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Dry Nagkeser, in silver smiling,
several books of Tasso, and to the dramas of Metastasio, Hot Kiticum our sense beguiling,
are obvious instances; but, that any interest may be And last, to kindle fierce the scorching flame,
taken in the two hymns addressed to Pracriti, under Loveshaft, which gods bright Bela name.
different names, it is necessary to render them intelligible
by a previous explanation of the mythological allusions, Can men resist thy power, when Krishen yields,
which could not but occur in them. Krishen, who still in Matra's holy fields
Iswara, or Isa, and Isani, or Isi, are unquestionabiy
the Osiris and Isis of Egypt; for, though neither a Tunes harps immortal, and to strains divine
resemblance of names, nor a similarity of character, Dances by moonlight with the Gopia nine? would separately prove the identity of Indian and EgypBut, when thy daring arm untamed
tian deities, yet, when they both concur, with the addition At Mahadeo a loveshaft aim'd,
of numberless corroborating circumstances, they form Heaven shook, and, smit with stony wonder,
a proof little short of demonstration. The female divi. Told his deep dread in bursts of thunder,
nity, in the mythological systems in the East, represents Whilst on thy beauteous limbs an azure fire
the active power of the male; and that Isi means active Blazed forth, which never must expire.
nature appears evidently from the word s’acta, which is derived from s'acti, or power, and applied to those
Hindoos who direct their adoration principally to that O thou for ages born, yet ever young
goddess: this feminine character of Pracriti, or created For ages may thy Brahmin's lay be sung !
nature, is so familiar in most languages, and even in And, when thy lory spreads his emerald wings our own, that the gravest English writers, on the most To waft thee high above the towers of kings, serious subjects of religion and philosophy, speak of her Whilst o'er thy throne the moon's pale light
operations as if she were actually an animated being; Pours her soft radiance through the night,
but such personifications are easily misconceived by the And to each floating cloud discovers
multitude, and have a strong tendency to polytheism.
The principal operations of nature are, not the absolute The haunts of bless'd or joyless lovers,
annihilation and new creation of what we call material Thy mildest influence to thy bard impart, substances, but the temporary extinction and reproducTo warm, but not consume, his heart.
tion, or rather, in one word, the transmutation of forms: whence the epithet Polymorphos is aptly given to nature by European philosophers: hence Iswara, Siva, Hara, (for those are his names and near a thousand more)
united with Isi, represent the secondary causes, whatever TWO HYMNS TO PRACRITI.
they may be, of natural phenomena, and principally those
of temporary destruction and regeneration ; but the THE ARGUMENT.
Indian Isis appears in a variety of characters, especially In all our conversations with learned Hindoos, we find in those of Parvati, Cali, Durga, and Bhavani, which bear them enthusiastic admirers of poetry, which they con.
a strong resemblance to the Juno of Homer, to Hecate, sider as a divine art, that had been practised for number to the armed Pallas, and to the Lucretian Venus. less ages in heaven, before it was revealed on earth by
The name Parvati took its rise from a wild poetical fic Valmic, whose great heroic poem is fortunately pre
tion. Himalaya, or the Mansion of Snow, is the title given served: the Brahmins of course prefer that poetry, by the Hindoos to that vast chain of mountains, which which they believe to have been actually inspired; limits India to the north, and embraces it with its eastem while the Vaidyas, (who are in general perfect gramma
and western arms, both extending to the Ocean ; the forrians and good poets, but are not suffered to read any of mer of those arms is called Chandrasec'hara, or the the sacred writings except the Ayurveda, or Body of Moon's Rock; and the second, which reaches as far Medical Tracts,) speak with rapture of their innumera. west as the mouths of the Indus, was named by the an. ble popular poems, epic, lyric, and dramatic. which cients Montes Parveti. These hills are held sacred by were composed by men not literally inspired, but called, the Indians, who suppose them to be the terrestrial metaphorically, the sons of Sereswati, or Minerva;
