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Sir Gawain and The Green Knight
A Close Verse Translation

 

 

 

-- I -

 

 

Once the siege and assault       had ceased at Troy,
The burg battered and burned       to brands and ashes,
The trooper that the tricks       of treason there wrought
Was tried for his treachery,       the truest on earth.
It was Aeneas the noble       and his high-born kin
Who then despoiled provinces       and patrons became
Well nigh of all the wealth       of the West Isles.
Then rich Romulus to Rome       rushes him swiftly,
With great splendor that burg       he builds at first,
10 And names it his own name,       as it now has.
Ticius to Tuscany       and towns he builds.
Longabeard in Lombardy       lifts up homes,
And far over the French Flood       Felix Brutus
On many banks full broad       Britain he sets
            To begin.
    Where war and wrack and wonder
    Have often flourished therein,
    And oft both bliss and blunder
    Have ruled in turn since then.

20 And when this Britain was built       by this brave knight
Bold men bred therein       -- battles they loved --
Who in many a turbulent time       troubles have wrought.
More wonders on this field       have befallen here oft
Than on any other that I know       since that noble time.
But of all that here built       of British kings
Ever was Arthur the most elegant,       as I have heard tell.
Therefore an earthly adventure       I intend to show,
That a strange sight       as; some men it hold,
And an awesome adventure       of Arthur's wonders.
30 If you will listen to this lay       but a little while
I shall tell it at once,       as I in town heard
            With tongue,
    As it is set down and struck
    In story stout and strong.
    With true letters interlocked
    In this land as has been long.

This king lay at Camelot       upon Christmas tides
With many loyal lords,       lads of the best,
Renowned of the Round Table       all those rich brethren,
40 With rich revel aright &nb;     and reckless mirth.
There tourneyed troopers       by times full many,
Jousted full jollily       these gentle knights,
Then came to the court       carols to make,
For there the feasting was the same       for a full fifteen days
With all the meals and the mirth       that man could devise;
Such gladness and glee       glorious to hear,
Dear din upon day,       dancing on nights;
All was happiness on high       in halls and chambers,
All was happiness on high       in halls and chambers,
All was happiness on high       in halls and chambers,
With lords and ladies,       as most lovely it seemed.
50 With all the wealth of the world       they dwelt there together,
The best known knights       under Christ Himself,
And the loveliest ladies       that ever life had,
And he the comeliest king       that the court holds;
For all was this fair folk       in their first age,
            And still
    The most fortunate known to fame,
    The king highest man of will.
    It would now be hard to name
    So hardy a host on hill.

60 While New Year was so young,       since it was newly come,
That day with double portions       were the diners served,
For the king was come       with knights into the hall,
The chanting in the chapel       achieved an end.
Loud cries were there cast       by clerks and others,
"Noel" named anew,      . announced full oft;
And then the rich run forth       to render presents
Yelled "Year's gifts!" on high,       byielding them by hand,
Debated busily       pabout those gifts;
Ladies laughed full loud,       though they had lost,
70 And he that won was not wroth,       that may you well believe.
All this mirth they made       until the meal time.
When they had washed worthily,       they went to sit,
The best brave always above,       as it best seemed;
Queen Guenevere, full gay,       graced the middle,
Bedecked on the dear dais,       adorned all about,
Fine silk at her sides,       a ceiling above
Of rich cloth of Toulouse,       and of Tartary many tapestries
Embroidered and bedecked       with the best gems
That might be proven in price       with pounds to buy
80             In our day.
    The comeliest to see
    There gleamed with eyes of gray;
    A fairer that ever could be
    In sooth might no man say.

But Arthur would not eat       until all were served,
He was so jolly and joyful,       and somewhat juvenile;
He liked his life light;       he loved the less
Either too long to lie       or too long to sit
So busied him his young blood       and his brain wild.
90 And also another matter       moved him as well,
That he had adopted for nobility;       he would never eat
Upon such a dear day       ere he was told
Of some adventurous thing,       an astonishing tale
Of some mighty marvel       that he might believe
Of our elders, of arms,       of other adventures,
Or some stalwart besought him       for some true knight
To join with him in jousting,       in jeopardy to lay
At risk life for life,       each happy if the other
By Fortune was Favored       the fairer to have.
100 This was the king's custom       whenever he was in court
At each fine feast       among his fair retinue
            In hall.
    Therefore of face so fair
    He stands strong at his stall.
    Full youthful in that New Year,
    Much mirth he makes with all.

Thus there stands at his stall       the strong king himself,
Talking before the high table       of trifles full courtly.
There good Gawain was seated       Guenevere beside,
110 And Agravain of the Hard Hand       on that other side sits,
Both the king's sister's sons       and full sure knights.
Bishop Baldwin above       begins the table
And Ywain, Urien's son,       ate with Arthur himself.
These were dining on the dais,       diligently served,
And next were many sure stalwarts       at the sideboards.
Then the first course came       with cracking of trumpets
With many banners full bright       that thereby hung;
New noise of drums       with the noble pipes,
Wild warbles and loud       wakened echoes,
120 That many hearts heaved       full high at their notes.
Dainties drummed in therewith       of many dear foods,
Full plenty of fresh food       and on so many fair dishes
That it was a pain to find place       the people before
To set the silver that held       the seperate stews
            On cloth.
    Each lad as he loved himself
    There dined, nothing loath
    Each two had dishes twelve,
    Good beer and bright wine both.

130 Now will I of their service       say you no more,
For each warrior may well know       no want was there.
Another noise full new       quickly came nigh
That the lord might have leave       to lift up his food,
For hardly was the noise       not a while ceased,
And the first course in the court       courteously served,
There hastens in at the hall door       an awesome figure,
One of the most on earth       in measure of height,
From the neck to the waist       so well-built and square,
And his loins and his limbs       so long and so big
140 Half a giant in earth       I affirm that he was;
Yet man must I nonetheless       admit him to be
And that the merriest in his muchness       that might ride,
For though of back and of breast       his body was stout,
Both his belly and his waist       were worthily slim,
And all his features conforming,       in form that he had,
            Full clean.
    But great wonder of the hue men had
    Set in his complexion seen;
    He fared like a fighter to dread,
150     And over all deep green.

And all garbed in green       this gallant and his clothes;
A straight coat full tight       that stuck to his sides,
A merry mantle above,       embellished within
With finely trimmed furs,       a facing full bright
Of handsome white ermine       and his hood as well,
That was lifted from his locks       and laid on his shoulders;
Neat well-fitting hose       of that same green
That covered his calves,       and shining spurs below
Of bright gold, on silken borders       embroidered full rich,
160 And with fine shoes below the shanks       the chevalier rides,
And all his vesture verily       was verdant green,
Both the bars of his belt       and other bright stones,
That were richly arranged       in his array completely
About himself and his saddle,       upon silk works
That would be too toilsome to tell       of trifles the half
That were embroidered above,       with insects,and birds
With gay gems of green,       and gold intermingled,
The pendants of his horse trappings,       the proud crupper;
His mount's bit and all the metal       enamelled was then,
170 The stirrups that he stood on       colored the same,
And his saddle-bow next       and its elegant skirts
That ever glimmered and glowed       all of green stones.
The foal he fares on       fully of that same hue,
            Certain;
    A green horse great and thick,
    A steed full stiff to restrain;
    In embroidered bridle quick,
For the gallant who held the rein.

Well gay was this gallant       and his gear in green,
180 And the hair of his head       matching his horse.
Fair fanning locks       enfold his shoulders,
A beard big as a bush       over his breast hangs
That with the noble hair       that from his head reaches
Was clipped all around       above his elbows
That half his arms thereunder       were held in the manner
Of a king's cape       that encloses his neck;
The mane of that mighty horse       much to it like,
Well curled and combed       with knots full many,
Tied in with gold thread       about the fair green,
190 Always one strand of hair,       another of gold,
His tail and his topknot       twisted in braids,
And both bound with a band       of bright green,
Adorned with full dear gems       to the top of the tuft,
Then bound tightly with a thong,       trickily knotted above,
Where many bells full bright       of burnished gold rang.
Such a foal in the field       nor fighter that rides him
Was never seen in that hall       with sight ere that time
            With eye.
    He looked like lightning as light,
200     Said all that saw him come nigh;
    It seemed that no man might
    Such blows as his defy.

Yet he had no helmet       nor hauberk neither,
Nor no armor nor plate       that pertained to arms,
Nor no spear nor no shield       to shove nor to smite,
But in his one hand       he had a holly branch,
That is greatest in green   when groves are bare,
And an axe in his other,       huge and monstrous,
A spiteful axe to describe in speech,       if anyone could.
210 Near four feet in length       the large head had,
With a spike of green steel       and of hammered gold.
The bit burnished bright       with a broad edge,
As well shaped to shear       as a sharp razor.
By the hilt of the strong shaft       that stern one it gripped
That was wound with iron       to the weapon's end,
And all engraved with green       in gracious works;
By a lace sash, coiled about,       that was tied at the head
And so down the shaft       looped full oft,
With fine tassles thereto       attached thereby,
220 And buttons of bright green,       embroidered full rich.
This horseman held his way in       and the hall enters,
Driving to the high dais --       no danger he feared;
Hailed he never any one       but high he looked over.
The first word that he whipped out;       "Where is," he said,
"The governor of this gang?       Gladly I would
See that stalwart in sight       and speak with himself
            And reason."
    To knights he cast his eyes
    And rolled them up and down;
230     He stopped and studied to surmise
    Who wields there most renown.

There was looking at length       the liegeman to behold,
For each man had marvel       what it might mean
That a horsemen and a horse       might have such a hue.
As green as the growing grass       and greener it seemed
Than green enamel on gold       glowing brighter.
All studied that there stood       and stalked him nearer,
With all the wonder of the world       of what he would do,
For many spectacles had they seen       but such as this never;
240 Thus from fantasy and fairyland       the folk there it deemed.
Therefore to answer were afraid       many elegant fighters,
And all were astounded by his speech,       and sat stone-still
In a swooning dead stillness       through the silent hall,
As if all were slipped into sleep       so slackened their noises
            On high --
    I deem it not all for fear,
    But some, for courtesy shy,
    Let him whom all should revere
    To that warrior give reply.

250 Then Arthur before the high dais       that adventure beholds
And rightly reverenced him,       for feared was he never,
And said "Warrior,       welcome indeed to this place;
The head of this hostel       Arthur I am called
Light lovely adown       and linger I pray thee
And whatever thy will is       we shall know later,"
"Nay, so help me," quoth the horseman,       "He that on high sits,
To dwell any while in this dwelling       was not my errand;
But for the laud of thee, lad,       is lifted up so high,
And thy burg and thy braves       best are held,
260 Stoutest under steel gear       on steeds to ride,
The strongest and the worthiest       of this world's kind,
With prowess in jousting       and other pure sports,
And here is famed courtesy,       as I have heard claimed,
And that has drawn me here,       indeed, at this time.
You may be sure by this branch       that I bear here
That I pass here in peace       and no peril seek,
For had I fared here with a force       for fighting ready,
I have a mail coat at home       and a helmet too,
A shield and a sharp spear,       shining bright,
270 And other weapons to wield       I know well also;
But since I want no war,       my weeds are softer.
But if thou be as bold       as all battlers tell,
Thou will grant me goodly       the game that I ask,
            By right."
    Arthur gave answer
    And said, "Sir courteous knight,
    If thou crave battle of armor bare,
    Here failest thou not to fight."

"Nay, I seek no fight,       in faith I thee tell.
280 Here about on this bench       are but beardless children.
If I were harnessed in armor       on a high steed
Here is no man to match me,       their mights are so weak.
Therefore I crave in this court       a Christmas game,
For it is Yule and New Year       and here are youths many.
If any so hardy in this house       holds himself,
Or is so bold in his blood,       brain-mad in his head
That dare stiffly strike       one stroke for another
I shall give him of my gift       this great battle-axe,
This axe, that is heavy enough,       to handle as he pleases,
290 And I shall abide the first blow       as bare as I sit.
If any fighter be so fierce       to test what I tell
Leap lightly to me       and lay hold of this weapon;
I quit-claim it forever;       let him keep it as his own,
And I shall stand one stroke from him,       stout on this floor,
If thou will grant me the right       to render him another.
            -- Time out today! --
    And yet I give him respite,
    A twelvemonth and a day.
    Now hurry and let's see aright
300     If any dare anything say."

If he astounded them at first,       stiller were then
All the courtiers in the hall,       the high and the low;
The rider on his mount       moved him in his saddle
And roughly his red eyes       he rolled about,
Bent his bushy brows       brightly green,
Waved his beard to see       whoever would arise.
When none would keep him there with talk,       he coughed "ahem,"
And rose up full lordly       and readied himself to speak.
"What? Is this Arthur's house?"       quoth the horseman then,
310 "That all the renown runs       through realms so many?
Where is now your vainglory       and your victories,
Your ferocity and your grimness       and your great words?
Now is the revel and renown       of the Round Table
Overthrown by one word       of one warrior's speech,
For all dither for dread       without deed shown!"
With this he laughs so loud       that the lord grieved.
The blood shot for shame       in his shining white face
            So fair;
    He waxed as wroth as wind,
320     So did all that were there.
    The king, as keen by kind
    Then strode that stout man nearer,

And said "Horseman, by heaven,       thine asking is foolish,
And as thou folly have sought,       to find it thee behooves.
I know no gallant that is aghast       of thy great words.
Give me now thy great axe,       by God's wounds,
And I shall bestow the boon       that thou hast begged."
Lightly leaps he him to       and latches it from his hand
Then fiercely that other fighter       upon foot alights.
330 Now has Arthur his axe,       and the hilt grips,
And sternly swings it about,       and meant to strike with it;
The stout man before him       stood up straight,
Higher than any in the house,       by the head and more.
With stern stance where he stood       he stroked his beard,
And with a countenance dry       he drew down his coat,
No more moved nor dismayed       for his mighty blows
Than if any battler upon bench       had brought him a drink
            Of wine.
    Gawain, that sat by the queen,
340     To the king he did incline;
    "I beseech now with plain speech
    This melee may be mine.

