The text is lightly glossed; see the glossary in the Riverside Chaucer for words not explained in the margins.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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!"
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."
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!"
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.
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!"
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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!
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.
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.
She seide, "Launfal, my lemman swete,
Al my joye for thee I lete,
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!"
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.
"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!"
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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."
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!"
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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,
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!"
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
"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.
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.
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!"
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!
"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.
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!"
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!
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:
"Alas!" he seide, "my creature,
How shall I from thee endure,
All my joye I have forelore,
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
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!"
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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."
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.
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,
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.
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!"
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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!
In mighty Arthur's days
Of which a lay was composed
was named. . . is called yet
at a certain time
Dwelt in Carlisle
knew how to. . . on the field
Battles to undertake
them. . . fame
then. . . their equal
gave. . . generously
advised. . . go
bore reputation. . . renown
many. . . was no end (of them)
Unless. . . or
Even if. . . equally
Truly on every side
table cloths. . . removed
may hear. . . listen
wine servants served wine
to make known
gave brooch or
saddened. . . time
asked permission to depart
must [go]. . . buryial
To accompany you home
Who had been his servant
mayor. . . hear
at an amble
[The mayor] went to meet him
Or else it were great pity
sorely grieves me
no man need
Honor. . . anymore
for friendship's sake
Once we knew each other, long ago
did he say
here their inn taken
Who are from Brittainy
Lodged. . . together
wealth. . . spent
(Launfal's two knights)
would not betray him
Even to gain the whole world
Where. . . residing
to them. . . went
had taken with them
those. . . all torn
Can still bear arms
God prevent it be otherwise
have kept us with him
To hunt in grey woods
In what we wore before (his service)
invited. . . gathering
Men little respected him
because of poverty
lacked hose and shoes
go among the people
that I suffer
In a clearing near
prepred (saddled) his horse
slid. . . mud
To stop (their) staring (at him)
alit and rested
Beside, next to
because of. . . weather
it pleased him
Their gowns. . . Indian silk
Laced tightly. . . neatly
Embroidered. . . adorned
Furred wih grey and white
complexion. . . eyes
head-dresses. . . very bright
arrayed . . . filaments
toward them he goes
greeted them politely
Bade. . . her
tent pitched. . . saw
work. . . Saracens
top. . . eagle
Decorated. . . costly enamel
eyes. . . rubies
moon. . . by night
who was called
Her father. . . Fairyland
far and near
Covered. . . linen
lovely one gleamed
Because of the heat
Almost. . . waist
saw. . . beautiful
has nothing of hue (no color)
describe her attire
Nor. . . imagine in [his] heart
upon her had settled
at your service
beginning and end (every bit)
give [yourself] to me
give you a purse
coat-of-arms a pennant`
harm. . . dint (blow)
thank you. . . thing
provision have I received
sat herself up
done. . . delay
Spiced wines. . . Rhine
If. . . any time
still. . . stone
could[to]. . . make known
no kind of reward
leave to go
showed. . . helpful
at his ease
it should [go]
rich cloth from India
far. . . these treasures go
for friendship's sake
He is nothing but
What need any one
considered. . . sorely abused
have been together
But before [I could invite you], you were gone
never invited me to dine
[But] now. . . wealth
purple dressed himself
by tally. . . by account
He fed fifty poor guests
Who were in distress
Bought fifty steeds
[And] gave fifty. . . rich garments
Rewarded fifty clerics
them free. . . clear
gave clothing to
far. . . near
know. . . he would succeed
Who. . . built
jousts. . . [to be] held
began blew their horns
in a row
One could see
Surely. . . oath
would no longer wait
on every side
of great strength
Off. . . made him alight
threw. . . on the ground
I know not how many
could one see shields split
broken and splintered to pieces
By means of. . . blow[s]
prize. . . tournament
Seemly. . . hall
were royally adorned
Saw. . . none
heard. . . tell
knew how to joust well
field. . . them two
Or else. . . shame
skillful. . . ingenuity
Then laughed. . . quietly
a fortnight from that day
gave. . . news
radiant lady. . . bower
would not have anything
To where. . . held
laid low their arrogance
That their spears be shattered
splintered. . . field
Launfal's helmet was knocked off
it. . . told
laughed. . . was delighted
proved . . . in a tight spot
thanked (MS donked)
fell from him
as a present
again. . . third time
hanged and drawn
drew. . . sword
laid them down
space of time
solace . . . joy
had (a message) sent to him
Saint John's Mass (Midsummer)
high and low in rank
guide his guests
knowledge of generosity
in his (own) direction
Whether good or ill befall me
to amuse themselves
went . . . beginning
dinner . . . summer's
spoke privately with Launfal
May you be hanged
fit to be destroyed
He couldn't keep himself from speaking
laid . . . eye
most loathly . . . doubt
she made herself sick
would . . . avenged
Unless . . . avenged
in three parts
asked a shameful thing of me
hanged and drawn
enjoyment . . . pleasure
sought his lover . . . lost
Then . . . wretched
looked . . . purse
provided him . . . fully
melted . . . under
survive [away] from you
that me is worst fore
lady in bower
in a swoon
bound . . . led
asked . . . then
an arrogant desire
where he stood
against him lied
sought from her
tell the truth . . . lies
compelled to swear
fame . . . reputation
besides her husband
Not one of them denied it
the fault of
Of whom . . . boasting
could not . . . lover
His head he laid (as pledge)
wager was agreed upon
pledges (hostages) provided
months . . . two weeks
condemn him to be slain
act as I advise
fair of face
most loathly . . . doubt
Their . . . then
fear. . . man
palace . . . time
(Since) we have seen
discussion . . . began
good . . . bad
acquitted and blameless
discussions were quite heated
harness brightly glittered
samite from Tyre
Nor none. . . those youth
dismounted . . . high dais
prepare . . . cover
in preparation for
Be acquitted and free
makes me change my attitude (angers me)
beloved of them. . . dear
bird . . . bough
dwell in worldly dwelling
complexion shone brightly
twig . . . complexion
wire . . . shines
saddle blankets . . . velvet
Painted . . . images
two jewels from India
breast-plate . . . palfrey
falcon . . . bore
slow pace . . . went
Two . . . an
took off . . . floor
any more delay
on every side
[compared] with her as dun
moon compared to the sun
take good heed
see what is truth
would. . . longer
Far. . . pleasant isle
One can hear. . . neigh
ask for jousts
tournament or combat
Need. . . further go
without a doubt
taken. . . the land of faery
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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