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Title: The Birth of the War-God - A Poem by Kalidasa
Author: Kalidasa
Language: English
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                                 THE
                        BIRTH OF THE WAR-GOD.

                        _A POEM BY KÁLIDÁSA._

           Translated from the Sanskrit into English Verse

                                  BY

                      RALPH T. H. GRIFFITH, M.A.
                    PRINCIPAL OF BENARES COLLEGE.

                           Second Edition.

                               LONDON:
                     TRÜBNER & CO., LUDGATE HILL.
                                1879.
                       [_All rights reserved._]


                              TRÜBNER'S
                                  V.



                               PREFACE.


Of the history of KÁLIDÁSA, to whom by general assent the KUMÁRA
SAMBHAVA, or BIRTH OF THE WAR-GOD, is attributed, we know but little
with any certainty; we can only gather from a memorial-verse which
enumerates their names, that he was one of the 'Nine Precious Stones'
that shone at the Court of VIKRAMÁDITYA, King of OUJEIN, in the half
century immediately preceding the Christian era.[A] As the examination
of arguments for and against the correctness of this date is not
likely to interest general readers, I must request them to rest
satisfied with the belief that about the time when VIRGIL and HORACE
were shedding an undying lustre upon the reign of AUGUSTUS, our poet
KÁLIDÁSA lived, loved, and sang, giving and taking honour, at the
polished court of the no less munificent patron of Sanskrit
literature, at the period of its highest perfection.

    [A] [This date is much too early. It has been shown by H.
    Jacobi from the astrological data contained in the poem that
    the date of its composition cannot be placed earlier than
    about the middle of the fourth century A.D.]

Little as we know of Indian poetry, here and there an English reader
may be found, who is not entirely unacquainted with the name or works
of the author of the beautiful dramas of SAKONTALÁ and THE HERO AND
THE NYMPH, the former of which has long enjoyed an European celebrity
in the translation of SIR WILLIAM JONES, and the latter is one of the
most charming of PROFESSOR WILSON'S specimens of the Hindú Theatre;
here and there even in England may be found a lover of the graceful,
tender, picturesque, and fanciful, who knows something, and would
gladly know more, of the sweet poet of the CLOUD MESSENGER, and THE
SEASONS; whilst in Germany he has been deeply studied in the original,
and enthusiastically admired in translation,--not the Orientalist
merely, but the poet, the critic, the natural philosopher,--a GOETHE,
a SCHLEGEL, a HUMBOLDT, having agreed, on account of his tenderness of
feeling and his rich creative imagination, to set KÁLIDÁSA very high
among the glorious company of the Sons of Song.[B]

    [B] Goethe says:

    Willst du die Blüthe des frühen, die Früchte des späteren
              Jahres,
      Willst du was reizt and entzückt, willst du was sättigt
              and nährt,
    Willst du den Himmel, die Erde, mit einem Namen begreifen;
      Nenn' ich Sakontalá, Dich, und so ist Alles gesagt.

    See also Schlegel's Dramatic Literature, Lect. II., and
    Humboldt's Kosmos, Vol. II. p. 40, and note.

That the poem which is now for the first time offered to the general
reader, in an English dress, will not diminish this reputation is the
translator's earnest hope, yet my admiration of the grace and beauty
that pervade so much of the work must not allow me to deny that
occasionally, even in the noble Sanskrit, if we judge him by an
European standard, KÁLIDÁSA is bald and prosaic. Nor is this a defence
of the translator at the expense of the poet. Fully am I conscious how
far I am from being able adequately to reproduce the fanciful creation
of the sweet singer of OUJEIN; that numerous beauties of thought and
expression I may have passed by, mistaken, marred; that in many of the
more elaborate descriptions my own versification is 'harsh as the
jarring of a tuneless chord' compared with the melody of KÁLIDÁSA'S
rhythm, to rival whose sweetness and purity of language, so admirably
adapted to the soft repose and celestial rosy hue of his pictures,
would have tried all the fertility of resource, the artistic skill,
and the exquisite ear of the author of LALLA ROOKH himself. I do not
think this poem deserves, and I am sure it will not obtain, that
admiration which the author's masterpieces already made known at once
commanded; at all events, if the work itself is not inferior, it has
not enjoyed the good fortune of having a JONES or a WILSON for
translator.

It may be as well to inform the reader, before he wonder at the
misnomer, that the BIRTH OF THE WAR-GOD was either left unfinished by
its author, or time has robbed us of the conclusion; the latter is the
more probable supposition, tradition informing us that the poem
originally consisted of twenty-two cantos, of which only seven now
remain.[C]

    [C] [Ten more cantos, of very inferior merit, have been
    published since this was written.]

I have derived great assistance in the work of translation from the
Calcutta printed edition of the poem in the Library of the East-India
House; but although the Sanskrit commentaries accompanying the text
are sometimes of the greatest use in unravelling the author's meaning,
they can scarcely claim infallibility; and, not unfrequently, are so
matter-of-fact and prosaic, that I have not scrupled to think, or
rather to feel, for myself. It is, however, PROFESSOR STENZLER'S
edition,[D] published under the auspices of the Oriental Translation
Fund (a society that has liberally encouraged my own undertaking),
that I have chiefly used. Valuable as this work is (and I will not
disown my great obligations to it), it is much to be regretted that
the extracts from the native commentators are so scanty, and the
annotations so few and brief.

    [D] [With a Latin translation.]

And now one word as to the manner in which I have endeavoured to
perform my task. Though there is much, I think, that might be struck
out, to the advantage of the poem, this I have in no instance ventured
to do, my aim having been to give the English reader as faithful a
cast of the original as my own power and the nature of things would
permit, and, without attempting to give word for word or line for
line, to produce upon the imagination impressions similar to those
which one who studies the work in Sanskrit would experience.

I will not seek to anticipate the critics, nor to deprecate their
animadversions, by pointing out the beauties of the poet, or
particularising the defects of him and his translator. That the former
will be appreciated, and the latter kindly dealt with, late experience
makes me confident; so that now, in the words of the Manager in the
Prelude to the HERO AND THE NYMPH, "I have only to request the
audience that they will listen to this work of KÁLIDÁSA with attention
and kindness, in consideration of its subject and respect for the
Author."

  ADDERLEY LIBRARY, MARLBOROUGH COLLEGE,
            _April, 1853_.



                          PRELIMINARY NOTE.

                            PRONUNCIATION.


As a general rule, the Sanskrit vowels are to be sounded like those of
the Italian alphabet, except the short or unaccented _a_, which has
the sound of that letter in the word _America_: "_pandit_," a learned
man, being pronounced _pundit_.

  _á_, long or accented            like _a_ in _father_.
  _e_                              like _e_ in _they_.
  _i_, short or unaccented,        like _i_ in _pick_.
  _í_, long or accented            like _i_ in _pique_.
  _o_                              like _o_ in _go_.
  _u_, short or unaccented,        like _u_ in _full_.
  _ú_, long or accented            like _u_ in _rule_.

The diphthongs _ai_ and _au_ are pronounced severally like _i_ in
_rise_ and _ou_ in _our_.

The consonants are sounded as in English. In the aspirates, however,
the sound of _h_ is kept distinct; _dh_, _th_, _ph_, _bh_, &c., being
pronounced as in _red-hot_, _pent-house_, _up-hill_, _abhor_, &c. _G_
is always hard, whatever vowel follows.

In HIMÁLAYA the accent is on the _second_ syllable.



                                 THE
                        BIRTH OF THE WAR-GOD.



Canto First.

_UMÁ'S NATIVITY._


  Far in the north HIMÁLAYA, lifting high
  His towery summits till they cleave the sky,
  Spans the wide land from east to western sea,
  Lord of the hills, instinct with deity.
  For him, when PRITHU ruled in days of old
  The rich earth, teeming with her gems and gold,
  The vassal hills and MERU drained her breast,
  To deck HIMÁLAYA, for they loved him best;
  And earth, the mother, gave her store to fill
  With herbs and sparkling ores the royal hill.
    Proud mountain-king! his diadem of snow
  Dims not the beauty of his gems below.
  For who can gaze upon the moon, and dare
  To mark one spot less brightly glorious there?
  Who, 'mid a thousand virtues, dares to blame
  One shade of weakness in a hero's fame?
  Oft, when the gleamings of his mountain brass
  Flash through the clouds and tint them as they pass,
  Those glories mock the hues of closing day,
  And heaven's bright wantons hail their hour of play;
  Try, ere the time, the magic of their glance,
  And deck their beauty for the twilight dance.
  Dear to the sylphs are the cool shadows thrown
  By dark clouds wandering round the mountain's zone,
  Till frightened by the storm and rain they seek
  Eternal sunshine on each loftier peak.
    Far spread the wilds where eager hunters roam,
  Tracking the lion to his dreary home.
  For though the melting snow has washed away
  The crimson blood-drops of the wounded prey,
  Still the fair pearls that graced his forehead tell
  Where the strong elephant, o'ermastered, fell,
  And clinging to the lion's claws, betray,
  Falling at every step, the mighty conqueror's way.
  There birch-trees wave, that lend their friendly aid
  To tell the passion of the love-lorn maid,
  So quick to learn in metal tints to mark
  Her hopes and fears upon the tender bark.

    List! breathing from each cave, HIMÁLAYA leads
  The glorious hymn with all his whispering reeds,
  Till heavenly minstrels raise their voice in song,
  And swell his music as it floats along.
  There the fierce elephant wounds the scented bough
  To ease the torment of his burning brow;
  And bleeding pines their odorous gum distil
  To breathe rare fragrance o'er the sacred hill.
    There magic herbs pour forth their streaming light
  From mossy caverns through the darksome night,
  And lend a torch to guide the trembling maid
  Where waits her lover in the leafy shade.
  Yet hath he caves within whose inmost cells
  In tranquil rest the murky darkness dwells,
  And, like the night-bird, spreads the brooding wing
  Safe in the shelter of the mountain-king,
  Unscorned, uninjured; for the good and great
  Spurn not the suppliant for his lowly state.

    Why lingers yet the heavenly minstrel's bride
  On the wild path that skirts HIMÁLAYA'S side?
  Cold to her tender feet--oh, cold--the snow,
  Why should her steps--her homeward steps--be slow?
  'Tis that her slender ankles scarce can bear
  The weight of beauty that impedes her there;
  Each rounded limb, and all her peerless charms,
  That broad full bosom, those voluptuous arms.
    E'en the wild kine that roam his forests bring
  The royal symbols to the mountain-king.
  With tails outspread, their bushy streaming hair
  Flashes like moonlight through the parted air.
  What monarch's fan more glorious might there be,
  More meet to grace a king as proud as he?
    There, when the nymphs, within the cave's recess,
  In modest fear their gentle limbs undress,
  Thick clouds descending yield a friendly screen,
  And blushing beauty bares her breast unseen.
    With pearly dewdrops GANGÁ loads the gale
  That waves the dark pines towering o'er the vale,
  And breathes in welcome freshness o'er the face
  Of wearied hunters when they quit the chase.
    So far aloft, amid Himálayan steeps,
  Crouched on the tranquil pool the lotus sleeps,
  That the bright SEVEN who star the northern sky
  Cull the fair blossoms from their seats on high;
  And when the sun pours forth his morning glow
  In streams of glory from his path below,
  They gain new beauty as his kisses break
  His darlings' slumber on the mountain lake.

    Well might that ancient hill by merit claim
  The power and glory of a monarch's name;
  Nurse of pure herbs that grace each holy rite,
  Earth's meetest bearer of unyielding might.
  The Lord of Life for this ordained him king,
  And bade him share the sacred offering.
    Gladly obedient to the law divine,
  He chose a consort to prolong his line.
  No child of earth, born of the Sage's will,
  The fair nymph MENÁ pleased the sovran hill.
  To her he sued, nor was his prayer denied,
  The Saints' beloved was the mountain's bride.
  Crowned with all bliss and beauty were the pair,
  He passing glorious, she was heavenly fair.
  Swiftly the seasons, winged with love, flew on,
  And made her mother of a noble son,
  The great MAINÁKA, who in triumph led
  His Serpent beauties to the bridal bed;
  And once when INDRA'S might those pinions rent
  That bare the swift hills through the firmament,
  (So fierce his rage, no mountain could withstand
  The wild bolt flashing from his red right hand,)
  He fled to Ocean, powerful to save,
  And hid his glory 'neath the friendly wave.

    A gentle daughter came at length to bless
  The royal mother with her loveliness;
  Born once again, for in an earlier life
  High fame was hers, as ['S]IVA'S faithful wife.
  But her proud sire had dared the God to scorn;
  Then was her tender soul with anguish torn,
  And jealous for the lord she loved so well,
  Her angered spirit left its mortal cell.
  Now deigned the maid, a lovely boon, to spring
  From that pure lady and the mountain-king.
  When Industry and Virtue meet and kiss,
  Holy their union, and the fruit is bliss.
    Blest was that hour, and all the world was gay,
  When MENÁ'S daughter saw the light of day.
  A rosy glow suffused the brightening sky;
  An odorous breeze came sweeping softly by.
  Breathed round the hill a sweet unearthly strain,
  And the glad heavens poured down their flowery rain.
    That fair young maiden diademmed with light
  Made her dear mother's fame more sparkling bright.
  As the blue offspring of the Turquois Hills
  The parent mount with richer glory fills,
  When the cloud's voice has caused the gem to spring,
  Responsive to its gentle thundering.
    Then was it sweet, as days flew by, to trace
  The dawning charm of every infant grace,
  Even as the crescent moons their glory pour
  More full, more lovely than the eve before.

