Kālidās was a Classical Sanskrit writer, widely regarded as the greatest poet and dramatist in the Sanskrit language of India. His plays and poetry are primarily based on the Vedas, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Puranas.
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Famous Kalidasa Poems
Look To This Day
Look to this day:
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence.
The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendour of achievement
Are but experiences of time.
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision;
And today well-lived, makes
Yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well therefore to this day;
Such is the salutation to the ever-new dawn!
Seasonal Cycle – Chapter 05 – Winter
“Oh, dear with best thighs, heart-stealing is this environ with abundantly grown stacks of rice and their cobs, or with sugarcane, and it is reverberated with the screeches of ruddy gees that abide hither and thither… now heightened will be passion, thereby this season will be gladdening for lusty womenfolk, hence listen of this season, called Shishira, the Winter…
“At this time, people enjoy abiding in the medial places of their residences, whose ventilators are blockaded for the passage of chilly air, and at fireplaces, in sunrays, with heavy clothing, and along with mature women of age, for they too will be passionately steamy…
“Presently, not the sandal-paste, which will be coolant like moonbeams of moon, nor the building tops, that were once rendered pleasant with the immaculate moonshine, nor the breezes, that are chilled by dense sleet… any of them is delightful for the people…
“The nights are unenjoyable for the people, for they are chilled with the huddles of snow, and further chilled by moonbeams of the moon, besides, these nights are ornamented very whitish clusters of cluttered and lacklustre stars…
“On taking betel leaves and their enclosing material like lime and areca-nut parings, and other fragrant material for chewing, and even handling body creams and tassels of flowers, for it is cool to wear them on, and with their lotus-like faces that are fragranced with delightful recreational drinks, the women are enthusiastically entering their bedchambers, that are desirably fragranced with the fumigation of aloe vera resin…
“On entering bedchambers seen are the irritant husbands irritating for the arrival of their wives, but once these husbands were at fault and they were daunted repeatedly earlier, hence they are now wavery, for their hearts are ciphered by their hesitation, and on looking at such husbands, who are now longing for lovemaking, the lustful women are overlooking their faults, lest time and opportunity fritters away… thus this season unites couples, though they are at loggerheads…
“The women that are new to adulthood are relentlessly gratified for a long time in longish nights, by young men who are muchly impassioned and lusting for their women, thus these young women after the end of night are moving about sluggishly in the morning, with their aching busts that are strained during last night’s escapade…
“The womenfolk’s breasts are tightly bound by breast-bands thus they are squeezy, and on them the upper fringe of their colourful silk wraparound is wrapped, and such busts are ornamented, and in their hairdo interposed are flowers, thus those women are delightful and it appears that they themselves are embellishing the wintry season as its ornaments…
“Nowadays the chests of lustful men are ocherish for they are rubbed against bosoms of their flirtatious women, whose busts are adorned with vermilion coloured skincare, and which young women are befitting for a comfortable close self-indulgence, for they are new to adulthood, and have warmish bosoms, and the men are sleeping while overly pressing the bosoms of their ladyloves against their own, thus the men are brazening out the chilling coldness of winter, and thus the women of age have an edge on the frostiness of this season…
“In nights the gladdened women of age, desirous of lovemaking are consuming best, heart-stealing, excitant, and stimulant hard drinks along with their lovers, in which drinks lotus petal are placed for fragrance, and which lotus petals are undulated by the richly scented lusty suspirations of those women…
“In the morning, one woman on getting rid of her penchant of passion, examined her own body, and observed that her nipples are subdued by her lover’s embrace, and thus concluding that her body is completely enjoyed by her lover, she is going out of the bedchamber to another chamber, laughingly …
“At dawn, another charmingly delightful and attractive woman, whose rumps are heavy and whose waistline is slender, on joggling the ends of her slithered hair plaits from which discarded are the circlets of flowers, that adorned her bun last night but now withered, and on furling up that hair which is fragrant, for it was fumigated with the resin of aloe vera during last night, is leaving the bed…
“With their discoid faces that look like golden lotuses, cleansed just with water, and with their wide and medially whitish eyes, whose edges touch the edges of ears, and with their just cleansed hair dangling and clasping their shoulders, those women of age are snugly in the heart of their houses in these days, and they appear to be many a personified prosperity, Goddess Lakshmi-s, amidst Her golden lotuses…
“Other women of age, uneasy with the weight of their beamy behinds, a little bent down at waist by the weight of their breasts, which weight of breasts and behinds is making them to walk slowly and slowly, but they are quickly disrobing themselves of their night-time and love-time getups, and enrobing themselves with the getups befitting for daytime…
“On observing the areas of their bosoms that are puckered at their tops with edges of nails of their lovers during last night, and while touching the teeth-cracked tender-leaf like lower lips with their tongues, those women of age are rejoicing, for all this is according to their sought-after delectation, thus they are applying makeup on their faces, at the dawn time of the sun, that rejoicingly…
“In this season, abundant are the new sugar-candies and their modified sweetmeats, new rice is relishable, juice of new sugar-cane is delightful, intensified will be the disport of lovemaking, for the self-conceit of Love-god occasions anew, but this season alone will be the cause for scorching the hearts of those that are devoid of their loved ones, and thus let this winter season be always there for your propitiousness…
Even the man who is happy
or a hair of sound touches him
and his heart overflows with a longing
he does not recognize
then it must be that he is remembering
in a place out of reach
shapes he has loved
in a life before this
the print of them still there in him waiting
The Cloud Messenger – Part 01
A certain yaksha who had been negligent in the execution of his own duties,
on account of a curse from his master which was to be endured for a year and
which was onerous as it separated him from his beloved, made his residence
among the hermitages of Ramagiri, whose waters were blessed by the bathing
of the daughter of Janaka1 and whose shade trees grew in profusion.
That lover, separated from his beloved, whose gold armlet had slipped from
his bare forearm, having dwelt on that mountain for some months, on the first
day of the month of Asadha, saw a cloud embracing the summit, which
resembled a mature elephant playfully butting a bank.
Managing with difficulty to stand up in front of that cloud which was the
cause of the renewal of his enthusiasm, that attendant of the king of kings,
pondered while holding back his tears. Even the mind of a happy person is
excited at the sight of a cloud. How much more so, when the one who longs to
cling to his neck is far away?
As the month of Nabhas was close at hand, having as his goal the sustaining
of the life of his beloved and wishing to cause the tidings of his own welfare
to be carried by the cloud, the delighted being spoke kind words of welcome
to the cloud to which offerings of fresh kutaja flowers had been made.
Owing to his impatience, not considering the imcompatibility between a cloud
consisting of vapour, light, water and wind and the contents of his message
best delivered by a person of normal faculties, the yaksha made this request to
the cloud, for among sentient and non-sentient things, those afflicted by desire
are naturally miserable:
Without doubt, your path unimpeded, you will see your brother’s wife, intent
on counting the days, faithful and living on. The bond of hope generally
sustains the quickly sinking hearts of women who are alone, and which wilt
Just as the favourable wind drives you slowly onward, this cataka cuckoo,
your kinsman, calls sweetly on the left. Knowing the season for fertilisation,
cranes, like threaded garlands in the sky, lovely to the eye, will serve you.
Your steady passage observed by charming female siddhas who in trepidation
wonder ‘Has the summit been carried off the mountain by the wind?’, you
who are heading north, fly up into the sky from this place where the nicula
trees flourish, avoiding on the way the blows of the trunks of the elephants of
the four quarters of the sky.
This rainbow, resembling the intermingled sparkling of jewels, appears before
Mt Valmikagra, on account of which your dark body takes on a particular
loveliness, as did the body of Vishnu dressed as a cowherd with the peacock’s
feather of glistening lustre.
While being imbibed by the eyes of the country women who are ignorant of
the play of the eyebrows, who are tender in their affection, and who are
thinking ‘The result of the harvest depends on you’, having ascended to a
region whose fields are fragrant from recent ploughing, you should proceed a
little to the west. Your pace is swift. Go north once more.
Mt Amrakuta will carefully bear you upon its head—you whose showers
extinguished its forest fires and who are overcome by fatigue of the road.
Even a lowly being, remembering an earlier kind deed, does not turn its back
on a friend who has come for refuge; how much less, then, one so lofty?
When you, remembling a glossy braid of hair, have ascended its summit, the
mountain whose slopes are covered with forest mangoes, glowing with ripe
fruit, takes on the appearance of a breast of the earth, dark at the centre, the
rest pale, worthy to be beheld by a divine couple.
Having rested for a moment at a bower enjoyed by the forest-dwelling
women, then travelling more swiftly when your waters have been discharged,
the next stage thence is crossed. You will see the river Reva spread at the foot
of Mt Vandhya, made rough with rocks and resembling the pattern formed by
the broken wrinkles on the body of an elephant.
Your showers shed, having partaken of her waters that are scented with the
fragrant exudation of forest elephants and whose flow is impeded by thickets
of rose-apples, you should proceed. Filled with water, the wind will be unable
to lift you, O cloud, for all this is empty is light, while fullness results in
Seeing the yellow-brown nipa with their stamens half erect, eating the kankali
flowers whose first buds have appeared on every bank, and smelling the
highly fragrant scent of the forest earth, the deer will indicate the way to the
Watching the cataka cuckoos that are skilled in catching raindrops, and
watching the herons flying in skeins as they count them, the siddhas will hold
you in high regard at the moment of your thundering, having received the
trembling, agitated embraced of their beloved female companions!
I perceive in an instant, friend, your delays on mountain after mountain
scented with kakubha flowers—you who should desire to proceed for the sake
of my beloved. Welcomed by peacocks with teary eyes who have turned their
cries into words of welcome, you should somehow resolve to proceed at once.
Reaching their capital by the name of Vidisha, renowned in all quarters, and
having won at once complete satisfaction of your desires, you will drink the
sweet, rippling water from the Vetravati River which roars pleasantly at the
edge of her banks, rippling as if her face bore a frown.
There, for the sake of rest, your should occupy the mountain known as Nicaih
which seems to thrill at your touch with its full-blown kadamba flowers, and
whose grottoes make known the unbridled youthful deeds of the townsmen by
emitting the scent of intercourse with bought women.
After resting, move on while watering with fresh raindrops the clusters of
jasmine buds that grow in gardens on the banks of the forest rivers—you who
have made a momentary acquaintance with the flower-picking girls by lending
shade to their faces, the lotuses at whose ears are withered and broken as they
wipe away the perspiration from their cheeks.
Even though the route would be circuitous for one who, like you, is
northward-bound, do not turn your back on the love on the palace roofs in
Ujjayini. If you do not enjoy the eyes with flickering eyelids of the women
startled by bolts of lightning there, then you have been deceived!
On the way, after you have ascended to the Nirvandhya River, whose girdles
are flocks of birds calling on account of the turbulence of her waves, whose
gliding motion is rendered delightful with stumbling steps, and whose
exposed navel is her eddies, fill yourself with water, for amorous distraction
is a woman’s first expression of love for their beloved.
When you have passed that, you should duly adopt the means by which the
Sindhu River may cast off her emaciation—she whose waters have become
like a single braid of hair, whose complexion is made pale by the old leaves
falling from the trees on her banks, and who shows you goodwill because she
has been separated from you, O fortunate one.
Having reached Avanti where the village elders are well-versed in the legend
of Udayana, make your way to the aforementioned city of Vishala, filled with
splendour, like a beautiful piece of heaven carried there by means of the
remaining merit of gods who had fallen to earth when the fruits of the good
actions had nearly expired;
Where, at daybreak, the breeze from the Shipra River, carrying abroad the
sweet, clear, impassioned cries of the geese, fragrant from contact with the
scent of full-blown lotuses and pleasing to the body, carries off the lassitude
of the women after their love-play, like a lover making entreaties for further
And having see by the tens of millions the strings of pearls with shining gems
as their central stones, conches, pearl-shells, emeralds as green as fresh grass
with radiating brilliance and pieces of coral displayed in the market there, the
oceans appear to contain nothing but water;
And where the knowledgeable populace regale visiting relatives thus: ‘Here
the king of the Vatsa brought the precious daughter of Pradyota. Here was the
golden grove of tala-trees of that same monarch. Here, they say, roamed
Nalagiri (the elephant), having pulled out his tie-post in fury.’
Your bulk increased by the incense that is used for perfuming the hair that
issues from the lattices, and honoured with gifts of dance by the domestic
peacocks out of their love for their friend, lay aside the weariness of the
travel while admiring the splendour of its palaces which are scented with
flowers and marked by the hennaed feet of the lovely women.
Observed respectfully by divine retinues who are reminded of the colour of
their master’s throat, you should proceed to the holy abode of the lord of the
three worlds, husband of Chandi, whose gardens are caressed by the winds
from the Gandhavati River, scented with the pollen of the blue lotuses and
perfumed by the bath-oils used by young women who delight in water-play.
Even if you arrive at Mahakala at some other time, O cloud, you should wait
until the sun passes from the range of the eye. Playing the honourable role of
drum at the evening offering to Shiva, you will receive the full reward for
your deep thunder.
There, their girdles jingling to their footsteps, and their hands tired from the
pretty waving of fly-whisks whose handles are brilliant with the sparkle of
jewels, having received from you raindrops at the onset of the rainy season
that soothe the scratches made by fingernails, the courtesans cast you
lingering sidelong glances that resemble rows of honey-bees.
Then, settled above the forests whose trees are like uplifted arms, being round
in shape, producing an evening light, red as a fresh China-rose, at the start of
Shiva’s dance, remove his desire for a fresh elephant skin—you whose
devotion is beheld by Parvati, her agitation stilled and her gaze transfixed.
Reveal the ground with a bolt of lightning that shines like a streak of gold
on a touchstone to the young women in that vicinity going by night to the homes of
their lovers along the royal highroad which has been robbed of light by a
darkness that could be pricked with a needle. Withhold your showers of rain
and rumbling thunder: they would be frightened!
Passing that night above the roof-top of a certain house where pigeons sleep,
you, whose consort the lightning is tired by prolonged sport, should complete
the rest of your journey when the sun reappears. Indeed, those who have
promised to accomplish a task for a friend do not tarry.
At that time, the tears of the wronged wives are to be soothed away by their
husbands. Therefore abandon at once the path of the sun. He too has returned
to remove the tears of dew from the lotus-faces of the lilies. If you obstruct
his rays, he may become greatly incensed.