Would ye, worthy lord,"       quoth Wawain to the king,
Bid me bow from this bench       and stand by you there,
That I without vile manners       might vacate this table,
And that my liege lady       be not ill pleased,
I would come to your counsel       before your rich court,
For I think it not seemly,       as it is known sooth
That such an asking be heaved up       so high in your hall,
350 Though you yourself be tempted       to take it to yourself
While so many bold about you       upon bench sit
That under heaven I hold       none hardier of will,
Nor better bodies on earth       where battle is reared.
I am the weakest, I know,       and of wit feeblest,
And my life would be the least loss,       to speak the sooth.
For only because you are my uncle       am I to be praised;
No goodness but your blood       I in my body know,
And since this business is so foolish,       it does not befit you,
And I have begged it of you first,       inflict it on me;
360 And if I speak not courteously,       let all this court rich
            Me blame."
    Rich nobles gathered round
    And they all advised the same;
    To replace the king with crown,
    And give Gawain the game.

Then commanded the king       the knight for to rise,
And he full readily uprose       and arranged himself fairly,
Kneeled down before the king       and catches that weapon,
And Arthur lovingly left it to him       and lifted up his hands
370 And gave him God's blessing       and gladly him bids
That his heart and his hands       should hardy be both.
"Take care, kinsman," quoth the king,       "that thou cut but once.
And if thou deal with him rightly,       readily I believe
Thou shalt survive the blow       he shall bring thereafter."
Gawain goes to the gallant       with the great axe in hand,
And he boldly him abides;       he was abashed not at all.
Then calls out to Sir Gawain       the knight in the green,
"Let us affirm our pledge,       ere we further pace.
First I ask thee, horseman,       how you are called;
380 That thou tell me truly,       so I can trust."
"In good faith," quoth the good knight,       "Gawain I am called,
Who grants thee this buffet,       whatever after befalls,
And from this time a twelvemonth       I will take from thee another,
With what weapon as thou wish       and with no other warrior
            A-live."
    The other answers again;
    "Sir Gawain, as I may thrive,
    I am greatly glad, certain,
    That thou this blow shalt drive."

390 "By Gog" quoth the green knight,       "Sir Gawain, I like it
That I shall feel from your fist,       the favor I have asked.
And thou hast readily rehearsed,       by reason full true,
Completely all the covenant       that I of the king asked,
Save that thou shall assure me,       stalwart, by thy troth,
That thou shall seek me thyself,       wherever thou supposest
I may be found upon earth,       and fetch thee such wages
As thou deal to me today       before this dear court."
"Where should I wend to thee?" quoth Gawain,       "where is thy place?
I am not aware where thou dwellest,       by Him that me wrought,
400 Nor I know not thee, knight,       thy court nor thy name.
But teach me truly thereto       and tell me how thou art called,
And I shall work with all my wit       to win my way thither,
And that I swear thee for sooth       and by my sure troth";
"That is enough in the New Year;       it needs no more,"
Quoth the gallant in the green       to Gawain the courtier.
"If I tell thee truly       when I have tapped thee,
And thou me smoothly hast smitten,       smartly I will teach thee
Of my house and my home       and my own name.
Then may thou be my guest       and our agreements fulfill;
410 And if I cannot speak any speech,       then succeedest thou the better,
For thou may linger in thy land       and look no farther.
            Thou spokest!
    Take now thy grim tool, in truth,
    And let's see how thou pokest."
    "Gladly, sir, for sooth,"
    Quoth Gawain; his axe he strokes.

This green knight upon ground       gracefully him readies,
A little bow with his head       the face he uncovers;
His long lovely locks       he laid over his crown
420 Let the naked neck       show to the nape.
Gawain gripped to his axe       and gathers it on high,
The left foot on the floor       he set before,
Let it down swiftly alight       on the naked skin
That the sharp of the chevalier       shattered the bones
And sheared through the shining flesh       and slashed it in two,
That the bit of the bright steel       bit on the ground.
The fair head from the neck       hit to the earth,
That full many it kicked with their feet,       where it forth rolled.
The blood poured from the body,       bright on the green,
430 And neither faltered nor fell       the fighter nonetheless,
But stoutly he starts forth       upon strong shanks,
And roughly he reached out       where riders stood,
Latched on to his lovely head,       and lifted it up soon;
And then bounded to his bronc,       the bridle he catches,
Steps into the stirrups,       strides aloft,
And his head by the hair       holds in his hand ,
And as steadily the stalwart       sat him in his saddle,
As if no mishap had ailed him,       though headless now
            Instead.
440     He twisted his trunk about,
    That ugly body that bled;
    Many feared the clout,
    Ere his speech was said,

For the head in his hand       he holds upright,
Toward the dearest on the dais       he addresses the face,
And it lifted up the eye-lids     &nbsb; and looked full widely about
And spoke thus much with its mouth,       as you may now hear;
"Look, Gawain, thou be prepared       to go as thou promised,
And look loyally till thou,       liegeman, find me,
450 As thou hast promised in this hall,       in these knights' hearing;
To the green chapel choose the way,       I charge thee, to fetch
Such a dint as thou hast dealt       -- thou hast deserved it --
To be promptly yielded       on New Year's morn.
As the Knight of the Green Chapel,       men know me many.
Thus me for to find, if thou set forth,       failest thou never.
Therefore come or recreant       to be called thee behooves."
With a rough roar       the reins he turns,
Hurried out at the hall door,       his head in his hand,
That the fire of the flint flew       from his foal's hooves.
460 To what country that he came       knew none there,
No more than they knew       from whence he was come.
            What then?
    The king and Gawain there,
    At that green one they laugh and grin,
    Yet recorded it was with care
    As a marvel among those men.

Though Arthur, the elegant king,       at heart had wonder,
He let no sign be seen,       but said full high
To the comely queen       with courteous speech,
470 "Dear dame, today       dismay you never;
Well becomes such craft       upon Christmas,
Playing of interludes       to laugh and to sing,
Among these courtly carols       of knights and ladies.
Nonetheless to my meal       I may me well address,
For I have seen a strange sight;       I can not gainsay it."
He glanced at Sir Gawain       and goodly he said,
"Now sir, hang up thine axe,       that has enough hewed";
And it was done, above the dais       on the tapestry hanging,
Where all men for a marvel       might look on it
480 And be truly entitled thereof       to tell the wonder.
Then they bounded to the board,       these battlers together,
The king and the good knight,       and keen men them served
With all dainties double,       as to the dearest should befall;
With all manner of meat       and minstrelsy both,
With wealth dwelt they that day,       until it went to an end
            In land.
    Now, think well, Sir Gawain,
    Lest for fear of what thou began,
    Thou from this adventure refrain
490     That thou hast taken in hand.

 

 

 

-- II -

 

 

This gift has Arthur       of adventures at first
In the young year,       for he yearned to hear challenges.
Though words were wanting;       when they went to sit,
Now are they stocked with stern work,       stuffed full their hands.
Gawain was glad to begin       those games in hall,
But though the end be heavy,       have ye no wonder;
For though men are merry in mind       when they have much drink,
A year runs full swiftly,       and yields never the same;
The first part with the finish       fits full seldom.
500 Thus this Yule passed by,       and the year after,
And each season separately       ensued after other;
After Christmas came       the crabbed Lent,
That tests the flesh with fish       and food more simple;
But then the weather of the world       wrangles with winter;
Cold clings down,       clouds uplift,
Shining sheds the rain       in showers full warm,
Falls upon fair fields;       flowers there show.
In both ground and the groves       green are their weeds;
Birds bustle to build;       and beautifully sing
510 For solace of the soft summer       that ensues thereafter
            With thanks;
    And blossoms begin to swell
    By hedge-rows rich and rank,
    Then noble notes in the dell
    Are heard in brush and banks.

After the season of summer       with the soft winds
When Zephyrus settles himself       on seeds and herbs,
Very well is the worthy plant       that waxes thereabout,
When the drenching dew       drops from the leaves,
520 To abide a blissful blush       of the bright sun.
But then hurries in Harvest       and hardens him soon,
Warns him for the winter       to wax full ripe;
He drives with drought       the dust for to rise,
From the face of the field       to fly full high;
Wrathful wind of the heaven       wrestles with the sun,
The leaves launch from the limbs       and alight on the ground,
And all grays the grass       that green was before;
Then all ripens and rots       that arose upon first,
And thus yields the year       in yesterdays many,
530 And winter winds back again       as the world asks
            For its age,
    Until Michaelmas moon
    Was come with winter's wage;
    Then thinks Gawain full soon
    Of his anxious voyage.

Yet until Allhallows Day       with Arthur he lingers;
And he made a festival and a feast       for the fighter's sake,
With much revel and richness       of the Round Table.
Knights full courteous       and comely ladies
540 All for love of that lad       in longing they were,
But never the less nor the latter       they spoke only of mirth.
Many joyless for that gentle one       jests there made.
At after-meal with mourning       he communes with his uncle,
And speaks of his passage       and plainly he said,
Now, liege lord of my life       leave I ask you;
Ye know the cost of this case       care I no more;
To tell you troubles thereof       is nothing but trifle;
But I am bound to go       for the blow on tomorrow
To seek the gallant of the green       as God will me guide.’
550 Then the best of the burg       banded together,
Ywain, and Eric       and others full many,
Sir Dodinal de Savage       the duke of Clarence,
Launcelot, and Lionel       and Lucan the good,
Sir Bors, and Sir Bedivere       big men both,
And many other men of worth       with Mador de la Port.
All the company of court       came to the king nearer
For to counsel the knight       with care at their hearts.
There was much secret sadness       suffered in the hall
That so worthy as Wawain       should wend on that errand,
560 To endure a doleful dint       and deal blows no more
            But die.
    The knight made ever good cheer,
    And said, Why should I fly?
    Of destinies dreary or dear
    What can man do but try?"

He dwells there all that day,       and dresses on the morn,
Asks early his arms       and they were all brought.
First a red silk tapestry       spread tight on the floor,
And much was the gilded gear       that gleamed thereon;
570 The stout man steps upon it       and the steel handles,
Adorned in a doublet       of a dear Turkish silk,
And next a clever leather cape       closed at the throat,
That with bright white ermine       was bound within.
Then set they the steel shoes       upon the stalwart's feet,
His legs lapped in steel       with lovely armor,
With knee-plates placed thereto       polished full bright,
About his knees knitted       with knots of gold;
Clear plate then       that cleverly enclosed
His thick sinewed thighs s      with thongs attached;
580 And next the braided mail shirt       of bright steel rings
Enclosed that warrior       and his costly clothes,
And well burnished bracer       on both his arms,
With good elbow-guards and gay       and gloves of steel,
And all the goodly gear       that should be gainful to him,
            At that tide;
    With rich coat of arms
    His gold spurs affixed with pride,
    Girt with a sword full sure,
    With silken sash round his side.

590 When he was clasped in armor,       his harness was rich;
The least lacing or loop       gleamed of gold.
So, harnessed as he was,       he hearkens his mass,
Offered and honored       at the high altar.
Then he comes to the king       and to his court-fellows,
Takes lovingly his leave       from lords and ladies;
And they him kissed and took leave       entrusting him to Christ.
By then was Gringolet ready       and girt with a saddle
That gleamed full gayly       with many gold fringes,
Everywhere riveted full new       ready for that work;
600 The bridle with bars about       with bright gold bound;
The apparel of the trapping       and of its proud skirts,
The crupper and the covering       accord with the saddle-bows;
And all was arrayed       on rich red gold studs,
That all glittered and glowed       as gleam of the sun.
Then takes he the helmet       and hastily it kisses,
That was stapled securely       and stuffed with padding.
It was high on his head       held by a hasp behind,
With a light silk band       over the neck piece,
Embroidered and bedecked       with the best gems
610 On broad silken borders       and birds on the seams,
Such as parrots painted       preening thereabout,
Turtle-doves and true-love knot       portrayed so thick
As if many maids thereupon       had worked seven winters
            In town.
    The circlet was worth more,
    That enclasped his crown,
    For diamonds by the score
    Shone brightly all around.

Then they showed him the shield,       that was of shining red
620 With the pentangle depicted       in pure gold hues.
He seizes it by the baldric       about the neck casts;
That well suits the stalwart       so seemly fair.
And why the pentangle pertains       to that noble prince
I intend you to tell       though tarry me it should;
It is a sign that Solomon       set some time ago
In betokening of troth       that it truly has,
For it is a figure       that holds five points,
And each line embraces       and locks in the other,
And everywhere it is endless       and English call it
630 All over, as I hear       the endless knot.
Therefore it accords to this knight       and to his bright arms,
For ever faithful in five way       and five times in each way;
Gawain was for good known       and as gold purified,
Devoided of each villainy       with virtues endowed
            To devote;
    Therefore the pentangle new
    He bore on shield and coat,
    As man of tale most true
    And gentlest knight of note.