    As yet the maiden was unknown to fame;
  Child of the Mountain was her only name.
  But when her mother, filled with anxious care
  At her stern penance, cried Forbear! Forbear!
  To a new title was the warning turned,
  And UMÁ was the name the maiden earned.
    Loveliest was she of all his lovely race,
  And dearest to her father. On her face
  Looking with love he ne'er could satisfy
  The thirsty glances of a parent's eye.
  When spring-tide bids a thousand flowerets bloom
  Loading the breezes with their rich perfume,
  Though here and there the wandering bee may rest,
  He loves his own--his darling mango--best.
  The Gods' bright river bathes with gold the skies,
  And pure sweet eloquence adorns the wise.
  The flambeau's glory is the shining fire;
  She was the pride, the glory of her sire,
  Shedding new lustre on his old descent,
  His loveliest child, his richest ornament.
    The sparkling GANGÁ laved her heavenly home,
  And o'er her islets would the maiden roam
  Amid the dear companions of her play
  With ball and doll to while the hours away.
    As swans in autumn in assembling bands
  Fly back to GANGÁ'S well-remembered sands:
  As herbs beneath the darksome shades of night
  Collect again their scattered rays of light:
  So dawned upon the maiden's waking mind
  The far-off memory of her life resigned,
  And all her former learning in its train,
  Feelings, and thoughts, and knowledge came again.
    Now beauty's prime, that craves no artful aid,
  Ripened the loveliness of that young maid:
  That needs no wine to fire the captive heart,--
  The bow of Love without his flowery dart.
  There was a glory beaming from her face,
  With love's own light, and every youthful grace:
  Ne'er had the painter's skilful hand portrayed
  A lovelier picture than that gentle maid;
  Ne'er sun-kissed lily more divinely fair
  Unclosed her beauty to the morning air.
    Bright as a lotus, springing where she trod,
  Her glowing feet shed radiance o'er the sod.
  That arching neck, the step, the glance aside,
  The proud swans taught her as they stemmed the tide,
  Whilst of the maiden they would fondly learn
  Her anklets' pleasant music in return.
    When the Almighty Maker first began
  The marvellous beauty of that child to plan,
  In full fair symmetry each rounded limb
  Grew neatly fashioned and approved by Him:
  The rest was faultless, for the Artist's care
  Formed each young charm most excellently fair,
  As if his moulding hand would fain express
  The visible type of perfect loveliness.
    What thing of beauty may the poet dare
  With the smooth wonder of those limbs compare?
  The young tree springing by the brooklet's side?
  The rounded trunk, the forest-monarch's pride?
  Too rough that trunk, too cold that young tree's stem;
  A softer, warmer thing must vie with them.
    Her hidden beauties though no tongue may tell,
  Yet ['S]IVA'S love will aid the fancy well:
  No other maid could deem her boasted charms
  Worthy the clasp of such a husband's arms.
  Between the partings of fair UMÁ'S vest
  Came hasty glimpses of a lovely breast:
  So closely there the sweet twin hillocks rose,
  Scarce could the lotus in the vale repose.
  And if her loosened zone e'er slipped below,
  All was so bright beneath the mantle's flow,
  So dazzling bright, as if the maid had braced
  A band of gems to sparkle round her waist;
  And the dear dimples of her downy skin
  Seemed fitting couch for Love to revel in.
  Her arms were softer than the flowery dart,
  Young KÁMA'S arrow, that subdues the heart;
  For vain his strife with ['S]IVA, till at last
  He chose those chains to bind his conqueror fast.
  E'en the new moon poured down a paler beam
  When her long fingers flashed their rosy gleam,
  And brighter than A['s]oka's blossom threw
  A glory round, like summer's evening hue.
  The strings of pearl across her bosom thrown
  Increased its beauty, and enhanced their own,--
  Her breast, her jewels seeming to agree,
  The adorner now, and now the adorned to be.
  When BEAUTY gazes on the fair full moon,
  No lotus charms her, for it blooms at noon:
  If on that flower she feed her raptured eye,
  No moon is shining from the mid-day sky;
  She looked on UMÁ'S face, more heavenly fair,
  And found their glories both united there.
  The loveliest flower that ever opened yet
  Laid in the fairest branch: a fair pearl set
  In richest coral, with her smile might vie
  Flashing through lips bright with their rosy dye.
  And when she spoke, upon the maiden's tongue,
  Distilling nectar, such rare accents hung,
  The sweetest note that e'er the Koïl poured
  Seemed harsh and tuneless as a jarring chord.
  The melting glance of that soft liquid eye,
  Tremulous like lilies when the breezes sigh,
  Which learnt it first--so winning and so mild--
  The gentle fawn, or MENÁ'S gentler child?
  And oh, the arching of her brow! so fine
  Was the rare beauty of its pencilled line,
  LOVE gazed upon her forehead in despair
  And spurned the bow he once esteemed so fair:
  Her long bright tresses too might shame the pride
  Of envious yaks who roamed the mountain-side.
  Surely the Maker's care had been to bring
  From Nature's store each sweetest, loveliest thing,
  As if the world's Creator would behold
  All beauty centred in a single mould.

    When holy NÁRAD--Saint who roams at will--
  First saw the daughter of the royal hill,
  He hailed the bride whom ['S]IVA'S love should own
  Half of himself, and partner of his throne.
  HIMÁLAYA listened, and the father's pride
  Would yield the maiden for no other's bride:
  To Fire alone of all bright things we raise
  The holy hymn, the sacrifice of praise.
  But still the monarch durst not, could not bring
  His child, unsought, to Heaven's supremest King;
  But as a good man fears his earnest prayer
  Should rise unheeded, and with thoughtful care
  Seeks for some friend his eager suit to aid,
  Thus great HIMÁLAYA in his awe delayed.

    Since the sad moment when his gentle bride
  In the full glory of her beauty died,
  The mournful ['S]IVA in the holy grove
  Had dwelt in solitude, and known not love.
  High on that hill where musky breezes throw
  Their balmy odours o'er eternal snow;
  Where heavenly minstrels pour their notes divine,
  And rippling GANGÁ laves the mountain pine,
  Clad in a coat of skin all rudely wrought
  He lived for prayer and solitary thought.
  The faithful band that served the hermit's will
  Lay in the hollows of the rocky hill,
  Where from the clefts the dark bitumen flowed.
  Tinted with mineral dyes their bodies glowed;
  Clad in rude mantles of the birch-tree's rind,
  With bright red garlands was their hair entwined.
  The holy bull before his master's feet
  Shook the hard-frozen earth with echoing feet,
  And as he heard the lion's roaring swell
  In distant thunder from the rocky dell,
  In angry pride he raised his voice of fear
  And from the mountain drove the startled deer.
    Bright fire--a shape the God would sometimes wear
  Who takes eight various forms--was glowing there.
  Then the great deity who gives the prize
  Of penance, prayer, and holy exercise,
  As though to earn the meed he grants to man,
  Himself the penance and the pain began.
    Now to that holy lord, to whom is given
  Honour and glory by the Gods in heaven,
  The worship of a gift HIMÁLAYA paid,
  And towards his dwelling sent the lovely maid;
  Her task, attended by her youthful train,
  To woo his widowed heart to love again.

    The hermit welcomed with a courteous brow
  That gentle enemy of hermit vow.
  The still pure breast where Contemplation dwells
  Defies the charmer and the charmer's spells.
  Calm and unmoved he viewed the wondrous maid,
  And bade her all his pious duties aid.
  She culled fresh blossoms at the God's command,
  Sweeping the altar with a careful hand;
  The holy grass for sacred rites she sought,
  And day by day the fairest water brought.
  And if the unwonted labour caused a sigh,
  The fair-haired lady turned her languid eye
  Where the pale moon on ['S]IVA'S forehead gleamed,
  And swift through all her frame returning vigour streamed.



_CANTO SECOND._



Canto Second.

_THE ADDRESS TO BRAHMÁ._


  While impious TÁRAK in resistless might
  Was troubling heaven and earth with wild affright,
  To BRAHMÁ'S high abode, by INDRA led,
  The mournful deities for refuge fled.
  As when the Day-God's loving beams awake
  The lotus slumbering on the silver lake,
  So BRAHMÁ deigned his glorious face to show,
  And poured sweet comfort on their looks of woe.
    Then nearer came the suppliant Gods to pay
  Honour to him whose face turns every way.
  They bowed them low before the Lord of Speech,
  And sought with truthful words his heart to reach:
  "Glory to Thee! before the world was made,
  One single form thy Majesty displayed.
  Next Thou, to body forth the mystic Three,
  Didst fill three Persons: Glory, Lord, to Thee!
  Unborn and unbegotten! from thy hand
  The fruitful seed rained down; at thy command
  From that small germ o'er quickening waters thrown
  All things that move not, all that move have grown.
  Before thy triple form in awe they bow:
  Maker, preserver, and destroyer, Thou!
  Thou, when a longing urged thee to create,
  Thy single form in twain didst separate.
  The Sire, the Mother that made all things be
  By their first union were but parts of Thee.
  From them the life that fills this earthly frame,
  And fruitful Nature, self-renewing, came.
  Thou countest not thy time by mortals' light;
  With Thee there is but one vast day and night.
  When BRAHMÁ slumbers fainting Nature dies,
  When BRAHMÁ wakens all again arise.
  Creator of the world, and uncreate!
  Endless! all things from Thee their end await.
  Before the world wast Thou! each Lord shall fall
  Before Thee, mightiest, highest, Lord of all.
  Thy self-taught soul thine own deep spirit knows;
  Made by thyself thy mighty form arose;
  Into the same, when all things have their end,
  Shall thy great self, absorbed in Thee, descend.
  Lord, who may hope thy essence to declare?
  Firm, yet as subtile as the yielding air:
  Fixt, all-pervading; ponderous, yet light,
  Patent to all, yet hidden from the sight.
  Thine are the sacred hymns which mortals raise,
  Commencing ever with the word of praise,
  With three-toned chant the sacrifice to grace,
  And win at last in heaven a blissful place.
  They hail Thee Nature labouring to free
  The Immortal Soul from low humanity;
  Hail Thee the stranger Spirit, unimpressed,
  Gazing on Nature from thy lofty rest.
  Father of fathers, God of gods art thou,
  Creator, highest, hearer of the vow!
  Thou art the sacrifice, and Thou the priest,
  Thou, he that eateth; Thou, the holy feast.
  Thou art the knowledge which by Thee is taught,
  The mighty thinker, and the highest thought!"

    Pleased with their truthful praise, his favouring eye
  He turned upon the dwellers in the sky,
  While from four mouths his words in gentle flow
  Come welling softly to assuage their woe:
  "Welcome! glad welcome, Princes! ye who hold
  Your lofty sovereignties ordained of old.
  But why so mournful? what has dimmed your light?
  Why shine your faces less divinely bright?
  Like stars that pour forth weaker, paler gleams,
  When the fair moon with brighter radiance beams.
  O say, in vain doth mighty INDRA bear
  The thunderbolt of heaven, unused to spare?
  VRITRA, the furious fiend, 'twas strong to slay:
  Why dull and blunted is that might to-day?
  See, VARUN'S noose hangs idly on his arm,
  Like some fell serpent quelled by magic charm.
  Weak is KUVERA'S hand, his arm no more
  Wields the dread mace it once so proudly bore;
  But like a tree whose boughs are lopped away,
  It tells of piercing woe, and dire dismay.
  In days of yore how YAMA'S sceptre shone!
  Fled are its glories, all its terrors gone;
  Despised and useless as a quenched brand,
  All idly now it marks the yielding sand.
  Fallen are the Lords of Light, ere now the gaze
  Shrank from the coming of their fearful blaze;
  So changed are they, the undazzled eye may see
  Like pictured forms, each rayless deity.
  Some baffling power has curbed the breezes' swell:
  Vainly they chafe against the secret spell.
  We know some barrier checks their wonted course,
  When refluent waters seek again their source.
  The RUDRAS too--fierce demigods who bear
  The curved moon hanging from their twisted hair--
  Tell by their looks of fear, and shame, and woe,
  Of threats now silenced, of a mightier foe.
  Glory and power, ye Gods, were yours of right:
  Have ye now yielded to some stronger might,
  Even as on earth a general law may be
  Made powerless by a special text's decree?
  Then say, my sons, why seek ye BRAHMÁ'S throne?
  'Tis mine to frame the worlds, and yours to guard your own."

    Then INDRA turned his thousand glorious eyes,
  Glancing like lilies when the soft wind sighs,
  And in the Gods' behalf, their mighty chief
  Urged the Most Eloquent to tell their grief.
  Then rose the heavenly Teacher, by whose side
  Dim seemed the glories of the Thousand-eyed,
  And with his hands outspread, to BRAHMÁ spake,
  Couched on his own dear flower, the daughter of the lake:
    "O mighty Being! surely thou dost know
  The unceasing fury of our ruthless foe;
  For thou canst see the secret thoughts that lie
  Deep in the heart, yet open to thine eye.
  The vengeful TÁRAK, in resistless might,
  Like some dire Comet, gleaming wild affright,
  O'er all the worlds an evil influence sheds,
  And, in thy favour strong, destruction spreads.
  All bow before him: on his palace wall
  The sun's first ray and parting splendour fall;
  Ne'er could he waken with a lovelier glance
  His own dear lotus from her nightly trance.
  For him, proud fiend, the moon no waning knows,
  But with unminished full-orbed lustre glows.
  Too faint for him the crescent glory set
  Amid the blaze of ['S]IVA'S coronet.
  How fair his garden, where the obedient breeze
  Dares steal no blossom from the slumbering trees!
  The wild wind checks his blustering pinions there,
  And gently whispering fans the balmy air;
  While through the inverted year the seasons pour,
  To win the demon's grace, their flowery store.
  For him, the River-god beneath the stream,
  Marks the young pearl increase its silver gleam,
  Until, its beauty and its growth complete,
  He bears the offering to his master's feet.
  The Serpents, led by VÁSUKI, their king,
  Across his nightly path their lustre fling;
  Bright as a torch their flashing jewels blaze,
  Nor wind, nor rain, can dim their dazzling rays.
  E'en INDRA, sovereign of the blissful skies,
  To gain his love by flattering homage tries,
  And sends him oft those flowers of wondrous hue
  That on the heavenly tree in beauty grew.
  Yet all these offerings brought from day to day,
  This flattery, fail his ruthless hand to stay.
  Earth, hell, and heaven, beneath his rage must groan,
  Till force can hurl him from his evil throne.
  Alas! where glowed the bright celestial bowers,
  And gentle fair ones nursed the opening flowers,
  Where heavenly trees a heavenly odour shed,
  O'er a sad desert ruin reigns instead.
  He roots up MERU'S sacred peaks, where stray
  The fiery coursers of the God of Day,
  To form bright slopes, and glittering mounds of ease,
  In the broad gardens of his palaces.
  There, on his couch, the mighty lord is fanned
  To sweetest slumber by a heavenly band;
  Poor captive nymphs, who stand in anguish by,
  Drop the big tear, and heave the ceaseless sigh.
  And now have INDRA'S elephants defiled
  The sparkling stream where heavenly GANGÁ smiled,
  And her gold lotuses the fiend has taken
  To deck his pools, and left her all forsaken.
  The Gods of heaven no more delight to roam
  O'er all the world, far from their glorious home.
  They dread the demon's impious might, nor dare
  Speed their bright chariots through the fields of air.
  And when our worshippers in duty bring
  The appointed victims for the offering,
  He tears them from the flame with magic art,
  While we all powerless watch with drooping heart.
  He too has stolen from his master's side
  The steed of heavenly race, great INDRA'S pride.
  No more our hosts, so glorious once, withstand
  The fierce dominion of the demon's hand,
  As herbs of healing virtue fail to tame
  The sickness raging through the infected frame.
  Idly the discus hangs on VISH[N.]U'S neck,
  And our last hope is vain, that it would check
  The haughty TÁRAK'S might, and flash afar
  Ruin and death--the thunderbolt of war.
  E'en INDRA'S elephant has felt the might
  Of his fierce monsters in the deadly fight,
  Which spurn the dust in fury, and defy
  The threatening clouds that sail along the sky.
  Therefore, O Lord, we seek a chief, that he
  May lead the hosts of heaven to victory,
  Even as holy men who long to sever
  The immortal spirit from its shell for ever,
  Seek lovely Virtue's aid to free the soul
  From earthly ties and action's base control.
  Thus shall he save us: proudly will we go
  Under his escort 'gainst the furious foe;
  And INDRA, conqueror in turn, shall bring
  FORTUNE, dear captive, home with joy and triumphing."

