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But of the host of giants one,
Akampan, from the field had run
And sped to Lanká 1 to relate
In Rávan's ear the demons' fate:

'King, many a giant from the shade
Of Janasthán in death is laid:
Khara the chief is slain, and I
Could scarcely from the battle fly.'

Fierce anger, as the monarch heard,
Inflamed his look, his bosom stirred,
And while with scorching glance he eyed
The messenger, he thus replied:

'What fool has dared, already dead,
*Strike* Janasthán, the general dread?

Who is the wretch shall vainly try
In earth, heaven, hell, from me to fly?
Vais'ravan 1b,Indra, Vishnu, He
Who rules the dead, must reverence me;
For not the mightiest lord of these
Can brave my will and live at ease.
Fate finds in me a mightier fate
To burn the fires that devastate.
With unresisted influence I
Can force e'en Death himself to die,
With all-surpassing might restrain
The fury of the hurricane,
And burn in my tremendous ire
The glory of the sun and fire.'

As thus the fiend's hot fury blazed,
His trembling hands Akampan raised,
And with a voice which fear made weak,
Permission craved his tale to speak.
King Rávan gave the leave he sought,
And bade him tell the news he brought.
His courage rose, his voice grew bold,
And thus his mournful tale he told:

'A prince with mighty shoulders, sprung
From Das'aratha, brave and young,
With arms well moulded, bears the name
Of Ráma with a lion's frame.
Renowned, successful, dark of limb,
Earth has no warrior equals him.
He fought in Janasthán and slew
Dúshan the fierce and Khara too.'

Rávan the giants' royal chief.
Received Akampan's tale of grief.
Then, panting like an angry snake,
These words in turn the monarch spake:

'Say quick, did Ráma seek the shade
Of Janasthán with Indra's aid,
And all the dwellers in the skies
To back his hardy enterprise?'

Akampan heard, and straight obeyed
His master, and his answer made.
Then thus the power and might he told
Of Raghu's son the lofty-souled:

'Best is that chief of all who know
With deftest art to draw the bow.
His are strange arms of heavenly might,
And none can match him in the fight.
His brother Lakshman brave as he,
Fair as the rounded moon to see,
With eyes like night and voice that comes
Deep as the roll of beaten drums,
By Ráma's side stands ever near,
Like wind that aids the flame's career.
That glorious chief, that prince of kings,
On Janasthán this ruin brings.
No Gods were there,--dismiss the thought
No heavenly legions came and fought.
His swift-winged arrows Ráma sent,
Each bright with gold and ornament.
To serpents many-faced they turned:

p. 266

The giant hosts they ate and burned.
Where'er these fled in wild dismay
Ráma was there to strike and slay.
By him O King of high estate,
Is Janasthán left desolate.'

Akampan ceased: in angry pride
The giant monarch thus replied:
'To Janasthán myself will go
And lay these daring brothers low.'

Thus spoke the king in furious mood;
Akampan then his speech renewed:
'O listen while I tell at length
The terror of the hero's strength.
No power can check, no might can tame
Ráma, a chief of noblest fame.
He with resistless shafts can stay
The torrent foaming on its way.
Sky, stars, and constellations, all
To his fierce might would yield and fall.
His power could earth itself uphold
Down sinking as it sank of old. 1
Or all its plains and cities drown,
Breaking the wild sea's barrier down;
Crush the great deep's impetuous will,
Or bid the furious wind be still.
He glorious in his high estate
The triple world could devastate,
And there, supreme of men, could place
His creatures of a new-born race.
Never can mighty Ráma be
O'vercome in fight, my King, by thee.
Thy giant host the day might win
From him, if heaven were gained by sin.
If Gods were joined with demons, they
Could ne'er, I ween, that hero slay,
But guile may kill the wondrous man;
Attend while I disclose the plan.
His wife, above all women graced,
Is Sítá of the dainty waist,
With limbs to fair proportion true,
And a soft skin of lustrous hue,
Round neck and arm rich gems are twined:
She is the gem of womankind.
With her no bright Gandharví vies,
No nymph or Goddess in the skies;
And none to rival her would dare
'Mid dames who part the long black hair.
That hero in the wood beguile,
And steal his lovely spouse the while.
'Reft of his darling wife, be sure,
Brief days the mourner will endure.'

