You are here

Canto IV. Within The City.

The guardian goddess thus subdued,
The Vánar chief his way pursued,
And reached the broad imperial street
Where fresh-blown flowers were bright and sweet.
The city seemed a fairer sky
Where cloud-like houses rose on high,
Whence the soft sound of tabors came
Through many a latticed window frame,
And ever and anon rang out
The merry laugh and joyous shout.
From house to house the Vánar went
And marked each varied ornament,
Where leaves and blossoms deftly strung
About the crystal columns hung.
Then soft and full and sweet and clear
The song of women charmed his ear,
And, blending with their dulcet tones,
Their anklets' chime and tinkling zones.
He heard the Rákshas minstrel sing
The praises of their matchless king;
And softly through the evening air
Came murmurings of text and prayer.
Here moved a priest with tonsured head,
And there an eager envoy sped,
Mid crowds with hair in matted twine
Clothed in the skins of deer and kine,--
Whose only arms, which none might blame,
Were blades of grass and holy flame(806)
There savage warriors roamed in bands
With clubs and maces in their hands,
Some dwarfish forms, some huge of size,
With single ears and single eyes.
Some shone in glittering mail arrayed
With bow and mace and flashing blade;
Fiends of all shapes and every hue,
Some fierce and foul, some fair to view.
He saw the grisly legions wait
In strictest watch at Rávan's gate,
Whose palace on the mountain crest
Rose proudly towering o'er the rest,
Fenced with high ramparts from the foe,
And lotus-covered moats below.
But Hanumán, unhindered, found
Quick passage through the guarded bound,
Mid elephants of noblest breed,
And gilded car and neighing steed.

[I omit Canto V. which corresponds to chapter XI. in Gorresio's edition.
That scholar justly observes: "The eleventh chapter, Description of
Evening, is certainly the work of the Rhapsodists and an interpolation of
later date. The chapter might be omitted without any injury to the action
of the poem, and besides the metre, style, conceits and images differ from
the general tenour of the poem; and that continual repetition of the same
sounds at the end of each hemistich which is not exactly rime, but
assonance, reveals the artificial labour of a more recent age." The
following sample will probably be enough.

Fair shone the moon, as if to lend
His cheering light to guide a friend,
And, circled by the starry host,
Looked down upon the wild sea-coast.
The Vánar cheiftain raised his eyes,
And saw him sailing through the skies
Like a bright swan who joys to take
His pastime on a silver lake;
Fair moon that calms the mourner's pain.
Heaves up the waters of the main,
And o'er the life beneath him throws
A tender light of soft repose,
The charm that clings to Mandar's hill,
Gleams in the sea when winds are still,
And decks the lilly's opening flower,
Showed in that moon her sweetest power.

I am unable to show the difference of style in a translation.]