When in his ruthless fury he
Levelled his flashing bolt at me,
The great-souled Wind inclined to save,
And laid me neath the ocean's wave.
Thus by the favour of the sire
I kept my cherished wings entire;
And for this deed of kindness done
I honour thee his noble son.
O come, thy weary limbs relieve,
And honour due from me receive.”
“I may not rest,” the Vánar cried;
“I must not stay or turn aside.
Yet pleased am I, thou noblest hill,
And as the deed accept thy will.”
Thus as he spoke he lightly pressed
With his broad hand the mountain's crest,
Then bounded upward to the height
Of heaven, rejoicing in his might,
And through the fields of boundless blue,
The pathway of his father, flew.
Gods, saints, and heavenly bards beheld
That flight that none had paralleled,
Then to the Nágas' mother795 came
And thus addressed the sun-bright dame:
“See, Hanumán with venturous leap
Would spring across the mighty deep,—
A Vánar prince, the Wind-God's seed:
Come, Surasá, his course impede.
In Rákshas form thy shape disguise,
Terrific, like a hill in size:
Let thy red eyes with fury glow,
And high as heaven thy body grow.
With fearful tusks the chief defy,
That we his power and strength may try.
He will with guile thy hold elude,
Or own thy might, by thee subdued.”
Pleased with the grateful honours paid,
The godlike dame their words obeyed,
Clad in a shape of terror she
Sprang from the middle of the sea,
And, with fierce accents that appalled
All creatures, to the Vánar called:
“Come, prince of Vánars, doomed to be
My food this day by heaven's decree.
Such boon from ages long ago
To Brahmá's favouring will I owe.”
She ceased, and Hanumán replied,
By shape and threat unterrified:
“Brave Ráma with his Maithil spouse
Lodged in the shade of Daṇḍak's boughs,
Thence Rávan king of giants stole
Sítá the joy of Ráma's soul.
[pg 396]
By Ráma's high behest to her
I go a willing messenger;
And never shouldst them hinder one
Who toils for Daśaratha's son.
First captive Sítá will I see,
And him who sent and waits for me,
Then come and to thy will submit,
Yea, by my truth I promise it.”
“Nay, hope not thus thy life to save;
Not such the boon that Brahmá gave.
Enter my mouth,” was her reply,
“Then forward on thy journey hie!”796
“Stretch, wider stretch thy jaws,” exclaimed
The Vánar chief, to ire inflamed;
And, as the Rákshas near him drew,
Ten leagues in height his stature grew.
Then straight, her threatening jaws between,
A gulf of twenty leagues was seen.
To fifty leagues he waxed, and still
Her mouth grew wider at her will.
Then smaller than a thumb became,
Shrunk by his power, the Vánar's frame.797
He leaped within, and turning round
Sprang through the portal at a bound.
Then hung in air a moment, while
He thus addressed her with a smile:
“O Daksha's child,798 farewell at last!
For I within thy mouth have passed.
Thou hast the gift of Brahmá's grace:
I go, the Maithil queen to trace.”
Then, to her former shape restored,
She thus addressed the Vánar lord:
“Then forward to the task, and may
Success and joy attend thy way!
Go, and the rescued lady bring
In triumph to her lord and king.”
Then hosts of spirits as they gazed
The daring of the Vánar praised.
Through the broad fields of ether, fast
Garuḍ's royal self, he passed,
The region of the cloud and rain,
Loved by the gay Gandharva train,
Where mid the birds that came and went
Shone Indra's glorious bow unbent,
And like a host of wandering stars
Flashed the high Gods' celestial cars.
Fierce Sinhiká799 who joyed in ill
And changed her form to work her will,
Descried him on his airy way
And marked the Vánar for her prey.
“This day at length,” the demon cried,
“My hunger shall be satisfied,”
And at his passing shadow caught
Delighted with the cheering thought.
The Vánar felt the power that stayed
And held him as she grasped his shade,
Like some tall ship upon the main
That struggles with the wind in vain.
Below, above, his eye he bent
And scanned the sea and firmament.
High from the briny deep upreared
The monster's hideous form appeared,
“Sugríva's tale,” he cried, “is true:
This is the demon dire to view
Of whom the Vánar monarch told,
Whose grasp a passing shade can hold.”
Then, as a cloud in rain-time grows
His form, dilating, swelled and rose.
Wide as the space from heaven to hell
Her jaws she opened with a yell,
And rushed upon her fancied prey
With cloud-like roar to seize and slay.
The Vánar swift as thought compressed
His borrowed bulk of limb and chest,
And stood with one quick bound inside
The monstrous mouth she opened wide.
Hid like the moon when Ráhu draws
The orb within his ravening jaws.
Within that ample cavern pent
The demon's form he tore and rent,
And, from the mangled carcass freed,
Came forth again with thought-like speed.800
[pg 397]
Thus with his skill the fiend he slew,
Then to his wonted stature grew.
The spirits saw the demon die
And hailed the Vánar from the sky:
“Well hast thou fought a wondrous fight
Nor spared the fiend's terrific might,
On, on! perform the blameless deed,
And in thine every wish succeed.
Ne'er can they fail in whom combine
Such valour, thought, and skill as thine.”
Pleased with their praises as they sang,
Again through fields of air he sprang,
And now, his travail wellnigh done,
The distant shore was almost won.
Before him on the margent stood
In long dark line a waving wood,
And the fair island, bright and green
With flowers and trees, was clearly seen,
And every babbling brook that gave
Her lord the sea a tribute wave.
He lighted down on Lamba's peak
Which tinted metals stain and streak,
And looked where Lanká's splendid town
Shone on the mountain like a crown.
Canto II. Lanká.
The glorious sight a while he viewed,
Then to the town his way pursued.
Around the Vánar as he went
Breathed from the wood delicious scent,
And the soft grass beneath his feet
With gem-like flowers was bright and sweet.
Still as the Vánar nearer drew
More clearly rose the town to view.
The palm her fan-like leaves displayed,
Priyálas801 lent their pleasant shade,
And mid the lower greenery far
Conspicuous rose the Kovidár.802
A thousand trees mid flowers that glowed
Hung down their fruit's delicious load,803
And in their crests that rocked and swayed
Sweet birds delightful music made.
And there were pleasant pools whereon
The glories of the lotus shone;
And gleams of sparkling fountains, stirred
By many a joyous water-bird.
Around, in lovely gardens grew
Blooms sweet of scent and bright of hue,
And Lanká, seat of Rávaṇ's sway,
Before the wondering Vánar lay:
With stately domes and turrets tall,
Encircled by a golden wall,
And moats whose waters were aglow
With lily blossoms bright below:
For Sítá's sake defended well
With bolt and bar and sentinel,
And Rákshases who roamed in bands
With ready bows in eager hands.
He saw the stately mansions rise
Like pale-hued clouds in autumn skies;
Where noble streets were broad and bright,
And banners waved on every height.
Her gates were glorious to behold
Rich with the shine of burnished gold:
A lovely city planned and decked
By heaven's creative architect,804
Fairest of earthly cities meet
To be the Gods' celestial seat.
The Vánar by the northern gate
Thus in his heart began debate
“Our mightiest host would strive in vain
To take this city on the main:
A city that may well defy
The chosen warriors of the sky;
A city never to be won
E'en by the arm of Raghu's son.
Here is no hope by guile to win
The hostile hearts of those within.
'Twere vain to war, or bribe, or sow
Dissension mid the Vánar foe.
But now my search must I pursue
Until the Maithil queen I view:
And, when I find the captive dame,
Make victory mine only aim.
But, if I wear my present shape,
How shall I enter and escape
The Rákshas troops, their guards and spies,
And sleepless watch of cruel eyes?
The fiends of giant race who hold
This mighty town are strong and bold;
And I must labour to elude
The fiercely watchful multitude.
I in a shape to mock their sight
Must steal within the town by night,
Blind with my art the demons' eyes,
And thus achieve my enterprise.
How may I see, myself unseen
Of the fierce king, the captive queen,
And meet her in some lonely place,
With none beside her, face to face?”
When the bright sun had left the skies
The Vánar dwarfed his mighty size,
[pg 398]
And, in the straitest bounds restrained,
The bigness of a cat retained.805
Then, when the moon's soft light was spread,
Within the city's walls he sped.
Canto III. The Guardian Goddess.
There from the circling rampart's height
He gazed upon the wondrous sight;
Broad gates with burnished gold displayed,
And courts with turkises inlaid;
With gleaming silver, gems, and rows
Of crystal stairs and porticoes.
In semblance of a Rákshas dame
The city's guardian Goddess came,—
For she with glances sure and keen
The entrance of a foe had seen,—
And thus with fury in her eye
Addressed him with an angry cry:
“Who art thou? what has led thee, say,
Within these walls to find thy way?
Thou mayst not enter here in spite
Of Rávaṇ and his warriors' might.”
“And who art thou?” the Vánar cried,
By form and frown unterrified,
“Why hast thou met me by the gate,
And chid me thus infuriate?”
He ceased: and Lanká made reply:
“The guardian of the town am I,
Who watch for ever to fulfil
My lord the Rákshas monarch's will.
But thou shalt fall this hour, and deep
Shall be thy never-ending sleep.”
Again he spake: “In spite of thee
This golden city will I see.
Her gates and towers, and all the pride
Of street and square from side to side,
And freely wander where I please
Amid her groves of flowering trees;
On all her beauties sate mine eye.
Then, as I came, will homeward hie.”
Swift with an angry roar she smote
With her huge hand the Vánar's throat.
The smitten Vánar, rage-impelled,
With fist upraised the monster felled:
But quick repented, stirred with shame
And pity for a vanquished dame,
When with her senses troubled, weak
With terror, thus she strove to speak:
“O spare me thou whose arm is strong:
O spare me, and forgive the wrong.
The brave that law will ne'er transgress
That spares a woman's helplessness.
Hear, best of Vánars, brave and bold,
What Brahmá's self of yore foretold;
“Beware,” he said, “the fatal hour
When thou shalt own a Vánar's power.
Then is the giants' day of fear,
For terror and defeat are near.”
Now, Vánar chief, o'ercome by thee,
I own the truth of heaven's decree.
For Sítá's sake will ruin fall
On Rávaṇ, and his town, and all.”
Canto IV. Within The City.
The guardian goddess thus subdued,
The Vánar chief his way pursued,
And reached the broad imperial street
Where fresh-blown flowers were bright and sweet.
The city seemed a fairer sky
Where cloud-like houses rose on high,
Whence the soft sound of tabors came
Through many a latticed window frame,
And ever and anon rang out
The merry laugh and joyous shout.
From house to house the Vánar went
And marked each varied ornament,
Where leaves and blossoms deftly strung
About the crystal columns hung.
Then soft and full and sweet and clear
The song of women charmed his ear,
And, blending with their dulcet tones,
Their anklets' chime and tinkling zones.
He heard the Rákshas minstrel sing
The praises of their matchless king;
And softly through the evening air
Came murmurings of text and prayer.
Here moved a priest with tonsured head,
And there an eager envoy sped,
Mid crowds with hair in matted twine
Clothed in the skins of deer and kine,—
Whose only arms, which none might blame,
Were blades of grass and holy flame806
There savage warriors roamed in bands
With clubs and maces in their hands,
Some dwarfish forms, some huge of size,
With single ears and single eyes.
Some shone in glittering mail arrayed
With bow and mace and flashing blade;
Fiends of all shapes and every hue,
Some fierce and foul, some fair to view.
[pg 399]
He saw the grisly legions wait
In strictest watch at Rávaṇ's gate,
Whose palace on the mountain crest
Rose proudly towering o'er the rest,
Fenced with high ramparts from the foe,
And lotus-covered moats below.
But Hanumán, unhindered, found
Quick passage through the guarded bound,
Mid elephants of noblest breed,
And gilded car and neighing steed.
[I omit Canto V. which corresponds to chapter XI. in Gorresio's edition. That scholar justly observes: “The eleventh chapter, Description of Evening, is certainly the work of the Rhapsodists and an interpolation of later date. The chapter might be omitted without any injury to the action of the poem, and besides the metre, style, conceits and images differ from the general tenour of the poem; and that continual repetition of the same sounds at the end of each hemistich which is not exactly rime, but assonance, reveals the artificial labour of a more recent age.” The following sample will probably be enough.

Fair shone the moon, as if to lend
His cheering light to guide a friend,
And, circled by the starry host,
Looked down upon the wild sea-coast.
The Vánar cheiftain raised his eyes,
And saw him sailing through the skies
Like a bright swan who joys to take
His pastime on a silver lake;
Fair moon that calms the mourner's pain.
Heaves up the waters of the main,
And o'er the life beneath him throws
A tender light of soft repose,
The charm that clings to Mandar's hill,
Gleams in the sea when winds are still,
And decks the lilly's opening flower,
Showed in that moon her sweetest power.
I am unable to show the difference of style in a translation.]

Canto VI. The Court.
The palace gates were guarded well
By many a Rákshas sentinel,
And far within, concealed from view,
Were dames and female retinue
For charm of form and face renowned;
Whose tinkling armlets made a sound,
Clashed by the wearers in their glee,
Like music of a distant sea.
