Part One

 

A year from amorousness: it passes slowly.
So thought a Yaksha by his master sent,
For scanting duty, to the Ramagiry:
To mope in penance groves as banishment
By rivers Sítá's bathing there made holy.

Áshádha's ending on the mountain found
Him weakened, gold ring slipping from his wrist,
And mixed his pleasure when a cloud came down
So playfully to hug the summit mist,
As elephants in heat will butt the ground.

In tears withheld he took that fall from grace,
From wealth attending on the King of Kings.
The otherworld that brimmed in cloudy air
Was still discomfort when far longing brings
A breath to hold him to that neck's embrace.

With now the rainy month stood close at hand,
To fresh Kutaja blooms he adds his plea
And asks most courteously the cloud bring news
Of welfare to his loved-one — words that she,
Revived to hear of him, will understand.

How can a cloud so moving, mixed and got
Of water vapour, fire and wind be used
By Yaksha appropriately as messenger?
But he in eagerness and grief confused
Mistakes as sentient a thing that's not.

Such clouds the ending of the world presage;
You minister to form at will. Though kin
I plead for are by power detained, better
To be by majesty refused than win
An approbation of base parentage.

I ask you, shelter from the sun's fierce glare,
As one apart, beneath Kubéra's sanctions,
To bear this message to a loved one waiting
In Alaká, where Shiva on those mansions
Sheds forehead's moonlight from his garden there.

For you the women look through tangled hair
With menfolk travelling and take their cheer
From unions urged on by your path of air,
While I still distant and to blame appear
A hapless prisoner to another's care.

The sights along that opened road impart
A woman delicate as flowers are sinking
From want of nourishment. Your brother's wife,
Her days computing, of her husband thinking,
Awaits, a captive taken by the heart.

10. As wind will move you onward, ever slow,
To greet you on the left you'll hear the cry
Of nesting chátakas, and, all around,
Conceiving female cranes will bless the eye,
Across the sky in garlands, row on row.

Thunder, and the ground is thick with white
Assurances of harvest. The wild geese wake
And bearing lotus shoots for voyage flap
Out for Mánasa. Your company, these take
You on to Mount Kailása with their flight.

Time to quit the lofty mountain station,
Where years of festivals do not efface
The steps of Ráma, that most honoured man.
But take your leave, as old friends do: embrace
In tears long following on separation.

Cloud, take in the features I compile
For you of onward journey, day by day
More arduous and more testing: wearied,
Very wearied, on those peaks you'll stay
And by their foaming waters rest awhile.

Now among the wet Nichula where there crop
The wandering elephants you'll come to, shrink
From contact with their heavy trunks but thence
Fly up, that startled Siddhas women think
The wind has carried off the mountain top.

To loom about you in the darkened storm
The broken bow of Indra, many-gemmed
As serpent reared up from an anthill top,
Or, with his peacock feathers diademed,
Flares Vishnu in his dark-hued cowherd form.

Arrived where women furrow brows for men,
And moisten eyes as of that harvest telling,
You'll stop and bless the high ground here and thence
From soil fresh ploughed and sweetly smelling
A little westward float on north again.

To Ámrakúta mountain, provident
To bear your weariness and not forget
Its forest fires you quenched with rain. The poor
Remember kindness and repay each debt:
How more will one who is so eminent!

So on that summit, and in drifts unrolled
Of glistening hair, around so thickly pressed
The slopes with fruiting mangoes, it will seem
To heavenly couples passing earth's own breast,
The dark surrounded by the palest gold.

And thence to groves which shelter forest wives
To see how, waters emptied, heady pace,
Like whites on elephants when streaked with ash,
The tumbling Revá through the rocky base
Of Vidhya Mountain, bouldery, arrives.

20. If now you take in moisture where there mate
Wild elephants and clumps of Jambú choke
The streams, yet drink in moderation: while
Mere lightness will your worthiness revoke
It is the winds that onward bear your weight.

Where Nipa stamens, green and brown, detain
The spotted deer, and rich Kandali grow
In blazing white along the banks, the fragrant
Humours of the forest earth will show
The hot, dry path to you for dropping rain.

In mountain after mountain, as you're faced
With flowered Kakubha and the gladdening sight
Of peacocks screeching and their watering eyes:
I call this favour from you: Cloud, despite
Such joyful welcomings, pass on in haste.