640 First he was found faultless       in his five wits,
And also failed never the fighter       in his five fingers,
And all his faith in the field       was in the five wounds
That Christ caught on the cross       as the Creed tells;
And where-so-ever this man       in melee took a stand,
His steadfast thought was in that       over all other things,
That all his courage he took       from the Five Joys
That the courteous heaven-queen       had of her child;
For this cause       the comely knight had
On the inside of his shie      her image depicted,
650 That when he looked thereto       he never lacked boldness.
The fifth five that I find       that the fighter used
Was generosity and fellowship       before all things,
His purity and his courtesy       crooked were never,
And pity, that passes all points       these pure five
Were more heartily heaped       on that horseman than any other.
Now all these five fives, forsooth       were fixed on this knight,
And each one woven into other       so that no end it had,
And fixed upon five points       that failed never,
Not assembled ever on one side       nor separated neither,
660 Without end at any angle       anywhere, I find,
Wherever the game began       or had gone to an end.
Therefore on his shining shield       shaped was the knot
Royally with bright gold       upon a red background,
That is the pure pentangle       by the people called
            With lore.
    Now gracefully Gawain gay
    Latched on to his lance for war,
    And gave them all good day --
    He thought for evermore.

670 He spurred the steed with the spur       and sprang on his way,
So strong that the stone-fire       struck out thereafter.
All that saw that seemly       sighed in heart,
And soothly all the same       said stalwarts to each other,
Caring for that comely       "By Christ, it is a calamity
That thou, liegeman, shall be lost       that art of life noble!
To find his fellow upon field       in faith, is not easy.
More warily to have work       had been more wise,
And to have designated yonder dear       a duke to have become;
An illustrious leader of lads       in land could well be,
680 And had better have been that       than battered to nothing,
Beheaded by a monstrous man       for arrogant pride.
Who knew ever any king       such counsel to take
As from knights quibbling       about Christmas games?"
Well much was the warm water       that weltered from eyes,
When that seemly sire       set out from those dwellings
            That day.
    He turned to the road,
    And stoutly went his way;
    Many bewildering routes he rode,
690     The book as I heard say.

Now rides this rider     through the realm of Logres,
Sir Gawain, by God's wounds,       though to him no game it seemed.
Oft friendless alone       he lingers at nights
Where he found not before him       the fare that he liked.
Had he no friend but his foa       by forests and downs,
Nor no gallant but God       to speak with by the way,
Till that he nighed full nigh       into the North Wales.
All the isles of Anglesey       on left side he holds,
And fares over the ford       by the forelands,
700 Over by the Holyhead       until he again had the shore.
In the wilderness of Wirral       dwelt there but few
That either God nor man       with good heart loved.
And ever he asked, as he fared       from folk that he met,
If they had heard any talk       of a green knight,
On any ground thereabout,       or of a Green Chapel;
And all denied it with "nay,     that never in their lives
They ever saw any stalwart       that was of such hues
            Of green.
    The knight took ways strange
710     In many a bank between;
    His mood full oft did change
    Ere that chapel might be seen.

Many a cliff he overclimbed       in countries strange,
Far flown from his friend       as a foreigner he rides.
At each shore or water       where the warrior passed
He found a foe before him       -- else a wonder it was --
And that so foul and so fierce       that to fight him behooved.
So many marvels by mountain       there the man finds,
It were too toilsome for to tell       of the tenth part.
720 Sometimes with dragons he wars       and with wolves also,
Sometimes with wild men       that dwelt in the woods,
Both with bulls and bears       and boars at other times,
And ogres, that him annoy       from the high rocks;
Had he not been doughty and enduring       and the dear Lord served,
Doubtless he had been dead       and done for full oft.
For war worried him not so much       that winter was worse,
When the cold clear water       from the clouds shed,
And froze ere it fall might       to the faded earth;
Nearly slain with the sleet       he slept in his iron armor
730 More nights than enough       in naked rocks,
Where clattering from the crest       the cold brook runs,
And hanged high over his head       in hard icicles.
Thus in peril and pain       and plights full hard
Through the country comes this knight,       til Christmas eve,
            Alone;
    The knight well that tide
    To Mary made his moan,
    That she reveal where to ride
    That some dwelling him be shown. 740 By a mount on the moor       merrily he rides
Into a forest full deep       that was fabulously wild,
Tall hills on each side,       and high woods as well
Of hoar oaks full huge,       a hundred in all;
The hazel and the hawthorn       were tangled all together,
With rough ragged moss       arrayed everywhere,
With many birds unblith;       upon bare twigs,
That piteously there pipe       for pain of the cold.
The gallant upon Gringolet       galloped them under,
Through many a morass and mire       a man all alone,
750 Caring for his duties       lest he should not come
To see the service of that Sire       that on that same night
Of a maiden was born       our troubles to abate;
And therefore sighing he said,       I beseech thee, Lord,
And Mary, that is mildest       mother so dear,
For some harborage where holily       I might hear mass,
And thy matins in the morning       meekly I ask,
And thereto promptly I pray       my "Our Father" and "Hail Mary"
            And "Creed."
    He rode in his prayer,
760     And cried for his misdeed;
    He signed himself repeatedly there,
    And said "Cross of Christ me lead!"

He had not signed himself,       that stalwart, but thrice,
Above an open lawn, on a low hill       locked under boughs
By many a burly branch       about by the ditches;
A castle the comeliest       that ever knight commanded,
Placed on an open meadow       a park all around,
With a spiked palisade       penned in full thick,
770 That enclosed many a tree       more than two miles.
That hold on that one side       the horseman observed,
As it shimmered and shone       through sheltering oaks;
Then has he courteously doffed his helmet       and holily he thanks
Jesus and Saint Julian       that gentle are both,
Who courteously recognized him       and his cry hearkened.
"Now good lodging," quoth the brave       "I beseech you yet!"
Then he gives spur to Gringolet       with the gilded heels,
And he fully by chance has chosen       the chief path,
That quickly brought the bravee       to the bridge's end
780             In haste.
    The bridge was firmly raised,
    The gates were shut up fast.
    The walls were mightily made;
    They feared no windy blast.

The brave abided on his bronc,       that hovered on the bank
Of the deep double ditch       that defended the place;
The wall went into the water       wonderfully deep,
And then a full huge high       it had upon loft
Of hard hewed stone       high up to the cornices
790 With ledges under the battlements       in the best style;
And then towers full gay       placed goodly between
A better defense that brave       looked upon never.
And further in he beheld       that hall full high,
Towers between them       pinnacles full thick,
Fair spires that befitted them       and fabulously high,
With curiously carved tops       craftily made.
Chalk-white chimneys       many choice ones
On the burg's roof       that shone bright white.
800 So many painted pinnacle       were put about everywhere,
About the castle embrasure       clustered so thick,
That pared out of paper       surely it seemed.
The fighter on his foal       thought it fair indeed,
If he could have leave to come       the cloister within,
To have harbor in that hostel       while the holy days last,
            As at present.
    He called, and soon there came
    A porter purely pleasant,
    On the wall his duty to proclaim
810     And hail the knight errant

Good sir, quoth Gawain,       wouldst thou go my errand
To the high lord of this house,       lodging to crave. Yea, Peter, quoth the porter,       and surely I suppose
That ye be, warrior, welcom;       to dwell while you like.
Then went the warrior eagerly       and came again quickly,
And folk courteously with him       to accompany the knight.
They let down the great draw-bridge       and decorously went out,
And kneeled down on their knees       upon the cold earth
To welcome this same warri       as worthy they thought;
820 They yield to him the broad gate       gaping up wide,
And he bad them rise readily,       and rode over the bridge.
Several stalwarts held his saddle       while he stepped down,
And then stabled his steed       stout men many.
Knights and squire       came down then
For to bring this brave       with bliss into hall;
When he heaved up his helmet       there hastened many
For to have it from his hand       the courtier to honor;
His broad sword and his blazoned shield       both they took.
Then hailed he full courteously       those horsemen each one,
830 And many proud men there pressed in       that prince to honor.
All harnessed in his high armor       to hall they bring him
Where fair fire upon floor       fiercely burned.
Then the lord of the lads       leaves his chamber
For to meet with good manner       the man on the floor;
He said, Ye are welcom;       to wield as you like
All that is here is your own       to have at your will
            And hold.
    Great thanks, quoth Gawain,
    May Christ you uphold.
840     As fighters that do not feign
    Each other in arms did enfold.

Gawain gazed on the gallant       that goodly him greeted,
And thought it a bold brave       that the burg owned,
A huge horseman for battling       and in his best years;
Broad, bright, was his beard       and all beaver-colored,
Stern, strong in his stance       on stalwart shanks,
Face fierce as the fire       and fair in his speech;
And well him suited, for sooth,       as the stalwart thought,
To lead a lordship in a castle       of liegemen full good.
850 The lord conducts him to a chamber       and quickly commands
To assign him a lad       loyally to serve;
And there were ready at his bidding       many brave knights,
That brought him to a bright bower       where bedding was noble,
Of curtains of glowing silk       with gleaming gold hems,
And covers full curious       with comely panels
Of bright white fur above       embroidered round about,
Curtains running on ropes       with red gold rings,
Stretched on the wall tapestries       of Toulouse and Turkestan,
And under foot, on the floor       of a matching form.
860 There he was disarmed       with speeches of mirth,
The brave of his mail       and of his bright armor.
Rich robes full readily       servants him brought,
For to choose one, and to change       and rejoice in the best.
As soon as he has picked one       and is apparelled within
One that sat on him seemly       with spreading skirts,
The verdant Spring by his visage       verily it seemed
Well nigh to each horseman       for all its hues
Glowing and lovely       and all his limbs covered,
That a comelier knight       never Christ made,
870             They thought.
      Wherever in world he were,
    It seemed as if he ought
      Be prince without peer
    In field where fierce men fought.  
A chair before the chimney       where charcoal burned,
Was arrayed for Sir Gawain       gracefully with cloths,
Cushions upon quilts       that were all cleverly made;
And then a merry mantle       was on that man cast
Of a bright silk fabric       embroidered full rich
880 And fair furred within       with the finest of pelts,
All with ermine adorned       his hood of the same;
And he sat in that seat       sumptuously rich,
And warmed himself quickly       and then his mood changed.
Soon was set up a table       on trestles full fair,
Clad with a gleaming cloth       that clear white shone,
Place-mats, and saltcellars       and silver spoons.
The warrior washed, as he wished       and went to his meal.
Stalwarts him served       seemly indeed
With many excellent stews       seasoned of the best,
890 Double portions, as was fitting       and fish of many kinds,
Some baked in bread       some broiled on the coals,
Some seethed, some in stew       savored with spices,
And always subtle sauces       that the stalwart liked.
The fighter called it a feast       full freely and oft
Full courteously, when all the horsemen       a reply at once
            Extended;
      "This penance now ye take,
    And soon it shall be amended."
    That man much mirth did make,
900     For wine in his head that wended. Then was spied out and asked       in subtle ways
By privy questions of that prince       put to himself,
That he admitted courteously       that he was of the court
That Arthur the elegant       holds as his own,
He who is the rich royal king       of the Round Table,
And it was Gawain himself       that in that hall sits,
Come to that Christmass       as the case then befell.
When the lord had learned       that he this liegeman had,
Loud laughed he thereat       so lovely it seemed to him,
910 And all the men inside that moat       made much joy
To appear in his presence       promptly that time,
Since all price and prowess       and pure manners
Append to his person       and praised are ever;
Before all men upon earth       his honor is the most.
Each stalwart full softly       said to his fellow;
"Now shall we surely see       the skills of good manners
And the faultless terms       of talking noble.
What success is in speech       without asking we can learn,
Since we have found herw       that fine father of nurture.
920 God has given us his grace       goodly for sooth,
Who such a guest as Gawain       grants us to have,
When blithe braves     of his birth shall sit
            And sing.
    To understand good manners here
    This brave now shall us bring;
    I hold that he who may him hear
    Shall learn of love-talking.

When dinner was done       and the dear Gawain up
It was nigh to that time       that night neared.
930 Chaplains to the chapel       chose the direct way,
Rang full richly       right as they should,
To the holy Evensong       of the high season.
The lord leads thereto       and the lady also;
Into a comely enclosed pew       gracefully she enters.
Gawain goes full gay       and gets thither soon;
The lord snatches him by the sleeve       and leads him to sit,
And cordially with him converse       and calls him by his name,
And said he was the welcomest       warrior in the world;
And he him thanked thoroughly       and either hugged the other,
940 And sat soberly together       during the service.
Then desired the lady       to look on the knight,
Then came she from her enclosed pew       with many glowing maidens.
She was the fairest in complexion       of flesh and of skin,
And of stature and color and customs       compared to all others,
And more lovely than Guenevere       as the warrior thought.
He chose his way through the sanctuary       to salute that lady.
Another lady her led       by the left hand,
That was older than she       an ancient it seemed,
And highly honored       by horsemen about.
950 But unlike to look on       those ladies were,
For if the young was fresh       yellowed was that other;
Rich red on that on      arrayed everywhere,
Rough wrinkled cheek       rolled on that other;
Kerchiefs on that one       with many clear pearls,
Her breast and her bright throat       bare displayed,
Shone more shining than snow       that sheds on hills;
That other with a collar       had covered all her neck,
Enclosed her black chin       with chalk-white veils,
Her forehead covered and adorned       enfolded everywhere,
960 Bedecked and tricked out       bejeweled all round,
That nothing was bare of that woman       but the black brows,
The two eyes and the nose;       the naked lips,
And those were sour to see       and exceedingly bleared;
An honorable lady on earth       men may her call,
            For God!
    Her body was short and thick,
    Her buttocks big and broad;
    A more luscious one to pick
    Was she with whom she trod.

