Scene I. — Hermitage of the Saint Bharat in Heaven.
Galava and Pelava.
Pelava, thee the Sage admitted, happier
Chosen, to that great audience in the house
Of highest Indra, — I meanwhile must watch
The sacred flame; inform my absence. Was
The divine session with the acting pleased?
Of pleased I know not; this I well could see
They sat all lost in that poetic piece
Of Saraswatie, "Luxmie's Choice", — breathlessly
Identified themselves with every mood.
Ah, that but! It opens doors to censure.
Yes, Urvasie was heedless, missed her word.
She acted Luxmie; Menaka
Was Varunie; who asking, "Sister, see,
The noble and the beautiful of Heaven,
And Vishnu and the guardians of the worlds.
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To whom does thy heart go mid all these glories?" —
Urvasie should have answered "Purushottam",
But from her lips "Pururavas" leaped forth.
Our organs are the slaves of fate and doom!
Was not the great Preceptor angry?
He cursed her, but high Indra blessed.
"Since thou hast wronged my teaching and my fame,
For thee no place in Heaven",
— so frowned the Sage.
Heaven's monarch marked her when the piece was ended,
Drooping, her sweet face bowed with shame, and said,
With gracious brows, "Since thou hast fixed thy heart
Upon my friend and strong ally in war,
I will do both a kindness. Go to him
And love and serve him as thy lord until
A child is got in thee and he behold
His offspring's face."
O nobly this became
Indra; he knows to value mighty hearts.
PELAVA (looking at the Sun)
Look, in our talk if we have not transgressed
Our teacher's hour for bathing. Galava,
We should be at his side.
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Let us make haste.
They go out.
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Scene II. — Outside the palace of Pururavas, beneath the House of Gems. The terrace of the House of Gems with a great staircase leading up to it.
The Chamberlain Latavya enters.
All other men when life is green and strong
Marry and toil and get them wealth, then, aging,
Their sons assume the burden, they towards rest
Their laboured faces turn. But us for ever
Service, a keyless dungeon still renewed,
Wears down; and hard that service is which keeps
O'er women ward and on their errands runs.
Now Kashi's daughter, careful of her vow,
Commands me, "I have put from me, Latavya,
The obstinacy of offended love
And wooed my husband through Nipunika.
Thou too entreat him." Therefore I linger here
Waiting till the King's greatness swiftly come,
His vesper worship done. It dims apace.
How beautifully twilight sits and dreams
Upon these palace walls! The peacocks now
Sit on their perches, drowsed with sleep and night,
Like figures hewn in stone. And on the roof
The fluttering pigeons with their pallid wings
Mislead the eye, disguised as rings of smoke
That from the window-ways have floated out
Into the evening. In places flower-bestrewn
The elders of the high seraglio, gentle souls
Of holy manners, set the evening lamps,
Dividing darkness; flames of auspice burn.
The King! I hear the sound of many feet,
Ringed round with torches he appears, his girls
Hold up with young fair arms. O form august
Like Mainak, when as yet the hills had wings,
Moving, and the slim trees along its ridge
Flickered with vermeil shaken blooms. Just here
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I'll wait him, in the pathway of his glance.
Enter Pururavas, surrounded by girl attendants
carrying torches; with him Manavaka.
Day passes with some pale attempt at calm,
For then work walls the mind from the fierce siege
Of ever-present passion. But how shall I
Add movement to the tardy-footed night,
The long void hours by no distraction winged?
Long live the King! My lady says, "The moon
Tonight in splendour on the House of Jewels
Rises like a bright face. On the clear terrace,
My husband by my side, I would await
With Rohinie, his heavenly fair delight,
The God's embracings."
What the Queen wills, was ever
My law, Latavya.
So I'll tell my lady.
Think you in very truth for her vow's sake
My lady makes this motion?
Rather I deem
'Tis her remorse she cloaks with holy vows,
Atoning thus for a prostration scorned.
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O true! the proud and loving hearts of women,
Who have their prostrate dear ones spurned, repenting
Are plagued with sweet accusing memories
Of eyes that ask forgiveness, outstretched hands,
Half-spoken words and touches on their feet
That travel to the heart. Precede me then
To the appointed terrace.
