When Dúshan saw his giant band
Slaughtered by Ráma's conquering hand,
He called five thousand fiends, and gave
His orders. Bravest of the brave,
Invincible, of furious might,
Ne'er had they turned their backs in flight.
They, as their leader bade them seize
Spears, swords, and clubs, and rocks, and trees.
Poured on the dauntless prince again
A ceaseless shower of deadly rain.
The virtuous Ráma, undismayed.
Their missiles with his arrows stayed,
And weakened, ere it fell, the shock
Of that dire hail of tree and rock,
And like a bull with eyelids closed,
The pelting of the storm opposed.
Then blazed his ire: he longed to smite
To earth the rovers of the night.
The wrath that o'er his spirit came
Clothed him with splendour as of flame,
While showers of mortal darts he poured
Fierce on the giants and their lord.
Dúshan, the foeman's dusky dread,
By frenzied rage inspirited,
On Raghu's son his missiles cast
Like Indra's bolts which rend and blast.
But Ráma with a trenchant dart
Cleft Dúshan's ponderous bow apart.
And then the gold-decked steeds who drew
The chariot, with four shafts he slew.
One crescent dart he aimed which shred
Clean from his neck the driver's head;
Three more with deadly skill addressed
Stood quivering in the giant's breast.
Hurled from his car, steeds, driver slain,
The bow he trusted cleft in twain,
He seized his mace, strong, heavy, dread,
High as a mountain's towering head.
With plates of gold adorned and bound,
Embattled Gods it crushed and ground.
Its iron spikes yet bore the stains
Of mangled foemen's blood and brains.
Its heavy mass of jagged steel
Was like a thunderbolt to feel,
It shattered, as on foes it fell,
The city where the senses dwell. 1b
Fierce Dúshan seized that ponderous mace
Like monstrous form of serpent race,
And all his savage soul aglow
With fury, rushed upon the foe.
But Raghu's son took steady aim,
And as the rushing giant came,
Shore with two shafts the arms whereon
The demon's glittering bracelets shone.
His arm at each huge shoulder lopped,
The mighty body reeled and dropped.
And the great mace to earth was thrown
Like Indra's staff when storms have blown,
As some vast elephant who lies
Shorn of his tusks, and bleeding dies,
So, when his arms were rent away,
Low on the ground the giant lay.
The spirits saw the monster die,
And loudly rang their joyful cry,
'Honour to Ráma! nobly done!
Well hast thou fought, Kakutstha's son!
But the great three, the host who led,
Enraged to see their chieftain dead,
As though Death's toils were round them cast,
Rushed upon Ráma fierce and fast,
Mahákapála seized, to strike
His foeman down, a ponderous pike:
Sthúláksha charged with spear to fling,
Pramáthi with his axe to swing.
When Ráma saw, with keen darts he
Received the onset of the three,
As calm as though he hailed a guest
In each, who came for shade and rest.
Mahákapála's monstrous head
Fell with the trenchant dart he sped.
His good right hand in battle skilled
Sthúláksha's eyes with arrows tilled,
And trusting still his ready bow
He laid the fierce Pramathi low,
Who sank as some tall tree falls down
With bough and branch and leafy crown.
Then with five thousand shafts he slew
The rest of Dúshan's giant crew:
Five thousand demons, torn and rent,
To Yama's gloomy realm he sent.
When Khara knew the fate of all
The giant band and Dúshan's fall,
He called the mighty chiefs who led
His army, and in fury said:
'Now Dúshan and his armed train
Lie prostrate on the battle plain.
Lead forth an army mightier still,
Ráma this wretched man, to kill.
Fight ye with darts of every shape,
Nor let him from your wrath escape.'
Thus spoke the fiend, by rage impelled,
And straight his course toward Ráma held.
With S'yenagámí and the rest
Of his twelve chiefs he onward pressed,
And every giant as he went
A storm of well-wrought arrows sent.
Then with his pointed shafts that came
With gold and diamond bright as flame,
Dead to the earth tht hero threw
The remnant of the demon crew.
Those shafts with feathers bright as gold,
Like flames which wreaths of smoke enfold,
Smote down the fiends like tall trees rent
By red bolts from the firmament.
A hundred shafts be pointed well:
By their keen barbs a hundred fell:
A thousand,--and a thousand more
In battle's front lay drenched in gore.
Of all defence and guard bereft,
With sundered bows and harness cleft.
Their bodies red with bloody stain
Fell the night-rovers on the plain,
Which, covered with the loosened hair
Of bleeding giants prostrate there,
Like some great altar showed, arrayed
For holy rites with grass o'erlaid.
The darksome wood, each glade and dell
Where the wild demons fought and fell
Was like an awful hell whose floor
Is thick with mire and flesh and gore.
Thus twice seven thousand fiends, a band
With impious heart and bloody hand,
By Raghu's son were overthrown,
A man, on foot, and all alone.
Of all who met on that fierce day,
Khara, great chief, survived the fray,
The monster of the triple head, 1
And Raghu's son, the foeman'a dread.
The other demon warriors, all
Skilful and brave and strong and tall,
In front of battle, side by side,
Struck down by Lakshman's brother died.
When Khara saw the host he led
Triumphant forth to fight
Stretched on the earth, all smitten dead,
By Ráma's nobler might,
Upon his foe he fiercely glared,
And drove against him fast,
Like Indra when his arm is bared
His thundering bolt to cast.
* * * * *
259:1 One of the mysterious weapons given to Ráma.
259:1b A periphrasis for the body.