Gold THE GEOFFREY CHAUCER PAGE


Thomas Chestre

Sir Launfal

 

The text is lightly glossed; see the glossary in the Riverside Chaucer for words not explained in the margins.

 





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By doughty Artours dawes
That helde Engelond in good lawes,
Ther fell a wonder cas
Of a ley that was ysette,
That hight "Launval" and hatte yette.
Now herkeneth how hit was!
Doughty Artour som while
Sojournede in Kardevyle,
With joye and greet solas,
And knightes that wer profitable
With Artour of the Rounde Table;
Never noon better ther nas!

II

Sir Persevall and Sir Gawain,
Sir Giheries and Sir Agrafrain,
And Launcelet du Lake;
Sir Kay and Sir Ewain,
That well couthe fighte in plain,
Bateles for to take.
King Banbooght and King Bos,
(Of hem ther was a greet los;
Men sawe tho nowher her make),
Sir Galafre and Sir Launfale,
Wherof a noble tale
Among us shall awake.

III

With Artour ther was a bacheler,
And hadde ybe well many a yer:
Launfal, forsoth, he hight.
He gaf giftes largeliche,
Gold and silver and clothes riche,
To squier and to knight.
For his largesse and his bounte
The kinges steward made was he
Ten yer, I you plight;
Of alle the knightes of the Table Rounde,
So large ther nas noon yfounde
By dayes ne by night.

IV

So hit befell, in the tenthe yer,
Merlin was Artours counsalere;
He radde him forto wende
To King Rion of Irlond, right,
And fette him ther a lady bright,
Gwennere, his doughter hende.
So he dide, and hom hire brought,
But Sir Launfal likede hire noght,
Ne other knightes that wer hende;
For the lady bar los of swich word
That she hadde lemmannes under her lord,
So fele ther nas noon ende.

V

They wer ywedded, as I y
Upon a Witsonday,
Before princes of moch pride.
No man ne may telle in tale
What folk ther was at that bridale
Of countreis fer and wyde!
No nother man was in halle ysette
But he wer prelat other baronette
(In herte is noght to hyde).
If they satte noght all ylike,
Her servise was good and riche,
Certein in ech a side.

VI

And whan the lordes hadde ete in halle,
And the clothes wer drawen alle,
As ye mowe her and lithe,
The botelers senten win
To alle the lordes that wer therin,
With chere bothe glad and blithe.
The Quene yaf yiftes for the nones,
Gold and silver and precious stones
Her curtasie to kithe.
Everich knight she gaf broche other ring,
But Sir Launfal she yaf nothing;
That grevede him many a sithe.

VII

And whan the bridale was at ende,
Launfal tok his leve to wende
At Artour the king,
And seide a lettere was to him come
That deth hadde his fader ynome;
He most to his beryinge.
Tho seide King Artour, that was hende,
"Launfal, if thou wilt fro me wende,
Tak with thee greet spending,
And my suster sones two;
Bothe they shull with thee go
At hom thee for to bring."

VIII

Launfal tok leve, withoute fable,
With knightes of the Rounde Table,
And wente forth in his journe
Til he come to Karlioun,
To the meires hous of the toune,
His servaunt that hadde ybe.
The meir stod, as ye may here,
And sawe him come ride up anblere,
With two knightes and other meine.
Agains him he hath wey ynome,
And seide, "Sir, thou art well come!
How fareth our King? Tel me!"

IX

Launfal answerede and seide than,
"He fareth as well as any man
And elles greet ruthe hit wore.
But, Sir Meir, without lesing,
I am departed from the King,
And that reweth me sore.
Ne ther thar no man, benethe ne above,
For the King Artours love
Honoure me never more.
But, Sir Meir, I pray thee, par amour,
May I take with thee sojoure?
Som time we knewe us, yore."

X

The Meir stod and bethoghte him there
What might be his answere,
And to him than gan he sayn,
"Sir, seven knightes han her her inn ynome
And ever I waite whan they wil come,
That arn of Litell Bretaine."
Launfal turnede himself and lough,
Therof he hadde scorn inough,
And seide to his knightes tweine,
"Now may ye se, swich is service
Under a lord of litell prise!
How he may therof be fain!"

XI

Launfal awayward gan to ride.
The Meir bad he shuld abide
And seide in this manere:
"Sir, in a chamber by my orchard-side,
Ther may ye dwelle with joye and pride,
Yif hit your will were."
Launfal anoon rightes,
He and his two knightes,
Sojournede ther in-fere;
So savegelich his good he besette
That he ward in greet dette
Right in the first yere.

XII

So hit befell at Pentecost,
Swich time as the Holy Gost
Among mankind gan light,
That Sir Huwe and Sir Jon
Tok her leve for to gon
At Sir Launfal the knight.
They seid, "Sir, our robes beth torent,
And your tresour is all yspent,
And we goth evil ydight."
Thanne seide Sir Launfal to the knightes fre,
"Telleth no man of my poverte,
For the love of God Almight!"

XIII

The knightes answerede and seide tho
That they nolde him wreye never mo,
All this world to winne.
With that word they wente him fro
To Glastingbery, bothe two,
Ther King Artour was inne.
The king sawe the knightes hende,
And agens hem he gan wende,
For thei wer of his kinne.
Noon other robes they ne hadde
Than they out with hem ladde,
And tho wer totore and thinne.

XIV

Than seide Quene Gwenore, that was fel,
"How fareth the proude knight Launfal?
Mai he his armes welde?"
"Ye, madame," saide the knightes than,
"He fareth as well as any man,
And ellis God hit shelde!"
Moche worchip and greet honour
To Gwenore the Quene and King Artour
Of Sir Launfal they telde,
And seide, "He lovede us so
That he wold us evermo
At will have yhelde.