Look, my lord,
The crystal stairs roll upward like bright waves
On moonlit Ganges; yonder the terrace sleeps
Wide-bosomed to the cold and lovely eve.
Precede me; we'll ascend.
They ascend to the terrace.
The moon is surely
Upon the verge of rise; swiftly the east
Empties of darkness, and the horizon seems
All beautiful and brightening like a face.
O aptly said! Behind the peak of rise
The hidden moon, pushing black night aside,
Precedes himself with herald lustres. See!
The daughter of the imperial East puts back
The blinding tresses from her eyes, and smiles,
And takes with undimmed face my soul.
The king of the twice-born has risen all white
And round and luscious like a ball of sugar.
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A glutton's eloquence is ever haunted
With images of the kitchen.
(bowing with folded hands)
Hail, God that rulest
The inactive night! O settler with the sun
For ritual holy, O giver to the Gods
And blessed fathers dead of nectarous wine,
O slayer of the vasty glooms of night,
Whose soul of brightness crowns the Almighty's head,
O moon, all hail! accept thy offspring's prayer.
Well now, your grandpapa has heard your vows;
You'll take it from a Brahmin's mouth, through whom
Even he may telepath his message. So,
That's finished. Now sit down and give me a chance
Of being comfortable.
PURURAVAS (sitting down, then looking at his attendants)
The moon is risen;
These torches are a vain reiteration
Of brightness. Ladies, rest.
Our lord commands us.
It is not long before my lady comes.
So, let me, while we yet are lonely here,
Unburden me of my love-ravaged thoughts.
They are visible to the blind. Take hope and courage
By thinking of her equal love.
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And yet the pain within my heart is great.
For as a mighty river whose vast speed
Stumbles within a narrow pass of huge
And rugged boulders, chides his uncouth bed,
Increasing at each check, even so does love,
His joy of union stinted or deferred,
Rebel and wax a hundredfold in fire.
So your love-wasted limbs increase their beauty,
They are a sign you soon will clasp your love.
O friend, as you my longing heaviness
Comfort with hopeful words, my arm too speaks
In quick auspicious throbs.
He looks with hope up to the sky.
A Brahmin's word!
There enters in the air Chitralekha
with Urvasie in trysting-dress.
URVASIE (looking at herself)
Sister, do you not think my trysting-dress,
The dark-blue silk and the few ornaments,
Becomes me vastly? Do you not approve it?
O inexpressibly! I have no words
To praise it. This I'll say; it makes me wish
I were Pururavas.
Since Love himself
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Inspires you, bring me quickly to the dwelling
Of that high beautiful face.
Look, we draw near.
Your lover's house lifts in stupendous mass,
As it were mountain Coilas, to the clouds.
Look, sister, with the eye of Gods and know
Where is that robber of my heart and what
CHITRALEKHA (aside, with a smile)
I will jest with her.
I see him. He, in a sweet region made
For love and joy, possesses with desire
The body and the bosom of his love.
Happy that woman, whosoe'er she be!
Why, sweet faint-hearted fool, in whom but thee
Should his thoughts joy?
URVASIE (with a sigh of relief )
Alas, my heart perverse
Here on the terraced House of Gems
The King is with his friend sole-sitting. Then,
We may approach.
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O friend, the widening night
And pangs of love keep pace in their increase.
Sister, my heart is torn with apprehension
Of what his words might mean. Let us, ourselves
Invisible, hear their unfettered converse.
My fears might then have rest.
Take the moonbeams
Whose pregnant nectar comforts burning limbs.
But my affliction's not remediable
With such faint medicines. Neither smoothest flowers,
Moonlight nor sandal visiting every limb,
Nor necklaces of cool delightful pearl,
Only Heaven's nymph can perfectly expel
With bliss, or else —
URVASIE (clutching at her bosom with her hand)
O me! who else? who else?
Speech secret full of her unedge my pangs.
Heart that left me to flutter in his hands,
Now art thou for that rashness recompensed!
Yes, I too when I cannot get sweet venison
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And hunger for it, often beguile my belly
With celebrating all its savoury joys.
Your belly-loves, good friend, are always with you
And ready to your gulp.
You too shall soon
Possess your love.
My friend, I have strange feeling.
Hearken, insatiable, exacting, hearken,
And be convinced!
