Sir Gawain and the Green Knight




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Manuscript SIÞEN þe sege and þe assaut watz sesed at Troye,
Þe borȝ brittened and brent to brondeȝ and askez,
Þe tulk þat þe trammes of tresoun þer wroȝt
Watz tried for his tricherie, þe trewest on erþe:
Hit watz Ennias þe athel, and his highe kynde,
Þat siþen depreced prouinces, and patrounes bicome
Welneȝe of al þe wele in þe west iles.
Fro riche Romulus to Rome ricchis hym swyþe,
With gret bobbaunce þat burȝe he biges vpon fyrst,
And neuenes hit his aune nome, as hit now hat;
Tirius to Tuskan and teldes bigynnes,
Langaberde in Lumbardie lyftes vp homes,
And fer ouer þe French flod Felix Brutus
On mony bonkkes ful brode Bretayn he settez
wyth wynne,
Where werre and wrake and wonder
Bi syþez hatz wont þerinne,
And oft boþe blysse and blunder
Ful skete hatz skyfted synne.

Ande quen þis Bretayn watz bigged bi þis burn rych,
Bolde bredden þerinne, baret þat lofden,
In mony turned tyme tene þat wroȝten.
Mo ferlyes on þis folde han fallen here oft
Þen in any oþer þat I wot, syn þat ilk tyme.
Bot of alle þat here bult, of Bretaygne kynges,
Ay watz Arthur þe hendest, as I haf herde telle.
Manuscript Forþi an aunter in erde I attle to schawe,
Þat a selly in siȝt summe men hit holden,
And an outtrage awenture of Arthurez wonderez.
If ȝe wyl lysten þis laye bot on littel quile,
I schal telle hit as-tit, as I in toun herde,
with tonge,
As hit is stad and stoken
In stori stif and stronge,
With lel letteres loken,
In londe so hatz ben longe.

Þis kyng lay at Camylot vpon Krystmasse
With mony luflych lorde, ledez of þe best,
Rekenly of þe Rounde Table alle þo rich breþer,
With rych reuel oryȝt and rechles merþes.
Þer tournayed tulkes by tymez ful mony,
Justed ful jolilé þise gentyle kniȝtes,
Syþen kayred to þe court caroles to make.
For þer þe fest watz ilyche ful fiften dayes,
With alle þe mete and þe mirþe þat men couþe avyse;
Such glaum ande gle glorious to here,
Dere dyn vpon day, daunsyng on nyȝtes,
Al watz hap vpon heȝe in hallez and chambrez
With lordez and ladies, as leuest him þoȝt.
With all þe wele of þe worlde þay woned þer samen,
Þe most kyd knyȝtez vnder Krystes seluen,
And þe louelokkest ladies þat euer lif haden,
And he þe comlokest kyng þat þe court haldes;
For al watz þis fayre folk in her first age,
on sille,
Þe hapnest vnder heuen,
Kyng hyȝest mon of wylle;
Hit were now gret nye to neuen
So hardy a here on hille.

Wyle Nw Ȝer watz so ȝep þat hit watz nwe cummen,
Þat day doubble on þe dece watz þe douth serued.
Fro þe kyng watz cummen with knyȝtes into þe halle,
Þe chauntré of þe chapel cheued to an ende,
Loude crye watz þer kest of clerkez and oþer,
Manuscript Nowel nayted onewe, neuened ful ofte;
And syþen riche forth runnen to reche hondeselle,
Ȝeȝed ȝeres-ȝiftes on hiȝ, ȝelde hem bi hond,
Debated busyly aboute þo giftes;
Ladies laȝed ful loude, þoȝ þay lost haden,
And he þat wan watz not wrothe, þat may ȝe wel trawe.
Alle þis mirþe þay maden to þe mete tyme;
When þay had waschen worþyly þay wenten to sete,
Þe best burne ay abof, as hit best semed,
Whene Guenore, ful gay, grayþed in þe myddes,
Dressed on þe dere des, dubbed al aboute,
Smal sendal bisides, a selure hir ouer
Of tryed tolouse, and tars tapites innoghe,
Þat were enbrawded and beten wyth þe best gemmes
Þat myȝt be preued of prys wyth penyes to bye,
in daye.
Þe comlokest to discrye
Þer glent with yȝen gray,
A semloker þat euer he syȝe
Soth moȝt no mon say.

Bot Arthure wolde not ete til al were serued,
He watz so joly of his joyfnes, and sumquat childgered:
His lif liked hym lyȝt, he louied þe lasse
Auþer to longe lye or to longe sitte,
So bisied him his ȝonge blod and his brayn wylde.
And also an oþer maner meued him eke
Þat he þurȝ nobelay had nomen, he wolde neuer ete
Vpon such a dere day er hym deuised were
Of sum auenturus þyng an vncouþe tale,
Of sum mayn meruayle, þat he myȝt trawe,
Of alderes, of armes, of oþer auenturus,
Oþer sum segg hym bisoȝt of sum siker knyȝt
To joyne wyth hym in iustyng, in jopardé to lay,
Lede, lif for lyf, leue vchon oþer,
As fortune wolde fulsun hom, þe fayrer to haue.
Þis watz þe kynges countenaunce where he in court were,
At vch farand fest among his fre meny
Manuscript in halle.
Þerfore of face so fere
He stiȝtlez stif in stalle,
Ful ȝep in þat Nw Ȝere
Much mirthe he mas withalle.

Thus þer stondes in stale þe stif kyng hisseluen,
Talkkande bifore þe hyȝe table of trifles ful hende.
There gode Gawan watz grayþed Gwenore bisyde,
And Agrauayn a la dure mayn on þat oþer syde sittes,
Boþe þe kynges sistersunes and ful siker kniȝtes;
Bischop Bawdewyn abof biginez þe table,
And Ywan, Vryn son, ette with hymseluen.
Þise were diȝt on þe des and derworþly serued,
And siþen mony siker segge at þe sidbordez.
Þen þe first cors come with crakkyng of trumpes,
Wyth mony baner ful bryȝt þat þerbi henged;
Nwe nakryn noyse with þe noble pipes,
Wylde werbles and wyȝt wakned lote,
Þat mony hert ful hiȝe hef at her towches.
Dayntés dryuen þerwyth of ful dere metes,
Foysoun of þe fresche, and on so fele disches
Þat pine to fynde þe place þe peple biforne
For to sette þe sylueren þat sere sewes halden
on clothe.
Iche lede as he loued hymselue
Þer laght withouten loþe;
Ay two had disches twelue,
Good ber and bryȝt wyn boþe.

