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Her anger was diminished, not wholly abated; but she secretly rejoiced at his return, while the shades of
night also were approaching, She looked abashed at her damsel, while he, with faultering accents, implored her forgiveness. "Speak but one mild word, and the rays of thy sparkling teeth will dispel the gloom of my fears. My trembling lips, like thirsty Chacorus, long to drink the moon-beams of thy cheek. O my darling, who art naturally so tender-hearted, abandon thy causeless indignation. At this moment the flame of desire consumes my heart. Oh! grant me a draught of honey from the lotos
of thy mouth. Or if thou beest inexorable, grant me death from the arrows of thy keen eyes. Make thy arms my chains; and punish me according to thy pleasure. Thou art my life; thou art my ornament; thou art a pearl in the occan of my mortal birth : Oh! be favourable now, and my heart shall eternally be grateful. Tbine eyes, which nature formed like blue water lilies, are become, through thy resentment, like petals of
the crimson lotos. Oh! tinge with their effulgence these my dark limbs, that they may glow like the shafts of love tipped with
flowers. Place on my head that foot like a fresh leaf: and shade me from the sun of my passion, whose beams I am
unable to bear. Spread a string of gems on those two soft globes ; let the golden bells of thy zone tinkle, and proclaim the
mild edict of love. Say, 0 damsel, with delicate speech, shall I dye red with the juice of Alactaca those beautiful feet, which
make the full blown land lotos blush with shame? Abandon thy doubts of my heart, now indeed fluttering through fear of thy displeasure, but hereafter to be
fixed wholly on thee; A heart, which has no room in it for another: none else can enter it, but love, the bodyless god. Let him wing his arrows; let him wound me mortally; decline not, О cruel, the pleasure of seeing me expire. Thy face is bright as the moon, though its beams drop the venom of maddening desire ; Let thy nectareous lip be the charmer, who alone has power to lull the serpent, or supply an antidote for
his poison. Thy silence afflicts me: oh! speak with the voice of music, and let thy sweet accents allay my ardour. Abandon thy wrath : but abandon not a lover, who surpasses in beauty the sons of men, and who kneels
before thee, O thou most beautiful among women, Tly lips are a Bandhujira flower; the lustre of the Madhuca (55) beams on thy cheek ; Thine eye outshines the blue lotos ; thy nose is a bud of the Tila (56); the Cunda (57) blossom yields to
thy teeth; Thus the flowery shafted god borrows from thee the points of his darts, and subdues the universe. Surely, thou descendest from heaven, O slender damsel, attended by a company of youthful goddesses; and
all their beauties are collected in thee
He spake; and, seeing her appeased by his homage, flew to his bower, clad in a gay mantle.
beaming ornaments: "Follow, gentle Radnica, follow the son of Madhu ; His disclosure was elegantly composed of sweet phrases; he prostrated himself at thy feet, and he now
hastens to his delightful couch by yon grove of branching Vanjulas.. Bind round thy ancle rings beaming with gems; and advance with mincing steps, like thc pearl-fed Marala. Drink with ravished ears the soft accents of Heri; and feast on love, while the warbling Cocilas obeys tho
mild ordinance of the flower-darting god. Abandon delay: see, the whole assembly of slender plants, pointing to the bower with fingers of young
leaves, agitated by the gale, make signals for thy departure. Ask those two round hillocks, which receive pure dew-drops from the garland playing on thy neck, and the
buds whose tops start aloft with the thought of thy darling; Ask, and they will tell, that thy soul is intent on the warfare of love : Advance, fervid warrior, advance with alacrity, while the sound of thy tinkling waist-bells shall represent
martial music. Lead with thee some favoured maid; grasp her hand with thine, whose fingers are long and smooth as love's March ; and with the noise of thy bracelets proclaim thy approach to the youth, who will own himself thy
slave. 'She will come; she will exult in beholding me; she will pour accents of delight, She will enfold me with eager arms; she will melt with affection.' Such are his thoughts at this moment; and, thus thinking, he looks through the long avenue; He trembles; he rejoices; he burns; he moves from place to place ; he faints, when he sees thee not
coming, and falls in his gloomy bower. The night now dresses in habiliments fit for secrecy the many damsels, who hasten to their places of
And is marked with rich lines from the flashes of their beauty, in which they surpass the brightest Cashmirians.“ Radha, thus incited, tripped through the forest: but shame overpowered'her, when, by the light of innume