Seasonal Cycle – Chapter 01 – Summer
“Oh, dear, this utterly sweltering season of the highly rampant sun is drawing nigh, and it will always be good enough to go on taking daytime baths, as the lakes and rivers will still be with plenteous waters, and at the end of the day, nightfall will be pleasant with fascinating moon, and in such nights Love-god can somehow be almost mollified…[who tortured us in the previous vernal season… but now without His sweltering us, we can happily enjoy the nights devouring cool soft drinks and dancing and merrymaking in outfields…]
“Oh, beloved one, somewhere the moon shoved the blackish columns of night aside, somewhere else the palace-chambers with water [showering, sprinkling and splashing] machines are highly exciting, and else where the matrices of gems, [like coolant pearls and moon-stone, etc.,] are there, and even the pure sandalwood is liquefied [besides other coolant scents,] thus this season gets an adoration from all the people…
“The beloved ones will enjoy the summer’s clear late nights while they are atop the rooftops of buildings that are delightful and fragranced well, while they savour the passion intensifiers like strong drinks and while the ladylove’s face suspires the bouquets of those drinks together with melodious instrumental and vocal music…
“The women are ameliorating the heat of their lovers with their chicly silken coolant fineries gliding onto their rotund fundaments, for they are knotted loosely, and on those silks glissading are their golden cinctures with their dangling tassels that are unfastened on and off, and with their buxom bosoms that are bedaubed with sandal-paste and semi-covered with pearly strings and golden lavalieres, and with their locks of hair that are sliding onto their faces, which locks are fragrant with bath-time emulsions, which are just applied before their oil bath…
“Brightly coloured with the reddish foot-paint that is akin to the colour of lac’s reddish resin, adorned with anklets that are festooned with jingling bells, whose tintinnabulations on their stepping after stepping mimic the clucks of swans, with such feet those women with bumpy behinds are rendering the hearts of people impassioned, in these days of pre-summer…
“These days the bosoms of womenfolk are bedaubed with scents and sandal-paste, and they are given out to snowily and whitely pearly pendants that are sported on those bosoms, and even their hiplines are with the dangling golden griddle-strings, with such a lovely ostentation whose heart is it, that does not fill with raptures…
“The seams of limbs of ladies of age are conquered by the often emerging sweat, thus those peaky bosomed lustful ladies are presently banding their bosoms with softish fineries, casting aside their roughish apparels …
“The rustles of air comprising the aroma of watered sandal-paste, blown off by the fans with peacocks’ plumage, and the rustle of strings of pearls when the roundish bosoms of loves are hugged, together with the subtle melody of string instruments, and subtly sung intonations of singers, now appear to awaken Love-god, Manmatha, who is as though asleep after his manoeuvres in the last spring season…
“On leisurely seeing the faces of the maids that are comfortably sleeping well on the tops of whitish edifices, the moon of these nights is highly ecstasized, for he is unpossessed with any such flawless face, as his own face is flawed with rabbit-like, deer-like foibles, and when the night dwindles, he doubtlessly goes into state of pallidity, as though ashamed to show his face to the flawless sun…
“The intolerable westerly wind of the summer is up-heaving the clouds of dust, even the earth is ablaze, set by the blazing sun, and the itinerants whose hearts are already put to blaze by the blazing called the detachment from their ladyloves, and now it has become impossible for them even to look at the blazing earth, to tread further…
“The reigning sun’s torridity rendered the animals parched, and with unquenchable thirst highly shrivelled are their tongues, throats and lips, and on seeing kneaded blackish mascara like mirages on the sky in another forest, that are cloudlike in their shine, those animals are rushing there, presuming them to be water…
“The women of charm are with smiles and slanted looks, and now they are on par with the twilights that are ornamented with a beautiful ornament called moon, and they are now decorating themselves confusedly and they are inciting the incorporeal Love-god in the hearts of itinerants…
“Extremely seared by the rays of sun, and even by the already seared dust on the pathway, with its slithery motion and downcast hood, repeatedly suspiring when being scalded thus awfully, that serpent is sinking down under the pave of peacock’s plumage, distrait of the fact that a peacock is an enemy of serpents, thus distrait is the relative danger from a born enemy or from the searing summer…
“Thwarted are the valorousness and venturesomeness of that king of animals, the lion, for the thirst is abnormal, thereby gaping his mouth much lengthily, and suspiring repeatedly with a lengthened and dangling tongue, and repeatedly whisking his frontal hair of the mane, that lion is not pawing the elephants, though they are at his nearby, and though they both of them are born rivals, thus the scalding summer cooled off their mutual contempt…
“Verily dried up are their throats, but somehow some cool water remaining in their trunks is brought to those dry throats with the prehensility of their trunks, but too scanty is that water for those mega-vores, further muchly scorched by sun’s scorching rays and overpowered by heightened thirst, even those water-seeking tuskers are unafraid of those nearby lions, as negligible is the physical danger than the natural danger…
“The scorching sunrays that are akin to the tongues of blazed up Ritual-fire, by them the bodies as well as the souls of peacocks are wilted, thus they wedge their faces in the pack of their plumage for certain coolness, and though they mark the serpents that are milling about under the very same plumage through the plumes and feathers, they peck not those serpents to death, as their priority is to cool off their faces and heads…
“The slime in the ponds is dried up but in some areas Bhadramusta grass is available, and while the herd of wild boars is digging up that grass with their long and broad snouts for a piggish slumber, the sunrays have highly sweltered their backs, but that herd dug the dry swamp more and more, as though to enter the interior of earth, to get a mucky, miry, muddy slumber…
“With the unbearable prickly heat of sunrays highly seared is a frog, and jumping up from a pond with mud and muddy water, it jumped to sit under the shade of a parasol, called the hood of a snake… neither thirstier frog is aware that it is the shade of a snake’s hood, nor the thirstiest snake is aware that it is shading a thirsty frog…
“When each other elephant is highly huddling, belaboured is that lake by their elephantine limbs, and completely uprooted are the tall slender stems of lilies and lotuses of that lake, without any remnants of standing lotuses or lilies, thus trampled and agglutinated with mud, they are heaped up under the feet of elephants, and ill-fated are the fishes when trodden by elephants underfoot, and the Saarasa waterfowls are fleeing with fear of this rumpus…
“Akin to sunshine upcast is irradiance of the jewel on its hood, and wigwagging is its twinned tongue licking the air, and it is seared by its own venom, by fiery soil, and by the searing sun as well, and thus tottering thirstily, that hooded serpent is not draining the dregs of frogs, to the dregs…
“Frothily gaping and reeling are the two-pieced snouts, and jerkily extruding are the lightly reddened tongues, and staggering thirstily looking for water with upraised snouts, those herds of she-buffalos are extruding from the caves of mountain with such snouts and gaits, wherein they took shade from the scorching sun so far, but thirst drove them out of those cool caves…
“Extremely withered as though by wildfire and utterly shrivelled are the tender stalks of crops, and windswept by harsh winds they are uprooted and completely wilted and reduced to straw, and all over scorched are they in an overall manner as the water is evaporated, and if seen from highlands till the end of forest, this summer is foisting upon the onlookers a kind of disconcert, as the straw in the wind about the monsoon is unnoticeable…
“Perching on the trees with wilted leaves, flocks of birds are hyperventilating, the overtired troops of monkeys are going nigh of viny caves on the mountain, the water-craving herds of buffalos are rambling hither and thither, the straight flying Sharabha birds are nose-diving into wells and easily lifting up the water…
“The wildfire, that is simulative of a just blossomed bright and fierily ochreish safflower, is exceedingly speedy and further whipped up by the speed of the wind it is eagerly embracing the treetops, that are on the banks of lakes and rivers, with tongues of fire, onto which trees the apices of climber plants are eager to embrace, thus that wildfire has burnt down every quarter of land, in a trice…
“That wildfire, now intensified by the gusts, is blazing the valleys of mountains, and thus skittering across it entered the stands of bamboos, only to shatter them in a second with clattering rattles, then escalated by gusts it is overspreading the straw fields, then from their within, on smacking the perimeter of straw-field, it is broiling the herds of deer, tumultuously …
“That wildfire taking a rebirth in the copses of silk-cotton trees is extremely blazing, and from within the cavities of the trees it is erupting with the glint of golden yellow, and thus uprooting the wizened leaves on wizened branches along with their trees, and then hurled by gusts it is whirling everywhere in that woodland unto its edging…
“When fire scorched their bodies, their dichotomic thinking of mutual hostilities had to be discarded, and those elephants, buffalos and lions come together as friends, and when blighted by the fire, they are quickly exiting their habitual confines to enter the areas of rivers that have broad sandbanks…
“Oh, dear melodious singer, what if the summer is scorching… fragrant lotuses are overlaid on coolant waters, agreeably refreshing is the fragrance of Trumpet flowers, comfortable is the fresh water in bathing pools, pleasurable are those moonbeams, and with these pearly pendants and these jasmine garlands, let our simmering summer nights enjoyably slip by, while we abide on the tops of buildings right under the moonscape, savouring potations and amidst music and song…
Seasonal Cycle – Chapter 06 – Spring
Oh, dear, with the just unfolded tender leaflets of Mango trees as his incisive arrows, and with shining strings of honeybees as his bowstring, the assailant named Vasanta came very nigh, to afflict the hearts of those that are fully engaged in affairs of lovemaking…
“Oh, dear, in Vasanta, Spring, trees are with flowers and waters are with lotuses, hence the breezes are agreeably fragrant with the fragrance of those flowers, thereby the eventides are comfortable and even the daytimes are pleasant with those fragrant breezes, thereby the women are with concupiscence, thus everything is highly pleasing…
“This Spring season endows prosperity to waters of swimming pools, and to moonshine, for their water or shine is pleasurable, and even to mango trees, as their flowers are just flowered, more so, to the bejewelled girdle strings of women, for their wearing is neither cumbersome nor irksome in this season, thus it endows prosperity to womenfolk of age, as they enjoy in wearing them, thus they too, become enjoyable, these days…
“These days the flirtatious women are adorning their roundish behinds with silk cloths that are dyed with Kusumbha flower’s reddish dye, and their bosomy busts with thin silks that are dyed with ocherish and reddish colours, for thinness and silkiness are agreeable in this thinnish ambience…
“The womenfolk of age are now decorating their temples with just unfolded new whitish flowers of Karnikara, and with new and reddish Ashoka flowers and with whitish jasmines flowers in their blackish hair-locks that are swaying, thus unfolded is the beauty of these women, with the flourishing resplendence of these newly unfolded flowers…
“The bosoms of women with burly rumps, whose hearts are now flurried by the Love-god, are now sharing pearly pendants that are wetted with white sandal-paste that is bedaubed on their busts, and their biceps with circlets of bicep-lets, and their hiplines with the strings of cinctures, that are till recently unbearably coldish to touch… thus, the touch of season is romantic…
“The golden lotuses like faces of flirtatious women are tattooed with erasable foliage tattoos with black Kasturi lines, and in those designs sweat-drops are now percolating, with them those faces are delightfully beautified as gem-studded jewellery, interspersed with pearls…
“Now the limbs of womenfolk are flustered by the Love-god, thus they are panting for their need-fulfilment, hence they are now loosening the fastenings of their undergarments, since spring fever makes them sultrily fervent, thus they are enamoured of their lovers, who are tarrying at their nearby…
“The Love-god is making the limbs of sybaritic women as thinnish, palish and lethargic, and tending to yawn time and again, and with these syndromes the bodies of women are becoming restless in the spring fever, with an air of enchantment…
“Now the Love-god is diversely apparent in women, who are jaded out by hard drinks, for their eyes are fluttery, their cheeks are whitely, their bosoms are stony, their waists are slimly, and their behinds are sturdy… thus these features are the evidences for their seasonal infatuation with Him…
“Advent to spring Love-god makes the limbs of womenfolk sluggishly dizzy with sleepiness, He makes their speech a little teeter-tottering with sensualities, and He also makes their looks aslant with the knitting and unknitting of their eyebrows, seeking vehement sensual pleasures…
“The frolicsome and lustful women that are with faineance are bedaubing their whitish bosoms with sandal-paste, in which well kneaded are the fragrant seeds of Priyangu, yellowish turmeric, saffron and musk, to relieve themselves of spring fever…
“These days the people, whose limbs are wearied down with their desire induced ebullience, are wearing thinnish cloths, that are fumigated with fragrant aloe vera resin and dyed in the colour of reddish lac resin, quickly discarding their coarse clothing, for this season is neither coarse nor crude…
“The passionate male koel, black singing bird, on savouring the invigorative essence of just grown flowers of Mango trees, is gladdened and passionately kissing his love, so also this honeybee, abiding in lotuses, and savouring their nectar, this too is passionately mating with his love to her complaisance, sequestered in the petals of lotuses…
“Delightful are the branches of mango trees that are laden with bunches of coppery tender leaves, and with just flowered flowers, and with their heads a little bent down, for they simile with the bashful women, whose heads are with flowery hairdos and coppery half-veils, and a little bent down and swaying in lustiness, like mango treetops that are gently swaying, swayed by the gentle breezes of this season, and on identifying themselves with those mango trees, the womenfolk is rendered muchly overenthusiastic for love, in this spring time…
“All-over adorned are those Ashoka trees with bunches of reddish folioles, and reddish flowers that resemble the hue of red corals, and when the new entrants to adulthood are observing those unfolded red flowers, those Ashoka trees are making them agonised, for unfulfilled is their new longing for a newish love…
“The charming flowers of mango trees are with delightful thickish buds, and they are overly swilled by tipsy honeybees, and slow breezes are flurrying and tilting their delicate leaflets, thus when lovelorn youngsters observe them, their hearts are quickly ecstasized by those mango trees…
“Oh, dear, the mien of this season is akin to the facial resplendence of ladyloves, with the utmost beauty of the clusters of flowers of Kuravaka plants that are uprisen in this season, and if this is observed by any good-hearted person, won’t his heart be agonised, indeed, struck by the arrow of Love-god?