Now wyl I of hor seruise say yow no more,
For vch wyȝe may wel wit no wont þat þer were.
An oþer noyse ful newe neȝed biliue,
Þat þe lude myȝt haf leue liflode to cach;
For vneþe watz þe noyce not a whyle sesed,
And þe fyrst cource in þe court kyndely serued,
Þer hales in at þe halle dor an aghlich mayster,
On þe most on þe molde on mesure hyghe;
Fro þe swyre to þe swange so sware and so þik,
And his lyndes and his lymes so longe and so grete,
Manuscript Half etayn in erde I hope þat he were,
Bot mon most I algate mynn hym to bene,
And þat þe myriest in his muckel þat myȝt ride;
For of bak and of brest al were his bodi sturne,
Both his wombe and his wast were worthily smale,
And alle his fetures folȝande, in forme þat he hade,
ful clene;
For wonder of his hwe men hade,
Set in his semblaunt sene;
He ferde as freke were fade,
And oueral enker-grene.

Ande al grayþed in grene þis gome and his wedes:
A strayte cote ful streȝt, þat stek on his sides,
A meré mantile abof, mensked withinne
With pelure pured apert, þe pane ful clene
With blyþe blaunner ful bryȝt, and his hod boþe,
Þat watz laȝt fro his lokkez and layde on his schulderes;
Heme wel-haled hose of þat same,
Þat spenet on his sparlyr, and clene spures vnder
Of bryȝt golde, vpon silk bordes barred ful ryche,
And scholes vnder schankes þere þe schalk rides;
And alle his vesture uerayly watz clene verdure,
Boþe þe barres of his belt and oþer blyþe stones,
Þat were richely rayled in his aray clene
Aboutte hymself and his sadel, vpon silk werkez.
Þat were to tor for to telle of tryfles þe halue
Þat were enbrauded abof, wyth bryddes and flyȝes,
With gay gaudi of grene, þe golde ay inmyddes.
Þe pendauntes of his payttrure, þe proude cropure,
His molaynes, and alle þe metail anamayld was þenne,
Þe steropes þat he stod on stayned of þe same,
And his arsounz al after and his aþel skyrtes,
Þat euer glemered and glent al of grene stones;
Þe fole þat he ferkkes on fyn of þat ilke,
A grene hors gret and þikke,
A stede ful stif to strayne,
In brawden brydel quik--
Manuscript To þe gome he watz ful gayn.

Wel gay watz þis gome gered in grene,
And þe here of his hed of his hors swete.
Fayre fannand fax vmbefoldes his schulderes;
A much berd as a busk ouer his brest henges,
Þat wyth his hiȝlich here þat of his hed reches
Watz euesed al vmbetorne abof his elbowes,
Þat half his armes þer-vnder were halched in þe wyse
Of a kyngez capados þat closes his swyre;
Þe mane of þat mayn hors much to hit lyke,
Wel cresped and cemmed, wyth knottes ful mony
Folden in wyth fildore aboute þe fayre grene,
Ay a herle of þe here, an oþer of golde;
Þe tayl and his toppyng twynnen of a sute,
And bounden boþe wyth a bande of a bryȝt grene,
Dubbed wyth ful dere stonez, as þe dok lasted,
Syþen þrawen wyth a þwong a þwarle knot alofte,
Þer mony bellez ful bryȝt of brende golde rungen.
Such a fole vpon folde, ne freke þat hym rydes,
Watz neuer sene in þat sale wyth syȝt er þat tyme,
with yȝe.
He loked as layt so lyȝt,
So sayd al þat hym syȝe;
Hit semed as no mon myȝt
Vnder his dynttez dryȝe.

Wheþer hade he no helme ne hawbergh nauþer,
Ne no pysan ne no plate þat pented to armes,
Ne no schafte ne no schelde to schwue ne to smyte,
Bot in his on honde he hade a holyn bobbe,
Þat is grattest in grene when greuez ar bare,
And an ax in his oþer, a hoge and vnmete,
A spetos sparþe to expoun in spelle, quoso myȝt.
Þe lenkþe of an elnȝerde þe large hede hade,
Þe grayn al of grene stele and of golde hewen,
Þe bit burnyst bryȝt, with a brod egge
As wel schapen to schere as scharp rasores,
Þe stele of a stif staf þe sturne hit bi grypte,
Manuscript Þat watz wounden wyth yrn to þe wandez ende,
And al bigrauen with grene in gracios werkes;
A lace lapped aboute, þat louked at þe hede,
And so after þe halme halched ful ofte,
Wyth tryed tasselez þerto tacched innoghe
On botounz of þe bryȝt grene brayden ful ryche.
Þis haþel heldez hym in and þe halle entres,
Driuande to þe heȝe dece, dut he no woþe,
Haylsed he neuer one, bot heȝe he ouer loked.
Þe fyrst word þat he warp, 'Wher is', he sayd,
'Þe gouernour of þis gyng? Gladly I wolde
Se þat segg in syȝt, and with hymself speke
To knyȝtez he kest his yȝe,
And reled hym vp and doun;
He stemmed, and con studie
Quo walt þer most renoun.

Ther watz lokyng on lenþe þe lude to beholde,
For vch mon had meruayle quat hit mene myȝt
Þat a haþel and a horse myȝt such a hwe lach,
As growe grene as þe gres and grener hit semed,
Þen grene aumayl on golde glowande bryȝter.
Al studied þat þer stod, and stalked hym nerre
Wyth al þe wonder of þe worlde what he worch schulde.
For fele sellyez had þay sen, bot such neuer are;
Forþi for fantoum and fayryȝe þe folk þere hit demed.
Þerfore to answare watz arȝe mony aþel freke,
And al stouned at his steuen and stonstil seten
In a swoghe sylence þurȝ þe sale riche;
As al were slypped vpon slepe so slaked hor lotez
in hyȝe--
I deme hit not al for doute,
Bot sum for cortaysye--
Bot let hym þat al schulde loute
Cast vnto þat wyȝe.