rable gems on the arms, the neck, and the feet of her beloved, She saw him at the door of his flowery mansion ; then her damsel again addressed her with ardent exultation : Enter, sweet Radha, the bower of Heri; seek delight, 0 thou whose bosom laughs with the foretaste of
happiness. Enter, sweet Radha, the bower graced with a bed of Asoca leaves ; seek delight, O thou whose garland leaps
with joy on thy breast. Enter, sweet Radha, the bower illumined with gay blossoms; seek delight, O thou whose limbs far excel
them in softness. Enter, 0 Radha, the bower made cool and fragrant by gales from the woods of Malaya; scek delight, O
thou whose amorous lays are softer than breczes. Enter, O Radha, the bower spread with leaves of twining creepers ; seek delight, O thou whose arns hare
been long inflexible. Enter, O Radha, the bower which resounds with the murmur of honey-making bees; seek delight, 0 thou
whose embrace yields more exquisite sweetness. Enter, O Radha, the bower attuned by the melodious band of Cocilas ; seek delight, O thou whose lips,
which outshine the grains of the pomegranate, are embellished, when thou speakest, by the brightness
of thy teeth. Long has he borne thee in his mind; and now, in an agony of desire, he pants to taste nectar from thy lip. Deign to restore thy slave, who will bend before the lotos of thy foot, and press it to his irradiated bosom. A slave, who acknowledges himself bought by thee for a single glance from thy eye, and a toss of tby dis
dainful eyebrow." She ended ; and Radia with timid joy, darting her eyes on Govinda, while she musically sounded the rings
of her ancles, and the bells of her zone, entered the mystic bower of her only beloved. There she beheld her Madrava, who delighted in her alone; Who so long had sighed for her embrace; and whose countenance then gleamed with excessive rapture. His heart was agitated by her sight, as the waves of the deep are affected by the lunar orb. His azure breast glittered with pearls of unblemished lustre, like the full bed of the cerulean Yamuna,
interspersed with curls of white foam. From his graceful waist flowed a pale yellow robe, which resembled the golden dust of the water lily.
scattered over its blue petals. His passion was inflamed by the glances of her eyes, which played like a pair of water-birds with blue
plumage, that sport near a full-blown lotos on a pool in the season of dew. Bright ear-rings, like two suns, displayed in full expansion the flowers of his cheeks and lips, which glis
tened with the liquid radiance of smiles. His looks, interwoven with blossoms, were like a cloud variegated with moonbeams; And on his forehead shone a circle of odorous oil, extracted from the sandal of Malaya, like the moon just
appearing on the dusky horizon ; While his whole body seemed in a flame from the blaze of unnumbered gems. Tears of transport gushed in a stream from the full eyes of Radha, and their watery glances gleamed on her
best beloved. Even shame, which before had taken its abode in their dark pupils, was itself ashamed, and departed, when
the fawn-eyed Radha gazed on the brightened face of Crishna. While she passed by the soft edge of his couch, and the bevy of his attendant nymphs, pretending to strike
the gnats from their cheeks in order to conceal their smiles, warily retired from the bower.
PART VIII. Govinda, seeing his beloved cheerful and serene, her lips sparkling with smiles, and her eye speaking desire
, thus eagerly addressed her; while she carelessly reclined on the leafy bed strewn with soft blossom Set the lotos of thy foot on this azure bosom; and let this couch be victorious over all who rebel agust
love. Give short rapture, sweet Radha, to Narayan, (58) thy adorer. I do thee bomage; I press with my blooming palms thy feet, weary with so long a walk. O that I were the golden ring, that plays round thy ancle ! Speak but one gentle word; bid nectar drop from the bright moon of thy mouth. Since the pain of absence is removed, let me thus remove the thin vest that enviously hides thy charms. Blest should I be, if those raised globes were fixed on my bosom, and the ardour of my passion zıllayed. Oh suffer me to quaff the liquid bliss of those lips; Restore with their water of life thy slave, who has long been lifeless, whom the fire of separation has con
sumed. Long have these ears been afflicted in thy absence by the notes of the Cocila. Relieve them with the sound of thy tinkling waist-bells, which yield music, almost equal to the music of
thy voice. Why are those eyes half-closed? Are they ashamed of seeing a youth to whom thy careless resentment
gave anguish? Oh, let affliction ccase, and let ecstasy drown the remembrance of sorrow.
