-- 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
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
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,
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
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
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,
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,
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
Now, think well, Sir Gawain,
Lest for fear of what thou began,
Thou from this adventure refrain
490 That thou hast taken in hand.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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"
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
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
"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
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,
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,
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,
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
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
To bed yet ere they wend,
They repeated covenants oft;
The old lord of that land
Could well hold play aloft.
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
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 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,
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,
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
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,
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,
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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,
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
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
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,
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,
"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,
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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.
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,
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,
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
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
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
"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
"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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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