Worn with hunger, faint and feeble, shorn of glory and of power,
Still the king of beasts is kingly, even to his dying hour;
Will he graze on hay like oxen? No, he longs to meet once more
Tusk-armed elephants in battle, and to drink their spouting gore.
Fling a dry and gristly cow's bone to a low-bred cur to gnaw,
Straight he wags his tail delighted, though it cannot fill his maw.
Lions spare the prostrate jackal, but the forest-monarchs smite,
E'en by fortune pressed the valiant scorns to waive his proper right.
Dogs fawn on those who bring them meat,
And grovel whimpering at their feet
With upturned throat, and wag their tails in gamesome mood;
But the huge elephant erect
Bates not one jot of self-respect,
And after thousand coaxings deigns to taste his food.
In this revolving world the dead
Are ever born again,
But he is truly born whose race
By him doth praise attain.
Two paths are open to the proud,
As to the woodland flowers,
Which flourish high above the crowd,
Or wither in the bowers.
Rahu spares the lesser planets
As unworthy of his might,
But he wreaks his lawful vengeance
On the lords of day and night.
On his hood the serpent Sesha doth this triple world uphold,
On the broad back of the tortoise he lies stretched in many a fold,
On the ocean's breast the tortoise like a speck eludes the sight:
Who in thought can limit greatness, or set bounds to Nature's might?
Better had the mount Mainaka borne the brunt of Indra's ire,
Than thus plunged beneath the ocean severed from his sorrowing sire:
Though he saved unharmed his pinions from the blazing thunder-stone,
Yet he mourns amid the waters for his self-abandoned throne.
The sun-gem touched by Heaven's rays,
Though void of sense, is all ablaze;
How then can men of spirit brook
A fellow-mortal's scornful look?
A lion's whelp will boldly face th' earth-shaking monarch's rage,
For valour dwells in valorous kind, without regard of age.