“The ruddy flowers in springtime are sprung by the winds simile with the reddy flames that are just now set to flame, and everywhere the earth is overspread with such brakes of Kimshuka trees, and presently when their treetops are bent under the weight of those red flowers, whole of this earth similes with a new bride, shining forth in her new bridal redly costume, and her head a little bent under the half-veil of that costume…
“Aren’t the youthful hearts of youthful lovers that are hidden in the hearts of their pretty faced ladyloves unsplit by these Kimshuka flowers, that are in shine with the reddish bills of parrots… aren’t they already and definitely burnt by the flame-like redly Karnikaara flowers… then why for this Kokila, the black singing bird, is again gnawing away those hearts, with its gnawingly melodious singing…
“Passion is surging out in male Kokila-s, singing birds, as they obtained jollity in this springtime on chewing mango flowers, thus they are singing inexplicably, and the honeybees, when they are drunk with the flowery nectar of those flowers, they are also droning hums murmuringly as their drinking song, and with these hums and drones the hearts of new brides are flustered in a trice, even if they are in the service of their in-laws, where certain docility and prudishness are in demand…
“On the departure of mist-fall in springtime, the propitious breeze is breezing pleasantly to undulate the flowered branches of Mango trees, and to transmit the singings of Kokila-s in all directions, thereby to steal the hearts of humans, who can neither be blatant nor silent, of their longings…
“These days the pleasure gardens are brightened up with whitely jasmines, thus they simile with the toothy grins of sprightly brides, and hence they are heart-stealing, and these gardens are now stealing the hearts of saints or sages that have neutralised their materialistic indulgences long back, as such, these gardens must have stolen the hearts of youths, which are already tainted with seasonal sensualities…
“This Madhu month, Chaitra, nectarean month at the end of springtime, is forcefully stealing away the hearts of people, for the womenfolk, whose bodies are slenderised by the pride of Love-god, is eyeful with their golden strings of girdle that are pensile onto their hiplines, and their bosoms are clung by pendulous pearly pendants, besides, earful are the singings of Kokila-s and the humming of honeybees…
“These interiors of visible horizon are comprised of mountains that are adorned with divers and delightful flowery trees, and the areas of those mountainsides are hurly-burly with the singings of Kokila-s, and the masses of their rock faces are hemmed in and enwrapped with fragrant mountainy moss, that comes out now when those rocks were fissured during last summer, to see such an environ, all the people are rejoiced…
“On seeing a flowered mango tree, the frame of mind of any itinerant is overly woebegone, for he is dissociated with his ladylove, thus he shuts his eyes unable to behold that ladylike mango tree with her hairdo overlaid with flowers, and obstructs his nose, for the fragrance of this ladylike mango tree is akin to his ladylove, thus he goes into a state of woefulness, and even he bewails and shrieks loudly… thus pitiless is this season, Vasanta, Spring for singletons…
“Delightful is this flowery month with the racketing of lusty honeybees and Kokila-s around, and with flowered mango trees that fruit sweet mangos, and with Karniakra flowers, and each of these is becoming as though an acute of arrow of Love-god, that ecstasies and even cleaves the hearts of self-respectful women, who cannot explicitly explain their pangs for love, nor can suffer them, implicitly…
“Whose best arrow is the delightful cluster of mango flowers, whose bow is the Kimshuka flower, whose bowstring is the beeline, whose silvery parasol is the immaculate silvern moon, whose ruttish elephant for ride is the rutted breeze from Mt. Malaya, that waft the scent of sandalwood, which will be rutting, and whose panegyrists are the singing birds, namely Kokila-s, and such as he is, he that vanquisher of worlds, that formless Love-god, pairing up with his friend, namely Vasanta, the Spring season, that Love-god lavishes serendipities on you all, generously…
The Cloud Messenger – Part 04
The slender young woman who is there would be the premier creation by the
Creator in the sphere of women, with fine teeth, lips like a ripe bimba fruit, a
slim waist, eyes like a startled gazelle’s, a deep navel, a gait slow on account
of the weight of her hips, and who is somewhat bowed down by her breasts.
You should know that she whose words are few, my second life, is like a
solitary female cakravaka duck when I, her mate, am far away. While these
weary days are passing, I think the girl whose longing is deep has taken on an
altered appearance, like a lotus blighted by frost.
Surely the face of my beloved, her eyes swollen from violent weeping, the
colour of her lower lip changed by the heat of her sighs, resting upon her
hand, partially hidden by the hanging locks of her hair, bears the miserable
appearance of the moon with its brightness obscured when pursued by you.
She will come at once into your sight, either engaged in pouring oblations, or
drawing from memory my portrait, but grown thin on account of separation,
or asking the sweet-voiced sarika bird in its cage, ‘I hope you remember the
master, O elegant one, for you are his favourite’;
Or having placed a lute on a dirty cloth on her lap, friend, wanting to sing a
song whose words are contrived to contain my name, and somehow plucking
the strings wet with tears, again and again she forgets the melody, even
though she composed it herself;
Or engaged in counting the remaining months set from the day of our
separation until the end by placing flowers on the ground at the threshold, or
enjoying acts of union that are preserved in her mind. These generally are the
diversions of women when separated from their husbands.
During the day, when she has distractions, separation will not torment her so
much. I fear that your friend will have greater suffering at night without
distraction. You who carry my message, positioned above the palace roof-top,
see the good woman at midnight, lying on the ground, sleepless, and cheer her
Grown thin with anxiety, lying on one side on a bed of separation, resembling
the body of the moon on the eastern horizon when only one sixteenth part
remains, shedding hot tears, passing that night, lengthened by separation,
which spent in desired enjoyments in company with me would have passed in
Covering with eyelashes heavy with tears on account of her sorrow, her eyes
which were raised to face the rays of the moon, which were cool with nectar
and which entered by way of the lattice, fall again on account of her previous
love, like a bed of land-lotuses on an overcast day, neither open nor closed.
She whose sighs that trouble her bud-like lower lip will surely be scattering
the locks of her hair hanging at her cheek, dishevelled after a simple bath,
thinking how enjoyment with me might arise even if only in a dream, yearning
for sleep, the opportunity for which is prevented by the affliction of tears;
She who is repeatedly pushing from the curve of her cheek with her hand
whose nails are unkempt, the single braid, plaited by me, stripped of its
garland, on the first day of our separation, which will be loosened by me when
I am free from sorrow at the expiry of the curse, and which is rough to the
touch, stiff, and hard.
That frail woman, supporting her tender body which he has laid repeatedly in
great suffering on a couch, will certainly cause even you to shed tears in the
form of fresh rain. Generally all tender-hearted beaing have a compassionate
I know that the mind of your friend is filled with accumulated love for me. On
account of that I imagine her condition thus at our first separation. Even the
thought of my good fortune does not make me feel like talking. All that I have
said, brother, will be before your eyes before long.
I think of the eyes of that deer-eyed one, the sideways movements of which
are concealed by her hair, which are devoid of the glistening of collyrium,
which have forgotten the play of their eyebrows on account of abstinence
from sweet liqour, and whose upper eyelids tremble when you are near: these
eyes take on the semblance of the beauty of a blue lotus that is trembling with
the movement of a fish.
And her lovely thigh will tremble, being without the impressions of my
fingernails, caused to abandon it long-accustomed string of pearls by the
course of fate, used to the caresses of my hand at the end of our enjoyment,
and as pale as the stem of a beautiful plantain palm.
At that time, O cloud, if she is enjoying the sleep she has found, remaining
behind her, your thunder restrained, wait during the night-watch. Let not the
knot of her creeper-like arms in close embrace with me her beloved, somehow
found in a dream, fall from my neck at once.
Having woken her with a breeze cooled by your own water droplets, she will
be refreshed like the fresh clusters of buds of the malati. Your lightning held
within, being firm, begin to address her with words of thunder; she, the proud
on whose eyes are fixed on the window occupied by you:
‘O you who are not a widow, know me to be a cloud who is a dear friend of
your husband. With messages stored in my heart I have arrived at your side,
and with slow and friendly rumblings I urge along the road a multitude of
weary travellers who are eager to loosen the braids of their womenfolk.’
When this has been said, like Sita looking up at Hanuman, having beheld you
with her heart swollen with longing and having honoured you, she will listen
attentively to you further, O friend. For women, news of their beloved that
brought by a friend is little short of union.
O long-lived one, following my instructions and to bring credit to yourself,
address her thus: ‘Your partner who resides at the ashram on Ramagiri, who is
still alive though separated from you, inquires after your news, madam. This
is the very thing that is first asked by beings who may easily fall into
He whose path is blocked by an invidious command and is at a distance, by
means of these intentions, unites his body with yours, the emaciated with the
emaciated, the afflicted with the deeply afflicted, that which is wet with tears
with that which is tearful, that whose longing is ceaseless with that which is
longed for, that whose sighs are hot with that whose sighs are even more
He who has become eager to say what is to be said in words in your ear, in the
presence of your female friends, with a desire to touch your face, he who is
beyond the range of your ears, unseen by your eyes, addresses these words
composed on account of his desire, through the agency of my mouth:
“I perceive your body in the priyangu vines, your glances in the eyes of the
startled deer, the beauty of your face in the moon, your hair in the peacock’s
feathers and the play of your eyebrows in the delicate ripples on the river, but
alas, your whole likeness is not to be found in a single thing, O passionate
Having painted your likeness, with mineral colours on a rock, appearing angry
because of love, as soon as I wish to paint myself fallen at your feet, my
vision is clouded again and again with copious tears. Cruel fate does not
permit our union, even in this picture.
Watching me with my arms stretched up into the air for an ardent embrace
when you have somhow been found by me in a vision or in a dream, the local
deities repeatedly shed teardrops as big as pearls on the buds of the trees.
Those winds from the snowy mountains which having broken open the sepals
of the buds of the devadaru trees become fragrant with their milky sap and
which blow southwards—they are embraced by me, O virtuous one, with the
thought that your body might previously have been touched by them.
How can the night with its long watches by compressed into a moment? How
may a day become cooler in every season? Thus my mind, whose desires are
difficult to satisfy, is rendered without refuge by the deep and burning pangs
of separation from you, O one of trembling eyes.
Indeed, ever brooding, I maintain myself by means of myself alone.
Therefore, O beautiful one, you also should not fear. Whose happiness is
endless or whose suffering is complete? The condition of life rises and falls
like the felly of a wheel.
The the holder of the bow called Sharnga rises from his serpent bed, the
curse will end for me. Having closed your eyes, endure the remaining four
months. After that, we two will indulge our own various desires, increased by
separation, on nights lit by the full autumn moon.”
And he said further, “In the past you embraced my neck as we lay on our bed,
you called out something in your sleep and woke up. When I asked over and
over, you said to me with an inward smile, ‘I saw you in my dream enjoying
another girl, you cheat!’
Having ascertained from the telling of this account that I am well, do not be
suspicious of me on account of any rumour, O dark-eyed one. They say that
love somehow perishes during separation, but because there is no fulfilment,
the love for that which is desired with increasing desire, becomes a even more
Having comforted her thus, your friens whose sorrow is great in her first
separation, return at once from the mountain whose peaks were cast up by the
bull of three-eyed one. Then you should prop up my life which flags like
kunda flowers in the morning with her words about her welfare, and an
account of her.
I hope, friend, that you are firmly resolved upon this friendly service for me. I
certainly do not regard your silences as indicating refusal. When requested
you also apportion rain to the cataka cuckoos in silence, for the response of
the virtuous to those who make a request is the performance of that which is
Having undertaken this favour for me who bears this request that is unworthy
of you, with thoughts of compassion for me, either out of friendship or
because you think that I am alone, proceed to your desired destination, O
cloud, your splendour enhanced by rainy season, and may you never be
separated like this even for a moment from your spouse, the lightning.
HE autumn comes, a maiden fair
In slenderness and grace,
With nodding rice-stems in her hair
And lilies in her face.
In flowers of grasses she is clad;
And as she moves along,
Birds greet her with their cooing glad
Like bracelets’ tinkling song.
A diadem adorns the night
Of multitudinous stars;
Her silken robe is white moonlight,
Set free from cloudy bars;
And on her face (the radiant moon)
Bewitching smiles are shown:
She seems a slender maid, who soon
Will be a woman grown.
Over the rice-fields, laden plants
Are shivering to the breeze;
While in his brisk caresses dance
The blossomed-burdened trees;
He ruffles every lily-pond
Where blossoms kiss and part,
And stirs with lover’s fancies fond
The young man’s eager heart.
The Cloud Messenger – Part 02
Your naturally beautiful reflection will gain entry into the clear waters of the
Gambhira River, as into a clear mind. Therefore it is not fitting that you, out
of obstinancy, should render futile her glances which are the darting leaps of
little fish, as white as night-lotus flowers.
Removing her blue garment which is her water, exposing her hips which are
her banks, it is clutched by cane-branches as if grasped by her hands.
Departure will inevitably be difficult for you who tarries, O friend. Who,
having experienced enjoyment, is able to forsake another whose loins are laid
A cool breeze, grown pleasant through contact with the scent of the earth
refreshed by your showers, which is inhaled by elephants with a pleasing
sound at their nostrils, and which is the ripener of wild figs in the forest,
gently fans you who desire to proceed to Devagiri.
There, you, taking the form of a cloud of flowers, should bathe Skanda, who
always resides there, with a shower of flowers, wet with the water of the
heavenly Ganges. For he is the energy surpassing the sun, that was born into
the mouth of the fire by the bearer of the crescent moon6 for the purpose of
protecting the forces of of the sons of Indra.
Then, with claps of thunder, magnified by their own echoes, you should cause
to dance the peacock of the son of Agni, the corners of whose eyes are bathed
by the light of the crescent moon at the head of Shiva and whose discarded
tail-feather, ringed by rays of light, Parvati placed behind her ear, next
to the petal of the blue lotus, out of her love for her son.
Having worshipped that god born in a reedbed, after you have travelled
further, your route abandoned by siddha-couples carrying lutes because they
fear rain-drops, you should descend while paying homage to the glory of
Randideva, born from the slaughter of the daughter of Surabhi, and who
arose on earth in the form or a river.
When you, the robber of the complexion of bearer of the bow Sharnga, stoop
to drink the water of that river, which is broad but appears narrow from a
distance, those who range the skies, when they look down, will certainly see
that the stream resembles a single string of pearls on the earth, enlarged at
its centre with a sapphire.
Having crossed the river, go on, making yourself into a form worthy of the
curiosity of the eyes of the women of Dashapura, adept in the amorous play of
their tendril-like eyebrows, whose dark and variageted brilliance flashes up at
the fluttering of their eyelashes, and whose splendour has been stolen from the
bees attendant on tossing kunda flowers.
Then, entering the district of Brahmavarta, accompanied by your shadow, you
should proceed to the plain of the Kurus, evocative of the battle of the
warriors, where the one whose bow is Gandiva brought down showers of
hundreds of sharp arrows, just as you bring down showers of rain on the faces
of the lotuses.
Having partaken of the waters of the Sarasvati which were enjoyed by the
bearer of the plough who was averse to war on account of his love for his
kinsfolk, after he had forsaken the wine of agreeable flavour which was
marked by the reflection of Revati’s eyes, you, friend, will be purified within:
only your colour will be black.
From there you should go to the daughter of Jahnu above the Kanakhula
mountains, where she emerges from the Himalaya, who provided a flight of
steps to heaven for the sons of Sagara, and who laughing with her foam at the
frown on the face of Gauri, made a grab at the hair of Shambhu and clasped
his crescent moon with her wave-hands.