At your approach, the garden walls ignite
With white Ketaka out of pointed shoots.
The village crows thick nest in sacred trees,
And in the woods for days, as Jambú fruits,
The wild geese settle and forget their flight.

You'll come to Vidishá, the capital
Well known across the compass of these quarters,
When, like a suitor, at the Vetravati,
Hang on her face to have the frowning waters
Turn to murmuring, and drink your fill.

Rest on Nichais mountain. At your touch
Kadamba flowers will bristle out as hair,
And grottos give out odours, those by which
The venal women of the town ensnare
A roistering youth who have no sense as such.

Refreshed, upon the forest river tiers
Of jasmine, sprinkle moisture you have gained,
And on the female garland makers, shading
Those who, brushing faces sweat has stained,
Have hurt the lotus blossoms in their ears.

Circuitous your path: if not received
With tumult in the palaces of Ujjain
By women sidelong glittering in their eyelids,
Your lightning's sweep and dazzlement has been
By their eyes' allurement much deceived.

From undulating lines of birds above
The extended water's loquacious girdle string,
See the Nirvandhyá reveal her navel
And, like a woman passed from dallying
In gestured overtures, declare her love.

From dwindled to a single braid of hair,
And pale with old leaves fallen on her banks,
So will the Sindhu cast off separation
And from her thinness correspond with thanks:
How fortunate to pass her needful there!

30. Hear in Avanti, whose villagers are found
With Udayana stories, that renown
Again of Ujjain, enriched by worthy
Ones whose last of merit has brought down
A part of brilliant heaven to the ground.

In wind, which off the River Shiprá brims
With smell of morning lotuses, is caught
The long, sad calling of the cranes, at which
The coaxing lovers skilfully exhort
Again their pleasure out of tired limbs.

Hang by lattice windows, large and sweet
With incense out of women's new-washed hair,
Watch the filial peacocks dance affection,
And in the flower-scented palace air
See dancers moving on their red-lac feet.

If dark as Shiva's neck you thence frequent
That master of the three world's shrine, the gaze
Of Ganas there will show respect. In groves
An odour off the Gandhavatí strays
With girls there laughing and the lily scent.

Cloud, when come to Mahákála, wait
For sun descending to have settled under
The line of sight to Shiva's shrine. If then
You offer moderately your solemn thunder
Praise unlimited attends your state.

Begemmed their hands, and jingling navels please,
Though wearying the chowries and the dances.
But shoot your raindrops through the nailmarks, soothing:
The courtesans will cast you sidelong glances,
Their rows in unison as honey bees.

After Shiva's dance, when twilight fills
The forest long-encircled by his arms,
Then red as Japá flowers, remove his need
For blooded ganja skin. His consort calms,
Her eyes to see you as devotion wills.

When night upon the road so thickly clings
A needle cannot prick the darkness, draw
A lightning flash of gold to lead the women
Out for lover's dwellings: do not pour
Down rain or thunder: they are timid things.

Among the pigeons on some rooftop stay
The night with lightning who is half worn out
From all her flickering, but on the morrow
Promptly leave as those who go about
Good offices for friends and won't delay.

That time returning lovers brush a tear
From faces they've offended, leave the path
Of sunlight unattended. He who draws
The dew drop from the lotus burns in wrath
To find obstructions to his sunbeams here.

40. Let no barrenness of heart deny
The ever-glancing Gambhíra her wish
For you are handsome on her surface. Watch
How white-as-lotuses Shaphara fish
Beguilingly there greet you, leap and fly.

Remove the deep blue robe of water where
Her bank of abdomen slopes down to view
A trail of canes like slender hands. You'll go
At last from her reluctantly, for who
Will leave a mistress with her charms laid bare?

Afterwards, when cooled the earth and wholly
Saturated with your rain, and rich
With smells to please the sniffing elephants,
Are wild figs ripening in the wind by which
To Devagiri you are carried slowly.

Arrived, you'll form a cumulous of flowers
For Skanda who is resident, the god of war.
All-powerful Shiva took him from the sun's
Fierce mouth to safeguard Indra's army. Pour
Down the Ganges in your heavenly showers.

With thunder, echoed in the mountains, make
To dance then Skanda's peacock, corner-eyed
In Shiva's crescent. Bhavání will put
A lustrous feather in her ear beside
That deep blue lotus for her dear son's sake.

Left the god who in the reeds took birth,
You're clear of Siddha pairs who fear the waters
Will harm the lutes they carry. Rantideva
Here made slaughter of Surabhi's daughters
That now the River Chambal blesses earth.

