"THE INDIAN SONG OF SONGS," FROM THE SANSKRIT OF THE GITA GOVINDA OF JAYADEVA TWO BOOKS FROM "THE ILIAD OF INDIA" (MAHABHARATA) "PROVERBIAL WISDOM" FROM THE SHLOKAS OF THE HITOPADESA, AND OTHER ORIENTAL POEMS
SIR EDWIN ARNOLD, M.A., K.C.I.E., C.S.I.
Author of "The Light of Asia"
OFFICER OF THE WHITE ELEPHANT OF SIAM THIRD CLASS OF THE IMPERIAL ORDER OF THE MEDJIDIE FELLOW OF THE ROYAL ASIATIC AND ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETIES HONORARY MEMBER OF THE SOCIETE DE GEOGRAPHIE, MARSEILLES, ETC. ETC. FORMERLY PRINCIPAL OF THE DECCAN COLLEGE, POONA AND FELLOW OF THE UNIVERSITY OF BOMBAY
KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRUBNER & CO. L^TD
DRYDEN HOUSE, GERRARD STREET, W.
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THE INDIAN SONG OF SONGS—
Hymn to Vishnu 3
Sarga the First—The Sports of Krishna 9
Sarga the Second—The Penitence of Krishna 22
Sarga the Third—Krishna troubled 31
Sarga the Fourth—Krishna cheered 37
Sarga the Fifth—The Longings of Krishna 44
Sarga the Sixth—Krishna made bolder 54
Sarga the Seventh—Krishna supposed false 59
Sarga the Eighth—The Rebuking of Krishna 75
Sarga the Ninth—The End of Krishna's Trial 79
Sarga the Tenth—Krishna in Paradise 83
Sarga the Eleventh—The Union of Radha and Krishna 88
MISCELLANEOUS ORIENTAL POEMS—
The Rajpoot Wife 101
King Saladin 113
The Caliph's Draught 132
Hindoo Funeral Song 137
Song of the Serpent Charmers 138
Song of the Flour-Mill 140
Taza ba Taza 142
The Mussulman Paradise 146
Dedication of a Poem from the Sanskrit 150
The Rajah's Ride 151
TWO BOOKS FROM THE "ILIAD OF INDIA" 159
The Great Journey 172
The Entry into Heaven 192
THE NIGHT OF SLAUGHTER 210
THE MORNING PRAYER 216
PROVERBIAL WISDOM FROM THE SHLOKAS OF THE HITOPADESA 221
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THE INDIAN SONG OF SONGS.
REVERENCE TO GANESHA!
"The sky is clouded; and the wood resembles The sky, thick-arched with black Tamala boughs; O Radha, Radha! take this Soul, that trembles In life's deep midnight, to Thy golden house." So Nanda spoke,—and, led by Radha's spirit, The feet of Krishna found the road aright; Wherefore, in bliss which all high hearts inherit, Together taste they Love's divine delight.
He who wrote these things for thee, Of the Son of Wassoodee, Was the poet Jayadeva; Him Saraswati gave ever Fancies fair his mind to throng, Like pictures palace-walls along; Ever to his notes of love Lakshmi's mystic dancers move. If thy spirit seeks to brood On Hari glorious, Hari good; If it feeds on solemn numbers. Dim as dreams and soft as slumbers, Lend thine ear to Jayadev, Lord of all the spells that save. Umapatidhara's strain Glows like roses after rain; Sharan's stream-like song is grand, If its tide ye understand; Bard more wise beneath the sun Is not found than Govardhun; Dhoyi holds the listener still With his shlokes of subtle skill; But for sweet words suited well Jayadeva doth excel.
(What follows is to the Music MALAVA and the Mode RUPAKA.)
HYMN TO VISHNU
O thou that held'st the blessed Veda dry When all things else beneath the floods were hurled; Strong Fish-God! Ark of Men! Jai! Hari, jai! Hail, Keshav, hail! thou Master of the world!
The round world rested on thy spacious nape; Upon thy neck, like a mere mole, it stood: O thou that took'st for us the Tortoise-shape, Hail, Keshav, hail! Ruler of wave and wood!
The world upon thy curving tusk sate sure, Like the Moon's dark disc in her crescent pale; O thou who didst for us assume the Boar, Immortal Conqueror! hail, Keshav, hail!
When thou thy Giant-Foe didst seize and rend, Fierce, fearful, long, and sharp were fang and nail; Thou who the Lion and the Man didst blend, Lord of the Universe! hail, Narsingh, hail!
Wonderful Dwarf!—who with a threefold stride Cheated King Bali—where thy footsteps fall Men's sins, O Wamuna! are set aside: O Keshav, hail! thou Help and Hope of all!
The sins of this sad earth thou didst assoil, The anguish of its creatures thou didst heal; Freed are we from all terrors by thy toil: Hail, Purshuram, hail! Lord of the biting steel!
To thee the fell Ten-Headed yielded life, Thou in dread battle laid'st the monster low! Ah, Rama! dear to Gods and men that strife; We praise thee, Master of the matchless bow!
With clouds for garments glorious thou dost fare, Veiling thy dazzling majesty and might, As when Yamuna saw thee with the share, A peasant—yet the King of Day and Night.
Merciful-hearted! when thou earnest as Boodh— Albeit 'twas written in the Scriptures so— Thou bad'st our altars be no more imbrued With blood of victims: Keshav! bending low—
We praise thee, Wielder of the sweeping sword, Brilliant as curving comets in the gloom, Whose edge shall smite the fierce barbarian horde; Hail to thee, Keshav! hail, and hear, and come,
And fill this song of Jayadev with thee, And make it wise to teach, strong to redeem, And sweet to living souls. Thou Mystery! Thou Light of Life! Thou Dawn beyond the dream!
Fish! that didst outswim the flood; Tortoise! whereon earth hath stood; Boar! who with thy tush held'st high The world, that mortals might not die; Lion! who hast giants torn; Dwarf! who laugh'dst a king to scorn; Sole Subduer of the Dreaded! Slayer of the many-headed! Mighty Ploughman! Teacher tender! Of thine own the sure Defender! Under all thy ten disguises Endless praise to thee arises.
(What follows is to the Music GURJJARI and the Mode NIHSARA.)
Endless praise arises, O thou God that liest Rapt, on Kumla's breast, Happiest, holiest, highest! Planets are thy jewels, Stars thy forehead-gems, Set like sapphires gleaming In kingliest anadems; Even the great gold Sun-God, Blazing through the sky, Serves thee but for crest-stone, Jai, jai! Hari, jai! As that Lord of day After night brings morrow, Thou dost charm away Life's long dream of sorrow. As on Mansa's water Brood the swans at rest, So thy laws sit stately On a holy breast. O, Drinker of the poison! Ah, high Delight of earth! What light is to the lotus-buds, What singing is to mirth, Art thou—art thou that slayedst Madhou and Narak grim; That ridest on the King of Birds, Making all glories dim. With eyes like open lotus-flowers, Bright in the morning rain, Freeing by one swift piteous glance The spirit from Life's pain: Of all the three Worlds Treasure! Of sin the Putter-by! O'er the Ten-Headed Victor! Jai Hari! Hari! jai! Thou Shaker of the Mountain! Thou Shadow of the Storm! Thou Cloud that unto Lakshmi's face Comes welcome, white, and warm! O thou,—who to great Lakshmi Art like the silvery beam Which moon-sick chakors feed upon By Jumna's silent stream,— To thee this hymn ascendeth, That Jayadev doth sing, Of worship, love, and mystery High Lord and Heavenly King! And unto whoso hears it Do thou a blessing bring— Whose neck is gilt with yellow dust From lilies that did cling Beneath the breasts of Lakshmi, A girdle soft and sweet, When in divine embracing The lips of Gods did meet; And the beating heart above Of thee—Dread Lord of Heaven!— She left that stamp of love— By such deep sign be given Prays Jayadev, the glory And the secret and the spells Which close-hid in this story Unto wise ears he tells.
END OF INTRODUCTION.
SARGA THE FIRST.
THE SPORTS OF KRISHNA.
Beautiful Radha, jasmine-bosomed Radha, All in the Spring-time waited by the wood For Krishna fair, Krishna the all-forgetful,— Krishna with earthly love's false fire consuming— And some one of her maidens sang this song:—
(What follows is to the Music VASANTA and the Mode YATI.)
I know where Krishna tarries in these early days of Spring, When every wind from warm Malay brings fragrance on its wing; Brings fragrance stolen far away from thickets of the clove, In jungles where the bees hum and the Koil flutes her love; He dances with the dancers of a merry morrice one, All in the budding Spring-time, for 'tis sad to be alone.
I know how Krishna passes these hours of blue and gold When parted lovers sigh to meet and greet and closely hold Hand fast in hand; and every branch upon the Vakul-tree Droops downward with a hundred blooms, in every bloom a bee; He is dancing with the dancers to a laughter-moving tone, In the soft awakening Spring-time, when 'tis hard to live alone.
Where Kroona-flowers, that open at a lover's lightest tread, Break, and, for shame at what they hear, from white blush modest red; And all the spears on all the boughs of all the Ketuk-glades Seem ready darts to pierce the hearts of wandering youths and maids; Tis there thy Krishna dances till the merry drum is done, All in the sunny Spring-time, when who can live alone?
Where the breaking forth of blossom on the yellow Keshra-sprays Dazzles like Kama's sceptre, whom all the world obeys; And Patal-buds fill drowsy bees from pink delicious bowls, As Kama's nectared goblet steeps in languor human souls; There he dances with the dancers, and of Radha thinketh none, All in the warm new Spring-tide, when none will live alone.
Where the breath of waving Madhvi pours incense through the grove, And silken Mogras lull the sense with essences of love,— The silken-soft pale Mogra, whose perfume fine and faint Can melt the coldness of a maid, the sternness of a saint— There dances with those dancers thine other self, thine Own, All in the languorous Spring-time, when none will live alone.
Where—as if warm lips touched sealed eyes and waked them—all the bloom Opens upon the mangoes to feel the sunshine come; And Atimuktas wind their arms of softest green about, Clasping the stems, while calm and clear great Jumna spreadeth out; There dances and there laughs thy Love, with damsels many an one, In the rosy days of Spring-time, for he will not live alone.