haunt of the god Iswara. The mountain Himalaya, being among whom the Pandits of all sects, nations, and de personified, is represented as a powerful monarch, whose grees, are unanimous in giving the prize of glory to Ca.wife was Mena : their daughter is named Parvati, or lidasa, who flourished in the court of Vicramaditya, Mountain-born, and Durga, or of difficult access; but the fifty-seven years before Christ. He wrote several dra: Hindoos believe her to have been married to Siva in a mas, one of which, entitled Sacontala, is in my posses. pre-existent state, when she bore the name of Bati. The sion; and the subject of it appears to be as interesting daughter of Himalaya had two sons ; Ganesa, or the Lord as the composition is beautiful; besides these he pub of Spirits, adored as the wisest of deities, and always lished the Meghaduta, or cloud-messenger, and the invoked at the beginning of every literary work, and Nalodaya, or rise of Nala, both elegant love tales: the Cumara, Scanda, or Carticeya, commander of the celes Raghuvansa, an heroic poem; and the Cumara Sam. tial armies. bhava, or birth of Cumara, which supplied me with ma
The pleasing fiction of Cama, the Indian Cupid, and his terials for the first of the following odes. I have not
friend Vasanta, or the Spring, has been the subject of indeed yet read it; since it could not be correctly copied another poem: and here it must be remembered, that the for me during the short interval in which it is in my pow. god of Love is named also Smara, Candarpa, and Ananga. er to amuse myself with literature : but I have heard One of his arrows is called Mellica, the Nyctanthes of the story told, both in Sanscrit and Persian, by many
our botanists, who very unadvisedly reject the vernacular Pandits, who had no communication with each other; names of most Asiatic plants: it is beautifully introduced and their outline of it coincided so perfectly, that I arc by Cálidása into this lively couplet ; convinced of its correctness: that outline is here filled
Mellicamucule bhati gunjanmattamadhuvratah, up, and exhibited in a lyric form, partly in the Indian,
Prayane panchaoanasya sanc'hama purayannima. partly in the Grecian taste; and great will be my pleasure, “ The intoxicated bee shines and murmurs in the fresh when I can again find time for such amusements, in read blown Mellica, like him who gives breath to a white conch ing the whole poem of Calidassa, and in comparing my in the procession of the god with five arrows." descriptions with the original composition. To anticipate A critic to whom Cálidasa repeated this verse, observed, the story in a preface, would be to destroy the interest that the comparison was not exact: since the bee sits that may be taken in the poem: a disadvantage attending on the blossom itself, and does not murmur at the end of all prefatory arguments, of which those prefixed to the I the tube, like him who blows a conch. "I was aware of
that," said the poet," and, therefore, described the bee as own language, I cannot refrain from subjoining the first intoxicated: a drunken musician would blow the shell at Nemean Ode,* not only in the same measure as nearly as the wrong end." There was more than wit in this answer; possible, but almost word for word with the original; it was a just rebuke to a dull critic; for poetry delights those epithets and phrases only being necessarily added, in general images, and is so far from being a perfect imi. which are printed in Italic letters. tation, that a scrupulous exactness of descriptions and súoiles, by leaving nothing for the imagination to supply, never fails to diminish or destroy the pleasure of every
TO DURGA. reader who has an imagination to be gratified. It may here be observed, that Nymphæa, not Lotos, is
I. 1. the generic name in Europe of the flower consecrated to From thee begins the solemn air, Isis: the Persians know by the name of Nilufer that species of it which the botanists ridiculously call Nelum. Adored Ganésá; next, thy sire we praise, bo, and which is remarkable for its curious pericarpium, (Him, from whose red clustering hair where each of the seeds contains in miniature the leaves A new-born crescent sheds propitious rays, of a perfect vegetable. The lotos of Homer was probably Fair as Gangá’s curling foam,) the sugar-cane, and that of Linnæus is a papilionaceous Dread Iswara ; who loved o'er awful mountains, plant; but he gives the same name to another species of Rapt in prescience deep, to roam, the Nymphæa ; and the word is so constantly applied But chiefly those, whence holy rivers gush, among us in India to the Nilufer, that any other would be hardly intelligible : the blue lotos grows in Cashmir | Bright from their secret fountains, and in Persia, but not in Bengal, where we see only the And o'er the realms of Brahmá rush. red and white; and hence occasion is taken to feign, that the lotus of Hindoostan was dyed crimson by the blood
I. 2. of Siva
Rock above rock they ride sublime, Cavera, mentioned in the fourteenth stanza, is the god And lose their summits in blue fields of day, of weath, supposed to reside in a magnificent city, called Fashion d first, when rolling time Alaca ; and Vrihaspati, or the genius of the planet Jupi- Vast infant, in his golden cradle lay, ter, is the preceptor of the gods in Swerga or the firmament: he is usually represented as their orator, when Bidding endless ages run, any message is carried from them to one of their superior and wreathe their giant heads in snows eternal deities.