970 When Gawain glanced on that gay,   nbsp;   that graciously looked,
With leave allowed by the lord       the ladies he greets.
The elder he hails s      bowing full low;
The more lovely he laps       a little in arms,
He kisses her comely       and knightly he speaks.
They request his acquaintance       and he quickly asks
To be their servant soothly       if they so pleased.
They take him between them       with talking him lead
To chamber, to chimney       and cheerfully ask
Spices, that unsparingly       men sped them to bring,
980 And the excellent wine       therewith each time.
The lord lively aloft       leaps full oft,
Commanded mirth to be made       many a time,
Hastily doffed his hood       and on a spear hanged it,
And waved them to wi      the worship thereof,
Who most mirth might move       that Christmas time;
"And I shall try, by my faith       to contend with the best
Lest I lose the hood       with help of my friends."
Thus with laughing speech       the lord makes merry,
For to gladden Sir Gawain       with games in hall
990             That night,
    Till it was late eve;
    The lord commanded light;
    Sir Gawain takes his leave,
    And then to bed aright.

On the morn, as each man       remembers that time
That Dear God for our destiny       to die was born,
Joy waxes in each dwelling       in world for His sake;
So did it there on that dais       through dainties many;
Both at breakfast and at dinner       dishes full elaborate
1000 Doughty men upon dais       dined on the best.
The old ancient wife       highest she sits,
The lord attentively by her lounged       as I believe;
Gawain and the gay lad       together they sat,
Right in the middle       where the meals first come,
And are then served to all       as to them best seemed;
Each good man, by his degree,       graciously was served.
There were meals, there was mirth       there was much joy,
That for to tell thereof       would be trouble for me,
And to compose it just now       pained me indeed.
1010 But yet I know well that Wawain       and the winsome lady
Such comfort of their company       caught together
Through the dear dalliance       of their secret words,
With clean courteous discourse       clear from filth,
And their play surpassed       each princely game,
            And fair.
    Trumpets and drummers the best.
    Much piping there repairs;
    Each man tends his business,
    And those two tended theirs

1020 Much delight was there driven       that day and the next,
And the third as delightful       thrust in thereafter;
The joy of Saint John's Day       was gentle to hear,
And was the last of the feasting       liegemen there thought.
There were guests to go       upon the gray morn,
Therefore long they stayed awaken       and the wine drank,
Danced all unceasingly       with dear carols.
At the last, when it was late       they took their leave,
Each one to wend on his way       that was a guest warrior.
Gawain gave him good day       the good man him grabs,
1030 Leads him to his own chamber       the chimney beside,
And there he draws him aside       and dearly him thanks
For the noble worship       that he had shown him,
As to honor his house       on that high season,
And embellish his burgh       with his buoyant good cheer;
‘Indeed sir, while I live       I will be the better
That Gawain has been my guest       at God's own feast.
Great thanks, sir, quoth Gawain;       in good faith it is yours;
All the honor is your own       may the High King reward you!
And I am warrior at your will       to work your command,
1040 As I am beholden thereto       in high and in low,
            By right."
    The lord fast did him strain
    To hold longer that knight;
    To him answers Gawain
    That in no way he might.

Then asked the fighter       full fair of himself
What doughty deed had him drive;       at that dear time
So keenly from the king's court       to canter all alone,
Ere the holidays wholly       were hurried out of town.
1050 "For sooth, sir," quoth the stalwart       ye say but the truth,
A high errand and an important       haled me from those dwellings,
For I myself am summoned       to seek for a place,
I know not in this world which was       to wend to find it.
I want nothing but that I nigh it might       on New Year's morn.
For all the land within Logres       so help me Our Lord!
Therefore, sir, this request       require of you here,
  That ye me tell with truth       if ever ye tale heard
  Of the Green Chapel       where it on ground stands,
  And of the knight that it keeps       of color of green.
1060   There was established by agreement       a day between us
To meet that man at that landmark       if I might last;
And of that same New Years       but little now lacks,
And I would look on that lad       if God would let me,
More gladly, by God's Son,       than any good wield!
Therefore, indeed, with your permission       to wend me behooves.
Nor have I now to be busy       but bare three days,
And I as eager to fall dead       as fail of mine errand.
Then laughing quoth the lord       Now linger thee behooves,
For I shall teach you to that place       by the time's end,
1070 Let the Green Chapel upon ground       grieve you no more;
And ye shall be in your bed       brave, at thine ease;
Wile forth the days, and fare       on the first of the year,
And come to that place at midmorning       to do what you please
            In defense;
    Dwell until New Year's day,
    And rise, and ride thence.
    We shall set you on the way;
    It is not two miles hence."

Then was Gawain full glad,       and gleefully he laughed;
1080 Now I thank you abundantly;       over all other things.
Now achieved is my quest       I shall at your will
Dwell, and else do       whatever ye decide.
Then the sire seized him       and sat him beside,
Let the ladies be fetched       to please them the better.
There was seemly pleasure       in privacy by themselves;
The lord used for love       language so merry,
Like a warrior that went out of his with       nor knew what he did.
Then he called to the knight;       crying loud,
Ye have decided to do ;nbsp;     the deed that I bid;
1090 Will ye hold this promise       here for this once?
Yea, sir, for sooth,       said the stalwart true,
While I bide in your burg       I am bound to your command.
For ye have travelled, quoth the true knight,       a trip from so far,
And then stayed up late with me;       ye are not well restored,
Neither of sustenance nor of sleep;       soothly I know;
Ye shall linger in your loft;       and lie in your ease
Tomorrow during the mass-time ;nbsp;     and to meal wend
When ye will, with my wife,       that with you shall sit
And comfort you with company       till I to court return;
1100             Linger herein;
    And I shall early rise;
    On hunting will I wend.’
    Gawain grants this likewise,
    Holding him his friend.

Yet further, quoth that fighter       first let's agree;
Whatsoever I win in the wood   nbsp;   will be yours;
And what ye achieve here       exchange it with me for that.
Sweet, swap we so &nbso;     swear with truth,
Whatever, liegemen, so befalls;       loss or gain.
1110 By God, quoth Gawain the good m&n     I grant that,
And that you like such amusements       seems laudable to me.
Let someone bring us this beverage;       this bargain is made.’
So said the lord of that land;       they laughed each one,
They drank, and dallied;       and dealt unrestrained,
These lords and ladies;       while they pleased;
And then in the French fashion       and many fair words
They stood and staye;       and softly spoke,
Kissed full comely       and caught their leave.
By many liegemen with light       and gleaming torches
1120 Each brave to his bed       was brought at the last
            Full soft.
    To bed yet ere they wend,
    They repeated covenants oft;
    The old lord of that land
    Could well hold play aloft.



 

 

 

-- III -

 

 

Full early before the day       the folk up rise,
Guests that would go       called their grooms,
And they bustle up busil;       broncos to saddle,
Tighten their tackle;       truss up their bags,
1130 The richest ready themselve       to ride all arrayed;
They leap up lightly       lay hold of their bridles,
Each warrior on his wa       where he well pleased.
The lively lord of the land       was not the last
Arrayed for the riding       with riders full many;
Had a snack hastily       when he had heard mass,
With bugle to the field;       he briskly bounds.
Before any dayligh       gleamed upon earth
He with his horsemen       on high horses were.
Then these crafty handler       coupled hounds in pairs,
1140 Unclosed the kennel door       and called them thereout,
Blew boldly in bugle       three bare notes;
Big hounds bayed thereat       and brave noise made;
Handlers whipped and turned bac       those chasing false scents,
A hundred of hunters       as I have heard tell,
            Of the best.
    To their stations handlers strode;
    Leashes huntsmen off cast;
    There rose for horn-blasts good
    Great noise in that forest.

1150 At the first sound of the quest       quaked the wild;
Deer drove through the dale       doddered for dread,
Hied to the height       but hurriedly they were
Restrained by the beaters       that sternly shouted.
They let the harts pass by       with their high horns,
The brave bucks also   &     with their broad antlers;
For the fine lord had forba       in closed-season time
That any man there should move       on the male deer.
The hinds were held in       with "hay!" and "be ware!"
The does driven with great din       to the deep valley;
1160 There might man see, as they slipped by       slanting arrows;
At each path in the wood       an arrow whipped by
That boldly bit on the brow;       with broad arrowheads.
Hey! they bellow, and bleed       by banks they die,
And ever bloodhounds in a rush       rapidly them follow;
Hunters with high horn       hastened them after
With such a crackling cry       as if cliffs had burst.
Whatever wild that escape       the warriors who shot
Dogs pulled down and torn       at the hunt station,
When they were harassed at the height       and harried to the waters;
1170 The lads were so well trained       at the low hunt-stations,
And the greyhounds so great       that got them quickly
And filched them faster       than fighters could look
            There aright.
    The lord his bliss to enjoy
    Did oft race ahead and alight,
    And drove that day with joy
    Thus to the dark night.

Thus gallops this lord       by a linden-wood's edges,
And Gawain the good man       in gay bed lies,
1180 Lurks while the daylight       gleamed on the walls,
Under glowing coverings       curtained about;
And as in slumbering he slid       slightly he heard
A little din at his door       and stealthily done;
And he heaves up his head       out of the clothes,
A corner of the curtain       he caught up a little,
And looks warily thitherward       what it might be.
It was the lady       loveliest to behold,
That drew the door after her       full stealthy and still,
And moved toward the bed       and the brave shammed,
1190 And laid him down cautiously       and let on that he slept;
And she stepped still       and stole to his bed,
Cast up the curtain       and crept within,
And set her full softly       on the bed-side,
And lingered there very long       to look when he wakened.
The lad lay lurking       a full long while,
Considered in his conscience       to what that case might
Move or amount to   &; nbsp;   a marvel he thought,
But yet he said in himself       More seemly it would be
To inquire with my speech       openly what she wants.’
1200 Then he awakened, and twisted       and toward her turned,
And unlocked his eye-lids       and let on that he wondered,
And signed himself, as if by his speech       the safer he would be,
            With hand.
    With chin and cheek full sweet,
    Both white and red in blend;
    Full lovingly did she him greet
    With small laughing lips, as a friend.

"Good morrow, Sir Gawain,"       said that gay lady,
Ye are not a sly sleeper       that one may slip hither;
1210 Now are ye taken in a trice       But a truce we may shape;
I shall bind you in your bed       of that be ye sure";
All laughing the lady       launched those jests.
"Good morrow, gay,       quoth Gawain the blithe,
"I shall work at your will       and that I well like,
For I yield me utterly       and yearn for grace,
And thus he jested in turn       with many a jolly laugh;
"But would ye, lady lovely       then grant me leave,
And parole your prisoner       and pray him to rise,
1220 I would bound from this bed       and prepare me better;
I should have the more comfort       to converse with you."
"Nay for sooth, beau sir,       said that sweet,
"Ye shall not rise from your bed       I will arrange things better;
I shall lock you here       on that other side also,
And then converse with my knight       that I have caught;
For I well know, indeed       Sir Wawain ye are,
That all the world worship       where-ever ye ride;
Your honor, your courtesy       is courteously praised
By lords, by ladies       by all that life bear.
1230 And now ye are here, indeed       and we but ourselves alone;
My lord and his lady       are a long way off,
Other braves in their beds       and my bonny maids as well,
The door drawn and locked       with a doughty hasp;
And since I have in this house       him that all pleases,
I shall wile my while well       while it lasts,
            With tale.
    You are welcome to my body,
    Your own will to avail;
    It behooves me of pure force
1240     Your servant be, and I shall."

"In good faith," quoth Gawain,       "gainful it seems to me,
Though I be not now he       of whom ye speak
To reach such reverence       as ye rehearse here
I am a warrior unworthy       I know well myself.
By God, I would be glad       and if it seemed good to you,
That my speech or my service       I might set
To the pleasure of your self       it would be a pure joy."
"In good faith, Sir Gawain,       quoth the gay lady,
"The praise and the prowess       that pleases all others,
1250 If I blamed it or slighted its value       it would be little pleasure;
But there are many ladies       that would rather now
Have thee, handsome, in their hold       as I have thee here,
Dearly to dally       with your dainty words,
Cover them with comfort       and cool their cares,
Than much of the goods       or gold that they have.
But as I love that same Lord       That lifts up the heavens,
I have it wholly in my hands       that all desire,
            Through grace."
    She made him much good cheer,
1260     That was so fair of face;
    The knight with speeches pure
    Answered to every case.

"Madame," quoth the merry man,       "May Mary reward you,
For I have found, in good faith,       your free nobility,
And full many from other folk       find praise for their deeds,
But the honor that they do to me       does not equal my deserts;
It is the worship of yourself       who know nothing but good."
"By Mary," quoth the mannerly one       "To me it seems otherwise;
For were I worth all the multitude       of women alive,
1270 And all the wealth of the world       were in my hand,
And I should shop and choose;       to purchase me a lord,
For the qualities that I have known       in thee, knight, here,
  Of beauty and good manners       and blithe demeanor,
  And what I have ere hearkened       and hold it here true,
  There should no fighter upon field       before you be chosen."
  "Indeed, worthy," quoth the warrior       "ye have chosen well better;
  But I am proud of the price       that ye put on me,
  And, soberly your servant       my sovereign I hold you,
  And your knight I become       and Christ you reward."
1280   Thus they talked of this and tha       till midmorning passed,
  And ever the lady let on       that she him loved much;
  The fighter fared with defense       and feigned full fair.
  "Though I were the brightest       the beauty had in mind,
"The less room for love in his luggage       till the journey he sought
            Is begun,
    For the dint that shall him grieve,
    And now it must be done."
    The lady then spoke of leave;
    He granted it at once.