XV

But upon a rainy day hit befel
An huntinge wente Sir Launfel
To chasi in holtes hore;
In our old robes we yede that day,
And thus we beth ywent away,
As we before him wore."
Glad was Artour the king
That Launfal was in good liking;
The Quene hit rew well sore,
For she wold with all her might
That he hadde be bothe day and night
In paines mor and more.

XVI

Upon a day of the Trinite
A feste of greet solempnite
In Carlyoun was holde;
Erles and barones of the countre
Ladies and borjaes of that cite,
Thider come, bothe yong and old.
But Launfal, for his poverte,
Was not bede to that semble;
Lite men of him tolde.
The meir to the feste was ofsent;
The meires doughter to Launfal went
And axede if he wolde

XVII

In halle dine with hire that day.
"Damesele," he saide, "nay!
To dine have I no herte.
Thre dayes ther ben agon,
Mete ne drinke eet I noon,
And all was for povert.
Today to cherche I wolde have gon
But me fawtede hosen and shon,
Clenly brech and sherte;
And for defawte of clothinge,
Ne mighte I in with the peple thringe
No wonder though me smerte!

XVIII

But o thing, damesele, I pray thee:
Sadel and bridel lene thou me
A while forto ride,
That I mighte confortede be
By a launde under this cyte,
Al in this underntide."
Launfal dighte his courser,
Withoute knave other squier.
He rood with litell pride;
His hors slod, and fel in the fen,
Wherefore him scornede many men
Aboute him fer and wide.

XIX

Poverly the knight to hors gan springe.
For to drive away lokinge,
He rood toward the west.
The wether was hot the underntide;
He lighte adown, and gan abide
Under a fair forest.
And, for hete of the wedere,
His mantell he feld togidere,
And sette him down to reste.
Thus sat the knight in simplite,
In the shadwe under a tre,
Ther that him likede beste.

XX

As he sat in sorow and sore
He sawe come out of holtes hore
Gentill maydenes two:
Her kerteles wer of Inde sandel,
Ylased smalle, jolif, and well;
Ther might noon gaier go.
Her manteles wer of grene velvet,
Ybordured with gold, right well ysette,
Ypelured with gris and gro.
Her heddes wer dight well withalle:
Everich hadde oon a jolif coronall
With sixty gemmes and mo.

XXI

Her faces wer whit as snow on downe;
Her rode was red, her eyen wer browne.
I sawe nevir non swiche!
That oon bar of gold a basin,
That other a towaile, whit and fin,
Of silk that was good and riche.
Her kercheves wer well shire,
Arayd with riche gold wire.
Launfal began to siche;
They com to him over the hoth;
He was curteis, and agens hem goth,
And greette hem mildeliche.

XXII

"Damesels," he seide, "God yow se!"
"Sir Knight," they seide, "well thee be!
Our lady, Dame Triamour,
Bad thou shuldest com speke with hire
Yif hit wer thy wille, sire,
Withoute more sojour."
Launfal hem grauntede curteisliche,
And went with hem mildeliche.
They weren whit as flour.
And when they come in the forest an high,
A paviloun yteld he sigh,
With mirthe and mochell honour.


XXIII

The paviloun was wrought, forsothe, iwis,
All of werk of Sarsinis,
The pomelles of cristall;
Upon the toppe an ern ther stod
Of bournede golde, riche and good,
Yflorished with riche amall.
His eyen wer carbonkeles bright;
As the mone they shon a-night,
That spreteth out over all.
Alisaundre the conquerour,
Ne King Artour in his most honour,
Ne hadde noon swich juell!

XXIV

He fond in the paviloun
The kinges doughter of Olyroun,
Dame Triamour that highte;
Her fader was King of Fairie,
Of Occient, fer and nighe,
A man of mochell mighte.
In the paviloun he fond a bed of pris
Yheled with purpur bis,
That semely was of sighte.
Therinne lay that lady gent
That after Sir Launfal hedde ysent,
That lefsom lemede bright.

XXV

For hete her clothes down she dede
Almest to her gerdilstede
Than lay she uncovert.
She was as whit as lilie in May,
Or snow that sneweth in winteres day;
He seigh never non so pert.
The rede rose, whan she is newe,
Agens her rode nes naught of hewe,
I dar well say, in cert.
Her here shon as gold wire;
May no man rede her atire,
Ne naught wel thenke in hert.

XXVI

She seide, "Launfal, my lemman swete,
Al my joye for thee I lete,
Sweting paramour!
Ther nis no man in Cristente
That I love so moche as thee,
King neither emperour!"
Launfal beheld that swete wight;
All his love in hire was light,
And kiste that swete flour
And sat adown hire beside,
And seide, "Sweting, whatso betide,
I am to thin honour!"

XXVII

She seide, "Sir Knight, gentil and hende,
I wot thy stat, ord and ende;
Be naught ashamed of me!
Yf thou wilt truly to me take
And alle women for me forsake,
Riche I will make thee.
I will thee yeve an alner
Ymad of silk and of gold cler,
With faire images thre.
As oft thou puttest thy hond therinne,
A mark of gold thou shalt winne
In what place that thou be.


XXVIII

"Also," she seide, "Sir Launfal,
I yeve thee Blaunchard, my stede lel,
And Gifre, my owen knave.
And of my armes oo pensel
With thre ermins ypeinted well,
Also thou shalt have.
In werre ne in turnement
Ne shall thee greve no knightes dent,
So well I shall thee save."
Than answerede the gentil knight
And seide, "Gramarcy, my swete wight!
No bettere kepte I have!"