The hall beyond the palace gate,
Rich with each badge of royal state,
Where lines of noble courtiers stood,
Showed like a lion-guarded wood.
There the wild music rose and fell
Of drum and tabor and of shell,
Through chambers at each holy tide
By solemn worship sanctified.
Through grove and garden, undismayed,
From house to house the Vánar strayed,
And still his wondering glances bent
On terrace, dome, and battlement:
Then with a light and rapid tread
Prahasta's807 home he visited,
And Kumbhakarṇa's808 courtyard where
A cloudy pile rose high in air;
And, wandering o'er the hill, explored
The garden of each Rákshas lord.
Each court and grove he wandered through,
Then nigh to Rávaṇ's palace drew.
She-demons watched it foul of face,
Each armed with sword and spear and mace,
And warrior fiends of every hue,
A strange and fearful retinue.
There elephants in many a row,
The terror of the stricken foe.
Huge Airávat,809 deftly trained
In battle-fields, stood ready chained.
Fair litters on the ground were set
Adorned with gems and golden net.
Gay bloomy creepers clothed the walls;
Green bowers were there and picture halls,
And chambers made for soft delight.
Broad banners waved on every height.
And from the roof like Mandar's hill
The peacock's cry came loud and shrill.810
Canto VII. Rávan's Palace.
He passed within the walls and gazed
On gems and gold that round him blazed,
And many a latticed window bright
With turkis and with lazulite.
[pg 400]
Through porch and ante-rooms he passed
Each richer, fairer than the last;
And spacious halls where lances lay,
And bows and shells, in fair array:
A glorious house that matched in show
All Paradise displayed below.
Upon the polished floor were spread
Fresh buds and blossoms white and red,
And women shone, a lovely crowd,
As lightning flashes through a cloud:
A palace splendid as the sky
Which moon and planets glorify:
Like earth whose towering hills unfold
Their zones and streaks of glittering gold;
Where waving on the mountain brows
The tall trees bend their laden boughs,
And every bough and tender spray
With a bright load of bloom is gay,
And every flower the breeze has bent
Fills all the region with its scent.
Near the tall palace pale of hue
Shone lovely lakes where lilies blew,
And lotuses with flower and bud
Gleamed on the bosom of the flood.
There shone with gems that flashed afar
The marvel of the Flower-named811 car,
Mid wondrous dwellings still confessed
Supreme and nobler than the rest.
Thereon with wondrous art designed
Were turkis birds of varied kind.
And many a sculptured serpent rolled
His twisted coil in burnished gold.
And steeds were there of noblest form
With flying feet as fleet as storm:
And elephants with deftest skill
Stood sculptured by a silver rill,
Each bearing on his trunk a wreath
Of lilies from the flood beneath.
There Lakshmí,812 beauty's heavenly queen,
Wrought by the artist's skill, was seen
Beside a flower-clad pool to stand
Holding a lotus in her hand.
Canto VIII. The Enchanted Car.
There gleamed the car with wealth untold
Of precious gems and burnished gold;
Nor could the Wind-God's son withdraw
His rapt gaze from the sight he saw,
By Viśvakarmá's813 self proclaimed
The noblest work his hand had framed.
Uplifted in the air it glowed
Bright as the sun's diurnal road.
The eye might scan the wondrous frame
And vainly seek one spot to blame,
So fine was every part and fair
With gems inlaid with lavish care.
No precious stones so rich adorn
The cars wherein the Gods are borne,
Prize of the all-resistless might
That sprang from pain and penance rite,814
Obedient to the master's will
It moved o'er wood and towering hill,
A glorious marvel well designed
By Viśvakarmá's artist mind,
Adorned with every fair device
That decks the cars of Paradise.
Swift moving as the master chose
It flew through air or sank or rose,815
And in its fleetness left behind
The fury of the rushing wind:
Meet mansion for the good and great,
The holy, wise, and fortunate.
Throughout the chariot's vast extent
Were chambers wide and excellent,
All pure and lovely to the eyes
As moonlight shed from cloudless skies.
Fierce goblins, rovers of the night
Who cleft the clouds with swiftest flight
In countless hosts that chariot drew,
With earrings clashing as they flew.
Canto IX. The Ladies' Bower.
Where stately mansions rose around,
A palace fairer still he found,
Whose royal height and splendour showed
Where Rávaṇ's self, the king, abode.
A chosen band with bow and sword
Guarded the palace of their lord,
Where Ráksha's dames of noble race
And many a princess fair of face
Whom Rávaṇ's arm had torn away
From vanquished kings in slumber lay.
[pg 401]
There jewelled arches high o'erhead
An ever-changing lustre shed
From ruby, pearl, and every gem
On golden pillars under them.
Delicious came the tempered air
That breathed a heavenly summer there,
Stealing through bloomy trees that bore
Each pleasant fruit in endless store.
No check was there from jealous guard,
No door was fast, no portal barred;
Only a sweet air breathed to meet
The stranger, as a host should greet
A wanderer of his kith and kin
And woo his weary steps within.
He stood within a spacious hall
With fretted roof and painted wall,
The giant Rávaṇ's boast and pride,
Loved even as a lovely bride.
'Twere long to tell each marvel there,
The crystal floor, the jewelled stair,
The gold, the silver, and the shine
Of chrysolite and almandine.
There breathed the fairest blooms of spring;
There flashed the proud swan's silver wing,
The splendour of whose feathers broke
Through fragrant wreaths of aloe smoke.
“'Tis Indra's heaven,” the Vánar cried,
Gazing in joy from side to side;
“The home of all the Gods is this,
The mansion of eternal bliss.”
There were the softest carpets spread,
Delightful to the sight and tread,
Where many a lovely woman lay
O'ercome by sleep, fatigued with play.
The wine no longer cheered the feast,
The sound of revelry had ceased.
The tinkling feet no longer stirred,
No chiming of a zone was heard.
So when each bird has sought her nest,
And swans are mute and wild bees rest,
Sleep the fair lilies on the lake
Till the sun's kiss shall bid them wake.
Like the calm field of winter's sky
Which stars unnumbered glorify,
So shone and glowed the sumptuous room
With living stars that chased the gloom.
“These are the stars,” the chieftain cried,
“In autumn nights that earth-ward glide,
In brighter forms to reappear
And shine in matchless lustre here.”
With wondering eyes a while he viewed
Each graceful form and attitude.
One lady's head was backward thrown,
Bare was her arm and loose her zone.
The garland that her brow had graced
Hung closely round another's waist.
Here gleamed two little feet all bare
Of anklets that had sparkled there,
Here lay a queenly dame at rest
In all her glorious garments dressed.
There slept another whose small hand
Had loosened every tie and band,
In careless grace another lay
With gems and jewels cast away,
Like a young creeper when the tread
Of the wild elephant has spread
Confusion and destruction round,
And cast it flowerless to the ground.
Here lay a slumberer still as death,
Save only that her balmy breath
Raised ever and anon the lace
That floated o'er her sleeping face.
There, sunk in sleep, an amorous maid
Her sweet head on a mirror laid,
Like a fair lily bending till
Her petals rest upon the rill.
Another black-eyed damsel pressed
Her lute upon her heaving breast,
As though her loving arms were twined
Round him for whom her bosom pined.
Another pretty sleeper round
A silver vase her arms had wound,
That seemed, so fresh and fair and young
A wreath of flowers that o'er it hung.
In sweet disorder lay a throng
Weary of dance and play and song,
Where heedless girls had sunk to rest
One pillowed on another's breast,
Her tender cheek half seen beneath
Bed roses of the falling wreath,
The while her long soft hair concealed
The beauties that her friend revealed.
With limbs at random interlaced
Round arm and leg and throat and waist,
That wreath of women lay asleep
Like blossoms in a careless heap.
Canto X. Rávan Asleep.
Apart a dais of crystal rose
With couches spread for soft repose,
Adorned with gold and gems of price
Meet for the halls of Paradise.
A canopy was o'er them spread
Pale as the light the moon beams shed,
And female figures,816 deftly planned,
The faces of the sleepers fanned,
There on a splendid couch, asleep
On softest skins of deer and sheep.
Dark as a cloud that dims the day
The monarch of the giants lay,
Perfumed with sandal's precious scent
And gay with golden ornament.
[pg 402]
His fiery eyes in slumber closed,
In glittering robes the king reposed
Like Mandar's mighty hill asleep
With flowery trees that clothe his steep.
Near and more near the Vánar
The monarch of the fiends to view,
And saw the giant stretched supine
Fatigued with play and drunk with wine.
While, shaking all the monstrous frame,
His breath like hissing serpents' came.
With gold and glittering bracelets gay
His mighty arms extended lay
Huge as the towering shafts that bear
The flag of Indra high in air.
Scars by Airávat's tusk impressed
Showed red upon his shaggy breast.
And on his shoulders were displayed
The dints the thunder-bolt had made.817
The spouses of the giant king
Around their lord were slumbering,
And, gay with sparkling earrings, shone
Fair as the moon to look upon.
There by her husband's side was seen
Mandodarí the favourite queen,
The beauty of whose youthful face
Beamed a soft glory through the place.
The Vánar marked the dame more fair
Than all the royal ladies there,
And thought, “These rarest beauties speak
The matchless dame I come to seek.
Peerless in grace and splendour, she
The Maithil queen must surely be.”
Canto XI. The Banquet Hall.
But soon the baseless thought was spurned
And longing hope again returned:
“No: Ráma's wife is none of these,
No careless dame that lives at ease.
Her widowed heart has ceased to care
For dress and sleep and dainty fare.
She near a lover ne'er would lie
Though Indra wooed her from the sky.
Her own, her only lord, whom none
Can match in heaven, is Raghu's son.”
Then to the banquet hall intent
On strictest search his steps he bent.
He passed within the door, and found
Fair women sleeping on the ground,
Where wearied with the song, perchance,
The merry game, the wanton dance,
Each girl with wine and sleep oppressed
Had sunk her drooping head to rest.
That spacious hall from side to side
With noblest fare was well supplied,
There quarters of the boar, and here
Roast of the buffalo and deer,
There on gold plate, untouched as yet
The peacock and the hen were set.
There deftly mixed with salt and curd
Was meat of many a beast and bird,
Of kid and porcupine and hare,
And dainties of the sea and air.
There wrought of gold, ablaze with shine
Of precious stones, were cups of wine.
Through court and bower and banquet hall
The Vánar passed and viewed them all;
From end to end, in every spot,
For Sítá searched, but found her not.
Canto XII. The Search Renewed.
Again the Vánar chief began
Each chamber, bower, and hall to scan.
In vain: he found not her he sought,
And pondered thus in bitter thought:
“Ah me the Maithil queen is slain:
She, ever true and free from stain,
The fiend's entreaty has denied,
And by his cruel hand has died.
Or has she sunk, by terror killed,
When first she saw the palace filled
With female monsters evil miened
Who wait upon the robber fiend?
No battle fought, no might displayed,
In vain this anxious search is made;
Nor shall my steps, made slow by shame,
Because I failed to find the dame,
Back to our lord the king be bent,
For he is swift to punishment.
In every bower my feet have been,
The dames of Rávaṇ have I seen;
But Ráma's spouse I seek in vain,
And all my toil is fruitless pain.
How shall I meet the Vánar band
I left upon the ocean strand?
How, when they bid me speak, proclaim
These tidings of defeat and shame?
How shall I look on Angad's eye?
What words will Jámbaván reply?
Yet dauntless hearts will never fail
To win success though foes assail,
And I this sorrow will subdue
And search the palace through and through,
Exploring with my cautious tread
Each spot as yet unvisited.”
Again he turned him to explore
Each chamber, hall, and corridor,
And arbour bright with scented bloom,
And lodge and cell and picture-room.
[pg 403]
With eager eye and noiseless feet
He passed through many a cool retreat
Where women lay in slumber drowned;
But Sítá still was nowhere found.
Canto XIII. Despair And Hope.
Then rapid as the lightning's flame
From Rávaṇ's halls the Vánar came.
Each lingering hope was cold and dead,
And thus within his heart he said:
“Alas, my fruitless search is done:
Long have I toiled for Raghu's son;
And yet with all my care have seen
No traces of the ravished queen.
It may be, while the giant through
The lone air with his captive flew,
The Maithil lady, tender-souled,
Slipped struggling from the robber's hold,
And the wild sea is rolling now
O'er Sítá of the beauteous brow.
Or did she perish of alarm
When circled by the monster's arm?
Or crushed, unable to withstand
The pressure of that monstrous hand?
Or when she spurned his suit with scorn,
Her tender limbs were rent and torn.
And she, her virtue unsubdued,
Was slaughtered for the giant's food.
Shall I to Raghu's son relate
His well-beloved consort's fate,
My crime the same if I reveal
The mournful story or conceal?
If with no happier tale to tell
I seek our mountain citadel,
How shall I face our lord the king,
And meet his angry questioning?
How shall I greet my friends, and brook
The muttered taunt, the scornful look?
How to the son of Raghu go
And kill him with my tale of woe?
