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With angry menace Rama, best
Of Raghu's sons, the Sea addressed:
'With fiery flood of arrowy rain
Thy channels will I dry and drain.
And I and all the Vánnr host
Will reach on foot the farther coast.
Thou shalt not from destruction save
The creatures of the teeming wave,
And lapse of time shall ne'er efface
The memory of the dire disgrace'
   Thus spoke the warrior, and prepared
The mortal shaft which never spared,
Known mystic weapon, by the name
Of Brahma, red with quenchless flarme
Great terror, as he strained the bow,
Struck heaven above and earth below
Through echoing skies the thunder pealed
And startled mountains rocked and reeled
The earth was black with sudden night
And heaven was blotted from the sight.
Then ever and anon the glare
Of meteors shot through murky air,
And with a wild terrific sound
Red lightnings struck the trembling ground.
In furious gusts the fierce wind blew:
Tall trees it shattered and overthrew,
And, smiting with a giant's stroke,
Huge masses from the mountain broke.
A cry of terror long and shrill
Came from each valley, plain, and hill.
Each ruined dale, each riven peak
Re-echoed with a wail or shriek.
   While Ragbu's son undaunted gazed
The waters of the deep were raised,
And, still uplifted more and more,
Leapt in wild flood upon the shore.
Still Ráma looked upon the tide
And kept his post unterrified.
Then from the seething flood upreared
Majestic Ocean's form appeared,
As rising from his eastern height
Springs through the sky the Lord of Light.
Attendant on their monarch came
Sea serpents with their eyes aflame.
Like lazulite mid burning gold
His form was wondrous to behold.
Bright with each fairest precious stone
A chain about his neck was thrown.
Calm shone his lotus eyes beneath
The blossoms of his heavenly wreath,
And many a pearl and sea-born gem
Flashed in the monarch's diadem.
There Gangá, tributary queen.
And Sindhu  1b by his lord, were seen,

p. 444

And every stream and brook renowned
In ancient story girt him round.
Then, as the waters rose and swelled,
The king with suppliant hands upheld,
His glorious head to Ráma bent
And thus addressed him reverent:
'Air, ether, fire, earth, water, true
To nature's will, their course pursue;
And I, as ancient laws ordain,
Unfordable must still remain.
Yet, Raghu's son, my counsel hear:
I ne'er for love or hope or fear
Will pile my waters in a heap
And leave a pathway through the deep.
Still shall my care for thee provide
An easy passage o'er the tide,
And like a city's paven street
Shall be the road beneath thy feet.'
He ceased: and Ráma spoke again:
'This spell is ne'er invoked in vain.
Where shall the magic shaft, to spend
The fury of its might, descend?'
'Shoot,' Ocean cried, 'thine arrow forth
With all its fury to the north.
Where sacred Drumakulya lies,
Whose glory with thy glory vies,
There dwells a wild Abhíra  1 race,
As vile in act as foul of face,
Fierce Dasyus  2 who delight in ill,
And drink my tributary rill.
My soul no longer may endure
Their neighbourhood and touch impure.
At these, O son of Raghu, aim
Thine arrow with the quenchless flame.'
  Swift from the bow, as Ráma drew
His cord, the fiery arrow flew.
Earth groaned to feel the wound, and sent
A rush of water through the rent;
And famed for ever is the well
Of Vrana  3 where the arrow fell.
Then every brook and lake beside
Throughout the region Ráma dried.
But yet he gave a boon to bless
And fertilize the wilderness:
No fell disease should taint the air,
And sheep and kine should prosper there:
Earth should produce each pleasant root,
The stately trees should bend with fruit;
Oil, milk, and honey should abound,
And fragrant herbs should clothe the
Then spake the king of brooks and seas
To Raghu's son in words like these:
'Now let a wondrous task be done
By Nala, Vis'vakarmá's son.

Who, born of one of Vánar race,
Inherits by his father's grace
A share of his celestial art.
Call Nala to perform his part,
And he, divinely taught and skilled,
A bridge athwart the sea shall build.'
  He spoke and vanished Nala, best
Of Vánar chiefs, the king addressed:
'O'er the deep sea where monsters play
A bridge, O Ráma, will I lay;
For, sharer of my father's skill,
Mine is the power and mine the will.
'Tis vain to try each gentler art
To bribe and soothe the thankless heart;
In vain on such is mercy spent;
It yields to naught but punishment.
Through fear alone will Ocean now
A passage o'er his waves allow.
My mother, ere she bore her son,
This boon from Vis'vakarmá won:
'O Mandari, thy child shall be
In skill and glory next to me.'
But why unbidden should I fill
Thine ear with praises of my skill?
Command the Vánar hosts to lay
Foundations for the bridge to-day.'
   He spoke: and swift at Ráma's best
Up sprang the Vánars from their rest,
The mandate of the king obeyed
And sought the forest's mighty shade.
Unrooted trees to earth they threw,
And to the sea the timber drew.
The stately palm was bowed and bent,
As'okas from the ground were rent,
And towering Sáls and light bamboos,
And trees with flowers of varied hues,
With loveliest creepers wreathed and crowned,
Shook, reeled, and fell upon the ground.
With mighty engines piles of stone
And seated hills were overthrown:
Unprisoned waters sprang on high,
In rain descending from the sky:
And ocean with a roar and swell
Heaved wildly when the mountains fell.
Then the great bridge of wondrous strength
Was built, a hundred leagues in length.
Rocks huge as autumn clouds bound fast
With cordage from the shore were cast,
And fragments of each riven hill,
And trees whose flowers adorned them still.
Wild was the tumult, loud the din
As ponderous rocks went thundering in.
Ere set of sun, so toiled each crew,
Ten leagues and four the structure grew;
The labours of the second day
Gave twenty more of ready way,
And on the fifth, when sank the sun,
The whole stupendous work was done.
O'er the broad way the Vánars sped,
Nor swayed it with their countless tread.

p. 445

Exultant on the ocean strand
Vibhíshan stood, and, mace in hand,
Longed eager for the onward way,
And chafed impatient at delay.
Then thus to Ráma trained and tried
In battle King Sugríva cried:
'Come, Hauumán's broad back ascend;
Let Angad help to Lakshman lend.
These high above the sea shall bear
Their burthen through the ways of air.'
   So, with Sugríva, borne o'erhead
Ikshváku's sons the legions led.
Behind, the Vánar hosts pursued
Their march in endless multitude.
Some skimmed the surface of the wave,
To some the air a passage gave.
Amid their ceaseless roar the sound
Of Ocean's fearful voice was drowned,
As o'er the bridge by Nala planned
They hastened on to Lanká's strand,
Where, by the pleasant brooks, mid trees
Loaded with fruit, they took their ease.


443:1b The Indus.

444:1 Cowherds, sprung from a Bráhman and a woman of the medical tribe, the modern Ahírs.

444:2 Barbarians or outcasts.

444:3 Vrana means wound or rent.

Next: Canto XXIII.: The Omens.