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As forth upon its errand went
That huge ferocious armament,
An awful cloud, in dust and gloom,
With threatening thunders from its womb
Poured in sad augury a flood
Of rushing water mixt with blood.
The monarch's steeds, though strong and fleet,
Stumbled and fell: and yet their feet
Passed o'er the bed of flowers that lay
Fresh gathered on the royal way.
No gleam of sunlight struggled through
The sombre pall of midnight hue,
Edged with a line of bloody red,
Like whirling torches overhead.
A vulture, fierce, of mighty size.
Terrific with his cruel eyes,
Perched on the staff enriched with pold,
Whence hung the flag in many a fold
Each ravening bird, each beast of prey
Where Janasthán's wild thickets lay,
Rose with a long discordant cry
And gathered as the host went by,
And from the south long, wild, and shrill,
Came spirit voices boding ill.
Like elephants in frantic mood,
Vast clouds terrific, sable-hued,
Hid all the sky where'er they bore
Their load of water mixt with gore.
Above, below, around were spread
Thick shades of darkness strange and dread,
Nor could the wildered glance descry
A point or quarter of the sky.
Then came o'er heaven a sanguine hue,
Though evening's flush not yet was due,
While each ill-omened bird that flies
Assailed the king with harshest cries.
There screamed the vulture and the crane,
And the loud jackal shrieked again.
Each hideous thing that bodes aright
Disaster in the coming fight,
With gaping mouth that hissed and flamed,
The ruin of the host proclaimed.
Eclipse untimely reft away
The brightness of the Lord of Day,
And near his side was seen to glow
A mace-like comet boding woe.
Then while the sun was lost to view
A mighty wind arose and blew,
And stars like fireflies shed their light,
Nor waited for the distant night.
The lilies drooped, the brooks were dried,
The fish and birds that swam them died,
And every tree that was so fair
With flower and fruit was stripped and bare.
The wild wind ceased, yet, raised on high,
Dark clouds of dust involved the sky.
In doleful twitter long sustained
The restless Sárikás  1 complained,
And from the heavens with flash and flame
Terrific meteors roaring came.
Earth to her deep foundation shook
With rock and tree and plain and brook,
As Khara with triumphant shout,
Borne in his chariot, sallied out.
His left arm throbbed: he knew full well
That omen, and his visage fell.
Each awful sign the giant viewed,
And sudden tears his eye bedewed.
Care on his brow sat chill and black,
Yet mad with wrath he turned not back.
Upon each fearful sight that raised
The shuddering hair the chieftain gazed,
And laughing in his senseless pride
Thus to his giant legions cried:
'By sense of mightiest strength upborne,
These feeble signs I laugh to scorn.
I could bring down the stars that shine
In heaven with these keen shafts of mine.
Impelled by warlike fury I
Could cause e'en Death himself to die.

p. 256

I will not seek my home again
Until my pointed shafts have slain
This Raghu's son so fierce in pride,
And Lakshman by his brother's side.
And she, my sister, she for whom
These sons of Raghu meet their doom,
She with delighted lips shall drain.
The lifeblood of her foemen slain.
Fear not for me: I ne'er have known
Defeat, in battle overthrown.
Fear not for me, O giants; true
Are the proud words I speak to you.
The king of Gods who rules on high,
If wild Air'avat bore him nigh,
Should fall before me bolt in hand:
And shall these two my wrath withstand!'
   He ended and the giant host
Who heard their chief's triumphant boast,
Rejoiced with equal pride elate,
Entangled in the noose of Fate.
   Then met on high in bright array,
With eyes that longed to see the fray,
God and Gandharva, sage and saint,
With beings pure from earthly taint.
Blest for good works aforetime wrought,
Thus each to other spake his thought:
'Now joy to Br'ahmans, joy to kine,
And all whom world count half divine!
May Raghu's offspring slay in fight
Pulastya's sons who roam by night!'
In words like these and more, the best
Of high-souled saints their hopes expressed,
Bending their eager eyes from where
Car-borne with Gods they rode in air.
Beneath them stretching far, they viewed
The giants' death-doomed multitude.
They saw where, urged with fury, far
Before the host rolled Khara's car,
And close beside their leader came
Twelve giant peers of might and fame. 1
Four other chiefs  2 before the rest
Behind their leader D'ushan pressed.
   Impetuous, cruel, dark, and dread,
     All thirsting for the fray,
   The hosts of giant warriors sped
     Onward upon their way.
   With eager speed they reached the spot
     Where dwelt the princely two,--
   Like planets in a league to blot
     The sun and moon from view.


255:1 The Sáriká is the Maina, a bird like a starling.

256:1 Their names which are rather unmanageable and of no importance are Syenagama, Prithus'y'ama, Yajnas'atru, Vihangama, Durjaya, Parav'ira'ksha, Purusha, K'alak'amuka, Megham'ali, M'aham'ali*, *Varasya, Rudhir'as'ana.

256:2 Mah'akap'ala, Sth'ul'aksha, Pram'atha, Tris'iras.

Next: Canto XXIV.: The Host In Sight.