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A History of Sanskrit Literature by MacDonell

Beholding the face of beauteous maidens


Then begging the cloud, after delivering his message, to return with reassuring news, the exile finally dismisses him with the hope that he may never, even for a moment, be divided from his lightning spouse.

Besides the expression of emotion, the descriptive element is very prominent in this fine poem. This is still more true of Kalidasa's Ritusamhara, or "Cycle of the Seasons." That little work, which consists of 153 stanzas in six cantos, and is composed in various metres, is a highly poetical description of the six seasons into which classical Sanskrit poets usually divide the Indian year. With glowing descriptions of the beauties of Nature, in which erotic scenes are interspersed, the poet adroitly interweaves the expression of human emotions. Perhaps no other work of Kalidasa's manifests so strikingly the poet's deep sympathy with Nature, his keen powers of observation, and his skill in depicting an Indian landscape in vivid colours.

The poem opens with an account of summer. If the glow of the sun is then too great during the day, the moonlit nights are all the more delightful to lovers. The moon, beholding the face of beauteous maidens, is beside itself with jealousy; then, too, it is that the heart of the wanderer is burnt by the fire of separation. Next follows a brilliant description of the effects of the heat: the thirst or lethargy it produces in serpent, lion, elephant, buffalo, boar, gazelle, peacock, crane, frogs, and fishes; the devastation caused by the forest fire which devours trees and shrubs, and drives before it crowds of terror-stricken beasts.

The close heat is succeeded by the rains, which are announced by the approach of the dark heavy clouds with their banner of lightning and drum of thunder. Slowly they move accompanied by chataka birds, fabled to live exclusively on raindrops, till at length they discharge their water. The wild streams, like wanton girls, grasp in a trice the tottering trees upon their banks, as they rush onwards to the sea. The earth becomes covered with young blades of grass, and the forests clothe themselves with golden buds--

The mountains fill the soul with yearning thoughts of love, When rain-charged clouds bend down to kiss the tow'ring rocks, When all around upon their slopes the streams gush down, And throngs of peacocks that begin to dance are seen.

Next comes the autumn, beauteous as a newly-wedded bride, with face of full-blown lotuses, with robe of sugarcane and ripening rice, with the cry of flamingoes representing the tinkling of her anklets. The graceful creepers vie with the arms of lovely women, and the jasmine, showing through the crimson acoka blossoms, rivals the dazzling teeth and red lips of smiling maidens.

Winter follows, when the rice ripens, while the lotus fades and the fields in the morning are covered with rime--


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