1290 Then she gave him good day,       and with a glance laughed,
And as she stood, she astonished him       with full strong words;
Now He that sustains each speech       for this sport reward you!
But that ye be Gawain       it goes against what I know."
"Wherefore?" quoth the fighter       and quickly he asks,
Feared lest he had faile       in the form of his speech;
But the lady him blessed       and said "For this reason;
One so good as Gawain       is rightly considered,
And courtesy enclose       so completely in himself,
Could not easily have lingered       so long with a lady,
1300 But he had craved a kiss       by his courtesy,
By some touch of some trifle       at some tale's end."
Then quoth Wawain; "Indeed       work as you like;
I shall kiss at your commandment       as a knight should,
And more, lest he displease you       so plead it no more."
She comes nearer with that       and catches him in arms,
Bows lovingly down       and the liegeman kisses.
Either the other they courteously       entrust to Christ.
She goes forth to the door       without din more,
And he prepares him to rise       and rushes him soon,
1310 Calls to his servant       selects his clothes,
Bounds forth, when he was ready       blithely to mass;
And then he moved to his meat       that worthily him awaited,
And made merry all day       till the moon rose,
              With game.
    Was never fair fighter so well
    Received by such worthy dames,
    The elder and the belle;
    Much pleasure and ever the same.

And ever the lord of the land       is intent on his game,
1320 To hunt in woods and heath       at barren hinds;
Such a sum he there slew       till the sun went down,
Of does and of other deer       wondrous to declare.
Then fiercely the folk       flocked in at the last,
And quickly of the quelled deer       their quarry, made a pile,
The best bounded thereto       with many braves,
  Gathered the greatest in grease       that were there,
  And had them carefully cut open       as the art requires;
  Searched out at the assessment       some that were there;
  Two fingers of fat they found       in the least of their quarry.
1330   Next they slit the slot of the throat       seized the stomach,
  Shaved it with a sharp knife       and the shining flesh tied back;
  Next they ripped off the four legs       and rent off the hide,
  Then they broke open the belly       took out the bowels
  Carefully, to avoid loosening;       tied back the flesh;
  They gripped to the throat       and properly parted
  The gullet from the windpipe       and threw out the guts;
Then shear they out the shoulder       with their sharp knives,
Hauled them out by a little hole       to keep the sides whole.
Next broke they the breas       and pulled it in two,
1340 And then again begin       one at the throat,
Rips it up quickly       right to the fork,
Voids out the waste parts       and verily thereafter
All the membranes by the ribs       quickly they loosen;
So correctly they clean       the back bones,
All the way to the haunch       that it hanged all together,
And they heave it up all whole       and hew it off there,
And that they take for "the numbles       by name, as I believe,
            Assigned;
    By the thigh-bones they placed
1350     The flesh they loosened behind;
    To hew it in two they haste,
    The backbone to unbind.

Both the head and the neck       they hew off then,
And then split they the side       swiftly from the spine,
And the "crow's share"       they cast in a thicket;
Then pierced they through       both thick sides by the rib,
And hanged them both       by hocks of the legs.
Each fighter has his fee       as befits him to have.
Upon a pelt of the fair beast       feed they their hounds
1360 With the liver and the lungs       the lining of the stomach,
And bread bathed in blood       blended among it.
Boldly horns blew "taken!"       Their hounds bayed.
Then take they their flesh       fare to home,
Sounding full stoutly       many strong notes.
By the time daylight was done       the company was all come
Into the comely castle       where the knight bides
            Full still,
    With bliss and bright fire heat,
    Comes the lord until
1370     Gawain with him did meet,
    And all was joy at will.

Then commanded the lord in that hall       to summon all the court.
Both the ladies came down       with their lovely maids.
Before all the folk on the floor       fighters he bids
Verily his venison       to fetch him before,
And all goodly, in game       Gawain he called,
Tells him the tally       of beasts taken,
Shows him the shining grease       shorn from the ribs.
"How repay you this play       Have I the prize won?
1380 Have I well-earned thanks       through my craft deserved?"
`Yea indeed, quoth that other warrior       here is the fairest game
That I have seen this seven year       in season of winter.'
"And all I give you, Gawain,       quoth the gallant then,
"For by accord of our covenant       ye may claim it as your own."
"This is sooth," quoth the stalwart;       "I say you the same;
What I have worthily won       within these walls,
Indeed with as good will       it becomes yours."
He clasps his fair neck       within his arms,
And kisses him as courteously       as he knew how;
1390 "Take you there my winnings       I won no more;
I grant it completely       and would it were more."
"It is good," quoth the good man       "great thanks therefore.
It would be the better       if ye would me declare
Where ye won this same wealth       by wit of yourself."
"That was not agreed," quoth he       "ask me no more.
For ye have taken what belongs to you       expect nothing more
            There-by."
    They laughed, and made them blithe
    With words of praise on high;
1400     To supper they swiftly stride,
    Some dainties new to try.

And then by the chimney       in chamber they sat,
Warriors the bright wine       brought to them oft,
And again in their bantering       both agree in the morn
To fulfill the same agreement       that they before made;
Whatever by chance betides       their winnings to exchange,
Whatever new thing they take       at night when they met.
They accorded to the covenant       before all the court;
The beverage was brought       to seal the bargain then.
1410 Then they lovingly       took leave at the last;
Each brave to his bed       bounded in haste.
By the time the cock had crowed       and cackled but thrice,
The lord had leaped from his bed       and the liegemen each one;
When the meal and the mass       were properly served,
The company dashed to the wood       ere any day sprang,
            To the chase;
    Hasting with hunters and horns;
    Through plains they race.
    Uncoupled among those thorns
1420     Hounds that rushed apace.

Soon they call of a quarry       found on a marsh's side,
The hunter urged on the hound       that found it first;
Wild words they shoute       with a loud noise;
The hounds that heard it       hastened thither swiftly,
And fell fast to the track       forty at once;
Then such a great barking and din       of gathered hounds
Arose, that the rocky hills       rang all about;
Hunters them hearten       with horn and with mouth.
  Then all in a solid pack       swiftly came together,
1430   Between a pool in that forest       and a forbidding crag;
  In a cluster by a cliff       at the marsh's side,
  Where the rough rock       disorderly was fallen,
  Hounds fared to the find;       and fighters them after;
  They searched around the rocky hill       and the top as well,
  Warriors, while they knew well       within there it was.
The best that there bay       were with the bloodhounds.
Then they beat on the bushes       and bade him uprise,
And he, disastrously, sought out       stalwarts in his path;
The most splendid swine       swung out there,
1440 Long since from the herd       set apart for age,
For he was brave       biggest of all boars,
Full grim when he growled       then grieved many,
For three at the first thrust       he threw to the earth,
And sprang forth at good speed       despite his harms.
These others hallowed "Hurry!" full high;       and "Hey! Hey!" cried,
Had horns to mouth;       heartily sounded "recall";
Many were the merry sound       of men and of hounds
That bound after this boar       with boast and with noise
            To kill.
1450     Full oft he bides at bay,
    And maims the pack pell-mell;
    He hurts some hounds, and they
    Full piteously yowl and yell.

Chevaliers to shoot at him       shove forth then,
Have at him with their arrows       hit him oft;
But the points that hit the shoulder       were blunted by its strength
And none could bite into   &; nbsp;   the bristles of his brow;
Though the sharpened shaft       shattered in pieces,
The arrow-head rebounded       where-so-ever it hit.
1460 But when the hits him hurt       with their heavy strokes,
Then, brain-mad for battle,       on braves he rushes,
Hurts them full hatefully       where he forth hastens,
And many feared thereat       and drew back a little.
But the lord on a lively horse       leaps him after,
And the brave one, bold on the field,       his bugle he blows,
He blew "recall," and rode through       bushes full thick,
Pursuing this wild swine       till the sun settled.
All day with this same deed       they do in this way,
While our lovely lad       lies in his bed,
1470 Gawain gracefully at home       in garments full rich
            Of hue.
    The lady did not forget,
    To come him to pursue.
    Full early she him beset
    His mood for to subdue.

She comes to the curtain       and at the knight peeks.
Sir Wawain her welcomed       worthily speaking first,
And she replies to him again       full eagerly in her words,
Sits her softly by his side       and sweetly she laughs,
1480 And with a lovely look       she laid on him these words;
"Sir, if ye be Wawain       it seems a wonder to me,
A warrior that is so well disposed       always to good,
And can not of company       the customs understand,
And if one teach you to know them       ye cast them from your mind.
Thou hast forgotten already       what yesterday I taught
By the truest teaching       of talk that I know."
"What is that?" quoth the warrior       "Indeed I knew never;
If it be sooth that ye say       the blame is mine own."
"Yet I taught you of kissing,       quoth the glowing one then,
1490 Where-ever favor is known       quickly to claim it;
That becomes each knight       that courtesy uses."
"Do away, quoth that doughty man       "my dear, that speech,
For that dare I not do       lest I denied were;
If I were refused, I would be wrong       indeed, if I proffered."
"By my faith," quoth the merry one       "ye can not be denied,
Ye are stout enough to constrain       with strength, if you like,
If any were so churlish       that she would deny you."
"Yea, by God," quoth Gawain       "good is your speech,
But threat does not thrive       in the country where I live,
1500 And each gift that is not given       with good will.
I am at your commandment       to kiss when you like,
Ye may take one when you will       and leave when you please,
              This place."
    The lady leans adown,
    And comely kisses his face,
    Much speech they there expound
    Of Love's grief and grace.

"I want to know from you, warrior,"       that worthy there said,
"If you would not be angry therewith       what was the reason
1510 That so young and so youthful       as ye at this time,
So courteous, so knightly       as ye are known all around
(And since of all chivalry to choose       the chief thing praised
Is the loyal game of love,       the literature of arms;
To tell of the trials       of these true knights,
Are written tales       and great tomes on their works,
How lads for their loyal loves       their lives have endangered,
Endured for their dear one       doleful adventures,
And after were avenged by their valor       and their care averted,
And brought blissfully into bower       by their own brave deeds).
1520 And ye are knight most comely       known of your age;
  Your word and your worship       are widely known,
  And I have sat here by yourself       two separate times;
  Yet heard I never that your heart       held any words
  That ever belonged to love       less nor more;
  And ye, that are so courteous       and clever about promises,
  Ought to a young thing       yearn to show
  And teach some examples       of true love crafts.
Why! are ye unlettered       that all the lauds wields
Or else deem ye me too dull       your dalliance to hearken?
1530             But stay!
    I come hither single, and sit
    To learn from you some play;
    Do, teach me of your wit,
    While my lord is away."

"In good faith," quoth Gawain,       "God you reward!
Great is the good glee       and gladness to me huge,
That so worthy as ye       would wend hither,
And take pains for so poor a man       and amuse your knight
With any sort of attention       recovers my ease;
1540 But to take the travail to myself       to expound true love,
And tell the themes of texts       and tales of arms
To you that, I know well,       wield more skill
In that art, by the half,       or a hundred of such
As I am, or ever shall be       in earth where I live,
It were a folly manifold, my fair,       by my troth.
I would work your will       according to my power,
As I am highly obligated       and evermore will
Be servant to yourself       so save me Dear Lord!"
Thus she tested that fair one       and tempted him often,
1550 For to have won him to woe       what-ever she thought else;
But he defended him so fair       that no fault was seen,
Nor any evil on neither side     naught did they know
            But bliss.
    They laughed and played for long;
    At the last she did him kiss.
    Her leave she did not prolong
    But went her way, with this.

Then the rider bestirs him       and rises to hear mass,
And dinner was ready       and decorously served.
1560 The lad with the ladies       amused himself all day,
But the lord over the land       galloped full oft,
Pursues this fierce swine       that swings by the banks
And of the best of his hounds       bit the backs in two
Where he abode at bay       until bow-men broke it out,
And made him, despite his heed       move farther out,
So many arrows there flew       when the folk gathered.
Yet at times he made the strongest       to start back,
Till at the last he was so tired       that he could no more run,
But in such haste as he could       he wends to a hole
1570 Of a ledge by a rock       where runs the stream.
He got the bank to his back       begins to scrape the ground,
The froth foamed at his mouth       foul by its corners,
Whets his white tusks       with him then were angry
All the braves so bold       that by him stood
To annoy him from afar       but nigh him none dared
<             For sooth;
    He had hurt so many before
    That all were then full loath
    To be more with his tusks tore,
1580     By one fierce and brain-mad both,

Till the knight came himself     spurring his bronc,
Saw him abide at bay       his braves beside;
He lights lively adown       leaves his courser,
Brandishes a bright broadsword       and boldly strides forth,
Rushes fast through the stream       where the fierce one abides.
The wild was aware of the warrior       with weapon in hand,
High bristled the hair   &nbps;     so hatefully he snorted
That many feared for the fighter       lest fell to him the worse.
The swine sets himself out       straight at the stalwart,
1590 That the brave and the boar       were both in a heap
In the wildest of the water;       the worse had that other,
For the man marks him well       as they met first,
Set firmly the sword       straight in the throat-slot,
Hit him up to the hilt       that the heart sundered,
And he, snarling, him yielded       and went down in the water
            And sit.
    A hundred hounds at him went,
    That fiercely him bit,
    Braves to the open him sent,
1600     And dogs to death him commit.