XXIX

The damesell gan hire up sette,
And bad her maidenes hire fette
To hir hondes water clere;
Hit was ydo without lette.
The cloth was spred, the bord was sette,
They wente to here sopere.
Mete and drink they hadde afin,
Piement, clare, and Reinish win,
And elles greet wonder hit wer.
Whan they had souped, and the day was gon,
They wente to bedde, and that anoon,
Launfal and she in fere.

XXX

For play, litell they slepte that night,
Till on morn hit was daylight.
She badd him arise anoon;
Hie seide to him, "Sir gentil knight,
And thou wilt speke with me any wight,
To a derne stede thou gon.
Well privily I woll come to thee
(No man alive ne shall me se)
As stille as any ston."
Tho was Launfal glad and blithe,
He coude no man his joye kithe
And kiste hire well good won.


XXXI

"But of o thyng, Sir Knight, I warne thee,
That thou make no bost of me
For no kinnes mede!
And if thou doost, I warni thee before,
All my love thou hast forlore!"
And thus to him she seide.
Launfal tok his leve to wende.
Gifre kidde that he was hende,
And brought Launfal his stede;
Launfal lepte into the arsoun
And rood hom to Karlyoun
In his pover wede.

XXXII

Tho was the knight in herte at wille;
In his chaunber he held him stille
All that underntide.
Than come ther, thorugh the cite, ten
Well yharneised men
Upon ten somers ride;
Some with silver, some with gold;
All to Sir Launfal hit shold;
To presente him, with pride,
With riche clothes and armure bright,
They axede after Launfal the knight,
Whar he gan abide.

XXXIII

The yong men wer clothed in Inde;
Gifre, he rood all behinde
Up Blaunchard whit as flour.
Tho seide a boy that in the market stod,
"How fere shall all this good?
Tell us, par amour!"
Tho seide Gifre, "Hit is ysent
To Sir Launfal, in present,
That hath lived in greet dolour."
Than seide the boy, "Nis he but a wrecche!
What thar any man of him recche?
At the Meires hous he taketh sojour."

XXXIV

At the Meres hous they gon alighte,
And presented the noble knighte
With swich good as him was sent;
And whan the Meir seigh that richesse
And Sir Launfales noblenesse,
He held himself foule yshent.
Tho seide the Meir, "Sir, par charite,
In halle today that thou wilt ete with me!
Yesterday I hadde yment
At the feste we wold han be in same,
And I hadde solas and game,
And erst thou were ywent!"

XXXV

"Sir Meir, God foryelde thee!
Whiles I was in my poverte,
Thou bede me never dyne.
Now I have more gold and fe,
That mine frendes han sent me,
Than thou and alle thine!"
The Meir for shame away yede.
Launfal in purpure gan him shrede,
Ypelured with whit ermine.
All that Launfal hadde borwed before,
Gifre, be taile and be score,
Yald hit well and fyne.

XXXVI

Launfal helde riche festes.
Fifty fedde povere gestes,
That in mischef wer.
Fifty boughte stronge stedes;
Fifty yaf riche wedes
To knightes and squiere.
Fifty rewardede religions;
Fifty deliverede povere prisouns,
And made hem quit and shere;
Fifty clodede gestours.
To many men he dide honours
In countreis fer and nere.


XXXVII

Alle the lordes of Karlyoun
Lette crye a turnement in the toun
For love of Sir Launfel,
And for Blaunchard, his good stede,
To wite how him wold spede
That was ymade so well.
And whan the day was ycome
That the justes were in ynome,
They ride out also snell.
Trompours gan her bemes blowe.
The lordes riden out arowe
That were in that castell.

XXXVIII

Ther began the turnement,
And ech knight leid on other good dent,
With maces and with swerdes bothe.
Me mighte yse some therfore
Stedes ywonne and some ylore,
And knightes wonder wroth.
Sith the Rounde Table was,
A bettere turnement ther nas,
Y dare well say, forsothe!
Many a lord of Karlioun
That day were ybore adown,
Certain withouten othe.

XXXIX

Of Karlioun the riche constable
Rod to Launfal, without fable,
He nolde no lengere abide.
He smot to Launfal, and he to him;
Well sterne strokes and well grim
Ther wer in eche a side.
Launfal was of him yware:
Out of his sadell he him bar
To grounde that ilke tide;
And whan the constable was bore adown,
Gifre lepte into the arsoun
And awey he gan to ride.

XL

The Erl of Chestere therof sigh;
For wrathe in herte he was wod nigh,
And rood to Sir Launfale
And smot him in the helm on high
That the crest adown fligh;
Thus seid the Frenssh tale.
Launfal was mochel of might:
Of his stede he dide him light,
And bar him down in the dale.
Than come ther Sir Launfal aboute
Of Walsshe knightes a greet route,
The numbre I not how fale.

XLI

Than mighte me se sheldes rive
Speres tobreste and todrive,
Behinde and ek before.
Thorugh Launfal and his stedes dent
Many a knight verement
To ground was ybore.
So the pris of that turnay
Was delivered to Launfal that day,
Without oth yswore.
Launfal rod to Karlyoun,
To the meires hous of the toun,
And many a lord him before.

XLII

And than the noble knight Launfal
Held a feste riche and riall
That laste fourtenight.
Erles and barouns fale
Semely wer sette in sale
And rialy wer adight.
And every day Dame Triamour,
She com to Sir Launfal bour
Aday whan hit was night.
Of all that ever wer ther tho
Sigh her non but they two,
Gifre and Launfal the knight.