PART IX. In the morning she rose disarraved, and her eyes betrayed a night without slumber; when the yellow-robed
god, who gazed on her with transport, thus meditated on her charms in his heavenly mind; Though her locks be diffused at random ; though the lustre of her lips be faded; though her garland and
zone be fallen from their enchanting stations; And though she hide their places with her hands, looking towards me with bashful silence, yet even thus
disarrayed, she fills me with ecstatic delight. But Radha preparing to array herself, before the company of nymphs could see her confusion, spake thus
with exultation to her obsequious lover. Place, O son of Yadu, with fingers cooler than sandal wood, place a circlet of musk on this breast, which
resembles a vase of consecrated water, crowned with fresh leaves, and fixed near a vemal bower, to
propitiate the god of love. Place, my darling, the glossy powder, which would make the blackest bee envious, on this eye, whose
glances are keener than arrows darted by the husband of Reti. Fix, O accomplished youth, the two gems, which form part of love's chain, in those ears, whence the antc
lopes of thine eyes may run downwards, and sport at pleasure. Place now a fresh circle of musk, black as the lunar spots, on the moon of my forehead ; and mix gay
flowers on my tresses with a peacock's feathers, in graceful order, that they may wave like the banners
of Cama. Now replace, 0 tender-hearted, the loose ornaments of my vesture ; and refix the golden bells of my girdle
on their destined station, which resembles those hills where the god with five shafts, who destroyed
SAMBARA, (59) keeps his elephant ready for battle. While she spake, the heart of YADAVA triumphed; and obeying her sportful behests, he placed musky spots
on her bosom and forehead, dyed her temples with radiant hues, embellished her eyes with additional blackness, decked her braided hair and her neck with fresh garlands, and tied on her wrists the loosened bracelets, on her ancles the beamy rings, and round her waist the zone of bells, that sounded with
ravishing melody. Whatever is delightful in the modes of music, whatever is divine in meditations on Vishnu, (60) whatever
is exquisite in the sweet art of love, whatever is graceful in the fine strains of poetry, all that let the
happy and wise learn from the songs of Jayadeva, (61) whose soul is united with the foot of Narayan. May that Heri be your support, who expanded himself into an infinity of bright forms when, eager to gaze,
with myriads of eyes, on the daughter of the ocean, he displayed his great character of the all-pervading deity, by the multiplied reflections of his divine person in the numberless gems on the many heads of
the king of serpents, whom he chose for his couch; That Heri, who removing his lucid veil from the bosom of Perma, and fixing his eyes on the delicious buds
that grew on it, diverted her attention by declaring that, when she had chosen him as her bridegroom near the sea of milk, the disappointed husband of Pervati (62) drank in despair the venom, which dyed his neck azure !
I have now placed before my readers this extraordinary poem, which I believe will be considered by every adequate judge to be equal, if not superior, to every thing of the kind that has been produced, either by the ancients or moderns. The poem is confessedly mystical, relating to the pure and affectionate intercourse between the Deity and human souls; and is capable of a very extended comment, to illustrate its phraseology, and explain its almost numberless allusions to the Mythological System of the Hindoos.
But the chief design of its introduction here is to illustrate the phraseology of the Song of Songs. The most superficial reader cannot but be struck with the similarity of the language of the metaphors and imagery. There are few turns of thought in the Song of Songs
may not find a parallel in the Gitagovinda ; and even the strongly impassioned language of Solomon may be every where supported by that of Jayadeva, and vice versa. Could it be proved that the love between Christ and the church were really the subject of the Canticles, the Gitagovinda might be applied with the utmost success to illustrate and explain all its imagery, and all its allusions : but we have no key to unlock its reference; no data to which we can confidently refer; and though it be generally allowed to be a mystic song, yet all interpreters follow their own creed in its explanation ; and it is only on the general subject that
two of them agree. As I am not satisfied that the common method used in its interpretation is either correct or genuine, I have simply avoided the rocks on which others have been wrecked, but have constructed no chart according to which a more prosperous voyage might be projected.
The late learned and pious Mr. Romaine seems to have thought that a competent knowledge of the original language might lead to its proper illustration; and is indignant at those who have attempted its explanation without this necessary qualification. Of his knowledge of the sacred language no man doubts. I, also, have brought some acquaintance with the original to bear on the subject; but, though perhaps as well acquainted with the meaning of the THE GITAGOVINDA. words as Mr. Romaine himself, I have not been able to discover his system in the poem; and I dare not by conjecture put a meaning on any thing that professes to be a revelation from God. I respect many of its interpreters for their piety and learning, but I cannot follow their steps: they have not proved to me that Solomon's Song refers to the love of Christ and his Church. Let this be my apology with the candid reader for not entering into a more extended comment on this extraordinary book.