    Sweet as the rains--the fresh'ning rains--that pour
  On the parched earth when thunders cease to roar,
  Were BRAHMÁ'S words: "Gods, I have heard your grief;
  Wait ye in patience: time will bring relief.
  'Tis not for me, my children, to create
  A chief to save you from your mournful fate.
  Not by my hand the fiend must be destroyed,
  For my kind favour has he once enjoyed;
  And well ye know that e'en a poisonous tree
  By him who planted it unharmed should be.
  He sought it eagerly, and long ago
  I gave my favour to your demon-foe,
  And stayed his awful penance, that had hurled
  Flames, death, and ruin o'er the subject world.
  When that great warrior battles for his life,
  O, who may conquer in the deadly strife,
  Save one of ['S]IVA'S seed? He is the light,
  Reigning supreme beyond the depths of night.
  Nor I, nor VISH[N.]U, his full power may share,
  Lo, where he dwells in solitude and prayer!
  Go, seek the Hermit in the grove alone,
  And to the God be UMÁ'S beauty shown.
  Perchance, the Mountain-child, with magnet's force,
  May turn the iron from its steadfast course,
  Bride of the mighty God; for only she
  Can bear to Him as water bears to me.
  Then from their love a mighty Child shall rise,
  And lead to war the armies of the skies.
  Freed by his hand, no more the heavenly maids
  Shall twine their glittering hair in mournful braids."

    He spake, and vanished from their wondering sight;
  And they sped homeward to their world of light.
  But INDRA, still on BRAHMÁ'S words intent,
  To KÁMA'S dwelling-place his footsteps bent.
  Swiftly he came: the yearning of his will
  Made INDRA'S lightning course more speedy still.
  The LOVE-GOD, armed with flowers divinely sweet,
  In lowly homage bowed before his feet.
  Around his neck, where bright love-tokens clung,
  Arched like a maiden's brow, his bow was hung,
  And blooming SPRING, his constant follower, bore
  The mango twig, his weapon famed of yore.



_CANTO THIRD._



Canto Third.

_THE DEATH OF LOVE._


  Is eager gaze the sovereign of the skies
  looked full on _Káma_ with his thousand eyes:
  E'en such a gaze as trembling suppliants bend,
  When danger threatens, on a mighty friend.

    Close by his side, where INDRA bade him rest,
  The LOVE-GOD sate, and thus his lord addressed:
  "All-knowing INDRA, deign, my Prince, to tell
  Thy heart's desire in earth, or heaven, or hell:
  Double the favour, mighty sovereign, thou
  Hast thought on KÁMA, O, command him now:
  Who angers thee by toiling for the prize,
  By penance, prayer, or holy sacrifice?
  What mortal being dost thou count thy foe?
  Speak, I will tame him with my darts and bow.
  Has some one feared the endless change of birth,
  And sought the path that leads the soul from earth?
  Slave to a glancing eye thy foe shall bow,
  And own the witchery of a woman's brow;
  E'en though the object of thine envious rage
  Were taught high wisdom by the immortal sage,
  With billowy passions will I whelm his soul,
  Like rushing waves that spurn the bank's control.
  Or has the ripe full beauty of a spouse,
  Too fondly faithful to her bridal vows,
  Ravished thy spirit from thee? Thine, all thine
  Around thy neck her loving arms shall twine.
  Has thy love, jealous of another's charms,
  Spurned thee in wrath when flying to her arms?
  I'll rack her yielding bosom with such pain,
  Soon shall she be all love and warmth again,
  And wildly fly in fevered haste to rest
  Her aching heart close, close to thy dear breast.
  Lay, INDRA, lay thy threatening bolt aside:
  My gentle darts shall tame the haughtiest pride,
  And all that war with heaven and thee shall know
  The magic influence of thy KÁMA'S bow;
  For woman's curling lip shall bow them down,
  Fainting in terror at her threatening frown.
  Flowers are my arms, mine only warrior SPRING,
  Yet in thy favour am I strong, great King.
  What can their strength who draw the bow avail
  Against my matchless power when I assail?
  Strong is the Trident-bearing God, yet he,
  The mighty ['S]IVA, e'en, must yield to me."

    Then INDRA answered with a dawning smile,
  Resting his foot upon a stool the while:
  "Dear God of Love, thou truly hast displayed
  The power unrivalled of thy promised aid.
  My hope is all in thee: my weapons are
  The thunderbolt and thou, more mighty far.
  But vain, all vain the bolt of heaven to fright
  Those holy Saints whom penance arms aright.
  Thy power exceeds all bound: thou, only thou,
  All-conquering Deity, canst help me now!
  Full well I know thy nature, and assign
  This toil to thee, which needs a strength like thine:
  As on that snake alone will KRISH[N.]A rest,
  That bears the earth upon his haughty crest.
  Our task is well-nigh done: thy boasted dart
  Has power to conquer even ['S]IVA'S heart.
  Hear what the Gods, oppressed with woe, would fain
  From mighty ['S]IVA through thine aid obtain.
  He may beget--and none in heaven but he--A
  chief to lead our hosts to victory.
  But all his mind with holiest lore is fraught,
  Bent on the Godhead is his every thought.
  Thy darts, O LOVE, alone can reach him now,
  And lure his spirit from the hermit vow.
  Go, seek HIMÁLAYA'S Mountain-child, and aid
  With all thy loveliest charms the lovely maid,
  So may she please his fancy: only she
  May wed with ['S]IVA: such the fixt decree.
  E'en now my bands of heavenly maids have spied
  Fair UMÁ dwelling by the Hermit's side.
  There by her father's bidding rests she still,
  Sweet minister, upon the cold bleak hill.
  Go, KÁMA, go! perform this great emprise,
  And free from fear the Rulers of the Skies;
  We need thy favour, as the new-sown grain
  Calls for the influence of the gentle rain.
  Go, KÁMA, go! thy flowery darts shall be
  Crowned with success o'er this great deity.
  Yea, and thy task is e'en already done,
  For praise and glory are that instant won
  When a bold heart dares manfully essay
  The deed which others shrink from in dismay.
  Gods are thy suppliants, KÁMA, and on thee
  Depends the triple world's security.
  No cruel deed will stain thy flowery bow:
  With all thy gentlest, mightiest valour, go!
  And now, Disturber of the spirit, see
  SPRING, thy beloved, will thy comrade be,
  And gladly aid thee ['S]IVA'S heart to tame:
  None bids the whispering Wind, and yet he fans the flame."

    He spake, and KÁMA bowed his bright head down,
  And took his bidding like a flowery crown.
  Above his wavy curls great INDRA bent,
  And fondly touched his soldier ere he went,
  With that hard hand--but, O, how gentle now--
  That fell so heavy on his elephant's brow.
    Then for that snow-crowned hill he turned away,
  Where all alone the heavenly Hermit lay.
  His fearful RATI and his comrade SPRING
  Followed the guidance of Love's mighty king.
  There will he battle in unwonted strife,
  Return a conqueror or be reft of life.

    How fair was SPRING! To fill the heart with love,
  And lure the Hermit from his thoughts above,
  In that pure grove he grew so heavenly bright
  That KÁMA'S envy wakened at the sight.
    Now the bright Day-God turned his burning ray
  To where KUVERA holds his royal sway,
  While the sad South in whispering breezes sighed
  And mourned his absence like a tearful bride.
  Then from its stem the red A['s]oka threw
  Full buds and flowerets of celestial hue,
  Nor waited for the maiden's touch, the sweet
  beloved pressure of her tinkling feet.
  There grew LOVE'S arrow, his dear mango spray,
  Winged with young leaves to speed its airy way,
  And at the call of SPRING the wild bees came,
  Grouping the syllables of KÁMA'S name.
  How sighed the spirit o'er that loveliest flower
  That boasts no fragrance to enrich its dower!
  For Nature, wisest mother, oft prefers
  To part more fairly those good gifts of hers.
  There from the tree Palása blossoms spread,
  Curved like the crescent moon, their rosiest red,
  With opening buds that looked as if young SPRING
  Had pressed his nails there in his dallying:
  Sweet wanton SPRING, to whose enchanting face
  His flowery Tilaka gave fairer grace:
  Who loves to tint his lip, the mango spray,
  With the fresh colours of the early day,
  And powder its fine red with many a bee
  That sips the oozing nectar rapturously.
  The cool gale speeding o'er the shady lawns
  Shook down the sounding leaves, while startled fawns
  Ran wildly at the viewless foe, all blind
  With pollen wafted by the fragrant wind.
  Sweet was the Köil's voice, his neck still red
  With mango buds on which he late had fed:
  Twas as the voice of LOVE to bid the dame
  Spurn her cold pride, nor quench the gentle flame.
  What though the heat has stained the tints that dyed
  With marvellous bloom the heavenly minstrel's bride?
  Neither her smile nor sunny glances fail:
  Bright is her lip, although her check be pale
  E'en the pure hermits owned the secret power
  Of warm SPRING coming in unwonted hour,
  While LOVE'S delightful witchery gently stole
  With strong sweet influence o'er the saintly soul.

    On came the Archer-God, and at his side
  The timid RATI, his own darling bride,
  While breathing nature showed how deep it felt,
  At passion's glowing touch, the senses melt.
  For there in eager love the wild bee dipp'd
  In the dark flower-cup where his partner sipp'd.
  Here in the shade the hart his horn declined,
  And, while joy closed her eyes, caressed the hind.
  There from her trunk the elephant had poured
  A lily-scented stream to cool her lord,
  While the fond love-bird by the silver flood
  Gave to his mate the tasted lotus bud.
  Full in his song the minstrel stayed to sip
  The heavenlier nectar of his darling's lip.
  Pure pearls of heat had late distained the dye,
  But flowery wine was sparkling in her eye.
  How the young creeper's beauty charmed the view,
  Fair as the fairest maid, as playful too!
  Here some bright blossoms, lovelier than the rest,
  In full round beauty matched her swelling breast.
  Here in a thin bright line, some delicate spray,
  Red as her lip, ravished the soul away.
  And then how loving, and how close they clung
  To the tall trees that fondly o'er them hung!
  Bright, heavenly wantons poured the witching strain,
  Quiring for ['S]IVA'S ear, but all in vain.
  No charmer's spell may check the firm control
  Won by the holy o'er the impassioned soul.

    The Hermit's servant hasted to the door:
  In his left hand a branch of gold he bore.
  He touched his lip for silence: "Peace! be still!
  Nor mar the quiet of this holy hill."
  He spake: no dweller of the forest stirred,
  No wild bee murmured, hushed was every bird.
  Still and unmoved, as in a picture stood
  All life that breathed within the waving wood.
    As some great monarch when he goes to war
  Shuns the fierce aspect of a baleful star,
  So KÁMA hid him from the Hermit's eye,
  And sought a path that led unnoticed by,
  Where tangled flowers and clustering trailers spread
  Their grateful canopy o'er ['S]IVA'S head.
  Bent on his hardy enterprise, with awe
  The Three-eyed Lord--great Penitent--he saw.
  There sate the God beneath a pine-tree's shade,
  Where on a mound a tiger's skin was laid.
  Absorbed in holiest thought, erect and still,
  The Hermit rested on the gentle hill.
  His shoulders drooping down, each foot was bent
  Beneath the body of the Penitent.
  With open palms the hands were firmly pressed,
  As though a lotus lay upon his breast.
  A double rosary in each ear, behind
  With wreathing serpents were his locks entwined.
  His coat of hide shone blacker to the view
  Against his neck of brightly beaming blue.
  How wild the look, how terrible the frown
  Of his dark eyebrows bending sternly down!
  How fiercely glared his eyes' unmoving blaze
  Fixed in devotion's meditating gaze:
  Calm as a full cloud resting on a hill,
  A waveless lake when every breeze is still,
  Like a torch burning in a sheltered spot,
  So still was he, unmoving, breathing not.
    So full the stream of marvellous glory poured
  from the bright forehead of that mighty Lord,
  Pale seemed the crescent moon upon his head,
  And slenderer than a slender lotus thread.
  At all the body's nine-fold gates of sense
  He had barred in the pure Intelligence,
  To ponder on the Soul which sages call
  Eternal Spirit, highest, over all.

    How sad was KÁMA at the awful sight,
  How failed his courage in a swoon of fright!
  As near and nearer to the God he came
  Whom wildest thought could never hope to tame,
  Unconsciously his hands, in fear and woe,
  Dropped the sweet arrows and his flowery bow.
    But UMÁ came with all her maiden throng,
  And KÁMA'S fainting heart again was strong;
  Bright flowers of spring, in every lovely hue,
  Around the lady's form rare beauty threw.
  Some clasped her neck like strings of purest pearls,
  Some shot their glory through her wavy curls.
  Bending her graceful head as half-oppressed
  With swelling charms even too richly blest,
  Fancy might deem that beautiful young maiden
  Some slender tree with its sweet flowers o'erladen.
  From time to time her gentle hand replaced
  The flowery girdle slipping from her waist:
  It seemed that LOVE could find no place more fair,
  So hung his newest, dearest bowstring there.
  A greedy bee kept hovering round to sip
  The fragrant nectar of her blooming lip.
  She closed her eyes in terror of the thief,
  And beat him from her with a lotus leaf.
  The angry curl of RATI'S lip confessed
  The shade of envy that stole o'er her breast.
  Through KÁMA'S soul fresh hope and courage flew,
  As that sweet vision blessed his eager view.
  So bright, so fair, so winning soft was she,
  Who could not conquer in such company?

    Now UMÁ came, fair maid, his destined bride,
  With timid steps approaching ['S]IVA'S side.
  In contemplation will he brood no more,
  He sees the Godhead, and his task is o'er.
  He breathes, he moves, the earth begins to rock,
  The Snake, her bearer, trembling at the shock.
    Due homage then his own dear servant paid,
  And told him of the coming of the maid.
  He learnt his Master's pleasure by the nod,
  And led HIMÁLAYA'S daughter to the God.
  Before his feet her young companions spread
  Fresh leaves and blossoms as they bowed the head,
  While UMÁ stooped so low, that from her hair
  Dropped the bright flower that starred the midnight there.
  To him whose ensign bears the bull she bent,
  Till each spray fell, her ear's rich ornament.
  "Sweet maid," cried ['S]IVA, "surely thou shalt be
  Blessed with a husband who loves none but thee!"
    Her fear was banished, and her hope was high:
  A God had spoken, and Gods cannot lie.

    Rash as some giddy moth that wooes the flame,
  LOVE seized the moment, and prepared to aim.
  Close by the daughter of the Mountain-King,
  He looked on ['S]IVA, and he eyed his string.
    While with her radiant hand fair UMÁ gave
  A rosary, of the lotuses that lave
  Their beauties in the heavenly GANGÁ'S wave,
  And the great Three-Eyed God was fain to take
  The offering for the well-loved suppliant's sake,
  On his bright bow LOVE placed the unerring dart,
  The soft beguiler of the stricken heart.
    Like the Moon's influence on the sea at rest,
  Came passion stealing o'er the Hermit's breast,
  While on the maiden's lip that mocked the dye
  Of ripe red fruit, he bent his melting eye.
  And oh! how showed the lady's love for him,
  The heaving bosom, and each quivering limb!
  Like young Kadambas, when the leaf-buds swell,
  At the warm touch of Spring they love so well.
  But still, with downcast eyes, she sought the ground,
  And durst not turn their burning glances round.
    Then with strong effort, ['S]IVA lulled to rest,
  The storm of passion in his troubled breast,
  And seeks, with angry eyes that round him roll,
  Whence came the tempest o'er his tranquil soul.
  He looked, and saw the bold young archer stand,
  His bow bent ready in his skilful hand,
  Drawn towards the eye; his shoulder well depressed,
  And the left foot thrown forward as a rest.