Gilt by each revolving sun; The lamentations of Reti, the wife of Cama, fill a whole Though neither morning beam, nor noontide glare, book in the Sanscrit poem, as I am informed by my teach. In wintry sign or vernal, er, a learned Vaidya; who is restrained only from read. Their adamantine strength impair; ing the book, which contains a description of the nuptials ; for the ceremonies of a marriage where Brahma himself
I. 3. olíciated as the father of the bridegroom, are too holy to
Nor e'en the fiercest summer heat be known by any but Brahmins.
The achievements of Durga in her martial character Could thrill the palace, where their monarch reign'd as the patroness of Virtue, and her battle with a demon On his frost impearled seat, in the shape of a buffalo, are the subject of many episodes (Such height had unremitted virtue gain'd!) in the Puranas and Cavyas, or sacred and popular poems; Himálaya, to whom a lovely child; but a full account of them would have destroyed the Sweet Parvati, sage Ména bore, unity of the ode, and they are barely alluded to in the Who now in earliest bloom, saw heaven adore last stanza It seemed proper to change the measure, when the
Her charms; earth languish, till she smiled. goddess was to be addressed as Bhavani, or the power
II. 1. of fecundity; but such a change, though very common in Sanscrit, has its inconveniences in European poetry: a But she to love no tribute paid ; distinct hymn is therefore appropriated to her in that Great Iswara her pious cares engaged : capacity; for the explanation of which we need only Him, who gods and fiends dismay'd, premise, that Lacshmi is the goddess of abundance; that She sooth’d with offerings meek, when most he the Cetata is a fragrant and beautiful plant of the Diæcian
raged. kindknown to botanists by the name Pandanus; and that the Durgötsava, or great festival of Bhavani at the On a morn, when, edged with light, close of the rains, ends in throwing the image of the god. The lake-born flowers their sapphire cups expanded, dess into the Ganges, or other sacred waters.
Laughing at the scatter'd night, I am not conscious of having left unexplained any A vale remote and silent pool she sought, difficult allusion in the two poems; and have only to add Smooth-footed, lotos-handed, (lest European critics should consider a few of the images And braids of sacred blossoms wrought; as inapplicable to Indian manners) that the ideas of snow and ice are familiar to the Hindoos; that the mountains
II. 2. of Himalaya may be clearly discerned from a part of Bengal; that the Grecian Hæmus is the Sanscrit word Not for her neck, which, unadorn'd, kaimas, meaning snowy ; and that funeral urns may be Bade envying antelopes their beauties hide : seen perpetually on the banks of the river.
Art she knew not, or she scorn'd; The two hymns are neither translations from any Nor had her language e'en a name for pride, other poems, nor imitations of any; and have nothing of To the god, who, fix'd in thought, Pindar in them except the measures, which are nearly Sat in a crystal cave new worlds designing, the same, syllable for syllable, with those of the first and second Nemean Odes: more musical stanzas might per:
Softly sweet her gift she brought, haps have been formed; but in every art, variety and And spread the garland o'er his shoulders broad, Dovelty are considerable sources of pleasure. The Where serpents huge lay twining, style and manner of Pindar have been greatly mistaken; Whose hiss the round creation awed. and that a distinct idea of them may be conceived by such, as have not access to that inimitable poet in his
#See p. 58.
IV. 3. He view'd, half-smiling, half-severe,
There on a crag whose icy rift The prostrate maid—that moment through the rocks Hurl’d night and horror o'er the pool profound, He who decks the purple year,
That with madding eddy swift Vasanta, vain of odoriferous locks,
Revengeful bark'd his rugged base around, With Cama, horsed on infant breezes flew. The beauteous hermit sat; but soon perceived (Who knows not Cama, nature's king ?)
A Bráhmin old before her stand,
Who, faltering, ask'd for whom she grieved.
