Darkly closed the shades of midnight, Karna still and lifeless lay,
Ghast and Pale o’er slaughtered thousands fell the morning’s sickly ray,
Bowman brave and proud preceptor Kripa to Duryodhan said,
Tear bedimmed the warrior’s eyelids and his manly bosom bled:
‘Leaderless are Koru’s forces by a dire misfortune crost,
Like the moonless shades of midnight in their utter darkness lost,
Like a summer-driéd river, weary waste of and sand,
Lost its pride of fresh’ning waters sweeping o’er the grateful land!
As a spark of fire consumeth summer’s parched and sapless wood,
Kuru’s lordless, lifeless forces shall be angry Arjun’s food,
Bhima too shall seek fulfilment of the dreadful vow he made,
Brave Satyaki wreak his vengeance for his sons untimely slayed!
Bid this battle cease, Duryodhan, pale and fitful is thy star,
Blood enough of friendly nations soaks this crimson field of war,
Bid them live,-the few survivors of a vast and countless host,
Let thy few remaining brothers live,-for many are the lost,
Kindly heart hath good Yudhishthir, still he seeks for rightful peace,
Render back his ancient kingdom, bid this war of kinsmen cease! ‘
‘Kripa,’ so Duryodhan answered, ‘in this sad and fatal strife,
Ever foremost of our warriors, ever careless of thy life,
Ever in the council chamber thou hast words of wisdom said,
Needless war and dire destruction by thy peaceful counsel stayed,
Every word thou speakest, Kripa, is a word of truth and weight.
Nathless thy advice for concord, wise preceptor, comes too late!
Hope not that the good Yudhishthir will again our friendship own
Cheated once by deep Sakuni of his kingdom and his throne,
Rugged Bhima will not palter, fatal is the vow he made,
Vengeful Arjun will not pardon gallant Abhimanyu dead!
Fair Draupadi doth her penance, so our ancient matrons say,
In our blood to wash her insult and her proud insulters slay,
Fair Subhadra morn and evening weeps her dear departed son,
Feeds Draupadi’s deathless anger for the hero dead and gone,
Deeply in their bosoms rankle wrongs and insults we have given,
Blood alone can wash it, Kripa, such the cruet will of Heaven!
And the hour for peace is over, for our best sleep on the plain,
Brothers, kinsmen, friends, and elders slumber with the countless slain,
Shall Duryodhan like a recreant now avoid the deathful strife,
After all his bravest warriors have in war surrendered life,
Shall he, sending them to slaughter, now survive and learn to flee,
Shall he, ruler over monarchs, learn to bend the servile knee?
Proud Duryodhan sues no favour even with his dying breath,
Unsubdued and still unconquered, changeless even unto death,
Salya valiant king of Madra. leads our arméd hosts to-day,
Or to perish or to conquer, gallant Kripa, lead the way! ‘
Meanwhile round the brave Yudhishthir calmly stood the Pandav force,
As the final day of battle now began its fatal course,
‘Brothers, kinsmen, hero-warriors,’ so the good Yudhishthir said,
‘Ye have done your share in battle, witness countless foemen dead
Sad Yudhishthir is your eldest, let him end this fatal strife,
Slay the last of Kuru chieftains or surrender throne and life!
Bold Satyaki ever faithful with his arms protects my right,
Drupad’s son with watchful valour guards my left with wonted might.
In the front doth Bhima battle, careful Arjun guards the rear,
I will lead the battle’s centre which shall know nor flight nor fear! ‘
Truly on that fatal morning brave Yudhishthir kept his word,
Long and fiercely waged the combat with fair Madra’s valiant lord,
Thick and fast the arrows whistled and the lances pointed well,
Till with crashing sound of thunder Salya’s mighty standard fell!
Rescued by the son of Drona, Salya rushed again to war,
Slew the noble milk-white coursers of Yudhishthir’s royal car,
And as springs the hungry lion on the spotted jungle-deer,
Salya rushed upon Yudhishthir reckless and unknown to fear!
Brave Yudhishthir marked him coming and he hurled his fatal dart,
Like the fatal curse of Brahman sank the weapon in his heart,
Blood suffused his eye and nostril, quivered still his feeble hand,
Like a cliff by thunder riven Salya fell and shook the land!
Ended was the fatal battle, for the Mlechcha king was slain,
Pierced by angry Sahadeva false Sakuni pressed the plain,
All the brothers of Duryodhan tiger-waisted Bhima slew,
Proud Duryodhan pale and panting from the field of battle flew!