XLIII

A knight ther was in Lumbardye;
To Sir Launfal hadde he greet envye;
Sir Valentine he highte.
He herde speke of Sir Launfal,
How that he couth justi well
And was a man of mochel mighte.
Sir Valentine was wonder strong;
Fiftene feet he was longe.
Him thoughte he brente brighte
But he mighte with Launfal pleye
In the feld, betwene hem tweye
To justi other to fighte.

XLIV

Sir Valentyne sat in his halle;
His messengere he let ycalle,
And seide he moste wende
To Sir Launfal, the noble knight
That was yholde so mochel of might.
To Bretayne he wolde him sende:
"And sey him, for love of his lemman,
If she be any gentile woman,
Courteys, fre, other hende,
That he come with me to juste,
To kepe his harneis from the ruste,
And elles his manhod shende."

XLV

The messengere is forth ywent
To do his lordes commaundement.
He hadde winde at wille
Whan he was over the water ycome;
The way to Sir Launfal he hath ynome,
And grette him with wordes stille,
And seid, "Sir, my lord Sir Valentyne,
A noble werrour and queinte of ginne,
Hath me sent thee tille,
And prayeth thee, for thy lemmanes sake,
Thou shuldest with him justes take."
Tho lough Launfal full stylle,


XLVI

And seide, as he was gentil knight,
Thilke day a fourtenight,
He wold with him play.
He yaf the messenger, for that tiding,
A noble courser, and a ring,
And a robe of ray.
Launfal tok leve at Triamour,
That was the bright berde in bowr,
And kiste that swete may.
Thanne seide that swete wight,
"Dreed thee nothing, Sir gentil knight,
Thou shalt him sle that day!"

XLVII

Launfal nolde nothyng with him have
But Blaunchard his stede and Gifre his knave
Of all his fayr meine.
He shipede, and hadde wind well good,
And wente over the salte flod
Into Lumbardye.
Whan he was over the water ycome
Ther the justes shulde be nome
In the cyte of Atalye,
Sir Valentin hadde a greet ost,
And Sir Launfal abatede her bost
With litill companye.

XLVIII

And whan Sir Launfal was ydight
Upon Blaunchard, his stede light,
With helm and spere and shelde,
All that sawe him in armes bright
Seide they sawe never swich a knight,
That him with eyen beheld.
Tho ride togydere thes knightes two,
That her shaftes tobroste bo
And toshiverede in the felde;
Another cours todgedere they rod,
That Sir Launfal helm of glod,
In tale as hit is telde.

XLIX

Sir Valentin logh, and hadde good game:
Hadde Launfal never so moche shame
Beforhond, in no fight.
Gifre kidde he was good at nede
And lepte upon his maistres stede;
No man ne sigh with sight;
And er than thay togedere mette,
His lordes helm he on sette,
Faire and well adight.
Tho was Launfal glad and blithe,
And thonkede Gifre many sithe
For his dede so mochel of might.

L

Sir Valentyne smot Launfal soo
That his sheld fel him fro,
Anoon right in that stounde.
And Gifre the sheld up hente
And broghte hit his lord, to presente,
Er hit cam downe to grounde.
Tho was Launfal glad and blithe,
And rode ayen the thridde sithe,
As a knight of mochell mounde.
Sir Valentine he smot so dere
That hors and man bothe deed were,
Groning with grisly wounde.

LI

Alle the lordes of Atalye
To Sir Launfal hadde greet envye
That Valentine was yslawe,
And swore that he shold die
Er he wente out of Lumbardye,
And be hongede and todrawe.
Sir Launfal braide out his fachon,
And as light as dew he leide hem downe
In a litill drawe;
And whan he hadde the lordes slain,
He wente ayen in to Bretain
With solas and with plawe.

LII

The tiding com to Artour the King
Anoon, without lesing,
Of Sir Launfales noblesse.
Anoon he let to him sende
That Launfall shuld to him wende
At Seynt Jonnes Masse,
For King Artour wold a feste holde
Of erles and of barouns bolde,
Of lordinges more and lesse.
Sir Launfal shuld be steward of halle
For to agie his gestes alle,
For couthe of largesse.

LIII

Launfal toke leve at Triamour
For to wende to King Artour,
His feste forto agie.
Ther he fond mirthe and moch honour,
Ladies that wer well bright in bour,
Of knightes greet companye.
Fourty dayes laste the feste,
Riche, riall, and honeste
(What help hit forto lie?),
And at the fourty dayes ende,
The lordes toke her leve to wende,
Everich in his partye.

LIV

And after mete Sir Gawein,
Sir Gieries and Agrafain,
And Sir Launfal also
Went to daunce upon the grene
Under the tour ther lay the Quene
With sixty ladies and mo.
To lede the daunce Launfal was set.
For his largesse he was lovede the bet
Certain, of alle tho.
The Quene lay out and beheld hem alle:
"I se," she seide, "daunce large Launfalle;
To him than will I go."

LV

"Of alle the knightes that I se there,
He is the faireste bachelere.
He ne hadde never no wif;
Tide me good other ille,
I will go and wite his wille:
I love him as my lyf!"
She tok with hire a companye,
The fairest that she mighte aspye;
Sixty ladies and fif;
And wente hem down anoon rightes,
Hem to pley among the knightes,
Well stille withouten strif.

LVI

The Quene yede to the formeste ende
Betwene Launfal and Gawein the hende,
And after hire ladies bright;
To daunce they wente, alle in same:
To se hem play, hit was fair game,
A lady and a knight.
They hadde menstrales of moch honours,
Fidelers, sitolers, and trompours,
And elles hit were unright;
Ther they playde, forsothe to say,
After mete, the someres day
All what hit was neigh night.