For sure the mournful tale I bear
Will strike him dead with wild despair.
And Lakshmaṇ ever fond and true,
Will, undivided, perish too.
Bharat will learn his brother's fate,
And die of grief disconsolate,
And sad Śatrughna with a cry
Of anguish on his corpse will die.
Our king Sugríva, ever found
True to each bond in honour bound,
Will mourn the pledge he vainly gave,
And die with him he could not save.
Then Rumá his devoted wife
For her dead lord will leave her life,
And Tárá, widowed and forlorn,
Will die in anguish, sorrow-worn.
On Angad too the blow will fall
Killing the hope and joy of all.
The ruin of their prince and king
The Vánars' souls with woe will wring.
And each, overwhelmed with dark despair,
Will beat his head and rend his hair.
Each, graced and honoured long, will miss
His careless life of easy bliss,
In happy troops will play no more
On breezy rock and shady shore,
But with his darling wife and child
Will seek the mountain top, and wild
With hopeless desolation, throw
Himself, his wife, and babe, below.
Ah no: unless the dame I find
I ne'er will meet my Vánar kind.
Here rather in some distant dell
A lonely hermit will I dwell,
Where roots and berries will supply
My humble wants until I die;
Or on the shore will raise a pyre
And perish in the kindled fire.
Or I will strictly fast until
With slow decay my life I kill,
And ravening dogs and birds of air
The limbs of Hanumán shall tear.
Here will I die, but never bring
Destruction on my race and king.
But still unsearched one grove I see
With many a bright Aśoka tree.
There will I enter in, and through
The tangled shade my search renew.
Be glory to the host on high,
The Sun and Moon who light the sky,
The Vasus818 and the Maruts'819 train,
Ádityas820 and the Aśvins821 twain.
So may I win success, and bring
The lady back with triumphing.”
Canto XIV. The Asoka Grove.
He cleared the barrier at a bound;
He stood within the pleasant ground,
[pg 404]
And with delighted eyes surveyed
The climbing plants and varied shade,
He saw unnumbered trees unfold
The treasures of their pendent gold,
As, searching for the Maithil queen,
He strayed through alleys soft and green;
And when a spray he bent or broke
Some little bird that slept awoke.
Whene'er the breeze of morning blew,
Where'er a startled peacock flew,
The gaily coloured branches shed
Their flowery rain upon his head
That clung around the Vánar till
He seemed a blossom-covered hill,822
The earth, on whose fair bosom lay
The flowers that fell from every spray,
Was glorious as a lovely maid
In all her brightest robes arrayed,
He saw the breath of morning shake
The lilies on the rippling lake
Whose waves a pleasant lapping made
On crystal steps with gems inlaid.
Then roaming through the enchanted ground,
A pleasant hill the Vánar found,
And grottoes in the living stone
With grass and flowery trees o'ergrown.
Through rocks and boughs a brawling rill
Leapt from the bosom of the hill,
Like a proud beauty when she flies
From her love's arms with angry eyes.
He clomb a tree that near him grew
And leafy shade around him threw.
“Hence,” thought the Vánar, “shall I see
The Maithil dame, if here she be,
These lovely trees, this cool retreat
Will surely tempt her wandering feet.
Here the sad queen will roam apart.
And dream of Ráma in her heart.”
Canto XV. Sítá.
Fair as Kailása white with snow
He saw a palace flash and glow,
A crystal pavement gem-inlaid,
And coral steps and colonnade,
And glittering towers that kissed the skies,
Whose dazzling splendour charmed his eyes.
There pallid, with neglected dress,
Watched close by fiend and giantess,
Her sweet face thin with constant flow
Of tears, with fasting and with woe;
Pale as the young moon's crescent when
The first faint light returns to men:
Dim as the flame when clouds of smoke
The latent glory hide and choke;
Like Rohiṇí the queen of stars
Oppressed by the red planet Mars;
From her dear friends and husband torn,
Amid the cruel fiends, forlorn,
Who fierce-eyed watch around her kept,
A tender woman sat and wept.
Her sobs, her sighs, her mournful mien,
Her glorious eyes, proclaimed the queen.
“This, this is she,” the Vánar cried,
“Fair as the moon and lotus-eyed,
I saw the giant Rávan bear
A captive through the fields of air.
Such was the beauty of the dame;
Her form, her lips, her eyes the same.
This peerless queen whom I behold
Is Ráma's wife with limbs of gold.
Best of the sons of men is he,
And worthy of her lord is she.”
Canto XVI. Hanumán's Lament.
Then, all his thoughts on Sítá bent,
The Vánar chieftain made lament:
“The queen to Ráma's soul endeared,
By Lakshmaṇ's pious heart revered,
Lies here,—for none may strive with Fate,
A captive, sad and desolate.
The brothers' might full well she knows,
And bravely bears the storm of woes,
As swelling Gangá in the rains
The rush of every flood sustains.
Her lord, for her, fierce Báli slew,
Virádha's monstrous might o'erthrew,
For her the fourteen thousand slain
In Janasthán bedewed the plain.
And if for her Ikshváku's son
Destroyed the world 'twere nobly done.
This, this is she, so far renowned,
Who sprang from out the furrowed ground,823
Child of the high-souled king whose sway
The men of Míthilá obey:
The glorious lady wooed and won
By Daśaratha's noblest son;
And now these sad eyes look on her
Mid hostile fiends a prisoner.
From home and every bliss she fled
By wifely love and duty led,
And heedless of a wanderer's woes,
A life in lonely forests chose.
This, this is she so fair of mould.
Whose limbs are bright as burnished gold.
[pg 405]
Whose voice was ever soft and mild,
Who sweetly spoke and sweetly smiled.
O, what is Ráma's misery! how
He longs to see his darling now!
Pining for one of her fond looks
As one athirst for water brooks.
Absorbed in woe the lady sees
No Rákshas guard, no blooming trees.
Her eyes are with her thoughts, and they
Are fixed on Ráma far away.”
Canto XVII. Sítá's Guard.
His pitying eyes with tears bedewed,
The weeping queen again he viewed,
And saw around the prisoner stand
Her demon guard, a fearful band.
Some earless, some with ears that hung
Low as their feet and loosely swung:
Some fierce with single ears and eyes,
Some dwarfish, some of monstrous size:
Some with their dark necks long and thin
With hair upon the knotty skin:
Some with wild locks, some bald and bare,
Some covered o'er with bristly hair:
Some tall and straight, some bowed and bent
With every foul disfigurement:
All black and fierce with eyes of fire,
Ruthless and stern and swift to ire:
Some with the jackal's jaw and nose,
Some faced like boars and buffaloes:
Some with the heads of goats and kine,
Of elephants, and dogs, and swine:
With lions' lips and horses' brows,
They walked with feet of mules and cows:
Swords, maces, clubs, and spears they bore
In hideous hands that reeked with gore,
And, never sated, turned afresh
To bowls of wine and piles of flesh.
Such were the awful guards who stood
Round Sítá in that lovely wood,
While in her lonely sorrow she
Wept sadly neath a spreading tree.
He watched the spouse of Ráma there
Regardless of her tangled hair,
Her jewels stripped from neck and limb,
Decked only with her love of him.
Canto XVIII. Rávan.
While from his shelter in the boughs
The Vánar looked on Ráma's spouse
He heard the gathered giants raise
The solemn hymn of prayer and praise.—
Priests skilled in rite and ritual, who
The Vedas and their branches824 knew.
Then, as loud strains of music broke
His sleep, the giant monarch woke.
Swift to his heart the thought returned
Of the fair queen for whom he burned;
Nor could the amorous fiend control
The passion that absorbed his soul.
In all his brightest garb arrayed
He hastened to that lovely shade,
Where glowed each choicest flower and fruit,
And the sweet birds were never mute,
And tall deer bent their heads to drink
On the fair streamlet's grassy brink.
Near that Aśoka grove he drew,—
A hundred dames his retinue.
Like Indra with the thousand eyes
Girt with the beauties of the skies.
Some walked beside their lord to hold
The chouries, fans, and lamps of gold.
And others purest water bore
In golden urns, and paced before.
Some carried, piled on golden plates,
Delicious food of dainty cates;
Some wine in massive bowls whereon
The fairest gems resplendent shone.
Some by the monarch's side displayed,
Wrought like a swan, a silken shade:
Another beauty walked behind,
The sceptre to her care assigned.
Around the monarch gleamed the crowd
As lightnings flash about a cloud,
And each made music as she went
With zone and tinkling ornament.
Attended thus in royal state
The monarch reached the garden gate,
While gold and silver torches, fed
With scented oil a soft light shed.825
[pg 406]
He, while the flame of fierce desire
Burnt in his eyes like kindled fire,
Seemed Love incarnate in his pride,
His bow and arrows laid aside.826
His robe, from spot and blemish free
Like Amrit foamy from the sea,827
Hung down in many a loosened fold
Inwrought with flowers and bright with gold.
The Vánar from his station viewed,
Amazed, the wondrous multitude,
Where, in the centre of that ring
Of noblest women, stood the king,
As stands the full moon fair to view,
Girt by his starry retinue.
Canto XIX. Sítá's Fear.
Then o'er the lady's soul and frame
A sudden fear and trembling came,
When, glowing in his youthful pride,
She saw the monarch by her side.
Silent she sat, her eyes depressed,
Her soft arms folded o'er her breast,
And,—all she could,—her beauties screened
From the bold gazes of the fiend.
There where the wild she-demons kept
Their watch around, she sighed and wept.
Then, like a severed bough, she lay
Prone on the bare earth in dismay.
The while her thoughts on love's fleet wings
Flew to her lord the best of kings.
She fell upon the ground, and there
Lay struggling with her wild despair,
Sad as a lady born again
To misery and woe and pain,
Now doomed to grief and low estate,
Once noble fair and delicate:
Like faded light of holy lore,
Like Hope when all her dreams are o'er;
Like ruined power and rank debased,
Like majesty of kings disgraced:
Like worship foiled by erring slips,
The moon that labours in eclipse;
A pool with all her lilies dead,
An army when its king has fled:
So sad and helpless wan and worn,
She lay among the fiends forlorn.
Canto XX. Rávan's Wooing.
With amorous look and soft address
The fiend began his suit to press:
“Why wouldst thou, lady lotus-eyed,
From my fond glance those beauties hide?
Mine eager suit no more repel:
But love me, for I love thee well.
Dismiss, sweet dame, dismiss thy fear;
No giant and no man is near.
Ours is the right by force to seize
What dames soe'er our fancy please.828
But I with rude hands will not touch
A lady whom I love so much.
Fear not, dear queen: no fear is nigh:
Come, on thy lover's love rely,
Some little sign of favor show,
Nor lie enamoured of thy woe.
Those limbs upon that cold earth laid,
Those tresses twined in single braid,829
The fast and woe that wear thy frame,
Beseem not thee, O beauteous dame.
For thee the fairest wreaths were meant,
The sandal and the aloe's scent,
Rich ornaments and pearls of price,
And vesture meet for Paradise.
With dainty cates shouldst thou be fed,
And rest upon a sumptuous bed.
And festive joys to thee belong,
The music, and the dance and song.
Rise, pearl of women, rise and deck
With gems and chains thine arms and neck.
Shall not the dame I love be seen
In vesture worthy of a queen?
Methinks when thy sweet form was made
His hand the wise Creator stayed;
For never more did he design
A beauty meet to rival thine.
Come, let us love while yet we may,
For youth will fly and charms decay,
Come cast thy grief and fear aside,
And be my love, my chosen bride.
The gems and jewels that my hand
Has reft from every plundered land,—
To thee I give them all this day,
And at thy feet my kingdom lay.
[pg 407]
The broad rich earth will I o'errun,
And leave no town unconquered, none;
Then of the whole an offering make
To Janak,830 dear, for thy sweet sake.
In all the world no power I see
Of God or man can strive with me.
Of old the Gods and Asurs set
In terrible array I met:
Their scattered hosts to earth I beat,
And trod their flags beneath my feet.
Come, taste of bliss and drink thy fill,
And rule the slave who serves thy will.
Think not of wretched Ráma: he
Is less than nothing now to thee.
Stript of his glory, poor, dethroned,
A wanderer by his friends disowned,
On the cold earth he lays his head,
Or is with toil and misery dead.
And if perchance he lingers yet,
His eyes on thee shall ne'er be set.
Could he, that mighty monarch, who
Was named Hiraṇyakaśipu,
Could he who wore the garb of gold
Win Glory back from Indra's hold?831
O lady of the lovely smile,
Whose eyes the sternest heart beguile,
In all thy radiant beauty dressed
My heart and soul thou ravishest.
What though thy robe is soiled and worn,
And no bright gems thy limbs adorn,
Thou unadorned art dearer far
Than all my loveliest consorts are.
My royal home is bright and fair;
A thousand beauties meet me there,
But come, my glorious love, and be
The queen of all those dames and me.”
Canto XXI. Sítá's Scorn.
She thought upon her lord and sighed,
And thus in gentle tones replied:
“Beseems thee not, O King, to woo
A matron, to her husband true.
