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Canto I. Hanumán's Leap.

Thus Rávan's foe resolved to trace
The captive to her hiding-place
Through airy pathways overhead
Which heavenly minstrels visited.
With straining nerve and eager brows,
Like some strong husband of the cows,
In ready might he stood prepared
For the bold task his soul has dared.
O'er gem-like grass that flashed and glowed
The Vánar like a lion strode.
Roused by the thunder of his tread,
The beasts to shady coverts fled.
Tall trees he crushed or hurled aside,
And every bird was terrified.
Around him loveliest lilies grew,
Pale pink, and red, and white, and blue,
And tints of many a metal lent
The light of varied ornament.
Gandharvas, changing forms at will,
And Yakshas roamed the lovely hill,
And countless Serpent-Gods were seen
Where flowers and grass were fresh and green.
As some resplendent serpent takes
His pastime in the best of lakes,
So on the mountain's woody height
The Vánar wandered with delight.
Then, standing on the flowery sod,
He paid his vows to saint and God.
Svayambhu(788) and the Sun he prayed,
And the swift Wind to lend him aid,
And Indra, sovereign of the skies,
To bless his hardy enterprise.
Then once again the chief addressed
The Vánars from the mountain crest:
"Swift as a shaft from Ráma's bow
To Rávan's city will I go,
And if she be not there will fly
And seek the lady in the sky;
Or, if in heaven she be not found,
Will hither bring the giant bound."

He ceased; and mustering his might
Sprang downward from the mountain height,
While, shattered by each mighty limb,
The trees unrooted followed him.
The shadow on the ocean cast
By his vast form, as on he passed,
Flew like a ship before the gale
When the strong breeze has filled the sail,
And where his course the Vánar held
The sea beneath him raged and swelled.
Then Gods and all the heavenly train
Poured flowerets down in gentle rain;
Their voices glad Gandharvas raised,
And saints in heaven the Vánar praised.
Fain would the Sea his succour lend
And Raghu's noble son befriend.
He, moved by zeal for Ráma's sake,
The hill Maináka(789) thus bespake:
"O strong Maináka, heaven's decree
In days of old appointed thee
To be the Asurs bar, and keep
The rebels in the lowest deep.
Thou guardest those whom heaven has cursed
Lest from their prison-house they burst,
And standest by the gates of hell
Their limitary sentinel.
To thee is given the power to spread
Or spring above thy watery bed.
Now, best of noble mountains, rise
And do the thing that I advise.
E'en now above thy buried crest
Flies mighty Hanumán, the best
Of Vánars, moved for Ráma's sake
A wonderous deed to undertake.
Lift up thy head that he may stay
And rest him on his weary way."

He heard, and from his watery shroud,
As bursts the sun from autumn cloud,
Rose swifty, crowned with plant and tree,
And stood above the foamy sea.(790)
There with his lofty peaks upraised
Bright as a hundred suns he blazed,
And crest and crag of burnished gold
Flashed on the flood that round him rolled.
The Vánar thought the mountain rose
A hostile bar to interpose,
And, like a wind-swept cloud, o'erthrew
The glittering mountain as he flew.
Then from the falling hill rang out
A warning voice and joyful shout.
Again he raised him high in air
To meet the flying Vánar there,
And standing on his topmost peak
In human form began to speak:(791)
"Best of the Vánars' noblest line,
A mighty task, O chief, is thine.
Here for a while, I pray thee, light
And rest upon the breezy height.
A prince of Raghu's line was he
Who gave his glory to the Sea,(792)
Who now to Ráma's envoy shows
High honour for the debt he owes.
He bade me lift my buried head
Uprising from my watery bed,
And woo the Vánar chief to rest
A moment on my glittering crest.
Refresh thy weary limbs, and eat
My mountain fruits for they are sweet.
I too, O chieftain, know thee well;
Three worlds thy famous virtues tell;
And none, I ween, with thee may vie
Who spring impetuous through the sky.
To every guest, though mean and low.
The wise respect and honour show;
And how shall I neglect thee, how
Slight the great guest so near me now?
Son of the Wind, 'tis thine to share
The might of him who shakes the air;
And,--for he loves his offspring,--he
Is honoured when I honour thee.
Of yore, when Krita's age(793) was new,
The little hills and mountains flew
Where'er they listed, borne on wings
More rapid than the feathered king's.(794)
But mighty terror came on all
The Gods and saints who feared their fall.
And Indra in his anger rent
Their pinions with the bolts he sent.
When in his ruthless fury he
Levelled his flashing bolt at me,
The great-souled Wind inclined to save,
And laid me neath the ocean's wave.
Thus by the favour of the sire
I kept my cherished wings entire;
And for this deed of kindness done
I honour thee his noble son.
O come, thy weary limbs relieve,
And honour due from me receive."
"I may not rest," the Vánar cried;
"I must not stay or turn aside.
Yet pleased am I, thou noblest hill,
And as the deed accept thy will."

