Thursday, June 11, 2009

King Trisanku - Poem by Longfellow

Most Indians would know of King Trisanku whom Sage Viswamitra sends to heaven in his human form and God Indra sends him back. Poor Trisanku gets stuck in between by these opposing forces and lies suspended in limbo for ever. This story has provided the Indian idiom 'Trisanku's heaven' which is more or less equivalent to the English idiom 'Between a rock and a hard place'.

However I did not know about the this lovely poem about Trisanku by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - given below:

Viswamitra the Magician,
By his spells and incantations,
Up to Indra's realms elysian
Raised Trisanku, king of nations.

Indra and the gods offended
Hurled him downward, and descending
In the air he hung suspended,
With these equal powers contending.

Thus by aspirations lifted,
By misgivings downward driven,
Human hearts are tossed and drifted
Midway between earth and heaven.

I saw the poem mentioned in the book 'The Hindus - An Alternative History' by Wendy Doniger; a very interesting book by the way. A detailed review of the book later.

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