    Then was the Hermit-God to madness lashed,
  Then from his eye red flames of fury flashed.
  So changed the beauty of that glorious brow,
  Scarce could the gaze support its terror now.
    Hark! heavenly voices sighing through the air:
  "Be calm, great ['S]IVA, O be calm and spare!"
  Alas! that angry eye's resistless flashes
  Have scorched the gentle King of Love to ashes!
    But RATI saw not, for she swooned away;
  Senseless and breathless on the earth she lay;
  Sleep while thou mayst, unconscious lady, sleep!
  Soon wilt thou rise to sigh and wake to weep.
    E'en as the red bolt rives the leafy bough,
  So ['S]IVA smote the hinderer of his vow;
  Then fled with all his train to some lone place
  Far from the witchery of a female face.

  Sad was HIMALÁYA'S daughter: grief and shame
  O'er the young spirit of the maiden came:
  Grief--for she loved, and all her love was vain;
  Shame--she was spurned before her youthful train.
  She turned away, with fear and woe oppressed,
  To hide her sorrow on her father's breast;
  Then, in the fond arms of her pitying sire,
  Closed her sad eyes for fear of ['S]IVA'S ire.
  Still in his grasp the weary maiden lay,
  While he sped swiftly on his homeward way.
    Thus have I seen the elephant stoop to drink,
  And lift a lily from the fountain's brink.
  Thus, when he rears his mighty head on high,
  Across his tusks I've seen that lily lie.



_CANTO FOURTH._



Canto Fourth.

_RATI'S LAMENT._


  Sad, solitary, helpless, faint, forlorn,
  Woke KÁMA'S darling from her swoon to mourn.
  Too soon her gentle soul returned to know
  The pangs of widowhood--that word of woe.
  Scarce could she raise her, trembling, from the ground,
  Scarce dared to bend her anxious gaze around,
  Unconscious yet those greedy eyes should never
  Feed on his beauty more--gone, gone for ever.

  "Speak to me, KÁMA! why so silent? give
  One word in answer--doth my KÁMA live?"
  There on the turf his dumb cold ashes lay,
  Whose soul that fiery flash had scorched away.
  She clasped the dank earth in her wild despair,
  Her bosom stained, and rent her long bright hair,
  Till hill and valley caught the mourner's cry,
  And pitying breezes echoed sigh for sigh.
  "Oh thou wast beautiful: fond lovers sware
  Their own bright darlings were like KÁMA, fair.
  Sure woman's heart is stony: can it be
  That I still live while this is all of thee?
  Where art thou, KÁMA? Could my dearest leave
  His own fond RATI here alone to grieve?
  So must the sad forsaken lotus die
  When her bright river leaves his channel dry.
  KÁMA, dear KÁMA, call again to mind
  How thou wast ever gentle, I was kind.
  Let not my prayer, thy RATI'S prayer, be vain;
  Come as of old, and bless these eyes again!
  Wilt thou not hear me? Think of those sweet hours
  When I would bind thee with my zone of flowers,
  Those soft gay fetters o'er thee fondly wreathing,
  Thine only punishment when gently breathing
  In tones of love thy heedless sigh betrayed
  The name, dear traitor! of some rival maid.
  Then would I pluck a floweret from my tress
  And beat thee till I forced thee to confess,
  While in my play the falling leaves would cover
  The eyes--the bright eyes--of my captive lover.
  And then those words that made me, oh, so blest--
  "Dear love, thy home is in my faithful breast!"
  Alas, sweet words, too blissful to be true,
  Or how couldst thou have died, nor RATI perish too?

    Yes, I will fly to thee, of thee bereft,
  And leave this world which thou, my life, hast left.
  Cold, gloomy, now this wretched world must be,
  For all its pleasures came from only thee.
  When night has veiled the city in its shade,
  Thou, only thou, canst soothe the wandering maid,
  And guide her trembling at the thunder's roar
  Safe through the darkness to her lover's door.
  In vain the wine-cup, as it circles by,
  Lisps in her tongue and sparkles in her eye.
  Long locks are streaming, and the cheek glows red:
  But all is mockery, LOVE--dear LOVE--is dead.
  The MOON, sweet spirit, shall lament for thee,
  Late, dim, and joyless shall his rising be.
  Days shall fly on, and he forget to take
  His full bright glory, mourning for thy sake.
  Say, KÁMA, say, whose arrow now shall be
  The soft green shoot of thy dear mango tree,
  The favourite spray which Köils love so well,
  And praise in sweetest strain its wondrous spell?
  This line of bees which strings thy useless bow
  Hums mournful echo to my cries of woe.
  Come in thy lovely shape and teach again
  The Köil's mate, that knows the tender strain,
  Her gentle task to waft to longing ears
  The lover's hope, the distant lover's fears.
  Come, bring once more that ecstasy of bliss,
  The fond dear look, the smile, and ah! that kiss!
  Fainting with woe, my soul refuses rest
  When memory pictures how I have been blest.
  See, thou didst weave a garland, love, to deck
  With all spring's fairest buds thy RATI'S neck.
  Sweet are those flowers as they were culled to-day,
  And is my KÁMA'S form more frail than they?
  His pleasant task my lover had begun,
  But stern Gods took him ere the work was done;
  Return, my KÁMA, at thy RATI'S cry,
  And stain this foot which waits the rosy dye.
    Now will I hie me to the fatal pile,
  And ere heaven's maids have hailed thee with a smile,
  Or on my love their winning glances thrown,
  I will be there, and claim thee for mine own.
  Yet though I come, my lasting shame will be
  That I have lived one moment after thee.
  Ah, how shall I thy funeral rites prepare,
  Gone soul and body to the viewless air?
  "With thy dear SPRING I've seen thee talk and smile,
  Shaping an arrow for thy bow the while.
  Where is he now, thy darling friend, the giver
  Of many a bright sweet arrow for thy quiver?
  Is he too sent upon death's dreary path,
  Scorched by the cruel God's inexorable wrath?"

    Stricken in spirit by her cries of woe,
  Like venomed arrows from a mighty bow,
  A moment fled, and gentle SPRING was there,
  To ask her grief, to soothe her wild despair.
  She beat her breast more wildly than before,
  With greater floods her weeping eyes ran o'er.
  When friends are nigh the spirit finds relief
  In the full gushing torrent of its grief.

    "Turn, gentle friend, thy weeping eyes, and see
  That dear companion who was all to me.
  His crumbling dust with which the breezes play,
  Bearing it idly in their course away,
  White as the silver feathers of a dove,
  Is all that's left me of my murdered love.
    Now come, my KÁMA. SPRING, who was so dear,
  Longs to behold thee. Oh, appear, appear!
  Fickle to women LOVE perchance may bend
  His ear to listen to a faithful friend.
  Remember, he walked ever at thy side
  O'er bloomy meadows in the warm spring-tide,
  That Gods above, and men, and fiends below
  Should own the empire of thy mighty bow,
  That ruthless bow, which pierces to the heart,
  Strung with a lotus-thread, a flower its dart.
  As dies a torch when winds sweep roughly by,
  So is my light for ever fled, and I,
  The lamp his cheering rays no more illume,
  Am wrapt in darkness, misery and gloom.
  Fate took my love, and spared the widow's breath,
  Yet fate is guilty of a double death.
  When the wild monster tramples on the ground
  The tree some creeper garlands closely round,
  Reft of the guardian which it thought so true,
  Forlorn and withered, it must perish too.
  Then come, dear friend, the true one's pile prepare,
  And send me quickly to my husband there.
  Call it not vain: the mourning lotus dies
  When the bright MOON, her lover, quits the skies.
  When sinks the red cloud in the purple west,
  Still clings his bride, the lightning, to his breast.
  All nature keeps the eternal high decree:
  Shall woman fail? I come, my love, to thee!
    Now on the pile my faint limbs will I throw,
  Clasping his ashes, lovely even so,--
  As if beneath my weary frame were spread
  Soft leaves and blossoms for a flowery bed.
  And oh, dear comrade (for in happier hours
  Oft have I heaped a pleasant bed of flowers
  For thee and him beneath the spreading tree),
  Now quickly raise the pile for LOVE and me.
  And in thy mercy gentle breezes send
  To fan the flame that wafts away thy friend,
  And shorten the sad moments that divide
  Impatient KÁMA from his RATI'S side;
  Set water near us in a single urn,
  We'll sip in heaven from the same in turn;
  And let thine offering to his spirit be
  Sprays fresh and lovely from the mango tree,
  Culled when the round young buds begin to swell,
  For KÁMA loved those fragrant blossoms well."

    As RATI thus complained in faithful love,
  A heavenly voice breathed round her from above,
  Falling in pity like the gentle rain
  That brings the dying herbs to life again:
  "Bride of the flower-armed God, thy lord shall be
  Not ever distant, ever deaf to thee.
  Give me thine ear, sad lady, I will tell
  Why perished KÁMA, whom thou lovedst well.
  The Lord of Life in every troubled sense
  Too warmly felt his fair child's influence.
  He quenched the fire, but mighty vengeance came
  On KÁMA, fanner of the unholy flame.
  When ['S]IVA by her penance won has led
  HIMÁLAYA'S daughter to her bridal bed,
  His bliss to KÁMA shall the God repay,
  And give again the form he snatched away.
  Thus did the gracious God, at JUSTICE' prayer,
  The term of LOVE'S sad punishment declare.
  The Gods, like clouds, are fierce and gentle too,
  Now hurl the bolt, now drop sweet heavenly dew.
  Live, widowed lady, for thy lover's arms
  Shall clasp again--oh, fondly clasp--thy charms.
  In summer-heat the streamlet dies away
  Beneath the fury of the God of Day:
  Then, in due season, comes the pleasant rain,
  And all is fresh, and fair, and full again."
    Thus breathed the spirit from the viewless air,
  And stilled the raging of her wild despair;
  While SPRING consoled with every soothing art,
  Cheered by that voice from heaven, the mourner's heart,
  Who watched away the hours, so sad and slow,
  That brought the limit of her weary woe,
  As the pale moon, quenched by the conquering light
  Of garish day, longs for its own dear night.



_CANTO FIFTH._



Canto Fifth.

_UMÁ'S REWARD._


  Now woe to UMÁ, for young Love is slain,
  Her Lord hath left her, and her hope is vain.
  Woe, woe to UMÁ! how the Mountain-Maid
  Cursed her bright beauty for its feeble aid!
  'Tis Beauty's guerdon which she loves the best,
  To bless her lover, and in turn be blest.
    Penance must aid her now--or how can she
  Win the cold heart of that stern deity?
  Penance, long penance: for that power alone
  Can make such love, so high a Lord, her own.

    But, ah! how troubled was her mother's brow
  At the sad tidings of the mourner's vow!
  She threw her arms around her own dear maid,
  Kissed, fondly kissed her, sighed, and wept, and prayed:
    "Are there no Gods, my child, to love thee here?
  Frail is thy body, yet thy vow severe.
  The lily, by the wild bee scarcely stirred,
  Bends, breaks, and dies beneath the weary bird."
    Fast fell her tears, her prayer was strong, but still
  That prayer was weaker than her daughter's will.
  Who can recall the torrent's headlong force,
  Or the bold spirit in its destined course?
    She sent a maiden to her sire, and prayed
  He for her sake would grant some bosky shade,
  That she might dwell in solitude, and there
  Give all her soul to penance and to prayer.
  In gracious love the great HIMÁLAYA smiled,
  And did the bidding of his darling child.
  Then to that hill which peacocks love she came,
  Known to all ages by the lady's name.

    Still to her purpose resolutely true,
  Her string of noble pearls aside she threw,
  Which, slipping here and there, had rubbed away
  The sandal dust that on her bosom lay,
  And clad her in a hermit coat of bark,
  Rough to her gentle limbs, and gloomy dark,
  Pressing too tightly, till her swelling breast
  Broke into freedom through the unwonted vest.
  Her matted hair was full as lovely now
  As when 'twas braided o'er her polished brow.
  Thus the sweet beauties of the lotus shine
  When bees festoon it in a graceful line;
  And, though the tangled weeds that crown the rill
  Cling o'er it closely, it is lovely still.
  With zone of grass the votaress was bound,
  Which reddened the fair form it girdled round:
  Never before the lady's waist had felt
  The ceaseless torment of so rough a belt.
    Alas! her weary vow has caused to fade
  The lovely colours that adorned the maid.
  Pale is her hand, and her long finger-tips
  Steal no more splendour from her paler lips,
  Or, from the ball which in her play would rest,
  Made bright and fragrant, on her perfumed breast.
  Rough with the sacred grass those hands must be,
  And worn with resting on her rosary.
  Cold earth her couch, her canopy the skies,
  Pillowed upon her arm the lady lies:
  She who before was wont to rest her head
  In the soft luxury of a sumptuous bed,
  Vext by no troubles as she slumbered there,
  But sweet flowers slipping from her loosened hair.
  The maid put off, but only for awhile,
  Her passioned glances and her witching smile.
  She lent the fawn her moving, melting gaze,
  And the fond creeper all her winning ways.
  The trees that blossomed on that lonely mount
  She watered daily from the neighbouring fount:
  If she had been their nursing mother, she
  Could not have tended them more carefully.
  Not e'en her boy--her own bright boy--shall stay
  Her love for them: her first dear children they.
  Her gentleness had made the fawns so tame,
  To her kind hand for fresh sweet grain they came,
  And let the maid before her friends compare
  Her own with eyes that shone as softly there.

    Then came the hermits of the holy wood
  To see the votaress in her solitude;
  Grey elders came; though young the maid might seem,
  Her perfect virtue must command esteem.
  They found her resting in that lonely spot,
  The fire was kindled, and no rite forgot.
  In hermit's mantle was she clad; her look
  Fixt in deep thought upon the Holy Book.
  So pure that grove: all war was made to cease,
  And savage monsters lived in love and peace.
  Pure was that grove: each newly built abode
  Had leafy shrines where fires of worship glowed.

    But far too mild her penance, UMÁ thought,
  To win from heaven the lordly meed she sought.
  She would not spare her form, so fair and frail,
  If sterner penance could perchance prevail.
  Oft had sweet pastime wearied her, and yet
  Fain would she match in toil the anchoret.
  Sure the soft lotus at her birth had lent
  Dear UMÁ'S form its gentle element;
  But gold, commingled with her being, gave
  That will so strong, so beautifully brave.
    Full in the centre of four blazing piles
  Sate the fair lady of the winning smiles,
  While on her head the mighty God of Day
  Shot all the fury of his summer ray;
  Yet her fixt gaze she turned upon the skies,
  And quenched his splendour with her brighter eyes.
  To that sweet face, though scorched by rays from heaven,
  Still was the beauty of the lotus given,
  Yet, worn by watching, round those orbs of light
  A blackness gathered like the shades of night.
  She cooled her dry lips in the bubbling stream,
  And lived on Amrit from the pale moon-beam,
  Sometimes in hunger culling from the tree
  The rich ripe fruit that hung so temptingly.
    Scorched by the fury of the noon-tide rays,
  And fires that round her burned with ceaseless blaze,
  Summer passed o'er her: rains of Autumn came
  And throughly drenched the lady's tender frame.
  So steams the earth, when mighty torrents pour
  On thirsty fields all dry and parched before.
  The first clear rain-drops falling on her brow,
  Gem it one moment with their light, and now
  Kissing her sweet lip find a welcome rest
  In the deep valley of the lady's breast;
  Then wander broken by the fall within
  The mazy channels of her dimpled skin.
  There as she lay upon her rocky bed,
  No sumptuous roof above her gentle head,
  Dark Night, her only witness, turned her eyes,
  Red lightnings flashing from the angry skies,
  And gazed upon her voluntary pain,
  In wind, in sleet, in thunder, and in rain.
  Still lay the maiden on the cold damp ground,
  Though blasts of winter hurled their snows around,
  Still pitying in her heart the mournful fate
  Of those poor birds, so fond, so desolate,--
  Doomed, hapless pair, to list each other's moan
  Through the long hours of night, sad and alone.
    Chilled by the rain, the tender lotus sank:
  She filled its place upon the streamlet's bank.
  Sweet was her breath as when that lovely flower
  Sheds its best odour in still evening's hour.
  Red as its leaves her lips of coral hue:
  Red as those quivering leaves they quivered too.