Þenn Arþour bifore þe hiȝ dece þat auenture byholdez,
And rekenly hym reuerenced, for rad was he neuer,
And sayde, 'Wyȝe, welcum iwys to þis place,
Manuscript Þe hede of þis ostel Arthour I hat;
Liȝt luflych adoun and lenge, I þe praye,
And quat-so þy wylle is we schal wyt after.'
'Nay, as help me,' quoþ þe haþel, 'he þat on hyȝe syttes,
To wone any quyle in þis won, hit watz not myn ernde;
Bot for þe los of þe, lede, is lyft vp so hyȝe,
And þy burȝ and þy burnes best ar holden,
Stifest vnder stel-gere on stedes to ryde,
Þe wyȝtest and þe worþyest of þe worldes kynde,
Preue for to play wyth in oþer pure laykez,
And here is kydde cortaysye, as I haf herd carp,
And þat hatz wayned me hider, iwyis, at þis tyme.
Ȝe may be seker bi þis braunch þat I bere here
Þat I passe as in pes, and no plyȝt seche;
For had I founded in fere in feȝtyng wyse,
I haue a hauberghe at home and a helme boþe,
A schelde and a scharp spere, schinande bryȝt,
Ande oþer weppenes to welde, I wene wel, als;
Bot for I wolde no were, my wedez ar softer.
Bot if þou be so bold as alle burnez tellen,
Þou wyl grant me godly þe gomen þat I ask
bi ryȝt.'
Arthour con onsware,
And sayd, 'Sir cortays knyȝt,
If þou craue batayl bare,
Here faylez þou not to fyȝt.'

'Nay, frayst I no fyȝt, in fayth I þe telle,
Hit arn aboute on þis bench bot berdlez chylder.
If I were hasped in armes on a heȝe stede,
Here is no mon me to mach, for myȝtez so wayke.
Forþy I craue in þis court a Crystemas gomen,
For hit is Ȝol and Nwe Ȝer, and here ar ȝep mony:
If any so hardy in þis hous holdez hymseluen,
Be so bolde in his blod, brayn in hys hede,
Þat dar stifly strike a strok for an oþer,
I schal gif hym of my gyft þys giserne ryche,
Þis ax, þat is heué innogh, to hondele as hym lykes,
Manuscript And I schal bide þe fyrst bur as bare as I sitte.
If any freke be so felle to fonde þat I telle,
Lepe lyȝtly me to, and lach þis weppen,
I quit-clayme hit for euer, kepe hit as his auen,
And I schal stonde hym a strok, stif on þis flet,
Ellez þou wyl diȝt me þe dom to dele hym an oþer
And ȝet gif hym respite,
A twelmonyth and a day;
Now hyȝe, and let se tite
Dar any herinne oȝt say.'

If he hem stowned vpon fyrst, stiller were þanne
Alle þe heredmen in halle, þe hyȝ and þe loȝe.
Þe renk on his rouncé hym ruched in his sadel,
And runischly his rede yȝen he reled aboute,
Bende his bresed broȝez, blycande grene,
Wayued his berde for to wayte quo-so wolde ryse.
When non wolde kepe hym with carp he coȝed ful hyȝe,
Ande rimed hym ful richly, and ryȝt hym to speke:
'What, is þis Arthures hous,' quoþ þe haþel þenne,
'Þat al þe rous rennes of þurȝ ryalmes so mony?
Where is now your sourquydrye and your conquestes,
Your gryndellayk and your greme, and your grete wordes?
Now is þe reuel and þe renoun of þe Rounde Table
Ouerwalt wyth a worde of on wyȝes speche,
For al dares for drede withoute dynt schewed!'
Wyth þis he laȝes so loude þat þe lorde greued;
Þe blod schot for scham into his schyre face
and lere;
He wex as wroth as wynde,
So did alle þat þer were.
Þe kyng as kene bi kynde
Þen stod þat stif mon nere,

Ande sayde, 'Haþel, by heuen, þyn askyng is nys,
And as þou foly hatz frayst, fynde þe behoues.
I know no gome þat is gast of þy grete wordes;
Gif me now þy geserne, vpon Godez halue,
And I schal bayþen þy bone þat þou boden habbes.'
Manuscript Lyȝtly lepez he hym to, and laȝt at his honde.
Þen feersly þat oþer freke vpon fote lyȝtis.
Now hatz Arthure his axe, and þe halme grypez,
And sturnely sturez hit aboute, þat stryke wyth hit þoȝt.
Þe stif mon hym bifore stod vpon hyȝt,
Herre þen ani in þe hous by þe hede and more.
Wyth sturne schere þer he stod he stroked his berde,
And wyth a countenaunce dryȝe he droȝ doun his cote,
No more mate ne dismayd for hys mayn dintez
Þen any burne vpon bench hade broȝt hym to drynk
of wyne.
Gawan, þat sate bi þe quene,
To þe kyng he can enclyne:
'I beseche now with saȝez sene
Þis melly mot be myne.

'Wolde ȝe, worþilych lorde,' quoþ Wawan to þe kyng,
'Bid me boȝe fro þis benche, and stonde by yow þere,
Þat I wythoute vylanye myȝt voyde þis table,
And þat my legge lady lyked not ille,
I wolde com to your counseyl bifore your cort ryche.
For me þink hit not semly, as hit is soþ knawen,
Þer such an askyng is heuened so hyȝe in your sale,
Þaȝ ȝe ȝourself be talenttyf, to take hit to yourseluen,
Whil mony so bolde yow aboute vpon bench sytten,
Þat vnder heuen I hope non haȝerer of wylle,
Ne better bodyes on bent þer baret is rered.
I am þe wakkest, I wot, and of wyt feblest,
And lest lur of my lyf, quo laytes þe soþe--
Bot for as much as ȝe ar myn em I am only to prayse,
No bounté bot your blod I in my bodé knowe;
And syþen þis note is so nys þat noȝt hit yow falles,
And I haue frayned hit at yow fyrst, foldez hit to me;
And if I carp not comlyly, let alle þis cort rych
bout blame.'
Ryche togeder con roun,
And syþen þay redden alle same
To ryd þe kyng wyth croun,
And gif Gawan þe game.