Mark this song of Jayadev! Deep as pearl in ocean-wave Lurketh in its lines a wonder Which the wise alone will ponder: Though it seemeth of the earth. Heavenly is the music's birth; Telling darkly of delights In the wood, of wasted nights, Of witless days, and fruitless love, And false pleasures of the grove, And rash passions of the prime, And those dances of Spring-time; Time, which seems so subtle-sweet, Time, which pipes to dancing-feet, Ah! so softly—ah! so sweetly— That among those wood-maids featly Krishna cannot choose but dance, Letting pass life's greater chance.
Yet the winds that sigh so As they stir the rose, Wake a sigh from Krishna Wistfuller than those; All their faint breaths swinging The creepers to and fro Pass like rustling arrows Shot from Kama's bow: Thus among the dancers What those zephyrs bring Strikes to Krishna's spirit Like a darted sting.
And all as if—far wandered— The traveller should hear The bird of home, the Koil, With nest-notes rich and clear; And there should come one moment A blessed fleeting dream Of the bees among the mangoes Beside his native stream; So flash those sudden yearnings, That sense of a dearer thing, The love and lack of Radha Upon his soul in Spring.
Then she, the maid of Radha, spake again; And pointing far away between the leaves Guided her lovely Mistress where to look, And note how Krishna wantoned in the wood Now with this one, now that; his heart, her prize, Panting with foolish passions, and his eyes Beaming with too much love for those fair girls— Fair, but not so as Radha; and she sang:
(What follows is to the Music RAMAGIRI and the Mode YATI.)
See, Lady! how thy Krishna passes these idle hours Decked forth in fold of woven gold, and crowned with forest-flowers; And scented with the sandal, and gay with gems of price— Rubies to mate his laughing lips, and diamonds like his, eyes;— In the company of damsels, who dance and sing and play, Lies Krishna, laughing, toying, dreaming his Spring away.
[Footnote 1: It will be observed that the "Gopis" here personify the five senses. Lassen says, "Manifestum est puellis istis nil aliud significar quam res sensiles."]
One, with star-blossomed champak wreathed, wooes him to rest his head On the dark pillow of her breast so tenderly outspread; And o'er his brow with, roses blown she fans a fragrance rare, That falls on the enchanted sense like rain in thirsty air, While the company of damsels wave many an odorous spray, And Krishna, laughing, toying, sighs the soft Spring away.
Another, gazing in his face, sits wistfully apart, Searching it with those looks of love that leap from heart to heart; Her eyes—afire with shy desire, veiled by their lashes black— Speak so that Krishna cannot choose but send the message back, In the company of damsels whose bright eyes in a ring Shine round him with soft meanings in the merry light of Spring.
The third one of that dazzling band of dwellers in the wood— Body and bosom panting with the pulse of youthful blood— Leans over him, as in his ear a lightsome thing to speak, And then with leaf-soft lip imprints a kiss below his cheek; A kiss that thrills, and Krishna turns at the silken touch To give it back—ah, Radha! forgetting thee too much.
And one with arch smile beckons him away from Jumna's banks, Where the tall bamboos bristle like spears in battle-ranks, And plucks his cloth to make him come into the mango-shade, Where the fruit is ripe and golden, and the milk and cakes are laid: Oh! golden-red the mangoes, and glad the feasts of Spring, And fair the flowers to lie upon, and sweet the dancers sing.
Sweetest of all that Temptress who dances for him now With subtle feet which part and meet in the Ras-measure slow, To the chime of silver bangles and the beat of rose-leaf hands, And pipe and lute and cymbal played by the woodland bands; So that wholly passion-laden—eye, ear, sense, soul o'ercome— Krishna is theirs in the forest; his heart forgets its home.
Krishna, made for heavenly things, 'Mid those woodland singers sings; With those dancers dances featly, Gives back soft embraces sweetly; Smiles on that one, toys with this, Glance for glance and kiss for kiss; Meets the merry damsels fairly, Plays the round of folly rarely, Lapped in milk-warm spring-time weather, He and those brown girls together.
And this shadowed earthly love In the twilight of the grove, Dance and song and soft caresses, Meeting looks and tangled tresses, Jayadev the same hath writ, That ye might have gain of it, Sagely its deep sense conceiving And its inner light believing; How that Love—the mighty Master, Lord of all the stars that cluster In the sky, swiftest and slowest, Lord of highest, Lord of lowest— Manifests himself to mortals, Winning them towards the portals Of his secret House, the gates Of that bright Paradise which waits The wise in love. Ah, human creatures! Even your phantasies are teachers. Mighty Love makes sweet in seeming Even Krishna's woodland dreaming; Mighty Love sways all alike From self to selflessness. Oh! strike From your eyes the veil, and see What Love willeth Him to be Who in error, but in grace, Sitteth with that lotus-face, And those eyes whose rays of heaven Unto phantom-eyes are given; Holding feasts of foolish mirth With these Visions of the earth; Learning love, and love imparting; Yet with sense of loss upstarting:—
For the cloud that veils the fountains Underneath the Sandal mountains, How—as if the sunshine drew All its being to the blue— It takes flight, and seeks to rise High into the purer skies, High into the snow and frost, On the shining summits lost! Ah! and how the Koil's strain Smites the traveller with pain,— When the mango blooms in spring, And "Koohoo," "Koohoo," they sing— Pain of pleasures not yet won, Pain of journeys not yet done, Pain of toiling without gaining, Pain, 'mid gladness, of still paining.
But may He guide us all to glory high Who laughed when Radha glided, hidden, by, And all among those damsels free and bold Touched Krishna with a soft mouth, kind and cold; And like the others, leaning on his breast, Unlike the others, left there Love's unrest; And like the others, joining in his song, Unlike the others, made him silent long.
(Here ends that Sarga of the Gita Govinda entitled SAMODADAMODARO.)
SARGA THE SECOND.
THE PENITENCE OF KRISHNA.
Thus lingered Krishna in the deep, green wood, And gave himself, too prodigal, to those; But Radha, heart-sick at his falling-off, Seeing her heavenly beauty slighted so, Withdrew; and, in a bower of Paradise— Where nectarous blossoms wove a shrine of shade, Haunted by birds and bees of unknown skies— She sate deep-sorrowful, and sang this strain,
(What follows is to the Music GURJJARI and the Mode YATI.)
Ah, my Beloved! taken with those glances, Ah, my Beloved! dancing those rash dances, Ah, Minstrel! playing wrongful strains so well; Ah, Krishna! Krishna with the honeyed lip! Ah, Wanderer into foolish fellowship! My Dancer, my Delight!—I love thee still.
O Dancer! strip thy peacock-crown away, Rise! thou whose forehead is the star of day, With beauty for its silver halo set; Come! thou whose greatness gleams beneath its shroud Like Indra's rainbow shining through the cloud— Come, for I love thee, my Beloved! yet.
Must love thee—cannot choose but love thee ever, My best Beloved—set on this endeavor, To win thy tender heart and earnest eye From lips but sadly sweet, from restless bosoms, To mine, O Krishna with the mouth of blossoms! To mine, thou soul of Krishna! yet I sigh
Half hopeless, thinking of myself forsaken, And thee, dear Loiterer, in the wood o'ertaken With passion for those bold and wanton ones, Who knit thine arms as poison-plants gripe trees With twining cords—their flowers the braveries That flash in the green gloom, sparkling stars and stones.
My Prince! my Lotus-faced! my woe! my love! Whose broad brow, with the tilka-spot above, Shames the bright moon at full with fleck of cloud; Thou to mistake so little for so much! Thou, Krishna, to be palm to palm with such! O Soul made for my joys, pure, perfect, proud!
Ah, my Beloved! in thy darkness dear; Ah, Dancer! with the jewels in thine ear, Swinging to music of a loveless love; O my Beloved! in thy fall so high That angels, sages, spirits of the sky Linger about thee, watching in the grove.
I will be patient still, and draw thee ever, My one Beloved, sitting by the river Under the thick kadambas with that throng: Will there not come an end to earthly madness? Shall I not, past the sorrow, have the gladness? Must not the love-light shine for him ere long?
Shine, thou Light by Radha given, Shine, thou splendid star of heaven! Be a lamp to Krishna's feet, Show to all hearts secrets sweet, Of the wonder and the love Jayadev hath writ above. Be the quick Interpreter Unto wisest ears of her Who always sings to all, "I wait, He loveth still who loveth late."
For (sang on that high Lady in the shade) My soul for tenderness, not blame, was made; Mine eyes look through his evil to his good; My heart coins pleas for him; my fervent thought Prevents what he will say when these are naught, And that which I am shall be understood.
Then spake she to her maiden wistfully—
(What follows is to the Music MALAVAGAUDA and the Mode EKATALI.)
Go to him,—win him hither,—whisper low How he may find me if he searches well; Say, if he will—joys past his hope to know Await him here; go now to him, and tell Where Radha is, and that henceforth she charms His spirit to her arms.
Yes, go! say, if he will, that he may come— May come, my love, my longing, my desire; May come forgiven, shriven, to me his home, And make his happy peace; nay, and aspire To uplift Radha's veil, and learn at length What love is in its strength.
Lead him; say softly I shall chide his blindness, And vex him with my angers; yet add this, He shall not vainly sue for loving-kindness, Nor miss to see me close, nor lose the bliss That lives upon my lip, nor be denied The rose-throne at my side.
Say that I—Radha—in my bower languish All widowed, till he find the way to me; Say that mine eyes are dim, my breast all anguish, Until with gentle murmured shame I see His steps come near, his anxious pleading face Bend for my pardoning grace.
While I—what, did he deem light loves so tender, To tarry for them when the vow was made To yield him up my bosom's maiden splendour, And fold him in my fragrance, and unbraid My shining hair for him, and clasp him close To the gold heart of his Rose?
And sing him strains which only spirits know, And make him captive with the silk-soft chain Of twinned-wings brooding round him, and bestow Kisses of Paradise, as pure as rain; My gems, my moonlight-pearls, my girdle-gold, Cymbaling music bold?