    Of all stern penance it is called the chief
  To nourish life upon the fallen leaf.
  But even this the ascetic maiden spurned,
  And for all time a glorious title earned.
  APARNÁ--Lady of the unbroken fast--
  Have sages called her, saints who knew the past.
  Fair as the lotus fibres, soft as they,
  In these stern vows she passed her night and day.
  No mighty anchoret had e'er essayed
  The ceaseless penance of this gentle maid.

    There came a hermit: reverend was he
  As Bráhmanhood's embodied sanctity.
  With coat of skin, with staff and matted hair,
  His face was radiant, and he spake her fair.
  Up rose the maid the holy man to greet,
  And humbly bowed before the hermit's feet.
  Though meditation fill the pious breast,
  It finds a welcome for a glorious guest:
    The sage received the honour duly paid,
  And fixed his earnest gaze upon the maid.
  While through her frame unwonted vigour ran,
  Thus, in his silver speech, the blameless saint began:
  "How can thy tender frame, sweet lady, bear
  In thy firm spirit's task its fearful share?
  Canst thou the grass and fuel duly bring,
  And still unwearied seek the freshening spring?
  Say, do the creeper's slender shoots expand,
  Seeking each day fresh water from thy hand,
  Till like thy lip each ruddy tendril glows,
  That lip which, faded, still outreds the rose?
  With loving glance the timid fawns draw nigh:
  Say dost thou still with joy their wants supply?
  For thee, O lotus-eyed, their glances shine,
  Mocking the brightness of each look of thine.
  O Mountain-Lady, it is truly said
  That heavenly charms to sin have never led,
  For even penitents may learn of thee
  How pure, how gentle Beauty's self may be.
  Bright GANGÁ falling with her heavenly waves,
  HIMÁLAYA'S head with sacred water laves,
  Bearing the flowers the seven great Sages fling
  To crown the forehead of the Mountain-King.
  Yet do thy deeds, O bright-haired maiden, shed
  A richer glory round his awful head.
  Purest of motives, Duty leads thy heart:
  Pleasure and gain therein may claim no part.
  O noble maid, the wise have truly said
  That friendship soon in gentle heart is bred.
  Seven steps together bind the lasting tie:
  Then bend on me, dear Saint, a gracious eye.
  Fain, lovely UMÁ, would a Bráhman learn
  What noble guerdon would thy penance earn.
  Say, art thou toiling for a second birth,
  Where dwells the great Creator? O'er the earth
  Resistless sway? Or fair as Beauty's Queen,
  Peerless, immortal, shall thy form be seen?
    The lonely soul bowed down by grief and pain,
  By penance' aid some gracious boon may gain.
  But what, O faultless one, can move thy heart
  To dwell in solitude and prayer apart?
  Why should the cloud of grief obscure thy brow,
  'Mid all thy kindred, who so loved as thou?
  Foes hast thou none: for what rash hand would dare
  From serpent's head the magic gem to tear?
  Why dost thou seek the hermit's garb to try,
  Thy silken raiment and thy gems thrown by?
  As though the sun his glorious state should leave,
  Rayless to harbour 'mid the shades of eve.
  Wouldst thou win heaven by thy holy spells?
  Already with the Gods thy father dwells.
  A husband, lady? O forbear the thought,
  A priceless jewel seeks not, but is sought.
  Maiden, thy deep sighs tell me it is so;
  Yet, doubtful still, my spirit seeks to know
  Couldst thou e'er love in vain? What heart so cold
  That hath not eagerly its worship told?
  Ah! could the cruel loved one, thou fair maid,
  Look with cold glances on that bright hair's braid?
  Thy locks are hanging loosely o'er thy brow,
  Thine ear is shaded by no lotus now.
  See, where the sun hath scorched that tender neck
  Which precious jewels once were proud to deck.
  Still gleams the line where they were wont to cling,
  As faintly shows the moon's o'ershadowed ring.
  Now sure thy loved one, vain in beauty's pride,
  Dreamed of himself when wandering at thy side,
  Or he would count him blest to be the mark
  Of that dear eye, so soft, so lustrous dark.
  But, gentle UMÁ, let thy labour cease;
  Turn to thy home, fair Saint, and rest in peace.
  By many a year of penance duly done
  Rich store of merit has my labour won.
  Take then the half, thy secret purpose name;
  Nor in stern hardships wear thy tender frame."

    The holy Bráhman ceased: but UMÁ'S breast
  In silence heaved, by love and fear opprest.
  In mute appeal she turned her languid eye,
  Darkened with weeping, not with softening dye,
  To bid her maiden's friendly tongue declare
  The cherished secret of her deep despair:
  "Hear, holy Father, if thou still wouldst know,
  Why her frail form endures this pain and woe,
  As the soft lotus makes a screen to stay
  The noontide fury of the God of Day.
  Proudly disdaining all the blest above,
  With heart and soul she seeks for ['S]IVA'S love.
  For him alone, the Trident-wielding God,
  The thorny paths of penance hath she trod.
  But since that mighty one hath KÁMA slain,
  Vain every hope, and every effort vain.
  E'en as life fled, a keen but flowery dart
  Young LOVE, the Archer, aimed at ['S]IVA'S heart.
  The God in anger hurled the shaft away,
  But deep in UMÁ'S tender soul it lay;
  Alas, poor maid! she knows no comfort now,
  Her soul's on fire, her wild locks hide her brow.
  She quits her father's halls, and frenzied roves
  The icy mountain and the lonely groves.
  Oft as the maidens of the minstrel throng
  To hymn great ['S]IVA'S praises raised the song,
  The lovelorn lady's sobs and deep-drawn sighs
  Drew tears of pity from their gentle eyes.
  Wakeful and fevered in the dreary night
  Scarce closed her eyes, and then in wild affright
  Rang through the halls her very bitter cry,
  "God of the azure neck, why dost thou fly?"
  While their soft bands her loving arms would cast
  Hound the dear vision fading all too fast.
  Her skilful hand, with true love-guided art,
  Had traced the image graven on her heart.
  "Art thou all present? Dost thou fail to see
  Poor UMÁ'S anguish and her love for thee?"
  Thus oft in frenzied grief her voice was heard,
  Chiding the portrait with reproachful word.
  Long thus in vain for ['S]IVA'S love she strove,
  Then turned in sorrow to this holy grove.
  Since the sad maid hath sought these forest glades
  To hide her grief amid the dreary shades,
  The fruit hath ripened on the spreading bough;
  But ah! no fruit hath crowned her holy vow.
  Her faithful friends alone must ever mourn
  To see that beauteous form by penance worn,
  But oh! that ['S]IVA would some favour deign,
  As INDRA pitieth the parching plain!"
    The maiden ceased: his secret joy dissembling,
  The Bráhman turned to UMÁ pale and trembling:
  "And is it thus, or doth the maiden jest?
  Is this the darling secret of thy breast?"

    Scarce could the maid her choking voice command,
  Or clasp her rosary with quivering hand:
  "O holy Sage, learned in the Vedas' lore,
  'Tis even thus. Great ['S]IVA I adore.
  Thus would my steadfast heart his love obtain,
  For this I gladly bear the toil and pain.
  Surely the strong desire, the earnest will,
  May win some favour from his mercy still."

    "Lady," cried he, "that mighty Lord I know;
  Ever his presence bringeth care and woe.
  And wouldst thou still a second time prepare
  The sorrows of his fearful life to share?
  Deluded maid, how shall thy tender hand,
  Decked with the nuptial bracelet's jewelled band,
  Be clasped in his, when fearful serpents twine
  In scaly horror round that arm divine?
  How shall thy robe, with gay flamingoes gleaming,
  Suit with his coat of hide with blood-drops streaming?
  Of old thy pathway led where flowerets sweet
  Made pleasant carpets for thy gentle feet.
  And e'en thy foes would turn in grief away
  To see these vermeil-tinted limbs essay,
  Where scattered tresses strew the mournful place,
  Their gloomy path amid the tombs to trace.
  On ['S]IVA'S heart the funeral ashes rest,
  Say, gentle lady, shall they stain thy breast,
  Where the rich tribute of the Sandal trees
  Sheds a pure odour on the amorous breeze?
  A royal bride returning in thy state,
  The king of elephants should bear thy weight.
  How wilt thou brook the mockery and the scorn
  When thou on ['S]IVA'S bull art meanly borne?
  Sad that the crescent moon his crest should be:
  And shall that mournful fate be shared by thee?
  His crest, the glory of the evening skies,
  His bride, the moonlight of our wondering eyes!
  Deformed is he, his ancestry unknown;
  By vilest garb his poverty is shown.
  O fawn-eyed lady, how should ['S]IVA gain
  That heart for which the glorious strive in vain
  No charms hath he to win a maiden's eye:
  Cease from thy penance, hush the fruitless sigh!
  Unmeet is he thy faithful heart to share,
  Child of the Mountain, maid of beauty rare!
  Not 'mid the gloomy tombs do sages raise
  The holy altar of their prayer and praise."

    Impatient UMÁ listened: the quick blood
  Rushed to her temples in an angry flood.
  Her quivering lip, her darkly-flashing eye
  Told that the tempest of her wrath was nigh.
  Proudly she spoke: "How couldst thou tell aright
  Of one like ['S]IVA, perfect, infinite?
  'Tis ever thus, the mighty and the just
  Are scorned by souls that grovel in the dust.
  Their lofty goodness and their motives wise
  Shine all in vain before such blinded eyes.
  Say who is greater, he who strives for power,
  Or he who succours in misfortune's hour?
  Refuge of worlds, O how should ['S]IVA deign
  To look on men enslaved to paltry gain?
  The spring of wealth himself, he careth naught
  For the vile treasures that mankind have sought.
  His dwelling-place amid the tombs may be,
  Yet Monarch of the three great worlds is he.
  What though no love his outward form may claim,
  The stout heart trembles at his awful name.
  Who can declare the wonders of his might?
  The Trident-wielding God, who knows aright?
  Whether around him deadly serpents twine,
  Or if his jewelled wreaths more brightly shine;
  Whether in rough and wrinkled hide arrayed,
  Or silken robe, in glittering folds displayed;
  If on his brow the crescent moon he bear,
  Or if a shrunken skull be withering there;
  The funeral ashes touched by him acquire
  The glowing lustre of eternal fire;
  Falling in golden showers, the heavenly maids
  Delight to pour them on their shining braids.
  What though no treasures fill his storehouse full,
  What though he ride upon his horned bull,
  Not e'en may INDRA in his pride withhold
  The lowly homage that is his of old,
  But turns his raging elephant to meet
  His mighty Lord, and bows before his feet,
  Right proud to colour them rich rosy red
  With the bright flowers that deck his prostrate head.
  Thy slanderous tongue proclaims thy evil mind,
  Yet in thy speech one word of truth we find.
  Unknown thou call'st him: how should mortal man
  Count when the days of BRAHMÁ'S Lord began?
  But cease these idle words: though all be true,
  His failings many and his virtues few,
  Still clings my heart to him, its chosen lord,
  Nor fails nor falters at thy treacherous word.
  Dear maiden, bid yon eager boy depart:
  Why should the slanderous tale defile his heart?
  Most guilty who the faithless speech begins,
  But he who stays to listen also sins."
    She turned away: with wrath her bosom swelling,
  Its vest of bark in angry pride repelling:
  But sudden, lo, before her wondering eyes
  In altered form she sees the sage arise;
  'Tis ['S]IVA'S self before the astonished maid,
  In all his gentlest majesty displayed.
  She saw, she trembled, like a river's course,
  Checked for a moment in its onward force,
  By some huge rock amid the torrent hurled
  Where erst the foaming waters madly curled.
  One foot uplifted, shall she turn away?
  Unmoved the other, shall the maiden stay?
  The silver moon on ['S]IVA'S forehead shone,
  While softly spake the God in gracious tone:
  "O gentle maiden, wise and true of soul,
  Lo, now I bend beneath thy sweet control.
  Won by thy penance, and thy holy vows,
  Thy willing slave ['S]IVA before thee bows."

    He spake, and rushing through her languid frame,
  At his dear words returning vigour came.
  She knew but this, that all her cares were o'er,
  Her sorrows ended, she should weep no more!



_CANTO SIXTH._



Canto Sixth.

_UMÁ'S ESPOUSALS._


  Now gentle UMÁ bade a damsel bear
  To ['S]IVA, Soul of All, her maiden prayer:
  "Wait the high sanction of HIMÁLAYA'S will,
  And ask his daughter from the royal hill."
  Then ere the God, her own dear Lord, replied,
  In blushing loveliness she sought his side.
  Thus the young mango hails the approaching spring
  By its own tuneful bird's sweet welcoming.

    In UMÁ'S ear he softly whispered, yea,
  Then scarce could tear him from her arms away.
  Swift with a thought he summoned from above
  The Seven bright Saints to bear his tale of love.
  They came, and She, the Heavenly Dame, was there,
  Lighting with glories all the radiant air;
  Just freshly bathed in sacred GANGÁ'S tide,
  Gemmed with the dancing flowers that deck her side,
  And richly scented with the nectarous rill
  That heavenly elephants from their brows distil.
  Fair strings of pearl their radiant fingers hold,
  Clothed are their limbs in hermit-coats of gold;
  Their rosaries, large gems of countless price,
  Shone like the fruit that glows in Paradise,
  As though the glorious trees that blossom there
  Had sought the forest for a life of prayer.
  With all his thousand beams the God of Day,
  Urging his coursers down the sloping way,
  His banner furled at the approach of night,
  Looks up in reverence on those lords of light.
  Ancient creators: thus the wise, who know,
  Gave them a name in ages long ago:
  With BRAHMÁ joining in creation's plan,
  And perfecting the work His will began;
  Still firm in penance, though the hermit-vow
  Bears a ripe harvest for the sages now.
  Brightest in glory 'mid that glorious band
  See the fair Queen, the Heavenly Lady, stand.
  Fixing her loving eyes upon her spouse,
  She seemed sent forth to crown the sage's vows
  With sweet immortal joy, the dearest prize
  Strong prayer could merit from the envious skies.
  With equal honour on the Queen and all
  Did the kind glance of ['S]IVA'S welcome fall.
  No partial favour by the good is shown:
  They count not station, but the deed alone.
  So fair she shone upon his raptured view,
  He longed for wedlock's heavenly pleasures too.
  What hath such power to lead the soul above
  By virtue's pleasant path as wedded love!
  Scarce had the holy motive lent its aid
  To knit great ['S]IVA to the Mountain-Maid,
  When KÁMA'S spirit that had swooned in fear
  Breathed once again and deemed forgiveness near.