If you, like an elephant of the gods, your front partly inclining down from the
sky to drink her waters which are pure as crystal, in an instrant, because of
your reflection on her gliding current, she would become very lovely, as if
united with the Yamuna in second location.
Having reached the mountain which is the source of that very river, whose
crags are made fragrant with the scent of the musk of the deer that recline
there, white with snow, reposing on the summit which dispells the fatigue of
travel, you will take on the splendour like that of the white soil cast up
by the bull of the three-eyed one.
If, when the wind is blowing, a forest fire were to afflict the mountain,
ignited by the friction of branches of the sarala trees, burning with its
flames the tailhairs of the yaks, it would befit you to extinguish it
completely with thousands of torrents of water, for the resources of the
great have as their fruit the alleviation of those who suffer misfortune.
The sharabha there, intent on springing in anger at you who departs from
their path, would lunge at you, only to break their own limbs. You should
cover them with a tumultuous storm of hail and rain. Who, intent upon a
fruitless endeavour, would not be the object of contempt?
There, with your body bowed in devotion, you should circumambulate the
foot-print of the one wears the half-moon diadem, which is continually
heaped with offerings from ascetics, and at the sight of which, at their
departure from the bodies, cleansed of their misdeeds, the faithful are able to
achieve the immuteable state of membership of Shiva’s following.
The bamboo canes filled with the wind sound sweetly. Victory over the three
cities is celebrated in song by the Kinnari demi-gods. If your rumbling like a
muraja drum resounds in the caves, the theme of a concert for Shiva will be
Having passed various features on the flanks of the Himalayas, proceed thence
north to Krauncarandhra, gateway for wild geese, which was the route to glory
for Bhrgupati—you whose beautiful form is flat and long, like the dark blue
foot of Vishnu uplifted for the suppression of Bali.
And having gone further, become the guest of Mt Kailasa, the seams of whose
peaks were rent by the arms of the ten-faced one and which is a mirror for
the consorts of the Thirty Gods, and which, extending with lofty peaks like
white lotuses, stands in the sky like the loud laughter of the three-eyed
one accumulated day by day.
I foresee that when you, resembling glossy powdered kohl, reach the foot of
that mountain as white as a freshly cut piece of ivory, the imminent beauty
will be fit to be gazed upon with an unerring eye, like the dark blue garment
placed on the shoulder of the plough-carrier.
And if Gauri should take a walk on the foot of that pleasure-hill, lent a hand
by Shiva who has set aside his serpent-bracelet, your shape transformed into a
flight of steps, your torrents of water withheld within yourself, become a
stairway rising in front of her for the ascent of the jewel-slopes.
There the young women of the gods will use you as a shower—you whose
waters are brought forth by the striking together of the diamonds in their
bracelets. If, friend, you were unable to release yourself from them, being
encountered in the hot season, startle them who are intent on playing with
you, with claps of thunder, harsh to the ear.
Partaking of the waters of Manasa which bring forth golden lotuses, bringing
at pleasure momentary delight like a cloth upon the face of Airavata, shaking
with your winds the sprouts of wish-fulfilling trees like garments, enjoy the
king of mountains with various playful actions, O cloud.
Once you, who wander at will, have seen Alaka seated in the lap of the
mountain like a lover, with the Ganges like a garment that has slipped, you
will not fail to recognise her again with her lofty palaces and bearing hosts of
clouds with showers of rain at the time of year when you are present,
resembling a woman whose tresses are interwoven with strings of pearls.
Seasonal Cycle – Chapter 03 – Pre Autumn
On the departure of rainy season bechanced is autumn with a heart-pleasingly bloomed lotus as her face, betokening the heart-pleasing face of a new bride, and the autumnal fields of white grass with whitish flowers as her apparel, which betoken the whitish bridal apparel of a new bride, and the amorously clucking clucks of swans that have just returned from Lake Maanasa as rains have gone, are the jingling anklets of autumn, which betoken the delightful jingles of anklets of new bride, and now the rice is ready to ripe and thus the tenuous stalks of rice, which have their necks a little bent down, betoken the obeisant face of a new docile bride…
“Blanched is the earth with whitish grass and the nights with silvery and coolant moonbeams of the moon, and the rivers with white swans, lakes with white-lotuses, and that forest up to its fringes with whitish jasmine flowers and with somewhat whitish seven-leaved banana plants that are swagging under the weight of their flowers…
“Presently the rivers are journeying slowly with a strutting of prideful lovely girls, for the raising and falling fishes of rivers seem to be the delightful sets of strings at the waistlines of rivers, like the sets of girdle-strings on the waists of girls, and the ranges of white waterfowls on riverbanks seem to be the whitish pearly pendants of rivers, like the pearly pendants around the bosoms of prideful girls, more so the broad sand-dunes at edges of those rivers appear to be the roundish fundaments of those rivers like that of those girls…
“With clouds that have doled out their waters, the vault of heaven is silvern somewhere, it is like the whitish conch shell elsewhere, and somewhere else it is palish like the stalks of lotuses, and the clouds on achieving their levity and moved by the speed of wind, they are splintered into hundreds of pieces and journeying away, and thus the sky appears to be a king fanned with royal-fans, called the swerving, splintering, and silvery clouds…
“The sky is looking like well-kneaded knoll of black mascara, and the earth is delightfully inscribed with the vermilion colour of safflowers that are flowered up to the visible horizon, and the swaths and even the ravines of earth are surrounded with charming lotuses… and on visualising such an environ, which heart of which adolescent person doesn’t get up to a lot of ecstasy…
“When the slothful wind is slothfully stirring up the upper branches of red-golden coloured trees, that are most lovely with peaking tender leaflets, and with muchly outcropped flowers, from which nectar is muchly trickling, that which is overly drunk by the honeybees, and when such a sylvan scenery is seen, whose heart won’t be riven…
“A girl burgeons as a damsel day by day, so the autumnal night is lengthening its night-time day by day, and as a damsel wears shiny jewellery on her nubility, this damsel, called the autumnal night, is wearing clusters of twinkling stars as her jewellery, as the veil of a damsel will be unveiled frequently presenting her face, these veils called clouds on the skyscape are now being unveiled to present the moonlike face of this autumnal damsel, and a damsel starts to wear raiment with unblemished whiteness at her pubescence, so also, this autumnal damsel’s wraparound is the immaculate moonshine…
“Inaccessible were those rivers in rainy season even for the waterfowls, barring the people, for they were ferocious and feculent, but this autumn made them placid and pure, and hence the rows of ripples of their water are pecked with the beaks of partridges for their feed, and all over on their banks and riversides, flocks and flocks of cranes and drakes are bustling, and muchly cackling are the swans, and the rivers themselves are reddened with the red-pollen grains of red-lotuses, thus those spectacular rivers, riverbanks, and riversides are rejoicingly accessible even for the people…
“These days the moon is an eye-festival and heart-stealing with his profuse moonbeams, and he is the real gladdener for he is the sprinkler of fresh and coolant dewdrops through those moonbeams, but nowadays he alone is becoming an inflamer, for he is burning the bodies of the women, who are already felled by the arrow of Love-god, which arrow is daubed with the venom, which venom is nothing but their own lusting after their itinerant husbands, that are now separated from them…
“The wind being the prime mover in nature is now wiggling the well-ripened rows of rice stalks that are curvy under the weight of their cobs, and the same wind is waggling the best trees that are saggy under the weight of their flowers, and he alone is wobbling the fully bloomed clumps of lotuses in the lakes, moreover, thus he is vehemently wriggling the hearts of young men, with his lilting breezing and lively freshness…
“The limpid waters of lakes are refurbished with bevies of couples of voluptuous swans, amongst the just bloomed white and blue lotuses that elaborate lakes, and the rows of ripples of lake-water are undulated by the oncoming slowish morning breeze, as well as by the ruffles made by swans, thus the all-time ripply lakes are ecstasizing hearts, in a trice…
“Presently evanished are the rainbows in the bellies of clouds, and indiscernible are the skyey flags, called flashes of lightning, and un-winnowed is the aerospace with the windage of wings of cranes, and peacocks are unseeing the sky with their upraised faces, agog for rains…
“The Love-god is drawing nigh of melodiously singing swans, leaving off the peacocks that have ceased to dance anymore, as there is no rain, while the grandeur of the flowers of trees like Kadamba, Kutaja, Arjuna, Sarja, Niipa already drew nigh of the seven-leaved banana plants, that flower and flourish at this time…
“The fragrance of flowers of white-flower trees is heart-stealing, and nowadays birds are not scorched by the sun, thus they are there in fine fettle, and they are calling each other reciprocally, thus those birds and their callings are heart-stealing, and the eyes of she-deer that are abiding all over there are like black-lotuses, thus with all them the woodlands and their fringes beyond ken, are ecstasizing the hearts of men…
“The dawn time breeze on recurrently winnowing the red-lotuses, white-lotuses, and the lotuses that bloom at sunrise, is in contact with those lotuses and thus acquiring more coolness, more so, on sifting the dewdrops that are clinging at the edges of leaves, that auroral breeze is very much exhilarating…
“The precincts of earth are surrounded with exuberant stretches of rice-crops, and they are glistering with stocks of cattle available there, that are robust and multiplying, and that is even reverberated with the callings of swans and drakes, thereby those interior places within the apparent horizon are thus causing an euphoric state to the spectators in this pre-autumnal season…
“The womenfolk’s very lissom gait is won by the svelte steps of swans, and moonshine of their faces is won by the efflorescent whiteness of white-lotuses, and their lustful, wily, and sidelong glances are won by the swings and sways of blue-lotuses, and even their eyebrows’ subtle flutters are won by rocks and rolls of thin ripples… thus this season is outmoding the most famous beauty of the nature, namely the womenfolk…
“The Shyaamaa climbers are decorated with their tender leaves and flowers, and by the weight these they are flexed and look like the curvaceous arms of women, that are decorated with many an ornament, flowery bracelets and leaf-thin bangles and the like, but stolen is that shine of those arms of women by these climbers of this season… and this broadly smiling season, with red Ashoka flowers as its lips and with delightful and sparkly whitish new jasmine buds as its teeth, is stealing the splendour of toothy grins of womenfolk, with their jasmine budlike teeth and roseate lips…
“These days women are furling up their longish, thickish, and blackish hair termini into buns and overstuffing them with new jasmines, and even if their ears are already inserted with best golden budlike ear-hangings, they are now inserting divers black-lotuses into their hairdo, at the back of their ears…
These days the ladies are with highly gladdened hearts for the climate is equable, thus they are decorating their globelike busts with emulsions of sandal-paste and with pendants of pearls and gold, and their girth-lines are decorated with sets of golden girdles festooned with golden tassels, and even their lotus-like feet are decorated with best anklets that have jingling bells…
“These days the vault of heaven similes with the vast of earth in their forms of exalted splendour… on the earth the lakes are bejewelled with emeraldine waters, similar is the sky with somewhat emeraldine hue… such water is overspread with white-lotuses, similar is the cloudless sky overlaid with stars… these waters are overprotective to kingly swans, similarly the vault of cloudless heaven is holding out the moon, the king of the nights…
“In this pre-autumn its ingredients are heart-pleasing, for the breezes breeze cool for touch by their association with white-lotuses, and the divisions and subdivisions of quarters can be descried, for dissipated are the clouds, and the waters can be enjoyed, for they are devoid of slush, and walkable is the earth, for its slime is dried up, and in nights the welkin is with the moon, with his immaculate moonbeams and medley of stars…
“These days when the sun arouses the lotuses with his sunrays at daybreak, they are shining forth like best damsels with flourishing visages, but when the spherule of moon has gone into faintness at dawn, even those lotuses are becoming smileless and subduing, as with the smiles of youthful women, whose lovers have journeyed away, and who grin and bear it…
“Nowadays the itinerants on noticing the splendour of eyes of their ladyloves with blackish mascara, in black-lotuses, and the chinks of their golden girdle-strings in the clucks of lustily swans, and the endearing gleam of their lower lips in the reddish flowers, they are bewailing disconcertedly, unsure of their homecoming in this season…
“The pleasing exquisiteness that has arrived with this pre-autumnal Sharat season is beating a retreat to somewhere else, on leaving the grandeur of its autumnal moon on the faces of women, and the clucky speeches of swans in their gemmy anklets, and the safflower like flower’s reddish hue on their beautiful lips…
“Unfolded lotuses as its face, unfurled blue-lotuses as its eyes, and clothed in the raiment called the outstretched new white grass-flowers, thus this Sharat, pre-autumn is heart-appeasing with the brilliance of its lotuses, and let this very season bring utmost delight to all of your hearts, like your fervent and lustful ladyloves with their visages like autumnal lotuses, eyes with mascara like autumnal blue-black lotuses, with their whitish wraparounds, like the silken white grass flowers of autumn, and let them be romantic, like this romantic Sharat season…
Seasonal Cycle – Chapter 04 – Pre Winter
Delightful are trees and fields with the outgrowth of new tender-leaves and crops, Lodhra trees are with their blossomy flowers, crops of rice are completely ripened, but now lotuses are on their surcease by far, for the dewdrops are falling… hence, this is the time of pre-winter that drew nigh…
“The busts of flirtatious women that are graced by bosomy bosoms are bedaubed and reddened with the redness of heart-stealing saffrony skincare, called Kashmir kumkum, on which embellished are the white pendants that are in shine with the whiteness of whitish dewdrops, white jasmines, and whitely moon…
“Undecorated are the hiplines of kittenish women with gem-studded golden strings of girdle, nor their lotus like feet that have the brightness of lotuses with jingling anklets, whose jingling is correlative to the clucks of swans, for the cold touch of coldish metal gives cold quivers…
“Unbearable is the touch of metallic circlets on wrists and bicep-lets on upper-arms of the couple of arms of vivacious women, or the touch of new silk cloths on the discoid of their waistline, or fine fabric on their robust breasts…
“The womenfolk are rubbing fragrant wood-turmeric powder on their bodies, and their lotus-like faces are tattooed with erasable tattoos of foliage, and their head-hair is fumigated with the fumes of aloe vera resin, and they are doing all this for merrymaking in an enjoyable lovemaking…
“Thoughgood fortune is bechanced in the happiness of lovemaking, the women of age are with sallowish and whitened faces owing to the strain of lovemaking, and though they want to laugh heartily, they desist from it, noticing very painful lower lips that are bitten with the edges of teeth of their lovers in lovemaking, lest the lip is lengthened, the pain is sharpened…
“On reaching the valleys of bosomy busts of women of age, the winter breeze is attaining their coolant splendidness, but when those bosoms are pressingly hugged by their lovers it is incarcerated there with an unable pain, and that pain is expressed by the Hemanta season, as though it is bewailing for a release of that breeze at least at dawn time, with tear-like dewdrops clinging on to the spires of grass-blades…
“Overspread with abundant rice crops and ornamented with herds of she-deer, and delightfully reverberated by the ruddy geese, with their calls and counter-calls, the complacent corridors of confines are captivating hearts…
“Now the lakes are adorned with fully blossomed black-lotuses, and elaborated with swan-like waterfowls in their excitement, and sheeted with considerably coldish waters that are depurated, thus these lakes are stealing the hearts of men, for men look up to them as the visages of women that are with black-lotus-like hairdo, with swanlike eyes, and whose bodies are cold, wanting a warm hug…
“Oh, dear, the Priyangu plants that give fragrant seeds are ripened by the snow caused coldness, and they are frequently wobbled by the snowy winds, and they now appear like the fragrant and frisky women gone into paleness and wobbliness by their dissociation from their lovers…
“These days the mouths of people are fragranced with the fragrance of liquors made from the essential oils of flowers, and their bodies are fragrant with the same fragrancy by their puffs of suspires, and while lying on beds jointly with their bodies in tight embrace, they are slipping into sleep, entwined with the essence of passion…
“The young and beautiful ladies that are new to their adulthood have bruises and marks of teeth notches on their lips, and even their bosoms are incised with nails of their lovers, thus these marks and incisions clearly indicate that they have enjoyed lovemaking consummately…
“Some woman of age staying in the warmth of tender sun to warm up herself, is holding a mirror and applying cosmetics on her lotus-like face, and while doing so, she is pouting her lips and examining them that are dented with teeth bites of her lover, whose quintessence is guzzled down by her lover in last night…
“One more woman whose body is fatigued by the strain of excessive lovemaking, and who is quiet sleepless last night, and whose eyes are palish like white lotuses, and whose bun is slithered and plaits of head-hair are loosened and hair tousling on her shoulders, bust, and on her bosoms, is tripping into sleep, warmed up by the rays of tender sun…
“Bedraggled are the loose ends of cloudlike blackish head-hair onto the lofty busty bosoms of some other slender-bodied women of age, by which busty weight crouching are their bodies, as slim pearly pendants would crouch onto their bosoms, and they are taking away the circlets of flowers from their hairdos, as those flowers are already utilised and devoid of their heart-pleasing fragrance of yester night, and now they are grooming their hair, afresh…
“On examining her body that is completely enjoyed by her lover, another woman is highly gladdened, and she remade her pleasant lips resplendently with lip-colouring, and on examining her bust with nail scratches, she embarrassedly wore her bodice, and while doing so the pain of friction of bodice with nail-scratches made her eyes to twitch, on which eyes dangling are her dark, delicate, and twitchy hair-curls…
“By the exertion in their long-lasting games of lovemaking other women of age are wearied, and their slim bodies are thrilling at their flanks from bosoms to thighs, thereby those prettily pretty women are applying bodily oils and pastes to take an oil bath, that relieves these tingling sensations…
“Pleasant with many an attribute, stealer of the hearts of women, and at which time the confines of villages are overspread with many an abundant rice-crop on earth, and overlaid is the sky with the garlanded flights of ruddy gees, that which is always with a heart-stealing environ, such as it is, let this season Hemanta, pre-winter, endow comfort to all of you passionate people…
The Birth Of The War-God (Canto Fourth )
Sad, solitary, helpless, faint, forlorn,
Woke Káma’s darling from her swoon to mourn.
