They heard his counsel to the close,
Then swiftly to their feet they rose;
And Jámbaván with joyous breast
The vulture king again addressed:
"Where, where is Sítá? who has seen,
Who borne away the Maithil queen?
Who would the lightning flight withstand
by Lakshman's hand?"
Again Sampáti spoke to cheer
The Vánars as they bent to hear:
"Now listen, and my words shall show
What of the Maithil dame I know,
And in what distant prison lies
The lady of the long dark eyes.
Scorched by the fiery God of Day,
High on this mighty hill I lay.
A long and weary time had passed,
And strength and life were failing fast.
Yet, ere the breath had left my frame,
My son, my dear Supársva, came.
Each morn and eve he brought me food,
And filial care my life renewed.
But serpents still are swift to ire,
Gandharvas slaves to soft desire,
And we, imperial vultures, need
A full supply our maws to feed.
Once he turned at close of day,
Stood by my side, but brought no prey.
He looked upon my ravenous eye,
Heard my complaint and made reply:
"Borne on swift wings ere day was light
I stood upon Mahendra's(773) height,
And, far below, the sea I viewed
And birds in countless multitude.
Before mine eyes a giant flew
Whose monstrous form was dark of hue
And struggling in his grasp was borne
A lady radiant as the morn.
Swift to the south his course he bent,
And cleft the yielding element.
The holy spirits of the air
Came round me as I marvelled there,
And cried as their bright legions met:
"O say, is Sítá living yet?"
Thus cried the saints and told the name
Of him who held the struggling dame.
Then while mine eye with eager look
Pursued the path the robber took,
I marked the lady's streaming hair,
And heard her cry of wild despair.
I saw her silken vesture rent
And stripped of every ornament,
Thus, O my father, fled the time:
Forgive, I pray, the heedless crime."
In vain the mournful tale I heard
My pitying heart to fury stirred,
What could a helpless bird of air,
Reft of his boasted pinions, dare?
Yet can I aid with all that will
And words can do, and friendly skill."