LVII

And whanne the daunce began to slake,
The Quene gan Launfal to counsell take,
And seide in this manere:
"Certainliche, Sir Knight,
I have thee loved with all my might
More than this seven yere!
But that thou lovie me,
Certes I die fore love of thee,
Launfal, my lemman dere!"
Than answerede the gentill knight,
"I nill be traitour day ne night,
By God, that all may stere!"

LVIII

She seide, "Fy on thee, thou coward!
Anhongeth worth thou hye and hard!
That thou ever were ybore!
That thou livest, hit is pit
Thou lovyst no woman, ne no woman thee;
Thou were worthy forlore!"
The knight was sore ashamed tho;
To speke ne mighte he forgo
And seide the Quene before,
"I have loved a fairer woman
Than thou ever leidest thyn ey upon
This seven yer and more!

LIX

"Her lothlokest maide, withoute wene,
Mighte bet be a Quene
Than thou, in all thy live!"
Therefore the Quene was swithe wroth;
She taketh hire maidenes and forth hie goth
Into her tour, also blive.
And anon she ley down in her bedde.
For wrathe, sik she hir bredde
And swore, so moste she thrive,
She wold of Launfal be so awreke
That all the lond shuld of him speke
Withinne the dayes five.

LX

King Artour com fro huntinge,
Blithe and glad in all thing.
To his chamber than wente he.
Anoon the Quene on him gan crye,
"But I be awreke, I shall die!
Min herte wyll breke a-thre!
I spak to Launfal in my game,
And he besoghte me of shame;
My lemman for to be;
And of a lemman his yelp he made,
That the lothlokest maide that she hadde
Might be a Quene above me!"

LXI

King Artour was well wroth,
And by God he swor his oth
That Launfal shuld be sclawe.
He wente after doughty knightes
To bringe Launfal anoonrightes
To be honged and todrawe.
The knightes soghte him anoon,
But Launfal was to his chaumber gon
To han hadde solas and plawe.
He soghte his leef, but she was lore
As she hadde warnede him before.
Tho was Launfal unfawe!

LXII

He lokede in his alner,
That fond him spending all plener,
Whan that he hadde nede,
And ther nas noon, for soth to say;
And Gifre was yride away
Up Blaunchard, his stede.
All that he hadde before ywonne,
Hyt malt as snow ayens the sunne,
In romaunce as we rede;
His armur, that was whit as flour,
Hit becom of blak colour.
And thus than Launfal seide:

LXIII

"Alas!" he seide, "my creature,
How shall I from thee endure,
Sweting Triamour?
All my joye I have forelore,
And thee;
Thou blisfull berde in bour!"
He bet his body and hys hedde ek,
And cursede the mouth that he with spek,
With care and greet dolour;
And for sorow in that stounde
Anon he fell aswowe to grounde.
With that come knightes four

LXIV

And bond him and ladde him tho
(Tho was the knighte in doble wo!)
Before Artour the kyng;
Than seide King Artour,
"Vile atainte traitour,
Why madest thou swiche yelping?
That thy lemmannes lothlokest maide
Was fairer than my wif, thou seide!
That was a foull lesinge!
And thou besoghtest hire, befor than,
That she shold be thy lemman;
That was misproud likinge!"

LXV

The knight answerede with egre mode,
Before the king ther he stode,
The Quene on him gan lie:
"Sithe that I ever was yborn,
I besoghte hire herebeforn
Never of no folye!
But she seide I nas no man,
Ne that me lovede no woman
Ne no womannes companye.
And I answerede hire, and saide
That my lemmannes lothlekest maide
To be a Quene was better worthye.

LXVI

"Certes, lordinges, hit is so!
I am aredy for to do
All that the court will loke."
To say the soth, without les,
All togedere how hit was,
Twelf knightes wer dryve to boke.
All they seide hem betwene,
That knewe the maners of the Quene
And the queste toke,
The Quene bar los of swich a word
That she lovede lemmannes without her lord;
Her never on hit forsoke.

LXVII

Therfor they seiden alle
Hyt was long on the Quene, and not on Launfal;
Therof they gonne him skere;
And if he mighte his lemman bringe
That he made of swich yelpinge,
Other the maidenes were
Brightere than the Quene of hewe,
Launfal shuld be holde trewe
Of that, in all manere;
And if he mighte not bringe his lef,
He shuld be hongede as a thef,
They seiden all in fere.

LXVIII

Alle in fere they made proferynge
That Launfal shuld his lemman bringe.
His heed he gan to laye;
Than seide the Quene, without lesinge,
"Yif he bringeth a fairer thinge,
Put out my eyen gray!"
Whan that wajour was take on honde,
Launfal therto two borwes fonde,
Noble knightes twain:
Sir Percevall and Sir Gawain,
They wer his borwes, soth to sayn,
Till a certain day.

LXIX

The certain day, I you plight,
Was twelfe moneth and fourtenight,
That he shuld his lemman brynge.
Sir Launfal, that noble knight,
Greet sorow and care in him was light;
His hondes he gan wringe;
So greet sorowe him was upon,
Gladliche his lif he wold a forgon
In care and in morninge;
Gladliche he wold his hed forgo.
Everich man therfore was wo
That wiste of that tidinge.


LXX

The certain day was nighing:
His borowes him brought befor the kyng;
The king recordede tho,
And bad him bryng his lef in sight.
Sir Launfal seide that he ne might;
Therfore him was well wo.
The king commaundede the barouns alle
To yeve jugement on Launfal
And dampni him to sclo.
Than saide the Erl of Cornewaile,
That was with hem at that counceile,
"We wylled noght do so.