London, May 1, 1823.
To ascertain some of the latter parts of this poem, I have been obliged to trust to my own judgment; as Sir William Jones, from whom I have borrowed these, had not marked any division; and I have had the original of the four first PARTS only.
As to the Old Version of the Canticles which I have introduced, the reader will be pleased to observe, it is that which was used by our forefathers before and after the reformation: one word of which I would not presume to alter or change. It is sacred both by age and use.
NOTES ON THE GITAGOVINDA.
(1) TAMALA TREE.— A dark-leaved tree, common in Mat’hura and other parts, but not found in Bengal. The
laurel. (2) Nanda.-The foster-father of Crishna. (3) Radha.—One of the principal and favourite mistresses of Crishna. (4) Madhava.—One of the names of Crishna, implying the possession of Ma or Lachmi, his heavenly consort. (5) Yamuna.-Vulgarly called Jumna, the river which flows by Dehlee, Mat’hura, and Ayra. (6) Heri.—A name of Crishna; importing the remover of sin and suffering. (7) Camala.—A name of Lachmi, derived from the lotos. (8) Caliya.—A huge snake who from the Jumna infested the neighbourhood of Gocul, till destroyed by
Crishna. (9) Yadu.—The name of a tribe, derived from Yadu, a celebrated Raja, famed to have been descended from
the moon. (10) Garura.-Not the vulture known by this name in Bengal; but a fabled bird, answering in some respects
to the eagle of Jupiter, and described to be the bearer of Vishnu, the heavenly Crishna. (11) Janaca.-A Raja of Tirhoot, whose daughter Suta was offered in marriage to whoever could draw a
bow of immense size ; and won by Crishna, in his incarnation of Ramehundra. (12) Dushuna.-A demon giant, slain by Crishna in the form of Rama. (13) Mandar.-A mountain of immense size, with which Crishna is said to have churned the ocean in his
second incarnation. (14) Pedma.--A name of Lachmi, of the same meaning with Camala. (15) Chacora.-A poetical bird, described like the partridge, but imagined to be enamoured of the moon,
and to feed on her beams. (16) Vasanti.-A vernal creeper, bearing a yellow and white flower. (17) Maylaya.—A mountain in the Dekkan, on which sandal trees grow in abundance. (18) Cocila.- An admired singing bird with green plumage, with red beak and feet, common in Mathura,
and said to sing only in the spring season. The same name is given to a blackbird in Bengal, called
the Rocil, which only sings in the night. (19) Bacul.—A beautiful tree, commonly called orbicular, well known in Bengal, by the names of Moulseree
and Boulseree. (20) Cinsuca.—A broad leaved tree, called also the Teisoo, bearing red flowers, shaped like nails. (21) Cama.—The Hindoo god of love. (22) Cesara.—A beautiful flower, with yellow and white petals, better known by the name of Nageisur. (23) Cetaci.—The female Ceyora, a thorny shrub, whose flowers yield a fine perfume. (24) Patali.—A large hollow flower, of which one species is red, the other white. (25) Smara.-A name of the god of love, signifying ideal. (26) Caruna.— A delicate creeper, with small red flowers, called in Persian Ishk-peiched, or love-tangler. (27) Madhavi.- A creeper bearing small white flowers. (28) Malica.—A species of jasmine. (29) Amra.—The mango-tree; with its flowers the god Cama tips his arrows. (30) Atimucta.—A fragrant creeper, which runs to a great extent, called also Midmalut. It bears a flower
of yellowish white, sometimes called also Madhavi. (31) Vrindavan.-An extensive forest of Vraja. (32) Mallica.-A species of jasmine, white and odoriferous. (33) Rasala.—An epithet of the mango, implying, replete with sweet juice. (34) Mura.—A demon and giant slain by Crishna. (35) Vanjula.--A large tree, called also Varvon, producing white flowers. (36) Vraja.—A country about 170 miles in circumference, between Dehlee and Agra, including the city of
Mathura, and intersected by the Jumna. (37) Bandhujiva.--A red flower, named likewise Doperheca. (38) Macara.-An horned fish, supposed to be the hammer shark. (39) Cadumba.—A flower tree, vulgarly called Cuddum, very common in Bengal, and much esteemed by
the Hindoos. (40) Cesi.- A monster slain by Vishnu. (41) Asoca.—A tall tree, somewhat resembling the beech, consecrated to Mahadeva.