This I feel,
As if this shoulder by her shoulder pressed
In the car's shock bore all my sum of being,
And all this frame besides were only weight
Cumbering the impatient earth.
Yet you delay!
URVASIE (suddenly approaching Pururavas)
O me! sister!
What is it now?
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Before him, and he does not care!
All passionate unreasoning haste! Thou hast not
Put off as yet invisibility.
This way, my lady.
All listen, Urvasie and Chitralekha are despondent.
MANAVAKA (in dismay)
Hey? The Queen is here?
Keep watch upon your tongue.
You first discharge
Your face of conscious guilt.
Sister, what now?
Be calm. We are unseen. This princess looks
As for a vow arrayed, nor long, if so,
As she speaks, the Queen and Nipunika enter
with attendants carrying offerings.
How does yonder spotted moon
Flush with new beauty, O Nipunika,
At Rohinie's embracings.
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So too with you,
Lady, my lord looks fairer than himself.
The Queen, my lord, looks very sweet and gracious,
Either because I know she'll give me sweetmeats
Or 'tis a sign of anger quite renounced,
And from your memory to exile her harshness
She makes her vow an instrument.
Good reasons both;
Yet to my humble judgment the poor second
Has likelier hue. For she in gracious white
Is clad and sylvanly adorned with flowers,
Her raven tresses spangled with young green
Of sacred grass. All her fair body looks
Gentle and kind, its pomp and pride renounced
For lovely meekness to her lord.
Hail to our master!
Peace attend my lady.
He takes her hand and draws her down on a seat.
By right this lady bears the style
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Of Goddess and of Empress, since no whit
Her noble majesty of fairness yields
To Heaven's Queen.
O bravely said, my sister!
'Twas worthy of a soul where jealous baseness
Ought never harbour.
I have a vow, my lord,
Which at my husband's feet must be absolved.
Bear with me that I trouble you one moment.
No, no, it is not trouble, but a kindness.
The good trouble that brings me sweetmeats! often,
O often may such trouble vex my belly.
What vow is this you would absolve, my own?
Aushinarie looks at Nipunika.
'Tis that women perform to win back kindness
In eyes of one held dear.
If this be so,
Vainly hast thou these tender flower-soft limbs
Afflicted with a vow's austerities,
Beloved. Thou suest for favour to thy servant,
Propitiatest who for thy propitiated
All-loving glance is hungry.
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Greatly he loves her!
Why, silly one, whose heart is gone astraying,
Redoubles words of kindness to his wife.
Do you not know so much?
Not vain my vow,
That to such words of love has moved already
Stop, my lord, a word well spoken
Is spoilt by any answer.
Girls, the offering
With which I must adore this gentle moonlight
That dreams upon our terrace!
Here, my lady,
Are flowers, here costly scents, all needed things.
Give them to me.
She worships the moonbeams with
flowers and perfumes.
The sweetmeats of the offering to the Brahmin.
I will, my lady. Noble Manavaka,
Here is for you.
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Blessings attend thee. May
Thy vow bear fruit nor end.
Now, dear my lord,
Pray you, draw nearer to me.
Behold me, love!
What must I do?
Aushinarie worships the King, then bowing
down with folded hands,
I, Aushinarie, call
The divine wife and husband, Rohinie
And Mrigalanchhan named the spotted moon,
To witness here my vowed obedient love
To my dear lord. Henceforth whatever woman
My lord shall love and she desire him too,
I will embrace her and as a sister love,
Nor think of jealousy.
I know not wholly
Her drift, and yet her words have made me feel
All pure and full of noble trust.
Your love will prove all bliss; surely it must
When blessed and sanctioned by this pure, devoted
And noble nature.
When from twixt his hands
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Fish leaps, cries me the disappointed fisher,
"Go, trout, I spare you. This will be put down
To my account in Heaven."
No more but this
You love my friend, your husband, lady?
I with the death of my own happiness
Would give my husband ease. From this consider
How dearly I love him.
Since thou hast power on me
To give me to another or to keep
Thy slave, I have no right to plead. And yet
I am not as thou thinkest me, all lost,
O thou too jealous, to thy love.
We will not talk of that. I have fulfilled
My rite, and with observance earned your kindness.
Girls, let us go.
Is thus my kindness earned?