LXXI

Greet shame hit wer us alle upon
For to dampni that gentilman,
That hath be hende and fre;
Therfor, lordynges, doth by my reed!
Our king we willeth another wey lede:
Out of lond Launfal shall fle."
And as they stod thus spekinge,
The barouns sawe come ridinge
Ten maydenes, bright of ble.
Ham thoghte they wer so bright and shene
That the lodlokest, without wene,
Her Quene than mighte be.

LXXII

Tho seide Gawain, that corteis knight,
"Launfal, broder, drede thee no wight!
Her cometh thy lemman hende."
Launfal answerede and seide, "Iwis,
Non of hem my lemman nis,
Gawain, my lefly frende!"
To that castell they wente right:
At the gate they gonne alight;
Befor King Artour gonne they wende,
And bede him make aredy hastily
A fair chamber, for her lady
That was come of kinges kende.

LXXIII

"Who is your lady?" Artour seide.
"Ye shull ywite," seide the maide,
"For she cometh ride."
The kyng commaundede, for her sake,
The fairest chaunber for to take
In his palys that tide.
And anon to his barouns he sente
For to yeve jugemente
Upon that traitour full of pride:
The barouns answerede anoon right,
"Have we seyn the maidenes bright,
We shull not longe abide."

LXXIV

A newe tale they gonne tho,
Some of wele and some of wo,
Her lord the King to queme:
Some dampnede Launfal there,
And some made him quit and skere;
Her tales wer well breme.
Tho saw they other ten maidenes bright,
Fairer than the other ten of sight,
As they gone him deme.
They rid upon joly moyles of Spaine,
With sadell and bridell of Champaine,
Her lorains light gonne leme.

LXXV

They wer yclothed in samit tyre;
Ech man hadde greet desire
To se her clothinge
Tho seide Gawein, that curtaise knight,
"Launfal, her cometh thy swete wight,
That may thy bote bringe."
Launfal answerede with drery thoght
And seide, "Alas! I knowe hem noght,
Ne non of all the ofspringe."
Forth they wente to that palys
And lighte at the hye deis
Before Artour the Kinge,

LXXVI

And grette the King and Quene ek,
And oo maide this wordes spak
To the King Artour:
"Thin halle agrayde, and hele the walles
With clothes and with riche palles,
Ayens my lady Tryamour."
The king answerede bydene,
"Well come, ye maidenes shene,
By Our Lord the Saviour!"
He commaundede Launcelot to bringe hem in fere
In the chamber ther her felawes were,
With mirthe and moche honour.

LXXVII

Anoon the Quene supposed gyle:
That Launfal shuld, in a whyle,
Be ymade quit and skere
Thorugh his lemman, that was comminge.
Anon she seide to Artour the king,
"Sire, curtais if thou were,
Or if thou lovedest thin honour,
I shuld be awreke of that traitour
That doth me changi chere.
To Launfal thou shuldest not spare,
Thy barouns driveth thee to bismare;
He is hem lef and dere!"

LXXVIII

And as the Quene spak to the King,
The barouns seigh come ridinge
A damesele alone
Upoon a whit comely palfrey.
They saw never non so gay
Upon the grounde gone:
Gentill, jolif as brid on bowe,
In all manere fair ynowe
To wonie in wordly wone.
The lady was bright as blosme on brere;
With eyen gray, with lovelich chere,
Her leyre light shoone.

LXXIX

As rose on ris her rode was red;
The her shon upon her he
As gold wire that shineth bright;
She hadde a crown upon her molde
Of riche stones, and of golde,
That lofsom lemede light.
The lady was clad in purpere palle,
With gentill body and middell small,
That semely was of sight;
Her mantell was furred with whit ermin,
Yreversed jolif and fin;
No richere be ne might.

LXXX

Her sadell was semely set:
The sambus wer grene felvet
Ypainted with imagerye.
The bordure was of belles
Of riche gold, and nothing elles
That any man mighte aspye.
In the arsouns, before and behinde,
Were twey stones of Inde,
Gay for the maistrye.
The paitrelle of her palfraye
Was worth an erldome, stoute and gay,
The best in Lumbardye.

LXXXI

A gerfaucon she bar on her hond;
A softe pas her palfray fond,
That men hire shuld beholde.
Thorugh Karlion rood that lady;
Twey white grehoundes ronne hire by;
Her colers were of golde.
And whan Launfal sawe that lady,
To alle the folk he gon crye an hy,
Bothe to yonge and olde:
"Her," he seide, "cometh my lemman swete!
She mighte me of my bales bete,
Yef that lady wolde."

LXXXII

Ther was the Quene and the ladies alle,
And also King Artour.
Her maidenes come ayens hire right,
To take her stirrop whan she light,
Of the lady Dame Triamour.
She dide of her mantell on the flet,
That men shuld hire beholde the bet,
Withoute a more sojour.
King Artour gan hire faire grete,
And she him again, with wordes swete
That were of greet valour.

LXXXIII

Up stod the Quene and ladies stoute,
Her for to beholde all aboute,
How evene she stod upright;
Than wer they with hire also donne
As is the mone ayen the sonne
Aday whan hit is light.
Than seide she to Artour the King,
"Sir, hider I com for swich a thyng:
To skere Launfal the knight;
That he never, in no folye,
Besoghte the quene of no drurye,
By dayes ne by night.

LXXXIV

"Therfor, Sir King, good kepe thou nime!
He bad noght hire, but she bad him
Here lemman for to be;
And he answerede hire and seide
That his lemmannes lothlokest maide
Was fairere than was she."
King Artour seide withouten othe,
"Ech man may yse that is sothe,
Brightere that ye be."
With that Dame Triamour to the quene geth,
And blew on hire swich a breth
That never eft might she se.

