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Thus with Sugríva, from the side
Of Rishyamuka, Ráma hied,
And stood before Kishkindhá's gate
Where Báli kept his regal state.
The hero in his warrior hold
Raised his great bow adorned with gold,
And drew his pointed arrow bright
As sunbeams, finisher of fight.
Strong-necked Sugríva led the way
With Lakshman mighty in the fray.
Nala and Níla came behind
With Hanumán of lofty mind.
And valiant Tára, last in place,
A leader of the Vánar race.
They gazed on many a tree that showed
The glory of its pendent load,
And brook and limpid rill that made
Sweet murmurs as they seaward strayed.
They looked on caverns dark and deep,
On bower and glen and mountain steep,
And saw the opening lotus stud
With roseate cup the crystal flood,
While crane and swan and coot and drake
Made pleasant music on the lake,
And from the reedy bank was heard
The note of many a happy bird.
In open lawns, in tangled ways,
They saw the tall deer stand at gaze,
Or marked them free and fearless roam,
Fed with sweet grass, their woodland home.
At times two flashing tusks between
The wavings of the wood were seen,
And some mad elephant, alone,
Like a huge moving hill, was shown.
And scarcely less in size appeared
Great monkeys all with dust besmeared.
And various birds that roam the skies,
And silvan creatures, met their eyes,
As through the wood the chieftains sped,
Anil followed where Sugríva led.
   Then Ráma, as their way they made,
Saw near at hand a lovely shade,
And, as he gazed upon the trees,
Spake to Sugríva words like these;
'Those stately trees in beauty rise,
Fair as a cloud in autumn skies,
I fain, my friend, would learn from thee
What pleasant grove is that I see.'
   Thus Ráma spake, the mighty souled;
And thus his tale Sugríva told:
   'That, Ráma, is a wide retreat
That brings repose to weary feet.
Bright streams and fruit and roots are there,
And shady gardens passing fair.
There, neath the roof of hanging boughs,
The sacred Seven maintained their vows.
Their heads in dust were lowly laid,
In streams their nightly beds were made.
Each seventh night they broke their fast,
But air was still their sole repast,
And when seven hundred years were spent
To homes in heaven the hermits went.
Their glory keeps the garden yet,
With walls of stately trees beset.
Scarce would the Gods and demons dare,
By Indra led, to enter there.
No beast that roams the wood is found,
No bird of air, within the bound;
Or, thither if they idly stray,
They find no more their homeward way.
You hear at times mid dulcet tones
The chime of anklets, rings, and zones.
You hear the song and music sound,
And heavenly fragrance breathes around,
There duly burn the triple fires 1
Where mounts the smoke in curling spires,
And, in a dun wreath, hangs above
The tall trees, like a brooding dove.
Round brunch and crest the vapours close
Till every tree enveloped shows
A hill of lazulite when clouds
Hang round it with their misty shrouds.
With Lakshman, lord of Raghu's line,
In reverent guise thine head incline,
And with fixt heart and suppliant hand
Give honour to the sainted band.
They who with faithful hearts revere
The holy Seven who harboured here,
Shall never, son of Raghu, know
In all their lives an hour of woe.'
   Then Ráma and his brother bent.
And did obeisance reverent
With suppliant hand and lowly head,
Then with Sugríva onward sped.
Beyond the sainted Seven's abode
Far on their way the chieftains strode,
And great Kishkindhá's portal gained,
The royal town where Báli reigned.
Then by the gate they took their stand
All ready armed a noble band,
   And burning every one
To slay in battle, hand to hand,
   Their foeman, Indra's son,

Next: Canto XIV.: The Challenge.