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As shine the heavens with autumn's moon
Refulgent in the height of noon,
So shone with light which Ráma gave
That army of the bold and brave,
As from the sea it marched away
In war's magnificent array,
And earth was shaken by the beat
And trampling of unnumbered feet.
Then to the giants' ears were borne,
The mingled notes of drum and horn,
And clash of tambours smote the sky,
And shouting and the battle cry.
The sound of martial strains inspired
Each chieftain, and his bosom fired:
While giants from their walls replied,
And answering shouts the foe defied,
Then Ráma looked on Lanká where
Bright banners floated in the air,
And, pierced with anguish at the view.
His loving thoughts to Sitá flew.
'There, prisoned by the giant, lies
My lady of the tender eyes,
Like Rohini the queen of stars
O'erpowered by the fiery Mars.'
Then turned he to his brother chief
And cried in agony of grief:
'See on the hill, divinely planned
And built by Vis'vakarmá's hand,
The towers and domes of Lanká rise
In peerless beauty to the skies.
Bright from afar the city shines
With gleam of palaces and shrines,
Like pale clouds through the region spread
Bv Vishnu's self inhabited.
Fair gardens grow, and woods between
The stately domes are fresh and green,
Where trees their bloom and fruit display,
And sweet birds sing on every spray.
Each bird is mad with joy, and bees
Sing labouring in the bloomy trees
On branches by the breezes bowed.
Where the gay Koïl's voice is loud.'
   This said, he ranged with warlike art
Each body of the host apart.

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'There in the centre,' Ráma cried,
'Be Angad's place by Níla's side.
Let Rishabh of impetuous might
Be lord and leader on the right,
And Gandhamádan, next in rank,
Be captain of the farther flank.
Lakshman and I the hosts will lead,
And Jámbaván of ursine breed,
With bold Sushen unused to fear,
And Vegadarsí, guide the rear.'
   Thus Ráma spoke: the chiefs obeyed;
And all the Vánar hosts arrayed
Showed awful as the autumn sky
When clouds embattled form on high.
Their arms were mighty trees o'erthrown
And massy blocks of mountain stone.
One hope in every warlike breast,
One firm resolve, they onward pressed,
To die in fight or batter down
The walls and towers of Lanká's town.
   Those marshalled legions Ráma eyed,
And thus to King Sugríva cried:
'Now, Monarch, ere the hosts proceed,
Let S'uka, Rávan's spy, be freed.'
He spoke: the Vánar gave consent
And loosed him from imprisonment:
And S'uka, trembling and afraid,
His homeward way to Rávan made.
Loud laughed the lord of Lanká's isle:
'Where hast thou stayed this weary while?
'Why is thy plumage marred, and why
Do twisted cords thy pinions tie?
Say, comest thou in evil plight
The victim of the Vánars' spite?'
   He ceased: the spy his fear controlled,
And to the king his story told:
'I reached the ocean's distant shore,
Thy message to the king I bore,
In sudden wrath the Vánars rose,
They struck me down with furious blows;
They seized me helpless on the ground,
My plumage rent, my pinions bound.
They would not, headlong in their ire,
Consider, listen, or inquire;
So fickle, wrathful, rough and rude
Is the wild forest multitude.
There, marshalling the Vánar bands,
King Ráma with Sugríva stands,
Ráma the matchless warrior, who
Virádha and Kabandha slew,
Khara, and countless giants more.
And tracks his queen to Lankás shore.
A bridge athwart the sea was cast,
And o'er it have his legions passed.
Hark I heralded by horns and drums
The terrible avenger comes.
E'en now the giants' isle he fills
With warriois huge as clouds and hills,
And burning with vindictive hate
Will thunder soon at Lanká's gate.

Yield or oppose him: choose between
Thy safety and the Maithil queen.'
   He ceased: the tyrant's eyeballs blazed
With fury as his voice he raised:
'No, if the dwellers of the sky,
Gandharvas, fiends assail me, I
Will keep the Maithil lady still,
Nor yield her back for fear or ill.
When shall my shafts with iron bail
My foeman, Raghu's son, assail,
Thick as the bees with eager wing
Beat on the flowery trees of spring?
O, let me meet my foe at length,
And strip him of his vaunted strength,
Fierce as the sun who shines afar
Stealing the light of every star.
Strong as the sea's impetuous might
My ways are like the tempest's flight;
But Ráma knows not this, or he
In terror from my face would flee.'

Next: Canto XXV.: Rávan's Spies.