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The Ramayan of Valmiki, translated into English verse

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Praise to Válmíki,(2)bird of charming song,(3)  Who mounts on Poesy’s sublimest spray,And sweetly sings with accent clear and strong  Ráma, aye Ráma, in his deathless lay.

Where breathes the man can listen to the strain  That flows in music from Válmíki’s tongue,Nor feel his feet the path of bliss attain  When Ráma’s glory by the saint is sung!

The stream Rámáyan leaves its sacred fount  The whole wide world from sin and stain to free.(4)The Prince of Hermits is the parent mount,  The lordly Ráma is the darling sea.

Glory to him whose fame is ever bright!  Glory to him, Prachetas’(5)holy son!Whose pure lips quaff with ever new delight  The nectar-sea of deeds by Ráma done.

Hail, arch-ascetic, pious, good, and kind!  Hail, Saint Válmíki, lord of every lore!Hail, holy Hermit, calm and pure of mind!  Hail, First of Bards, Válmíki, hail once more!

BOOK I.(6)

Canto I. Nárad.(7)


  To sainted Nárad, prince of thoseWhose lore in words of wisdom flows.Whose constant care and chief delightWere Scripture and ascetic rite,The good Válmíki, first and bestOf hermit saints, these words addressed:(9)“In all this world, I pray thee, whoIs virtuous, heroic, true?Firm in his vows, of grateful mind,To every creature good and kind?Bounteous, and holy, just, and wise,Alone most fair to all men’s eyes?Devoid of envy, firm, and sage,Whose tranquil soul ne’er yields to rage?Whom, when his warrior wrath is high,Do Gods embattled fear and fly?Whose noble might and gentle skillThe triple world can guard from ill?Who is the best of princes, heWho loves his people’s good to see?The store of bliss, the living mineWhere brightest joys and virtues shine?Queen Fortune’s(10) best and dearest friend,Whose steps her choicest gifts attend?Who may with Sun and Moon compare,With Indra,(11) Vishṇu,(12) Fire, and Air?Grant, Saint divine,(13) the boon I ask,For thee, I ween, an easy task,To whom the power is given to knowIf such a man breathe here below.”Then Nárad, clear before whose eyeThe present, past, and future lie,(14)Made ready answer: “Hermit, whereAre graces found so high and rare?Yet listen, and my tongue shall tellIn whom alone these virtues dwell.From old Ikshváku’s(15) line he came,Known to the world by Ráma’s name:With soul subdued, a chief of might,In Scripture versed, in glory bright,His steps in virtue’s paths are bent,Obedient, pure, and eloquent.In each emprise he wins success,And dying foes his power confess.Tall and broad-shouldered, strong of limb,Fortune has set her mark on him.Graced with a conch-shell’s triple line,His throat displays the auspicious sign.(16)High destiny is clear impressedOn massive jaw and ample chest,His mighty shafts he truly aims,And foemen in the battle tames.Deep in the muscle, scarcely shown,Embedded lies his collar-bone.His lordly steps are firm and free,His strong arms reach below his knee;(17)All fairest graces join to deckHis head, his brow, his stately neck,And limbs in fair proportion set:The manliest form e’er fashioned yet....