When you there drinking at the water's hem
Have stolen Krishna's colouring, you stand
To gods intently staring from that distance
As pearls there settling to a single strand
Enlarged with sapphire set as central gem.

Having crossed that river, train your powers
To lift in coquetry the tendrilled brows
Of Dasapura women making lashes
Unlock a beauty as wild bees unblouse
A darkness in the tossing jasmine flowers.

Against the land of Brahmátavarta loom,
Above the graves of Kshatriyas slain
In hundreds by Arjuna when on Kurus'
Field his sharpened arrows fell as rain,
The which you'll sprinkle on each lotus bloom.

Having drunk those waters you are kin
With Balarama, gentle one, refraining
From war with kinsmen as from wine that shone
In Revati's bright eyes. You, remaining
Black in colour, are now white within.

50. Thence to Jahnu's daughter, there descending
The Himálaya, the heavenly stair
Of Sagaras, but laughing at the frown
On Gaurí's face to tug at Shiva's hair:
Her hands as wavelets to his moon extending.

On Yamuná extended, so it seems,
That instantly your flanks have dropped to drink
Like Indra's elephant of crystal white:
A wrong-place meeting, where such blendings sink
Delightfully in slowly-moving streams.

Arrived, you'll rest on peaks of snow,
Until, with looks recovered, you appear
As mud that Shiva's bull unearths, and then,
From rocks thick-scented with the sitting deer,
You'll fall to that same river source below.

When winds ignite Sarala pines that press
Together, matted as are wild yak's tails,
Put out the torment with a thousand drops.
Goods for the eminent, when grief assails,
Are means to succour and allay distress.

Scatter the Sharabhas should these attempt
On hearing thunder to attack your person:
Laugh with hailstones as they break their bodies.
Those, who with extended self-exertion
Labour fruitlessly, deserve contempt.

Bent low as Siddhas walking round the rim
Of Shiva's footprint in an adoration,
You'll bring your worship as the thronged ascetics
Who from this rock, and purged of sin's negation,
Believe eternally and follow him.

As breezes out of hollow bamboos come
With pleasing music, and of conquests sing
At famed Tripura the Kinnara women,
Completing Shiva's concert you will bring,
From caves resounding, a muraja drum.

From snow-clad mountains northwards, drift your length
Of glistening darkness as the foot of Vishnu
Who put down Bali on the Krauncha Mountain.
Wild birds frame the opening of that fissure,
A tribute to Parashumára's strength.

As joint-cracked Mount Kailása's guest you'll stay,
Whose top was made a mirror on behalf
Of heavenly wives by Rávana. There note
In peaks as white as lotuses the laugh
Of Shiva accumulating, day to day.

I see you resting as a darkened stroke
Across that mountain, just as made-up eyes
Are capped in beauty by collyrium.
Across a fresh-cut tusk of whiteness lies
The dark blue bulk of Balarama's cloak.

60. As Shiva gave a helping arm to greet
Her, leaving off his serpent-fashioned ring,
So for Gaurí out of frozen water
Your help upon that pleasure hill will bring
A wave-like stairway for her climbing feet.

Around you, watch the heavenly women sport
As on your spray-releasing shape they beat
So playfully their bracelet's sharpened points.
If hard to leave them in the summer heat
Then hurt their eardrums with your harsh retort.

Let at Mánasa your winds assist
In shaking droplets from the wishing-trees,
And where the mountains in the crystal lake
Reflect the golden lotuses, you'll please
The elephant of Indra with your mist.

At Alaká the Ganges' cloth unfurls
But slowly, as with lovers, showing there
A lap with palaces that crowd the slopes,
And falls in season, as your rain through air,
The hair unloosening its strings of pearls.

Part Two

 

When weighed with Alaká you look the same:
You both have palaces that graze the sky,
Both floors of crystal, yours more water-formed,
For dazzling women you make lightning fly,
And for her pictures you have rainbow flame.

All times see lotuses, and women where
The cheeks are beautiful with Lodhra dust;
Aramanth in topnot, ears acacia:
At your approach, Kadamba flowers combust
Along the path-like partings of the hair.

On crystal terraces are Yakshas found,
Their consorts beautiful: the high above
Bright stars reflect as flowers, and wishing trees
Give Ratiphala that engenders love
As drums roll softly with your thunder sound.

