Like some proud tree before the blast
Brave Báli to the ground was cast,
Where prostrate in the dust he rolled
Clad in the sheen of glistening gold,
As when uptorn the standard lies
Of the great God who rules the skies.
When low upon the earth was laid
The lord whom Vánar tribes obeyed,
Dark as a moonless sky no more
His land her joyous aspect wore.
Though low in dust and mire was rolled
The form of Báli lofty-souled,
Still life and valour, might and grace
Clung to their well-loved dwelling-place.
That golden chain with rich gems set,
The choicest gift of Sákra,(585) yet
Preserved his life nor let decay
Steal strength and beauty's light away.
Still from that chain divinely wrought
His dusky form a glory caught,
As a dark cloud, when day is done,
Made splendid by the dying sun.
As fell the hero, crushed in fight,
There beamed afar a triple light
From limbs, from chain, from shaft that drank
His life-blood as the warrior sank.
The never-failing shaft, impelled
By the great bow which Ráma held,
Brought bliss supreme, and lit the way
To Brahmá's worlds which ne'er decay.(586)
Ráma and Lakshman nearer drew
The mighty fallen foe to view,
Mahendra's son, the brave and bold,
The monarch with his chain of gold,
With lustrous face and tawny eyes,
Broad chest, and arms of wondrous size,
Like Lord Mahendra fierce in fight,
Or Vishnu's never-conquered might,
Now fallen like Yayáti(587) sent
From heaven, his store of merit spent,
Like the bright flame that pales and dies,
Like the great sun who fires the skies,
Doomed in the general doom to fall
When time shall end and ruin all.
The wounded Báli, when he saw
Ráma and Lakshman nearer draw,
Keen words to Raghu's son, impressed
With justice' holy stamp, addressed:
"What fame, from one thou hast not slain
In front of battle, canst thou gain,
Whose secret hand has laid me low
When madly fighting with my foe?
From every tongue thy glory rings,
A scion of a line of kings,
True to thy vows, of noblest race,
With every gentle gift and grace:
Whose tender heart for woe can feel,
And joy in every creature's weal:
Whose breast with high ambition swells,
Knows duty's claim and ne'er rebels.
They praise thy valour, patience, ruth,
Thy firmness, self-restraint, and truth:
Thy hand prepared for sin's control,
All virtues of a princely soul.
I thought of all these gifts of thine,
And glories of an ancient line,
I set my Tárá's tears at naught,
I met Sugríva and we fought.
O Ráma, till this fatal morn
I held that thou wouldst surely scorn
To strike me as I fought my foe
And thought not of a stranger's blow,
But now thine evil heart is shown,
A yawning well with grass o'ergrown.
Thou wearest virtue's badge,(588) but guile
And meanest sin thy soul defile.
I took thee not for treacherous fire,
A sinner clad in saint's attire;
Nor deemed thou idly wouldst profess
The show and garb of righteousness.
In fenced town, in open land,
Ne'er hast thou suffered at this hand,
Nor canst of proud contempt complain:
Then wherefore is the guiltless slain?
My harmless life in woods I lead,
On forest fruits and roots I feed.
My foeman in the field I sought,
And ne'er with thee, O Ráma, fought.
Upon thy limbs, O King, I see
The raiment of a devotee;
And how can one like thee, who springs
From a proud line of ancient kings,
Beneath fair virtue's mask, disgrace
His lineage by a deed so base?
From Raghu is thy long descent,
For duteous deeds prëeminent:
Why, sinner clad in saintly dress,
Roamest thou through the wilderness?
Truth, valour, justice free from spot,
The hand that gives and grudges not,
The might that strikes the sinner down,
These bring a prince his best renown.
Here in the woods, O King, we live
On roots and fruit which branches give.(589)
Thus nature framed our harmless race:
Thou art a man supreme in place.
Silver and gold and land provoke
The fierce attack, the robber's stroke,
Canst thou desire this wild retreat,
The berries and the fruit we eat?
'Tis not for mighty kings to tread
The flowery path, by pleasure led.
Theirs be the arm that crushes sin,
Theirs the soft grace to woo and win:
The steadfast will that guides the state,
Wise favour to the good and great;
And for all time are kings renowned
Who blend these arts and ne'er confound.
But thou art weak and swift to ire,
Unstable, slave of each desire.
Thou tramplest duty in the dust,
And in thy bow is all thy trust.
Thou carest naught for noble gain,
And treatest virtue with disdain,
While every sense its captive draws
To follow pleasure's changing laws.
I wronged thee not in word or deed,
But by thy deadly dart I bleed.
What wilt thou, mid the virtuous, say
To purge thy lasting stain away?
All these, O King, must sink to hell,
The regicide, the infidel,
He who in blood and slaughter joys,
A Bráhman or a cow destroys,
Untimely weds in law's despite
Scorning an elder brother's right,(590)
Who dares his Teacher's bed ascend,
The miser, spy, and treacherous friend.
These impious wretches, one and all,
Must to the hell of sinners fall.
My skin the holy may not wear,
Useless to thee my bones and hair;
Nor may my slaughtered body be
The food of devotees like thee.
These five-toed things a man may slay
And feed upon the fallen prey;
The mailed rhinoceros may die,
And, with the hare his food supply.
Iguanas he may kill and eat,
With porcupine and tortoise meat.(591)
But all the wise account it sin
To touch my bones and hair and skin.
My flesh they may not eat; and I
A useless prey, O Ráma, die.
In vain my Tárá reasoned well,
On dull deaf ears her counsel fell.
I scorned her words though sooth and sweet,
And hither rushed my fate to meet.
Ah for the land thou rulest! she
Finds no protection, lord, from thee,
Neglected like some noble dame
By a vile husband dead to shame.
Mean-hearted coward, false and vile,
Whose cruel soul delights in guile,
Could Dasaratha, noblest king,
Beget so mean and base a thing?
Alas! an elephant, in form
Of Ráma, in a maddening storm
Of passion casting to the ground
The girth of law(592) that clipped him round,
Too wildly passionate to feel
The prick of duty's guiding steel,(593)
Has charged me unawares, and dead
I fall beneath his murderous tread.
How, stained with this my base defeat,
How wilt thou dare, where good men meet,
To speak, when every tongue will blame
With keen reproach this deed of shame?
Such hero strength and valour, shown
Upon the innocent alone,
Thou hast not proved in manly strife
On him who robbed thee of thy wife.
Hadst thou but fought in open field
And met me boldly unconcealed,
This day had been thy fate to fall,
Slain by this hand, to Yáma's hall.
In vain I strove, and struck by thee
Fell by a hand I could not see.
Thus bites a snake, for sins of yore,
A sleeping man who wakes no more.
Sugríva's foeman thou hast killed,
And thus his heart's desire fulfilled;
But, Ráma, hadst thou sought me first,
And told the hope thy soul has nursed,
That very day had I restored
The Maithil lady to her lord;
And, binding Rávan with a chain,
Had laid him at thy feet unslain.
Yea, were she sunk in deepest hell,
Or whelmed beneath the ocean's swell,
I would have followed on her track
And brought the rescued lady back,
As Hayagríva(594) once set free
From hell the white Asvatarí.(595)
That when my spirit wings its flight
Sugríva reign, is just and right.
But most unjust, O King, that I,
Slain by thy treacherous hand, should lie.
Be still, my heart: this earthly state
Is darkly ruled by sovereign Fate.
The realm is lost and won: defy
Thy questioners with apt reply."(596)