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Thus Ráma showed his love the rill
Whose waters ran beneath the hill,
Then resting on his mountain seat
Refreshed her with the choicest meat.
So there reposed the happy two:
Then Bharat's army nearer drew:
Rose to the skies a dusty cloud,
The sound of trampling feet was loud.
The swelling roar of marching men
Drove the roused tiger from his den,
And scared amain the serpent race
Flying to hole and hiding-place.
The herds of deer in terror fled,
The air was filled with birds o'erhead,
The bear began to leave his tree,
The monkey to the cave to flee.
Wild elephants were all amazed
As though the wood around them blazed.
The lion oped his ponderous jaw,
The buffalo looked round in awe.
The prince, who heard the deafening sound.
And saw the silvan creatures round
Fly wildly startled from their rest,
The glorious Lakshman thus addressed:
'Sumitrá's noble son most dear,
Hark, Lakshman, what a roar I hear,
The tumult of a coming crowd.
Appalling, deafening, deep, and loud!
The din that yet more fearful grows
Scares elephants and buffaloes,
Or frightened by the lions, deer
Are flying through the wood in fear.
I fain would know who seeks this place:
Comes prince or monarch for the chase?
Or does some mighty beast of prey
Frighten the silvan herds away?
Tis hard to reach this mountain height,
Yea, e'en for birds in airy flight.
Then fain, O Lakshman, would I know
What cause disturbs the forest so.'

Lakshman in haste, the wood to view.
Climbed a high Sál that near him grew,
The forest all around he eyed,
First gazing on the eastern side.
Then northward when his eyes he bent
He saw a mighty armament
Of elephants, and cars, and horse,
And men on foot, a mingled force,
And banners waving in the breeze,
And spoke to Ráma words like these:
'Quick, quick, my lord, put out the fire,
Let Sítá to the cave retire.

p. 207

Thy coat of mail around thee throw,
Prepare thine arrows and thy bow.'

In eager haste thus Lakshman cried,
And Ráma, lion lord, replied:
'Still closer be the army scanned,
And say who leads the warlike band.'
Lakshman his answer thus returned,
As furious rage within him burned,
Exciting him like kindled fire
To scorch the army in his ire:
'Tis Bharat: be has made the throne
By consecrating rites his own:
To gain the whole dominion thus
He comes in arms to slaughter us.
I mark tree-high upon his car
His flagstaff of the Kovídár,  1
I see his glittering banner glance,
I see his chivalry advance:
I see his eager warriors shine
On elephants in lengthened line.
Now grasp we each the shafts and bow,
And higher up the mountain go.
Or in this place, O hero, stand
With weapons in each ready hand.
Perhaps beneath our might may fall
This leader of the standard tall,
And Bharat I this day may see
Who brought this mighty woe on thee,
Sítá, and me, who drove away
My brother from the royal sway.
Bharat our foe at length is nigh,
And by this hand shall surely die:
Brother, I see no sin at all
If Bharat by my weapon fall.
No fault is his who slays the foe
Whose hand was first to strike the blow:
With Bharat now the crime begins
Who against thee and duty sins.
The queen athirst for royal sway
Will see her darling son to-day
Fall by this hand, like some fair tree
Struck by an elephant, slain by me.
Kaikeyí's self shall perish too
With kith and kin and retinue,
And earth by my avenging deed
Shall from this mass of sin be freed.
This day my wrath, too long restrained,
Shall fall upon the foe, unchained,
Mad as the kindled flame that speeds
Destroying through the grass and reeds.
This day mine arrows keen and fierce
The bodies of the foe shall pierce;
The woods on Chitrakúta's side
Shall run with torrents crimson-dyed.
The wandering beasts of prey shall feed
On heart-cleft elephant and steed,
And drag to mountain caves away
The bodies that my arrows slay.
Doubt not that Bharat and his train

Shall in this mighty wood be slain:
So shall I pay the debt my bow
And these my deadly arrows owe.


207:1 Bauhinea variegata, a species of ebony.

Next: Canto XCVIII: Lakshman Calmed.