Manuscript Þen comaunded þe kyng þe knyȝt for to ryse;
And he ful radly vpros, and ruchched hym fayre,
Kneled doun bifore þe kyng, and cachez þat weppen;
And he luflyly hit hym laft, and lyfte vp his honde,
And gef hym Goddez blessyng, and gladly hym biddes
Þat his hert and his honde schulde hardi be boþe.
'Kepe þe cosyn,' quoþ þe kyng, 'þat þou on kyrf sette,
And if þou redeȝ hym ryȝt, redly I trowe
Þat þou schal byden þe bur þat he schal bede after.'
Gawan gotz to þe gome with giserne in honde,
And he baldly hym bydez, he bayst neuer þe helder.
Þen carppez to Sir Gawan þe knyȝt in þe grene,
'Refourme we oure forwardes, er we fyrre passe.
Fyrst I eþe þe, haþel, how þat þou hattes
Þat þou me telle truly, as I tryst may.'
'In god fayth,' quoþ þe goode knyȝt, 'Gawan I hatte,
Þat bede þe þis buffet, quat-so bifallez after,
And at þis tyme twelmonyth take at þe an oþer
Wyth what weppen so þou wylt, and wyth no wyȝ ellez
on lyue.'
Þat oþer onswarez agayn,
'Sir Gawan, so mot I þryue
As I am ferly fayn
Þis dint þat þou schal dryue.

'Bigog,' quoþ þe grene knyȝt, 'Sir Gawan, me lykes
Þat I schal fange at þy fust þat I haf frayst here.
And þou hatz redily rehersed, bi resoun ful trwe,
Clanly al þe couenaunt þat I þe kynge asked,
Saf þat þou schal siker me, segge, bi þi trawþe,
Þat þou schal seche me þiself, where-so þou hopes
I may be funde vpon folde, and foch þe such wages
As þou deles me to-day bifore þis douþe ryche.'
'Where schulde I wale þe,' quoþ Gauan, 'where is þy place?
I wot neuer where þou wonyes, bi hym þat me wroȝt,
Ne I know not þe, knyȝt, by cort ne þi name.
Bot teche me truly þerto, and telle me how þou hattes,
And I schal ware alle my wyt to wynne me þeder,
Manuscript And þat I swere þe for soþe, and by my seker traweþ.'
'Þat is innogh in Nwe Ȝer, hit nedes no more',
Quoþ þe gome in þe grene to Gawan þe hende;
'Ȝif I þe telle trwly, quen I þe tape haue
And þou me smoþely hatz smyten, smartly I þe teche
Of my hous and my home and myn owen nome,
Þen may þou frayst my fare and forwardez holde;
And if I spende no speche, þenne spedez þou þe better,
For þou may leng in þy londe and layt no fyrre--
bot slokes!
Ta now þy grymme tole to þe,
And let se how þou cnokez.'
'Gladly, sir, for soþe',
Quoþ Gawan; his ax he strokes.

Þe grene knyȝt vpon grounde grayþely hym dresses,
A littel lut with þe hede, þe lere he discouerez,
His longe louelych lokkez he layd ouer his croun,
Let þe naked nec to þe note schewe.
Gauan gripped to his ax, and gederes hit on hyȝt,
Þe kay fot on þe folde he before sette,
Let him doun lyȝtly lyȝt on þe naked,
Þat þe scharp of þe schalk schyndered þe bones,
And schrank þurȝ þe schyire grece, and schade hit in twynne,
Þat þe bit of þe broun stel bot on þe grounde.
Þe fayre hede fro þe halce hit to þe erþe,
Þat fele hit foyned wyth her fete, þere hit forth roled;
Þe blod brayd fro þe body, þat blykked on þe grene;
And nawþer faltered ne fel þe freke neuer þe helder,
Bot styþly he start forth vpon styf schonkes,
And runyschly he raȝt out, þere as renkkez stoden,
Laȝt to his lufly hed, and lyft hit vp sone;
And syþen boȝez to his blonk, þe brydel he cachchez,
Steppez into stelbawe and strydez alofte,
And his hede by þe here in his honde haldez;
And as sadly þe segge hym in his sadel sette
As non vnhap had hym ayled, þaȝ hedlez he were
in stedde.
He brayde his bulk aboute,
Manuscript Þat vgly bodi þat bledde;
Moni on of hym had doute,
Bi þat his resounz were redde.

For þe hede in his honde he haldez vp euen,
Toward þe derrest on þe dece he dressez þe face,
And hit lyfte vp þe yȝe-lyddez and loked ful brode,
And meled þus much with his muthe, as ȝe may now here:
'Loke, Gawan, þou be grayþe to go as þou hettez,
And layte as lelly til þou me, lude, fynde,
As þou hatz hette in þis halle, herande þise knyȝtes;
To þe grene chapel þou chose, I charge þe, to fotte
Such a dunt as þou hatz dalt--disserued þou habbez
To be ȝederly ȝolden on Nw Ȝeres morn.
Þe knyȝt of þe grene chapel men knowen me mony;
Forþi me for to fynde if þou fraystez, faylez þou neuer.
Þerfore com, oþer recreaunt be calde þe behoues.'
With a runisch rout þe raynez he tornez,
Halled out at þe hal dor, his hed in his hande,
Þat þe fyr of þe flynt flaȝe fro fole houes.
To quat kyth he becom knwe non þere,
Neuer more þen þay wyste from queþen he watz wonnen.
What þenne?
Þe kyng and Gawen þare
At þat grene þay laȝe and grenne,
Ȝet breued watz hit ful bare
A meruayl among þo menne.

