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

Mahabharata, Book Ii - Trial Of Skill

Uprose one by one the suitors, marking still the distant aim,
Alighty monarchs, gallant princes, chiefs of proud and warlike fame,

Decked in golden crown and necklace, and inflamed by pride and love,
Stoutly strove the eager suitors viewing well the target above,

Strove to string the weapon vainly, tough unbending was the bow,
Slightly bent, rebounding quickly, laid the gallant princes low!

Strove the handsome suitors vainly, decked in gem and burnished gold,
Reft of diadem and necklace, fell each chief and warrior bold,

Reft of golden crown and garland, shamed and humbled in their pride,
Groaned the suitors in their anguish, sought no more Panchala's bride!

Uprose Karna, peerless archer, proudest of the archers he,
And he went and strung the weapon, fixed the arrows gallantly,

Stood like SURYA in his splendour and like AGNI in his flame,-
Pandu's sons in terror whispered, Karna sure must hit the aim!

But in proud and queenly accents Drupad's queenly daughter said:
'Monarch's daughter, born a Kshatra, Suta's son I will not wed,'

Karna heard with crimsoned forehead, left the emprise almost done,
Left the bow already circled, silent gazed upon the Sun!

Uprose Chedi's haughty monarch, mightiest of the monarchs he,
Other kings had failed inglorious, Sisupala stood forth free,

Firm in heart and fixed in purpose, bent the tough unbending bow,
Vainly! for the bow rebounding laid the haughty monarch low!

Uprose sturdy Jarasandha, far Magadha's mighty chief,
Held the bow and stood undaunted, tall and stately as a cliff,

But once more the bow rebounded, fell the monarch in his shame,
Left in haste Panchala's mansions for the region whence he came!

Uprose Salya, king of Madra, with his wondrous skill and might,
Faltering, on his knees descending, fell in sad inglorious plight,

Thus each monarch fell and faltered, merry whispers went around,
And the sound of stifled laughter circled round the festive ground!

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