Thus as he spoke he lightly pressed
With his broad hand the mountain's crest,
Then bounded upward to the height
Of heaven, rejoicing in his might,
And through the fields of boundless blue,
The pathway of his father, flew.
Gods, saints, and heavenly bards beheld
That flight that none had paralleled,
Then to the Nágas' mother(795) came
And thus addressed the sun-bright dame:
"See, Hanumán with venturous leap
Would spring across the mighty deep,--
A Vánar prince, the Wind-God's seed:
Come, Surasá, his course impede.
In Rákshas form thy shape disguise,
Terrific, like a hill in size:
Let thy red eyes with fury glow,
And high as heaven thy body grow.
With fearful tusks the chief defy,
That we his power and strength may try.
He will with guile thy hold elude,
Or own thy might, by thee subdued."

Pleased with the grateful honours paid,
The godlike dame their words obeyed,
Clad in a shape of terror she
Sprang from the middle of the sea,
And, with fierce accents that appalled
All creatures, to the Vánar called:
"Come, prince of Vánars, doomed to be
My food this day by heaven's decree.
Such boon from ages long ago
To Brahmá's favouring will I owe."

She ceased, and Hanumán replied,
By shape and threat unterrified:
"Brave Ráma with his Maithil spouse
Lodged in the shade of Dandak's boughs,
Thence Rávan king of giants stole
Sítá the joy of Ráma's soul.
By Ráma's high behest to her
I go a willing messenger;
And never shouldst them hinder one
Who toils for Dasaratha's son.
First captive Sítá will I see,
And him who sent and waits for me,
Then come and to thy will submit,
Yea, by my truth I promise it."
"Nay, hope not thus thy life to save;
Not such the boon that Brahmá gave.
Enter my mouth," was her reply,
"Then forward on thy journey hie!"(796)

"Stretch, wider stretch thy jaws," exclaimed
The Vánar chief, to ire inflamed;
And, as the Rákshas near him drew,
Ten leagues in height his stature grew.
Then straight, her threatening jaws between,
A gulf of twenty leagues was seen.
To fifty leagues he waxed, and still
Her mouth grew wider at her will.
Then smaller than a thumb became,
Shrunk by his power, the Vánar's frame.(797)
He leaped within, and turning round
Sprang through the portal at a bound.
Then hung in air a moment, while
He thus addressed her with a smile:
"O Daksha's child,(798) farewell at last!
For I within thy mouth have passed.
Thou hast the gift of Brahmá's grace:
I go, the Maithil queen to trace."
Then, to her former shape restored,
She thus addressed the Vánar lord:
"Then forward to the task, and may
Success and joy attend thy way!
Go, and the rescued lady bring
In triumph to her lord and king."

Then hosts of spirits as they gazed
The daring of the Vánar praised.
Through the broad fields of ether, fast
Garud's royal self, he passed,
The region of the cloud and rain,
Loved by the gay Gandharva train,
Where mid the birds that came and went
Shone Indra's glorious bow unbent,
And like a host of wandering stars
Flashed the high Gods' celestial cars.
Fierce Sinhiká(799) who joyed in ill
And changed her form to work her will,
Descried him on his airy way
And marked the Vánar for her prey.
"This day at length," the demon cried,
"My hunger shall be satisfied,"
And at his passing shadow caught
Delighted with the cheering thought.
The Vánar felt the power that stayed
And held him as she grasped his shade,
Like some tall ship upon the main
That struggles with the wind in vain.
Below, above, his eye he bent
And scanned the sea and firmament.
High from the briny deep upreared
The monster's hideous form appeared,
"Sugríva's tale," he cried, "is true:
This is the demon dire to view
Of whom the Vánar monarch told,
Whose grasp a passing shade can hold."
Then, as a cloud in rain-time grows
His form, dilating, swelled and rose.
Wide as the space from heaven to hell
Her jaws she opened with a yell,
And rushed upon her fancied prey
With cloud-like roar to seize and slay.
The Vánar swift as thought compressed
His borrowed bulk of limb and chest,
And stood with one quick bound inside
The monstrous mouth she opened wide.
Hid like the moon when Ráhu draws
The orb within his ravening jaws.
Within that ample cavern pent
The demon's form he tore and rent,
And, from the mangled carcass freed,
Came forth again with thought-like speed.(800)
Thus with his skill the fiend he slew,
Then to his wonted stature grew.
The spirits saw the demon die
And hailed the Vánar from the sky:
"Well hast thou fought a wondrous fight
Nor spared the fiend's terrific might,
On, on! perform the blameless deed,
And in thine every wish succeed.
Ne'er can they fail in whom combine
Such valour, thought, and skill as thine."

Pleased with their praises as they sang,
Again through fields of air he sprang,
And now, his travail wellnigh done,
The distant shore was almost won.
Before him on the margent stood
In long dark line a waving wood,
And the fair island, bright and green
With flowers and trees, was clearly seen,
And every babbling brook that gave
Her lord the sea a tribute wave.
He lighted down on Lamba's peak
Which tinted metals stain and streak,
And looked where Lanká's splendid town
Shone on the mountain like a crown.