There was blowing of "taken"       in many brave horns,
High hallooing on high;       by horsemen that knew how;
Hounds bayed their best       as bid their masters
Of that challenging chase       that were the chief hunters.
Then a warrior       that was wise upon woodcraft
To carve this boar       lovingly begins.
First he hews off his head       and on high sets it,
And next rips him all roughly       by the spine after,
Brings out the bowels       burns them on coals,
1610 With bread blended therewit       to bestow on his hounds.
Next he butchers out the brawn       in bright broad slabs,
And has out the entrails       as rightly befits;
And next fastens all whole       the halves together,
And then on a strong pole       stoutly them hangs.
Now with this same swine       they swung toward home;
The boar's head was borne       before the brave himself
That defeated him in the ford       through force of his hand,             So strong.
    Till he saw Sir Gawain
1620     In hall he thought it full long;
    He called, and Gawain came again
    For the share that to him belongs.

The lord full loud with speech       and laughter merry,
When he saw Sir Gawain       with pleasure he speaks;
The good ladies were gotten       and the courtiers gathered;
He shows them the shoulders,       and shapes for them the tale
Of the largeness and the length       and the loathsome ferocity also
Of the war with the wild swine       in wood where he fled.
That other knight full comely       commended his deeds,
1630 And praised it as great prowes       that he had proved,
For such brawn of a beast       the bold brave said,
Nor such sides of a swine       saw he never ere.
Then handled they the huge head       the courtly one praised it,
And let on he was jealous thereat       for the lord to hear.
"Now, Gawain," quoth the good man       "this game is your own
By fine covenant and firm       faithfully ye know."
"It is sooth," quoth the stalwart       "and as surely true
All I got I shall give you in turn       by my troth.
He holds the horseman by the neck       and honorably him kisses,
1640 And soon after of the same       he served him there.
"Now are we even," quoth the horseman,       "in this eventide
Of all the covenants we knitted       since I came hither,
              By law."
    The lord said, "By Saint Gile,
      Ye are the best that ever I saw!
    Ye will be rich in a while,
      If on such dealings ye draw."

Then they set up tables       on tops of trestles,
Cast cloths upon       clear light then
1650 Awakened on the wall     in wax torches;
Stalwarts were seated and served       in the hall all about;
Sounds of gladness and glee       go up therein
About the fire upon the floor       and in many fine ways
At the supper and after       many elegant songs,
As songs of Christmas       and carols new
With all the mannerly mirth       that men may of tell,
And ever our lovely knight       the lady beside.
Such sweet looks to that stalwart       seemly she made
With still, stolen gestures       that stalwart to please,
1660 That all in wonder was the warrior       and wroth with himself,
But he would not, for his good manners       merely deny her,
But dealt with her all in delicacy       how-so-ever the deed seemed
            At last.
    When they were amused in hall
    As long as their will held fast,
    To chamber he did him call,
    And to the chimney they passed.

And there they drank, and dallied       and decided again
To agree on the same condition       for New Year's Eve
1670 But the knight prayed leave       to depart on the morn,
For it was nearly the timei;       that he should go.
The lord prevented that       to stay longer him constrained,
And said, "As I am stalwart knight       I stake my troth
Thou shall arrive at the Green Chapel       thy affairs to settle,
Liegeman, on New Year's first light       long before prime.
Therefore lie thou in thy loft       and take thine ease,
And I shall hunt in this wood       and hold the terms,
Exchange with thee the profit       of what I acquire hither;
For I have tested thee twice       and truthful I find thee.
1680 Now "third time best throw.       Think on the morn,
Make we merry while we may       and be mindful of joy,
For sorrow may one take       whenever one likes.’
This was gracefully granted       and Gawain is delayed;
Blithely brought was drink;       and they to bed went
            With light.
    Sir Gawain lies and sleeps
    Full still and soft all night;
    The lord that his crafts keeps,
    Was ready at first daylight.

1690 After mass a morsel       he and his men took;
Merry was the morning       his mount he asks.
All the horsemen that on horse       hold the way him after
Were ready, bestride their broncs       before the hall gates.
Wonderfully fair was the field       for the frost clinged;
In red, ruddy upon clouds;       rises the sun,
And full clear coasted the clouds       from the skies.
Hunters unleashed hounds       by a high wood's side,
Rocks rang in the woods       from the roar of their horns;
Some found the scent in the track       where the fox waited,
1700 And oft came upon it again       by the cunning of their wiles;
A small hound cries thereof       the huntsman on him calls;
His fellows rush to him       that panted full hard,
Run forth in a rabble       on the right track,
And the fox flees them before       they found him soon,
And when they saw him with sight       they pursued him fast,
Denouncing him full wildly       with a wrathful noise;
And he twists and turns       through many tough thickets,
Doubles back, and hearken       by hedges full oft.
At the last by a little ditch       he leaps over a hedge,
1710 Steals out full still       beside a small wood,
Thought he escaped from the woods       by wiles for the hounds;
Then he went, ere he was aware       to a well-made blind,
Where three fierce hounds thrust forth       and threaten him at once,
            All grey.
    He bounded back from the strife
    And swiftly turned from the fray;
    With all the woe on life
    To the wood he went away.

Then was it a pleasant life       to listen to the hounds,
1720 When all the pack had met him       mingled together;
Such a curse at that sight       they set on his head
As if all the clustering cliffs had fallen;       clattered in heaps;
Here he was hallooed       when horsemen him met,
Loud he was insulted       with snarling speech;
There he was threatened       and often thief called,
And always the hounds at his tail       that he could not tarry;
Often he was run at       when he rushed out,
And often ran back in again       Reynard was so wily.
And yea! He led them by the nose       the lord and his court,
1730 In this manner by the mountain       all mid-afternoon,
While the courtly knight at home       wholesomely sleeps
Within the comely curtains;       on the cold morn.
But the lady for love       did not let herself sleep,
Nor the purpose to pale       that was placed in her heart,
But rose her up rapidly       hurried herself thither
In a merry mantle       reaching to the earth,
That was lined full fine       with fur well trimmed,
No good hues on her head       but the well wrought jewels,
Traced about her coif       in clusters of twenty;
1740 Her fair face and her throat       shown all naked,
Her breast bare before;       and behind also.
She comes within the chamber door       and closes it her after,
Wide opens up a window       and on the warrior calls,
And right away thus rebuked him       with her rich words,
            And cheer;
    "A! Man, how can thou sleep?
    This morning is so clear."
    He was in drowsing deep,
    But then he did her hear.

1750 In deep drowsing of dream       driveled that noble,
As man that was in mourning       for many sad thoughts,
How that destiny should that day       deal him his fate
At the Green Chapel;       when he the gallant meets,
And it behooves him his buffet       abide without debate more;
But when that comely came       he recovered his wits,
Swings out of the dreams       and signs himself with haste.
The lady lovingly came       laughing sweetly,
Bent over his fair face       and fondly kissed him;
He welcomes her worthily       with well fair cheer.
1760 He saw her so glorious       and gayly attired,
So faultless of her features       and of such fine hues,
Strong welling joy       warmed his heart.
With smooth smiling and gentle       they settled into mirth,
That all was bliss and happiness       between them enjoyed,
            And then.
    They chattered words good;
    Much joy then was therein;
    Great peril between them stood,
    But Mary kept her knight from sin

1770 For that princess of excellence       pressed him so hard,
Pushed him so nigh the thread,       that by need him behooved
Either take there her love       or loathly refuse.
He cared for his courtesy       lest craven he were,
And more for his mischief       if he should make sin,
And be traitor to that knight       that owned that castle.
"God be my shield," quoth the champion,       "that shall not befall!"
With love-laughing a little       he laid aside
All speeches of affection       that sprang from her mouth.
Quoth that lady to the brave       "Blame ye deserve,
1780 If ye love not that life       that ye lie next,
Before all the creature;       in the world wounded in heart,
Unless ye have a lady, a lover;       that you like better,
And have fixed your faith to that fine one       fastened so hard
That you do not wish to loosen       and that I now believe;
And that ye tell me that now       truly I pray you,
For all the loves upon life       conceal not the sooth
            For guile."
    The knight said, "By Saint John,"
    And smoothly did he smile;
1790     "In faith, I have right none,
    Nor none will have this while."

"That is a word," quoth that woman;       "that worst is of all;
But I am answered for sooth       that seems painful for me.
Kiss me now, comely,       and I shall creep away,
I may but mourn upon earth       as maid that much loves."
Sighing she stooped down       and seemly him kissed,
And then she steps away from him       and says as she stands,
"Now, dear, at this departing       do me this ease;
Give me something as thy gift       thy glove as it were,
1800 That I may remember thee, man,       my mourning to lessen."
"Now indeed," quoth that warrior       "I would I had here
The dearest thing for thy love       that I in this land possess,
For ye have deserved, for sooth       awesomely often
More reward by reason       than I could reckon;
But to give you for love       what would avail but little.
It is not to your honor       to have at this time
A glove for a keepsake       of Gawain's gifts,
And I am here on an errand       in earth unknown,
And have no men with no bags       of beautiful things;
1810 I mislike that, lady,       for love at this time;
Each trooper must do as he is told       take it not as evil
            Nor decline."
    "Nay, courtier of high honors,"
    Quoth that lovely, fair and fine,
    "Though I have nothing of yours,
    Yet should ye have something of mine."

She reached to him a rich ring     of red gold works,
With a shining stone       standing aloft
That bore blushing beams       like the bright sun;
1820 Know well it was worth       full huge wealth.
But the rider refused       , and readily he said,
I want no gifts, by God,       my gay, at this time;
I have none you to offer       and nothing will I take.’
She offered it to him full earnestly,       and he her offer rejects,
And swore swiftly by his sooth       that he would not possess it,
And she sorrowed that he forsook       and said thereafter,
If ye refuse my ring       for it seems too rich,
For ye would not so highly &nbs; snbsp;   be beholden to me,
I shall give you my girdle       that profits you less."
1830 She laid hold of a lace sash   snbsp;   wrapped lightly about her sides,
Knotted upon her girdle       under the glowing mantle,
Adorned it was with green silk &nbps;     and with gold trimmed,
Everything all around embroidered, &nbps;     bedazzled by finger-work;
And that she offered to the brave       and blithely besought,
Though it unworthy were       that he would it take.
And he said "nay"; he would not come nigh       in any way,
For neither gold nor treasure       ere God him grace send
To achieve the adventure       that he had chosen there.
‘And therefore, I pray you       be not displeased,
1840 And lay aside your business       for that bargain I will never
            It grant;
    I am deeply to you beholden
    For your kindness ever pleasant,
    And swear ever in hot or cold
    To be your true servant.’

"Now forsake ye this silk," &nbps;     said the sweet lady then,
"For it is simple in itself? &nbs;     And so it well seems.
Lo! It is so little       and less is it worth;
But whosoever knew the qualities       that are knitted therein,
1850 He would it appraise       at greater price, perchance;
Whatever gallant is girded       with this green lace,
So long as he has it       neatly fastened about,
There is no horseman under heaven       to hew him that could,
For he can not be slain       by any strategem upon earth."
Then considered the knight       and it came to his heart
It would be a jewel for the jeopardy       that was adjudged to him;
When he arrived at the chapel       his fortune for to fetch,
Might he slip away and be unslain       the stratagem would be noble.
Then he was patient with her speech       and suffered her to speak,
1860 And she bore to him the belt       and brought it to him swiftly
And he granted and she him gave it       with a good will
And besought him, for her sake;       discover it never,
But loyally conceal it from her lord       the liegeman agrees
That never creature should it know       indeed,   but those two
            For aught;
    He thanked her in speeches refined,
    Earnestly with heart and thought.
    By then, the third time,
    She has kissed the knight she caught.

1870 Then she takes her leave       and leaves him there,
For more mirth of that man       could she not get.
When she was gone, Sir Gawain       readies himself soon,
Rises and arrays him       in noble raiment,
Stows away the love-sash       the lady him gave,
Hid it full carefully       where he could later find it.
Then quickly to the chapel       chooses he the way,
Privily approached to a priest       and prayed him there
That he would listen to his life       and learn him better
How his soul should be saved       when he set out hence.
1880 There he confessed him completely       and showed his misdeeds,
Of the mortal and the lesser       and mercy beseeches,
And for absolution       he on the priest calls;
And he absolved him surely       and set him as clean
As if Doomsday had been destined       to dawn on the morn.
And then he makes him as merry       among the fair ladies,
e With comely carols       and all kinds of joy,
As never he did before that day       to the dark night
            With bliss.
    Each man had pleasure the more
1890     Of him, and said, "Sooth it is;
    Thus merry was he never before
    Since he came here, ere this."

Now let him linger in that place,       where pleasure him betide!
Yet is the lord on the land     nbsp; leading his gallants.
He has killed this foe       that he followed long;
As he sprang over a hedge       to espy the scamp,
Where he heard the houndes       that hastened to him swiftly,
Reynard came rushing       through a rough grove,
And all the rabble in a rush       right at his heels.
1900 The warrior was aware of the wild       and warily abides,
And brandishes the bright broadsword       and at the beast strikes.
And he shuns the sharp       and should have escaped;
A hound rushes him to       right ere he might go,
And right before the horse's feet       they fell on him all,
And bit into this wily       with a wrathful noise.
The lord alights quickly       and lays hold of him soon,
Snatched him full rapidly       out of the hounds' mouths,
Holds him high over his head       halloos fast,
And there bay at him       many brave hounds.
1910 Huntsman hurried them thither       with horns full many,
Aye blowing "Taken!" rightly       till they the rider see.
By that time was come       his company noble,
All that ever bore bugle       blew at once,
And all these other hallooed       that had no horns;
It was the merriest pack of hounds       that ever men heard,
The rich roar that there was raised       for Reynard's sou
            From throats.
    Their hounds they there reward;
    Their heads they fondle and dote;
1920     And then they take Reynard,
    And tear off his coat.