Too soon her gentle soul returned to know
The pangs of widowhood—that word of woe.
Scarce could she raise her, trembling, from the ground,
Scarce dared to bend her anxious gaze around,
Unconscious yet those greedy eyes should never
Feed on his beauty more—gone, gone for ever.
‘Speak to me, Káma! why so silent? give
One word in answer—doth my Káma live?’
There on the turf his dumb cold ashes lay,
Whose soul that fiery flash had scorched away.
She clasped the dank earth in her wild despair,
Her bosom stained, and rent her long bright hair,
Till hill and valley caught the mourner’s cry,
And pitying breezes echoed sigh for sigh.
‘Oh thou wast beautiful: fond lovers sware
Their own bright darlings were like Káma, fair.
Sure woman’s heart is stony: can it be
That I still live while this is all of thee?
Where art thou, Káma? Could my dearest leave
His own fond Rati here alone to grieve?
So must the sad forsaken lotus die
When her bright river leaves his channel dry.
Káma, dear Káma, call again to mind
How thou wast ever gentle, I was kind.
Let not my prayer, thy Rati’s prayer, be vain;
Come as of old, and bless these eyes again!
Wilt thou not hear me? Think of those sweet hours
When I would bind thee with my zone of flowers,
Those soft gay fetters o’er thee fondly wreathing,
Thine only punishment when gently breathing
In tones of love thy heedless sigh betrayed
The name, dear traitor! of some rival maid.
Then would I pluck a floweret from my tress
And beat thee till I forced thee to confess,
While in my play the falling leaves would cover
The eyes—the bright eyes—of my captive lover.
And then those words that made me, oh, so blest—
‘Dear love, thy home is in my faithful breast!’
Alas, sweet words, too blissful to be true,
Or how couldst thou have died, nor Rati perish too?
Yes, I will fly to thee, of thee bereft,
And leave this world which thou, my life, hast left.
Cold, gloomy, now this wretched world must be,
For all its pleasures came from only thee.
When night has veiled the city in its shade,
Thou, only thou, canst soothe the wandering maid,
And guide her trembling at the thunder’s roar
Safe through the darkness to her lover’s door.
In vain the wine-cup, as it circles by,
Lisps in her tongue and sparkles in her eye.
Long locks are streaming, and the cheek glows red:
But all is mockery, Love—dear Love—is dead.
The Moon, sweet spirit, shall lament for thee,
Late, dim, and joyless shall his rising be.
Days shall fly on, and he forget to take
His full bright glory, mourning for thy sake.
Say, Káma, say, whose arrow now shall be
The soft green shoot of thy dear mango tree,
The favourite spray which Köils love so well,
And praise in sweetest strain its wondrous spell?
This line of bees which strings thy useless bow
Hums mournful echo to my cries of woe.
Come in thy lovely shape and teach again
The Köil’s mate, that knows the tender strain,
Her gentle task to waft to longing ears
The lover’s hope, the distant lover’s fears.
Come, bring once more that ecstasy of bliss,
The fond dear look, the smile, and ah! that kiss!
Fainting with woe, my soul refuses rest
When memory pictures how I have been blest.
See, thou didst weave a garland, love, to deck
With all spring’s fairest buds thy Rati’s neck.
Sweet are those flowers as they were culled to-day,
And is my Káma’s form more frail than they?
His pleasant task my lover had begun,
But stern Gods took him ere the work was done;
Return, my Káma, at thy Rati’s cry,
And stain this foot which waits the rosy dye.
Now will I hie me to the fatal pile,
And ere heaven’s maids have hailed thee with a smile,
Or on my love their winning glances thrown,
I will be there, and claim thee for mine own.
Yet though I come, my lasting shame will be
That I have lived one moment after thee.
Ah, how shall I thy funeral rites prepare,
Gone soul and body to the viewless air?
‘With thy dear Spring I’ve seen thee talk and smile,
Shaping an arrow for thy bow the while.
Where is he now, thy darling friend, the giver
Of many a bright sweet arrow for thy quiver?
Is he too sent upon death’s dreary path,
Scorched by the cruel God’s inexorable wrath?’
Stricken in spirit by her cries of woe,
Like venomed arrows from a mighty bow,
A moment fled, and gentle Spring was there,
To ask her grief, to soothe her wild despair.
She beat her breast more wildly than before,
With greater floods her weeping eyes ran o’er.
When friends are nigh the spirit finds relief
In the full gushing torrent of its grief.
‘Turn, gentle friend, thy weeping eyes, and see
That dear companion who was all to me.
His crumbling dust with which the breezes play,
Bearing it idly in their course away,
White as the silver feathers of a dove,
Is all that’s left me of my murdered love.
Now come, my Káma. Spring, who was so dear,
Longs to behold thee. Oh, appear, appear!
Fickle to women Love perchance may bend
His ear to listen to a faithful friend.
Remember, he walked ever at thy side
O’er bloomy meadows in the warm spring-tide,
That Gods above, and men, and fiends below
Should own the empire of thy mighty bow,
That ruthless bow, which pierces to the heart,
Strung with a lotus-thread, a flower its dart.
As dies a torch when winds sweep roughly by,
So is my light for ever fled, and I,
The lamp his cheering rays no more illume,
Am wrapt in darkness, misery and gloom.
Fate took my love, and spared the widow’s breath,
Yet fate is guilty of a double death.
When the wild monster tramples on the ground
The tree some creeper garlands closely round,
Reft of the guardian which it thought so true,
Forlorn and withered, it must perish too.
Then come, dear friend, the true one’s pile prepare,
And send me quickly to my husband there.
Call it not vain: the mourning lotus dies
When the bright Moon, her lover, quits the skies.
When sinks the red cloud in the purple west,
Still clings his bride, the lightning, to his breast.
All nature keeps the eternal high decree:
Shall woman fail? I come, my love, to thee!
Now on the pile my faint limbs will I throw,
Clasping his ashes, lovely even so,—
As if beneath my weary frame were spread
Soft leaves and blossoms for a flowery bed.
And oh, dear comrade (for in happier hours
Oft have I heaped a pleasant bed of flowers
For thee and him beneath the spreading tree),
Now quickly raise the pile for Love and me.
And in thy mercy gentle breezes send
To fan the flame that wafts away thy friend,
And shorten the sad moments that divide
Impatient Káma from his Rati’s side;
Set water near us in a single urn,
We’ll sip in heaven from the same in turn;
And let thine offering to his spirit be
Sprays fresh and lovely from the mango tree,
Culled when the round young buds begin to swell,
For Káma loved those fragrant blossoms well.’
As Rati thus complained in faithful love,
A heavenly voice breathed round her from above,
Falling in pity like the gentle rain
That brings the dying herbs to life again:
‘Bride of the flower-armed God, thy lord shall be
Not ever distant, ever deaf to thee.
Give me thine ear, sad lady, I will tell
Why perished Káma, whom thou lovedst well.
The Lord of Life in every troubled sense
Too warmly felt his fair child’s influence.
He quenched the fire, but mighty vengeance came
On Káma, fanner of the unholy flame.
When Śiva by her penance won has led
Himálaya’s daughter to her bridal bed,
His bliss to Káma shall the God repay,
And give again the form he snatched away.
Thus did the gracious God, at Justice’ prayer,
The term of Love’s sad punishment declare.
The Gods, like clouds, are fierce and gentle too,
Now hurl the bolt, now dropp sweet heavenly dew.
Live, widowed lady, for thy lover’s arms
Shall clasp again—oh, fondly clasp—thy charms.
In summer-heat the streamlet dies away
Beneath the fury of the God of Day:
Then, in due season, comes the pleasant rain,
And all is fresh, and fair, and full again.’
Thus breathed the spirit from the viewless air,
And stilled the raging of her wild despair;
While Spring consoled with every soothing art,
Cheered by that voice from heaven, the mourner’s heart,
Who watched away the hours, so sad and slow,
That brought the limit of her weary woe,
As the pale moon, quenched by the conquering light
Of garish day, longs for its own dear night.
The Birth Of The War-God (Canto Seventh )
In light and glory dawned the expected day
Blest with a kindly star’s auspicious ray,
When gaily gathered at Himálaya’s call
His kinsmen to the solemn festival.
Through the broad city every dame’s awake
To grace the bridal for her monarch’s sake;
So great their love for him, this single care
Makes one vast household of the thousands there.
Heaven is not brighter than the royal street
Where flowers lie scattered ‘neath the nobles’ feet,
And banners waving to the breeze unfold
Their silken broidery over gates of gold.
And she, their child, upon her bridal day
Bears her dear parents’ every thought away.
So, when from distant shores a friend returns,
With deeper love each inmost spirit burns.
So, when grim Death restores his prey again
Joy brighter shines from memory of pain.
Each noble matron of Himálaya’s race
Folds his dear Umá in a long embrace,
Pours blessings on her head, and prays her take
Some priceless jewel for her friendship’s sake.
With sweetest influence a star of power
Had joined the spotted moon: at that blest hour
To deck fair Umá many a noble dame
And many a gentle maid assiduous came.
And well she graced their toil, more brightly fair
With feathery grass and wild flowers in her hair.
A silken robe flowed free below her waist;
Her sumptuous head a glittering arrow graced.
So shines the young unclouded moon at last,
Greeting the sun, its darksome season past.
Sweet-scented Lodhra dust and Sandal dyed
The delicate beauties of the fair young bride,
Veiled with a soft light robe. Her tiring-girls
Then led her to a chamber decked with pearls
And paved with sapphires, where the lulling sound
Of choicest music breathed divinely round.
There o’er the lady’s limbs they poured by turns
Streams of pure water from their golden urns.
Fresh from the cooling bath the lovely maid
In fairest white her tender form arrayed.
So opens the Kása all her shining flowers
Lured from their buds by softly falling showers.
Then to a court with canopies o’erhead
A crowd of noble dames the maiden led—
A court for solemn rites, where gems and gold
Adorn the pillars that the roof uphold.
There on a couch they set her with her face
Turned toward the east. So lovely then the grace
Of that dear maid, so ravishing her smile,
E’en her attendants turned to gaze awhile;
For though the brightest gems around her lay,
Her brighter beauty stole their eyes away.
Through her long tresses one a chaplet wound,
And one with fragrant grass her temples crowned,
While o’er her head sweet clouds of incense rolled
To try and perfume every shining fold.
Bright dyes of saffron and the scented wood
Adorned her beauty, till the maiden stood
Fairer than Gangá when the Love-birds play
O’er sandy islets in her silvery bay.
To what rare beauty shall her maids compare
Her clear brow shaded by her glossy hair?
Less dazzling pure the lovely lotus shines
Flecked by the thronging bees in dusky lines.
Less bright the moon, when a dark band of cloud
Enhances beauties which it cannot shroud.
Behind her ear a head of barley drew
The eye to gaze upon its golden hue.
But then her cheek, with glowing saffron dyed,
To richer beauty called the glance aside.
Though from those lips, where Beauty’s guerdon lay,
The vermeil tints were newly washed away,
Yet o’er them, as she smiled, a ray was thrown
Of quivering brightness that was all their own.
