Lords of the legions of the wood,
The chieftains with Vibhíshan stood,
And, strangers in the foeman's land,
Their hopes and fears in council scanned:
'See, see where Lanká's towers ascend,
Which Rávan's power and might defend,
Which Gods, Gandharvas, fiends would fail
To conquer, if they durst assail.
How shall our legions pass within,
The city of the foe to win,
With massive walls and portals barred
Which Rávan keeps with surest guard?'
With anxious looks the walls they eyed:
And sage Vibhíshan thus replied:
'These lords of mine 2b can answer: they
Within the walls have found their way,
The foeman's plan and order learned,
And hither to my side returned.
Now, Ráma, let my tongue declare
How Rávan's hosts are stationed there.
Prahasta heads, in warlike state,
His legions at the eastern gate.
To guard the southern portal stands
Mahodar, girt by Rákshas bands,
Where mighty Mahápárs'va, sent
By Rávan's hest, his aid has lent.
Guard of the gate that fronts the west
Is valiant Indrajit, the best
Of warriors, Rávan's joy and pride;
And by the youthful chieftain's side
Are giants, armed for fierce attacks
With sword and mace and battle-axe.
North, where approach is dreaded most,
The king, encompassed with a host
Of giants trained in war, whose hands
Wield maces, swords and lances, stands.
All these are chiefs whom Rávan chose
As mightiest to resist his foes;
And each a countless army 1 leads
With elephants and cars and steeds.'
Then Ráma, while his spirit burned
For battle, words like these returned:
'The eastern gate be Níla's care.
Opponent of Prahasta there.
The southern gate, with troops arrayed
Let Angad, Báli's son, invade.
The gate that fronts the falling sun
Shall be by brave Hanúmán won;
Soon through its portals shall he lead
His myriads of Vánar breed.
The gate that fronts the north shall be
Assailed by Lakshman and by me.
For I myself have sworn to kill
The tyrant who delights in ill.
Armed with the boon which Brahmá gave,
The Gods of heaven he loves to brave.
And through the trembling worlds he flies,
Oppressor of the just and wise.
Thou, Jámbaván, and thou, O King
Of Vánars, all your bravest bring,
And with your hosts in dense array
Straight to the centre force your way.
But let no Vánar in the storm
Disguise him in a human form.
Ye chiefs who change your shapes at will,
Retain your Vánar semblance still.
Thus, when we battle with the foe,
Both men and Vánars will ye know,
In human form will seven appear;
Myself, my brother Lakshman here;
Vibhíshan, and the four he led
From Lanká's city when he fled.'
Thus Raghu's son the chiefs addressed:
Then, gazing on Suvela's crest,
Transported by the lovely sight,
He longed to climb the mountain height.
455:1b The poet appears to have forgotten that Suka and Sáran were dismissed with ignominy in Canto XXIX., and have not been reinstated.
455:2b The four who fled with him. Their names are Anala*, Panasa, Sampáti, and Pramati.