Thus vainly one might hope by sin
And evil deeds success to win.
Shall I, so highly born, disgrace
My husband's house, my royal race?
Shall I, a true and loyal dame,
Defile my soul with deed of shame?”
Then on the king her back she turned,
And answered thus the prayer she spurned:
“Turn, Rávaṇ, turn thee from thy sin;
Seek virtue's paths and walk therein.
To others dames be honour shown;
Protect them as thou wouldst thine own.
Taught by thyself, from wrong abstain
Which, wrought on thee, thy heart would pain.832
Beware: this lawless love of thine
Will ruin thee and all thy line;
And for thy sin, thy sin alone,
Will Lanká perish overthrown.
Dream not that wealth and power can sway
My heart from duty's path to stray.
Linked like the Day-God and his shine,
I am my lord's and he is mine.
Repent thee of thine impious deed;
To Ráma's side his consort lead.
Be wise; the hero's friendship gain,
Nor perish in his fury slain.
Go, ask the God of Death to spare,
Or red bolt flashing through the air,
But look in vain for spell or charm
To stay my Ráma's vengeful arm.
Thou, when the hero bends his bow,
Shalt hear the clang that heralds woe,
Loud as the clash when clouds are rent
And Indra's bolt to earth is sent.
Then shall his furious shafts be sped,
Each like a snake with fiery head,
And in their flight shall hiss and flame
Marked with the mighty archer's name.833
Then in the fiery deluge all
Thy giants round their king shall fall.”
[pg 408]
Canto XXII. Rávan's Threat.
Then anger swelled in Rávaṇ's breast,
Who fiercely thus the dame addressed:
“'Tis ever thus: in vain we sue
To woman, and her favour woo.
A lover's humble words impel
Her wayward spirit to rebel.
The love of thee that fills my soul
Still keeps my anger in control,
As charioteers with bit and rein
The swerving of the steed restrain.
The love that rules me bids me spare
Thy forfeit life, O thou most fair.
For this, O Sítá, have I borne
The keen reproach, the bitter scorn,
And the fond love thou boastest yet
For that poor wandering anchoret;
Else had the words which thou hast said
Brought death upon thy guilty head.
Two months, fair dame, I grant thee still
To bend thee to thy lover's will.
If when that respite time is fled
Thou still refuse to share my bed,
My cooks shall mince thy limbs with steel
And serve thee for my morning meal.”834
The minstrel daughters of the skies
Looked on her woe with pitying eyes,
And sun-bright children of the Gods835
Consoled the queen with smiles and nods.
She saw, and with her heart at ease,
Addressed the fiend in words like these;
“Hast thou no friend to love thee, none
In all this isle to bid thee shun
The ruin which thy crime will bring
On thee and thine, O impious King?
Who in all worlds save thee could woo
Me, Ráma's consort pure and true,
As though he tempted with his love
Queen Śachí836 on her throne above?
How canst thou hope, vile wretch, to fly
The vengeance that e'en now is nigh,
When thou hast dared, untouched by shame,
To press thy suit on Ráma's dame?
Where woods are thick and grass is high
A lion and a hare may lie;
My Ráma is the lion, thou
Art the poor hare beneath the bough.
Thou railest at the lord of men,
But wilt not stand within his ken.
What! is that eye unstricken yet
Whose impious glance on me was set?
Still moves that tongue that would not spare
The wife of Daśaratha's heir?”
Then, hissing like a furious snake,
The fiend again to Sítá spake:
“Deaf to all prayers and threats art thou,
Devoted to thy senseless vow.
No longer respite will I give,
And thou this day shalt cease to live;
For I, as sunlight kills the morn,
Will slay thee for thy scathe and scorn.”
The Rákshas guard was summoned: all
The monstrous crew obeyed the call,
And hastened to the king to take
The orders which he fiercely spake:
“See that ye guard her well, and tame,
Like some wild thing, the stubborn dame,
Until her haughty soul be bent
By mingled threat and blandishment.”837
The monsters heard: away he strode,
And passed within his queens' abode.
Canto XXIII. The Demons' Threats.
Then round the helpless Sítá drew
With fiery eyes the hideous crew,
And thus assailed her, all and each,
With insult, taunt, and threatening speech:
“What! can it be thou prizest not
This happy chance, this glorious lot,
To be the chosen wife of one
So strong and great, Pulastya's son?
Pulastya—thus have sages told—
Is mid the Lords of Life838 enrolled.
Lord Brahmá's mind-born son was he,
Fourth of that glorious company.
Viśravas from Pulastya sprang,—
Through all the worlds his glory rang.
And of Viśravas, large-eyed dame!
Our king the mighty Rávaṇ came.
His happy consort thou mayst be:
Scorn not the words we say to thee.”
One awful demon, fiery-eyed,
Stood by the Maithil queen and cried:
'Come and be his, if thou art wise,
Who smote the sovereign of the skies,
And made the thirty Gods and three,839
O'ercome in furious battle, flee.
[pg 409]
Thy lover turns away with scorn
From wives whom grace and youth adorn.
Thou art his chosen consort, thou
Shall be his pride and darling now.”
Another, Vikatá by name,
In words like these addressed the dame:
“The king whose blows, in fury dealt,
The Nágas840 and Gandharvas841 felt,
In battle's fiercest brunt subdued,
Has stood by thee and humbly wooed.
And wilt thou in thy folly miss
The glory of a love like this?
Scared by his eye the sun grows chill,
The wanderer wind is hushed and still.
The rains at his command descend,
And trees with new-blown blossoms bend.
His word the hosts of demons fear,
And wilt thou, dame, refuse to hear?
Be counselled; with his will comply,
Or, lady, thou shalt surely die.”
Canto XXIV. Sítá's Reply.
Still with reproaches rough and rude
Those fiends the gentle queen pursued:
“What! can so fair a life displease,
To dwell with him in joyous ease?
Dwell in his bowers a happy queen
In silk and gold and jewels' sheen?
Still must thy woman fancy cling
To Ráma and reject our king?
Die in thy folly, or forget
That wretched wandering anchoret.
Come, Sítá, in luxurious bowers
Spend with our lord thy happy hours;
The mighty lord who makes his own
The treasures of the worlds o'erthrown.”
Then, as a tear bedewed her eye,
The hapless lady made reply:
“I loathe, with heart and soul detest
The shameful life your words suggest.
Eat, if you will, this mortal frame:
My soul rejects the sin and shame.
A homeless wanderer though he be,
In him my lord, my life I see,
And, till my earthly days be done,
Will cling to great Ikshváku's son.”
Then with fierce eyes on Sítá set
They cried again with taunt and threat:
Each licking with her fiery tongue
The lip that to her bosom hung,
And menacing the lady's life
With axe, or spear or murderous knife:
“Hear, Sítá, and our words obey,
Or perish by our hands to-day.
Thy love for Raghu's son forsake,
And Rávaṇ for thy husband take,
Or we will rend thy limbs apart
And banquet on thy quivering heart.
Now from her body strike the head,
And tell the king the dame is dead.
Then by our lord's commandment she
A banquet for our band shall be.
Come, let the wine be quickly brought
That frees each heart from saddening thought.
Then to the western gate repair,
And we will dance and revel there.”
Canto XXV. Sítá's Lament.
On the bare earth the lady sank,
And trembling from their presence shrank
Like a strayed fawn, when night is dark,
And hungry wolves around her bark.
[pg 410]
Then to a shady tree she crept,
And thought upon her lord and wept.
By fear and bitter woe oppressed
She bathed the beauties of her breast
With her hot tears' incessant flow,
And found no respite from her woe.
As shakes a plantain in the breeze
She shook, and fell on trembling knees;
While at each demon's furious look
Her cheek its native hue forsook.
She lay and wept and made her moan
In sorrow's saddest undertone,
And, wild with grief, with fear appalled,
On Ráma and his brother called:
“O dear Kauśalyá,842 hear me cry!
Sweet Queen Sumitrá,843 list my sigh!
True is the saw the wise declare:
Death comes not to relieve despair.
'Tis vain for dame or man to pray;
Death will not hear before his day;
Since I, from Ráma's sight debarred,
And tortured by my cruel guard,
Still live in hopeless woe to grieve
And loathe the life I may not leave,
Here, like a poor deserted thing,
My limbs upon the ground I fling,
And, like a bark beneath the blast,
Shall sink oppressed with woes at last.
Ah, blest are they, supremely blest,
Whose eyes upon my lord may rest;
Who mark his lion port, and hear
His gentle speech that charms the ear.
Alas, what antenatal crime,
What trespass of forgotten time
Weighs on my soul, and bids me bow
Beneath this load of misery now?”
Canto XXVI. Sítá's Lament.
“I Ráma's wife, on that sad day,
By Rávaṇ's arm was borne away,
Seized, while I sat and feared no ill,
By him who wears each form at will.
A helpless captive, left forlorn
To demons' threats and taunts and scorn,
Here for my lord I weep and sigh,
And worn with woe would gladly die.
For what is life to me afar
From Ráma of the mighty car?
The robber in his fruitless sin
Would hope his captive's love to win.
My meaner foot shall never touch
The demon whom I loathe so much.
The senseless fool! he knows me not,
Nor the proud soul his love would blot.
Yea, limb from limb will I be rent,
But never to his prayer consent;
Be burnt and perish in the fire,
But never meet his base desire.
My lord was grateful, true and wise,
And looked on woe with pitying eyes;
But now, recoiling from the strife
He pities not his captive wife.
Alone in Janasthán he slew
The thousands of the Rákshas crew.
His arm was strong, his heart was brave,
Why comes he not to free and save?
Why blame my lord in vain surmise?
He knows not where his lady lies.
O, if he knew, o'er land and sea
His feet were swift to set me free;
This Lanká, girdled by the deep,
Would fall consumed, a shapeless heap,
And from each ruined home would rise
A Rákshas widow's groans and cries.”
Canto XXVII. Trijatá's Dream.
Their threats unfeared, their counsel spurned,
The demons' breasts with fury burned.
Some sought the giant king to bear
The tale of Sítá's fixt despair.
With threats and taunts renewed the rest
Around the weeping lady pressed.
But Trijaṭá, of softer mould,
A Rákshas matron wise and old,
With pity for the captive moved,
In words like these the fiends reproved:
“Me, me,” she cried, “eat me, but spare
The spouse of Daśaratha's heir.
Last night I dreamt a dream; and still
The fear and awe my bosom chill;
For in that dream I saw foreshown
Our race by Ráma's hand o'erthrown.
I saw a chariot high in air,
Of ivory exceeding fair.
A hundred steeds that chariot drew
As swiftly through the clouds it flew,
And, clothed in white, with wreaths that shone,
The sons of Raghu rode thereon.
I looked and saw this lady here,
Clad in the purest white, appear
High on the snow white hill whose feet
The angry waves of ocean beat.
And she and Ráma met at last
Like light and sun when night is past.
Again I saw them side by side.
On Rávaṇ's car they seemed to ride,
And with the princely Lakshmaṇ flee
To northern realms beyond the sea.
[pg 411]
Then Rávaṇ, shaved and shorn, besmeared
With oil from head to foot, appeared.
He quaffed, he raved: his robes were red:
Fierce was his eye, and bare his head.
I saw him from his chariot thrust;
I saw him rolling in the dust.
A woman came and dragged away
The stricken giant where he lay,
And on a car which asses drew
The monarch of our race she threw.
He rose erect, he danced and laughed,
With thirsty lips the oil he quaffed,
Then with wild eyes and streaming mouth
Sped on the chariot to the south.844
Then, dropping oil from every limb,
His sons the princes followed him,
And Kumbhakarṇa,845 shaved and shorn,
Was southward on a camel borne.
Then royal Lanká reeled and fell
With gate and tower and citadel.
This ancient city, far-renowned:
All life within her walls was drowned;
And the wild waves of ocean rolled
O'er Lanká and her streets of gold.
Warned by these signs I bid you fly;
Or by the hand of Ráma die,
Whose vengeance will not spare the life
Of one who vexed his faithful wife.
Your bitter taunts and threats forgo:
Comfort the lady in her woe,
And humbly pray her to forgive;
For so you may be spared and live.”
[I omit the 28th and 29th Cantos as an unmistakeable interpolation. Instead of advancing the story it goes back to Canto XVII, containing a lamentation of Sítá after Rávaṇ has left her, and describes the the auspicious signs sent to cheer her, the throbbing of her left eye, arm, and side. The Canto is found in the Bengal recension. Gorresio translates it. and observes: “I think that Chapter XXVIII.—The Auspicious Signs—is an addition, a later interpolation by the Rhapsodists. It has no bond of connexion either with what precedes or follows it, and may be struck out not only without injury to, but positively to the advantage of the poem. The metre in which this chapter is written differs from that which is generally adopted in the course of the poem.”]

Canto XXX. Hanumán's Deliberation.
The Vánar watched concealed: each word
Of Sítá and the fiends he heard,
And in a maze of anxious thought
His quick-conceiving bosom wrought.
“At length my watchful eyes have seen,
Pursued so long, the Maithil queen,
Sought by our Vánar hosts in vain
From east to west, from main to main.