‘Lay this dear foot upon thy lover’s head
Crowned with the moon,’ the laughing maiden said,
Who dyed her lady’s feet—no word spake she,
But beat her with her wreath in playful glee.
Then tiring-women took the jetty dye
To guard, not deck, the beauty of her eye,
Whose languid half-shut glances might compare
With lotus leaves just opening to the air;
And as fresh gems adorned her neck and arms,
So quickly changing grew the maiden’s charms,
Like some fair plant where bud succeeding bud
Unfolds new beauty; or a silver flood
Where gay birds follow quickly; or like night,
When crowding stars come forth in all their light.
Oft as the mirror would her glance beguile
She longed to meet her Lord’s approving smile.
Her tasteful skill the timid maid essays
To win one smile of love, one word of praise.
The happy mother took the golden dye
And raised to hers young Umá’s beaming eye.
Then swelled her bosom with maternal pride
As thus she decked her darling for a bride.
Oh, she had longed to trace on that fair brow
The nuptial line, yet scarce could mark it now.
On Umá’s rounded arm the woollen band
Was fixt securely by the nurse’s hand.
Blind with the tears that filled her swimming eye,
In vain the mother strove that band to tie.
Spotless as curling foam-flakes stood she there,
As yielding soft, as graceful and as fair:
Or like the glory of an autumn night
Robed by the full moon in a veil of light.
Then at her mother’s hest, the maid adored
The spirit of each high ancestral lord,
Nor failed she next the noble dames to greet,
And give due honour to their reverend feet.
They raised the maiden as she bowed her head:
‘Thine be the fulness of his love!’ they said.
Half of his being, blessing high as this
Can add no rapture to her perfect bliss.
Well-pleased Himálaya viewed the pomp and pride
Meet for his daughter, meet for Śiva’s bride;
Then sought the hall with all his friends to wait
The bridegroom’s coming with a monarch’s state.
Meanwhile by heavenly matrons’ care displayed
Upon Kuvera’s lofty mount were laid
The ornaments of Śiva, which of yore
At his first nuptials the bridegroom wore.
He laid his hand upon the dress, but how
Shall robes so sad, so holy, grace him now?
His own dire vesture took a shape as fair
As gentle bridegroom’s heart could wish to wear.
The withering skull that glazed the eye with dread,
Shone a bright coronal to grace his head.
That elephant’s hide the God had worn of old
Was now a silken robe inwrought with gold.
Ere this his body was with dust besprent:
With unguent now it shed delightful scent;
And that mid-eye which glittering like a star
Shot the wild terror of its glance afar—
So softly now its golden radiance beamed—
A mark of glory on his forehead seemed.
His twining serpents, destined still to be
The pride and honour of the deity,
Changed but their bodies: in each sparkling crest
The blazing gems still shone their loveliest.
What need of jewels on the brow of Him
Who wears the crescent moon? No spot may dim
Its youthful beauty, e’en in light of day
Shedding the glory of its quenchless ray.
Well-pleased the God in all his pride arrayed
Saw his bright image mirrored in the blade
Of the huge sword they brought; then calmly leant
On Nandi’s arm, and toward his bull he went,
Whose broad back covered with a tiger’s hide
Was steep to climb as Mount Kailása’s side.
Yet the dread monster humbly shrank for fear,
And bowed in reverence as his Lord drew near.
The matrons followed him, a saintly throng,
Their ear-rings waving as they dashed along:
Sweet faces, with such glories round them shed
As made the air one lovely lotus bed.
On flew those bright ones: Káli came behind,
The skulls that decked her rattling in the wind:
Like the dark rack that scuds across the sky,
With herald lightning and the crane’s shrill cry.
Hark! from the glorious bands that lead the way,
Harp, drum, and pipe, and shrilling trumpet’s bray,
Burst through the sky upon the startled ear
And tell the Gods the hour of worship’s near.
They came; the Sun presents a silken shade
Which heaven’s own artist for the God had made,
Gilding his brows, as though bright Gangá rolled
Adown his holy head her waves of gold.
She in her Goddess-shape divinely fair,
And Yamuná, sweet river-Nymph, were there,
Fanning their Lord, that fancy still might deem
Swans waved their pinions round each Lady of the Stream.
E’en Brahmá came, Creator, Lord of Might,
And Vishṇu glowing from the realms of light.
‘Ride on,’ they cried, ‘thine, thine for ever be
The strength, the glory, and the victory.’
To swell his triumph that high blessing came
Like holy oil upon the rising flame.
In those Three Persons the one God was shown,
Each first in place, each last,—not one alone;
Of Śiva, Vishṇu, Brahmá, each may be
First, second, third, among the Blessed Three.
By Indra led, each world-upholding Lord
With folded hands the mighty God adored.
In humble robes arrayed, the pomp and pride
Of glorious deity they laid aside.
They signed to Nandi, and the favourite’s hand
Guided his eye upon the suppliant band.
He spake to Vishṇu, and on Indra smiled,
To Brahmá bowed—the lotus’ mystic child.
On all the hosts of heaven his friendly eye
Beamed duly welcome as they crowded nigh.
The Seven Great Saints their blessings o’er him shed,
And thus in answer, with a smile, he said:
‘Hail, mighty Sages! hail, ye Sons of Light!
My chosen priests to celebrate this rite.’
Now in sweet tones the heavenly minstrels tell
His praise, beneath whose might Tripura fell.
He moves to go: from his moon-crest a ray
Sheds quenchless light on his triumphant way.
On through the air his swift bull bore him well,
Decked with the gold of many a tinkling bell;
Tossing from time to time his head on high,
Enwreathed with clouds as he flew racing by,
As though in furious charge he had uptorn
A bank of clay upon his mighty horn.
Swiftly they came where in its beauty lay
The city subject to Himálaya’s sway.
No foeman’s foot had ever trod those halls,
No foreign bands encamped around the walls.
Then Śiva’s glances fixed their eager hold
On that fair city as with threads of gold.
The God whose neck still gleams with cloudy blue
Burst on the wondering people’s upturned view,
And on the earth descended, from the path
His shafts once dinted in avenging wrath.
Forth from the gates a noble army poured
To do meet honour to the mighty Lord.
With all his friends on elephants of state
The King of Mountains passed the city gate,
So gaily decked, the princes all were seen
Like moving hills inwrapt in bowery green.
As the full rushing of two streams that pour
Beneath one bridge with loud tumultuous roar,
So through the city’s open gate streamed in
Mountains and Gods with tumult and with din.
So glorious was the sight, wonder and shame,
When Śiva bowed him, o’er the Monarch came;
He knew not he had bent his lofty crest
In reverent greeting to his heavenly guest
Himálaya, joying in the festive day,
Before the immortal bridegroom led the way
Where heaps of gay flowers burying half the feet
Lay breathing odours through the crowded street.
Careless of all beside, each lady’s eye
Must gaze on Śiva as the troop sweeps by.
One dark-eyed beauty will not stay to bind
Her long black tresses, floating unconfined
Save by her little hand; her flowery crown
Hanging neglected and unfastened down.
One from her maiden tore her foot away
On which the dye, all wet and streaming, lay,
And o’er the chamber rushing in her haste,
Where’er she stepped, a crimson footprint traced.
Another at the window takes her stand;
One eye is dyed,—the pencil in her hand.
Here runs an eager maid, and running, holds
Loose and ungirt her flowing mantle’s folds,
Whilst, as she strives to close the parting vest,
Its brightness gives new beauty to her breast.
Oh! what a sight! the crowded windows there
With eager faces excellently fair,
Like sweetest lilies, for their dark eyes fling
Quick glances quivering like the wild bee’s wing.
Onward in peerless glory Śiva passed;
Gay banners o’er his way their shadows cast,
Each palace dome, each pinnacle and height
Catching new lustre from his crest of light.
On swept the pageant: on the God alone
The eager glances of the dames were thrown;
On his bright form they fed the rapturous gaze,
And only turned to marvel and to praise:
‘Oh, well and wisely, such a lord to gain
The Mountain-Maid endured the toil and pain.
To be his slave were joy; but Oh, how blest
The wife—the loved one—lying on his breast!
Surely in vain, had not the Lord of Life
Matched this fond bridegroom and this loving wife,
Had been his wish to give the worlds a mould
Of perfect beauty! Falsely have they told
How the young flower-armed God was burnt by fire
At the red flash of Śiva’s vengeful ire.
No: jealous Love a fairer form confessed,
And cast away his own, no more the loveliest.
How glorious is the Mountain King, how proud
Earth’s stately pillar, girt about with cloud!
Now will he lift his lofty head more high,
Knit close to Śiva by this holy tie.’
Such words of praise from many a bright-eyed dame
On Śiva’s ear with soothing witchery came.
Through the broad streets ‘mid loud acclaim he rode,
And reached the palace where the King abode.
There he descended from his monster’s side,
As the sun leaves a cloud at eventide.
Leaning on Vishṇu’s arm he passed the door
Where mighty Brahmá entered in before.
Next Indra came, and all the host of heaven,
The noble Saints and those great Sages seven.
Then led they Śiva to a royal seat;
Fair gifts they brought, for such a bridegroom meet:
With all due rites, the honey and the milk,
Rich gems were offered and two robes of silk.
At length by skilful chamberlains arrayed
They led the lover to the royal maid.
Thus the fond Moon disturbs the tranquil rest
Of Ocean glittering with his foamy crest,
And leads him on, his proud waves swelling o’er,
To leap with kisses on the clasping shore.
He gazed on Umá. From his lotus eyes
Flashed out the rapture of his proud surprise.
Then calm the current of his spirit lay
Like the world basking in an autumn day.
They met; and true love’s momentary shame
O’er the blest bridegroom and his darling came.
Eye looked to eye, but, quivering as they met,
Scarce dared to trust the rapturous gazing yet.
In the God’s hand the priest has duly laid
The radiant fingers of the Mountain-Maid,
Bright, as if Love with his dear sprays of red
Had sought that refuge in his hour of dread.
From hand to hand the soft infection stole,
Till each confessed it in the inmost soul.
Fire filled his veins, with joy she trembled; such
The magic influence of that thrilling touch.
How grows their beauty, when two lovers stand
Eye fixt on eye, hand fondly linkt in hand!
Then how, unblamed, may mortal minstrel dare
To paint in words the beauty of that pair!
Around the fire in solemn rite they trod,
The lovely lady and the glorious God;
Like day and starry midnight when they meet
In the broad plains at lofty Meru’s feet.
Thrice at the bidding of the priest they came
With swimming eyes around the holy flame.
Then at his word the bride in order due
Into the blazing fire the parched grain threw,
And toward her face the scented smoke she drew,
Which softly wreathing o’er her fair cheek hung,
And round her ears in flower-like beauty clung.
As o’er the incense the sweet lady stooped,
The ear of barley from her tresses drooped,
And rested on her cheek, beneath the eye
Still brightly beaming with the jetty dye.
‘This flame be witness of your wedded life:
Be just, thou husband, and be true, thou wife!’
Such was the priestly blessing on the bride.
Eager she listened, as the earth when dried
By parching summer suns drinks deeply in
The first soft droppings when the rains begin.
‘Look, gentle Umá,’ cried her Lord, ‘afar
Seest thou the brightness of yon polar star?
Like that unchanging ray thy faith must shine.’
Sobbing, she whispered, ‘Yes, for ever thine.’
The rite is o’er. Her joyful parents now
At Brahmá’s feet in duteous reverence bow.
Then to fair Umá spake the gracious Power
Who sits enthroned upon the lotus flower:
‘O beautiful lady, happy shalt thou be,
And hero children shall be born of thee;’
Then looked in silence: vain the hope to bless
The bridegroom, Śiva, with more happiness.
Then from the altar, as prescribed of old,
They turned, and rested upon seats of gold;
And, as the holy books for men ordain,
Were sprinkled duly with the moistened grain.
High o’er their heads sweet Beauty’s Queen displayed
Upon a stem of reed a cool green shade,
While the young lotus-leaves of which ’twas made
Seemed, as they glistened to the wondering view,
All richly pearled with drops of beady dew.
In twofold language on each glorious head
The Queen of Speech her richest blessings shed;
In strong, pure, godlike utterance for his ear,
To her in liquid tones, soft, beautifully clear.
Now for awhile they gaze where maids divine
In graceful play the expressive dance entwine;
Whose eloquent motions, with an actor’s art,
Show to the life the passions of the heart.
The rite was ended; then the heavenly band
Prayed Śiva, raising high the suppliant hand:
‘Now, for the dear sake of thy lovely bride,
Have pity on the gentle God,’ they cried,
‘Whose tender body thy fierce wrath has slain:
Give all his honour, all his might again.’
Well pleased, he smiled, and gracious answer gave:
Śiva himself now yields him Káma’s slave.
When duly given, the great will ne’er despise
The gentle pleading of the good and wise.
Now have they left the wedded pair alone;
And Śiva takes her hand within his own
To lead his darling to the bridal bower,
Decked with bright gold and all her sumptuous dower.
She blushes sweetly as her maidens there
Look with arch smiles and glances on the pair;
And for one moment, while the damsels stay,
From him she loves turns her dear face away.
The Birth Of The War-God (Canto First) – Uma’s Nativity
Far in the north Himálaya, lifting high
His towery summits till they cleave the sky,
Spans the wide land from east to western sea,
Lord of the hills, instinct with deity.
For him, when Prithu ruled in days of old
The rich earth, teeming with her gems and gold,
The vassal hills and Meru drained her breast,
To deck Himálaya, for they loved him best;
And earth, the mother, gave her store to fill
With herbs and sparkling ores the royal hill.
Proud mountain-king! his diadem of snow
Dims not the beauty of his gems below.
For who can gaze upon the moon, and dare
To mark one spot less brightly glorious there?[Pg 2]
Who, ‘mid a thousand virtues, dares to blame
One shade of weakness in a hero’s fame?
Oft, when the gleamings of his mountain brass
Flash through the clouds and tint them as they pass,
Those glories mock the hues of closing day,
And heaven’s bright wantons hail their hour of play;
Try, ere the time, the magic of their glance,
And deck their beauty for the twilight dance.
Dear to the sylphs are the cool shadows thrown
By dark clouds wandering round the mountain’s zone,
Till frightened by the storm and rain they seek
Eternal sunshine on each loftier peak.
Far spread the wilds where eager hunters roam,
Tracking the lion to his dreary home.
For though the melting snow has washed away
The crimson blood-drops of the wounded prey,
Still the fair pearls that graced his forehead tell
Where the strong elephant, o’ermastered, fell,
And clinging to the lion’s claws, betray,
Falling at every step, the mighty conqueror’s way.