“What graceful youth, with accents mild, That Smara pointed with transcendant art, Eyes like twin stars, and lips like early morn, Glanced with unimagined speed,
Has thy pensive heart beguiled ?" And tinged its blooming barb in Siva's heart : * No mortal youth (she said, with modest scorn) Glorious flower, in heaven proclaim'd
E’er beguiled my guiltless heart :
Bloom celestial could impart.
Dread Siva, source of glory,
Which on these rocks must gleam no more!"
· Rare object of a damsel's love, But nature felt the pain : heaven's blazing eye (The wizard bold replied,) who, rude and wild, Sank absorb'd in sad eclipse,
Leaves eternal bliss above,
Mounted on his milk-white bull!
Who from vases ever full
Quaffs love and nectar; seek the festive hall, And soon to silver ashes
Rich caves, and mansion glorious
Of young Cuvera, loved by all ;
• But spurn that sullen wayward god, Accomplice rash, a thundering voice decreed : That three-eyed monster, hideous, fierce, untamed. Withering live in joyless gloom,
Unattired, ill-girt, unshodWhile ten gay signs the dancing seasons lead. "Such fell impiety, (the nymph exclaim’d,) Thy flowers, perennial once, now annual made, Who speaks, must agonize; who hears, must die; The fish and ram shall still adorn :
Nor can this vital frame sustain
Death may atone the blasphemy.”
She spoke, and o'er the risted rocks But Siva from terrestrial haunts had fled :
Her lovely form with pious frenzy threw;
But beneath her floating locks
Knitting close their silky plumes,
Till in clouds of rich perfumes
Where streams of glory shedding,
The well-feign'd Brahmin, Siva, stood.
Gods alone to gods reveal
In what stupendous notes th' immortals woo. But nor art nor counsel sage,
Straight the sons of light prepared
Which th' empyreal army shared ;
With aged eyes beholding
His daughter, empress of the spheres.
VIII. 3. Whilst every lip with nectar glow'd,
Tumultuous passions whilst he spoke The bridegroom blithe his transformation told; In heavenly bosoms mir’d their bursting fire, Round the mirthful goblet flow'd,
Scorning frigid Wisdom's yoke.
Not Siva could the charm resist;
The pearls that gush'd from Durga's eyes.
When time was drown'd in sacred sleep,
And raven darkness brooded o'er the deep,At Indra's wish appear'd the soul's inflamer
Reposing on primeval pillows And, in vernal arms array'd,
Of tossing billows, Engaged (ah, thoughtless!) in the bold emprise
The forms of animated nature lay ; To tame wide nature's tamer,
Till o'er the wide abyss, where love And soften Him who shakes the skies.
Sat like a nestling dove,
From heaven's dun concave shot a golden ray. VIII. 2.
Still brighter and more bright it stream'd, " See now the God, whom all adored,
Then, like a thousand suns, resistless gleam'd; An ashy heap, the jest of every gale!
Whilst on the placid waters blooming,
The sky perfuming,
His azure skirts and vase of gold,
While o'er his foliage rollid
Drops, that impart Bhavani's orient bed.
Mother of gods, rich nature's queen,
Thy genial fire emblazed the bursting scene ;
For, on th' expanded blossom sitting,
HYMN TO INDRA.
So many allusions to Hindoo mythology occur in the Pervade this peopled frame,
following Ode, that it would be scarce intelligible with And smiles, with blushes tinged, the work ap- out an explanatory introduction, which, on every acproved.
count, and on all occasions, appears preferable to notes
in the margin. Goddess, around thy radiant throne
A distinct idea of the god, whom the poem celebrates, The scaly shoals in spangled vesture shone, may be collected from a passage in the ninth section of Some slowly, through green waves advancing, the Gità, where the sudden change of measure has an Some swiftly glancing,
effect similar to that of the finest modulation : As each thy mild mysterious power impellid :
te punyimasadya surendra locam
asnanti divyan dividevabhogan, E'en orcs and river dragons felt
te tam bhuctwa swergalocam risalam Their iron bosoms melt
cshine punye mertyalocam visanti. With scorching heat ; for love the mightiest quell’d. These having through virtue reached the mansion of
the king of Sura's, seast on the exquisite heavenly food But straight ascending vapours rare
of the gods: they, who have enjoyed this lofty region of O'ercanopied thy seat with lucid air,
Swerga, but whose virtue is exhausted, revisit the habi. While, through young Indra's new dominions tation of mortals." Unnumber'd pinions
Indra, therefore, or the king of Immortals, corresMix'd with thy beams a thousand varying dyes, ponds with one of the ancient Jupiters (for several of Of birds or insects, who pursued
that name were worshipped in Europe,) and particularly Their flying loves, or wooed
with Jupiter the conductor, whose attributes are so no.