And then they headed home       for it was nigh night,
Sounding full stoutly       in their strong horns.
The lord is alighted at last       at his beloved home,
Finds fire upon floor       the fighter there-beside,
Sir Gawain the good       that glad was withal,
Among the ladies for love       he led much joy;
He wore a mantle of blue       that brushed the earth,
His surcoat became him well       that softly was furred,
1930 And his hood of that same       hanged on his shoulder,
Bedecked all of ermine       were both all about.
He meets this house-holder       in the middle of the floor,
And all with gladness he him greeted       and goodly he said,
"Now I shall first       fulfill our agreement,
That we speedily spoke       where spared was no drink."
Then embraces he the knight       and kisses him thrice,
As sweetly and seriously       as he knew how to set them.
"By Christ," quoth that other knight,       "ye catch much happiness
In your profits in this business       if ye got a good price."
1940 "Yea, of the price no bother,       quoth promptly that other,
"Since the prices that I owed       are fully paid."
"Mary," quoth that other man,       "my account is behind,
For I have hunted all this day       and naught have I got
But this foul fox fur       -- the fiend have the profits! --
And that is full poor for to pay       for such prized things
As ye have pressed on me here earnestly       such three kisses
            So good."
    "Enough," quoth Sir Gawain,
    "I thank you, by the rood,"
1950     And how the fox was slain
    He told him as they stood.

  With mirth and minstrelsy,       with meals when they wanted,
  They made as merry       as any men could
  With laughing of ladies       with light wit and jests.
  Gawain and the good man       so glad were they both
  As if the court had gone crazyi       or was drunk.
Both the man and the courtier       made many jokes,
Till the season was seen       that they must separate ;
Braves to their beddes       it behooved at the last.
1960 Then humbly his leave       from the lord first
Fetches this fine man       and fair he him thanks;
"For such a splendid sojourn       as I have had here,
Your honor to me at this high feast       the High King you reward!
I give you me to be your servant       if yourself it pleases,
For I must by necessity, as ye know,       leave in the morn,
If ye me give some trooper to teach me &nsb; sp;     as ye promised,
The way to the Green Chapel;       if God will allow me
To do on New Year's Day       the decree of my fate."
In good faith, quoth the good man       "with a good will
1970 All that ever I promised you       I shall readily hold."
There he assigns him a servan;       to set him in the way,
And conduct him by the downs       that he no trouble have,
For to travel through the forest       and fare the most direct wa
            To achieve.
    Gawain the lord did thank
    (Much worship therein he did weave),
    Then from those ladies of rank
    The knight has taken his leave.

With sorrow and with kissing       he converses with them,
1980 And full many hearty thanks       he urged them to have,
And they yield him in turn       eagerly the same;
They commend him to Christ       with full cold sighs.
Then from the courit       he worthily departs;
Each man that he met       he gave him a thank
For his service, his amusement,       and his special pains,
That they had been busy with       to serve about him;
And each stalwart as sorry       to separate from him there
As if they had dwelt worthily       with that noble forever.
Then by lads and light       he was led to his chamber
1990 And blithely brought to his bed       to be at his rest.
If he slept soundly       I dare not say,
For he had much on the morn to muse upon       if he would
            In thought.
    Let him lie there still,
    He has nearly what he sought;
    And if ye will a while be still
    I shall tell you how they wrought.



 

 

 

-- IV -

 

 

Now nighs the New Year,       and the night passes,
The day drives out the dark,       as the Dear Lord commands;
2000 Bu wild weathers of the world       awakened outside,
Clouds cast keenly       the cold to the earth,
With well enough of the north wind;       naked flesh to torment;
The snow shivered full sharply       and snapped at wild beasts.
The warbling wind whippe;       down from the heights
And drove each dale       full of drifts full great.
The liegeman listened full wel;       who lay in his bed;
Though he locks his lids       full little he sleeps;
By each cock that crowe;       he knew well the hour.
Directly he was up and dressed       ere the day sprang,
2010 For there was light of a lamp       that illumined his chamber;
He called to his servants       who quickly him answered,
And bade him bring his armor       and saddle his bronc;
That other hurries fast       and fetches him his garments,
And gets Sir Gawain ready       in a goodly manner.
First he clad him in his clothes       the cold to ward off,
And then his other harness       that honorably was kept,
His paunch-armor and his plates       polished full bright,
The rings rubbed clean of the rust       from his rich mail;
And all fresh as when first new       and he now fit
2020           To proceed.
    He put on every piece,
    With care and speed,
    The gayest from here to Greece;
The brave bade bring his steed

Meanwhile in the most worthy weeds       he wrapped himself;
His coat with the heraldic arms       in the clever works
Adorning the velvet       very powerful jewels
About stitched and sewn       embroidered seams,
And fair furred inside       with fine pelts.
2030 Ye left he not the lace,       the lady's gift;
That forgot not Gawain       for good of himself.
When he had belted the broadsword       upon his brawny haunches,
Then he draped his love-token       double him about,
Swiftly swaddled round his waist       sweetly that knight;
The girdle of green silk       well befitted that gay
Upon that royal red cloth       that rich was to see.
But this same warrior wore not       this girdle for its wealth,
For pride of the pendant       though polished they were,
And though the glittering gold       gleamed on the ends,
2040 Bu for to save himself       when to suffer it him behooved,
To battle without broadsword       himself to defend,
            Nor knife.
    By then the bold was bound
    Quickly unto strife,
    And to that whole court of renown
    His thanks to all were rife.

Then was Gringolet ready       that great was and huge,
And had been stabled to his liking       and well secured;
He wanted the prick of the spur       that proud horse then.
2050 Th warrior wends him to       and examines his hide,
And said soberly to himself       and by his sooth swears;
"There are courtiers in this castle       that care for noble customs;
The man that maintains them       joy may he have;
And his dear lady on life --       may love her betide;
Since they for charity       cherish a guest,
And hold honor in their hands       may the High God reward them,
He that holds the heaven upon high     and also you all!
And if I might life upon land       lead any longer,
I should render you some rewarid       readily, if I could."
2060 The steps he into stirrup       and strides aloft;
His servant showed him his shield       on shoulder he it laid,
Gives spur to Gringolet       with his gilt heels,
And he starts on the stone       stood he no longer,
            To prance.
    The hero on horse was then,
    That bore his spear and lance.
    "This castle to Christ I commend.
    May He give it always good chance.

The bridge was brought down       and the broad gates
2070 Unbarre and borne open       upon both sides.
The brave blessed himself quickly       the broad planks crossed,
Praises the porter       that before the prince kneeled --
Gave him God and good day       that Gawain he save --
And went on his way       with his one warrior,
That should teach him to ruin       to that terrible place
Where the rueful blows       he had to receive.
They bound by banks       where boughs are bare,
They climb by cliffs       where clings the cold.
The heaven was up high       but ugly there-under;
2080 Mist drizzled on the moor       melted on the mountains;
Each hill had a hat,       a huge mantle of mist;
Brooks boiled and broke       by banks about,
Brightly shattering on shores       where they shot down.
Well wild was the way       where they went by wood.
It was soon the season       that the sun rises
            At that tide.
    They were on a hill full high,
    The white snow lay them beside;
  The brave that rode him by
2090   Bade his master abide

"For I have won your way hither,       warrior, at this time,
And now are ye not far       from that noted place
That ye have spied about and sought       with such special care;
But I shall say you truly       since well I know you,
And ye are a lad upon life       that I well love,
Would ye work by my wit       ye would be the better.
The place that ye press       full perilous is held;
There dwells a warrior in that wasteland       the worst upon earth,
For he is stout and stern       and loves to strike,
2100 And mightier is he than any man       upon middle-earth,
And his body bigger       than the best four
That are in Arthur's house       Hector or other.
He keeps the custom       at the Green Chapel;
There passes none by that place       so proud in his arms
That he does not deal him death       by dint of his hand;
For he is a man without measure       and no mercy uses,
For be it churl or chaplain       that by the chapel rides,
Monk or mass-priest       or any man else,
He thinks it as good to kill him       as for himself to live.
2110 Therefor I say this       as surely as ye in saddle sit,
Come ye there, ye be killed       if that knight has his way;
Trust ye me truly       though ye had twenty lives
            To spend.
    He has dwelt here since full yore;
    On earth many met their end
    Against him battling full sore;
    Ye cannot you defend

"Therefore, good Sir Gawain,       let that gallant alone,
And go away some other way       by God's wounds!
2120 Cross some other country       where Christ may you help,
And I shall hasten me home again       and assure you honestly
That I shall swear by God       and all his goodly saints,
As help me God, and the holy relics       and many oaths,
That I shall loyally lie for you       and relate never a tale
That ever ye fled for fear       from fighter that I knew."
"Great thanks," quoth Gawain       and grudgingly he said;
"Well may thou prosper, warrior       who wishes me good,
And loyally to lie for me       I believe well thou wouldest.
But held thou it never so hidden       and I here slipped away,
2130 Fare for fear to flee       in form that thou tell,
I would be a knight coward       I could not be excused.
But I will go to the chapel       whatever chance may befall,
And talk with that same knight       of whatever tale I want,
Be it weal or woe       however fate will
            Behave.
    Though he be stern in fray,
    With a club to daunt the brave,
    The dear Lord can find a way
    His servants for to save

2140 "Mary! quoth that other man,       "now thou so much speakest,
That thou wilt thine own bane       bring on thyself,
If thou want to lose thy life       I look not to prevent thee.
Have here thy helmet on thy head,       thy spear in thy hand,
And ride thee down this same road       by yon rocky side,
Till thou be brought to the bottom       of the broad valley;
Then look a little at the open land       on thy left hand,
And thou shalt see in that glade       that same chapel,
And the one brave in battle       that there thee bides
Now farewell, by God's wounds       Gawain the noble!
2150 Fo all the gold upon ground       I would not go with thee,
Nor bear thee fellowship through this forest       one foot further."
With that the warrior in the wood       wrenches his bridle,
Hit the horse with his heelis       as hard as he could,
Leaps him over the land       and leaves the knight there
            Alone.
    "By God's self," quoth Gawain,
    "I will neither gripe nor groan;
    Of God's will I am certain,
    And I know that I am His own.

2160 The gives he spur to Gringolet       and gets again the path,
Strikes in by a shore       at a shining wood's side,
Rides through the rough bank       right to the dale;
And then he watched about him       and wild he thought it,
And saw no sign of refuge       nowhere beside,
But high banks and steep       upon both sides,
And rough knobs gnarled       with twisted stones;
The clouds seemed to graze       on the clustered rocks.
Then he halted, and held back       his horse at that tide,
And often searched around       the chapel to seek;
2170 He saw none such on any side       and strange it seemed to him,
Except a little rise on a lawn       a knoll as it were;
A smooth mound by a bank       beside the water's brim,
By a waterfall of a flood       that foamed up there;
The brook bubbled there       as if it boiled had.
The knight spurs his courser       and comes to the mound,
Lights down lively       and at a linden attaches
The reins of his steed       to a rough branch.
Then he bounds to the mound       about it he walks,
Debating with himself       what it might be.
2180 I had a hole on the end       and on either side,
And overgrown with grass       on the ground everywhere,
And all was hollow within       naught but an old cave,
Or a crevice of an old crag       he could not say which
            It befell.
    "Why! Lord," quoth the gentle knight,
    "Can this be the Green Chapel?
    Here might about midnight
    The devil his matins tell!

"Now indeed," quoth Wawain       "it is wild here;
2190 Thi oratory is ugly       with weeds overgrown;
Well befits the warrior       wrapped in green
To do here his devotion       in the devil's way.
Now I feel it is the fiend       in my five wits,
That has doomed me on this day       to destroy me here.
This is a chapel of misfortune       may mischief betide it!
It is the cursedest church       that I ever came in!"
With high helmet on his head       his lance in his hand,
He roams up to the roof       of the rough dwelling.
Then heard he from that high hill       on a hard rock
2200 Beyon the brook, in a bank       a wondrous big noise,
Whoosh! It clattered in the cliff       as if it cleave should,
As if one upon a grindstone       had ground a scythe.
Whoosh! It whirred and whirled       as water at a mill;
Whoosh! It rushed and rang       rueful to hear.
Then "By God," quoth Gawain       "that gear, as I believe,
Is readied to honor me       to meet with due ritual the rider
            Coming here.
    Let God do as He will. -- Why, lo! --
    No help for me will appear.
2210     My life though I forgo
    No noise will make me fear.

