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

Mahabharata, Book I - The Advent Of Karna

Now the feats of arm are ended, and the closing hour draws nigh,
Music's voice is hushed in silence, and dispersing crowds pass by,

Hark! Like welkin-shaking thunder wakes a deep and deadly sound,
Clank and din of warlike weapons burst upon the tented ground!

Are the solid mountains splitting, is it bursting of the earth.
Is it tempest's pealing accent whence the lightning takes its birth?

Thoughts like these alarm the people for the sound is dread and high,
To the gaze of the arena turns the crowd with anxious eye!

Gathered round preceptor Drona, Pandu's sons in armour bright,
Like the five-starred constellation round the radiant Queen of Night,

Gathered round the proud Duryodhan, dreaded for his exploits done,
All his brave and warlike brothers and preceptor Drona's son,

So the gods encircled INDRA, thunder-wielding, fierce and bold,
When he scattered Danu's children in the misty days of old!

Pale, before the unknown warrior, gathered nations part in twain,
Conqueror of hostile cities, lofty Karna treads the plain,

In his golden mail accoutred. and his rings of yellow gold,
Like a moving cliff in stature, arméd comes the chieftain bold,

Pritha, yet unwedded, bore him, peerless archer on the earth,
Portion of the solar radiance, for the Sun inspired his birth!

Like a tusker in his fury, like a lion in his ire,
Like the sun in noontide radiance, like the all-consuming fire,

Lion-like in build and muscle, stately as a golden palm,
Blessed with every very manly virtue, peerless, dauntless, proud and calm!

With his looks serene and lofty field of war the chief surveyed,
Scarce to Kripa or to Drona honour and obeisance made,

Still the panic-stricken people viewed him with unmoving gaze,
Who maybe this unknown warrior, questioned theyin hushed amaze!

Then in voice of pealing thunder spake fair Pritha's eldest son
Unto Arjun, Pritha's youngest, each, alas! to each unknown:

'All thy feats of weapons, Arjun, done with vain and needless boast,
These and greater I accomplish-witness be this mighty host!'

Thus spake proud and peerless Karna in his accents deep and loud,
And as moved by sudden impulse joyous rose the listening crowd,

And a gleam of mighty transport glows in proud Duryodhan's heart,
Flames of wrath and jealous anger from the eyes of Arjun start,

Drona gave the word, and Karna, Pritha's war-beloving son,
With his sword and with his arrows did the feats by Arjun done!

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