The Seasons
Kalidasa
Verse
6:00 m
Level 7
Kālidāsa was a Classical Sanskrit author who is often considered ancient India's greatest playwright and dramatist. His plays and poetry are primarily based on the Vedas, the Rāmāyaṇa, the Mahābhārata and the Purāṇas. His surviving works consist of three plays, two epic poems and two shorter poems. The Seasons is an unpretentious poem, describing in six short cantos the six seasons into which the Hindus divide the year. The title is perhaps a little misleading, as the description is not objective, but deals with the feelings awakened by each season in a pair of young lovers. Indeed, the poem might be called a Lover’s Calendar.

The Seasons

by
Kalidasa

Translated by Arthur W. Ryder


The Seasons is an unpretentious poem, describing in six short cantosthe six seasons into which the Hindus divide the year. The title isperhaps a little misleading, as the description is not objective, butdeals with the feelings awakened by each season in a pair of younglovers. Indeed, the poem might be called a Lover’s Calendar.Kalidasa’s authorship has been doubted, without very cogent argument.The question is not of much interest, as The Seasons would neitheradd greatly to his reputation nor subtract from it.

The whole poem contains one hundred and forty-four stanzas, orsomething less than six hundred lines of verse. There follow a fewstanzas selected from each canto.


Summer

Pitiless heat from heaven pours
By day, but nights are cool;
Continual bathing gently lowers
The water in the pool;
The evening brings a charming peace:
For summer-time is here
When love that never knows surcease,
Is less imperious, dear.

Yet love can never fall asleep;
For he is waked to-day
By songs that all their sweetness kee
And lutes that softly play,
By fans with sandal-water wet
That bring us drowsy rest,
By strings of pearls that gently fret
Full many a lovely breast.

The sunbeams like the fires are hot
That on the altar wake;
The enmity is quite forgot
Of peacock and of snake;
The peacock spares his ancient foe,
For pluck and hunger fail;
He hides his burning head below
The shadow of his tail.

Beneath the garland of the rays
That leave no corner cool,
The water vanishes in haze
And leaves a muddy pool;
The cobra does not hunt for food
Nor heed the frog at all
Who finds beneath the serpent’s hood
A sheltering parasol.

Dear maiden of the graceful song,
To you may summer’s power
Bring moonbeams clear and garlands long
And breath of trumpet-flower,
Bring lakes that countless lilies dot,
Refreshing water-sprays,
Sweet friends at evening, and a spot
Cool after burning days.

THE RAINS

The rain advances like a king
In awful majesty;
Hear, dearest, how his thunders ring
Like royal drums, and see
His lightning-banners wave; a cloud
For elephant he rides,
And finds his welcome from the crowd
Of lovers and of brides.

The clouds, a mighty army, march
With drumlike thundering
And stretch upon the rainbow’s arch
The lightning’s flashing string;
The cruel arrows of the rain
Smite them who love, apart
From whom they love, with stinging pain,
And pierce them to the heart.

The forest seems to show its glee
In flowering nipa plants;
In waving twigs of many a tree
Wind-swept, it seems to dance;
Its ketak-blossom’s opening sheath
Is like a smile put on
To greet the rain’s reviving breath,
Now pain and heat are gone.

To you, dear, may the cloudy time
Bring all that you desire,
Bring every pleasure, perfect, prime,
To set a bride on fire;
May rain whereby life wakes and shines
Where there is power of life,
The unchanging friend of clinging vines,
Shower blessings on my wife.

AUTUMN