Þaȝ Arþer þe hende kyng at hert hade wonder,
He let no semblaunt be sene, bot sayde ful hyȝe
To þe comlych quene wyth cortays speche,
'Dere dame, to-day demay yow neuer;
Wel bycommes such craft vpon Cristmasse,
Laykyng of enterludez, to laȝe and to syng,
Among þise kynde caroles of knyȝtez and ladyez.
Neuer þe lece to my mete I may me wel dres,
For I haf sen a selly, I may not forsake.'
He glent vpon Sir Gawen, and gaynly he sayde,
'Now, sir, heng vp þyn ax, þat hatz innogh hewen';
Manuscript And hit watz don abof þe dece on doser to henge,
Þer alle men for meruayl myȝt on hit loke,
And bi trwe tytel þerof to telle þe wonder.
Þenne þay boȝed to a borde þise burnes togeder,
Þe kyng and þe gode knyȝt, and kene men hem serued
Of alle dayntyez double, as derrest myȝt falle;
Wyth alle maner of mete and mynstralcie boþe,
Wyth wele walt þday, til worþed an ende
in londe.
Now þenk wel, Sir Gawan,
For woþe þat þou ne wonde
Þis auenture for to frayn
Þat þou hatz tan on honde.


THIS hanselle hatz Arthur of auenturus on fyrst
In ȝonge ȝer, for he ȝerned ȝelpyng to here.
Thaȝ hym wordez were wane when þay to sete wenten,
Now ar þay stoken of sturne werk, stafful her hond.
Gawan watz glad to begynne þose gomnez in halle,
Bot þaȝ þe ende be heuy haf ȝe no wonder;
For þaȝ men ben mery in mynde quen þay han mayn drynk,
A ȝere ȝernes ful ȝerne, and ȝeldez neuer lyke,
Þe forme to þe fynisment foldez ful selden.
Forþi þis Ȝol ouerȝede, and þe ȝere after,
And vche sesoun serlepes sued after oþer:
After Crystenmasse com þe crabbed lentoun,
Þat fraystez flesch wyth þe fysche and fode more symple;
Bot þenne þe weder of þe worlde wyth wynter hit þrepez,
Colde clengez adoun, cloudez vplyften,
Schyre schedez þe rayn in schowrez ful warme,
Fallez vpon fayre flat, flowrez þere schewen,
Boþe groundez and þe greuez grene ar her wedez,
Bryddez busken to bylde, and bremlych syngen
For solace of þe softe somer þat sues þerafter
bi bonk;
And blossumez bolne to blowe
Bi rawez rych and ronk,
Þen notez noble innoȝe
Manuscript Ar herde in wod so wlonk.

After þe sesoun of somer wyth þe soft wyndez
Quen Zeferus syflez hymself on sedez and erbez,
Wela wynne is þe wort þat waxes þeroute,
When þe donkande dewe dropez of þe leuez,
To bide a blysful blusch of þe bryȝt sunne.
Bot þen hyȝes heruest, and hardenes hym sone,
Warnez hym for þe wynter to wax ful rype;
He dryues wyth droȝt þe dust for to ryse,
Fro þe face of þe folde to flyȝe ful hyȝe;
Wroþe wynde of þe welkyn wrastelez with þe sunne,
Þe leuez lancen fro þe lynde and lyȝten on þe grounde,
And al grayes þe gres þat grene watz ere;
Þenne al rypez and rotez þat ros vpon fyrst,
And þus ȝirnez þe ȝere in ȝisterdayez mony,
And wynter wyndez aȝayn, as þe worlde askez,
no fage,
Til Meȝelmas mone
Watȝ cumen wyth wynter wage;
Þen þenkkez Gawan ful sone
Of his anious uyage.

Ȝet quyl Al-hal-day with Arþer he lenges;
And he made a fare on þat fest for þe frekez sake,
With much reuel and ryche of þe Rounde Table.
Knyȝtez ful cortays and comlych ladies
Al for luf of þat lede in longynge þay were,
Bot neuer þe lece ne þe later þay neuened bot merþe:
Mony ioylez for þat ientyle iapez þer maden.
For aftter mete with mournyng he melez to his eme,
And spekez of his passage, and pertly he sayde,
'Now, lege lorde of my lyf, leue I yow ask;
Ȝe knowe þe cost of þis cace, kepe I no more
To telle yow tenez þerof neuer bot trifel;
Bot I am boun to þe bur barely to-morne
To sech þe gome of þe grene, as God wyl me wysse.'
Þenne þe best of þe burȝ boȝed togeder,
Aywan, and Errik, and oþer ful mony,
Manuscript Sir Doddinaual de Sauage, þe duk of Clarence,
Launcelot, and Lyonel, and Lucan þe gode,
Sir Boos, and Sir Byduer, big men boþe,
And mony oþer menskful, with Mador de la Port.
Alle þis compayny of court com þe kyng nerre
For to counseyl þe knyȝt, with care at her hert.
Þere watz much derue doel driuen in þe sale
Þat so worþé as Wawan schulde wende on þat ernde,
To dryȝe a delful dynt, and dele no more
wyth bronde.
Þe knyȝt mad ay god chere,
And sayde, 'Quat schuld I wonde?
Of destinés derf and dere
What may mon do bot fonde?'

He dowellez þer al þat day, and dressez on þe morn,
Askez erly hys armez, and alle were þay broȝt.
Fyrst a tulé tapit tyȝt ouer þe flet,
And miche watz þe gyld gere þat glent þeralofte;
Þe stif mon steppez þeron, and þe stel hondelez,
Dubbed in a dublet of a dere tars,
And syþen a crafty capados, closed aloft,
Þat wyth a bryȝt blaunner was bounden withinne.
Þenne set þay þe sabatounz vpon þe segge fotez,
His legez lapped in stel with luflych greuez,
With polaynez piched þerto, policed ful clene,
Aboute his knez knaged wyth knotez of golde;
Queme quyssewes þen, þat coyntlych closed
His thik þrawen þyȝez, with þwonges to tachched;
And syþen þe brawden bryné of bryȝt stel ryngez
Vmbeweued þat wyȝ vpon wlonk stuffe,
And wel bornyst brace vpon his boþe armes,
With gode cowters and gay, and glouez of plate,
And alle þe godlych gere þat hym gayn schulde
þat tyde;
Wyth ryche cote-armure,
His gold sporez spend with pryde,
Gurde wyth a bront ful sure
With silk sayn vmbe his syde.

