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While there the high-souled hero spent
His tranquil hours in sweet content,
The glowing autumn passed, and then
Came winter so beloved of men.
   One morn, to bathe, at break of day
To the fair stream he took his way.
Behind him, with the Maithil dame
Bearing a pitcher Lakshman came,
And as he went the mighty man
Thus to his brother chief began:
   'The time is come, to thee more dear
Than all the months that mark the year
The gracious seasons' joy and pride,
By which the rest are glorified.
A robe of hoary rime is spread
O'er earth, with cold engarlanded.
The streams we loved no longer please,
But near the fire we take our ease,
Now pious men to God and shade
Offer young corn's fresh sprouted blade,
And purge away their sins with fire
Bestowed in humble sacrifice.
Rich stores of milk delight the swain,
And hearts are cheered that longed for gain.
Proud kings whose breasts for conquests glow
Lead bannered troops to smite the foe.
Dark is the north: the Lord of Day
To Yama's south  1 has turned away:
And she--sad widow--shines no more,
Reft of the bridal mark  2 she wore.
Himálaya's hill, ordained of old
The treasure-house of frost and cold,
Scarce conscious of the feebler glow,
Is truly now the Lord of Snow.
Warmed by the noontide's genial rays
Delightful are the glorious days:
But how we shudder at the chill
Of evening shadows and the rill!
How weak the sun, how cold the breeze!
How white the rime on grass and trees!
The leaves are sere, the woods have lost
Their blossoms killed by nipping frost.
Neath open skies we sleep no more:
December's nights with rime are hoar:
Their triple watch  3 in length extends
With hours the shortened daylight lends.
No more the moon's sun-borrowed rays
Are bright, involved in misty haze,
As when upon the mirror's sheen
The breath's obscuring cloud is seen.
E'en at the full the faint beams fail
To struggle through the darksome veil:
Changed like her hue, they want the grace
That parts not yet from Sítá's face.
Cold is the western wind, but how
Its piercing chill is heightened now,
Blowing at early morning twice
As furious with its breath of ice!
See how the dewy tears they weep
The barley, wheat, and woodland steep,
Where, as the sun goes up the sky.
The curlew and the sáras cry.
See where the rice plants scarce uphold
Their full ears tinged with paly gold,
Bending their ripe heads slowly down
Fair as the date tree's flowery crown.
Though now the sun has mounted high
Seeking the forehead of the sky,
Such mist obscures his struggling beams,
No bigger than the moon he seems.
Though weak at first, his rays at length
Grow pleasant in their noonday strength,
And where a while they chance to fall
Fling a faint splendour over all.

p. 249

See, o'er the woods where grass is wet
With hoary drops that cling there yet,
With soft light clothing earth and bough
There steals a tender glory now.
Yon elephant who longs to drink,
Still standing on the river's brink,
Plucks back his trunk in shivering haste
From the cold wave he fain would taste.
The very fowl that haunt the mere
Stand doubtful on the bank, and fear
To dip them in the wintry wave
As cowards dread to meet the brave.
The frost of night, the rime of dawn
Bind flowerless trees and glades of lawn:
Benumbed in apathetic chill
Of icy chains they slumber still.
You hear the hidden sáras cry
From floods that wrapped in vapour lie,
And frosty-shining sands reveal
Where the unnoticed rivers steal.
The hoary rime of dewy night,
And suns that glow with tempered light
Lend fresh cool flavours to the rill
That sparkles from the tompost hill.
The cold has killed the lily's pride:
Leaf, filament, and flower have died:
With chilling breath rude winds have blown,
The withered stalk is left alone.
At this gay time, O noblest chief,
The faithful Bharat, worn by grief,
Lives in the royal town where he
Spends weary hours for love of thee.
From titles, honour, kingly sway,
From every joy he turns away:
Couched on cold earth, his days are passed
With scanty fare and hermit's fast.
This moment from his humble bed
He lifts, perhaps, his weary head,
And girt by many a follower goes
To bathe where silver Sarjú flows.
How, when the frosty morn is dim,
Shall Sarjú be a bath for him
Nursed with all love and tender care,
So delicate and young and fair.
How bright his hue! his brilliant eye
With the broad lotus leaf may vie.
By fortune stamped for happy fate,
His graceful form is tall aud straight.
In duty skilled, his words are truth:
He proudly rules each lust of youth.
Though his strong arm smites down the foe,
In gentle speech his accents flow.
Yet every joy has he resigned
And cleaves to thee with heart and mind.
Thus by the deeds that he has done
A name in heaven has Bharat won,
For in his life he follows yet
Thy steps, O banished anchoret.
Thus faithful Bharat, nobly wise,
The proverb of the world belies:
'No men, by mothers' guidance led,
The footsteps of their fathers tread.'
How could Kaikeyí, blest to be
Spouse of the king our sire, and see
A son like virtuous Bharat, blot
Her glory with so foul a plot!'
   Thus in fraternal love he spoke,
And from his lips reproaches broke:
But Ráma grieved to hear him chide
The absent mother, and replied:
   'Cease, O beloved, cease to blame
Our royal father's second dame.
Still speak of Bharat first in place
Of old Ikshváku's princely race.
My heart, so firmly bent but now
To dwell in woods and keep my vow,
Half melting as I hear thee speak
Of Bharat's love, grows soft and weak,
With tender joy I bring to mind
His speeches ever sweet and kind.
That dear as Amrit took the sense
With most enchanting influence.
Ah, when shall I, no more to part,
Meet Bharat of the mighty heart?
When, O my brother, when shall we
The good and brave S'atrughna see?'
Thus as he poured his fond lament
The son of Raghu onward went:
They reached the river, and the three
Bathed them in fair Godávarí.
Libations of the stream they paid
To every deity and shade,
With hymns of praise, the Sun on high
And sinless Gods to glorify.
Fresh from the purifying tide
   Resplendent Ráma came,
With Lakshman ever by his side,
   And the sweet Maithil dame.
So Rudra shines by worlds adored,
   In glory undefiled,
When Nandi  1 stands beside his lord,
And King Himálaya's child.  2


248:1 The south is supposed to be the residence of the departed.

248:2 The sun.

248:3 The night is divided into three watches of four hours each.

Next: Canto XVII.: S'u'panakha'