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The fearful notes of drum and shell
Upon the ear of Rávan fell.
One moment quailed his haughty look,
One moment in his fear he shook,
But soon recalling wonted pride,
His counsellors he sternly eyed,
And with a voice that thundered through
The council had* began anew:
   'Lords, I have heard--your tongues have told--
How Raghu's son is fierce and bold.
To Lanká's shore has bridged his way
And hither leads his wild array.
I know your might, in battle tried,
Fighting and conquering by my side.
Why now, when such a foe is near,
Looks eye to eye in silent fear?

He ceased, his mother's sire well known
For wisdom in the council shown,
Malyaván *, sage and faithful guide.
Thus to the monarch's speech replied:
   'Long reigns the king in safe repose.
Unmoved by fear of vanquished foes,
Whose feet* by saving knowledge led
In justice's* path delight to tread:
Who knows to sheath the sword or wield,
To sue for peace*, to strike or yield:

Prefers, when foes are stronger, peace,
And bids a doubtful conflict cease.
Now, King, the choice before thee lies,
Make peace with Ráma, and be wise.
This day the captive queen restore
Who brings the foe to Lanká's shore.
The Sire by whom the worlds are swayed
Of yore the Gods and demons made.
With these Injustice sided; those
Fair Justice for her champions chose.
Still Justice dwells with Gods above;
Injustice, fiends and giants love.
Thou, through the worlds that fear thee, long
Hast scorned the right and loved the wrong,
And Justice, with thy foes allied,
Gives might resistless to their side.
Thou, guided by thy wicked will,
Hast found delight in deeds of ill,
And sages in their holy rest*
Have trembled, by thy power oppressed.
But they, who check each vain desire,
Are clothed with might which burns like fire.
In them the power and glory live
Which zeal and saintly fervour give.
Their constant task, their sole delight
Is worship and each holy rite,
To chant aloud the Veda hymn,
Nor let the sacred fire grow dim.
Now through the air like thunder ring
The echoes of the chants they sing.
The vapours of their incense rise
And, veil with cloudy pall the skies,
And Rákshas might grows weak and faint
Killed by the power of sage and saint.
By Brahmá's boon thy life was screened
From God, Gandharva, Yaksha *, fiend;
But Vánars, men and bears* arrayed
Against thee now, thy shores invade.
Red meteors, heralds of despair
Flash* frequent through the humid* air,
Foretelling to my troubled mind
The ruin of the Rákshas kind
With awful thundering overhead
Clouds black as night are densely spread,
And oozing* from the gloomy pall
Great drops of blood on Lanká fall
Dogs roam through house and shrine to steal
The sacred oil * and curd and meal.
Cats pair with tigers*, hounds with swine,
And asses' foals are born of kine.
In these and countless signs I trace
The ruin of the giant race,
'Tis Vishnu's self who comes to storm
Thy city, clothed in Ráma's form;
For, well I ween, no mortal hand
The ocean with a bridge has spanned.
O giant King, the dame release,
And sue to Raghu's son for peace'

p. 455

Next: Canto XXXVI.: Rávan's Reply.