Manuscript When he watz hasped in armes, his harnays watz ryche:
Þe lest lachet ouer loupe lemed of golde.
So harnayst as he watz he herknez his masse,
Offred and honoured at þe heȝe auter.
Syþen he comez to þe kyng and to his cort-ferez,
Lachez lufly his leue at lordez and ladyez;
And þay hym kyst and conueyed, bikende hym to Kryst.
Bi þat watz Gryngolet grayth, and gurde with a sadel
Þat glemed ful gayly with mony golde frenges,
Ayquere naylet ful nwe, for þat note ryched;
Þe brydel barred aboute, with bryȝt golde bounden;
Þe apparayl of þe payttrure and of þe proude skyrtez,
Þe cropore and þe couertor, acorded wyth þe arsounez;
And al watz rayled on red ryche golde naylez,
Þat al glytered and glent as glem of þe sunne.
Þenne hentes he þe helme, and hastily hit kysses,
Þat watz stapled stifly, and stoffed wythinne.
Hit watz hyȝe on his hede, hasped bihynde,
Wyth a lyȝtly vrysoun ouer þe auentayle,
Enbrawden and bounden wyth þe best gemmez
On brode sylkyn borde, and bryddez on semez,
As papiayez paynted peruyng bitwene,
Tortors and trulofez entayled so þyk
As mony burde þeraboute had ben seuen wynter
in toune.
Þe cercle watz more o prys
Þat vmbeclypped hys croun,
Of diamauntez a deuys
Þat boþe were bryȝt and broun.

THEN þay schewed hym þe schelde, þat was of schyr goulez
Wyth þe pentangel depaynt of pure golde hwez.
He braydez hit by þe bauderyk, aboute þe hals kestes,
Þat bisemed þe segge semlyly fayre.
And quy þe pentangel apendez to þat prynce noble
I am in tent yow to telle, þof tary hyt me schulde:
Hit is a syngne þat Salamon set sumquyle
In bytoknyng of trawþe, bi tytle þat hit habbez,
Manuscript For hit is a figure þat haldez fyue poyntez,
And vche lyne vmbelappez and loukez in oþer,
And ayquere hit is endelez; and Englych hit callen
Oueral, as I here, þe endeles knot.
Forþy hit acordez to þis knyȝt and to his cler armez,
For ay faythful in fyue and sere fyue syþez
Gawan watz for gode knawen, and as golde pured,
Voyded of vche vylany, wyth vertuez ennourned
in mote;
Forþy þe pentangel nwe
He ber in schelde and cote,
As tulk of tale most trwe
And gentylest knyȝt of lote.

Fyrst he watz funden fautlez in his fyue wyttez,
And efte fayled neuer þe freke in his fyue fyngres,
And alle his afyaunce vpon folde watz in þe fyue woundez
Þat Cryst kaȝt on þe croys, as þe crede tellez;
And quere-so-euer þys mon in melly watz stad,
His þro þoȝt watz in þat, þurȝ alle oþer þyngez,
Þat alle his forsnes he feng at þe fyue joyez
Þat þe hende heuen-quene had of hir chylde;
At þis cause þe knyȝt comlyche hade
In þe inore half of his schelde hir ymage depaynted,
Þat quen he blusched þerto his belde neuer payred.
Þe fyft fyue þat I finde þat þe frek vsed
Watz fraunchyse and felaȝschyp forbe al þyng,
His clannes and his cortaysye croked were neuer,
And pité, þat passez alle poyntez, þyse pure fyue
Were harder happed on þat haþel þen on any oþer.
Now alle þese fyue syþez, for soþe, were fetled on þis knyȝt,
And vchone halched in oþer, þat non ende hade,
And fyched vpon fyue poyntez, þat fayld neuer,
Ne samned neuer in no syde, ne sundred nouþer,
Withouten ende at any noke I oquere fynde,
Whereeuer þe gomen bygan, or glod to an ende.
Þerfore on his schene schelde schapen watz þe knot
Ryally wyth red golde vpon rede gowlez,
Manuscript Þat is þe pure pentaungel wyth þe peple called
with lore.
Now grayþed is Gawan gay,
And laȝt his launce ryȝt þore,
And gef hem alle goud day,
He wende for euermore.

He sperred þe sted with þe spurez and sprong on his way,
So stif þat þe ston-fyr stroke out þerafter.
Al þat seȝ þat semly syked in hert,
And sayde soþly al same segges til oþer,
Carande for þat comly: 'Bi Kryst, hit is scaþe
Þat þou, leude, schal be lost, þat art of lyf noble!
To fynde hys fere vpon folde, in fayth, is not eþe.
Warloker to haf wroȝt had more wyt bene,
And haf dyȝt ȝonder dere a duk to haue worþed;
A lowande leder of ledez in londe hym wel semez,
And so had better haf ben þen britned to noȝt,
Hadet wyth an aluisch mon, for angardez pryde.
Who knew euer any kyng such counsel to take
As knyȝtez in cauelaciounz on Crystmasse gomnez!'
Wel much watz þe warme water þat waltered of yȝen,
When þat semly syre soȝt fro þo wonez
þad daye.
He made non abode,
Bot wyȝtly went hys way;
Mony wylsum way he rode,
Þe bok as I herde say.

Now ridez þis renk þurȝ þe ryalme of Logres,
Sir Gauan, on Godez halue, þaȝ hym no gomen þoȝt.
Oft leudlez alone he lengez on nyȝtez
Þer he fonde noȝt hym byfore þe fare þat he lyked.
Hade he no fere bot his fole bi frythez and dounez,
Ne no gome bot God bi gate wyth to karp,
Til þat he neȝed ful neghe into þe Norþe Walez.
Alle þe iles of Anglesay on lyft half he haldez,
And farez ouer þe fordez by þe forlondez,
Ouer at þe Holy Hede, til he hade eft bonk
In þe wyldrenesse of Wyrale; wonde þer bot lyte
Manuscript Þat auþer God oþer gome wyth goud hert louied.
And ay he frayned, as he ferde, at frekez þat he met,
If þay hade herde any karp of a knyȝt grene,
In any grounde þeraboute, of þe grene chapel;
And al nykked hym wyth nay, þat neuer in her lyue
Þay seȝe neuer no segge þat watz of suche hwez
of grene.
Þe knyȝt tok gates straunge
In mony a bonk vnbene,
His cher ful oft con chaunge
Þat chapel er he myȝt sene.