While gained for ever, I shall dare to grow Life to life with him, in the realms divine; And—Love's large cup at happy overflow, Yet ever to be filled—his eyes and mine Will meet in that glad look, when Time's great gate Closes and shuts out Fate.
Listen to the unsaid things Of the song that Radha sings, For the soul draws near to bliss, As it comprehendeth this. I am Jayadev, who write All this subtle-rich delight For your teaching. Ponder, then, What it tells to Gods and men. Err not, watching Krishna gay, With those brown girls all at play; Understand how Radha charms Her wandering lover to her arms, Waiting with divinest love Till his dream ends in the grove.
For even now (she sang) I see him pause, Heart-stricken with the waste of heart he makes Amid them;—all the bows of their bent brows Wound him no more: no more for all their sakes Plays he one note upon his amorous lute, But lets the strings lie mute.
Pensive, as if his parted lips should say—
"My feet with the dances are weary, The music has dropped from the song, There is no more delight in the lute-strings, Sweet Shadows! what thing has gone wrong? The wings of the wind have left fanning The palms of the glade; They are dead, and the blossoms seem dying In the place where we played.
"We will play no more, beautiful Shadows! A fancy came solemn and sad, More sweet, with unspeakable longings, Than the best of the pleasures we had: I am not now the Krishna who kissed you; That exquisite dream,— The Vision I saw in my dancing— Has spoiled what you seem.
"Ah! delicate phantoms that cheated With eyes that looked lasting and true, I awake,—I have seen her,—my angel— Farewell to the wood and to you! Oh, whisper of wonderful pity! Oh, fair face that shone! Though thou be a vision, Divinest! This vision is done."
(Here ends that Sarga of the Gita Govinda entitled KLESHAKESHAVO.)
SARGA THE THIRD.
Thereat,—as one who welcomes to her throne A new-made Queen, and brings before it bound Her enemies,—so Krishna in his heart Throned Radha; and—all treasonous follies chained— He played no more with those first play-fellows: But, searching through the shadows of the grove For loveliest Radha,—when he found her not, Faint with the quest, despairing, lonely, lorn, And pierced with shame for wasted love and days, He sate by Jumna, where the canes are thick, And sang to the wood-echoes words like these:
(What follows is to the Music GURJJARI and to the Mode YATI)
Radha, Enchantress! Radha, queen of all! Gone—lost, because she found me sinning here; And I so stricken with my foolish fall, I could not stay her out of shame and fear; She will not hear; In her disdain and grief vainly I call.
And if she heard, what would she do? what say? How could I make it good that I forgot? What profit was it to me, night and day, To live, love, dance, and dream, having her not? Soul without spot! I wronged thy patience, till it sighed away.
Sadly I know the truth. Ah! even now Remembering that one look beside the river, Softer the vexed eyes seem, and the proud brow Than lotus-leaves when the bees make them quiver. My love for ever! Too late is Krishna wise—too far art thou!
Yet all day long in my deep heart I woo thee, And all night long with thee my dreams are sweet; Why, then, so vainly must my steps pursue thee? Why can I never reach thee, to entreat, Low at thy feet, Dear vanished Splendour! till my tears subdue thee?
Surpassing One! I knew thou didst not brook Half-hearted worship, and a love that wavers; Haho! there is the wisdom I mistook, Therefore I seek with desperate endeavours; That fault dissevers Me from my heaven, astray—condemned—forsook!
And yet I seem to feel, to know, thee near me; Thy steps make music, measured music, near: Radha! my Radha! will not sorrow clear me? Shine once! speak one word pitiful and dear! Wilt thou not hear? Canst thou—because I did forget—forsake me?
Forgive! the sin is sinned, is past, is over; No thought I think shall do thee wrong again; Turn thy dark eyes again upon thy lover Bright Spirit! or I perish of this pain. Loving again! In dread of doom to love, but not recover.
So did Krishna sing and sigh By the river-bank; and I, Jayadev of Kinduvilva, Resting—as the moon of silver Sits upon the solemn ocean— On full faith, in deep devotion; Tell it that ye may perceive How the heart must fret and grieve; How the soul doth tire of earth, When the love from Heav'n hath birth.
For (sang he on) I am no foe of thine, There is no black snake, Kama! in my hair; Blue lotus-bloom, and not the poisoned brine, Shadows my neck; what stains my bosom bare, Thou God unfair! Is sandal-dust, not ashes; nought of mine.
Makes me like Shiva that thou, Lord of Love! Shouldst strain thy string at me and fit thy dart; This world is thine—let be one breast thereof Which bleeds already, wounded to the heart With lasting smart, Shot from those brows that did my sin reprove.
Thou gavest her those black brows for a bow Arched like thine own, whose pointed arrows seem Her glances, and the underlids that go— So firm and fine—its string? Ah, fleeting gleam! Beautiful dream! Small need of Kama's help hast thou, I trow,
To smite me to the soul with love;—but set Those arrows to their silken cord! enchain My thoughts in that loose hair! let thy lips, wet With dew of heaven as bimba-buds with rain, Bloom precious pain Of longing in my heart; and, keener yet,
The heaving of thy lovely, angry bosom, Pant to my spirit things unseen, unsaid; But if thy touch, thy tones, if the dark blossom Of thy dear face, thy jasmine-odours shed From feet to head, If these be all with me, canst thou be far—be fled?
So sang he, and I pray that whoso hears The music of his burning hopes and fears, That whoso sees this vision by the River Of Krishna, Hari, (can we name him ever?) And marks his ear-ring rubies swinging slow, As he sits still, unheedful, bending low To play this tune upon his lute, while all Listen to catch the sadness musical; And Krishna wotteth nought, but, with set face Turned full toward Radha's, sings on in that place; May all such souls—prays Jayadev—be wise To lean the wisdom which hereunder lies.
(Here ends that Sarga of the Gita Govinda entitled MUGDHAMADHUSUDANO.)
SARGA THE FOURTH.
Then she whom Radha sent came to the canes— The canes beside the river where he lay With listless limbs and spirit weak from love;— And she sang this to Krishna wistfully:
(What follows is to the Music KARNATA and the Mode EKATALI.)
Art thou sick for Radha? she is sad in turn, Heaven foregoes its blessings, if it holds not thee, All the cooling fragrance of sandal she doth spurn, Moonlight makes her mournful with radiance silvery; Even the southern breeze blown fresh from pearly seas, Seems to her but tainted by a dolorous brine; And for thy sake discontented, with a great love overladen, Her soul comes here beside thee, and sitteth down with thine.
Her soul comes here beside thee, and tenderly and true It weaves a subtle mail of proof to ward off sin and pain; A breastplate soft as lotus-leaf, with holy tears for dew, To guard thee from the things that hurt; and then 'tis gone again To strew a blissful place with the richest buds that grace Kama's sweet world, a meeting-spot with rose and jasmine fair, For the hour when, well-contented, with a love no longer troubled, Thou shalt find the way to Radha, and finish sorrows there.
But now her lovely face is shadowed by her fears; Her glorious eyes are veiled and dim like moonlight in eclipse By breaking rain-clouds, Krishna! yet she paints you in her tears With tender thoughts—not Krishna, but brow and breast and lips And form and mien a King, a great and godlike thing; And then with bended head she asks grace from the Love Divine, To keep thee discontented with the phantoms thou forswearest, Till she may win her glory, and thou be raised to thine.
Softly now she sayeth, "Krishna, Krishna, come!" Lovingly she prayeth, "Fair moon, light him home." Yet if Hari helps not, Moonlight cannot aid; Ah! the woeful Radha! Ah! the forest shade!
Ah! if Hari guide not, Moonlight is as gloom; Ah! if moonlight help not, How shall Krishna come? Sad for Krishna grieving In the darkened grove; Sad for Radha weaving Dreams of fruitless love!
Strike soft strings to this soft measure, If thine ear would catch its treasure; Slowly dance to this deep song, Let its meaning float along With grave paces, since it tells Of a love that sweetly dwells In a tender distant glory, Past all faults of mortal story.
(What follows is to the Music DESHAGA and the Mode EKATALI.)
Krishna, till thou come unto her, faint she lies with love and fear; Even the jewels of her necklet seem a load too great to bear.
Krishna, till thou come unto her, all the sandal and the flowers Vex her with their pure perfection though they grow in heavenly bowers.
Krishna, till thou come unto her, fair albeit those bowers may be, Passion burns her, and love's fire fevers her for lack of thee.
Krishna, till thou come unto her, those divine lids, dark and tender, Droop like lotus-leaves in rain-storms, dashed and heavy in their splendour.
Krishna, till thou come unto her, that rose-couch which she hath spread Saddens with its empty place, its double pillow for one head.
Krishna, till thou come unto her, from her palms she will not lift The dark face hidden deep within them like the moon in cloudy rift.
Krishna, till thou come unto her, angel though she be, thy Love Sighs and suffers, waits and watches—joyless 'mid those joys above.
Krishna, till them come unto her, with the comfort of thy kiss Deeper than thy loss, O Krishna! must be loss of Radha's bliss.
Krishna, while thou didst forget her—her, thy life, thy gentle fate— Wonderful her waiting was, her pity sweet, her patience great.
Krishna, come! 'tis grief untold to grieve her—shame to let her sigh; Come, for she is sick with love, and thou her only remedy.
So she sang, and Jayadeva Prays for all, and prays for ever. That Great Hari may bestow Utmost bliss of loving so On us all;—that one who wore The herdsman's form, and heretofore, To save the shepherd's threatened flock, Up from the earth reared the huge rock— Bestow it with a gracious hand, Albeit, amid the woodland band, Clinging close in fond caresses Krishna gave them ardent kisses, Taking on his lips divine Earthly stamp and woodland sign.
(Here ends that Sarga of the Gita Govinda entitled SNIGDHAMADHUSUDANO).
SARGA THE FIFTH.
THE LONGINGS OF KRISHNA.
"Say I am here! oh, if she pardons me, Say where I am, and win her softly hither." So Krishna to the maid; and willingly She came again to Radha, and she sang:
(What follows is to the Music DESHIVARADI and the Mode RUPAKA.)