    The ancient Sages reverently adored
  The world's great Father and its Sovran Lord,
  And while a soft ecstatic thrilling ran
  O'er their celestial frames, they thus began:
    "Glorious the fruit our holy studies bear,
  Our constant penance, sacrifice and prayer.
  For that high place within thy thoughts we gain
  Which fancy strives to reach, but longs in vain.
  How blest is he, the glory of the wise,
  Deep in whose thoughtful breast thy Godhead lies!
  But who may tell his joy who rests enshrined,
  O BRAHMÁ'S great Creator, in thy mind!
  We dwell on high above the cold moon's ray;
  Beneath our mansion glows the God of Day,
  But now thy favour lends us brighter beams,
  Blest with thy love our star unchanging gleams.
  How should we tell what soul-entrancing bliss
  Enthrals our spirit at an hour like this?
  Great Lord of All, thou Soul of Life indwelling,
  We crave one word thy wondrous nature telling.
  Though to our eyes thy outward form be shown,
  How can we know thee as thou shouldst be known?
  In this thy present shape, we pray thee, say
  Dost thou create? dost thou preserve or slay?
  But speak thy wish; called from our starry rest
  We wait, O ['S]IVA, for our Lord's behest"

    Then answered thus the Lord of glory, while
  Flashed from his dazzling teeth so white a smile,
  The moon that crowned him poured a larger stream
  Of living splendour from that pearly gleam:
    "Ye know, great Sages of a race divine,
  No selfish want e'er prompts a deed of mine.
  Do not the forms--eight varied forms--I wear,
  The truth of this to all the world declare?
  Now, as that thirsty bird that drinks the rain
  Prays the kind clouds of heaven to soothe its pain,
  So the Gods pray me, trembling 'neath their foe,
  To send a child of mine and end their woe.
  I seek the Mountain-Maiden as my bride:
  Our hero son shall tame the demon's pride.
  Thus the priest bids the holy fire arise,
  Struck from the wood to aid the sacrifice.
  Go, ask HIMÁLAYA for the lovely maid:
  Blest are those bridals which the holy aid.
  So shall more glorious honours gild my name,
  And win the father yet a prouder fame.
  Nor, O ye heavenly Sages, need I teach
  What for the maiden's hand shall be your speech,
  For still the wise in worthiest honour hold
  The rules and precepts ye ordained of old.
  This Lady too shall aid your mission there:
  Best for such task a skilful matron's care.
  And now, my heralds, to your task away,
  Where proud HIMÁLAYA holds his royal sway;
  Then meet me where this mighty torrent raves
  Down the steep channel with its headlong waves."

    Thus while that holiest One his love confessed,
  The hermits listened: from each saintly breast
  Fled the false shame that yet had lingered there,
  And love and wedlock showed divinely fair.

    On through the heaven, o'er tracts of swordlike blue,
  Towards the gay city, swift as thought, they flew,
  Bright with high domes and palaces most fair,
  As if proud ALAKÁ were planted there,
  Or PARADISE poured forth, in showers that bless,
  The rich o'erflowings of its loveliness.
  Round lofty towers adorned with gems and gold
  Her guardian stream the holy GANGÁ rolled.
  On every side, the rampart's glowing crown,
  Bright wreaths of fragrant flowers hung waving down,--
  Flowers that might tempt the maids of heavenly birth
  To linger fondly o'er that pride of earth.
  Its noble elephants, unmoved by fear,
  The distant roaring of the lions hear.
  In beauty peerless, and unmatched in speed,
  Its thousand coursers of celestial breed.
  Through the broad streets bright sylphs and minstrels rove:
  Its dames are Goddesses of stream and grove.
    Hark! the drum echoes louder and more loud
  From glittering halls whose spires are wrapt in cloud.
  It were the thunder, but that voice of fear
  Falls not in measured time upon the ear.
  'Tis balmy cool, for many a heavenly tree,
  With quivering leaves and branches waving free,
  Sheds a delightful freshness through the air,--
  Fans which no toil of man has stationed there.
  The crystal chambers where they feast at night
  Flash back the beamings of the starry light.
  So brightly pure that silver gleam is shed,
  Playing so fondly round each beauteous head,
  That all seem gifted from those lights above
  With richest tokens of superior love.
  How blest its maidens! cloudless is their day,
  And radiant herbs illume their nightly way.
  No term of days, but endless youth they know;
  No Death save him who bears the Flowery Bow:
  Their direst swoon, their only frenzy this--
  The trance of love, the ecstasy of bliss!
  Ne'er can their lovers for one hour withstand
  The frown, the quivering lip, the scornful hand;
  But seek forgiveness of the angry fair,
  And woo her smile with many an earnest prayer.
  Around, wide gardens spread their pleasant bowers,
  Where the bright Champac opes her fragrant flowers:
  Dear shades, beloved by the sylphs that roam
  In dewy evening from their mountain home.

    Ah! why should mortals fondly strive to gain
  Heaven and its joys by ceaseless toil and pain?
  E'en the Saints envied as their steps drew near,
  And owned a brighter heaven was opened here.
  They lighted down; braided was each long tress,
  Bright as the pictured flame, as motionless.
  HIMÁLAYA'S palace-warders in amaze
  On the Seven Sages turned their eager gaze,--
  A noble company of celestial race
  Where each in order of his years had place,--
  Glorious, as when the sun, his head inclining,
  Sees his own image 'mid the waters shining.
    To greet them with a gift HIMÁLAYA sped,
  Earth to her centre shaking at his tread.
  By his dark lips with mountain metals dyed,
  His arms like pines that clothe his lofty side:
  By his proud stature, by his stony breast,
  Lord of the Snowy Hills he stood confest.
  On to his Council-hall he led the way,
  Nor failed due honour to the Saints to pay.
  On couch of reed the Monarch bade them rest,
  And thus with uplift hands those Heavenly Lords addressed:
  "Like soft rain falling from a cloudless sky,
  Or fruit, when bloom has failed to glad the eye,
  So are ye welcome, Sages; thus I feel
  Ecstatic thrilling o'er my spirit steal,
  Changed, like dull senseless iron to burning gold,
  Or some rapt creature, when the heavens unfold
  To eyes yet dim with tears of earthly care,
  The rest, the pleasures, and the glory there.
  Long pilgrim bands from this auspicious day
  To my pure hill shall bend their constant way.
  Famed shall it be o'er all the lands around,
  For where the good have been is holy ground.
  Now am I doubly pure, for GANGÁ'S tide
  Falls on my head from heaven and laves my side.
  Henceforth I boast a second stream as sweet,
  The water, Sages, that has touched your feet.
  Twice by your favour is HIMÁLAYA blest,--
  This towery mountain that your feet have prest,
  And this my moving form is happier still
  To wait your bidding, to perform your will.
  These mighty limbs that fill the heaven's expanse
  Sink down, o'erpowered, in a blissful trance.
  So bright your presence, at the glorious sight
  My brooding shades of darkness turn to light.
  The gloom that haunts my mountain caverns flies,
  And cloudy passion in the spirit dies.
  O say, if here your arrowy course ye sped
  To throw fresh glory round my towering head.
  Surely your wish, ye Mighty Ones, can crave
  No aid, no service from your willing slave.
  Yet deem me worthy of some high behest:
  The lord commandeth, and the slave is blest.
  Declare your pleasure, then, bright heavenly band:
  We crave no guerdon but your sole command.
  Yours are we all, HIMÁLAYA and his bride,
  And this dear maiden child our hope and pride."

    Not once he spake: his cavern mouths around
  In hollow echoings gave again the sound.
  Of all who speak beyond compare the best,
  ANGIRAS answered at the Saints' request:
    "This power hast thou, great King, and mightier far,
  Thy mind is lofty as thy summits are.
  Sages say truly, VISH[N.]U is thy name:
  His spirit breatheth in thy mountain frame.
  Within the caverns of thy boundless breast
  All things that move and all that move not rest.
  How on his head so soft, so delicate,
  Could the great Snake uphold the huge earth's weight,
  Did not thy roots, far-reaching down to hell,
  Bear up the burden and assist him well?
  Thy streams of praise, thy pure rills' ceaseless flow
  Make glad the nations wheresoe'er they go,
  Till, shedding purity on every side,
  They sink at length in boundless Ocean's tide.
  Blest is fair GANGÁ, for her heavenly stream
  Flows from the feet of him that sits supreme;
  And blest once more, O mighty Hill, is she
  That her bright waters spring anew from thee.
  Vast grew his body when the avenging God
  In three huge strides o'er all creation trod.
  Above, below, his form increased, but thou
  Wast ever glorious and as vast as now.
  By thee is famed SUMERU forced to hide
  His flashing rays and pinnacles of pride,
  For thou hast won thy station in the skies
  'Mid the great Gods who claim the sacrifice.
  Firm and unmoved remains thy lofty hill,
  Yet thou canst bow before the holy still.
  Now--for the glorious work will fall on thee,--
  Hear thou the cause of this our embassy.
  We also, Mountain Monarch, since we bear
  To thee the message, in the labour share.
  The Highest, Mightiest, Noblest One, adored
  By the proud title of our Sovran Lord:
  The crescent moon upon his brow bears he,
  And wields the wondrous powers of Deity.
  He in this earth and varied forms displayed,
  Bound each to other by exchange of aid,
  Guides the great world and all the things that are,
  As flying coursers whirl the glittering car.
  Him good men seek with holy thought and prayer,
  Who fills their breast and makes his dwelling there.
  When saints, we read, his lofty sphere attain,
  They ne'er may fall to this base earth again:
  His messengers, great King, we crave the hand
  Of thy fair daughter at the God's command.
  At such blest union, as of TRUTH and VOICE,
  A father's heart should grieve not, but rejoice.
  Her Lord is Father of the world, and she
  Of all that liveth shall the mother be.
  Gods that adore him with the Neck of Blue
  In homage bent shall hail the Lady too,
  And give a glory to her feet with gems
  That sparkle in their priceless diadems.
  Hear what a roll shall blazon forth thy line,--
  Maid, Father, Suitor, Messengers divine!
  Give him the chosen lady, and aspire
  To call thy son the Universe's Sire,
  Who laudeth none, but all mankind shall raise
  To Him through endless time the songs of praise."

    Thus while he spake the lady bent her head
  To hide her cheek, now blushing rosy red,
  And numbered o'er with seeming care the while
  Her lotus' petals in sweet maiden guile.
  With pride and joy HIMÁLAYA'S heart beat high,
  Yet ere he spake he looked to MENÁ'S eye:
  Full well he knew a mother's gentle care
  Learns her child's heart and love's deep secret there,
  And this the hour, he felt, when fathers seek
  Her eye for answer or her changing cheek.
  His eager look HIMÁLAYA scarce had bent
  When MENÁ'S eye beamed back her glad assent.
  O gentle wives! your fondest wish is still
  To have with him you love one heart, one will.

    He threw his arms around the blushing maid
  In queenly garment and in gems arrayed,
  Awhile was silent, then in rapture cried,
  "Come, O my daughter! Come, thou destined bride
  Of ['S]IVA, Lord of All: this glorious band
  Of Saints have sought thee at the God's command;
  And I thy sire this happy day obtain
  The best reward a father's wish would gain."
    Then to the Saints he cried: "Pure Hermits, see
  The spouse of ['S]IVA greets your company."
  They looked in rapture on the maid, and poured
  Their fullest blessing on her heavenly lord.
  So low she bowed, the gems that decked her hair
  And sparkled in her ear fell loosened there;
  Then with sweet modesty and joy opprest
  She hid her blushes on the Lady's breast,
  Who cheered the mother weeping for her child,
  Her own dear UMÁ, till again she smiled:
  Such bliss and glory should be hers above,
  Yea, mighty ['S]IVA'S undivided love.

    They named the fourth for UMÁ'S nuptial day;
  Then sped the Sages on their homeward way;
  And thanked by ['S]IVA with a gracious eye
  Sought their bright rest amid the stars on high.
  Through all those weary days the lover sighed
  To wind his fond arms round his gentle bride.
  Oh, if the Lord of Heaven could find no rest,
  Think, think how Love, strong Love, can tear a mortal's breast!



_CANTO SEVENTH._



Canto Seventh.

_UMÁ'S BRIDAL._


  In light and glory dawned the expected day
  Blest with a kindly star's auspicious ray,
  When gaily gathered at HIMÁLAYA'S call
  His kinsmen to the solemn festival.
  Through the broad city every dame's awake
  To grace the bridal for her monarch's sake;
  So great their love for him, this single care
  Makes one vast household of the thousands there.
  Heaven is not brighter than the royal street
  Where flowers lie scattered 'neath the nobles' feet,
  And banners waving to the breeze unfold
  Their silken broidery over gates of gold.
  And she, their child, upon her bridal day
  Bears her dear parents' every thought away.
  So, when from distant shores a friend returns,
  With deeper love each inmost spirit burns.
  So, when grim Death restores his prey again
  Joy brighter shines from memory of pain.
  Each noble matron of HIMÁLAYA'S race
  Folds his dear UMÁ in a long embrace,
  Pours blessings on her head, and prays her take
  Some priceless jewel for her friendship's sake.
  With sweetest influence a star of power
  Had joined the spotted moon: at that blest hour
  To deck fair UMÁ many a noble dame
  And many a gentle maid assiduous came.
  And well she graced their toil, more brightly fair
  With feathery grass and wild flowers in her hair.
  A silken robe flowed free below her waist;
  Her sumptuous head a glittering arrow graced.
  So shines the young unclouded moon at last,
  Greeting the sun, its darksome season past.
  Sweet-scented Lodhra dust and Sandal dyed
  The delicate beauties of the fair young bride,
  Veiled with a soft light robe. Her tiring-girls
  Then led her to a chamber decked with pearls
  And paved with sapphires, where the lulling sound
  Of choicest music breathed divinely round.
  There o'er the lady's limbs they poured by turns
  Streams of pure water from their golden urns.
  Fresh from the cooling bath the lovely maid
  In fairest white her tender form arrayed.
  So opens the Kása all her shining flowers
  Lured from their buds by softly falling showers.
  Then to a court with canopies o'erhead
  A crowd of noble dames the maiden led--
  A court for solemn rites, where gems and gold
  Adorn the pillars that the roof uphold.
  There on a couch they set her with her face
  Turned toward the east. So lovely then the grace
  Of that dear maid, so ravishing her smile,
  E'en her attendants turned to gaze awhile;
  For though the brightest gems around her lay,
  Her brighter beauty stole their eyes away.
  Through her long tresses one a chaplet wound,
  And one with fragrant grass her temples crowned,
  While o'er her head sweet clouds of incense rolled
  To try and perfume every shining fold.
  Bright dyes of saffron and the scented wood
  Adorned her beauty, till the maiden stood
  Fairer than GANGÁ when the Love-birds play
  O'er sandy islets in her silvery bay.
  To what rare beauty shall her maids compare
  Her clear brow shaded by her glossy hair?
  Less dazzling pure the lovely lotus shines
  Flecked by the thronging bees in dusky lines.
  Less bright the moon, when a dark band of cloud
  Enhances beauties which it cannot shroud.
  Behind her ear a head of barley drew
  The eye to gaze upon its golden hue.
  But then her cheek, with glowing saffron dyed,
  To richer beauty called the glance aside.
  Though from those lips, where Beauty's guerdon lay,
  The vermeil tints were newly washed away,
  Yet o'er them, as she smiled, a ray was thrown
  Of quivering brightness that was all their own.

