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But Mahápárs'va saw the sting
Of keen reproach had galled the king;
And humbly, eager to appease
His anger, spoke in words like these:
   'And breathes there one so cold and weak
The forest and the gloom to seek
Where savage beasts abound, and spare
To taste the luscious honey there?
Art thou not lord? and who is he
Shall venture to give laws to thee?
Love thy Videhan still, and tread
Upon thy prostrate foeman's head.
O'er Sitá's will let thine prevail,
And strength achieve if flattery fail.
What though the lady yet be coy
And turn her from the proffered joy?
Soon shall her conquered heart relent
And yield to love and blandishment.
With us let Kumbhakarna fight,
And Indrajit of matchless might
We need not other champions, they
Shall lead us forth to rout and slay.
Not ours to bribe or soothe or part
The foeman's force with gentle art,
Doomed, conquered by our might, to feel
The vengeance of the warrior's steel.'
   The Rákshas monarch heard, and moved
By flattering hopes the speech approved:
   'Hear me,' he cried, 'great chieftain, tell
What in the olden time befell,--
A secret tale which, long supressed,
Lies prisoned only in my breast.
One day--a day I never forget--
Fair Punjikasthalá  1 I met,
When, radiant as a flame of fire,
She sought the palace of the Sire.
In passion's eager grasp I tore
From her sweet limbs the robes she wore,
And heedless of her prayers and cries
Strained to my breast the vanquised prize.
Like Nalini  2 with soil distained.
The mansion of the Sire she gained,
And weeping made the outrage known
To Brahmá on his heavenly throne.
He in his wrath pronounced a curse,--
That lord who made the universe:
'If, Rávan, thou a second time
Be guilty of so foul a crime,
Thy head in shivers shall be rent:
Be warned, and dread the punishment.
Awed by the threat of vengeance still
I force not Sitá's stubborn will.
Terrific as the sea in might:
My steps are like the Storm-Gods' flight;
But Ráma knows not this, or he
Had never sought to war with me.
Where is the man would idly brave
The lion in his mountain cave,
And wake him when with slumbering eyes
Grim, terrible as Death, he lies?
No, blinded Ráma knows me not:
Ne'er has he seen mine arrows shot;
Ne'er marked them speeding to their aim
Like snakes with cloven tongues of flame.
On him those arrows will I turn,
Whose fiery points shall rend and burn.
Quenched by my power when I assail
The glory of his might shall fail,
As stars before the sun grow dim
And yield their feeble light to him.'

Next: Canto XIV.: Vibhíshan's Speech.