BLTC Press Titles

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Vanity Fair

William Thackery

The Diplomatic Background of the War

Charles Seymour

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite

The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Baltasar Gracian

Kalidasa translations of Shakuntala, and other works

by Kālidāsa


Eight forms has Shiva, lord of all and king:
And these are water, first created thing;
And fire, which speeds the sacrifice begun;
The priest; and time's dividers, moon and sun;
The all-embracing ether, path of sound;
The earth, wherein all seeds of life are found;
And air, the breath of life: may he draw near,
Revealed in these, and bless those gathered here.

The stage-director. Enough of this! (Turning toward the dressing-room.) Madam, if you are ready, pray come here. (Enter an actress.)

Actress. Here I am, sir. What am I to do?

Director. Our audience is very discriminating, and we are to offer them a new play, called Shdkuntala and the ring of recognition, written by the famous Kalidasa. Every member of the cast must be on his mettle.

Actress. Your arrangements are perfect. Nothing will go wrong.

Director (smiling). To tell the truth, madam,

Until the wise are satisfied,

I cannot feel that skill is shown;
The best-trained mind requires support.

And does not trust itself alone.

Actress. True. What shall we do first? Director. First, you must sing something to please the ears of the audience. Actress. What season of the year shall I sing about?

Director. Why, sing about the pleasant summer which has just begun. For at this time of year

A mid-day plunge will temper heat;

The breeze is rich with forest flowers;
To slumber in the shade is sweet;

And charming are the twilight hours.

Actress (sings).

The siris-blossoms fair,

With pollen laden,
Are plucked to deck her hair

By many a maiden,
But gently; flowers like these
Are kissed by eager bees.

Director. Well done! The whole theatre is captivated by your song, and sits as if painted. What play shall we give them to keep their good-will?

Actress. Why, you just told me we were to give a new play called Shakuntala and the ring.

Director. Thank you for reminding me. For the moment I had quite forgotten.

Your charming song had carried me away
As the deer enticed the hero of our play.

(Exeunt ambo.)


The Hunt

(Enter, in a chariot, pursuing a deer, King Dushyanta, bow and arrow in hand; and a charioteer.)

Charioteer (looking at the king and the deer). Your Majesty,
I see you hunt the spotted deer

With shafts to end his race,
As though God Shiva should appear
In his immortal chase.

King. Charioteer, the deer has led us a long chase. And even now

His neck in beauty bends

As backward looks he sends

At my pursuing car

That threatens death from far.

Fear shrinks to half the body small;

See how he fears the arrow's fall!

The path he takes is strewed
With blades of grass half-chewed
From jaws wide with the stress
Of fevered weariness.
He leaps so often and so high,
He does not seem to run, but fly.

(In surprise.) Pursue as I may, I can hardly keep him in sight.

Charioteer. Your Majesty, I have been holding the horses back because the ground was rough. This checked us and gave the deer a lead. Now we are on level ground, and you will easily overtake him.

King. Then let the reins hang loose.

Charioteer. Yes, your Majesty. (He counterfeits rapid motion.) Look, your Majesty!

The lines hang loose; the steeds unreined
Dart forward with a will.

Their ears are pricked; their necks are strained;

Their plumes lie straight and still. They leave the rising dust behind; They seem to float upon the wind. King (joyfully). See! The horses are gaining on the deer. As onward and onward the chariot flies, The small flashes large to my dizzy eyes. What is cleft in twain, seems to blur and mate; What is crooked in nature, seems to be straight. Tilings at my side in an instant appear Distant, and things in the distance, near. A voice behind the scenes. O King, this deer belongs to the hermitage, and must not be killed.

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