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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

From the ‘Mālavikāgnimitra’

By Kālidāsa (c. 4th Century)

  • Translation of Charles Henry Tawney
  • Then are seen, after the orchestral arrangements have been completed, the King, with his friend, seated on a throne, the Queen Dhārinī, and the retinue in order of rank.

  • KING—Reverend madam! which of the two professors shall first exhibit to us the skill which he has infused into his pupil?

    Parivrājikā—Even supposing their attainments to be equal, Ganadāsa ought surely to be preferred on account of his being the elder.

    King—Well, Maudgalya, go and tell these gentlemen this, and then go about your business.

    Chamberlain—As the King commands.

    Ganadāsa[entering]—King, there is a composition of Çarmistha, consisting of four parts in medium time: your Highness ought to hear attentively one-fourth of it performed with appropriate gestures.

    King—Professor! I am most respectively attentive.[Exit Ganadāsa.]

    King[aside to Vidūshaka, the Buffoon]—Friend, my eye, eager to behold her who is concealed by the curtain, through impatience seems to be endeavoring to draw it up.

    Vidūshaka[aside]—Ha! the honey of your eyes is approaching, but the bee is near; therefore look on with caution.

    Then Mālavikā enters, with the teacher of dancing contemplating the elegant movement of her limbs
    Vidūshaka[aside]—Look, your Highness. Her beauty does not fall short of the picture [with which you fell in love].

    King[aside]—Friend, my mind anticipated that her beauty could not possibly come up to that represented in the picture; but now I think that the painter by whom she was taken studied his model but carelessly.

    Ganadāsa—My dear child, dismiss your timidity; be composed.

    King—Oh, the perfection of her beauty in every posture! For her face has long eyes and the splendor of an autumn moon; her two arms are gracefully curved at the shoulders; her chest is compact, having firm and swelling breasts; her sides are as if planed off; her waist may be spanned by the hand; her hips slope elegantly, her feet have curving toes, her body is as graceful as the ideal in the mind of the teacher of dancing.

    [Mālavikā, having approached, sings the composition, consisting of four parts.]
  • My beloved is hard to obtain; be thou without hope with respect to him, O my heart! Ha! the outer corner of my left eye throbs somewhat: how is this man, seen after a long time, to be obtained? My lord, consider that I am devoted to thee with ardent longing.
  • [She goes through a pantomime expressive of the sentiment.]
    Vidūshaka[aside]—Ha! ha! this lady may be said to have made use of the composition in four parts for the purpose of flinging herself at your head.

    King[aside to Vidūshaka]—My friend, this is the state of the hearts of both of us. Certainly she, by accompanying the words “know that I am devoted to thee,” that came in her song, with expressive action pointing at her own body,—seeing no other way of telling her love, owing to the neighborhood of Dhārinī,—addressed herself to me under pretense of courting a beautiful youth.

    [Mālavikā at the end of her song makes as if she would leave the stage.]
    Vidūshaka—Stop, lady! you have somewhat neglected the proper order; I will ask about it, if you please.

    Ganadāsa—My dear child, stop a minute; you shall go after your performance has been pronounced faultless.

    [Mālavikā turns round and stands still.]
    King[to himself]—Ah, her beauty gains fresh splendor in every posture. For her standing attitude, in which she is placing on her hip her left hand, the bracelet of which clings motionless at the wrist, and making her other hand hang down loosely like the branch of a çyama-tree, and casting down her eye on the inlaid pavement on which she is pushing about a flower with her toe, an attitude in which the upper part of her body is upright, is more attractive even than her dancing.