(1500 BC? / Kalpi, Jalaun, Uttar Pradesh / India)

Mahabharata, Book I - Close Of The Day

Like a lordly tusker rising from a beauteous lotus lake,
Rose Duryodhan from his brothers, proudly thus to Bhima spake:

'With such insults seek not, Bhima, thus to cause a warrior grief,
Bitter taunts but ill befit thee, warlike tiger-waisted chief,

Proudest chief may fight the humblest, for like river's noble course,
Noble deeds proclaim the warrior, and we question not their source!

Teacher Drona, priest and warrior, owns a poor and humble birth,
Kripa, noblest of Gautamas, springeth from the lowly earth,

Known to me thy lineage Bhima, thine and of thy brothers four,
Amorous gods your birth imparted, so they say, in days of yore!

Mark the great and gallant Karna decked in rings and weapons fair
She-deer breeds not lordly tigers in her poor and lowly lair,

Karna comes to rule the wide earth, not fair Anga's realms alone,
By his valour and his virtue, by the homage which I own,

And if prince or arméd chieftain doth my word or deed gainsay,
Let him take his bow and quiver, meet me in a deadly fray!'

Loud applauses greet the challenge and the people's joyful cry,
But the thickening shades of darkness fill the earth and evening sky

And the red lamp's fitful lustre shone upon the field around,
Slowly with the peerless Karna proud Duryodhan left the ground.

Pandu's sons with warlike Drona marked the darksome close of day
And with Kripa and with Bhishma homeward silent bent their way

'Arjun is the gallant victor!' 'Valiant Karna's won the day!'
'Prince Duryodhan is the winner!' Various thus the people say

By some secret sign appriséd Pritha knew her gallant boy,
Saw him crownéd king of Anga, with a mother's secret joy,

And with greater joy Duryodhan fastened Karna to his side,
Feared no longer Arjun's prowess, Arjun's skill of arms and pride

E'en Yudhishthir reckoned Karna mightiest warrior on the earth,
Half misdoubted Arjun's prowess, Arjun's, skill and warlike worth!

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