    "Lay this dear foot upon thy lover's head
  Crowned with the moon," the laughing maiden said,
  Who dyed her lady's feet--no word spake she,
  But beat her with her wreath in playful glee.
    Then tiring-women took the jetty dye
  To guard, not deck, the beauty of her eye,
  Whose languid half-shut glances might compare
  With lotus leaves just opening to the air;
  And as fresh gems adorned her neck and arms,
  So quickly changing grew the maiden's charms,
  Like some fair plant where bud succeeding bud
  Unfolds new beauty; or a silver flood
  Where gay birds follow quickly; or like night,
  When crowding stars come forth in all their light.
  Oft as the mirror would her glance beguile
  She longed to meet her Lord's approving smile.
  Her tasteful skill the timid maid essays
  To win one smile of love, one word of praise.

    The happy mother took the golden dye
  And raised to hers young UMÁ'S beaming eye.
  Then swelled her bosom with maternal pride
  As thus she decked her darling for a bride.
  Oh, she had longed to trace on that fair brow
  The nuptial line, yet scarce could mark it now.
    On UMÁ'S rounded arm the woollen band
  Was fixt securely by the nurse's hand.
  Blind with the tears that filled her swimming eye,
  In vain the mother strove that band to tie.
  Spotless as curling foam-flakes stood she there,
  As yielding soft, as graceful and as fair:
  Or like the glory of an autumn night
  Robed by the full moon in a veil of light.
    Then at her mother's hest, the maid adored
  The spirit of each high ancestral lord,
  Nor failed she next the noble dames to greet,
  And give due honour to their reverend feet.
  They raised the maiden as she bowed her head:
  "Thine be the fulness of his love!" they said.
  Half of his being, blessing high as this
  Can add no rapture to her perfect bliss.
  Well-pleased HIMÁLAYA viewed the pomp and pride
  Meet for his daughter, meet for ['S]IVA'S bride;
  Then sought the hall with all his friends to wait
  The bridegroom's coming with a monarch's state.

    Meanwhile by heavenly matrons' care displayed
  Upon KUVERA'S lofty mount were laid
  The ornaments of ['S]IVA, which of yore
  At his first nuptials the bridegroom wore.
  He laid his hand upon the dress, but how
  Shall robes so sad, so holy, grace him now?
  His own dire vesture took a shape as fair
  As gentle bridegroom's heart could wish to wear.
  The withering skull that glazed the eye with dread,
  Shone a bright coronal to grace his head.
  That elephant's hide the God had worn of old
  Was now a silken robe inwrought with gold.
  Ere this his body was with dust besprent:
  With unguent now it shed delightful scent;
  And that mid-eye which glittering like a star
  Shot the wild terror of its glance afar--
  So softly now its golden radiance beamed--
  A mark of glory on his forehead seemed.
  His twining serpents, destined still to be
  The pride and honour of the deity,
  Changed but their bodies: in each sparkling crest
  The blazing gems still shone their loveliest.
  What need of jewels on the brow of Him
  Who wears the crescent moon? No spot may dim
  Its youthful beauty, e'en in light of day
  Shedding the glory of its quenchless ray.
  Well-pleased the God in all his pride arrayed
  Saw his bright image mirrored in the blade
  Of the huge sword they brought; then calmly leant
  On NANDI'S arm, and toward his bull he went,
  Whose broad back covered with a tiger's hide
  Was steep to climb as Mount KAILÁSA'S side.
  Yet the dread monster humbly shrank for fear,
  And bowed in reverence as his Lord drew near.
  The matrons followed him, a saintly throng,
  Their ear-rings waving as they dashed along:
  Sweet faces, with such glories round them shed
  As made the air one lovely lotus bed.
  On flew those bright ones: KÁLI came behind,
  The skulls that decked her rattling in the wind:
  Like the dark rack that scuds across the sky,
  With herald lightning and the crane's shrill cry.

    Hark! from the glorious bands that lead the way,
  Harp, drum, and pipe, and shrilling trumpet's bray,
  Burst through the sky upon the startled ear
  And tell the Gods the hour of worship's near.
    They came; the SUN presents a silken shade
  Which heaven's own artist for the God had made,
  Gilding his brows, as though bright GANGÁ rolled
  Adown his holy head her waves of gold.
  She in her Goddess-shape divinely fair,
  And YAMUNÁ, sweet river-Nymph, were there,
  Fanning their Lord, that fancy still might deem
  Swans waved their pinions round each Lady of the Stream.
  E'en BRAHMÁ came, Creator, Lord of Might,
  And VISH[N.]U glowing from the realms of light.
  "Ride on," they cried, "thine, thine for ever be
  The strength, the glory, and the victory."
  To swell his triumph that high blessing came
  Like holy oil upon the rising flame.
  In those Three Persons the one God was shown,
  Each first in place, each last,--not one alone;
  Of ['S]IVA, VISH[N.]U, BRAHMÁ, each may be
  First, second, third, among the Blessed Three.
  By INDRA led, each world-upholding Lord
  With folded hands the mighty God adored.
  In humble robes arrayed, the pomp and pride
  Of glorious deity they laid aside.
  They signed to NANDI, and the favourite's hand
  Guided his eye upon the suppliant band.
  He spake to VISH[N.]U, and on INDRA smiled,
  To BRAHMÁ bowed--the lotus' mystic child.
  On all the hosts of heaven his friendly eye
  Beamed duly welcome as they crowded nigh.
  The Seven Great Saints their blessings o'er him shed,
  And thus in answer, with a smile, he said:
  "Hail, mighty Sages! hail, ye Sons of Light!
  My chosen priests to celebrate this rite."
    Now in sweet tones the heavenly minstrels tell
  His praise, beneath whose might TRIPURA fell.
  He moves to go: from his moon-crest a ray
  Sheds quenchless light on his triumphant way.
  On through the air his swift bull bore him well,
  Decked with the gold of many a tinkling bell;
  Tossing from time to time his head on high,
  Enwreathed with clouds as he flew racing by,
  As though in furious charge he had uptorn
  A bank of clay upon his mighty horn.

    Swiftly they came where in its beauty lay
  The city subject to HIMÁLAYA'S sway.
  No foeman's foot had ever trod those halls,
  No foreign bands encamped around the walls.
  Then ['S]IVA'S glances fixed their eager hold
  On that fair city as with threads of gold.
  The God whose neck still gleams with cloudy blue
  Burst on the wondering people's upturned view,
  And on the earth descended, from the path
  His shafts once dinted in avenging wrath.
  Forth from the gates a noble army poured
  To do meet honour to the mighty Lord.
  With all his friends on elephants of state
  The King of Mountains passed the city gate,
  So gaily decked, the princes all were seen
  Like moving hills inwrapt in bowery green.
  As the full rushing of two streams that pour
  Beneath one bridge with loud tumultuous roar,
  So through the city's open gate streamed in
  Mountains and Gods with tumult and with din.
  So glorious was the sight, wonder and shame,
  When ['S]IVA bowed him, o'er the Monarch came;
  He knew not he had bent his lofty crest
  In reverent greeting to his heavenly guest
  HIMÁLAYA, joying in the festive day,
  Before the immortal bridegroom led the way
  Where heaps of gay flowers burying half the feet
  Lay breathing odours through the crowded street.
    Careless of all beside, each lady's eye
  Must gaze on ['S]IVA as the troop sweeps by.
  One dark-eyed beauty will not stay to bind
  Her long black tresses, floating unconfined
  Save by her little hand; her flowery crown
  Hanging neglected and unfastened down.
  One from her maiden tore her foot away
  On which the dye, all wet and streaming, lay,
  And o'er the chamber rushing in her haste,
  Where'er she stepped, a crimson footprint traced.
  Another at the window takes her stand;
  One eye is dyed,--the pencil in her hand.
  Here runs an eager maid, and running, holds
  Loose and ungirt her flowing mantle's folds,
  Whilst, as she strives to close the parting vest,
  Its brightness gives new beauty to her breast.
  Oh! what a sight! the crowded windows there
  With eager faces excellently fair,
  Like sweetest lilies, for their dark eyes fling
  Quick glances quivering like the wild bee's wing.

    Onward in peerless glory ['S]IVA passed;
  Gay banners o'er his way their shadows cast,
  Each palace dome, each pinnacle and height
  Catching new lustre from his crest of light.
  On swept the pageant: on the God alone
  The eager glances of the dames were thrown;
  On his bright form they fed the rapturous gaze,
  And only turned to marvel and to praise:
  "Oh, well and wisely, such a lord to gain
  The Mountain-Maid endured the toil and pain.
  To be his slave were joy; but Oh, how blest
  The wife--the loved one--lying on his breast!
  Surely in vain, had not the Lord of Life
  Matched this fond bridegroom and this loving wife,
  Had been his wish to give the worlds a mould
  Of perfect beauty! Falsely have they told
  How the young flower-armed God was burnt by fire
  At the red flash of ['S]IVA'S vengeful ire.
  No: jealous LOVE a fairer form confessed,
  And cast away his own, no more the loveliest.
  How glorious is the Mountain King, how proud
  Earth's stately pillar, girt about with cloud!
  Now will he lift his lofty head more high,
  Knit close to ['S]IVA by this holy tie."

    Such words of praise from many a bright-eyed dame
  On ['S]IVA'S ear with soothing witchery came.
  Through the broad streets 'mid loud acclaim he rode,
  And reached the palace where the King abode.
  There he descended from his monster's side,
  As the sun leaves a cloud at eventide.
    Leaning on VISH[N.]U'S arm he passed the door
  Where mighty BRAHMÁ entered in before.
  Next INDRA came, and all the host of heaven,
  The noble Saints and those great Sages seven.
  Then led they ['S]IVA to a royal seat;
  Fair gifts they brought, for such a bridegroom meet:
  With all due rites, the honey and the milk,
  Rich gems were offered and two robes of silk.

    At length by skilful chamberlains arrayed
  They led the lover to the royal maid.
  Thus the fond Moon disturbs the tranquil rest
  Of Ocean glittering with his foamy crest,
  And leads him on, his proud waves swelling o'er,
  To leap with kisses on the clasping shore.
  He gazed on UMÁ. From his lotus eyes
  Flashed out the rapture of his proud surprise.
  Then calm the current of his spirit lay
  Like the world basking in an autumn day.
    They met; and true love's momentary shame
  O'er the blest bridegroom and his darling came.
  Eye looked to eye, but, quivering as they met,
  Scarce dared to trust the rapturous gazing yet.
    In the God's hand the priest has duly laid
  The radiant fingers of the Mountain-Maid,
  Bright, as if LOVE with his dear sprays of red
  Had sought that refuge in his hour of dread.
  From hand to hand the soft infection stole,
  Till each confessed it in the inmost soul.
  Fire filled his veins, with joy she trembled; such
  The magic influence of that thrilling touch.

    How grows their beauty, when two lovers stand
  Eye fixt on eye, hand fondly linkt in hand!
  Then how, unblamed, may mortal minstrel dare
  To paint in words the beauty of that pair!
    Around the fire in solemn rite they trod,
  The lovely lady and the glorious God;
  Like day and starry midnight when they meet
  In the broad plains at lofty MERU'S feet.
  Thrice at the bidding of the priest they came
  With swimming eyes around the holy flame.
  Then at his word the bride in order due
  Into the blazing fire the parched grain threw,
  And toward her face the scented smoke she drew,
  Which softly wreathing o'er her fair cheek hung,
  And round her ears in flower-like beauty clung.
  As o'er the incense the sweet lady stooped,
  The ear of barley from her tresses drooped,
  And rested on her cheek, beneath the eye
  Still brightly beaming with the jetty dye.

    "This flame be witness of your wedded life:
  Be just, thou husband, and be true, thou wife!"
  Such was the priestly blessing on the bride.
  Eager she listened, as the earth when dried
  By parching summer suns drinks deeply in
  The first soft droppings when the rains begin.

    "Look, gentle UMÁ," cried her Lord, "afar
  Seest thou the brightness of yon polar star?
  Like that unchanging ray thy faith must shine."
  Sobbing, she whispered, "Yes, for ever thine."

    The rite is o'er. Her joyful parents now
  At BRAHMÁ'S feet in duteous reverence bow.
  Then to fair UMÁ spake the gracious Power
  Who sits enthroned upon the lotus flower:
  "O beautiful lady, happy shalt thou be,
  And hero children shall be born of thee;"
  Then looked in silence: vain the hope to bless
  The bridegroom, ['S]IVA, with more happiness.

    Then from the altar, as prescribed of old,
  They turned, and rested upon seats of gold;
  And, as the holy books for men ordain,
  Were sprinkled duly with the moistened grain.
  High o'er their heads sweet Beauty's Queen displayed
  Upon a stem of reed a cool green shade,
  While the young lotus-leaves of which 'twas made
  Seemed, as they glistened to the wondering view,
  All richly pearled with drops of beady dew.
  In twofold language on each glorious head
  The Queen of Speech her richest blessings shed;
  In strong, pure, godlike utterance for his ear,
  To her in liquid tones, soft, beautifully clear.

    Now for awhile they gaze where maids divine
  In graceful play the expressive dance entwine;
  Whose eloquent motions, with an actor's art,
  Show to the life the passions of the heart.

    The rite was ended; then the heavenly band
  Prayed ['S]IVA, raising high the suppliant hand:
  "Now, for the dear sake of thy lovely bride,
  Have pity on the gentle God," they cried,
  "Whose tender body thy fierce wrath has slain:
  Give all his honour, all his might again."
  Well pleased, he smiled, and gracious answer gave:
  ['S]IVA himself now yields him KÁMA'S slave.
  When duly given, the great will ne'er despise
  The gentle pleading of the good and wise.

    Now have they left the wedded pair alone;
  And ['S]IVA takes her hand within his own
  To lead his darling to the bridal bower,
  Decked with bright gold and all her sumptuous dower.
  She blushes sweetly as her maidens there
  Look with arch smiles and glances on the pair;
  And for one moment, while the damsels stay,
  From him she loves turns her dear face away.



NOTES.


_CANTO FIRST._

The Hindú Deity of War, the leader of the celestial armies, is known
by the names Kártikeya and Skanda. He is represented with six faces
and corresponding arms, and is mounted upon a peacock.

_Himálaya._] Mansion of Snow; from _hima_, snow, and _álaya_, mansion.
The accent is on the _second_ syllable.

_Prithu._] It is said that in the reign of this fabulous monarch,
gods, saints, demons, and other supernatural beings, drained or
_milked_ from the earth various treasures, appointing severally one of
their own class as the recipient, or _Calf_, to use the word of the
legend. Himálaya was thus highly favoured by the sacred Mount Meru,
and the other hills. The story is found in the sixth chapter of the
_Harivansa_, which forms a supplement to the _Mahabhárat_.

_Still the fair pearls_, &c.] It was the belief of the Hindús that
elephants wore these precious jewels in their heads.

_Till heavenly minstrels_, &c.] A class of demi-gods, the songsters of
the Hindú Paradise, or Indra's heaven.

_There magic herbs_, &c.] Frequent allusion is made by Kálidás and
other Sanskrit poets to a phosphoric light emitted by plants at night.

