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By Edwin Arnold

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Additional info for The Light of Asia: Or, the Great Renunciation. (Mahâbhinishkramana). Being the Life and Teaching of Gautama, Prince of India and Founder of Buddhism. (As Told in Verse by an Indian Buddhist.).

Example text

When the morning star Stood half a spear's length from the eastern rim, And o'er the earth the breath of morning sighed Rippling Anoma's wave, the border-stream, Then drew he rein, and leaped to earth and kissed White Kantaka betwixt the ears, and spake Full sweet to Channa: "This which thou hast done Shall bring thee good and bring all creatures good. Be sure I love thee always for thy love. Lead back my horse and take my crest-pearl here, My princely robes, which henceforth stead me not, My jewelled sword-belt and my sword, and these The long locks by its bright edge severed thus From off my brows.

And the King said, among his Ministers "Belike this second flight may mend the first. " Thus on the morrow, when the noon was come, The Prince and Channa passed beyond the gates, Which opened to the signet of the King, Yet knew not they who rolled the great doors back It was the King's son in that merchant's robe, And in the clerkly dress his charioteer. Forth fared they by the common way afoot, Mingling with all the Sakya citizens, Seeing the glad and sad things of the town: The painted streets alive with hum of noon, The traders cross-legged 'mid their spice and grain, The buyers with their money in the cloth, The war of words to cheapen this or that, The shout to clear the road, the huge stone wheels, The strong slow oxen and their rustling loads, The singing bearers with the palanquins, The broad-necked hamals sweating in the sun, The housewives bearing water from the well With balanced chatties, and athwart their hips The black-eyed babes; the fly-swarmed sweetmeat shops, The weaver at his loom, the cotton-bow Twangling, the millstones grinding meal, the dogs Prowling for orts, the skilful armourer With tong and hammer linking shirts of mail, The blacksmith with a mattock and a spear Reddening together in his coals, the school Where round their Guru, in a grave half-moon, The Sakya children sang the mantra through, And learned the greater and the lesser gods; The dyers stretching waistcloths in the sun Wet from the vats—orange, and rose, and green; The soldiers clanking past with swords and shields, The camel-drivers rocking on the humps, The Brahman proud, the martial Kshatriya, The humble toiling Sudra; here a throng Gathered to watch some chattering snake-tamer Wind round his wrist the living jewellery Of asp and nag, or charm the hooded death To angry dance with drone of beaded gourd; There a long line of drums and horns, which went, With steeds gay painted and silk canopies, To bring the young bride home; and here a wife Stealing with cakes and garlands to the god To pray her husband's safe return from trade, Or beg a boy next birth; hard by the booths Where the sweat potters beat the noisy brass For lamps and lotas; thence, by temple walls And gateways, to the river and the bridge Under the city walls.

For which of all the great and lesser gods Have power or pity? Who hath seen them—who? What have they wrought to help their worshippers? How hath it steaded man to pray, and pay Tithes of the corn and oil, to chant the charms, To slay the shrieking sacrifice, to rear The stately fane, to feed the priests, and call On Vishnu, Shiva, Surya, who save None—not the worthiest—from the griefs that teach Those litanies of flattery and fear Ascending day by day, like wasted smoke? Hath any of my brothers 'scaped thereby The aches of life, the stings of love and loss, The fiery fever and the ague-shake, The slow, dull sinking into withered age, The horrible dark death—and what beyond Waits—till the whirling wheel comes up again, And new lives bring new sorrows to be borne, New generations for the new desires Which have their end in the old mockeries?

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