Mony klyf he ouerclambe in contrayez straunge,
Fer floten fro his frendez fremedly he rydez.
At vche warþe oþer water þer þe wyȝe passed
He fonde a foo hym byfore, bot ferly hit were,
And þat so foule and so felle þat feȝt hym byhode.
So mony meruayl bi mount þer þe mon fyndez,
Hit were to tore for to telle of þe tenþe dole.
Sumwhyle wyth wormez he werrez, and with wolues als,
Sumwhyle wyth wodwos, þat woned in þe knarrez,
Boþe wyth bullez and berez, and borez oþerquyle,
And etaynez, þat hym anelede of þe heȝe felle;
Nade he ben duȝty and dryȝe, and Dryȝtyn had serued,
Douteles he hade ben ded and dreped ful ofte.
For werre wrathed hym not so much þat wynter nas wors,
When þe colde cler water fro þe cloudez schadde,
And fres er hit falle myȝt to þe fale erþe;
Ner slayn wyth þe slete he sleped in his yrnes
Mo nyȝtez þen innoghe in naked rokkez,
Þer as claterande fro þe crest þe colde borne rennez,
And henged heȝe ouer his hede in hard iisse-ikkles.
Þus in peryl and payne and plytes ful harde
Bi contray cayrez þis knyȝt, tyl Krystmasse euen,
al one;
Þe knyȝt wel þat tyde
To Mary made his mone,
Þat ho hym red to ryde
Manuscript And wysse hym to sum wone.

Bi a mounte on þe morne meryly he rydes
Into a forest ful dep, þat ferly watz wylde,
Hiȝe hillez on vche a halue, and holtwodez vnder
Of hore okez ful hoge a hundreth togeder;
Þe hasel and þe haȝþorne were harled al samen,
With roȝe raged mosse rayled aywhere,
With mony bryddez vnblyþe vpon bare twyges,
Þat pitosly þer piped for pyne of þe colde.
Þe gome vpon Gryngolet glydez hem vnder,
Þurȝ mony misy and myre, mon al hym one,
Carande for his costes, lest he ne keuer schulde
To se þe seruyse of þat syre, þat on þat self nyȝt
Of a burde watz borne oure baret to quelle;
And þerfore sykyng he sayde, 'I beseche þe, lorde,
And Mary, þat is myldest moder so dere,
Of sum herber þer heȝly I myȝt here masse,
Ande þy matynez to-morne, mekely I ask,
And þerto prestly I pray my pater and aue
and crede.'
He rode in his prayere,
And cryed for his mysdede,
He sayned hym in syþes sere,
And sayde 'Cros Kryst me spede!'

NADE he sayned hymself, segge, bot þrye,
Er he watz war in þe wod of a won in a mote,
Abof a launde, on a lawe, loken vnder boȝez
Of mony borelych bole aboute bi þe diches:
A castel þe comlokest þat euer knyȝt aȝte,
Pyched on a prayere, a park al aboute,
With a pyked palays pyned ful þik,
Þat vmbeteȝe mony tre mo þen two myle.
Þat holde on þat on syde þe haþel auysed,
As hit schemered and schon þurȝ þe schyre okez;
Þenne hatz he hendly of his helme, and heȝly he þonkez
Jesus and sayn Gilyan, þat gentyle ar boþe,
Manuscript Þat cortaysly had hym kydde, and his cry herkened.
'Now bone hostel,' coþe þe burne, 'I beseche yow ȝette!'
Þenne gerdez he to Gryngolet with þe gilt helez,
And he ful chauncely hatz chosen to þe chef gate,
Þat broȝt bremly þe burne to þe bryge ende
in haste.
Þe bryge watz breme vpbrayde,
Þe ȝatez wer stoken faste,
Þe wallez were wel arayed,
Hit dut no wyndez blaste.

Þe burne bode on blonk, þat on bonk houed
Of þe depe double dich þat drof to þe place;
Þe walle wod in þe water wonderly depe,
Ande eft a ful huge heȝt hit haled vpon lofte
Of harde hewen ston vp to þe tablez,
Enbaned vnder þe abataylment in þe best lawe;
And syþen garytez ful gaye gered bitwene,
Wyth mony luflych loupe þat louked ful clene:
A better barbican þat burne blusched vpon neuer.
And innermore he behelde þat halle ful hyȝe,
Towres telded bytwene, trochet ful þik,
Fayre fylyolez þat fyȝed, and ferlyly long,
With coruon coprounes craftyly sleȝe.
Chalkwhyt chymnees þer ches he innoȝe
Vpon bastel rouez, þat blenked ful quyte;
So mony pynakle payntet watz poudred ayquere,
Among þe castel carnelez clambred so þik,
Þat pared out of papure purely hit semed.
Þe fre freke on þe fole hit fayr innoghe þoȝt,
If he myȝt keuer to com þe cloyster wythinne,
To herber in þat hostel whyl halyday lested,
He calde, and sone þer com
A porter pure plesaunt,
On þe wal his ernd he nome,
And haylsed þe knyȝt erraunt.

'Gode sir,' quoþ Gawan, 'woldez þou go myn ernde
To þe heȝ lorde of þis hous, herber to craue?'
Manuscript 'Ȝe, Peter,' quoþ þe porter, 'and purely I trowee
Þat ȝe be, wyȝe, welcum to won quyle yow lykez.'
Þen ȝede þe wyȝe ȝerne and com aȝayn swyþe,
And folke frely hym wyth, to fonge þe knyȝt.
Þay let doun þe grete draȝt and derely out ȝeden,
And kneled doun on her knes vpon þe colde erþe
To welcum þis ilk wyȝ as worþy hom þoȝt;
Þay ȝolden hym þe brode ȝate, ȝarked vp wyde,
And he hem raysed rekenly, and rod ouer þe brygge.
Sere seggez hym sesed by sadel, quel he lyȝt,
And syþen stabeled his stede stif men innoȝe.
Knyȝtez and swyerez comen doun þenne
For to bryng þis buurne wyth blys into halle;
Quen he hef vp his helme, þer hiȝed innoghe
For to hent hit at his honde, þe hende to seruen;
His bronde and his blasoun boþe þay token.
Þen haylsed he ful hendly þo haþelez vchone,
And mony proud mon þer presed þat prynce to honour.
Alle hasped in his heȝ wede to halle þay hym wonnen,
Þer fayre fyre vpon flet fersly brenned.
Þenne þe lorde of þe lede loutez fro his chambre
For to mete wyth menske þe mon on þe flor;
He sayde, 'Ȝe ar welcum to welde as yow lykez
Þat here is; al is yowre awen, to haue at yowre wylle
and welde.'
'Graunt mercy,' quoþ Gawayn,
'Þer Kryst hit yow forȝelde.'
As frekez þat semed fayn
Ayþer oþer in armez con felde.