Do not obstruct, but let the moonlit air
Collect in shining water droplet strings.
Such moonstones mitigate the arm's fatigue
In pleasure's drowsiness that loving brings
To women loosed at last, still lying there.

Propelled by winds across the mansion tops
Those wantoning adopt another shape.
Afraid, lest rain should harm those painted walls,
They change at once to smoke, and make escape
Through window lattices in tattered drops.

When Yaksha lovers would that knot untwist
Which hides their modesty, as lovers must,
Abashed, their women in that candid light,
Would throw on jewelled lamps their fists of dust,
But fruitlessly: the hands do not desist.

70. From nighttime visiting, Mandára curls
Of petals show the path by women taken,
As do the rich, gold ornaments from ears.
And left as dropped, by hurried bodies shaken,
At dawn lie strings of bosom-scented pearls.

Respect for Shiva stops the love god use
His bow too openly, here strung with bees.
Not so the women who with knitted brows
Draw back the love-looks and with practised ease
Transfix successively each man they choose.

Kubéra's dwelling northwards, bearing such
A gate to notice, arched in rainbowed stone:
So stands my house with young Mandára tree
My love adopts as offspring of her own,
Bent down with blossoms that a hand may touch.

To ease their journey, here an emerald flight
Of stairs leads down to golden lotuses
With beryl stems. Lake Mánasa is near,
But not a settled bird here notices
You bring the rainy season into sight.

A pleasure mountain rises, sapphire blue,
And has about it golden plantain trees.
You, framed at length there in your lightning strikes,
Return my loved one to such memories
Of that same mountain she was fond of too.

Here the red Ashoka waves, here twine
The Mádhaví and aramanth, a bower
Close by the Kesara. The first requires,
Like me, a lovely friend's left foot to flower,
The last, they say, a mouth that sprinkles wine.

In the midst thereof, where gems enhance
Its crystal pedestal, a gold perch stands
Whose lustre is of young bamboo. At night,
Her bracelets tinkling as she claps her hands,
My loved one makes the friendly peacock dance.

You'll know, with wisdom stored, O noble one,
My house from conch and lotus painted on
Both sides of doorway and from gloom therein.
A house that's lustreless when I am gone
As is the lotus when deprived of sun.

Descend at once from such exalted height.
In size a baby elephant, you'll take
A seat upon that pleasure-mount. From here,
Like threaded fireflies, have your lightning make
Within that house a play of moderate light.

With glances timid as the startled fawn,
With teeth fine-wrought in ripened Bimba lips,
Dark skin, deep abdomen, slim waist, perhaps
With breasts half-burdening slow-moving hips,
You'll find that model of pure woman born.

80. Reserved she is and hardly speaks, who will
From day to day become more solitary.
Oppressed by absence is my second life:
A single chakraváka misery,
Or lotus injured in the winter's chill.

From off her hand her face she hardly lifts,
Her eyes are swollen, and long sighs replace
The colour in her lower lip. Her hair's
Unkempt, dishevelled and half hides her face,
As is the moonlight tangled in your drifts.

At duties constantly, and makes to view
In thought my form emaciated, yet
Still asks the same of that sweet mainá bird:
Remember him, your master, little pet:
Of all his song birds he was fond of you.

Perhaps she sings there words that make my name,
A lute upon the lap, on which there fall
Her tears, and on her clothes. She plucks, adjusts
The strings, forgets the melody for all
That she who made and sings it are the same.

The months allotted from the day exiled
From me she marks and counts by flowers set
Upon the threshold floor, imagining
The joys of union in bodies met:
In this way lonely women are beguiled.

With hand uncared for and with uncut nail
She brushes hair from cheek, continually
Reminded of that rough, bare knot I tied:
A parting's token to be loosed by me
When sorrows and that curse no more prevail.

Engaged and busily in daylight she
May feel at night the emptiness, and fear
My absent company in separation.
But you at midnight looking down may cheer
Her tossing on her couch with words from me.

The thinnest moon that hangs beneath the eastern sky
Recalls her laid out on her side, where she,
With tears obstructed and in fitful sleep,
Can scarce recall that bliss, how instantly
Was pleasure answering to every sigh.

Her hair, rough-washed in water, on her face
So spread her swollen lower lip is hurt.
She sighs when thinking of us and our sport,
When on an instant now those nights revert
To hot tears falling on her sleeping place.

Her eyes not wet with pleasure, yet disposed
To let the moon in with its nectared ray
Through creviced eyelashes, she turns away
Now as the lotus on a cloudy day
Will show an aspect neither full or closed.

