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.
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,
Sweet friends at evening, and a spot
Cool after burning days.
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.
The autumn comes, a maiden fair
In slenderness and grace,
With nodding rice-stems in her hair
And lilies in her face.
In flowers of grasses she is clad;
And as she moves along,
Birds greet her with their cooing glad
Like bracelets’ tinkling song.
A diadem adorns the night
Of multitudinous stars;
Her silken robe is white moonlight,
Set free from cloudy bars;
And on her face (the radiant moon)
Bewitching smiles are shown:
She seems a slender maid, who soon
Will be a woman grown.
Over the rice-fields, laden plants
Are shivering to the breeze;
While in his brisk caresses dance
The blossom-burdened trees;
He ruffles every lily-pond
Where blossoms kiss and part,
And stirs with lover’s fancies fond
The young man’s eager heart.
The bloom of tenderer flowers is past
And lilies droop forlorn,
For winter-time is come at last,
Rich with its ripened corn;
Yet for the wealth of blossoms lost
Some hardier flowers appear
That bid defiance to the frost
Of sterner days, my dear.
The vines, remembering summer, shiver
In frosty winds, and gain
A fuller life from mere endeavour
To live through all that pain;
Yet in the struggle and acquist
They turn as pale and wan
As lonely women who have missed
Known love, now lost and gone.
Then may these winter days show forth
To you each known delight,
Bring all that women count as worth
Pure happiness and bright;
While villages, with bustling cry,
Bring home the ripened corn,
And herons wheel through wintry sky,
Forget sad thoughts forlorn.
Now, dearest, lend a heedful ear
And listen while I sing
Delights to every maiden dear,
The charms of early spring:
When earth is dotted with the heaps
Of corn, when heron-scream
Is rare but sweet, when passion leaps
And paints a livelier dream.
When all must cheerfully applaud
A blazing open fire;
Or if they needs must go abroad,
The sun is their desire;
When everybody hopes to find
The frosty chill allayed
By garments warm, a window-blind
Shut, and a sweet young maid.
Then may the days of early spring
For you be rich and full
With love’s proud, soft philandering
And many a candy-pull,
With sweetest rice and sugar-cane:
And may you float above
The absent grieving and the pain
Of separated love.
A stalwart soldier comes, the spring,
Who bears the bow of Love;
And on that bow, the lustrous string
Is made of bees, that move
With malice as they speed the shaft
Of blossoming mango-flower
At us, dear, who have never laughed
At love, nor scorned his power.
Their blossom-burden weights the trees;
The winds in fragrance move;
The lakes are bright with lotuses,
The women bright with love;
The days are soft, the evenings clear
And charming; everything
That moves and lives and blossoms, dear,
Is sweeter in the spring.
The groves are beautifully bright
For many and many a mile
With jasmine-flowers that are as white
As loving woman’s smile:
The resolution of a saint
Might well be tried by this;
Far more, young hearts that fancies paint
With dreams of loving bliss.