A cautious spy have I explored
The palace of the Rákhshas lord,
And thoroughly learned, concealed from sight,
The giant monarch's power and might.
And now my task must be to cheer
The royal dame who sorrows here.
For if I go, and soothe her not,
A captive in this distant spot,
She, when she finds no comfort nigh,
Will sink beneath her woes and die.
How shall my tale, if unconsoled
I leave her, be to Ráma told?
How shall I answer Raghu's son,
“No message from my darling, none?”
The husband's wrath, to fury fanned,
Will scorch me lifeless where I stand,
Or if I urge my lord the king
To Lanká's isle his hosts to bring,
In vain will be his zeal, in vain
The toil, the danger, and the pain.
Yea, this occasion must I seize
That from her guard the lady frees,846
To win her ear with soft address
And whisper hope in dire distress.
Shall I, a puny Vánar, choose
The Sanskrit men delight to use?
If, as a man of Bráhman kind,
I speak the tongue by rules refined,
The lady, yielding to her fears,
Will think 'tis Rávaṇ's voice she hears.
I must assume my only plan—
The language of a common847 man.
Yet, if the lady sees me nigh,
[pg 412]
In terror she will start and cry;
And all the demon band, alarmed,
Will come with various weapons armed,
With their wild shouts the grove will fill,
And strive to take me, or to kill.
And, at my death or capture, dies
The hope of Ráma`s enterprise.
For none can leap, save only me,
A hundred leagues across the sea.
It is a sin in me, I own,
To talk with Janak's child alone.
Yet greater is the sin if I
Be silent, and the lady die.
First I will utter Ráma's name,
And laud the hero's gifts and fame.
Perchance the name she holds so dear
Will soothe the faithful lady's fear.”
Canto XXXI. Hanumán's Speech.
Then in sweet accents low and mild
The Vánar spoke to Janak's child:
“A noble king, by sin unstained,
The mighty Daśaratha reigned.
Lord of the warrior's car and steed,
The pride of old Ikshváku's seed.
A faithful friend, a blameless king,
Protector of each living thing.
A glorious monarch, strong to save,
Blest with the bliss he freely gave.
His son, the best of all who know
The science of the bended bow,
Was moon-bright Ráma, brave and strong,
Who loved the right and loathed the wrong,
Who ne'er from kingly duty swerved,
Loved by the lands his might preserved.
His feet the path of law pursued;
His arm rebellious foes subdued.
His sire's command the prince obeyed
And, banished, sought the forest shade,
Where with his wife and brother he
Wandered a saintly devotee.
There as he roamed the wilds he slew
The bravest of the Rákshas crew.
The giant king the prince beguiled,
And stole his consort, Janak's child.
Then Ráma roamed the country round,
And a firm friend, Sugríva, found,
Lord of the Vánar race, expelled
From his own realm which Báli held,
He conquered Báli and restored
The kingdom to the rightful lord.
Then by Sugríva's high decree
The Vánar legions searched for thee,
Sampáti's counsel bade me leap
A hundred leagues across the deep.
And now my happy eyes have seen
At last the long-sought Maithil queen.
Such was the form, the eye, the grace
Of her whom Ráma bade me trace.”
He ceased: her flowing locks she drew
To shield her from a stranger's view;
Then, trembling in her wild surprise,
Raised to the tree her anxious eyes.
Canto XXXII. Sítá's Doubt.
Her eyes the Maithil lady raised
And on the monkey speaker gazed.
She looked, and trembling at the sight
Wept bitter tears in wild affright.
She shrank a while with fear distraught,
Then, nerved again, the lady thought:
“Is this a dream mine eyes have seen,
This creature, by our laws unclean?
O, may the Gods keep Ráma, still,
And Lakshmaṇ, and my sire, from ill!
It is no dream: I have not slept,
But, trouble-worn, have watched and wept
Afar from that dear lord of mine
For whom in ceaseless woe I pine,
No art may soothe my wild distress
Or lull me to forgetfulness.
I see but him: my lips can frame
No syllable but Ráma's name.
Each sight I see, each sound I hear,
Brings Ráma to mine eye or ear,
The wish was in my heart, and hence
The sweet illusion mocked my sense.
'Twas but a phantom of the mind,
And yet the voice was soft and kind.
Be glory to the Eternal Sire,848
Be glory to the Lord of Fire,
The mighty Teacher in the skies,849
And Indra with his thousand eyes,
And may they grant the truth to be
E'en as the words that startled me.”
[pg 413]
Canto XXXIII. The Colloquy.
Down from the tree Hanumán came
And humbly stood before the dame.
Then joining reverent palm to palm
Addressed her thus with words of balm:
“Why should the tears of sorrow rise,
Sweet lady, to those lovely eyes,
As when the wind-swept river floods
Two half expanded lotus buds?
Who art thou, O most fair of face?
Of Asur,850 or celestial race?
Did Nága mother give thee birth?
For sure thou art no child of earth.
Do Rudras851 claim that heavenly form?
Or the swift Gods852 who ride the storm?
Or art thou Rohiṇí853 the blest,
That star more lovely than the rest,—
Reft from the Moon thou lovest well
And doomed a while on earth to dwell?
Or canst thou, fairest wonder, be
The starry queen Arundhatí,854
Fled in thy wrath or jealous pride
From her dear lord Vaśishṭha's side?
Who is the husband, father, son
Or brother, O thou loveliest one,
Gone from this world in heaven to dwell,
For whom those eyes with weeping swell?
Yet, by the tears those sweet eyes shed,
Yet, by the earth that bears thy tread,855
By calling on a monarch's name,
No Goddess but a royal dame.
Art thou the queen, fair lady, say,
Whom Rávaṇ stole and bore away?
Yea, by that agony of woe,
That form unrivalled here below,
That votive garb, thou art, I ween,
King Janak's child and Ráma's queen.”
Hope at the name of Ráma woke,
And thus the gentle lady spoke:
“I am that Sítá wooed and won
By Daśaratha's royal son,
The noblest of Ikshváku's line;
And every earthly joy was mine.
But Ráma left his royal home
In Daṇḍak's tangled wilds to roam.
Where with Sumitrá's son and me,
He lived a saintly devotee.
The giant Rávaṇ came with guile
And bore me thence to Lanká's isle.
Some respite yet the fiend allows,
Two months of life, to Ráma's spouse.
Two moons of hopeless woe remain,
And then the captive will be slain.”
Canto XXXIV. Hanumán's Speech.
Thus spoke the dame in mournful mood,
And Hanumán his speech renewed:
“O lady, by thy lord's decree
I come a messenger to thee.
Thy lord is safe with steadfast friends,
And greeting to his queen he sends,
And Lakshmaṇ, ever faithful bows
His reverent head to Ráma's spouse.”
Through all her frame the rapture ran,
As thus again the dame began:
“Now verily the truth I know
Of the wise saw of long ago:
“Once only in a hundred years
True joy to living man appears.”
He marked her rapture-beaming hue,
And nearer to the lady drew,
But at each onward step he took
Suspicious fear her spirit shook.
“Alas, Alas,” she cried in fear.
“False is the tale I joyed to hear.
'Tis Rávaṇ, 'tis the fiend, who tries
To mock me with a new disguise.
If thou, to wring my woman's heart,
Hast changed thy shape by magic art,
And wouldst a helpless dame beguile,
The wicked deed is doubly vile.
But no: that fiend thou canst not be:
Such joy I had from seeing thee.
But if my fancy does not err,
And thou art Ráma's messenger,
The glories of my lord repeat:
For to these ears such words are sweet.”
The Vánar knew the lady's thought,856
And gave the answer fondly sought:
[pg 414]
“Bright as the sun that lights the sky
Dear as the Moon to every eye.
He scatters blessings o'er the land
Like bounties from Vaiśravaṇ's857 hand.
Like Vishṇu strong and unsubdued,
Unmatched in might and fortitude.
Wise, truthful as the Lord of Speech,
With gentle words he welcomes each.
Of noblest mould and form is he,
Like love's incarnate deity.
He quells the fury of the foe,
And strikes when justice prompts the blow.
Safe in the shadow of his arm
The world is kept from scathe and harm.
Now soon shall Rávaṇ rue his theft,
And fall, of realm and life bereft.
For Ráma's wrathful hand shall wing
His shafts against the giant king.
The day, O Maithil Queen, is near
When he and Lakshmaṇ will be here,
And by their side Sugríva lead
His countless hosts of Vánar breed.
Sugríva's servant, I, by name
Hanumán, by his order came.
With desperate leap I crossed the sea
To Lanká's isle in search of thee,
No traitor, gentle dame, am I:
Upon my word and faith rely.”
Canto XXXV. Hanumán's Speech.
With joyous heart she heard him tell
Of the great lord she loved so well,
And in sweet accents, soft and low,
Spoke, half forgetful of her woe:
“How didst thou stand by Ráma's side?
How came my lord and thou allied?
How met the people of the wood
With men on terms of brotherhood?
Declare each grace and regal sign
That decks the lords of Raghu's line.
Each circumstance and look relate:
Tell Ráma's form and speech, and gait.”
“Thy fear and doubt,” he cried, “dispelled,
Hear, lady, what mine eyes beheld.
Hear the imperial signs that grace
The glory of Ikshváku's race.
With moon-bright face and lotus eyes,
Most beautiful and good and wise,
With sun-like glory round his head,
Long-suffering as the earth we tread,
He from all foes his realm defends.
Yea, o'er the world his care extends.
He follows right in all his ways,
And ne'er from royal duty strays.
He knows the lore that strengthens kings;
His heart to truth and honour clings.
Each grace and gift of form and mind
Adorns that prince of human kind;
And virtues like his own endue
His brother ever firm and true.
O'er all the land they roamed distraught,
And thee with vain endeavour sought,
Until at length their wandering feet
Trod wearily our wild retreat.
Our banished king Sugríva spied
The princes from the mountain side.
By his command I sought the pair
And led them to our monarch there.
Thus Ráma and Sugríva met,
And joined the bonds that knit them yet,
When each besought the other's aid,
And friendship and alliance made.
An arrow launched from Ráma's bow
Laid Báli dead, Sugríva's foe.
Then by commandment of our lord
The Vánar hosts each land explored.
We reached the coast: I crossed the sea
And found my way at length to thee.”858
Canto XXXVI. Ráma's Ring.
“Receive,” he cried, “this precious ring,859
Sure token from thy lord the king:
The golden ring he wont to wear:
See, Ráma's name engraven there.”
Then, as she took the ring he showed,
The tears that spring of rapture flowed.
She seemed to touch the hand that sent
The dearly valued ornament,
And with her heart again at ease,
Replied in gentle words like these:
“O thou, whose soul no fears deter,
Wise, brave, and faithful messenger!
And hast thou dared, o'er wave and foam,
To seek me in the giants' home?
In thee, true messenger, I find
The noblest of thy woodland kind.
Who couldst, unmoved by terror, brook
On Rávaṇ, king of fiends, to look.
[pg 415]
Now may we commune here as friends,
For he whom royal Ráma sends
Must needs be one in danger tried,
A valiant, wise, and faithful guide.
Say, is it well with Ráma still?
Lives Lakshmaṇ yet untouched by ill?
Then why should Ráma's hand be slow
To free his consort from her woe?
Why spare to burn, in search of me,
The land encircled by the sea?
Can Bharat send no army out
With banners, cars and battle shout?
Cannot thy king Sugríva lend
His legions to assist his friend?”
His hands upon his head he laid
And thus again his answer made:
“Not yet has Ráma learnt where lies
His lady of the lotus eyes,
Or he like Indra from the sky
To Śachí's860 aid, to thee would fly.
Soon will he hear the tale, and then,
Roused to revenge, the lord of men
Will to the giants' island lead
Fierce myriads of the woodland breed,
Bridging his conquering way, and make
The town a ruin for thy sake.
Believe my words, sweet dame; I swear
By roots and fruit, my woodland fare,
By Meru's peak and Vindhva's chain,
And Mandar of the Milky Main,
Soon shalt thou see thy lord, though now
He waits upon Praśravaṇ's861 brow,
Come glorious as the breaking morn,
Like Indra on Airávat862 borne.
For thee he looks with longing eyes;
The wood his scanty food supplies.
For thee his brow is pale and worn,
For thee are meat and wine forsworn.
Thine image in his heart he keeps,
For thee by night he wakes and weeps.
Or if perchance his eyes he close
And win brief respite from his woes,
E'en then the name of Sítá slips
In anguish from his murmuring lips.
If lovely flowers or fruit he sees,
Which women love, upon the trees,
To thee, to thee his fancy flies.
And ‘Sítá! O my love!’ he cries.”
Canto XXXVII. Sítá's Speech.
“Thou bringest me,” she cried again,
“A mingled draught of bliss and pain:
Bliss, that he wears me in his heart,
Pain, that he wakes and weeps apart,
O, see how Fate is king of all,
Now lifts us high, now bids us fall,
And leads a captive bound with cord
The meanest slave, the proudest lord,
Thus even now Fate's stern decree
Has struck with grief my lord and me.