90. She holds at heart, my friend, such love for me
I knew on separating how that state
Must fall from pleasure into dimming grief.
The claims I make are not immoderate,
As all too fully, brother, you will see.

Without her ornaments, too heavy grown,
She lies the midway through her bed of pain.
Enfeebled, miserable, consumed by tears:
Assuredly to view her is to drop your rain,
An act to which the tender soul is prone.

Unkempt, without collyrium in her hair,
No deer-like glances when a look dissembles,
No eyebrows wanton, and the wine is stopped.
At your approach, however, her eyelid trembles
As fish in leaping stir the lily there.

No near-side nailmarks on her thigh today,
No pearls at waist, but like the plantain tree
Whose shoot is moist and tender, yellow-white,
Her limbs will tremble, and remember he
Would stroke and gently knead her after play.

If she be sweetly sleeping, cloud, then stop
And wait the night-watch passing: quiet, no thunder.
She feels my creeper's clasp around her neck:
From such or other bliss she may be under
Don't wake her suddenly or arms will drop.

With cool, moist wind you'll have her stirred
As Málatí revive when rains appear.
But mark her status and keep lightning in
Intent, she'll watch you in her window, hear
The wisdom in each pondered thunder-word.

You see me as a cloud. I am a friend
As well of your dear loved one who exhorts
You hear his message in these pleasant sounds,
As clouds drive hosts of travellers on with thoughts
Of hair's undoing when their journeys end.

The heart that hears will brim with eagerness.
She'll gaze as Sítá did on Hanúman,
And listen avidly, for women know
That words through confidants of husbands can
Against reunion weigh scarcely less.

By words and nature, noble one, be blessed,
And say her loved one in the Ráma hills
In penance groves, still living, asks for news
Of one so blamelessly beset by ills:
To have her welfare is his first request.

Excessive sorrows, and her sighs are his
As he in waiting sighs for her. Distress
That wastes her body draws at his. To block
Once lawful union with a hopelessness
Is still that fate athwart their path to this.

100. The one who'd whisper there to touch your face
With things allowed in front of female friends
Is now far out of earshot, out of sight,
But in his fervent longing for you sends
The words that faithfully this mouth will trace.

The peacock's hue within the ringlet's fall,
The dark-eyed glances of the startled fawn,
The suppleness of vines in limbs, the moon's
Full roundness in the face — your playful scorn
In eyebrows tells me you combine them all.

With mineral dyes I've drawn you in this feint
Of anger at me when in truth the stone
Should show me at your feet, my eyesight filled
With tears. How hard a fate that won't condone
The warm reunion I long to paint.

When he who would embrace you only sees
His virtuous at distance, and appears
To outstretched arms an ache or emptiness,
The woodland deities are sad: their tears
Are swollen tenderly to pearls in trees.

The winds from Himalayan snows that blast
Their way on southwards to the air have lent
The smell of opened pine trees' oozing shoots.
Let me hold you, worthy one, whose scent
Has come assuredly from bodies passed.

How can the night's extended watches shrink
Or all the days be cast in moderate heat?
But in this manner, with unsteady eye,
The sights petitioning for my defeat,
In pain and helplessly of you I think.

I live by brooding on you. Do not feel
Excessive grief for me, my tender one.
Unending pain and joy are no one's lot,
But always upwards, downwards we are spun
About the felly of life's turning wheel.

When Vishnu rises from his serpent bed
The curse had ending, which is four months hence.
My soul's desire, now close your eyes, and think
How love's long parting brings its recompense
In moonlight falling through that night instead.

Asleep, with arm on neck, in love's long draught,
Your waking caught me with a sudden cry:
I saw you sporting there with someone else,
You said, when urgently I pressed for why.
Oh what a rogue you are! — and quietly laughed.

Accepting, hearing now I am in health,
Believe no scandals of me. People say
A love unsatisfied, my dearest, dark-
Eyed one, must wither and must fall away,
But this my ardour is my added wealth.

110. No answer, worthy one, I seek to gain
From one who into silence has retired:
But hope that friendship is its own acceptance:
The eminent will do as is desired;
To chátakas in quiet you bring the rain.

I pray, this favour granted, as you ride
Above all regions with the rain's distension,
Magnificent, a wanderer, in pity's
Kindness — improper though my intervention —
That lightning not a moment leave your side.

 

Compiled into free e-book here.