The shades of falling night concealed
The carnage of the battle field,
Which, hearing each a blazing brand,
Hanúmán and Vibhíshan scanned,
Moving with slow and anxious tread
Among the dying and the dead.
Sad was the scene of slaughter shown
Where'er the torches' light was thrown.
Here mountain forma of Vánars lay
Whose heads and limbs were lopped away
Arms legs and fingers strewed the ground,
And severed heads lay thick around.
The earth was moist with sanguine streams,
And sighs were heard and groans and screams.
There lay Sugríva still and cold,
There Angad, once so brave and bold.
There Jámbaván his might reposed,
There Vegadars'í's eyes were closed;
There in the dust was Nala's pride,
And Dwivid lay by Mainda's side.
Where'er they looked the ensanguined plain
Was strewn with myriads of the slain; 1
They sought with keenly searching eyes
King Jámbaván supremely wise.
His strength had failed by slow decay,
And pierced with countless shafts he lay.
They saw, and hastened to his side,
And thus the sage Vibhíshan cried:
'Thee, monarch of the bears, we seek:
Speak if thou yet art living, speak.'
Slow came the aged chief's reply;
Scarce could he say with many a sigh:
'Torn with keen shafts which pierce each limb,
My strength is gone, my sight is dim;
Yet though I scarce can raise mine eyes.
Thy voice. O chief. I recognize.
O, while these ears can hear thee, say,
Has Hanumán survived this day?'
'Why ask,' Vibhíshan cried,' for one
Of lower rank, the Wind-God's son?
Hast thou forgotten, first in place,
The princely chief of Raghu's race?
Can King Sugríva claim no care,
And Angad, his imperial heir?'
'Yea, dearer than my noblest friends
Is he on whom our hope depends.
For if the Wind-God's son survive,
All we though dead are yet alive.
But if his precious life be fled
Though living still we are but dead:
He is our hope and sure relief.'
Thus slowly spoke the aged chief:
Then to his side Hanúmán came,
And with low reverence named his name.
Cheered by the face he longed to view
The wounded chieftain lived anew.
'Go forth,' he cried, 'O strong and brave,
And in their woe the Vánars save.
'No might but thine, supremely great,
May help us in our lost estate,
The trembling bears and Vánars cheer,
Calm their sad hearts, dispel their fear.
Save Raghu's noble sons, and heal
The deep wounds of the winged steel.
High o'er the waters of the sea
To far Himálaya's summits flee.
Kailása there wilt thou behold,
Aud Rishabh, with his peaks of gold.
Between them see a mountain rise
Whose splendour will enchant thine eyes;
His sides are clothed above, below,
With all the rarest herbs that grow.
Upon that mountain's lofty crest
Four plants, of sovereign powers possessed,
Spring from the soil, and flashing there
Shed radiance through the neighbouring air.
One draws the shaft: one brings again
The breath of life to warm the slain;
One heals each wound; one gives anew
To faded cheeks their wonted hue.
Fly, chieftain, to that mountain's brow
And bring those herbs to save us now.'
Hanúmán heard, and springing through
The air like Vishnu's discus 1b flew.
The sea was passed: beneath him, gay
With bright-winged birds, the mountains lay,
And brook and lake and lonely glen,
And fertile lands with toiling men.
On, on he sped: before him rose
The mansion of perennial snows.
There soared the glorious peaks as fair
As white clouds in the summer air.
Here, bursting from the leafy shade,
In thunder leapt the wild cascade.
He looked on many a pure retreat
Dear to the Gods' and sages' feet:
The spot where Brahmá dwells apart,
The place whence Rudra launched his dart; 2b
Vishnu's high seat and Indra's home,
And slopes where Yama's servants roam.
There was Kuvera's bright abode;
There Brahma's mystic weapon glowed.
There was the noble hill whereon
Those herbs with wondrous lustre shone.
And, ravished by the glorious sight,
Hanúmán rested on the height.
He, moving down the glittering peak,
The healing herbs began to seek:
But, when he thought to seize the prize,
They hid them from his eager eyes.
Then to the hill in wrath he spake:
'Mine arm this day shall vengeance take,
If thou wilt feel no pity, none,
In this great need of Raghu's son.'
He ceased: his mighty arms he bent
And from the trembling mountain rent
His huge head with the life it bore,
Snakes, elephants, and golden ore.
O'er hill and plain and watery waste
His rapid way again he traced.
And mid the wondering Vánars laid
His burthen through the air conveyed.
The wondrous herbs' delightful scent
To all the host new vigour lent.
Free from all darts and wounds and pain
The sons of Raghu lived again,
And dead and dying Vánars healed
Rose vigorous from the battle field.
485:1 In such cases as this I am not careful to reproduce the numbers of the poet, which in the text which I follow are 670,000,000; the Bengal recension being content with thirty million less.
485:1b The discus or quoit, a sharp-edged circular missile is the favourite weapon of Vishnu.
485:2b To destroy Tripura the triple city in the sky, air and earth, built by Maya for a celebrated Asur or demon, or as another commentator explains, to destroy Randarpa or Love.