Low whispers the wind from Malaya Overladen with love; On the hills all the grass is burned yellow; And the trees in the grove Droop with tendrils that mock by their clinging The thoughts of the parted; And there lies, sore-sighing for thee, Thy love, altered-hearted.
To him the moon's icy-chill silver Is a sun at midday; The fever he burns with is deeper Than starlight can stay: Like one who falls stricken by arrows, With the colour departed From all but his red wounds, so lies Thy love, bleeding-hearted.
To the music the banded bees make him He closeth his ear; In the blossoms their small horns are blowing The honey-song clear; But as if every sting to his bosom Its smart had imparted, Low lies by the edge of the river, Thy love, aching-hearted.
By the edge of the river, far wandered From his once beloved bowers, And the haunts of his beautiful playmates, And the beds strewn with flowers; Now thy name is his playmate—that only!— And the hard rocks upstarted From the sand make the couch where he lies, Thy Krishna, sad-hearted.
Oh may Hari fill each soul, As these gentle verses roll Telling of the anguish borne By kindred ones asunder torn! Oh may Hari unto each All the lore of loving teach, All the pain and all the bliss; Jayadeva prayeth this!
Yea, Lady! in the self-same spot he waits Where with thy kiss thou taught'st him utmost love, And drew him, as none else draws, with thy look; And all day long, and all night long, his cry Is "Radha, Radha," like a spell said o'er:
And in his heart there lives no wish nor hope Save only this, to slake his spirit's thirst For Radha's love with Radha's lips; and find Peace on the immortal beauty of thy breast.
(What follows is to the Music GURJJARI and the Mode EKATALI.)
Mistress, sweet and bright and holy! Meet him in that place; Change his cheerless melancholy Into joy and grace; If thou hast forgiven, vex not; If thou lovest, go, Watching ever by the river, Krishna listens low:
Listens low, and on his reed there Softly sounds thy name, Making even mute things plead there For his hope: 'tis shame That, while winds are welcome to him, If from thee they blow, Mournful ever by the river Krishna waits thee so!
When a bird's wing stirs the roses, When a leaf falls dead, Twenty times he recomposes The flower-seat he has spread: Twenty times, with anxious glances Seeking thee in vain, Sighing ever by the river, Krishna droops again.
Loosen from thy foot the bangle, Lest its golden bell, With a tiny, tattling jangle, Any false tale tell: If thou fearest that the moonlight Will thy glad face know, Draw those dark braids lower, Lady! But to Krishna go.
Swift and still as lightning's splendour Let thy beauty come, Sudden, gracious, dazzling, tender, To his arms—its home. Swift as Indra's yellow lightning, Shining through the night, Glide to Krishna's lonely bosom, Take him love and light.
Grant, at last, love's utmost measure, Giving, give the whole; Keep back nothing of the treasure Of thy priceless soul: Hold with both hands out unto him Thy chalice, let him drain The nectar of its dearest draught, Till not a wish remain.
Only go—the stars are setting, And thy Krishna grieves; Doubt and anger quite forgetting, Hasten through the leaves: Wherefore didst thou lead him heav'nward But for this thing's sake? Comfort him with pity, Radha! Or his heart must break.
But while Jayadeva writes This rare tale of deep delights— Jayadev, whose heart is given Unto Hari, Lord in Heaven— See that ye too, as ye read, With a glad and humble heed, Bend your brows before His face, That ye may have bliss and grace.
And then the Maid, compassionate, sang on—
Lady, most sweet! For thy coming feet He listens in the wood, with love sore-tried; Faintly sighing, Like one a-dying, He sends his thoughts afoot to meet his bride.
Ah, silent one! Sunk is the sun, The darkness falls as deep as Krishna's sorrow; The chakor's strain Is not more vain Than mine, and soon gray dawn will bring white morrow.
And thine own bliss Delays by this; The utmost of thy heaven comes only so When, with hearts beating And passionate greeting, Parting is over, and the parted grow.
One—one for ever! And the old endeavour To be so blended is assuaged at last; And the glad tears raining Have nought remaining Of doubt or 'plaining; and the dread has passed.
Out of each face, In the close embrace, That by-and-by embracing will be over; The ache that causes Those mournful pauses In bowers of earth between lover and lover:
To be no more felt, To fade, to melt In the strong certainty of joys immortal; In the glad meeting, And quick sweet greeting Of lips that close beyond Time's shadowy portal.
And to thee is given, Angel of Heaven! This glory and this joy with Krishna. Go! Let him attain, For his long pain, The prize it promised,—see thee coming slow,
A vision first, but then— By glade and glen— A lovely, loving soul, true to its home; His Queen—his Crown—his All, Hast'ning at last to fall Upon his breast, and live there. Radha, come!
Come! and come thou, Lord of all, Unto whom the Three Worlds call; Thou, that didst in angry might, Kansa, like a comet, smite; Thou, that in thy passion tender, As incarnate spell and splendour, Hung on Radha's glorious face— In the garb of Krishna's grace— As above the bloom the bee, When the honeyed revelry Is too subtle-sweet an one Not to hang and dally on; Thou that art the Three Worlds' glory, Of life the light, of every story The meaning and the mark, of love The root and, flower, o' the sky above The blue, of bliss the heart, of those, The lovers, that which did impose The gentle law, that each should be The other's Heav'n and harmony.
(Here ends that Sarga of the Gita Govinda entitled SAKANDKSILAPUNDARIKAKSHO.)
SARGA THE SIXTH.
KRISHNA MADE BOLDER.
But seeing that, for all her loving will, The flower-soft feet of Radha had not power To leave their place and go, she sped again— That maiden—and to Krishna's eager ears Told how it fared with his sweet mistress there.
(What follows is to the Music GONDAKIRI and the Mode RUPAKA.)
Krishna! 'tis thou must come, (she sang) Ever she waits thee in heavenly bower; The lotus seeks not the wandering bee, The bee must find the flower.
All the wood over her deep eyes roam, Marvelling sore where tarries the bee, Who leaves such lips of nectar unsought As those that blossom for thee.
Her steps would fail if she tried to come, Would falter and fail, with yearning weak; At the first of the road they would falter and pause, And the way is strange to seek.
Find her where she is sitting, then, With lotus-blossom on ankle and arm Wearing thine emblems, and musing of nought But the meeting to be—glad, warm.
To be—"but wherefore tarrieth he?" "What can stay or delay him?—go! See if the soul of Krishna comes," Ten times she sayeth to me so;
Ten times lost in a languorous swoon, "Now he cometh—he cometh," she cries; And a love-look lightens her eyes in the gloom, And the darkness is sweet with her sighs.
Till, watching in vain, she glideth again Under the shade of the whispering leaves; With a heart too full of its love at last To heed how her bosom heaves.
Shall not these fair verses swell The number of the wise who dwell In the realm of Kama's bliss? Jayadeva prayeth this, Jayadev, the bard of Love, Servant of the Gods above.
For all so strong in Heaven itself Is Love, that Radha sits drooping there, Her beautiful bosoms panting with thought, And the braids drawn back from her ear.
And—angel albeit—her rich lips breathe Sighs, if sighs were ever so sweet; And—if spirits can tremble—she trembles now From forehead to jewelled feet.
And her voice of music sinks to a sob, And her eyes, like eyes of a mated roe, Are tender with looks of yielded love, With dreams dreamed long ago;
Long—long ago, but soon to grow truth, To end, and be waking and certain and true; Of which dear surety murmur her lips, As the lips of sleepers do:
And, dreaming, she loosens her girdle-pearls, And opens her arms to the empty air, Then starts, if a leaf of the champak falls, Sighing, "O leaf! Is he there?"
Why dost thou linger in this dull spot, Haunted by serpents and evil for thee? Why not hasten to Nanda's House? It is plain, if thine eyes could see.
May these words of high endeavour— Full of grace and gentle favour— Find out those whose hearts can feel What the message did reveal, Words that Radha's messenger Unto Krishna took from her, Slowly guiding him to come Through the forest to his home, Guiding him to find the road Which led—though long—to Love's abode.
(Here ends that Sarga of the Gita Govinda entitled DHRISHTAVAIKUNTO.)
SARGA THE SEVENTH.
KRISHNA SUPPOSED FALSE.
Meantime the moon, the rolling moon, clomb high, And over all Vrindavana it shone; The moon which on the front of gentle night Gleams like the chundun-mark on beauty's brow; The conscious moon which hath its silver face Marred with the shame of lighting earthly loves:
And while the round white lamp of earth rose higher, And still he tarried, Radha, petulant, Sang soft impatience and half-earnest fears:
(What follows is to the Music MALAVA and the Mode YATI.)
'Tis time!—he comes not!—will he come? Can he leave me thus to pine? Yami he kam sharanam! Ah! what refuge then is mine?
For his sake I sought the wood, Threaded dark and devious ways; Yami he kam sharanam! Can it be Krishna betrays?
Let me die then, and forget Anguish, patience, hope, and fear; Yami he kam sharanam! Ah, why have I held him dear?
Ah, this soft night torments me, Thinking that his faithless arms— Yami he kam sharanam!— Clasp some shadow of my charms.
Fatal shadow—foolish mock! When the great love shone confessed;— Yami he kam sharanam! Krishna's lotus loads my breast;
'Tis too heavy, lacking him; Like a broken flower I am— Necklets, jewels, what are ye? Yami he kam sharanam!
Yami he kam sharanam! The sky is still, the forest sleeps; Krishna forgets—he loves no more; He fails in faith, and Radha weeps.
But the poet Jayadev— He who is great Hari's slave, He who finds asylum sweet Only at great Hari's feet; He who for your comfort sings All this to the Vina's strings— Prays that Radha's tender moan In your hearts be thought upon, And that all her holy grace Live there like the loved one's face.
Yet, if I wrong him! (sang she)—can he fail? Could any in the wood win back his kisses? Could any softest lips of earth prevail To hold him from my arms? any love-blisses
Blind him once more to mine? O Soul, my prize! Art thou not merely hindered at this hour? Sore-wearied, wandering, lost? how otherwise Shouldst thou not hasten to the bridal-bower?
