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.
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.
(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.