Then the knight       did call full high;
"Who stands in this spot       my set date to keep,
For now is good Gawain       going right here.
If any warrior wants anything       let him wend hither fast,
Either now or never       his errand to achieve."
"Abide," quoth one on the bank       above, over his head,
"And thou shalt have all in haste       that I promised thee once."
Yet he raised that roaring noise       longer for a while
2220 An with whetting continued       ere he would alight;
And then he climbed down by a crag       and came from a hole,
Whirling out of a crevice       with a fierce weapon,
A Danish axe newly honed       with which to yield the dint,
With a massive blade       curving back toward the handle,
Filed sharp by a whetstone       four foot long.
It was no less than that lace sash       that gleamed full bright
And the gallant in the green       garbed as at first,
Both the face and the legs       locks and beard,
Save that fair on his foot       he fared on the earth,
2230 Set the steel to the stone       and stalked beside.
When he got to the water       where he would not wade,
He vaulted over on his axe       and vigorously strides,
Furiously fierce on a field       that flecked was about,
            With snow.
    Sir Gawain the knight did meet;
    He in no way bowed him low.
    That other said, "Now, sir sweet,
    That thou keepest thy word we know

"Gawain," quoth that green gallant       "May God look after thee!
2240 Indee thou art welcome       warrior, to my place,
And hast timed thy travail       as true man should,
And thou knowest the covenant       cast us between;
At this time twelvemonth       thou took what thee befell,
And I should at this New Year       promptly thee requite.
And we are in this valley       verily ourselves alone;
Here are no referees to interfere       we may rule us as we like.
Have thy helmet off thy head       and have here thy pay.
Make no more debate       than I brought thee then
When thou whipped off my head       with one single whack."
2250 "Nay quoth Gawain,       "by God that gave me soul,
I shall grudge thee not a bit       for any grief that may befall.
But be satisfied with one stroke       and I shall stand still
And willingly I warrant       to work as thou please
            Anywhere."
    He leaned with the neck, to bow,
    And showed that flesh all bare,
    Let on that he naught feared now;
    For dread he would not despair

Then the gallant in the green       got himself ready,
2260 Gather up his grim tool       Gawain to smite;
With all the strength in his body       he bore it on loft,
Swung as mightily       as if to destroy him he would;
Had it driven down as deadly       as he pretended,
There had been dead of his dint       he that doughty was ever.
But Gawain on that great axe       glanced him beside,
As it came crashing down       to the ground to destroy him,
And he shrank a bit with the shoulder       from the sharp iron.
That other chevalier shifts       and the shining blade withholds,
And then reproved he the prince       with many proud words;
2270 "Tho art not Gawain," quoth the gallant       "that is so good held,
That was never frightened by any host       by hill nor by vale,
And now thou fleest for fear       ere thou feel harms!
Such cowardice of that knight       could I never hear.
I neither flinched nor fled       fighter, when thou swung,
Nor cast any quibble       in the king's house of Arthur.
My head flew to my foot       and yet fled I never;
And thou, ere any harm is had       art horrified in heart;
Wherefore the better battle       I ought to be called
            Therefore."
2280     Quoth Gawain, "I flinched once alone,
    And so will I no more;
    But though my head fall on the stone,
    I cannot it restore

"But get ready, battler, by thy faith,       and bring me to the point.
Deal to me my destiny       and do it out of hand,
For I shall stand thee one stroke       and stir no more
Till thine axe have me hit       Have here my troth!"
"Have at thee then!" quoth that other,       and heaves it aloft,
And looks about as wrathfull       as if he were crazy.
2290 H menaces at him mightily       but not the man touches,
Withheld suddenly his hand       ere it hurt might.
Gawain gracefully it abides       and moved with no member,
But stayed still as the stone       or a stump rather
That embedded is in rocky ground       with roots a hundred.
Then merrily again did he speak       the man in the green;
"So, now thou hast thy heart whole       it behooves me to hit.
Help thee now the high rank       to which Arthur thee raised,
And preserve thy throat at this encounter       if it protect can."
Gawain full grimly       with anger then said;
2300 "Why thresh on, thou fierce man,       thou threateneth too long;
I believe that thy heart is frightened       by thine own self."
"For sooth," quoth that other fighter,       "so fiercely thou speakest,
I will no longer look       to delay thine errand
            I vow."
    Then takes he his stance to strike,
    And frowns both lip and brow;
    No marvel that he it mislike,
    Who hoped for no help now

He lifts lightly his tool       and let it down fair
2310 With the blade of the bit       by the bare neck;
Though he hammered heartily       he hurt him no more
Than a snick on that one side       that slit the skin.
The sharp sank in the flesh       through the shining grease,
So that the bright blood over his shoulder       shot to the earth;
And when the battler saw the blood       bright on the snow,
Feet together, he broad-jumped forth       more than a spear's length,
Grabbed hastily his helmet       and on his head cast,
Shot his shoulder       under his fair shield,
Brings out a bright sword       and bravely he speaks.
2320 Never since that he was babe       born of his mother
Was there ever in this world       warrior half so blithe
"Abide, battleri,       of thy blows give me no more!
I have one stroke in this place       without strife taken,
And if thou offer me any more       I readily shall requite,
And repay rapidly in turn       -- and thereto ye trust --
            As a foe.
    But one stroke here me befalls;
    The covenant shaped right so,
    Confirmed in Arthur's halls,
2330     And therefore, courtier, now whoa!

The horseman held himself back       and on his axe rested,
Set the shaft upon shore       and on the sharp leaned,
And looked to the liegeman       that on the land went
How that doughty, dreadless,       dauntless there stands
Armed, full fearless,       in heart it pleases him.
Then he speaks merrily       with a mighty voice,
And with a ringing roar       he to the rider said;
"Bold battler, on this field       be not so fierce.
No man here unmannerly       thee mistreated has,
2340 No acted but as covenant       at king's court requires.
I promised thee one stroke and thou it hasten       hold thee well paid;
I release thee of the remnant       of all other rights.
If I more belligerent had been       a buffet perhaps
I could more harshly have dealt       to thee have wrought harm.
First I menaced thee merrily       with one mighty blow,
And ripped thee with no sore gash       which rightly I thee proffered
For the agreement that we arranged       on the first night,
And thou, trusty and true       thy troth to me heldest;
All the gains thou me gave       as good man should.
2350 Tha second swing on this morning,       man, I proffered thee;
Thou kissedest my comely wife       the kisses you returned to me.
For both of the two here I thee offered       only two bare swings
            To disconcert.
    A true man must truly restore;
    Then one need fear no hurt.
    At the third thou failed, no more;
That tap is thy just desert

"For it is my weed that thou wearest       that same woven girdle,
Mine own wife weaved it for thee       I know well for sooth.
2360 No know I well thy kisses       and thy customs also,
And the wooing of my wife       I wrought it myself.
I sent her to assay thee       and soothly thou seemest to me
The most faultless fighter       that ever on foot went;
As pearl compared to the white pearl       is greater in price,
So is Gawain, in good faith       compared to other gay knights.
But here you lacked a little, sir,       and loyalty you wanted;
But that was for no wild work       nor wooing neither,
But for ye loved your life       the less I you blame."
That other strong man in study       stood a great while,
2370 So aggrieved for anger       he groaned within;
All the blood of his breast       blended in his face,
That all he shrank for shame       as the chevalier talked.
The first word on the fiel       that the fighter spoke;
"Cursed be cowardice       and covetousness both!
In you is villainy and vice       that virtue destroys."
Then he caught on to the knot       and the clasp loosens,
Flings, boiling, the belt       to the battler himself;
"Lo! there the falsehood       foul may it befall!
For care of thy knock       cowardice me taught
2380 T accord me with coveting       my character to forsake,
That is largesse and loyalty       that belongs to knights.
Now am I faulty and false       and feared have been ever
Of treachery and untruth       both betide sorrow
            And care!
    I confess, knight; hear me still,
    I am at fault in this affair;
    Let me regain your good will
    And next time I shall be ware.

Then laughed that other liege       and lovingly said;
2390 "I hold it happily healed       the harm that I had.
Thou hast confessed so completely       acknowledged thy misdeeds,
And hast the public penance       of the point of mine edge,
I hold thee polished by that penance       and purified as clean
As if thou had never sinned       since thou was first born;
And I give thee, sir,       the girdle that is gold-hemmed,
For it is green as my gown       Sir Gawain, ye may
Think upon this thing       when thou art in the throng
Around princes of price       and this a pure token
Of the adventure of the Green Chapel       for chivalrous knights.
2400 An ye shall in this New Year       go again to my dwelling,
And we shall revel for the remnant       of this rich feas
            The ladies between."
    Then invited him earnestly the lord
    And said; "With my wife, I ween,
    We shall you well accord,
    That was your enemy keen.

"Nay, for sooth," quoth the stalwart       and seized his helmet,
And has it off graciously       and the Green Knight thanks;
"I have sojourned sadly       may good fortune you betide,
2410 An may He reward you mightily       Who honors all good manners!
And commend me to that courteous       your comely companion,
Both that one and that other       mine honored ladies,
That thus their knight with their tricks       have cleverly beguiled.
But it is no marvel       though a fool go mad,
And through wiles of women       be won over to sorrow,
For so was Adam on earth       by one beguiled,
And Solomon by many such       and Samson in his turn;
Delilah dealt him his fate       David thereafter
Was befooled by Bathsheba       and much bale suffered.
2420 No these were wronged by their wiles       It would be a real pleasure
To love them well, and believe them not       if a knight could do that.
For these were formerly the finest       whom fortune favored
Excellently over all these others       under the heavens
            Confused;
    And all these made wild,
    By women that they used.
    Though I be now beguiled,
    I think I might be excused

"But your girdle", quoth Gawain       "God give you reward!
2430 Tha will I wield with good will       not for winning gold,
Nor the sash, nor the silk       nor the side pendants,
For wealth nor for worship       nor for the worthy works,
But as a sign of my sin       I shall see it often,
When I ride in renown       remorse to myself,
The fault and the feebleness       of the crabbed flesh,
How easy it is to entice       touches of filth;
And thus, when pride presses me       for prowess of arms,
The look to this love-lace       shall allay my heart.
But one thing I would you pray       may it displease you never;
2440 Since ye be lord of the yonder land       where I have lingered
With you with worship       for that may you reward the Warrior
That upholds the heavens       and on high sits.
How say ye your true name       And then I ask no more."
"That shall I tell thee truly,       quoth that other then,
"Bertilak de Hautdesert       I am called in this land.
Through might of Morgan la Fay       that in my house lives,
And quaint lore of clergy       by crafts well learned,
Many of the magic arts       of Merlin has she taken
For she was mistress       full dear at one time
2450 To that cunning clerk       that knows all your knights
            By fame;
    Morgan the goddess
    Therefore is her name;
    Wields none such high haughtiness
    That she cannot make full tame.

"She sent me in this manner       to your splendid hall
For to assay the swollen pride       if it sooth were
That runs of the great renown       of the Round Table;
She brought thee this wonder       your wits to bereave
2460 And to have grieved Guenevere       and got her to die
By the gruesome sight of that gallant       that ghastly spoke
With his head in his hand       before the high table.
That is she that is at home       the ancient lady;
She is even thine aunt       Arthur's half-sister,
The duchess' daughter of Tintagel       whom dear Uther after
Had Arthur upon       that glorious is now.
Therefore I urge thee, horseman       to come to thine aunt,
Make merry in my house       my court thee loves,
And I will love thee as well, warrior       by my faith,
2470 As any gallant under God       for thy great truth."
And Gawain denied him with "nay"       he would in no way.
They embrace and kiss       and either commends the other
To the Prince of Paradise       and they part right there
            In the cold;
    Gawain on bronco keen
    To the king's court rushes bold,
    And the knight in the deep green
    Went where-so-ever he would

Wild ways in the world       Wawain now rides
2480 On Gringolet, when the grace       was given of his life;
Oft he was harbored in house       and often all outside,
And had many adventures on the way       and vanquished oft,
Which I do not care at this time       in tale to rehearse.
The hurt was whole where he had been       hit in his neck,
And the bright shining belt       he bore there-about
Obliquely as a baldrik       bound by his side,
Locked under his left arm       the lace sash, with a knot,
As a token he was taken       by the touch of a sin.
And thus he comes to the court       a knight all safe and sound.
2490 Ther wakened joy in that dwelling       when the great king was aware
That good Gawain was come       he thought it grand news.
The king kisses the knight       and the queen also,
And then many sure knight       that sought to embrace him,
That asked him how he fared       and wonders he tells,
He made known all the causes       of care that he had,
The achievement of the chapel       the cheer of the knight,
The love of the lady       the lace at the last.
The nick in the neck       he naked them showed
That he took from the liege lord's hand       for his disloyalty,
2500             To blame.
    He grieved when he had to tell;
    He groaned for grief and ill fame;
    In his face the blood did up well,
    When he showed the nick, for shame.

"Lo! lord," quoth the liegeman       and the lace handled,
"This is the emblem of the blame       I bear in my neck,
This is the injury and the loss       that I laid hold on
For cowardice and covetousness       that I have caught there;
This is the token of untruth       in which I was taken,
2510 And I must by necessity wear it       while I may live,
For one may hide his harm       but sin can not be hidden,
For where it once is attached       depart will it never."
The king comforts the knight       and all the court also
Laugh loudly thereat       and lovingly agree
That lords and ladies       that belonged to the Table,
Each member of the brotherhood       a baldric should have,
A band obliquely him about       of a bright green,
And for the sake of that stalwart       to wear that sign,
For it represents the renown       of the Round Table,
2520 An he was honored that it had       evermore after,
As it is written       in the best book of romance.
Thus in Arthur's day       this adventure befell,
The Brutus books thereon       bear witness;
Since Brutus, the bold brave       first bounded hither
Once the siege and the assault     was ceased at Troy,
            As it is.
    Many adventures here-before
    Have fallen such as this.
    May He Who bore the crown of thorns
2530     Bring us to his bliss!

SHAME TO HIM WHO THINKS EVIL