But seeing far away that Maiden come Alone, with eyes cast down and lingering steps, Again a little while she feared to hear Of Krishna false; and her quick thoughts took shape In a fine jealousy, with words like these—
Something then of earth has held him From his home above, Some one of those slight deceivers— Ah, my foolish love!
Some new face, some winsome playmate, With her hair untied, And the blossoms tangled in it, Woos him to her side.
On the dark orbs of her bosom— Passionately heaved— Sink and rise the warm, white pearl-strings, Oh, my love deceived!
Fair? yes, yes! the rippled shadow Of that midnight hair Shows above her brow—as clouds do O'er the moon—most fair:
And she knows, with wilful paces, How to make her zone Gleam and please him; and her ear-rings Tinkle love; and grown
Coy as he grows fond, she meets him With a modest show; Shaming truth with truthful seeming, While her laugh—light, low—
And her subtle mouth that murmurs. And her silken cheek, And her eyes, say she dissembles Plain as speech could speak.
Till at length, a fatal victress, Of her triumph vain, On his neck she lies and smiles there:— Ah, my Joy!—my Pain!
But may Radha's fond annoy, And may Krishna's dawning joy, Warm and waken love more fit— Jayadeva prayeth it— And the griefs and sins assuage Of this blind and evil age.
O Moon! (she sang) that art so pure and pale, Is Krishna wan like thee with lonely waiting? O lamp of love! art thou the lover's friend, And wilt not bring him, my long pain abating? O fruitless moon! thou dost increase my pain O faithless Krishna! I have striven in vain. And then, lost in her fancies sad, she moaned—
(What follows is to the Music GURJJARI and the Mode EKATALI)
In vain, in vain! Earth will of earth! I mourn more than I blame; If he had known, he would not sit and paint The tilka on her smooth black brow, nor claim Quick kisses from her yielded lips—false, faint— False, fragrant, fatal! Krishna's quest is o'er By Jumna's shore!
Vain—it was vain! The temptress was too near, the heav'n too far; I can but weep because he sits and ties Garlands of fire-flowers for her loosened hair, And in its silken shadow veils his eyes And buries his fond face. Yet I forgave By Jumna's wave!
Vainly! all vain! Make then the most of that whereto thou'rt given, Feign her thy Paradise—thy Love of loves; Say that her eyes are stars, her face the heaven, Her bosoms the two worlds, with sandal-groves Full-scented, and the kiss-marks—ah, thy dream By Jumna's stream!
It shall be vain! And vain to string the emeralds on her arm, And hang the milky pearls upon her neck, Saying they are not jewels, but a swarm Of crowded, glossy bees, come there to suck The rosebuds of her breast, the sweetest flowers Of Jumna's bowers.
That shall be vain! Nor wilt thou so believe thine own blind wooing, Nor slake thy heart's thirst even with the cup Which at the last she brims for thee, undoing Her girdle of carved gold, and yielding up, Love's uttermost: brief the poor gain and pride By Jumna's tide
Because still vain Is love that feeds on shadow; vain, as thou dost, To look so deep into the phantom eyes For that which lives not there; and vain, as thou must, To marvel why the painted pleasure flies, When the fair, false wings seemed folded for ever By Jumna's river.
And vain! yes, vain! For me too is it, having so much striven, To see this slight snare take thee, and thy soul Which should have climbed to mine, and shared my heaven, Spent on a lower loveliness, whose whole Passion of claim were but a parody Of that kept here for thee.
Ahaha! vain! For on some isle of Jumna's silver stream He gives all that they ask to those hard eyes, While mine which are his angel's, mine which gleam With light that might have led him to the skies— That almost led him—are eclipsed with tears Wailing my fruitless prayers.
But thou, good Friend, Hang not thy head for shame, nor come so slowly, As one whose message is too ill to tell; If thou must say Krishna is forfeit wholly— Wholly forsworn and lost—let the grief dwell Where the sin doth,—except in this sad heart, Which cannot shun its part.
O great Hari! purge from wrong The soul of him who writes this song; Purge the souls of those that read From every fault of thought and deed; With thy blessed light assuage The darkness of this evil age! Jayadev the bard of love, Servant of the Gods above, Prays it for himself and you— Gentle hearts who listen!—too.
Then in this other strain she wailed his loss—
(What follows is to the Music DESHAVARADI and the Mode RUPAKA.)
She, not Radha, wins the crown Whose false lips seemed dearest; What was distant gain to him When sweet loss stood nearest? Love her, therefore, lulled to loss On her fatal bosom; Love her with such love as she Can give back in the blossom.
Love her, O thou rash lost soul! With thy thousand graces; Coin rare thoughts into fair words For her face of faces; Praise it, fling away for it Life's purpose in a sigh, All for those lips like flower-leaves, And lotus-dark deep eye.
Nay, and thou shalt be happy too Till the fond dream is over; And she shall taste delight to hear The wooing of her lover; The breeze that brings the sandal up From distant green Malay, Shall seem all fragrance in the night, All coolness in the day.
The crescent moon shall seem to swim Only that she may see The glad eyes of my Krishna gleam, And her soft glances he: It shall be as a silver lamp Set in the sky to show The rose-leaf palms that cling and clasp, And the breast that beats below.
The thought of parting shall not lie Cold on their throbbing lives, The dread of ending shall not chill The glow beginning gives; She in her beauty dark shall look— As long as clouds can be— As gracious as the rain-time cloud Kissing the shining sea.
And he, amid his playmates old, At least a little while, Shall not breathe forth again the sigh That spoils the song and smile; Shall be left wholly to his choice, Free for his pleasant sin, With the golden-girdled damsels Of the bowers I found him in.
For me, his Angel, only The sorrow and the smart, The pale grief sitting on the brow, The dead hope in the heart; For me the loss of losing, For me the ache and dearth; My king crowned with the wood-flowers! My fairest upon earth!
Hari, Lord and King of love! From thy throne of light above Stoop to help us, deign to take Our spirits to thee for the sake Of this song, which speaks the fears Of all who weep with Radha's tears.
But love is strong to pardon, slow to part, And still the Lady, in her fancies, sang— Wind of the Indian stream! A little—oh! a little—breathe once more The fragrance like his mouth's! blow from thy shore One last word as he fades into a dream;
Bodiless Lord of love! Show him once more to me a minute's space, My Krishna, with the love-look in his face, And then I come to my own place above;
I will depart and give All back to Fate and her: I will submit To thy stern will, and bow myself to it, Enduring still, though desolate, to live:
If it indeed be life, Even so resigning, to sit patience-mad, To feel the zephyrs burn, the sunlight sad, The peace of holy heaven, a restless strife.
Haho! what words are these? How can I live and lose him? how not go Whither love draws me for a soul loved so? How yet endure such sorrow?—or how cease?
Wind of the Indian wave! If that thou canst, blow poison here, not nard; God of the five shafts! shoot thy sharpest hard, And kill me, Radha,—Radha who forgave!
Or, bitter River, Yamun! be Yama's sister! be Death's kin! Swell thy wave up to me and gulf me in, Cooling this cruel, burning pain for ever.
Ah! if only visions stir Grief so passionate in her, What divine grief will not take, Spirits in heaven for the sake Of those who miss love? Oh, be wise! Mark this story of the skies; Meditate Govinda ever, Sitting by the sacred river, The mystic stream, which o'er his feet Glides slow, with murmurs low and sweet, Till none can tell whether those be Blue lotus-blooms, seen veiledly Under the wave, or mirrored gems Reflected from the diadems Bound on the brows of mighty Gods, Who lean from out their pure abodes, And leave their bright felicities To guide great Krishna to his sides.
(Here ends that Sarga of the Gita Govinda entitled VIPRALABDHAVARNANE NAGARANARAYANO.)
SARGA THE EIGHTH.
THE REBUKING OF KRISHNA.
For when the weary night had worn away In these vain fears, and the clear morning broke, Lo, Krishna! lo, the longed-for of her soul Came too!—in the glad light he came, and bent His knee, and clasped his hands; on his dumb lips Fear, wonder, joy, passion, and reverence Strove for the trembling words, and Radha knew Peace won for him and her; yet none the less A little time she eluded him, and sang:
(What follows is to the Music BHAIRAVI and the Mode YATI)
Krishna!—then thou hast found me!—and thine eyes Heavy and sad and stained, as if with weeping! Ah! is it not that those, which were thy prize, So radiant seemed that all night thou wert keeping Vigils of tender wooing?—have thy Love! Here is no place for vows broken in making; Thou Lotus-eyed! thou soul for whom I strove! Go! ere I listen, my just mind forsaking.
Krishna! my Krishna with the woodland-wreath! Return, or I shall soften as I blame; The while thy very lips are dark to the teeth With dye that from her lids and lashes came, Left on the mouth I touched. Fair traitor! go! Say not they darkened, lacking food and sleep Long waiting for my face; I turn it—so— Go! ere I half believe thee, pleading deep;
But wilt thou plead, when, like a love-verse printed On the smooth polish of an emerald, I see the marks she stamped, the kisses dinted Large-lettered, by her lips? thy speech withheld Speaks all too plainly; go,—abide thy choice! If thou dost stay, I shall more greatly grieve thee; Not records of her victory?—peace, dear voice! Hence with that godlike brow, lest I believe thee.
For dar'st thou feign the saffron on thy bosom Was not implanted in disloyal embrace? Or that this many-coloured love-tree blossom Shone not, but yesternight, above her face? Comest thou here, so late, to be forgiven, O thou, in whose eyes Truth was made to live? O thou, so worthy else of grace and heaven? O thou, so nearly won? Ere I forgive,
Go, Krishna! go!—lest I should think, unwise, Thy heart not false, as thy long lingering seems, Lest, seeing myself so imaged in thine eyes, I shame the name of Pity—turn to dreams The sacred sound of vows; make Virtue grudge Her praise to Mercy, calling thy sin slight; Go therefore, dear offender! go! thy Judge Had best not see thee to give sentence right.