Say, how shall Ráma reach the shore
Of sorrow's waves that rise and roar,
A shipwrecked sailor, well nigh drowned
In the wild sea that foams around?
When will he smite the demon down,
Lay low in dust the giants' town,
And, glorious from his foes' defeat,
His wife, his long-lost Sítá, meet?
Go, bid him speed to smite his foes
Before the year shall reach its close.
Ten months are fled but two remain,
Then Rávaṇ's captive must be slain.
Oft has Vibhishaṇ,863 just and wise,
Besought him to restore his prize.
But deaf is Rávaṇ's senseless ear:
His brother's rede he will not hear.
Vibhishaṇ's daughter864 loves me well:
From her I learnt the tale I tell.
Avindhva865 prudent, just, and old,
The giant's fall has oft foretold;
But Fate impels him to despise
His word on whom he most relies.
In Ráma's love I rest secure,
For my fond heart is true and pure,
And him, my noblest lord, I deem
In valour, power, and might supreme.”
As from her eyes the waters ran,
The Vánar chief again began:
“Yea, Ráma, when he hears my tale,
Will with our hosts these walls assail.
Or I myself, O Queen, this day
Will bear thee from the fiend away,
Will lift thee up, and take thee hence
To him thy refuge and defence;
Will take thee in my arms, and flee
To Ráma far beyond the sea;
Will place thee on Praśravaṇ hill
Where Raghu's son is waiting still.”
[pg 416]
“How canst thou bear me hence?” she cried,
“The way is long, the sea is wide.
To bear my very weight would be
A task too hard for one like thee.”866
Swift rose before her startled eyes
The Vánar in his native size,
Like Mandar's hill or Meru's height,
Encircled with a blaze of light.
“O come,” he cried, “thy fears dispel,
Nor doubt that I will bear thee well.
Come, in my strength and care confide,
And sit in joy by Ráma's side.”
Again she spake: “I know thee now,
Brave, resolute, and strong art thou;
In glory like the Lord of Fire
With storm-swift feet which naught may tire
But yet with thee I may not fly:
For, borne so swiftly through the sky,
Mine eyes would soon grow faint and dim,
My dizzy brain would reel and swim,
My yielding arms relax their hold,
And I in terror uncontrolled
Should fall into the raging sea
Where hungry sharks would feed on me.
Nor can I touch, of free accord,
The limbs of any save my lord.
If, by the giant forced away,
In his enfolding arms I lay,
Not mine, O Vánar, was the blame;
What could I do, a helpless dame?
Go, to my lord my message bear,
And bid him end my long despair.”
Canto XXXVIII. Sítá's Gem.
Again the Vánar chief replied,
With her wise answer satisfied:
“Well hast thou said: thou canst not brave
The rushing wind, the roaring wave.
Thy woman's heart would sink with fear
Before the ocean shore were near.
And for thy dread lest limb of thine
Should for a while be touched by mine,
The modest fear is worthy one
Whose cherished lord is Raghu's son.
Yet when I sought to bear thee hence
I spoke the words of innocence,
Impelled to set the captive free
By friendship for thy lord and thee.
But if with me thou wilt not try
The passage of the windy sky,
Give me a gem that I may show,
Some token which thy lord may know.”
Again the Maithil lady spoke,
While tears and sobs her utterance broke:
“The surest of all signs is this,
To tell the tale of vanished bliss.
Thus in my name to Ráma speak:
“Remember Chitrakúṭa's peak
And the green margin of the rill867
That flows beside that pleasant hill,
Where thou and I together strayed
Delighting in the tangled shade.
There on the grass I sat with thee
And laid my head upon thy knee.
There came a greedy crow and pecked
The meat I waited to protect
And, heedless of the clods I threw,
About my head in circles flew,
Until by darling hunger pressed
He boldly pecked me on the breast.
I ran to thee in rage and grief
And prayed for vengeance on the thief.
Then Ráma868 from his slumber rose
And smiled with pity at my woes.
Upon my bleeding breast he saw
The scratches made by beak and claw.
He laid an arrow on his bow,
And launched it at the shameless crow.
That shaft, with magic power endued,
The bird, where'er he flew, pursued,
Till back to Raghu's son he fled
And bent at Ráma's feet his head.869
Couldst thou for me with anger stirred
Launch that dire shaft upon a bird,
And yet canst pardon him who stole
The darling of thy heart and soul?
Rise up, O bravest of the brave,
And come in all thy might to save.
Come with the thunders of thy bow,
And smite to earth the Rákshas foe.”
She ceased; and from her glorious hair
She took a gem that sparkled there
A token which her husband's eyes
With eager love would recognize.
His head the Vánar envoy bent
In low obeisance reverent.
And on his finger bound the gem
She loosened from her diadem.
[I omit two Cantos of dialogue. Sítá tells Hanumán again to convey her message to Ráma and bid him hasten to rescue her. Hanumán replies as before that there is no one on earth equal to Ráma, who will soon come and destroy Rávaṇ. There is not a new idea in the two Cantos: all is reiteration.]

[pg 417]
Canto XLI. The Ruin Of The Grove.
Dismissed with every honour due
The Vánar from the spot withdrew.
Then joyous thought the Wind-God's son:
“The mighty task is wellnigh done.
The three expedients I must leave;
The fourth alone can I achieve.870
These dwellers in the giants' isle
No arts of mine can reconcile.
I cannot bribe: I cannot sow
Dissension mid the Rákshas foe.
Arts, gifts, address, these fiends despise;
But force shall yet their king chastise.
Perchance he may relent when all
The bravest of his chieftains fall.
This lovely grove will I destroy,
The cruel Rávaṇ's pride and joy.
The garden where he takes his ease
Mid climbing plants and flowery trees
That lift their proud tops to the skies,
Dear to the tyrant as his eyes.
Then will he rouse in wrath, and lead
His legions with the car and steed
And elephants in long array,
And seek me thirsty for the fray.
The Rákshas legions will I meet,
And all his bravest host defeat;
Then, glorious from the bloody plain,
Turn to my lord the king again.”
Then every lovely tree that bore
Fair blossoms, from the soil he tore,
Till each green bough that lent its shade
To singing birds on earth was laid.
The wilderness he left a waste,
The fountains shattered and defaced:
O'erthrew and levelled with the ground
Each shady seat and pleasure-mound.
Each arbour clad with climbing bloom,
Each grotto, cell, and picture room,
Each lawn by beast and bird enjoyed,
Each walk and terrace was destroyed.
And all the place that was so fair
Was left a ruin wild and bare,
As if the fury of the blast
Or raging fire had o'er it passed.
Canto XLII. The Giants Roused.
The cries of startled birds, the sound
Of tall trees crashing to the ground,
Struck with amaze each giant's ear,
And filled the isle with sudden fear.
Then, wakened by the crash and cries,
The fierce shefiends unclosed their eyes,
And saw the Vánar where he stood
Amid the devastated wood.
The more to scare them with the view
To size immense the Vánar grew;
And straight the Rákshas warders cried
Janak's daughter terrified
“Whose envoy, whence, and who is he,
Why has he come to talk with thee?
Speak, lady of the lovely eyes,
And let not fear thy joy disguise.”
Then thus replied the Maithil dame
Of noble soul and perfect frame.
“Can I discern, with scanty skill,
These fiends who change their forms at will?
'Tis yours to say: your kin you meet;
A serpent knows a serpent's feet.
I weet not who he is: the sight
Has filled my spirit with affright.”
Some pressed round Sítá in a ring;
Some bore the story to their king:
“A mighty creature of our race,
In monkey form, has reached the place.
He came within the grove,” they cried,
“He stood and talked by Sítá's side,
He comes from Indra's court to her,
Or is Kuvera's messenger;
Or Ráma sent the spy to seek
His consort, and her wrongs to wreak.
His crushing arm, his trampling feet
Have marred and spoiled that dear retreat,
And all the pleasant place which thou
So lovest is a ruin now.
The tree where Sítá sat alone
Is spared where all are overthrown.
Perchance he saved the dame from harm:
Perchance the toil had numbed his arm.”
Then flashed the giant's eye with fire
Like that which lights the funeral pyre.
He bade his bravest Kinkars871 speed
[pg 418]
And to his feet the spoiler lead.
Forth from the palace, at his hest,
Twice forty thousand warriors pressed.
Burning for battle, strong and fierce,
With clubs to crush and swords to pierce,
They saw Hanúmán near a porch,
And, thick as moths around a torch,
Rushed on the foe with wild attacks
Of mace and club and battle-axe.
As round him pressed the Rákshas crowd,
The wondrous monkey roared aloud,
That birds fell headlong from the sky:
Then spake he with a mighty cry:
“Long life to Daśaratha's heir,
And Lakshmaṇ, ever-glorious pair!
Long life to him who rules our race,
Preserved by noblest Ráma's grace!
I am the slave of Kośal's king,872
Whose wondrous deeds the minstrels sing.
Hanúmán I, the Wind-God's seed:
Beneath this arm the foemen bleed.
I fear not, unapproached in might,
A thousand Rávaṇ's ranged for fight,
Although in furious hands they rear
The hill and tree for sword and spear,
I will, before the giants' eyes,
Their city and their king chastise;
And, having communed with the dame,
Depart in triumph as I came.”
At that terrific roar and yell
The heart of every giant fell.
But still their king's command they feared
And pressed around with arms upreared.
Beside the porch a club was laid:
The Vánar caught it up, and swayed
The weapon round his head, and slew
The foremost of the Rákshas crew.
Thus Indra vanquished, thousand-eyed,
The Daityas who the Gods defied.
Then on the porch Hanúmán sprang,
And loud his shout of triumph rang.
The giants looked upon the dead,
And turning to their monarch fled.
And Rávaṇ with his spirit wrought
To frenzy by the tale they brought,
Urged to the fight Prahasta's son,
Of all his chiefs the mightiest one.
Canto XLIII. The Ruin Of The Temple.
The Wind-God's son a temple873 scaled
Which, by his fury unassailed,
High as the hill of Meru, stood
Amid the ruins of the wood;
And in his fury thundered out
Again his haughty battle-shout:
“I am the slave of Kośal's King
Whose wondrous deeds the minstrels sing.”
Forth hurried, by that shout alarmed,
The warders of the temple armed
With every weapon haste supplied,
And closed him in on every side,
With bands that strove to pierce and strike
With shaft and axe and club and pike.
Then from its base the Vánar tore
A pillar with the weight it bore.
Against the wall the mass he dashed,
And forth the flames in answer flashed,
That wildly ran o'er roofs and wall
In hungry rage consuming all.
He whirled the pillar round his head
And struck a hundred giants dead.
Then high upheld on air he rose
And called in thunder to his foes:
“A thousand Vánar chiefs like me
Roam at their will o'er land and sea,
Terrific might we all possess:
Our stormy speed is limitless.
And all, unconquered in the fray,
Our king Sugríva's word obey.
Backed by his bravest myriads, he
Our warrior lord will cross the sea.
Then Lanká's lofty towers, and all
Your hosts and Rávaṇ's self shall fall.
None shall be left unslaughtered; none
Who braves the wrath of Raghu's son.”
Canto XLIV. Jambumáli's Death.
Then Jambumáli, pride and boast
For valour of the Rákshas host,
Prahasta's son supremely brave,
Obeyed the hest that Rávaṇ gave:
Fierce warrior with terrific teeth,
With saguine robes and brilliant wreath.
A bow like Indra's own874, and store
[pg 419]
Of glittering shafts the chieftain bore.
And ever as the string he tried
The weapon with a roar replied,
Loud as the crashing thunder sent
By him who rules the firmament.
Soon as the foeman came in view
Borne on a car which asses drew,
The Vánar chieftain mighty-voiced
Shouted in triumph and rejoiced.
Prahasta's son his bow-string drew,
And swift the winged arrows flew,
One in the face the Vánar smote,
Another quivered in his throat.
Ten from the deadly weapon sent
His brawny arms and shoulders rent.
Then as he felt each galling shot
The Vánar's rage waxed fiercely hot.
He looked, and saw a mass of stone
That lay before his feet o'erthrown.
The mighty block he raised and threw,
And crashing through the air it flew.
But Jambumáli shunned the blow,
And rained fresh arrows from his bow.
The Vánar's limbs were red with gore:
A Sál tree from the earth he tore,
And, ere he hurled it undismayed,
Above his head the missile swayed.
But shafts from Jambumáli's bow
Cut through it ere his hand could throw.
And thigh and arm and chest and side
With streams of rushing blood were dyed.
Still unsubdued though wounded oft
The shattered trunk he raised aloft,
And down with well-directed aim
On Jambumáli's chest it came.
There crushed upon the trampled grass
He lay an undistinguished mass,
The foeman's eye no more could see
His head or chest or arm or knee.
And bow and car and steeds875 and store
Of glittering shafts were seen no more.
When Jambumáli's death he heard,
King Rávaṇ's heart with rage was stirred
And forth his general's sons he sent,
For power and might preeminent.
Canto XLV. The Seven Defeated.
