Star-eyed Tara softly counselled pressing to her consort’s side,
Mighty Bali proudly answered with a warrior’s lofty pride:
‘Challenge of a humbled foeman and a younger’s haugty scorn
May not, shall not, tender Tara, by a king be meekly borne!
Bali turns not from encounter even with his dying breath,
Insult from a foe, unanswered, is a deeper stain than death,
And Sugriva’s quest for combat Bali never shall deny,
Though sustained by Rama’s forces and by Rama’s prowess high!
Free me from thy sweet embraces and amidst thy maids retire,
Woman’s love and soft devotion woman’s timid thoughts inspire,
Fear not, Tara, blood of brother Bali’s honour shall not stain,
I will quell his proud presumption, chase him from this realm again,
Free me from thy loving dalliance, midst thy damsels seek thy place,
Till I come a happy victor to my Tara’s fond embrace!’
Slow and sad with sweet obeisance Tara stopped around her lord,
Welling tear-drops choked her accents as she prayed in stifled word,
Slow and sad with swelling bosom Tara with her maids retired,
Bali issued proud and stately with the thought of vengeance fired!
Hissing like an angry cobra, city’s lofty gates he past,
And his proud and angry glances fiercely all around he cast,
Till he saw the bold Sugriva, gold-complexioned, red with ire,
Girded for the dubious combat, flaming like the forest fire!
Bali braced his warlike garments and his hand he lifted high,
Bold Sugriva raised his right arm with a proud and answering cry,
Bali’s eyes were red as copper and his chain was burnished gold,
To his brother bold Sugriva thus he spake in accents bold:
‘Mark this iron fist, intruder, fatal is its vengeful blow,
Crushed and smitten thou shalt perish and to nether world shalt go,’
‘Nay that fate awaits thee, Bali,’ spake Sugriva armed for strife,
‘When this right arm smites thy forehead, from thy bosom rends thy life!’
Closed the chiefs in fatal combat, each resistless in his pride,
And like running rills from mountains poured their limbs the purple tide,
Till Sugriva quick uprooting Sal tree from the jungle wood,
As the dark cloud hurls the lightning, hurled it where his brother stood,
Staggering ‘neath the blow terrific Bali reeled and almost fell,
As a proud ship overladen reels upon the ocean’s swell!
But with fiercer rage and fury Bali in his anguish rose,
And with mutual blows they battled,-brothers and relentless foes,
Like the sun and moon in conflict or like eagles in their fight,
Still they fought with cherished hatred and an unforgotten spite,
Till with mightier force and fury Bali did his younger quell,
Faint Sugriva fiercely struggling ‘neath his brother’s prowess fell!
Still the wrathful rivals wrestled with their bleeding arms and knees,
With their nails like claws of tigers and with riven rocks and trees,
And as INDRA battles Vritra in the tempest’s pealing roar,
Blood-stained Bali, red Sugriva, strove and struggled, fought and tore,
Till Sugriva faint and falt’ring fell like Vritra from the sky,
To his comrade and his helper turned his faint and pleading eye!
Ah! those soft and pleading glances smote the gentle Rama’s heart,
On his bow of ample stature Rama raised the fatal dart,
Like the fatal disc of YAMA was his proudly circled bow,
Like a snake of deadly poison flew his arrow swift and low,
Wingéd dwellers of the forest heard the twang with trembling few,
Echoing woods gave back the accent, lightly fled the startled deer,
And as INDRA’S flag is lowered when the Aswin winds prevail,
Lofty Bali pierced and bleeding by that fatal arrow fell!