With flattering hope of triumph moved
The giant king that plan approved,
Pondered the counsel in his breast,
And then Akampan thus addressed:
'Forth in my car I go at morn,
None but the driver with me borne,
And this fair Sítá will I bring
Back to my city triumphing.'

Forth in his car by asses drawn
The giant monarch sped at dawn,
Bright as the sun, the chariot cast
Light through the sky as on it passed.
Then high in air that best of cars
Traversed the path of lunar stars,
Sending a fitful radiance pale
As moonbeams shot through cloudy veil.
Far on his airy way he flew:
Near Tádakeya's 1b grove he drew,
Máricha welcomed him, and placed
Before him food which giants taste,
With honour led him to a seat,
And brought him water for his feet;
And then with timely words addressed
Such question to his royal guest:

'Speak, is it well with thee whose sway
The giant multitudes obey?
I know not all, and ask in fear
The cause, O King, why thou art here.'

Rávan, the giants' mighty king,
Heard wise Máricha's questioning,
And told with ready answer, taught
In eloquence, the cause he sought:
'My guards, the bravest of my band.
Are slain by Ráma's vigorous hand,
And Janasthán, that feared no hate
Of foes, is rendered desolate.
Come, aid me in the plan I lay
To steal the conqueror's wife away.'

Máricha heard the king's request,
And thus the giant chief addressed:

'What foe in friendly guise is he
Who spoke of Sítá's name to thee?
Who is the wretch whose thought would bring
Destruction on the giants' king?
Whose is the evil counsel, say,
That bids thee bear his wife away,
And careless of thy life provoke
Earth's loftiest with threatening stroke?
A foe is he who dared suggest
This hopeless folly to thy breast,
Whose ill advice would bid thee draw
The venomed fang from serpent's jaw.
By whose unwise suggestion led
Wilt thou the path of ruin tread?
Whence falls the blow that would destroy
Thy gentle sleep of ease and joy?
Like some wild elephant is he
That rears his trunk on high,
Lord of an ancient pedigree,
Huge tusks, and furious eye.
Rávan, no rover of the night
With bravest heart can brook,
Met in the front of deadly fight,
On Raghu's son to look.

p. 267

The giant hosts were brave and strong,
   Good at the bow and spear:
But Ráma slew the routed throng,
   A lion 'mid the deer.
No lion's tooth can match his sword,
   Or arrows fiercely shot:
He sleeps, he sleeps--the lion lord;
   Be wise and rouse him not.
O Monarch of the giants, well
   Upon my counsel think,
Lest thou for ever in the hell
   Of Ráma's vengeance sink:
A hell, where deadly shafts are sent
   From his tremendous-bow,
While his great arms all flight prevent,
   Like deepest mire below:
Where the wild floods of battle rave
   Above the foeman's head,
And each with many a feathery wave
   Of shafts is garlanded.
O, quench the flames that in thy breast
   With raging fury burn;
And pacified and self-possessed
   To Lanká's town return.
Rest thou in her imperial bowers
   With thine own wives content,
And in the wood let Ráma's hours
   With Sitá still be spent.'

The lord of Lanká's isle obeyed
The counsel, and his purpose stayed.
Borne on his car he parted thence
And gained his royal residence.


265:1 The capital of the giant king Rávan.

265:1b Kuvera, the God of gold

266:1 In the great deluge.

266:1b The giant Máricha, son of Tádaká. Tádaká was slain by Ráma. See p. 39.

Next: Canto XXXII.: Rávan Roused.