Thus entertained he passed the night,
Then, with the morning's early light,
To all the hermits bade adieu
And sought his onward way anew.
He pierced the mighty forest where
Roamed many a deer and pard and bear:
Its ruined pools he scarce could see.
For creeper rent and prostrate tree,
Where shrill cicada's cries were heard,
And plaintive notes of many a bird.
Deep in the thickets of the wood
With Lakshman and his spouse he stood,
There in the horrid shade he saw
A giant passing nature's law:
Vast as some mountain-peak in size,
With mighty voice and sunken eyes,
Huge, hideous, tall, with monstrous face,
Most ghastly of his giant race.
A tiger's hide the Rákshas wore
Still reeking with the fat and gore:
Huge-faced, like Him who rules the dead,
All living things he struck with dread.
Three lions, tigers four, ten deer
He carried on his iron spear,
Two wolves, an elephant's head beside
With mighty tusks which blood-drops dyed.
When on the three his fierce eye fell,
He charged them with a roar and yell
As furious as the grisly King
When stricken worlds are perishing.
Then with a mighty roar that shook
The earth beneath their feet, he took
The trembling Sítá to his side.
Withdrew a little space, and cried:
'Ha, short lived wretches, ye who dare,
In hermit dress with matted hair,
Armed each with arrows, sword, and bow,
Through Dandak's pathless wood to go:
How with one dame, I bid you tell,
Can you among ascetics dwell?
Who are ye, sinners, who despise
The right, in holy men's disguise?
The great Virádha, day by day
Through this deep-tangled wood I stray,
And ever, armed with trusty steel,
I seize a saint to make my meal.
This woman young and fair of frame
Shall be the conquering giant's dame:
Your blood, ye things of evil life,
My lips shall quaff in battle strife.'
He spoke: and Janak's hapless child,
Scared by his speech so fierce and wild,
Trembled for terror, as a frail
Young plantain shivers in the gale.
When Ráma saw Virádha clasp
Fair Sítá in his mighty grasp,
Thus with pale lips that terror dried
The hero to his brother cried:
'O see Virádha's arm enfold
My darling in its cursed hold,--
The child of Janak best of kings,
My spouse whose soul to virtue clings,
Sweet princess, with pure glory bright,
Nursed in the lap of soft delight.
Now falls the blow Kaikeyí meant,
Successful in her dark intent:
This day her cruel soul will be
Triumphant over thee and me.
Though Bharat on the throne is set,
Her greedy eyes look farther yet:
Me from my home she dared expel,
Me whom all creatures loved so well.
This fatal day at length, I ween,
Brings triumph to the younger queen.
I see with bitterest grief and shame
Another touch the Maithil dame.
Not loss of sire and royal power
So grieves me as this mournful hour.'
Thus in his anguish cried the chief:
Then drowned in tears, o'erwhelmed by grief,
Thus Lakshman in his anger spake,
Quick panting like a spell-bound snake:
'Canst thou, my brother, Indra's peer,
When I thy minister am near.
Thus grieve like some forsaken thing,
Thou, every creature's lord and king?
My vengeful shaft the fiend shall slay,
And earth shall drink his blood to-day.
The fury which my soul at first
Upon usurping Bharat nursed,
On this Virádha will I wreak
As Indra splits the mountain peak.
Winged by this arm's impetuous might
My shaft with deadly force
The monster in the chest shall smite,
And fell his shattered corse.'
* * * * *