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When Khara saw his sister lie
With blood-stained limbs and troubled eye,

p. 252

Wild fury in his bosom woke,
And thus the monstrous giant spoke;
   'Arise, my sister; cast away
This numbing terror and dismay,
And straight the impious hand declare
That marred those features once so fair.
For who his finger tip will lay
On the black snake in childish play,
And unattacked, with idle stroke
His poison-laden fang provoke?
Ill-fated fool, he little knows
Death's noose around his neck he throws,
Who rashly met thee, and a draught
Of life-destroying poison quaffed.
Strong, fierce as death, 'twas thine to choose
Thy way at will, each shape to use;
In power and might like one of us:
What hand has maimed and marred thee thus?
What God or fiend this deed has wrought,
What bard or sage of lofty thought
Was armed with power supremely great
Thy form to mar and mutilate?
In all the worlds not one I see
Would dare a deed to anger me:
Not Indra's self, the Thousand-eyed,
Beneath whose hand fierce Páka  1 died.
My life-destroying darts this day
His guilty breath shall rend away,
E'en as the thirsty wild swan drains
Each milk-drop that the wave retains.
Whose blood in foaming streams shall burst
O'er the dry ground which lies athirst,
When by my shafts transfixed and slain
He falls upon the battle plain?
From whose dead corpse shall birds of air
The mangled flesh and sinews tear,
And in their gory feast delight,
When I have slain him in the fight?
Not God or bard or wandering ghost,
No giant of our mighty host
Shall step between us, or avail
To save the wretch when I assail.
Collect each scattered sense, recall
Thy troubled thoughts, and tell me all.
What wretch attacked thee in the way,
And quelled thee in victorious fray?'
   His breast with burning fury fired,
Thus Khara of the fiend inquired:
And then with many a tear and sigh
Thus S'úrpanakhá made reply:
   ''Tis Das'aratha's sons, a pair
Strong, resolute, and young, and fair:
In coats of dark and blackdeer's hide,
And like the radiant lotus eyed:
On berries roots and fruit they feed,
And lives of saintly virtue lead:
With ordered senses undefiled,
Ráma and Lakshman are they styled.

Fair as the Minstrels' King  1b are they,
And stamped with signs of regal sway.
I know not if the heroes trace
Their line from Gods or Dánav 2b race.
There by these wondering eyes between
The noble youths a dame was seen,
Fair, blooming, young, with dainty waist,
And all her bright apparel graced.
For her with ready heart and mind
The royal pair their strength combined,
And brought me to this last distress,
Like some lost woman, comfortless.
Perfidious wretch! my soul is fain
Her foaming blood and theirs to drain.
O let me head the vengeful fight,
And with this hand my murderers smite.
Come, brother, hasten to fulfil
This longing of my eager will.
On to the battle! Let me drink
Their lifeblood as to earth they sink.'
   Then Khara, by his sister pressed,
Inflamed with fury, gave his hest
To twice seven giants of his crew,
Fierce as the God of death to view:
   'Two men equipped with arms, who wear
Deerskin and bark and matted hair,
Leading a beauteous dame, have strayed
To the wild gloom of Dandak's shade.
These men, this cursed woman slay,
And hasten back without delay,
That this my sister's lips may be
Red with the lifeblood of the three.
Giants, my wounded sister longs
To take this vengeance for her wrongs.
With speed her dearest wish fulfil,
And with your might these creatures kill.
Soon as your matchless strength shall lay
These brothers dead in battle fray,
She in triumphant joy will laugh,
And their hearts' blood delighted quaff.'
   The giants heard the words he said,
And forth with S'úrpanakhá sped,
As mighty clouds in autumn fly
Urged by the wind along the sky.

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252:1 A demon slain by Indra.

Next: Canto XX.: The Giants' Death.