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Canto III. The Guardian Goddess.

There from the circling rampart's height
He gazed upon the wondrous sight;
Broad gates with burnished gold displayed,
And courts with turkises inlaid;
With gleaming silver, gems, and rows
Of crystal stairs and porticoes.
In semblance of a Rákshas dame
The city's guardian Goddess came,--
For she with glances sure and keen
The entrance of a foe had seen,--
And thus with fury in her eye
Addressed him with an angry cry:
"Who art thou? what has led thee, say,
Within these walls to find thy way?
Thou mayst not enter here in spite
Of Rávan and his warriors' might."
"And who art thou?" the Vánar cried,
By form and frown unterrified,
"Why hast thou met me by the gate,
And chid me thus infuriate?"

He ceased: and Lanká made reply:
"The guardian of the town am I,
Who watch for ever to fulfil
My lord the Rákshas monarch's will.
But thou shalt fall this hour, and deep
Shall be thy never-ending sleep."

Again he spake: "In spite of thee
This golden city will I see.
Her gates and towers, and all the pride
Of street and square from side to side,
And freely wander where I please
Amid her groves of flowering trees;
On all her beauties sate mine eye.
Then, as I came, will homeward hie."

Swift with an angry roar she smote
With her huge hand the Vánar's throat.
The smitten Vánar, rage-impelled,
With fist upraised the monster felled:
But quick repented, stirred with shame
And pity for a vanquished dame,
When with her senses troubled, weak
With terror, thus she strove to speak:
"O spare me thou whose arm is strong:
O spare me, and forgive the wrong.
The brave that law will ne'er transgress
That spares a woman's helplessness.
Hear, best of Vánars, brave and bold,
What Brahmá's self of yore foretold;
"Beware," he said, "the fatal hour
When thou shalt own a Vánar's power.
Then is the giants' day of fear,
For terror and defeat are near."
Now, Vánar chief, o'ercome by thee,
I own the truth of heaven's decree.
For Sítá's sake will ruin fall
On Rávan, and his town, and all."