LXXXV

The lady lep on her palfray
And bad hem alle have good day;
She nolde no lengere abide.
With that com Gifre all so prest,
With Launfales stede, out of the forest,
And stod Launfal beside.
The knight to horse began to springe
Anoon, without any lettinge,
With his lemman away to ride;
The lady tok her maidenes echon
And wente the way that she hadde er gon,
With solas and with pride.

LXXXVI

The lady rod thorgh Cardevile
Fer into a jolif ile,
Olyroun that highte.
Every yer, upon a certain day,
Me may here Launfales stede nay,
And him se with sight.
Who that will ther axsi justes,
To kepe his armes fro the rustes,
In turnement other fight,
Dar he never forther gon;
Ther he may finde justes anoon
With Sir Launfal the knight.

LXXXVII

Thus Launfal, withouten fable,
That noble knight of the Rounde Table,
Was take ynto Fayrye;
Sithe saw him in this lond no-man,
Ne no more of him telle I ne can,
For sothe, withoute lie.
Thomas Chestre made this tale
Of the noble knight Sir Launfale,
Good of chivalrye.
Jhesus, that is hevene king,
Yeve us alle His blessing,
And His moder Marie!

AMEN

Explicit Launfal
In mighty Arthur's days

wondrous event
Of which a lay was composed
was named. . . is called yet

at a certain time
Dwelt in Carlisle
pleasure
worthy

was not







knew how to. . . on the field
Battles to undertake

them. . . fame
then. . . their equal







had been
was called
gave. . . generously


generosity

assure

generous





counselor
advised. . . go
directly
fetch
courteous`
home

were courteous
bore reputation. . . renown
lovers besides
many. . . was no end (of them)




Whitsunday (Pentecost)

can recount
bridal feast

seated
Unless. . . or

Even if. . . equally
Their
Truly on every side




table cloths. . . removed
may hear. . . listen
wine servants served wine


gave gifts

to make known
gave brooch or

saddened. . . time



wedding feast
asked permission to depart
From

taken
must [go]. . . buryial
courteous`
depart
costly gifts
sister's sons

To accompany you home



a lie
From

Caerlion
mayor's
Who had been his servant
mayor. . . hear
at an amble
retinue
[The mayor] went to meet him

fares





Or else it were great pity
deceit

sorely grieves me
no man need

Honor. . . anymore
for friendship's sake
lodging
Once we knew each other, long ago



considered

did he say
here their inn taken
until
Who are from Brittainy
laughed
aplenty
two

value
be appreciative









immediately

Lodged. . . together
wealth. . . spent
came into`






descended
(Launfal's two knights)

From
are torn

badly clothed
noble





then
would not betray him
Even to gain the whole world

Glastonbury
Where. . . residing

to them. . . went


had taken with them
those. . . all torn



cruel

Can still bear arms


God prevent it be otherwise


told

would forever
have kept us with him





To hunt in grey woods
went
have come
In what we wore before (his service)

comfort
regretted sorely










burgesses


invited. . . gathering
Men little respected him
invited

asked






gone

because of poverty

lacked hose and shoes
Clean britches
lack
go among the people
that I suffer




loan


In a clearing near
morning time
prepred (saddled) his horse
or

slid. . . mud





Wretchedly
To stop (their) staring (at him)

that morning
alit and rested
Beside, next to
because of. . . weather
folded

simplicity

it pleased him



grief
ancient forest

Their gowns. . . Indian silk
Laced tightly. . . neatly


Embroidered. . . adorned
Furred wih grey and white
adorned
coronet
gems



hill
complexion. . . eyes

carried
towel

head-dresses. . . very bright
arrayed . . . filaments
sigh
heath
toward them he goes
greeted them politely



protect


Bade. . . her
If it
delay
agreed

flower
in haste
tent pitched. . . saw






work. . . Saracens
pole knobs
top. . . eagle
burnished
Decorated. . . costly enamel
eyes. . . rubies
moon. . . by night
spreads


such jewel



found

who was called
Her father. . . Fairyland
far and near

sumptuous
Covered. . . linen
seemly
gracious

lovely one gleamed



Because of the heat
Almost. . . waist
uncovered
lily

saw. . . beautiful

has nothing of hue (no color)
with certainty
hair
describe her attire
Nor. . . imagine in [his] heart



darling
renounce
Sweet lover
Christendom


creature (wight)
upon her had settled
kissed

whatever happens
at your service



gracious
beginning and end (every bit)

give [yourself] to me


give you a purse




whatever





loyal steed
servant
coat-of-arms a pennant`
ermines


harm. . . dint (blow)


thank you. . . thing
provision have I received



sat herself up
fetch
hands
done. . . delay

their supper
plenty
Spiced wines. . . Rhine


immediately
together





bade
She
If. . . any time
secret place


still. . . stone
Then
could[to]. . . make known
many times





boast
no kind of reward
[as] before
utterlylost

leave to go
showed. . . helpful

saddle

poor clothes



at his ease

afternoon

armored
pack-horses riding

it should [go]


asked about




rich cloth from India

Upon
Then
far. . . these treasures go
for friendship's sake
It
as a

He is nothing but
What need any one
lodging






saw

considered. . . sorely abused
please

intended
have been together

But before [I could invite you], you were gone



reward

never invited me to dine
[But] now. . . wealth


went
purple dressed himself
Trimmed
borrowed
by tally. . . by account
Repaid




He fed fifty poor guests
Who were in distress
Bought fifty steeds
[And] gave fifty. . . rich garments

Rewarded fifty clerics
prisoners
them free. . . clear
gave clothing to

far. . . near




Caerleon
Had announced


know. . . he would succeed
Who. . . built

jousts. . . [to be] held
quickly
began blew their horns
in a row





dints (blows)

