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The king in counsel unsurpassed
His eye around the synod cast,
And fierce Prahasta, first and best
Of all his captains, thus addressed:
   'Brave master of each warlike art,
Arouse thee and perform thy part.
Array thy fourfold forces  1 well
To guard our isle and citadel.'
   The captain of the hosts obeyed,
The troops with prudent skill arrayed;
Then to the hall again he hied,
And stood before the king and cried:
   'Each inlet to the town is closed
Without, within, are troops disposed.
With fearless heart thine aim pursue
And do the deed thou hast in view,'
   Thus spoke Prahasta in the zeal
That moved him for the kingdom's weal.
And thus the monarch, who pursued
His own delight, his speech renewed:
'In ease and bliss, in toil and pain,
In doubts of duty, pleasure, pain,
Your proper path I need not tell.
For of yourselves ye know it well.
The Storm-Gods, Moon, and planets bring
New glory to their heavenly king, 2
And, ranged about your monarch, ye
Give joy and endless fame to me.
My secret counsel have I kept,
While senseless Kumbhakarna slept.
Six months the warrior's slumbers last
And bind his torpid senses fast;
Bat now his deep repose he breaks,
The beat of all our champions wakes.
I captured, Ráma's heart to wring,
This daughter of Videha's king.
And brought her from that distant land  3
Where wandered many a Rákshas band.

Disdainful still my love she spurns.
Still from each prayer and offering turns,
Yet in all lands beneath the sun
No dame may rival Sítá, none,
Her dainty waist is round and slight,
Her cheek like autumn's moon is bright.
And she like fruit in graven gold
Mocks her  1b whom Maya framed of old.
Faultless in form, how firmly tread
Her feet whose soles are rosy red!
Ah, as I gaze her beauty takes
My spirit, and my passion wakes.
Looking for Ráma far away
She sought with tears a year's delay
Nor gazing on her love-lit eye
Could I that earnest prayer deny.
But baffled hopes and vain desire
At length my patient spirit tire.
How shall the sons of Raghu sweep
To vengeance o'er the pathless deep?
How shall they lead the Vánar train
Across the monster-teeming main?
One Vánar yet could find a way
To Lanká's town, and burn and slay.
Take counsel then, remembering still
That we from men need fear no ill;
And give your sentence in debate,
For matchless is the power of fate.
Assailed by you the Gods who dwell
In heaven beneath our fury fell.
And shall we fear these creatures bred
In forests, by Sugríva led?
E'en now on ocean's farther strand,
The sons of Das'aratha stand.
And follow, burning to attack
Their giant foes, on Sítá's track.
Consult then, lords for ye are wise:
A seasonable plan devise.
The captive lady to retain,
And triumph when the foes are slain.
No power can bring across the foam
Those Vánars to our island home;
Or if they madly will defy
Our conquering might, they needs must die.'
   Then Kumbhakarna's anger woke.
And wroth at Rávan's words he spoke:
'O Monarch, when thy ravished eyes
First looked upon thy lovely prize,
Then was the time to bid us scan
Each peril and mature a plan.
Blest is the king who acts with heed,
And ne'er repents one hasty deed;
And hapless he whose troubled soul
Mourns over days beyond control.

p. 436

Thou hast, in beauty's toils ensnared,
A desperate deed of boldness dared;
By fortune saved ere Ráma's steel
One wound, thy mortal bane, could deal.
But, Rávan, as the deed is done,
The toil of war I will not shun.
This arm, O rover of the night,
Thy foemen to the earth shall smite,
Though Indra with the Lord of Flame,
The Sun and Storms, against me came.
E'en Indra, monarch of the skies,
Would dread my club and mountain size,
Shrink from these teeth and quake to hear
The thunders of my voice of fear.
No second dart shall Ráma cast:
The first he aims shall be the last.
He falls, and these dry lips shall drain
The blood of him my hand has slain;
And Sitá, when her champion dies,
Shall be thine undisputed prize.'


435:1 Consisting of warriors on elephants, warriors in chariots, charioteers, and infantry.

435:2 Indra, generally represented as surrounded by the Maruts or Storm-Gods.

435:3 Janasthán, where Ráma a lived as an ascetic.

435:1b Máyá, regarded as the paragon of female beauty, was the creation of Maya the chief artificer of the Datyas or Dinavs.

Next: Canto XIII.: Rávan's Speech.