Forth went the seven in brave attire,
In glory brilliant as the fire,
Impetuous chiefs with massive bows,
The quellers of a host of foes:
Trained from their youth in martial lore,
And masters of the arms they bore:
Each emulous and fiercely bold,
And banners wrought with glittering gold
Waved o'er their chariots, drawn at speed
By coursers of the noblest breed.
On through the ruins of the grove
At Hanumán they fiercely drove,
And from the ponderous bows they strained
A shower of deadly arrows rained.
Then scarce was seen the Vánar's form
Enveloped in the arrowy storm.
So stands half veiled the Mountains' King
When rainy clouds about him cling.
By nimble turn, by rapid bound
He shunned the shafts that rained around,
Eluding, as in air he rose,
The rushing chariots of his foes.
The mighty Vánar undismayed
Amid his archer foemen played,
As plays the frolic wind on high
Mid bow-armed876 clouds that fill the sky.
He raised a mighty roar and yell
That fear on all the army fell,
And then, his warrior soul aglow
With fury, rushed upon the foe,
Some with his open hand he beat
To death and trampled with his feet;
Some with fierce nails he rent and slew,
And others with his fists o'erthrew;
Some with his legs, as on he rushed,
Some with his bulky chest he crushed;
While some struck senseless by his roar
Dropped on the ground and breathed no more,
The remnant, seized with sudden dread,
Turned from the grove and wildly fled.
The trampled earth was thickly strown
With steed and car and flag o'erthrown,
And the red blood in rivers flowed
From slaughtered fiends o'er path and road.
Canto XLVI. The Captains.
Mad with the rage of injured pride
King Rávaṇ summoned to his side
The valiant five who led his host,
Supreme in war and honoured most.
“Go forth,” he cried, “with car and steed,
And to my feet this monkey lead,
But watch each chance of time and place
To seize this thing of silvan race.
For from his wondrous exploits he
No monkey of the woods can be,
[pg 420]
But some new kind of creature meant
To work us woe, by Indra sent.
Gandharvas, Nágas, and the best
Of Yakshas have our might confessed.
Have we not challenged and subdued
The whole celestial multitude?
Yet will you not, if you are wise,
A chief of monkey race despise.
For I myself have Báli known,
And King Sugríva's power I own.
But none of all their woodland throng
Was half so terrible and strong.”
Obedient to the words he spake
They hastened forth the foe to take.
Swift were the cars whereon they rode,
And bright their weapons flashed and glowed.
They saw: they charged in wild career
With sword and mace and axe and spear.
From Durdhar's bow five arrows sped
And quivered in the Vánar's head.
He rose and roared: the fearful sound
Made all the region echo round.
Then from above his weight he threw
On Durdhar's car that near him drew.
The weight that came with lightning speed
Crushed pole and axle, car and steed.
It shattered Durdhar's head and neck,
And left him lifeless mid the wreck.
Yúpáksha saw the warrior die,
And Virúpáksha heard his cry,
And, mad for vengeance for the slain,
They charged their Vánar foe again.
He rose in air: they onward pressed
And fiercely smote him on the breast.
In vain they struck his iron frame:
With eagle swoop to earth he came,
Tore from the ground a tree that grew
Beside him, and the demons slew.
Then Bhásakama raised his spear,
And Praghas with a laugh drew near,
And, maddened at the sight, the two
Against the undaunted Vánar flew.
As from his wounds the torrents flowed,
Like a red sun the Vánar showed.
He turned, a mountain peak to seize
With all its beasts and snakes and trees.
He hurled it on the pair: and they
Crushed, overwhelmed, beneath it lay.
Canto XLVII. The Death Of Aksha.
But Rávaṇ, as his fury burned,
His eyes on youthful Aksha877 turned,
Who rose impetuous at his glance
And shouted for his bow and lance.
He rode upon a glorious car
That shot the light of gems afar.
His pennon waved mid glittering gold
And bright the wheels with jewels rolled,
By long and fierce devotion won
That car was splendid as the sun.
With rows of various weapons stored;
And thought-swift horses whirled their lord
Racing along the earth, or rose
High through the clouds whene'er he chose.
Then fierce and fearful war between
The Vánar and the fiend was seen.
The Gods and Asurs stood amazed,
And on the wondrous combat gazed.
A cry from earth rose long and shrill,
The wind was hushed, the sun grew chill.
The thunder bellowed from the sky,
And troubled ocean roared reply.
Thrice Aksha strained his dreadful bow,
Thrice smote his arrow on the foe,
And with full streams of crimson bled
Three gashes in the Vánar's head.
Then rose Hanúmán in the air
To shun the shafts no life could bear.
But Aksha in his car pursued,
And from on high the fight renewed
With storm of arrows, thick as hail
When angry clouds some hill assail.
Impatient of that arrowy shower
The Vánar chief put forth his power,
Again above his chariot rose
And smote him with repeated blows.
Terrific came each deadly stroke:
Breast neck and arm and back he broke;
And Aksha fell to earth, and lay
With all his life-blood drained away.
Canto XLVIII. Hanumán Captured.
To Indrajít878 the bold and brave
The giant king his mandate gave:
“O trained in warlike science, best
In arms of all our mightiest,
Whose valour in the conflict shown
To Asurs and to Gods is known,
The Kinkars whom I sent are slain,
And Jambumálí and his train;
The lords who led our giant bands
Have fallen by the monkey's hands;
With shattered cars the ground is spread,
And Aksha lies amid the dead.
Thou art my best and bravest: go,
Unmatched in power, and slay the foe.”
[pg 421]
He heard the hest: he bent his head;
Athirst for battle forth he sped.
Four tigers fierce, of tawny hue,
With fearful teeth, his chariot drew.
Hanúmán heard his strong bow clang,
And swiftly from the earth he sprang,
While weak and ineffective fell
The archer's shafts though pointed well.
The Rákshas saw that naught might kill
The wondrous foe who mocked his skill,
And launched a magic shaft to throw
A binding spell about his foe.
Forth flew the shaft: the mystic charm
Stayed his swift feet and numbed his arm,
Through all his frame he felt the spell,
And motionless to earth he fell.
Nor would the reverent Vánar loose
The bonds that bound him as a noose.
He knew that Brahmá's self had charmed
The weapon that his might disarmed.
They saw him helpless on the ground,
And all the giants pressed around,
And bonds of hemp and bark were cast
About his limbs to hold him fast.
They drew the ropes round feet and wrists;
They beat him with their hands and fists,
And dragged him as they strained the cord
With shouts of triumph to their lord.879
Canto XLIX. Rávan.
On the fierce king Hanúmán turned
His angry eyes that glowed and burned.
He saw him decked with wealth untold
Of diamond and pearl and gold,
And priceless was each wondrous gem
That sparkled in his diadem.
About his neck rich chains were twined,
The best that fancy e'er designed,
And a fair robe with pearls bestrung
Down from his mighty shoulders hung.
Ten heads he reared,880 as Mandar's hill
Lifts woody peaks which tigers fill,
Bright were his eyes, and bright, beneath,
The flashes of his awful teeth.
His brawny arms of wondrous size
Were decked with rings and scented dyes.
His hands like snakes with five long heads
Descending from their mountain beds.
He sat upon a crystal throne
Inlaid with wealth of precious stone,
Whereon, of noblest work, was set
A gold-embroidered coverlet.
Behind the monarch stood the best
Of beauteous women gaily dressed,
And each her giant master fanned,
Or waved a chourie in her hand.
Four noble courtiers881 wise and good
In counsel, near the monarch stood,
As the four oceans ever stand
About the sea-encompassed land.
Still, though his heart with rage was fired,
The Vánar marvelled and admired:
“O what a rare and wondrous sight!
What beauty, majesty, and might!
All regal pomp combines to grace
This ruler of the Rákshas race.
He, if he scorned not right and law,
Might guide the world with tempered awe:
Yea, Indra and the Gods on high
Might on his saving power rely.”
Canto L. Prahasta's Questions.
Then fierce the giant's fury blazed
As on Hanúmán's form he gazed,
And shaken by each wild surmise
He spake aloud with flashing eyes:
“Can this be Nandi882 standing here,
The mighty one whom all revere?
Who once on high Kailása's hill
Pronounced the curse that haunts me still?
Or is the woodland creature one
Of Asur race, or Bali's883 son?
The wretch with searching question try:
Learn who he is, and whence; and why
He marred the glory of the grove,
And with my captains fiercely strove.”
[pg 422]
Prahasta heard his lord's behest,
And thus the Vánar chief addressed:
“O monkey stranger be consoled:
Fear not, and let thy heart be bold.
If thou by Indra's mandate sent
Thy steps to Lanká's isle hast bent,
With fearless words the cause explain,
And freedom thou shalt soon regain.
Or if thou comest as a spy
Despatched by Vishṇu in the sky,
Or sent by Yáma, or the Lord
Of Riches, hast our town explored;
Proved by the prowess thou hast shown
No monkey save in form alone;
Speak boldly all the truth, and be
Released from bonds, unharmed and free.
But falsehood spoken to our king
Swift punishment of death will bring.”
He ceased: the Vánar made reply;
“Not Indra's messenger am I,
Nor came I hither to fulfil
Kuvera's hest or Vishṇu's will.
I stand before the giants here
A Vánar e'en as I appear.
I longed to see the king: 'twas hard
To win my way through gate and guard.
And so to gain my wish I laid
In ruin that delightful shade.
No fiend, no God of heavenly kind
With bond or chain these limbs may bind.
The Eternal Sire himself of old
Vouchsafed the boon that makes me bold,
From Brahmá's magic shaft released884
I knew the captor's power had ceased,
The fancied bonds I freely brooked,
And thus upon the king have looked.
My way to Lanká have I won,
A messenger from Raghu's son.”
Canto LI. Hanumán's Reply.
“My king Sugríva greets thee fair,
And bids me thus his rede declare.
Son of the God of Wind, by name
Hanumán, to this isle I came.
To set the Maithil lady free
I crossed the barrier of the sea.
I roamed in search of her and found
Her weeping in that lovely ground.
Thou in the lore of duty trained,
Who hast by stern devotion gained
This wondrous wealth and power and fame
Shouldst fear to wrong another's dame.
Hear thou my counsel, and be wise:
No fiend, no dweller in the skies
Can bear the shafts by Lakshmaṇ shot,
Or Ráma when his wrath is hot.
O Giant King, repent the crime
And soothe him while there yet is time.
Now be the Maithil queen restored
Uninjured to her sorrowing lord.
Soon wilt thou rue thy dire mistake:
She is no woman but a snake,
Whose very deadly bite will be
The ruin of thy house and thee.
Thy pride has led thy thoughts astray,
That fancy not a hand may slay
The monarch of the giants, screened
From mortal blow of God and fiend.
Sugríva still thy death may be:
No Yaksha, fiend, or God is he,
And Ráma from a woman springs,
The mortal seed of mortal kings.
O think how Báli fell subdued;
Think on thy slaughtered multitude.
Respect those brave and strong allies;
Consult thy safety, and be wise.
I, even I, no helper need
To overthrow, with car and steed,
Thy city Lanká half divine:
The power but not the will is mine.
For Raghu's son, before his friend
The Vánar monarch, swore to end
With his own conquering arm the life
Of him who stole his darling wife.
Turn, and be wise, O Rávaṇ turn;
Or thou wilt see thy Lanká burn,
And with thy wives, friends, kith and kin
Be ruined for thy senseless sin.”
Canto LII. Vibhishan's Speech.
Then Rávaṇ spake with flashing eye:
“Hence with the Vánar: let him die.”
Vibhishaṇ heard the stern behest,
And pondered in his troubled breast;
Then, trained in arts that soothe and please
Addressed the king in words like these:
“Revoke, my lord, thy fierce decree,
And hear the words I speak to thee.
Kings wise and noble ne'er condemn
To death the envoys sent to them.
Such deed the world's contempt would draw
On him who breaks the ancient law.885
Observe the mean where justice lies,
And spare his life but still chastise.”
[pg 423]
Then forth the tyrant's fury broke,
And thus in angry words he spoke:
“O hero, when the wicked bleed
No sin or shame attends the deed.
The Vánar's blood must needs be spilt,
The penalty of heinous guilt.”
Again Vibhishaṇ made reply:
“Nay, hear me, for he must not die.
Hear the great law the wise declare:
“Thy foeman's envoy thou shalt spare.”
'Tis true he comes an open foe:
'Tis true his hands have wrought us woe,
But law allows thee, if thou wilt,
A punishment to suit the guilt.
The mark of shame, the scourge, the brand,
The shaven head, the wounded hand.
Yea, were the Vánar envoy slain,
Where, King of giants, were the gain?
On them alone, on them who sent
The message, be the punishment.
For spake he well or spake he ill,
He spake obedient to their will,
And, if he perish, who can bear
Thy challenge to the royal pair?
Who, cross the ocean and incite
Thy death-doomed enemies to fight?”
Canto LIII. The Punishment.
King Rávaṇ, by his pleading moved,
The counsel of the chief approved:
“Thy words are wise and true: to kill
An envoy would beseem us ill.
Yet must we for his crime invent
Some fitting mode of punishment.
