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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Specimens of Lyric Poetry
Indian Literature
 
From Kālidāsa’s ‘Cloud Messenger’: After the Translation of Friedrich Max Müller

IN the twisting stream I see the play of thy eyebrows; in the eye of the doe I see thy glance; in the peacock’s tail the luxury of thy hair. In the moon I see the beauty of thy face, and in the priyāngu I see thy slender limbs. But ah! thy likeness united all in one place I see nowhere! I paint thee oft as angry, red colors on smooth stones, and would paint my own face near to thine. But the tear rises in my eye and darkness covers my sight. Even here [in the attempt to paint us united] our evil fate keeps us apart! When the gods of the forest see me, how I stretch out my arms to thee to draw thee to my breast,—then, I think, from their eyes will come the tears, which like large pearls glitter on the fresh buds.  1
 
From Kālidāsa’s ‘Union of Seasons’: 1 The Summer

  NOW the thirsty gazelle hastens after water, its palate dry, glowing with the mighty heat, when like a herd of elephants the clouds appear. The snake which, warmed by the sun’s rays, once stretched himself in the burning hot sand, now hissing turns and seeks the shade. The lion, with thirsty throat, hunts the elephant no more. Courage fails him, his tongue trembles…. Forest fires have destroyed the young grass, the gust of the wind drives fiercely the dry leaves. The waters are dried up in every pool. In sighs ceases the song of the birds, as they cluster upon the trees decked only with faded leaves. The weary monkeys crawl slowly on the hill. The buffaloes wander about seeking for water…. But he that lives by the lotus-pond drinks the fragrance of the flowers, wets with cool streams the floors of the house, and by moonlight sports with his beloved in song and jest; he forgets the heat of summer.
  2
 
From Kālidāsa’s ‘Union of Seasons’: The Spring: After the Translation of Peter von Bohlen

  THE SPRINGTIME-GOD, the god of love, comes, beloved, to wound the hearts of happy men; the god who has made the bees his bowstring, and mango blossoms his arrows. The maiden loves, the light breeze blows fragrantly, the trees are in bloom, and the lotus adorns the pool. Peaceful is the night and refreshing is the day. How lovely is all in spring! When the lakes are bright with jewels [blossoms], and like the moon in splendor shines every band of maidens; when mango-trees wave amid flowers, then comes the joy of spring. The fair girls wander out, at the call of the love-god, with garlands on the breast, with cool sandals on the feet, and their breath fragrant with betel. Fearless they go, and karnikāra flowers make their earrings, while açoka buds are nestling in their dark locks; and the jasmine lies upon their heads. The heart of the young man is filled with joy, as the atimuktas open their fragrant buds, and the drunken bees kiss the shining flowers, while delicately back and forth sway the tendrils of every plant touched by the light zephyrs. But he that is repulsed by his love is pierced in his heart as by an arrow.
  3
 
Other of Kālidāsa’s Lyric

THINE eyes are blue lotus flowers; thy teeth, white jasmine; thy face is like a lotus flower. So thy body must be made of the leaves of most delicate flowers: how comes it then that god hath given thee a heart of stone?
  4
 
  MY love is a hunter, who comes proudly hither. Her eyebrows are the huntsman’s bended bow; her glances are the huntsman’s piercing darts. They surely and swiftly smite my heart, which is the wounded gazelle.  5
 
From Bhartrihari’s Lyric

SHE whom I love loves another, and the other again loves another, while another is pleased with me. Ah! the tricks of the god of love!
After the Translation of Peter von Bohlen    
  6
 
  WHERE thou art not and the light of thine eyes, there to me is darkness; even by the brightness of the taper’s light, all to me is dark. Even by the quiet glow of the hearth-fire, all to me is dark. Though the moon and the stars shine together, yet all is dark to me. The light of the sun is able only to distress me. Where thou, my doe, and thine eyes are not, there all is dark to me.  7
 
  THE GOD of love sits fishing on the ocean of the world, and on the end of his hook he has hung a woman. When the little human fishes come they are not on their guard. Quickly he catches them and broils them in love’s fire.
After the Translation of Leopold von Schroeder    
  8
 
From Amaru’s Lyric

THE YOUNG wife raises her face from the pillow and gazes long upon the face of her husband, who pretends to be sleeping still. Over and over again she kisses his face without shame. But as she sees him stir, her face droops with bashfulness, till it is raised and kissed by her laughing beloved.
  9
 
  THE WIFE of him that is gone upon a journey looks down the road upon which he will return, far as the eye can see; till as the day ends and darkness comes and the path can be seen no more, she turns to enter the house. But in that moment she thinks, “Even now he will be coming,” and quickly turns her head and looks again.  10
 
The Bee’s Dream

“NIGHT will quickly pass, fair will be the dawn; the sun will rise in beauty and the glorious lilies will unfold themselves.” While a bee, sleeping in a flower, thus dreamed, came, alas! an elephant and crushed it as it lay.
After the Translation of Otto von Böhtlingk    
  11
 
Other Lyric Pieces

I HAVE seen thy form, and behold, even the jasmine seems coarse.
  12
 
THE MOON in the spotless sky wanders, like a white flamingo in its silver beauty. No cloud troubles the clearness, the air is divinely pure. The star-flowers of the sky sparkle, shining through all space.
After the Translation of Leopold von Schroeder    
  13
 
Note 1. For a translation in verse of this and the following selection, see Sir Edwin Arnold’s ‘Grishma’ in the LIBRARY. [back]
 
 
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