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The glorious sight a while he viewed,
Then to the town his way pursued.
Around the Vanar as he went
Breathed from the wood delicious scent,
And the soft grass beneath his feet
With gem-like flowers was bright and sweet.
Still as the Vanar nearer drew
More clearly rose the town to view
The palm her fan-like leaves displayed,
Priyálas  1 lent their pleasant shade,
And mid the lower greenery far
Conspicuous rose the Kovidár  2.
A thousand trees mid flowers that glowed
Hung down their fruit's delicious load  3,
And in their crests that rocked and swayed
Sweet birds delightful music made.
And there were pleasant pools whereon
The glories of the lotus shone;
And gleams of sparkling fountains, stirred
By many a joyous water-bird.

Around, in lovely gardens grew
Blooms sweet of scent and bright of hue,
And Lanká, seat of Rávan's sway,
Before the wondering Vánar lay:
With stately domes and turrets tall,
Encircled by a golden wall,
And moats whose waters were aglow
With lily blossoms bright below:
For Sitá's sake defended well
With bolt and bar and sentinel,
And Rakshases who roamed in bands
With ready bows in eager hands.
He saw the stately mansions rise
Like pale-hued clouds in autumn skies;
Where noble streets were broad and bright,
And banners waved on every height.
Her gates were glorious to behold
Rich with the shine of burnished gold:
A lovely city planned and decked
By heaven's creative arhitect  1b,
Fairest of earthly cities meet
To be the Gods' celestial seat.
The Vánar by the northern gate
Thus in his heart began debate
'Our mightiest host would strive in vain
To take this city on the main:
A city that may well defy
The chosen warriors of the sky;
A city never to be won
E'en by the arm of Raghu's son.
Here is no hope by guile to win
The hostile hearts of those within.
'Twere vain to war, or bribe, or sow
Dissension mid the Vánar foe.
But now my search must I pursue
Until the Maithil queen I view:
And, when I find the captive dame,
Make victory mine only aim.
But, if I wear my present shape,
How shall I enter and escape
The Rákshas troops, their guards and spies,
And sleepless watch of cruel eyes?
The fiends of giant race who hold
This mighty town are strong and bold;
And I must labour to elude
The fiercely watchful multitude.
I in a shape to mock their sight
Must steal within the town by night,
Blind with my art the demons' eyes,
And thus achieve my enterprise.
How may I see, myself unseen
Of the fierce king, the captive queen.
And meet her in some lonely place,
With none beside her, face to face?'

When the bright sun had left the skies
The Vánar dwarfed his mighty size,

p. 398

And, in the straitest bounds restrained,
The bigness of a cat retained.  1
Then, when the moon's soft light was spread,
Within the city's walls he sped.


397:1 The Buchanania Latifolia.

397:2 The Bauhinia Variegata.

397:3 Through the power that Rávan's stern mortifications had won for him his trees bore flowers and fruit simultaneously.

397:1b Vis'vakarmá is the architect of the Gods.

Next: Canto III.: The Guardian Goddess.