"Ráma," he cried, "a prince whose sway
All peoples of the earth obey,
To Dandak's tangled forest came
With his brave brother and his dame.
From that dark shade of forest boughs
The giant Rávan stole his spouse.
Our king Sugríva's orders send
These Vánars forth to aid his friend,
That so the lady be restored
Uninjured to her sorrowing lord.
With Angad and the rest, this band
Has wandered through the southern land,
With careful search in every place
The lady and the fiend to trace.
We roamed the southern region o'er,
And stood upon the ocean's shore.
By hunger pressed our strength gave way;
Beneath the spreading trees we lay,
And cried, worn out with toil and woe,
"No farther, comrades, can we go."
Then as our sad eyes looked around
We spied an opening in the ground,
Where all was gloomy dark behind
The creeping plants that o'er it twined.
Forth trooping from the dark-recess
Came swans and mallards numberless,
With drops upon their shining wings
As newly bathed where water springs.
"On, comrades, to the cave," I cried
And all within the portal hied.
Each clasping fast another's hand
Far onward pressed the Vánar band;
And still, as thirst and hunger drove,
We traced the mazes of the grove.
Here thou with hospitable care
Hast fed us with the noblest fare,
Preserving us, about to die,
With this thy plentiful supply.
But how, O pious lady, say,
May we thy gracious boon repay?"
He ceased: the ascetic dame replied:
"Well, Vánars, am I satisfied.
A life of holy works I lead,
And from your hands no service need."
Then spake again the Vánar chief:
"We came to thee and found relief.
Now listen to a new distress,
And aid us, holy votaress.
Our wanderings in this vasty cave
Exhaust the time Sugríva gave.
Once more then, lady, grant release,
And let thy suppliants go in peace
Again upon their errand sped,
For King Sugríva's ire we dread.
And the great task our sovereign set,
Alas, is unaccomplished yet."
Thus Hanumán their leader prayed,
And thus the dame her answer made:
"Scarce may the living find their way
Returning hence to light of day;
But I will free you through the might
Of penance, fast, and holy rite.
Close for a while your eyes, or ne'er
May you return to upper air."
She ceased: the Vánars all obeyed;
Their fingers on their eyes they laid,
And, ere a moment's time had fled,
Were through the mazy cavern led.
Again the gracious lady spoke,
And joy in every bosom woke:
"Lo, here again is Vindhya's hill,
Whose valleys trees and creepers fill;
And, by the margin of the sea,
Prasravan where you fain would be."
With blessings then she bade adieu,
And swift within the cave withdrew.