One could see
lost
enraged
[Ever] since
was not



Surely. . . oath



governor
a lie
would no longer wait


on every side
aware

very moment

saddle




saw this
nearly mad


fly

of great strength
Off. . . made him alight
threw. . . on the ground

company
I know not how many



could one see shields split
broken and splintered to pieces

By means of. . . blow[s]
truly

prize. . . tournament

oath

mayor's





royal
lasted
many
Seemly. . . hall
were royally adorned

bower
Each day
then
Saw. . . none






was called
heard. . . tell
knew how to joust well


tall


field. . . them two
or




had called
must go


himself




harness (armor)
Or else. . . shame





favorable wind


quiet

skillful. . . ingenuity
to you


Then laughed. . . quietly





a fortnight from that day
joust
gave. . . news

striped robe
from
radiant lady. . . bower
maid

Dread
slay



would not have anything
Except
retinue
took ship
flood (sea)


To where. . . held

host
laid low their arrogance
few companions



prepared
swift steed





That their spears be shattered
splintered. . . field
charge
Launfal's helmet was knocked off
it. . . told



laughed. . . was delighted


proved . . . in a tight spot
master's steed
saw
before



thanked (MS donked)





fell from him
moment
seized
as a present


again. . . third time
great valour
fiercely

grisly




anger
slain
he [Launfal]
Before
hanged and drawn
drew. . . sword
laid them down
space of time


solace . . . joy




lying
noble deeds
had (a message) sent to him
come
Saint John's Mass (Midsummer)


high and low in rank

guide his guests
knowledge of generosity



leave

manage
found mirth


lasted




in his (own) direction



meat (dinner)


green
tower where

appointed
best
those
leaned
generous





fairest
wife
Whether good or ill befall me
know



five
them
to amuse themselves
still (peacefully)



went . . . beginning


together


minstrels
citole players
wrong

dinner . . . summer's
Until




spoke privately with Launfal




Unless
Certainly
darling

will not
can rule



Fie
May you be hanged
[Alas] that


fit to be destroyed
sorely
He couldn't keep himself from speaking


laid . . . eye




most loathly . . . doubt
better
life
very angry
she goes
quickly
lay
she made herself sick

would . . . avenged









Unless . . . avenged
in three parts

asked a shameful thing of me
lover
boast
most loathly




very angry
oath
slain
valiant

hanged and drawn
sought

enjoyment . . . pleasure
sought his lover . . . lost

Then . . . wretched



looked . . . purse
provided him . . . fully
whenever
was none
had ridden
Upon
won
melted . . . under


became





survive [away] from you
Beloved
lost
that me is worst fore
lady in bower
beat


moment
in a swoon




bound . . . led
double woe


attainted
boasting


foul lie
asked . . . then

an arrogant desire



angry mood
where he stood
against him lied
Since
sought from her
any folly
was not









ready
command
tell the truth . . . lies

compelled to swear
among themselves

testified
fame . . . reputation
besides her husband
Not one of them denied it




the fault of
acquited him

Of whom . . . boasting


judged innocent

could not . . . lover

together



proposal

His head he laid (as pledge)


eyes
wager was agreed upon
pledges (hostages) provided
two






promise
months . . . two weeks


had alit


have forgone
mourning
head
woeful
knew




nearing
pledges

beloved



give
condemn him to be slain

council





condemn

act as I advise




fair of face

most loathly . . . doubt
Their . . . then



courteous
fear. . . man
gracious beloved

i not
beloved
directly
dismounted

ready

kin (lineage)



Who

riding


palace . . . time

give

immediately
(Since) we have seen
delay



discussion . . . began
good . . . bad
please
condemned
acquitted and blameless
discussions were quite heated
another
in appearance
judged
handsome mules

harness brightly glittered



samite from Tyre




remedy
dreary, wretched
them
Nor none. . . those youth
palace
dismounted . . . high dais




also
one

prepare . . . cover
rich drapes
in preparation for
at once
beautiful

together
where their




suspected guile

Be acquitted and free
coming



avenged on
makes me change my attitude (angers me)

humiliation
beloved of them. . . dear




saw



going
bird . . . bough
extremely fair
dwell in worldly dwelling
briar
countenance
complexion shone brightly



twig . . . complexion
hair shone
wire . . . shines


lovely gleamed
purple cloth
slender waist
pleasant
trimmed
Lined splendidly




seemly adorned
saddle blankets . . . velvet
Painted . . . images
bordering


saddle bows
two jewels from India
Exceedingly brilliant
breast-plate . . . palfrey





falcon . . . bore
slow pace . . . went


Two . . . an
Their collars

aloud


sorrows relieve
If








took off . . . floor
better
any more delay






stately
on every side
straight
[compared] with her as dun
moon compared to the sun
By day


exonerate
madness
illicit love




take good heed
bade

he [Launfal]

fairer
doubt
see what is truth
More beautiful
goes
such
again could



lept onto

would. . . longer
immediately



delay

each one
previously taken




through
Far. . . pleasant isle
is called

One can hear. . . neigh

ask for jousts
rust
tournament or combat
Need. . . further go





without a doubt

taken. . . the land of faery
Since then






Give
mother




The text is based on that of Ludwig Erling, "Li Lais de Lanval": Altfranzoesisches Gedicht der Marie de France nebst Th. Chestre's "Launfal" neu herausgegeben von Ludwg Erling (Kempton, 1883). The text has been regularized and lightly emended, It is intended for beginning students; for a text nearer the MSS, well annotated, see Sir Launfal in The Middle English Breton Lays, edited by Anne Laskaya and Eve Salisbury. Kalamazoo, Michigan: Western Michigan University for TEAMS, 1995.
 


 
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