bly described by the Platonic philosophers; one of his Them yielding, and with music fill'd the skies.
numerous titles is Dyupeti, or, in the nominative case be.
fore certain letters, Dyupetir ; which means the Lord of And now bedeck'd with sparkling isles
Heaven, and seems a more probable origin of the HeLike rising stars, the watery desert smiles; truscan word than Juvans Pater; as Diespiter was proSmooth plains by waving forests bounded,
bably, not the father, but the Lord of day. He may be With hillocks rounded,
considered as the Jove of Ennius in this memorable Send forth a shaggy brood, who, frisking light
line: In mingled socks of faithful pairs,
Aspice hoc sublime candens, quem invocant omnes Jovem Impart their tender cares;
where the poet clearly means the firmament, of which All animals to love their kind invite.
Indra is the personification. He is the god of thunder
and the five elements, with inferior genii under his comNor they alone : those vivid gems,
mand; and is conceived to govern the eastern quarter That dance and glitter on their leafy stems,
of the world, but to preside, like the genius or AgathoThy voice inspires, thy bounty dresses,
dæman of the ancients over the celestial bands, which
are stationed on the summit of Meru or the north-pole, Thy raplure blesses,
where he solaces the gods with nectar and heavenly From yon tall palm, who like a sunborn king,
music; hence, perhaps, the Hindoos, who give evidence, His proud tiara spreads elate,
and the inagistrates, who hear it, are directed to stand To those who throng his gate,
fronting the east or the north. Where purple chieftains vernal tribute bring. This imaginary mount is here feigned to have been
seen in a vision at Varanasi, very improperly called Ba. A gale so sweet o'er Ganga breathes,
naris, which takes its name from two rivulcts that emThat in soft smiles her graceful cheek she wreaths. brace the city; and the bard, who was favoured with Mark where her argent brow she raises,
the sight, is supposed to have been Vyasa, surnamed And blushing gazes
Dwaipayana, or Dwelling in an Island; who, if he really
composed the Gità, makes very flattering mention of On yon fresh Cétaca, whose amorous flower
himself in the tenth chapter. The plant lata, which he Throws fragrance from his flaunting hair, describes weaving a net round the mountain Mandara, While with his blooming fair
is transported by a poetical liberty to Sumeru, which He blends perfume, and multiplies the bower. the great author of the Mahabharat has richly painted in
four beautiful couplets : it is the generic name for a Thus, in one vast eternal gyre,
creeper, though represented here as a species, of which Compact or fluid shapes, instinct with fire,
many elegant varieties are found in Asia. Lead, as they dance, this gay creation,
The Genii named Cinnarus are the male dancers in Whose mild gradation
Swerga, or the heaven of Indra : and the Apsaras are Of melting tints illudes the visual ray:
his dancing-girls, answering to the fairies of the Per.
sians, and to the damsels called in the Koran hhúru'lûyàn, Dense earth in springing herbage lives,
or with antelopes' eyes. For the story of Chitraratha, Thence life and nurture gives
the chief musician of the Indian paradise, whose painted To sentient forms, that sink again lo clay.
car was burned by Arjun ; and for that of the Chatur
desaretna, or fourteen gems, as they are called, which Ye maids and youths on fruitful plains,
were produced by churning the ocean: the reader must Where Lacshmi revels and Bhavani reigns, be referred to Mr. Wilkins's learned annotations on his Oh, haste! oh, bring your flowery treasures,
accurate version of the Bhagavadgità. The fable of the To rapid measures
pomegranate flower is borrowed from the popular my. Tripping at eve these hallow'd banks along;
thology of Nepal and Tibet.
In this poem the same form of stanza is repeated with The power, in yon dim shrines adored,
variations, on a principle entirely new in modern lyric To primal waves restored,
poetry, which on some future occasion may be ex. With many a smiling race shall bless your song. plained.