There birch-trees wave, that lend their friendly aid
To tell the passion of the love-lorn maid,
So quick to learn in metal tints to mark
Her hopes and fears upon the tender bark.
List! breathing from each cave, Himálaya leads
The glorious hymn with all his whispering reeds,[Pg 3]
Till heavenly minstrels raise their voice in song,
And swell his music as it floats along.
There the fierce elephant wounds the scented bough
To ease the torment of his burning brow;
And bleeding pines their odorous gum distil
To breathe rare fragrance o’er the sacred hill.
There magic herbs pour forth their streaming light
From mossy caverns through the darksome night,
And lend a torch to guide the trembling maid
Where waits her lover in the leafy shade.
Yet hath he caves within whose inmost cells
In tranquil rest the murky darkness dwells,
And, like the night-bird, spreads the brooding wing
Safe in the shelter of the mountain-king,
Unscorned, uninjured; for the good and great
Spurn not the suppliant for his lowly state.
Why lingers yet the heavenly minstrel’s bride
On the wild path that skirts Himálaya’s side?
Cold to her tender feet—oh, cold—the snow,
Why should her steps—her homeward steps—be slow?
‘Tis that her slender ankles scarce can bear
The weight of beauty that impedes her there;
Each rounded limb, and all her peerless charms,
That broad full bosom, those voluptuous arms.[Pg 4]
E’en the wild kine that roam his forests bring
The royal symbols to the mountain-king.
With tails outspread, their bushy streaming hair
Flashes like moonlight through the parted air.
What monarch’s fan more glorious might there be,
More meet to grace a king as proud as he?
There, when the nymphs, within the cave’s recess,
In modest fear their gentle limbs undress,
Thick clouds descending yield a friendly screen,
And blushing beauty bares her breast unseen.
With pearly dewdrops Gangá loads the gale
That waves the dark pines towering o’er the vale,
And breathes in welcome freshness o’er the face
Of wearied hunters when they quit the chase.
So far aloft, amid Himálayan steeps,
Crouched on the tranquil pool the lotus sleeps,
That the bright Seven who star the northern sky
Cull the fair blossoms from their seats on high;
And when the sun pours forth his morning glow
In streams of glory from his path below,
They gain new beauty as his kisses break
His darlings’ slumber on the mountain lake.
Well might that ancient hill by merit claim
The power and glory of a monarch’s name;[Pg 5]
Nurse of pure herbs that grace each holy rite,
Earth’s meetest bearer of unyielding might.
The Lord of Life for this ordained him king,
And bade him share the sacred offering.
Gladly obedient to the law divine,
He chose a consort to prolong his line.
No child of earth, born of the Sage’s will,
The fair nymph Mená pleased the sovran hill.
To her he sued, nor was his prayer denied,
The Saints’ beloved was the mountain’s bride.
Crowned with all bliss and beauty were the pair,
He passing glorious, she was heavenly fair.
Swiftly the seasons, winged with love, flew on,
And made her mother of a noble son,
The great Maináka, who in triumph led
His Serpent beauties to the bridal bed;
And once when Indra’s might those pinions rent
That bare the swift hills through the firmament,
(So fierce his rage, no mountain could withstand
The wild bolt flashing from his red right hand,)
He fled to Ocean, powerful to save,
And hid his glory ‘neath the friendly wave.
A gentle daughter came at length to bless
The royal mother with her loveliness;
Born once again, for in an earlier life
High fame was hers, as Śiva’s faithful wife.[Pg 6]
But her proud sire had dared the God to scorn;
Then was her tender soul with anguish torn,
And jealous for the lord she loved so well,
Her angered spirit left its mortal cell.
Now deigned the maid, a lovely boon, to spring
From that pure lady and the mountain-king.
When Industry and Virtue meet and kiss,
Holy their union, and the fruit is bliss.
Blest was that hour, and all the world was gay,
When Mená’s daughter saw the light of day.
A rosy glow suffused the brightening sky;
An odorous breeze came sweeping softly by.
Breathed round the hill a sweet unearthly strain,
And the glad heavens poured down their flowery rain.
That fair young maiden diademmed with light
Made her dear mother’s fame more sparkling bright.
As the blue offspring of the Turquois Hills
The parent mount with richer glory fills,
When the cloud’s voice has caused the gem to spring,
Responsive to its gentle thundering.
Then was it sweet, as days flew by, to trace
The dawning charm of every infant grace,
Even as the crescent moons their glory pour
More full, more lovely than the eve before.
As yet the maiden was unknown to fame;
Child of the Mountain was her only name.[Pg 7]
But when her mother, filled with anxious care
At her stern penance, cried Forbear! Forbear!
To a new title was the warning turned,
And Umá was the name the maiden earned.
Loveliest was she of all his lovely race,
And dearest to her father. On her face
Looking with love he ne’er could satisfy
The thirsty glances of a parent’s eye.
When spring-tide bids a thousand flowerets bloom
Loading the breezes with their rich perfume,
Though here and there the wandering bee may rest,
He loves his own—his darling mango—best.
The Gods’ bright river bathes with gold the skies,
And pure sweet eloquence adorns the wise.
The flambeau’s glory is the shining fire;
She was the pride, the glory of her sire,
Shedding new lustre on his old descent,
His loveliest child, his richest ornament.
The sparkling Gangá laved her heavenly home,
And o’er her islets would the maiden roam
Amid the dear companions of her play
With ball and doll to while the hours away.
As swans in autumn in assembling bands
Fly back to Gangá’s well-remembered sands:
As herbs beneath the darksome shades of night
Collect again their scattered rays of light:[Pg 8]
So dawned upon the maiden’s waking mind
The far-off memory of her life resigned,
And all her former learning in its train,
Feelings, and thoughts, and knowledge came again.
Now beauty’s prime, that craves no artful aid,
Ripened the loveliness of that young maid:
That needs no wine to fire the captive heart,—
The bow of Love without his flowery dart.
There was a glory beaming from her face,
With love’s own light, and every youthful grace:
Ne’er had the painter’s skilful hand portrayed
A lovelier picture than that gentle maid;
Ne’er sun-kissed lily more divinely fair
Unclosed her beauty to the morning air.
Bright as a lotus, springing where she trod,
Her glowing feet shed radiance o’er the sod.
That arching neck, the step, the glance aside,
The proud swans taught her as they stemmed the tide,
Whilst of the maiden they would fondly learn
Her anklets’ pleasant music in return.
When the Almighty Maker first began
The marvellous beauty of that child to plan,
In full fair symmetry each rounded limb
Grew neatly fashioned and approved by Him:
The rest was faultless, for the Artist’s care
Formed each young charm most excellently fair,[Pg 9]
As if his moulding hand would fain express
The visible type of perfect loveliness.
What thing of beauty may the poet dare
With the smooth wonder of those limbs compare?
The young tree springing by the brooklet’s side?
The rounded trunk, the forest-monarch’s pride?
Too rough that trunk, too cold that young tree’s stem;
A softer, warmer thing must vie with them.
Her hidden beauties though no tongue may tell,
Yet Śiva’s love will aid the fancy well:
No other maid could deem her boasted charms
Worthy the clasp of such a husband’s arms.
Between the partings of fair Umá’s vest
Came hasty glimpses of a lovely breast:
So closely there the sweet twin hillocks rose,
Scarce could the lotus in the vale repose.
And if her loosened zone e’er slipped below,
All was so bright beneath the mantle’s flow,
So dazzling bright, as if the maid had braced
A band of gems to sparkle round her waist;
And the dear dimples of her downy skin
Seemed fitting couch for Love to revel in.
Her arms were softer than the flowery dart,
Young Káma’s arrow, that subdues the heart;
For vain his strife with Śiva, till at last
He chose those chains to bind his conqueror fast.[Pg 10]
E’en the new moon poured down a paler beam
When her long fingers flashed their rosy gleam,
And brighter than Aśoka’s blossom threw
A glory round, like summer’s evening hue.
The strings of pearl across her bosom thrown
Increased its beauty, and enhanced their own,—
Her breast, her jewels seeming to agree,
The adorner now, and now the adorned to be.
When Beauty gazes on the fair full moon,
No lotus charms her, for it blooms at noon:
If on that flower she feed her raptured eye,
No moon is shining from the mid-day sky;
She looked on Umá’s face, more heavenly fair,
And found their glories both united there.
The loveliest flower that ever opened yet
Laid in the fairest branch: a fair pearl set
In richest coral, with her smile might vie
Flashing through lips bright with their rosy dye.
And when she spoke, upon the maiden’s tongue,
Distilling nectar, such rare accents hung,
The sweetest note that e’er the Koïl poured
Seemed harsh and tuneless as a jarring chord.
The melting glance of that soft liquid eye,
Tremulous like lilies when the breezes sigh,
Which learnt it first—so winning and so mild—
The gentle fawn, or Mená’s gentler child?[Pg 11]
And oh, the arching of her brow! so fine
Was the rare beauty of its pencilled line,
Love gazed upon her forehead in despair
And spurned the bow he once esteemed so fair:
Her long bright tresses too might shame the pride
Of envious yaks who roamed the mountain-side.
Surely the Maker’s care had been to bring
From Nature’s store each sweetest, loveliest thing,
As if the world’s Creator would behold
All beauty centred in a single mould.
When holy Nárad—Saint who roams at will—
First saw the daughter of the royal hill,
He hailed the bride whom Śiva’s love should own
Half of himself, and partner of his throne.
Himálaya listened, and the father’s pride
Would yield the maiden for no other’s bride:
To Fire alone of all bright things we raise
The holy hymn, the sacrifice of praise.
But still the monarch durst not, could not bring
His child, unsought, to Heaven’s supremest King;
But as a good man fears his earnest prayer
Should rise unheeded, and with thoughtful care
Seeks for some friend his eager suit to aid,
Thus great Himálaya in his awe delayed.[Pg 12]
Since the sad moment when his gentle bride
In the full glory of her beauty died,
The mournful Śiva in the holy grove
Had dwelt in solitude, and known not love.
High on that hill where musky breezes throw
Their balmy odours o’er eternal snow;
Where heavenly minstrels pour their notes divine,
And rippling Gangá laves the mountain pine,
Clad in a coat of skin all rudely wrought
He lived for prayer and solitary thought.
The faithful band that served the hermit’s will
Lay in the hollows of the rocky hill,
Where from the clefts the dark bitumen flowed.
Tinted with mineral dyes their bodies glowed;
Clad in rude mantles of the birch-tree’s rind,
With bright red garlands was their hair entwined.
The holy bull before his master’s feet
Shook the hard-frozen earth with echoing feet,
And as he heard the lion’s roaring swell
In distant thunder from the rocky dell,
In angry pride he raised his voice of fear
And from the mountain drove the startled deer.
Bright fire—a shape the God would sometimes wear
Who takes eight various forms—was glowing there.
Then the great deity who gives the prize
Of penance, prayer, and holy exercise,[Pg 13]
As though to earn the meed he grants to man,
Himself the penance and the pain began.
Now to that holy lord, to whom is given
Honour and glory by the Gods in heaven,
The worship of a gift Himálaya paid,
And towards his dwelling sent the lovely maid;
Her task, attended by her youthful train,
To woo his widowed heart to love again.
The hermit welcomed with a courteous brow
That gentle enemy of hermit vow.
The still pure breast where Contemplation dwells
Defies the charmer and the charmer’s spells.
Calm and unmoved he viewed the wondrous maid,
And bade her all his pious duties aid.
She culled fresh blossoms at the God’s command,
Sweeping the altar with a careful hand;
The holy grass for sacred rites she sought,
And day by day the fairest water brought.
And if the unwonted labour caused a sigh,
The fair-haired lady turned her languid eye
Where the pale moon on Śiva’s forehead gleamed,
And swift through all her frame returning vigour streamed.
[Translated from the Sanskrit into English Verse by. Ranrn T. H. GRIFFITH, M.A.. ]
The Birth Of The War-God (Canto Fifth ) – Uma’s Reward
Now woe to Umá, for young Love is slain,
Her Lord hath left her, and her hope is vain.
Woe, woe to Umá! how the Mountain-Maid
Cursed her bright beauty for its feeble aid!
‘Tis Beauty’s guerdon which she loves the best,
To bless her lover, and in turn be blest.
Penance must aid her now—or how can she
Win the cold heart of that stern deity?
Penance, long penance: for that power alone
Can make such love, so high a Lord, her own.
But, ah! how troubled was her mother’s brow
At the sad tidings of the mourner’s vow!
She threw her arms around her own dear maid,
Kissed, fondly kissed her, sighed, and wept, and prayed:
‘Are there no Gods, my child, to love thee here?
Frail is thy body, yet thy vow severe.
The lily, by the wild bee scarcely stirred,
Bends, breaks, and dies beneath the weary bird.’
Fast fell her tears, her prayer was strong, but still
That prayer was weaker than her daughter’s will.
Who can recall the torrent’s headlong force,
Or the bold spirit in its destined course?
She sent a maiden to her sire, and prayed
He for her sake would grant some bosky shade,
That she might dwell in solitude, and there
Give all her soul to penance and to prayer.
In gracious love the great Himálaya smiled,
And did the bidding of his darling child.
Then to that hill which peacocks love she came,
Known to all ages by the lady’s name.
Still to her purpose resolutely true,
Her string of noble pearls aside she threw,
Which, slipping here and there, had rubbed away
The sandal dust that on her bosom lay,
And clad her in a hermit coat of bark,
Rough to her gentle limbs, and gloomy dark,
Pressing too tightly, till her swelling breast
Broke into freedom through the unwonted vest.
Her matted hair was full as lovely now
As when ’twas braided o’er her polished brow.
Thus the sweet beauties of the lotus shine
When bees festoon it in a graceful line;
And, though the tangled weeds that crown the rill
Cling o’er it closely, it is lovely still.
With zone of grass the votaress was bound,
Which reddened the fair form it girdled round:
Never before the lady’s waist had felt
The ceaseless torment of so rough a belt.
Alas! her weary vow has caused to fade
The lovely colours that adorned the maid.
Pale is her hand, and her long finger-tips
Steal no more splendour from her paler lips,
Or, from the ball which in her play would rest,
Made bright and fragrant, on her perfumed breast.
Rough with the sacred grass those hands must be,
And worn with resting on her rosary.
Cold earth her couch, her canopy the skies,
Pillowed upon her arm the lady lies:
She who before was wont to rest her head
In the soft luxury of a sumptuous bed,
Vext by no troubles as she slumbered there,
But sweet flowers slipping from her loosened hair.
The maid put off, but only for awhile,
Her passioned glances and her witching smile.