But may he grant us peace at last and bliss Who heard,—and smiled to hear,—delays like this, Delays that dallied with a dream come true, Fond wilful angers; for the maid laughed too To see, as Radha ended, her hand take His dark role for her veil, and Krishna make The word she spoke for parting kindliest sign He should not go, but stay. O grace divine, Be ours too! Jayadev, the Poet of love, Prays it from Hari, lordliest above.
(Here ends that Sarga of the Gita Govinda entitled KHANDITAVARNANE VILAKSHALAKSHMIPATI.)
[Footnote 2: The text here is not closely followed.]
SARGA THE NINTH.
THE END OF KRISHNA'S TRIAL.
Yet not quite did the doubts of Radha die, Nor her sweet brows unbend; but she, the Maid— Knowing her heart so tender, her soft arms Aching to take him in, her rich mouth sad For the comfort of his kiss, and these fears false— Spake yet a little in fair words like these:
(What follows is to the Music GURJJARI and the Mode YATI.)
The lesson that thy faithful love has taught him He has heard; The wind of spring, obeying thee, hath brought him At thy word; What joy in all the three worlds was so precious To thy mind? Ma kooroo manini manamaye, Ah, be kind!
[Footnote 3: My proud one! do not indulge in scorn.]
No longer from his earnest eyes conceal Thy delights; Lift thy face, and let the jealous veil reveal All his rights; The glory of thy beauty was but given For content; Ma kooroo manini manamaye, Oh, relent!
Remember, being distant, how he bore thee In his heart; Look on him sadly turning from before thee To depart; Is he not the soul thou lovedst, sitting lonely In the wood? Ma kooroo manini manamaye, 'Tis not good!
He who grants thee high delight in bridal-bower Pardons long; What the gods do love may do at such an hour Without wrong; Why weepest thou? why keepest thou in anger Thy lashes down? Ma kooroo manini manamaye, Do not frown!
Lift thine eyes now, and look on him, bestowing, Without speech; Let him pluck at last the flower so sweetly growing In his reach; The fruit of lips, of loving tones, of glances That forgive; Ma kooroo manini manamaye, Let him live!
Let him speak with thee, and pray to thee, and prove thee All his truth; Let his silent loving lamentation move thee Asking ruth; How knowest thou? All, listen, dearest Lady, He is there; Ma kooroo manini manamaye, Thou must hear!
O rare voice, which is a spell Unto all on earth who dwell! O rich voice, of rapturous love, Making melody above! Krishna's, Hari's—one in two, Sound these mortal verses through! Sound like that soft flute which made Such a magic in the shade— Calling deer-eyed maidens nigh, Waking wish and stirring sigh, Thrilling blood and melting breasts, Whispering love's divine unrests, Winning blessings to descend, Bringing earthly ills to end;— Me thou heard in this song now Thou, the great Enchantment, thou!
(Here ends that Sarga of the Gita Govinda entitled KALAHANTARITAVARNANE MUGDHAMUKUNDO.)
SARGA THE TENTH.
KRISHNA IN PARADISE.
But she, abasing still her glorious eyes, And still not yielding all her face to him, Relented; till with softer upturned look She smiled, while the Maid pleaded; so thereat Came Krishna nearer, and his eager lips Mixed sighs with words in this fond song he sang:
(What follows is to the Music DESHIYAVARADI and the Mode ASHTATALI.)
O angel of my hope! O my heart's home! My fear is lost in love, my love in fear; This bids me trust my burning wish, and come, That checks me with its memories, drawing near: Lift up thy look, and let the thing it saith End fear with grace, or darken love to death.
Or only speak once more, for though thou slay me, Thy heavenly mouth must move, and I shall hear Dulcet delights of perfect music sway me Again—again that voice so blest and dear; Sweet Judge! the prisoner prayeth for his doom That he may hear his fate divinely come.
Speak once more! then thou canst not choose but show Thy mouth's unparalleled and honeyed wonder Where, like pearls hid in red-lipped shells, the row Of pearly teeth thy rose-red lips lie under; Ah me! I am that bird that woos the moon, And pipes—poor fool! to make it glitter soon.
Yet hear me on—because I cannot stay The passion of my soul, because my gladness Will pour forth from my heart;—since that far day When through the mist of all my sin and sadness Thou didst vouchsafe—Surpassing One!—to break, All else I slighted for thy noblest sake.
Thou, thou hast been my blood, my breath, my being; The pearl to plunge for in the sea of life; The sight to strain for, past the bounds of seeing; The victory to win through longest strife; My Queen! my crowned Mistress! my sphered bride! Take this for truth, that what I say beside.
Of bold love—grown full-orbed at sight of thee— May be forgiven with a quick remission; For, thou divine fulfilment of all hope! Thou all-undreamed completion of the vision! I gaze upon thy beauty, and my fear Passes as clouds do, when the moon shines clear.
So if thou'rt angry still, this shall avail, Look straight at me, and let thy bright glance wound me; Fetter me! gyve me! lock me in the gaol Of thy delicious arms; make fast around me The silk-soft manacles of wrists and hands, Then kill me! I shall never break those bands.
The starlight jewels flashing on thy breast Have not my right to hear thy beating heart; The happy jasmine-buds that clasp thy waist Are soft usurpers of my place and part; If that fair girdle only there must shine, Give me the girdle's life—the girdle mine!
Thy brow like smooth Bandhuka-leaves; thy cheek Which the dark-tinted Madhuk's velvet shows; Thy long-lashed Lotus eyes, lustrous and meek; Thy nose a Tila-bud; thy teeth like rows Of Kunda-petals! he who pierceth hearts Points with thy lovelinesses all five darts.
But Radiant, Perfect, Sweet, Supreme, forgive! My heart is wise—my tongue is foolish still: I know where I am come—I know I live— I know that thou art Radha—that this will Last and be heaven: that I have leave to rise Up from thy feet, and look into thine eyes!
And, nearer coming, I ask for grace Now that the blest eyes turn to mine; Faithful I stand in this sacred place Since first I saw them shine: Dearest glory that stills my voice, Beauty unseen, unknown, unthought! Splendour of love, in whose sweet light Darkness is past and nought; Ah, beyond words that sound on earth, Golden bloom of the garden of heaven! Radha, enchantress! Radha, the queen! Be this trespass forgiven— In that I dare, with courage too much And a heart afraid,—so bold it is grown— To hold thy hand with a bridegroom's touch, And take thee for mine, mine own.
So they met and so they ended Pain and parting, being blended Life with life—made one for ever In high love; and Jayadeva Hasteneth on to close the story Of their bridal grace and glory.
(Here ends that Sarga of the Gita Govinda entitled MANINIVARNANE CHATURACHATURBHUJO.)
[Footnote 4: Much here also is necessarily paraphrased.]
SARGA THE ELEVENTH.
THE UNION OF RADHA AND KRISHNA.
Thus followed soft and lasting peace, and griefs Died while she listened to his tender tongue, Her eyes of antelope alight with love; And while he led the way to the bride-bower The maidens of her train adorned her fair With golden marriage-cloths, and sang this song:
(What follows is to the Music VASANTA and the Mode YATI.)
Follow, happy Radha! follow,— In the quiet falling twilight— The steps of him who followed thee So steadfastly and far; Let us bring thee where the banjulas Have spread a roof of crimson, Lit up by many a marriage-lamp Of planet, sun, and star: For the hours of doubt are over, And thy glad and faithful lover Hath found the road by tears and prayers To thy divinest side; And thou wilt not now deny him One delight of all thy beauty, But yield up open-hearted His pearl, his prize, his bride.
Oh, follow! while we fill the air With songs and softest music; Lauding thy wedded loveliness, Dear Mistress past compare! For there is not any splendour Of Apsarasas immortal— No glory of their beauty rich— But Radha has a share; Oh, follow! while we sing the song That fills the worlds with longing, The music of the Lord of love Who melts all hearts with bliss; For now is born the gladness That springs from mortal sadness, And all soft thoughts and things and hopes Were presages of this.
Then, follow, happiest Lady! Follow him thou lovest wholly; The hour is come to follow now The soul thy spells have led; His are thy breasts like jasper-cups, And his thine eyes like planets; Thy fragrant hair, thy stately neck, Thy queenly sumptuous head; Thy soft small feet, thy perfect lips, Thy teeth like jasmine petals, Thy gleaming rounded shoulders, And long caressing arms, Being thine to give, are his; and his The twin strings of thy girdle, And his the priceless treasure Of thine utter-sweetest charms.
So follow! while the flowers break forth In white and amber clusters, At the breath of thy pure presence, And the radiance on thy brow; Oh, follow where the Asokas wave Their sprays of gold and purple, As if to beckon thee the way That Krishna passed but now; He is gone a little forward! Though thy steps are faint for pleasure, Let him hear the tattling ripple Of the bangles round thy feet; Moving slowly o'er the blossoms On the path which he has shown thee, That when he turns to listen It may make his fond heart beat.
And loose thy jewelled girdle A little, that its rubies May tinkle softest music too, And whisper thou art near; Though now, if in the forest Thou should'st bend one blade of Kusha With silken touch of passing foot, His heart would know and hear; Would hear the wood-buds saying, "It is Radha's foot that passes;" Would hear the wind sigh love-sick, "It is Radha's fragrance, this;" Would hear thine own heart beating Within thy panting bosom, And know thee coming, coming, His—ever,—ever—his!
"Mine! "—hark! we are near enough for hearing— "Soon she will come—she will smile—she will say Honey-sweet words of heavenly endearing; O soul! listen; my Bride is on her way!"
Hear'st him not, my Radha? Lo, night bendeth o'er thee— Darker than dark Tamala-leaves— To list thy marriage-song; Dark as the touchstone that tries gold, And see now—on before thee— Those lines of tender light that creep The clouded sky along: O night! that trieth gold of love, This love is proven perfect! O lines that streak the touchstone sky, Plash forth true shining gold! O rose-leaf feet, go boldly! O night!—that lovest lovers— Thy softest robe of silence About these bridals fold!
