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No answer gave the Vánar king
To Ráma's prudent counselling.
Battered and bruised by tree and stone,
By Ráma's arrow overthrown,
Fainting upon the ground he lay,
Gasping his troubled life away.
   But Tárá in the Vánar's hall
Heard tidings of her husband's fall;
Heard that a shaft from Ráma's bow
Had laid the royal Báli low.
Her darling Angad by her side,
Distracted from her home she hied.
Then nigh the place of battle drew
The Vánars, Angad's retinue.
They saw the bow-armed Ráma: dread
Fell on them, and they turned and fled.
Like helpless deer, their leaders slain,
So wildly fled the startled train.
But Tárá saw, and nearer pressed.
And thus the flying band addressed:
'O Vánars, ye who ever stand
About our king, a trusty band,
Where is the lion master? why
Forsake ye thus your lord and fly?
Say, lies he dead upon the plain,
A brother by a brother slain,
Or pierced by shafts from Ráma's bow
That rain from far upon the foe?'
   Thus Tárá questioned, and was still:
Then, wearers of each shape at will,
The Vánars thus with one accord
Answered the Lady of their lord:
'Turn, Tárá turn, and half undone
Save Angad thy beloved son.
Tnere Ráma stands in death's disguise,
And conquered Báli faints and dies.
He by whose strong arm, thick and fast,
Uprooted trees and rocks were cast,
Lies smitten by a shaft that came
Resistless as the lightning flame.
When he, whose splendour once could vie
With Indra's, regent of the sky,
Fell by that deadly arrow, all
The Vánars fled who marked his fall.
Let all our chiefs their succours bring,
And Angad be anointed king:

p. 349

For all who come of Vánar race
Will serve him set in Báli's place.
Or else our conquering foes to-day
Within our wall will force their way,
Polluting with their hostile feet
The chambers of thy loved retreat.
Great fear is on us. all and one.
Those who have wives and who have none,
They lust for power, are fierce and bold,
Or hate us for the strife of old.'

She heard their speech as, sore afraid,
Arrested in their flight, they stayed,
And gave her answer as became
Tne spirit of so true a dame:
'Nay, what have I to do with pelf,
With son, with kingdom, or with self,
When he, my noble lord, who leads
The Vánars 'like a loin, bleeds?
His high-souled victor will I meet,
And throw me prostrate at his feet.'
She hastened forth, her bosom rent
With anguish, weeping as she went,
And striking, mastered by her woes,
Her head and breast with frantic blows.
She hurried to the field and found
Her husband postrate on the ground,
Who quelled the hostile Vánars' might,
Whose bank was never turned in flight:
Whose arm a massy rock could throw
As Indra hurls his bolts below:
Fierce as the rushing tempest, loud
As thunder from a labouring cloud:
Whene'er he roared his voice of fear
Struck terror on the boldest ear:
Now slain, as, hungry for the prey,
A tiger might a lion slay:
Or when, his serpent foe to seek,
Suparna 1 with his furious beak
Tears up a sacred hillock, long
The reverence of a village throng,
Its altar with their offerings spread,
And the gay flag that waved o erhead.
She looked and saw the victor stand
Renting upon his bow his hand:
And fierce Sugriva she descried,
And Lakshman by his brother's side,
She passed them by, nor stayed to view,
Swift to her husband's side she flew;
Then as she looked, her strength gave way.
And in the dust she fell and lay.
Then, as if startled ere the close
Of slumber, from the earth she rose.
Upon her dying husband, round
Whose soul the coils of Death were wound,
Her eyes in agony she bent
And called him with a shrill lament.
Sugriva, when he heard her cries,
Aud saw the queen with weeping eyes,

And youthful Angad standing there,
His load of grief could hardly bear.


349:1 A name of Garuda the king of birds, the great enemy of the Serpents.

Next: Canto XX.: Tárá's Lament.