She lent the fawn her moving, melting gaze,
And the fond creeper all her winning ways.
The trees that blossomed on that lonely mount
She watered daily from the neighbouring fount:
If she had been their nursing mother, she
Could not have tended them more carefully.
Not e’en her boy—her own bright boy—shall stay
Her love for them: her first dear children they.
Her gentleness had made the fawns so tame,
To her kind hand for fresh sweet grain they came,
And let the maid before her friends compare
Her own with eyes that shone as softly there.
Then came the hermits of the holy wood
To see the votaress in her solitude;
Grey elders came; though young the maid might seem,
Her perfect virtue must command esteem.
They found her resting in that lonely spot,
The fire was kindled, and no rite forgot.
In hermit’s mantle was she clad; her look
Fixt in deep thought upon the Holy Book.
So pure that grove: all war was made to cease,
And savage monsters lived in love and peace.
Pure was that grove: each newly built abode
Had leafy shrines where fires of worship glowed.
But far too mild her penance, Umá thought,
To win from heaven the lordly meed she sought.
She would not spare her form, so fair and frail,
If sterner penance could perchance prevail.
Oft had sweet pastime wearied her, and yet
Fain would she match in toil the anchoret.
Sure the soft lotus at her birth had lent
Dear Umá’s form its gentle element;
But gold, commingled with her being, gave
That will so strong, so beautifully brave.
Full in the centre of four blazing piles
Sate the fair lady of the winning smiles,
While on her head the mighty God of Day
Shot all the fury of his summer ray;
Yet her fixt gaze she turned upon the skies,
And quenched his splendour with her brighter eyes.
To that sweet face, though scorched by rays from heaven,
Still was the beauty of the lotus given,
Yet, worn by watching, round those orbs of light
A blackness gathered like the shades of night.
She cooled her dry lips in the bubbling stream,
And lived on Amrit from the pale moon-beam,
Sometimes in hunger culling from the tree
The rich ripe fruit that hung so temptingly.
Scorched by the fury of the noon-tide rays,
And fires that round her burned with ceaseless blaze,
Summer passed o’er her: rains of Autumn came
And throughly drenched the lady’s tender frame.
So steams the earth, when mighty torrents pour
On thirsty fields all dry and parched before.
The first clear rain-drops falling on her brow,
Gem it one moment with their light, and now
Kissing her sweet lip find a welcome rest
In the deep valley of the lady’s breast;
Then wander broken by the fall within
The mazy channels of her dimpled skin.
There as she lay upon her rocky bed,
No sumptuous roof above her gentle head,
Dark Night, her only witness, turned her eyes,
Red lightnings flashing from the angry skies,
And gazed upon her voluntary pain,
In wind, in sleet, in thunder, and in rain.
Still lay the maiden on the cold damp ground,
Though blasts of winter hurled their snows around,
Still pitying in her heart the mournful fate
Of those poor birds, so fond, so desolate,—
Doomed, hapless pair, to list each other’s moan
Through the long hours of night, sad and alone.
Chilled by the rain, the tender lotus sank:
She filled its place upon the streamlet’s bank.
Sweet was her breath as when that lovely flower
Sheds its best odour in still evening’s hour.
Red as its leaves her lips of coral hue:
Red as those quivering leaves they quivered too.
Of all stern penance it is called the chief
To nourish life upon the fallen leaf.
But even this the ascetic maiden spurned,
And for all time a glorious title earned.
Aparná—Lady of the unbroken fast—
Have sages called her, saints who knew the past.
Fair as the lotus fibres, soft as they,
In these stern vows she passed her night and day.
No mighty anchoret had e’er essayed
The ceaseless penance of this gentle maid.
There came a hermit: reverend was he
As Bráhmanhood’s embodied sanctity.
With coat of skin, with staff and matted hair,
His face was radiant, and he spake her fair.
Up rose the maid the holy man to greet,
And humbly bowed before the hermit’s feet.
Though meditation fill the pious breast,
It finds a welcome for a glorious guest:
The sage received the honour duly paid,
And fixed his earnest gaze upon the maid.
While through her frame unwonted vigour ran,
Thus, in his silver speech, the blameless saint began:
‘How can thy tender frame, sweet lady, bear
In thy firm spirit’s task its fearful share?
Canst thou the grass and fuel duly bring,
And still unwearied seek the freshening spring?
Say, do the creeper’s slender shoots expand,
Seeking each day fresh water from thy hand,
Till like thy lip each ruddy tendril glows,
That lip which, faded, still outreds the rose?
With loving glance the timid fawns draw nigh:
Say dost thou still with joy their wants supply?
For thee, O lotus-eyed, their glances shine,
Mocking the brightness of each look of thine.
O Mountain-Lady, it is truly said
That heavenly charms to sin have never led,
For even penitents may learn of thee
How pure, how gentle Beauty’s self may be.
Bright Gangá falling with her heavenly waves,
Himálaya’s head with sacred water laves,
Bearing the flowers the seven great Sages fling
To crown the forehead of the Mountain-King.
Yet do thy deeds, O bright-haired maiden, shed
A richer glory round his awful head.
Purest of motives, Duty leads thy heart:
Pleasure and gain therein may claim no part.
O noble maid, the wise have truly said
That friendship soon in gentle heart is bred.
Seven steps together bind the lasting tie:
Then bend on me, dear Saint, a gracious eye.
Fain, lovely Umá, would a Bráhman learn
What noble guerdon would thy penance earn.
Say, art thou toiling for a second birth,
Where dwells the great Creator? O’er the earth
Resistless sway? Or fair as Beauty’s Queen,
Peerless, immortal, shall thy form be seen?
The lonely soul bowed down by grief and pain,
By penance’ aid some gracious boon may gain.
But what, O faultless one, can move thy heart
To dwell in solitude and prayer apart?
Why should the cloud of grief obscure thy brow,
‘Mid all thy kindred, who so loved as thou?
Foes hast thou none: for what rash hand would dare
From serpent’s head the magic gem to tear?
Why dost thou seek the hermit’s garb to try,
Thy silken raiment and thy gems thrown by?
As though the sun his glorious state should leave,
Rayless to harbour ‘mid the shades of eve.
Wouldst thou win heaven by thy holy spells?
Already with the Gods thy father dwells.
A husband, lady? O forbear the thought,
A priceless jewel seeks not, but is sought.
Maiden, thy deep sighs tell me it is so;
Yet, doubtful still, my spirit seeks to know
Couldst thou e’er love in vain? What heart so cold
That hath not eagerly its worship told?
Ah! could the cruel loved one, thou fair maid,
Look with cold glances on that bright hair’s braid?
Thy locks are hanging loosely o’er thy brow,
Thine ear is shaded by no lotus now.
See, where the sun hath scorched that tender neck
Which precious jewels once were proud to deck.
Still gleams the line where they were wont to cling,
As faintly shows the moon’s o’ershadowed ring.
Now sure thy loved one, vain in beauty’s pride,
Dreamed of himself when wandering at thy side,
Or he would count him blest to be the mark
Of that dear eye, so soft, so lustrous dark.
But, gentle Umá, let thy labour cease;
Turn to thy home, fair Saint, and rest in peace.
By many a year of penance duly done
Rich store of merit has my labour won.
Take then the half, thy secret purpose name;
Nor in stern hardships wear thy tender frame.’
The holy Bráhman ceased: but Umá’s breast
In silence heaved, by love and fear opprest.
In mute appeal she turned her languid eye,
Darkened with weeping, not with softening dye,
To bid her maiden’s friendly tongue declare
The cherished secret of her deep despair:
‘Hear, holy Father, if thou still wouldst know,
Why her frail form endures this pain and woe,
As the soft lotus makes a screen to stay
The noontide fury of the God of Day.
Proudly disdaining all the blest above,
With heart and soul she seeks for Śiva’s love.
For him alone, the Trident-wielding God,
The thorny paths of penance hath she trod.
But since that mighty one hath Káma slain,
Vain every hope, and every effort vain.
E’en as life fled, a keen but flowery dart
Young Love, the Archer, aimed at Śiva’s heart.
The God in anger hurled the shaft away,
But deep in Umá’s tender soul it lay;
Alas, poor maid! she knows no comfort now,
Her soul’s on fire, her wild locks hide her brow.
She quits her father’s halls, and frenzied roves
The icy mountain and the lonely groves.
Oft as the maidens of the minstrel throng
To hymn great Śiva’s praises raised the song,
The lovelorn lady’s sobs and deep-drawn sighs
Drew tears of pity from their gentle eyes.
Wakeful and fevered in the dreary night
Scarce closed her eyes, and then in wild affright
Rang through the halls her very bitter cry,
‘God of the azure neck, why dost thou fly?’
While their soft bands her loving arms would cast
Hound the dear vision fading all too fast.
Her skilful hand, with true love-guided art,
Had traced the image graven on her heart.
‘Art thou all present? Dost thou fail to see
Poor Umá’s anguish and her love for thee?’
Thus oft in frenzied grief her voice was heard,
Chiding the portrait with reproachful word.
Long thus in vain for Śiva’s love she strove,
Then turned in sorrow to this holy grove.
Since the sad maid hath sought these forest glades
To hide her grief amid the dreary shades,
The fruit hath ripened on the spreading bough;
But ah! no fruit hath crowned her holy vow.
Her faithful friends alone must ever mourn
To see that beauteous form by penance worn,
But oh! that Śiva would some favour deign,
As Indra pitieth the parching plain!’
The maiden ceased: his secret joy dissembling,
The Bráhman turned to Umá pale and trembling:
‘And is it thus, or doth the maiden jest?
Is this the darling secret of thy breast?’
Scarce could the maid her choking voice command,
Or clasp her rosary with quivering hand:
‘O holy Sage, learned in the Vedas’ lore,
‘Tis even thus. Great Śiva I adore.
Thus would my steadfast heart his love obtain,
For this I gladly bear the toil and pain.
Surely the strong desire, the earnest will,
May win some favour from his mercy still.’
‘Lady,’ cried he, ‘that mighty Lord I know;
Ever his presence bringeth care and woe.
And wouldst thou still a second time prepare
The sorrows of his fearful life to share?
Deluded maid, how shall thy tender hand,
Decked with the nuptial bracelet’s jewelled band,
Be clasped in his, when fearful serpents twine
In scaly horror round that arm divine?
How shall thy robe, with gay flamingoes gleaming,
Suit with his coat of hide with blood-drops streaming?
Of old thy pathway led where flowerets sweet
Made pleasant carpets for thy gentle feet.
And e’en thy foes would turn in grief away
To see these vermeil-tinted limbs essay,
Where scattered tresses strew the mournful place,
Their gloomy path amid the tombs to trace.
On Śiva’s heart the funeral ashes rest,
Say, gentle lady, shall they stain thy breast,
Where the rich tribute of the Sandal trees
Sheds a pure odour on the amorous breeze?
A royal bride returning in thy state,
The king of elephants should bear thy weight.
How wilt thou brook the mockery and the scorn
When thou on Śiva’s bull art meanly borne?
Sad that the crescent moon his crest should be:
And shall that mournful fate be shared by thee?
His crest, the glory of the evening skies,
His bride, the moonlight of our wondering eyes!
Deformed is he, his ancestry unknown;
By vilest garb his poverty is shown.
O fawn-eyed lady, how should Śiva gain
That heart for which the glorious strive in vain
No charms hath he to win a maiden’s eye:
Cease from thy penance, hush the fruitless sigh!
Unmeet is he thy faithful heart to share,
Child of the Mountain, maid of beauty rare!
Not ‘mid the gloomy tombs do sages raise
The holy altar of their prayer and praise.’
Impatient Umá listened: the quick blood
Rushed to her temples in an angry flood.
Her quivering lip, her darkly-flashing eye
Told that the tempest of her wrath was nigh.
Proudly she spoke: ‘How couldst thou tell aright
Of one like Śiva, perfect, infinite?
‘Tis ever thus, the mighty and the just
Are scorned by souls that grovel in the dust.
Their lofty goodness and their motives wise
Shine all in vain before such blinded eyes.
Say who is greater, he who strives for power,
Or he who succours in misfortune’s hour?
Refuge of worlds, O how should Śiva deign
To look on men enslaved to paltry gain?
The spring of wealth himself, he careth naught
For the vile treasures that mankind have sought.
His dwelling-place amid the tombs may be,
Yet Monarch of the three great worlds is he.
What though no love his outward form may claim,
The stout heart trembles at his awful name.
Who can declare the wonders of his might?
The Trident-wielding God, who knows aright?
Whether around him deadly serpents twine,
Or if his jewelled wreaths more brightly shine;
Whether in rough and wrinkled hide arrayed,
Or silken robe, in glittering folds displayed;
If on his brow the crescent moon he bear,
Or if a shrunken skull be withering there;
The funeral ashes touched by him acquire
The glowing lustre of eternal fire;
Falling in golden showers, the heavenly maids
Delight to pour them on their shining braids.
What though no treasures fill his storehouse full,
What though he ride upon his horned bull,
Not e’en may Indra in his pride withhold
The lowly homage that is his of old,
But turns his raging elephant to meet
His mighty Lord, and bows before his feet,
Right proud to colour them rich rosy red
With the bright flowers that deck his prostrate head.
Thy slanderous tongue proclaims thy evil mind,
Yet in thy speech one word of truth we find.
Unknown thou call’st him: how should mortal man
Count when the days of Brahmá’s Lord began?
But cease these idle words: though all be true,
His failings many and his virtues few,
Still clings my heart to him, its chosen lord,
Nor fails nor falters at thy treacherous word.
Dear maiden, bid yon eager boy depart:
Why should the slanderous tale defile his heart?
Most guilty who the faithless speech begins,
But he who stays to listen also sins.’
She turned away: with wrath her bosom swelling,
Its vest of bark in angry pride repelling:
But sudden, lo, before her wondering eyes
In altered form she sees the sage arise;
‘Tis Śiva’s self before the astonished maid,
In all his gentlest majesty displayed.
She saw, she trembled, like a river’s course,
Checked for a moment in its onward force,
By some huge rock amid the torrent hurled
Where erst the foaming waters madly curled.
One foot uplifted, shall she turn away?
Unmoved the other, shall the maiden stay?
The silver moon on Śiva’s forehead shone,
While softly spake the God in gracious tone:
‘O gentle maiden, wise and true of soul,
Lo, now I bend beneath thy sweet control.
Won by thy penance, and thy holy vows,
Thy willing slave Śiva before thee bows.’
He spake, and rushing through her languid frame,
At his dear words returning vigour came.
She knew but this, that all her cares were o’er,
Her sorrows ended, she should weep no more!