The tail, I fancy, is the part
Most cherished by a monkey's heart.
Make ready: set his tail aflame,
And let him leave us as he came,
And thus disfigured and disgraced
Back to his king and people haste.”
The giants heard their monarch's speech;
And, filled with burning fury, each
Brought strips of cotton cloth, and round
The monkey's tail the bandage wound.
As round his tail the bands they drew
His mighty form dilating grew
Vast as the flame that bursts on high
Where trees are old and grass is dry.
Each band and strip they soaked in oil,
And set on fire the twisted coil.
Delighted as they viewed the blaze,
The cruel demons stood at gaze:
And mid loud drums and shells rang out
The triumph of their joyful shout.
They pressed about him thick and fast
As through the crowded streets he passed,
Observing with attentive care
Each rich and wondrous structure there,
Still heedless of the eager cry
That rent the air, The spy! the spy!
Some to the captive lady ran,
And thus in joyous words began:
“That copper-visaged monkey, he
Who in the garden talked with thee,
Through Lanká's town is led a show,
And round his tail the red flames glow.”
The mournful news the lady heard
That with fresh grief her bosom stirred.
Swift to the kindled fire she went
And prayed before it reverent:
“If I my husband have obeyed,
And kept the ascetic vows I made,
Free, ever free, from stain and blot,
O spare the Vánar; harm him not.”
Then leapt on high the flickering flame
And shone in answer to the dame.
The pitying fire its rage forbore:
The Vánar felt the heat no more.
Then, to minutest size reduced,
The bonds that bound his limbs he loosed,
And, freed from every band and chain,
Rose to his native size again.
He seized a club of ponderous weight
That lay before him by the gate,
Rushed at the fiends that hemmed him round,
And laid them lifeless on the ground.
Through Lanká's town again he strode,
And viewed each street and square and road,—
Still wreathed about with harmless blaze,
A sun engarlanded with rays.
[pg 424]
Canto LIV. The Burning Of Lanká.
“What further deed remains to do
To vex the Rákshas king anew?
The beauty of his grove is marred,
Killed are the bravest of his guard.
The captains of his host are slain;
But forts and palaces remain,
Swift is the work and light the toil
Each fortress of the foe to spoil.”
Reflecting thus, his tail ablaze
As through the cloud red lightning plays,
He scaled the palaces and spread
The conflagration where he sped.
From house to house he hurried on,
And the wild flames behind him shone.
Each mansion of the foe he scaled,
And furious fire its roof assailed
Till all the common ruin shared:
Vibhishaṇ's house alone was spared.
From blazing pile to pile he sprang,
And loud his shout of triumph rang,
As roars the doomsday cloud when all
The worlds in dissolution fall.
The friendly wind conspired to fan
The hungry flames that leapt and ran,
And spreading in their fury caught
The gilded walls with pearls inwrought,
Till each proud palace reeled and fell
As falls a heavenly citadel.
Loud was the roar the demons raised
Mid walls that split and beams that blazed,
As each with vain endeavour strove
To stay the flames in house or grove.
The women, with dishevelled hair,
Flocked to the roofs in wild despair,
Shrieked out for succour, wept aloud,
And fell, like lightning from a cloud.
He saw the flames ascend and curl
Round turkis, diamond, and pearl,
While silver floods and molten gold
From ruined wall and latice rolled.
As fire grows fiercer as he feeds
On wood and grass and crackling reeds,
So Hanúmán the ruin eyed
With fury still unsatisfied.
Canto LV. Fear For Sítá.
But other thoughts resumed their sway
When Lanká's town in ruin lay;
And, as his bosom felt their weight
He stood a while to meditate.
“What have I done?”, he thought with shame,
“Destroyed the town with hostile flame.
O happy they whose firm control
Checks the wild passion of the soul;
Who on the fires of anger throw
The cooling drops that check their glow.
But woe is me, whom wrath could lead
To do this senseless shameless deed.
The town to fire and death I gave,
Nor thought of her I came to save,—
Doomed by my own rash folly, doomed
To perish in the flames consumed.
If I, when anger drove me wild,
Have caused the death of Janak's child,
The kindled flame shall end my woe,
Or the deep fires that burn below,886
Or my forsaken corse shall be
Food for the monsters of the sea.
How can I meet Sugríva? how
Before the royal brothers bow,—
I whose rash deed has madly foiled,
The noble work in which we toiled?
Or has her own bright virtue shed
Its guardian influence round her head?
She lives untouched,—the peerless dame;
Flame has no fury for the flame.887
The very fire would ne'er consent
To harm a queen so excellent,—
The high-souled Ráma's faithful wife,
Protected by her holy life.
She lives, she lives. Why should I fear
For one whom Raghu's sons hold dear?
Has not the pitying fire that spared
The Vánar for the lady cared?”
Such were his thoughts: he pondered long,
And fear grew faint and hope grew strong.
Then round him heavenly voices rang,
And, sweetly tuned, his praises sang:
“O glorious is the exploit done
By Hanumán the Wind-God's son.
The flames o'er Lanká's city rise:
The giants' home in ruin lies.
O'er roof and wall the fires have spread,
Nor harmed a hair of Sítá's head.”
Canto LVI. Mount Arishta.
He looked upon the burning waste,
Then sought the queen in joyous haste,
With words of hope consoled her heart,
And made him ready to depart.
[pg 425]
He scaled Arishṭa's glorious steep
Whose summits beetled o'er the deep.
The woods in varied beauty dressed
Hung like a garland round his crest,
And clouds of ever changing hue
A robe about his shoulders threw.
On him the rays of morning fell
To wake the hill they loved so well,
And bid unclose those splendid eyes
That glittered in his mineral dyes.
He woke to hear the music made
By thunders of the white cascade,
While every laughing rill that sprang
From crag to crag its carol sang.
For arms, he lifted to the stars
His towering stems of Deodárs,
And morning heard his pealing call
In tumbling brook and waterfall.
He trembled when his woods were pale
And bowed beneath the autumn gale,
And when his vocal reeds were stirred
His melancholy moan was heard.
Far down against the mountain's feet
The Vánar heard the wild waves beat;
Then turned his glances to the north.
Sprang from the peak and bounded forth,
The mountain felt the fearful shock
And trembled through his mass of rock.
The tallest trees were crushed and rent
And headlong to the valley sent,
And as the rocking shook each cave
Loud was the roar the lions gave.
Forth from the shaken cavern came
Fierce serpents with their tongues aflame;
And every Yaksha, wild with dread,
And Kinnar and Gandharva, fled.
Canto LVII. Hanumán's Return.
Still, like a winged mountain, he
Sprang forward through the airy sea,888
And rushing through the ether drew
The clouds to follow as he flew,
Through the great host around him spread,
Grey, golden, dark, and white, and red.
Now in a sable cloud immersed,
Now from its gloomy pall he burst,
Like the bright Lord of Stars concealed
A moment, and again revealed.
Sunábha889 passed, he neared the coast
Where waited still the Vánar host.
They heard a rushing in the skies,
And lifted up their wondering eyes.
His wild triumphant shout they knew
That louder still and louder grew,
And Jámbaván with eager voice
Called on the Vánars to rejoice:
“Look he returns, the Wind-God's son,
And full success his toils have won;
Triumphant is the shout that comes
Like music of a thousand drums.”
Up sprang the Vánars from the ground
And listened to the wondrous sound
Of hurtling arm and thigh as through
The region of the air he flew,
Loud as the wind, when tempests rave,
Roars in the prison of the cave.
From crag to crag, from height to height;
They bounded in their mad delight,
And when he touched the mountain's crest,
With reverent welcome round him pressed.
They brought him of their woodland fruits,
They brought him of the choicest roots,
And laughed and shouted in their glee
The noblest of their chiefs to see.
Nor Hanumán delayed to greet
Sage Jámbaván with reverence meet;
To Angad and the chiefs he bent
For age and rank preëminent,
And briefly spoke: “These eyes have seen,
These lips addressed, the Maithil queen.”
They sat beneath the waving trees,
And Angad spoke in words like these:
“O noblest of the Vánar kind
For valour power and might combined,
To thee triumphant o'er the foe
Our hopes, our lives and all we owe.
O faithful heart in perils tried,
[pg 426]
Which toil nor fear could turn aside,
Thy deed the lady will restore,
And Ráma's heart will ache no more.”890
Canto LVIII. The Feast Of Honey.
They rose in air: the region grew
Dark with their shadow as they flew.
Swift to a lovely grove891 they came
That rivalled heavenly Nandan's892 fame;
Where countless bees their honey stored,—
The pleasance of the Vánars' lord,
To every creature fenced and barred,
Which Dadhimukh was set to guard,
A noble Vánar, brave and bold,
Sugríva's uncle lofty-souled.
To Angad came with one accord
The Vánars, and besought their lord
That they those honeyed stores might eat
That made the grove so passing sweet.
He gave consent: they sought the trees
Thronged with innumerable bees.
They rifled all the treasured store,
And ate the fruit the branches bore,
And still as they prolonged the feast
Their merriment and joy increased.
Drunk with the sweets, they danced and bowed,
They wildly sang, they laughed aloud,
Some climbed and sprang from tree to tree,
Some sat and chattered in their glee.
Some scaled the trees which creepers crowned,
And rained the branches to the ground.
There with loud laugh a Vánar sprang
Close to his friend who madly sang,
In doleful mood another crept
To mix his tears with one who wept.
Then Dadhimukh with fury viewed
The intoxicated multitude.
He looked upon the rifled shade,
And all the ruin they had made;
Then called with angry voice, and strove
To save the remnant of the grove.
But warning cries and words were spurned,
And angry taunt and threat returned.
Then fierce and wild contention rose:
With furious words he mingled blows.
They by no shame or fear withheld,
By drunken mood and ire impelled,
Used claws, and teeth, and hands, and beat
The keeper under trampling feet.
[Three Cantos consisting of little but repetitions are omitted. Dadhimukh escapes from the infuriated monkeys and hastens to Sugríva to report their misconduct. Sugríva infers that Hanumán and his band have been successful in their search, and that the exuberance of spirits and the mischief complained of, are but the natural expression of their joy. Dadhimukh obtains little sympathy from Sugríva, and is told to return and send the monkeys on with all possible speed.]

Canto LXV. The Tidings.
On to Praśravaṇ's hill they sped
Where blooming trees their branches spread.
To Raghu's sons their heads they bent
And did obeisance reverent.
Then to their king, by Angad led,
Each Vánar chieftain bowed his head;
And Hanumán the brave and bold
His tidings to the monarch told;
But first in Ráma's hand he placed
The gem that Sítá's brow had graced:
“I crossed the sea: I searched a while
For Sítá in the giants' isle.
I found her vext with taunt and threat
By demon guards about her set.
Her tresses twined in single braid,
On the bare earth her limbs were laid.
Sad were her eyes: her cheeks were pale
As shuddering flowers in winter's gale.
I stood beside the weeping dame,
And gently whispered Ráma's name:
With cheering words her grief consoled,
And then the whole adventure told.
She weeps afar beyond the sea,
And her true heart is still with thee.
She gave a sign that thou wouldst know,
She bids thee think upon the crow,
And bright mark pressed upon her brow
When none was nigh but she and thou.
She bids thee take this precious stone,
The sea-born gem thou long hast known.
“And I,” she said, “will dull the sting
Of woe by gazing on the ring.
One little month shall I sustain
This life oppressed with woe and pain:
And when the month is ended, I
The giants' prey must surely die.’ ”
[pg 427]
Canto LXVI. Ráma's Speech.
There ceased the Vánar: Ráma pressed
The treasured jewel to his breast,
And from his eyes the waters broke
As to the Vánar king he spoke:
“As o'er her babe the mother weeps,
This flood of tears the jewel steeps.
This gem that shone on Sítá's head
Was Janak's gift when we were wed,
And the pure brow that wore it lent
New splendour to the ornament.
This gem, bright offspring of the wave,
The King of Heaven to Janak gave,
Whose noble sacrificial rite
Had filled the God with new delight.
Now, as I gaze upon the prize,
Methinks I see my father's eyes.
Methinks I see before me stand
The ruler of Videha's land.893
Methinks mine arms are folded now
Round her who wore it on her brow.
Speak, Hanumán, O say, dear friend,
What message did my darling send?
O speak, and let thy words impart
Their gentle dew to cool my heart.
Ah, 'tis the crown of woe to see
This gem and ask “Where, where is she?”
If for one month her heart be strong,
Her days of life will yet be long.
But I, with naught to lend relief,
This very day must die of grief.
Come, Hanumán, and quickly guide
The mourner to his darling's side.
O lead me—thou hast learnt the way—
I cannot and I will not stay.
How can my gentle love endure,
So timid, delicate, and pure,
The dreadful demons fierce and vile
Who watch her in the guarded isle?
No more the light of beauty shines
From Sítá as she weeps and pines.
But pain and sorrow, cloud on cloud
Her moonlight glory dim and shroud.
O speak, dear Hanumán, and tell
Each word that from her sweet lips fell,
Her words, her words alone can give
The healing balm to make me live.”

 

 
 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

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