_E'en the wild kine_, &c.] The _Chouri_, or long brush, used to whisk
off insects and flies, was with the Hindús what the sceptre is with
us. It was usually made of the tail-hairs of the _Yak_, or _Bos
Grunniens_. Thus the poet represents these animals as doing honour to
the Monarch of Mountains with these emblems of sovereignty.

_That the bright Seven._] The Hindús call the constellation _Ursa
Major_ the seven Rishis, or Saints. They will appear as actors in the
course of the poem.

_And once when Indra's might._] We learn from the _Rámáyana_ that the
mountains were originally furnished with wings, and that they flew
through the air with the speed of the wind. For fear lest they should
suddenly fall in their flight, Indra, King of the Gods, struck off
their pinions with his thunderbolt; but Maináka was preserved from a
similar fate by the friendship of Ocean, to whom he fled for refuge.

_Born once again_, &c.] The reader will remember the Hindú belief in
the Transmigration of Souls. The story alluded to by the poet is
this:--"_Daksha_ was the son of _Brahmá_ and father of _Satí_, whom,
at the recommendation of the _Rishis_, or Sages, he espoused to
_['S]iva_, but he was never wholly reconciled to the uncouth figure
and practices of his son-in-law. Having undertaken to celebrate a
solemn sacrifice, he invited all the Gods except _['S]iva_, which so
incensed _Satí_, that she threw herself into the sacrificial
fire."--(Wilson, Specimens of Hindú Theatre, Vol. II. p. 263.) The
name of _Satí_, meaning good, true, chaste woman, is the modern
_Suttee_, as it is corruptly written.

_As the blue offspring of the Turquois Hills._] These hills are placed
in Ceylon. The precious stone grows, it is said, at the sound of
thunder in the rainy season.

_At her stern penance._] This is described in the fifth canto. The
meaning of the name Umá is "Oh, do not."

_The Gods' bright river._] The celestial Ganges, which falls from
heaven upon Himálaya's head, and continues its course on earth.

_Young Káma's arrow._] Káma, the Hindú Cupid, is armed with a bow, the
arrows of which are made of flowers.

_And brighter than A['s]oka's rich leaves._] Nothing, we are told, can
exceed the beauty of this tree when in full bloom. It is, of course, a
general favourite with the poets of India.

_The strings of pearl._]

  "Then, too, the pearl from out its shell
  Unsightly, in the sunless sea
  (As 'twere a spirit, forced to dwell
  In form unlovely) _was set free_,
  And round the neck of woman threw
  _A light it lent and borrowed too_."
                                       MOORE--_Loves of the Angels._

Moore is frequently the best interpreter, unconsciously, of an Indian
poet's thought. It is worth remarking, that the Sanskrit word _muktá_,
pearl (literally _freed_), signifies also the _spirit_ released from
mundane existence, and re-integrated with its divine original.

_The sweetest note that e'er the Köil poured._] The _Kokila_, or
_Köil_, the black or Indian cuckoo, is the bulbul or nightingale of
Hindústan. It is also the herald of spring, like its European
namesake, and the female bird is the especial messenger of Love.

_When holy Nárad._] A divine sage, son of Brahmá.

_The holy bull._] The animal on which the God ['S]iva rides, as Indra
on the elephant.

_Who takes eight various forms._] ['S]iva is called Wearer of the
Eight Forms, as being identical with the Five Elements, Mind,
Individuality, and Crude Matter.

_Where the pale moon on ['S]iva's forehead._] ['S]iva's crest is the
new moon, which is sometimes described as forming a third eye in his
forehead. We shall find frequent allusions to this in the course of
the poem.


_CANTO SECOND._

_While impious Tárak._] A demon who, by a long course of austerities,
had acquired power even over the Gods. This Hindú notion is familiar
to most of us from Southey's "Curse of Keháma."

_Whose face turns every way._] Brahmá is represented with four faces,
one towards each point of the compass.

_The mystic Three._] "The triad of qualities," a philosophical term
familiar to all the systems of Hindú speculation. They are thus
explained in the _Tattwa Samása_, a text-book of the Sánkhya
school:--"Now it is asked, What is the 'triad of qualities'? It is
replied, The triad of qualities consists of 'Goodness,' 'Foulness,'
and 'Darkness.' By the 'triad of qualities' is meant the 'three
qualities.' Goodness is endlessly diversified, accordingly as it is
exemplified in calmness, lightness, complacency, attainment of wishes,
kindliness, contentment, patience, joy, and the like; summarily, it
consists of happiness. 'Foulness' is endlessly diversified,
accordingly as it is exemplified in grief, distress, separation,
excitement, anxiety, fault-finding, and the like; summarily, it
consists of pain. 'Darkness' is endlessly diversified, accordingly as
it is exemplified in envelopment, ignorance, disgust, abjectness,
heaviness, sloth, drowsiness, intoxication, and the like; summarily,
it consists of delusion."

_Thou, when a longing_, &c.] "Having divided his own substance, the
mighty power became half male, half female, or _nature active and
passive_."--_Manu_, Ch. I.

So also in the old Orphic hymn it is said,

  [Greek: Zeus arsên geneto, Zeus ambrotos epleto numphê.]
  "Zeus was a male; Zeus was a deathless damsel."

_The sacred hymns._] Contained in the Vedas, or Holy Scriptures of the
Hindús.

_The word of praise._] The mystic syllable OM, prefacing all the
prayers and most of the writings of the Hindús. It implies the Indian
triad, and expresses the Three in One.

_They hail thee, Nature._] The object of Nature's activity, according
to the Sánkhya system, is "the final liberation of individual soul."
"The incompetency of nature, an irrational principle, to institute a
course of action for a definite purpose, and the unfitness of rational
soul to regulate the acts of an agent whose character it imperfectly
apprehends, constitute a principal argument with the theistical
Sánkhyas for the necessity of a Providence, to whom the ends of
existence are known, and by whom Nature is guided.... The atheistical
Sánkhyas, on the other hand, contend that there is no occasion for a
guiding Providence, but that the activity of nature, for the purpose
of accomplishing soul's object, is an intuitive necessity, as
illustrated in the following passage:--As it is a function of milk, an
unintelligent (substance), to nourish the calf, so it is the office of
the chief principle (nature) to liberate the soul."--Prof. Wilson's
_Sánkhya Káriká_.

_Hail Thee the stranger Spirit_, &c.] "Soul is witness, solitary,
bystander, spectator, passive."--_Sánkh. Kár._ verse xix.

_See, Varun's noose._] The God of Water.

_Weak is Kuvera's hand._] The God of Wealth.

_Yama's sceptre._] The God and Judge of the Dead.

_The Lords of Light._] The Ádityas, twelve in number, are forms of the
sun, and appear to represent him as distinct in each month of the
year.

_The Rudras._] A class of demi-gods, eleven in number, said to be
inferior manifestations of ['S]iva, who also bears this name.

_E'en as on earth_, &c.] Thus the commandment,--Thou shalt not kill,
is abrogated by the injunction to kill animals for sacrifice.

_The heavenly Teacher._] Vrihaspati, the son of Angiras.

_His own dear flower._] The lotus, on which Brahmá is represented
reclining.

_Their flashing jewels._] According to the Hindú belief, serpents wear
precious jewels in their heads.

_Chakra._] A discus, or quoit, the weapon of Vishnu.

_As water bears to me._] "HE, having willed to produce various beings
from his own divine substance, first with a thought created the
waters, and placed in them a productive seed."--_Manu_, Ch. I.

_Mournful braids._] As a sign of mourning, especially for the loss of
their husbands, the Hindústáni women collect their long hair into a
braid, called in Sanskrit _ve[n.]i_.

_The mango twig._] We shall meet with several allusions to this tree
as the favourite of Love and the darling of the bees.


_CANTO THIRD._

_Who angers thee, &c._] To understand properly this speech of Káma, it
is necessary to be acquainted with some of the Hindú notions regarding
a future state. "The highest kind of happiness is absorption into the
divine essence, or the return of that portion of spirit which is
combined with the attributes of humanity to its original source. This
happiness, according to the philosopher, is to be obtained only by the
most perfect abstraction from the world and freedom from passion, even
while in a state of terrestrial existence.... Besides this ultimate
felicity, the Hindús have several minor degrees of happiness, amongst
which is the enjoyment of Indra's Swarga, or, in fact, of a Muhammadan
Paradise. The degree and duration of the pleasures of this paradise
are proportioned to the merits of those admitted to it; and they who
have enjoyed this lofty region of Swarga, but whose virtue is
exhausted, revisit the habitation of mortals."--Prof. Wilson's _Megha
Dúta_. Compare also "The Lord's Song."--_Specimens of Old Indian
Poetry_, pp. 67, 68.

Indra, therefore, may be supposed to feel jealous whenever a human
being aspires to something higher than that heaven of which he is the
Lord.

The "chain of birth" alluded to is of course the metempsychosis, or
transmigration of souls, a belief which is not to be looked upon (says
Prof. Wilson in the preface to his edition of the _Sánkhya Káriká_) as
a mere popular superstition. It is the main principle of all Hindú
metaphysics; it is the foundation of all Hindú philosophy. The great
object of their philosophical research in every system, Brahminical
or Buddhist, is the discovery of the means of putting a stop to
further transmigration; the discontinuance of corporeal being; the
liberation of soul from body.

_As on that Snake._] Sesha, the Serpent King, is in the Hindú
mythology the supporter of the earth, as, in one of the fictions of
the Edda,--

  "That sea-snake, tremendous curled,
  Whose monstrous circle girds the world."

He is also the couch and canopy of the God Vishnu, or, as he
is here called, Krish[n.]a,--that hero being one of his incarnations,
and considered identical with the deity himself.

_The threefold world._] Earth, heaven, and hell.

_His fearful Rati._] The wife of Káma, or Love.

_To where Kuvera &c._] The demi-god Kuvera was regent
of the north.

_Nor waited for the maiden's touch._] Referring to the Hindú
notion that the A['s]oka blossoms at the touch of a woman's
foot. So Shelley says,

  "I doubt not, the flowers of that garden sweet
  Rejoiced in the sound of her gentle feet."
                                                    _Sensitive Plant._

_Grouping the syllables._] This comparison seems forced rather too far
to suit a European taste. Kálidás is not satisfied with calling the
mango-spray the Arrow of Love; he must tell us that its leaves are the
feathers, and that the bees have marked it with the owner's name.

_That loveliest flower._] The Karnikára.

_His flowery Tilaka._] The name of a tree; it also means a mark made
with coloured earths or unguents upon the forehead and between the
eyebrows, either as an ornament or a sectarial distinction; the poet
intends the word to convey both ideas at once here. In this passage is
another comparison of the mango-spray: it is called the _lip_ of Love;
its _rouge_ is the blush of morning, and its darker beautifying powder
the clustering bees. From the universal custom of dying the lips, the
Sanskrit poets are constantly speaking of their "vermeil tints," &c.,
as will be sufficiently evident in the course of this work.

_The Hermit's servant._] By name Nandi.

_His neck of brightly-beaming blue._] An ancient legend tells us that
after the deluge the ocean was churned by Gods and demons, in order to
recover the Amrit and other treasures that had been lost in it:--

  "Then loud and long a joyous sound
    Rang through the startled sky:
  'Hail to the Amrit, lost and found!'
    A thousand voices cry.
  But from the wondrous churning streamed
    A poison fierce and dread,
  Burning like fire: where'er it streamed
    Thick noisome mists were spread.
  The wanting venom onwards went,
    And filled the Worlds with fear,
  Till Brahmá to their misery bent
    His gracious pitying ear;
  And ['S]iva those destroying streams
    Drank up at Brahmá's beck.
  Still in thy throat the dark flood gleams,
    God of the azure neck!"
              Specimens of Old Indian Poetry--_Churning of the Ocean._

_Gates of sense._] The eyes, ears, &c.


_CANTO FOURTH._

_Late, dim, and joyless shall his rising be._] The Moon, in Hindú
mythology, is a male deity.

_This line of bees._] Káma's bow is sometimes represented as strung in
this extraordinary manner.

_And stain this foot._] "Staining the soles of the feet with a red
colour, derived from the Mehndee, the Lac, &c., is a favourite
practice of the Hindú toilet."--WILSON.


_CANTO FIFTH._

_And worn with resting on her rosary._] The Hindús use their rosaries
much as we do, carrying them in their hands or on their wrists. As
they turn them over, they repeat an inaudible prayer, or the name of
the particular deity they worship, as Vish[n.]u or S'iva. The
_Rudrákshá málá_ (which we may suppose Umá to have used) is a string
of the seeds or berries of the Eleocarpus, and especially dedicated to
S'iva. It should contain 108 berries or beads, each of which is
fingered with the mental repetition of one of S'iva's 108
appellations.

_Not e'en her boy._] Kártikeya, the God of War.

_Of those poor birds._] The Chakraváki. These birds are always
observed to fly in pairs during the day, but are supposed to remain
separate during the night.

_That friendship soon in gentle heart is bred._]

  "Amor in cor gentil ratto s'apprende."
                                                                DANTE.


_CANTO SIXTH._

_The Heavenly Dame._] Arundhatí, wife of one of the Seven Saints.

_The Boar._] An Avatár, or incarnation of Vish[n.]u. In this form he
preserved the world at the deluge.

_That thirsty bird._] The Chátaka, supposed to drink nothing but
rain-water.

_Proud Alaká._] The capital of Kuvera, the God of Wealth.

_The bright Champac._]

  "The maid of India blest again to hold
  In her broad lap the Champac's leaves of gold."
                                                        _Lalla Rookh._

_Angiras._] One of the Seven Saints; the father of Vrihaspati, the
teacher of the gods.

_Vast grew his body._] Alluding to the Vámana, or Dwarf Avatár of
Vish[n.]u, wrought to restrain the pride of the giant Bali, who had
expelled the Gods from heaven. In that form he presented himself
before the giant, and asked him for three paces of land to build a
hut. Bali ridiculed and granted the request. The dwarf immediately
grew to a prodigious size, so that he measured the earth with one
pace, and the heavens with another.

_Sumeru._] Another name of the sacred Mount Meru; or rather the same
word, with su, good, prefixed.


_CANTO SEVENTH._

_Kailása's side._] A mountain, the fabulous residence of Kuvera, and
favourite haunt of S'iva, placed by the Hindús among the Himálayas.

_Kalí came behind._] The name of one of the divine matrons. The word
also signifies in Sanskrit a row or succession of clouds, suggesting
the comparison which follows.

_In twofold language._] In Sanskrit and Prakrit. The latter is a
softened modification of the former, to which it bears the same
relation as Italian to Latin; it is spoken by the female characters
of the Hindú drama.



                               THE END.


                PRINTED BY BALLANTYNE, HANSON AND CO.
                         EDINBURGH AND LONDON



                         TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES


1. Passages in italics are surrounded by _underscores_.

2. For this text version the Greek letters have been replaced with
transliterations in brackets [Greek:] using English alphabet table,
without diacritical marks.

3. The following words use accented characters in the original:
     ['S]iva has S with an acute
     A['s]oka has s with an acute
     Vish[n.]u has n with with dot below
     Krish[n.]a has n with with dot below
     ve[n.]i has n with with dot below

4. Other than the changes listed above, printer's inconsistencies
in spelling, punctuation, hyphenation, and ligature usage have been
retained.





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