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Then anger swelled in Rávan's breast,
Who fiercely thus the dame addressed:
'Tis ever thus: in vain we sue
To woman, and her favour woo.
A lover's humble words impel
Her wayward spirit to rebel.
The love of thee that fills my soul
Still keeps my anger in control.
As charioteers with bit and rein
The swerving of the steed restrain.
The love that rules me bids me spare
Thy forefeit life, O thou most fair.
For this, O Sítá, have I borne
The keen reproach, the bitter scorn,
And the fond love thou boastest yet
For that poor wandering anchoret;
Else had the words which thou hast said
Brought death upon thy guilty head.
Two months, fair dame, I grant thee still
To bend thee to thy lover's will.
If when that respite time is fled
Thou still refuse to share my bed,
My cooks shall mince thy limbs with steel
And serve thee for my morning meal.'  1
   The minstrel daughters of the skies
Looked on her woe with pitying eyes,
And sun-bright children of the Gods  2
Consoled the queen with smiles and nods.
She saw, and with her heart at ease,
Addressed the fiend in words like these;
'Hast thou no friend to love thee, none
In all this isle to bid thee shun
The ruin which thy crime will bring
On thee and thine, O impious King?
Who in all worlds save thee could woo
Me, Ráma's consort pure and true,
As though he tempted with his love
Queen Sachí 3 on her throne above?
How canst thou hope, vile wretch, to fly
The vengeance that e'en now is nigh,
When thou hast dared, untouched by shame,
To press thy suit on Ráma's dame?
Where woods are thick and grass is high
A lion and a hare may lie;
My Ráma is the lion, thou
Art the poor hare beneath the bough,
Thou railest at the lord of men.
But wilt not stand within his ken,

What! is that eye unstricken yet
Whose impious glance on me was set?
Still moves that tongue that would not spare
The wife of Das'aratha's heir?'
   Then, hissing like a furious snake,
The fiend again to Sítá spake:
'Deaf to all prayers and threats art thou,
Devoted to thy senseless vow.
No longer respite will I give,
And thou this day shalt cease to live;
Now I, as sunlight kills the morn,
Will slay thee for thy scathe and scorn.'
   The Rákshas guard was summoned: all
The monstrous crew obeyed the call,
And hastened to the king to take
The orders which he fiercely spake:
'See that ye guard her well, and tame,
Like some wild thing, the stubborn dame,
Until her haughty boul be bent
By mingled threat and blandishment.'  1b
   The monsters heard: away he strode,
And passed within his queens' abode.


408:1 This threat in the same words occurs in Book III. Canto LVI.

408:2 Rávan carried off and kept in his palace not only earthly princesses but the daughters of Gods and Gandharvas.

408:3 The wife of Indra.

Next: Canto XXIII.: The Demons' Threats