I am not kind, not pleased, if now, beloved,
Thou shun and leave me.
Pardon, my lord. I never
Have yet transgressed the rigour of a vow.
Exeunt Queen, Nipunika and attendants.
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Wife-lover, uxorious is this King, and yet
I cannot lure my heart away from him.
Why, what new trick of wilful passion's this?
PURURAVAS (sitting down)
The Queen is not far off.
Never heed that,
Speak boldly. She has given you up as hopeless.
So doctors leave a patient, when disease
Defies all remedy, to his own sweet guidance.
O that my Urvasie —
Today might win
Her one dear wish.
From her invisible feet
The lovely sound of anklets on my ear
Would tinkle, or coming stealing from behind
Blind both my eyes with her soft little hands
Like two cool lotuses upon them fallen:
Or, oh, most sweet! descending on this roof
Shaken with dear delicious terrors, lingering
And hanging back, be by her sister drawn
With tender violence, faltering step by step,
Till she lay panting on my knees.
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And satisfy his wish.
Must I? well then,
I'll pluck up heart and play with him a little.
She becomes visible, steals behind the King and covers
his eyes with her hands. Chitralekha puts off her veil of
invisibility and makes a sign to Manavaka.
Now say, friend, who is this?
The hands of beauty.
'Tis that Narayan-born whose limbs are sweetness.
How can you guess?
What is there here to guess?
My heart tells me. The lily of the night
Needs not to guess it is the moon's cool touch.
She starts not to the sunbeam. 'Tis so with me.
No other woman could but she alone
Heal with her little hands all my sick pining.
Urvasie removes her hands and rises to her feet;
then moves a step or two away.
Conquest attend my lord!
Welcome, O beauty.
He draws her down beside him.
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Happiness to my brother!
Here it sits
Because the Queen has given you to me,
Therefore I dare to take into my arms
Your body like a lover. You shall not think me
What, set the sun to you on this terrace?
O love, if thou my body dost embrace
As seizable, a largess from my Queen,
But whose permission didst thou ask, when thou
Stolest my heart away?
Brother, she is
Abashed and has no answer. Therefore a moment
Turn to me, grant me one entreaty.
When spring is vanished and the torrid heat
Thickens, I must attend the glorious Sun.
Do thou so act that this my Urvasie
Left lonely with thee, shall not miss her Heaven.
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Why, what is there in Heaven to pine for? There
You do not eat, you do not drink, only
Stare like so many fishes in a row
With wide unblinking eyes.
The joys of Heaven
No thought can even outline. Who then shall make
The soul forget which thence has fallen? Of this
Be sure, fair girl, Pururavas is only
Thy sister's slave: no other woman shares
That rule nor can share.
Brother, this is kind.
Be brave, my Urvasie, and let me go.
URVASIE (embracing Chitralekha, pathetically)
Chitralekha, my sister, do not forget me!
CHITRALEKHA (with a smile)
Of thee I should entreat that mercy, who
Hast got thy love's embrace.
She bows down to the King and goes.
Now nobly, sir,
Are you increased with bliss and your desire's
You say well. This is my increase;
Who felt not half so blest when I acquired
The universal sceptre of the world
And sovran footstool touched by jewelled heads
Of tributary monarchs, as today
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I feel most happy who have won the right
To touch two little feet and am allowed
To be thy slave and do thy lovely bidding.
I have not words to make a sweeter answer.
How does the winning of one loved augment
Sweet contradictions! These are the very rays
Of moonlight burned me late, and now they soothe;
Love's wounding shafts caress the heart like flowers,
Thou being with me; all natural sights and sounds,
Once rude and hurtful, now caressing come
Softly, because of thee in my embrace.
I am to blame that I deprived my lord
Beloved and beautiful, not so!
For happiness arising after pain
Tastes therefore sweeter, as the shady tree
To one perplexed with heat and dust affords
A keener taste of Paradise.
We have courted
For a long hour the whole delightfulness
Of moonlight in the evening. It is time
To seek repose.
Guide therefore this fair friend
The way her feet must henceforth tread.
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O love, I have but one wish left.
What wish, my lord?
When I had not embraced thee, my desire,
One night in passing seemed a hundred nights;
O now if darkness would extend my joys
To equal length of real hours with this
Sweet face upon my bosom, I were blest.
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