See'st thou not, my Radha? Lo, the night, thy bridesmaid, Comes!—her eyes thick-painted With soorma of the gloom— The night that binds the planet-worlds For jewels on her forehead, And for emblem and for garland Loves the blue-black lotus-bloom; The night that scents her breath so sweet With cool and musky odours, That joys to spread her veil of shade Over the limbs of love;
And when, with loving weary, Yet dreaming love, they slumber, Sets the far stars for silver lamps To light them from above.
So came she where he stood, awaiting her At the bower's entry, like a god to see, With marriage-gladness and the grace of heaven. The great pearl set upon his glorious head Shone like a moon among the leaves, and shone Like stars the gems that kept her gold gown close: But still a little while she paused—abashed At her delight, of her deep joy afraid— And they that tended her sang once more this:
(What follows is to the Music VARADI and the Mode RUPAKA.)
Enter, thrice-happy! enter, thrice-desired! And let the gates of Hari shut thee in With the soul destined to thee from of old.
Tremble not! lay thy lovely shame aside; Lay it aside with thine unfastened zone, And love him with the love that knows not fear,
Because it fears not change; enter thou in, Flower of all sweet and stainless womanhood! For ever to grow bright, for ever new;
Enter beneath the flowers, O flower-fair! Beneath these tendrils, Loveliest! that entwine And clasp, and wreathe and cling, with kissing stems;
Enter, with tender-blowing airs of heaven, Soft as love's breath and gentle as the tones Of lover's whispers, when the lips come close:
Enter the house of Love, O loveliest! Enter the marriage-bower, most beautiful! And take and give the joy that Hari grants,
Thy heart has entered, let thy feet go too! Lo, Krishna! lo, the one that thirsts for thee! Give him the drink of amrit from thy lips.
* * * * *
Then she, no more delaying, entered straight; Her step a little faltered, but her face Shone with unutterable quick love; and—while,
The music of her bangles passed the porch— Shame, which had lingered in her downcast eyes, Departed shamed ... and like the mighty deep, Which sees the moon and rises, all his life Uprose to drink her beams.
(Here ends that Sarga of the Gita Govinda entitled RADHIKAMILANE SANANDADAMODARO.)
[Footnote 5: This complete anticipation (salajja lajjapi) of the line—
"Upon whose brow shame is ashamed to sit"
—occurs at the close of the Sarga, part of which is here perforce omitted, along with the whole of the last one.]
* * * * *
Hari keep you! He whose might, On the King of Serpents seated, Flashes forth in dazzling light From the Great Snake's gems repeated: Hari keep you! He whose graces, Manifold in majesty,— Multiplied in heavenly places— Multiply on earth—to see Better with a hundred eyes Her bright charms who by him lies.
What skill may be in singing, What worship sound in song, What lore be taught in loving, What right divined from wrong: Such things hath Jayadeva— In this his Hymn of Love, Which lauds Govinda ever,— Displayed; may all approve!
THE END OF THE INDIAN SONG OF SONGS
MISCELLANEOUS ORIENTAL POEMS.
THE RAJPOOT WIFE.
Sing something, Jymul Rao! for the goats are gathered now, And no more water is to bring; The village-gates are set, and the night is gray as yet, God hath given wondrous fancies to thee:—sing!
Then Jymul's supple fingers, with a touch that doubts and lingers, Sets athrill the saddest wire of all the six; And the girls sit in a tangle, and hush the tinkling bangle, While the boys pile the flame with store of sticks.
And vain of village praise, but full of ancient days, He begins with a smile and with a sigh— "Who knows the babul-tree by the bend of the Ravee?" Quoth Gunesh, "I!" and twenty voices, "I!"
"Well—listen! there below, in the shade of bloom and bough, Is a musjid of carved and coloured stone; And Abdool Shureef Khan—I spit, to name that man!— Lieth there, underneath, all alone.
"He was Sultan Mahmoud's vassal, and wore an Amir's tassel In his green hadj-turban, at Nungul. Yet the head which went so proud, it is not in his shroud; There are bones in that grave,—but not a skull!
"And, deep drove in his breast, there moulders with the rest A dagger, brighter once than Chundra's ray; A Rajpoot lohar whet it, and a Rajpoot woman set it Past the power of any hand to tear away.
"'Twas the Ranee Neila true, the wife of Soorj Dehu, Lord of the Rajpoots of Nourpoor; You shall hear the mournful story, with its sorrow and its glory, And curse Shureef Khan,—the soor!"
* * * * *
All in the wide Five-Waters was none like Soorj Dehu, To foeman who so dreadful, to friend what heart so true?
Like Indus, through the mountains came down the Muslim ranks, And town-walls fell before them as flooded river-banks;
But Soorj Dehu the Rajpoot owned neither town nor wall; His house the camp, his roof-tree the sky that covers all;
His seat of state the saddle; his robe a shirt of mail; His court a thousand Rajpoots close at his stallion's tail.
Not less was Soorj a Rajah because no crown he wore Save the grim helm of iron with sword-marks dinted o'er;
Because he grasped no sceptre save the sharp tulwar, made Of steel that fell from heaven,—for 'twas Indra forged that blade! And many a starless midnight the shout of "Soorj Dehu" Broke up with spear and matchlock the Muslim's "Illahu."
And many a day of battle upon the Muslim proud Tell Soorj, as India's lightning falls from the silent cloud.
Nor ever shot nor arrow, nor spear nor slinger's stone, Could pierce the mail that Neila the Ranee buckled on:
But traitor's subtle tongue-thrust through fence of steel can break; And Soorj was taken sleeping, whom none had ta'en awake.
Then at the noon, in durbar, swore fiercely Shureef Khan That Soorj should die in torment, or live a Mussulman.
But Soorj laughed lightly at him, and answered, "Work your will! The last breath of my body shall curse your Prophet still."
With words of insult shameful, and deeds of cruel kind, They vexed that Rajpoot's body, but never moved his mind.
And one is come who sayeth, "Ho! Rajpoots! Soorj is bound; Your lord is caged and baited by Shureef Khan, the hound.
"The Khan hath caught and chained him, like a beast, in iron cage, And all the camp of Islam spends on him spite and rage;
"All day the coward Muslims spend on him rage and spite; If ye have thought to help him, 'twere good ye go to-night."
Up sprang a hundred horsemen, flashed in each hand a sword; In each heart burned the gladness of dying for their lord;
Up rose each Rajpoot rider, and buckled on with speed The bridle-chain and breast-cord, and the saddle of his steed.
But unto none sad Neila gave word to mount and ride; Only she called the brothers of Soorj unto her side,
And said, "Take order straightway to seek this camp with me; If love and craft can conquer, a thousand is as three.
"If love be weak to save him, Soorj dies—and ye return, For where a Rajpoot dieth, the Rajpoot widows burn."
Thereat the Ranee Neila unbraided from her hair The pearls as great as Kashmir grapes Soorj gave his wife to wear,
And all across her bosoms—like lotus-buds to see— She wrapped the tinselled sari of a dancing Kunchenee;
And fastened on her ankles the hundred silver bells, To whose light laugh of music the Nautch-girl darts and dwells.
And all in dress a Nautch-girl, but all in heart a queen, She set her foot to stirrup with a sad and settled mien.
Only one thing she carried no Kunchenee should bear, The knife between her bosoms;—ho, Shureef! have a care!
* * * * *
Thereat, with running ditty of mingled pride and pity, Jymul Rao makes the six wires sigh; And the girls with tearful eyes note the music's fall and rise, And the boys let the fire fade and die.
* * * * *
All day lay Soorj the Rajpoot in Shureef's iron cage, All day the coward Muslims spent on him spite and rage.
With bitter cruel torments, and deeds of shameful kind, They racked and broke his body, but could not shake his mind.
And only at the Azan, when all their worst was vain, They left him, like dogs slinking from a lion in his pain.
No meat nor drink they gave him through all that burning day, And done to death, but scornful, at twilight-time he lay.
So when the gem of Shiva uprose, the shining moon, Soorj spake unto his spirit, "The end is coming soon."
"I would the end might hasten, could Neila only know— What is that Nautch-girl singing with voice so known and low?
"Singing beneath the cage-bars the song of love and fear My Neila sang at parting!—what doth that Nautch-girl here?
"Whence comes she by the music of Neila's tender strain, She, in that shameless tinsel?—O Nautch-girl, sing again!"
"Ah, Soorj!"—so followed answer—"here thine own Neila stands, Faithful in life and death alike,—look up, and take my hands:
"Speak low, lest the guard hear us;—to-night, if thou must die, Shureef shall have no triumph, but bear thee company."
So sang she like the Koil that dies beside its mate; With eye as black and fearless, and love as hot and great.
Then the Chief laid his pale lips upon the little palm, And sank down with a smile of love, his face all glad and calm;
And through the cage-bars Neila felt the brave heart stop fast, "O Soorj!"—she cried—"I follow! have patience to the last."
She turned and went. "Who passes?" challenged the Mussulman; "A Nautch-girl, I."—"What seek'st thou?"—"The presence of the Khan;"
"Ask if the high chief-captain be pleased to hear me sing;" And Shureef, full of feasting, the Kunchenee bade bring.
Then, all before the Muslims, aflame with lawless wine, Entered the Ranee Neila, in grace and face divine;
And all before the Muslims, wagging their goatish chins, The Rajpoot Princess set her to the "bee-dance" that begins,
"If my love loved me, he should be a bee, I the yellow champak, love the honey of me."
All the wreathed movements danced she of that dance; Not a step she slighted, not a wanton glance;
In her unveiled bosom chased th' intruding bee, To her waist—and lower—she! a Rajpoot, she!
Sang the melting music, swayed the languorous limb: Shureef's drunken heart beat—Shureef's eyes waxed dim.
From his finger Shureef loosed an Ormuz pearl— "By the Prophet," quoth he, "'tis a winsome girl!"
"Take this ring; and 'prithee, come and have thy pay, I would hear at leisure more of such a lay."
Glared his eyes on her eyes, passing o'er the plain, Glared at the tent-purdah—never glared again!
Never opened after unto gaze or glance, Eyes that saw a Rajpoot dance a shameful dance;
For the kiss she gave him was his first and last— Kiss of dagger, driven to his heart, and past.
At her feet he wallowed, choked with wicked blood; In his breast the katar quivered where it stood.
At the hilt his fingers vainly—wildly—try, Then they stiffen feeble;—die! thou slayer, die!
From his jewelled scabbard drew she Shureef's sword, Cut a-twain the neck-bone of the Muslim lord.
Underneath the starlight,—sooth, a sight of dread! Like the Goddess Kali, comes she with the head,
Comes to where her brothers guard their murdered chief; All the camp is silent, but the night is brief.
At his feet she flings it, flings her burden vile; "Soorj! I keep my promise! Brothers, build the pile!"
They have built it, set it, all as Rajpoots do From the cage of iron taken Soorj Dehu;
In the lap of Neila, seated on the pile, Laid his head—she radiant, like a queen the while.
Then the lamp is lighted, and the ghee is poured— "Soorj, we burn together: O my love, my lord!"
In the flame and crackle dies her tender tongue, Dies the Ranee, truest, all true wives among.
At the dawn a clamour runs from tent to tent, Like the wild geese cackling when the night is spent.
"Shureef Khan lies headless! gone is Soorj Dehu! And the wandering Nautch-girl, who has seen her, who?"
This but know the sentries, at the "breath of morn" Forth there fared two horsemen, by the first was borne.
The urn of clay, the vessel that Rajpoots use to bring The ashes of dead kinsmen to Gungas' holy spring.
Long years ago—so tells Boccaccio In such Italian gentleness of speech As finds no echo in this northern air To counterpart its music—long ago, When Saladin was Soldan of the East, The kings let cry a general crusade; And to the trysting-plains of Lombardy The idle lances of the North and West Rode all that spring, as all the spring runs down Into a lake, from all its hanging hills, The clash and glitter of a hundred streams. Whereof the rumour reached to Saladin; And that swart king—as royal in his heart As any crowned champion of the Cross— That he might fully, of his knowledge, learn The purpose of the lords of Christendom, And when their war and what their armament, Took thought to cross the seas to Lombardy. Wherefore, with wise and trustful Amirs twain, All habited in garbs that merchants use, With trader's band and gipsire on the breasts That best loved mail and dagger, Saladin Set forth upon his journey perilous. In that day, lordly land was Lombardy! A sea of country-plenty, islanded With cities rich; nor richer one than thee, Marble Milano! from whose gate at dawn— With ear that little recked the matin-bell, But a keen eye to measure wall and foss— The Soldan rode; and all day long he rode For Pavia; passing basilic, and shrine, And gaze of vineyard-workers, wotting not Yon trader was the Lord of Heathenesse. All day he rode; yet at the wane of day No gleam of gate, or ramp, or rising spire, Nor Tessin's sparkle underneath the stars Promised him Pavia; but he was 'ware Of a gay company upon the way, Ladies and lords, with horses, hawks, and hounds: Cap-plumes and tresses fluttered by the wind Of merry race for home. "Go!" said the king To one that rode upon his better hand, "And pray these gentles of their courtesy How many leagues to Pavia, and the gates What hour they close them?" Then the Saracen Set spur, and being joined to him that seemed First of the hunt, he told the message—they Checking the jangling bits, and chiding down The unfinished laugh to listen—but by this Came up the king, his bonnet in his hand, Theirs doffed to him: "Sir Trader," Torel said (Messer Torello 'twas, of Istria), "They shut the Pavian gate at even-song, And even-song is sung." Then turning half, Muttered, "Pardie, the man is worshipful, A stranger too!" "Fair lord!" quoth Saladin, "Please you to stead some weary travellers, Saying where we may lodge, the town so far And night so near" "Of my heart, willingly," Made answer Torel, "I did think but now To send my knave an errand—he shall ride And bring you into lodgment—oh! no thanks, Our Lady keep you!" then with whispered hest He called their guide and sped them. Being gone. Torello told his purpose, and the band, With ready zeal and loosened bridle-chains, Rode for his hunting-palace, where they set A goodly banquet underneath the planes, And hung the house with guest-lights, and anon Welcomed the wondering strangers, thereto led Unwitting, by a world of winding paths; Messer Torello, at the inner gate, Waiting to take them in—a goodly host, Stamped current with God's image for a man Chief among men, truthful, and just, and free. Then he, "Well met again, fair sirs! Our knave Hath found you shelter better than the worst: Please you to leave your selles, and being bathed, Grace our poor supper here." Then Saladin, Whose sword had yielded ere his courtesy, Answered, "Great thanks, Sir Knight, and this much blame, You spoil us for our trade! two bonnets doffed, And travellers' questions holding you afield, For those you give us this." "Sir! not your meed, Nor worthy of your breeding; but in sooth That is not out of Pavia." Thereupon He led them to fair chambers decked with all Makes tired men glad; lights, and the marble bath, And flasks that sparkled, liquid amethyst, And grapes, not dry as yet from evening dew. Thereafter at the supper-board they sat; Nor lacked it, though its guest was reared a king, Worthy provend in crafts of cookery, Pastel, pasticcio—all set forth on gold; And gracious talk and pleasant courtesies, Spoken in stately Latin, cheated time Till there was none but held the stranger-sir, For all his chapman's dress of cramasie, Goodlier than silks could make him. Presently Talk rose upon the Holy Sepulchre: "I go myself," said Torel, "with a score Of better knights—the flower of Pavia— To try our steel against King Saladin's. Sirs! ye have seen the countries of the Sun, Know you the Soldan?" Answer gave the king, "The Soldan we have seen—'twill push him hard If, which I nothing doubt, you Pavian lords Are valorous as gentle;—we, alas! Are Cyprus merchants making trade to France— Dull sons of Peace." "By Mary!" Torel cried, "But for thy word, I ne'er heard speech so fit To lead the war, nor saw a hand that sat Liker a soldier's in the sabre's place; But sure I hold you sleepless!" Then himself Playing the chamberlain, with torches borne, Led them to restful beds, commending them To sleep and God, Who hears—Allah or God— When good men do his creatures charities. At dawn the cock, and neigh of saddled steeds, Broke the king's dreams of battle—not their own, But goodly jennets from Torello's stalls, Caparisoned to bear them; he their host Up, with a gracious radiance like the sun, To bid them speed. Beside him in the court Stood Dame Adalieta; comely she, And of her port as queenly, and serene As if the braided gold about her brows Had been a crown. Mutual good-morrow given, Thanks said and stayed, the lady prayed her guest To take a token of his sojourn there, Marking her good-will, not his worthiness; "A gown of miniver—these furbelows Are silk I spun—my lord wears ever such— A housewife's gift! but those ye love are far; Wear it as given for them." Then Saladin— "A precious gift, Madonna, past my thanks; And—but thou shalt not hear a 'no' from me— Past my receiving; yet I take it; we Were debtors to your noble courtesy Out of redemption—this but bankrupts us." "Nay, sir,—God shield you!" said the knight and dame. And Saladin, with phrase of gentilesse Returned, or ever that he rode alone, Swore a great oath in guttural Arabic, An oath by Allah—startling up the ears Of those three Christian cattle they bestrode— That never yet was princelier-natured man, Nor gentler lady;—and that time should see For a king's lodging quittance royal repaid.
* * * * *
It was the day of the Passaggio: Ashore the war-steeds champed the burnished bit; Afloat the galleys tugged the mooring-chain: The town was out; the Lombard armourers— Red-hot with riveting the helmets up, And whetting axes for the heathen heads— Cooled in the crowd that filled the squares and street: To speed God's soldiers. At the none that day Messer Torello to the gate came down, Leading his lady;—sorrow's hueless rose Grew on her cheek, and thrice the destrier Struck fire, impatient, from the pavement-squares, Or ere she spoke, tears in her lifted eyes, "Goest thou, lord of mine?" "Madonna, yes!" Said Torel, "for my soul's weal and the Lord Ride I to-day: my good name and my house Reliant I intrust thee, and—because It may be they shall slay me, and because, Being so young, so fair, and so reputed, The noblest will entreat thee—wait for me, Widow or wife, a year, and month, and day; Then if thy kinsmen press thee to a choice, And if I be not come, hold me for dead; Nor link thy blooming beauty with the grave Against thine heart." "Good my lord!" answered she, "Hardly my heart sustains to let thee go; Thy memory it can keep, and keep it will, Though my one lord, Torel of Istria, Live, or——" "Sweet, comfort thee! San Pietro speed! I shall come home: if not, and worthy knees Bend for this hand, whereof none worthy lives, Least he who lays his last kiss thus upon it, Look thee, I free it——" "Nay!" she said, "but I, A petulant slave that hugs her golden chain, Give that gift back, and with it this poor ring: Set it upon thy sword-hand, and in fight Be merciful and win, thinking of me." Then she, with pretty action, drawing on Her ruby, buckled over it his glove— The great steel glove—and through the helmet bars Took her last kiss;—then let the chafing steed Have its hot will and go. But Saladin, Safe back among his lords at Lebanon, Well wotting of their quest, awaited it, And held the Crescent up against the Cross, In many a doughty fight Ferrara blades Clashed with keen Damasc, many a weary month Wasted afield; but yet the Christians Won nothing nearer to Christ's sepulchre; Nay, but gave ground. At last, in Acre pent, On their loose files, enfeebled by the war, Came stronger smiter than the Saracen— The deadly Pest: day after day they died, Pikeman and knight-at-arms; day after day A thinner line upon the leaguered wall Held off the heathen:—held them off a space; Then, over-weakened, yielded, and gave up The city and the stricken garrison. So to sad chains and hateful servitude Fell all those purple lords—Christendom's stars, Once high in hope as soaring Lucifer, Now low as sinking Hesper: with them fell Messer Torello—never one so poor Of all the hundreds that his bounty fed As he in prison—ill-entreated, bound, Starved of sweet light, and set to shameful tasks; And that great load at heart to know the days Fast flying, and to live accounted dead. One joy his gaolers left him,—his good hawk; The brave, gay bird that crossed the seas with him: And often, in the mindful hour of eve, With tameless eye and spirit masterful, In a feigned anger checking at his hand, The good gray falcon made his master cheer.