Gawayn glyȝt on þe gome þat godly hym gret,
And þuȝt hit a bolde burne þat þe burȝ aȝte,
A hoge haþel for þe nonez, and of hyghe eldee;
Brode, bryȝt, watz his berde, and al beuer-hwed,
Sturne, stif on þe stryþþe on stalworth schonkez,
Felle face as þe fyre, and fre of hys speche;
And wel hym semed, for soþe, as þe segge þuȝt,
To lede a lortschyp in lee of leudez ful gode.
Manuscript Þe lorde hym charred to a chambre, and chefly cumaundez
To delyuer hym a leude, hym loȝly to serue;
And þere were boun at his bode burnez innoȝe,
Þat broȝt hym to a bryȝt boure, þer beddyng watz noble,
Of cortynes of clene sylk wyth cler golde hemmez,
And couertorez ful curious with comlych panez
Of bryȝt blaunner aboue, enbrawded bisydez,
Rudelez rennande on ropez, red golde ryngez,
Tapitez tyȝt to þe woȝe of tuly and tars,
And vnder fete, on þe flet, of folȝande sute.
Þer he watz dispoyled, wyth spechez of myerþe,
Þe burn of his bruny and of his bryȝt wedez.
Ryche robes ful rad renkkez hym broȝten,
For to charge, and to chaunge, and chose of þe best.
Sone as he on hent, and happed þerinne,
Þat sete on hym semly wyth saylande skyrtez,
Þe ver by his uisage verayly hit semed
Welneȝ to vche haþel, alle on hwes
Lowande and lufly alle his lymmez vnder,
Þat a comloker knyȝt neuer Kryst made
hem þoȝt.
Wheþen in worlde he were,
Hit semed as he moȝt
Be prynce withouten pere
In felde þer felle men foȝt.

A cheyer byfore þe chemné, þer charcole brenned,
Watz grayþed for Sir Gawan grayþely with cloþez,
Whyssynes vpon queldepoyntes þat koynt wer boþe;
And þenne a meré mantyle watz on þat mon cast
Of a broun bleeaunt, enbrauded ful ryche
And fayre furred wythinne with fellez of þe best,
Alle of ermyn in erde, his hode of þe same;
And he sete in þat settel semlych ryche,
And achaufed hym chefly, and þenne his cher mended.
Sone watz telded vp a tabil on trestez ful fayre,
Clad wyth a clene cloþe þat cler quyt schewed,
Sanap, and salure, and syluerin sponez.
Manuscript Þe wyȝe wesche at his wylle, and went to his mete.
Seggez hym serued semly innoȝe
Wyth sere sewes and sete, sesounde of þe best.
Double-felde, as hit fallez, and fele kyn fischez,
Summe baken in bred, summe brad on þe gledez,
Summe soþen, summe in sewe sauered with spyces,
And ay sawes so sleȝe þat þe segge lyked.
Þe freke calde hit a fest ful frely and ofte
Ful hendely, quen alle þe haþeles rehayted hym at onez,
'As hende,
Þis penaunce now ȝe take,
And eft hit schal amende.'
Þat mon much merþe con make,
For wyn in his hed þat wende.

Þenne watz spyed and spured vpon spare wyse
Bi preué poyntez of þat prynce, put to hymseluen,
Þat he beknew cortaysly of þe court þat he were
Þat aþel Arthure þe hende haldez hym one,
Þat is þe ryche ryal kyng of þe Rounde Table,
And hit watz Wawen hymself þat in þat won syttez,
Comen to þat Krystmasse, as case hym þen lymped.
When þe lorde hade lerned þat he þe leude hade,
Loude laȝed he þerat, so lef hit hym þoȝt,
And alle þe men in þat mote maden much joye
To apere in his presense prestly þat tyme,
Þat alle prys and prowes and pured þewes
Apendes to hys persoun, and praysed is euer;
Byfore alle men vpon molde his mensk is þe most.
Vch segge ful softly sayde to his fere:
'Now schal we semlych se sleȝtez of þewez
And þe teccheles termes of talkyng noble,
Wich spede is in speche vnspurd may we lerne,
Syn we haf fonged þat fyne fader of nurture.
God hatz geuen vus his grace godly for soþe,
Þat such a gest as Gawan grauntez vus to haue,
When burnez blyþe of his burþe schal sitte
and synge.
In menyng of manerez mere
Manuscript Þis burne now schal vus bryng,
I hope þat may hym here
Schal lerne of luf-talkyng.'

Bi þat þe diner watz done and þe dere vp
Hit watz neȝ at þe niyȝt neȝed þe tyme.
Chaplaynez to þe chapeles chosen þe gate,
Rungen ful rychely, ryȝt as þay schulden,
To þe hersum euensong of þe hyȝe tyde.
Þe lorde loutes þerto, and þe lady als,
Into a cumly closet coyntly ho entrez.
Gawan glydez ful gay and gos þeder sone;
Þe lorde laches hym by þe lappe and ledez hym to sytte,
And couþly hym knowez and callez hym his nome,
And sayde he watz þe welcomest wyȝe of þe worlde;
And he hym þonkked þroly, and ayþer halched oþer,
And seten soberly samen þe seruise quyle.
Þenne lyst þe lady to loke on þe knyȝt,
Þenne com ho of hir closet with mony cler burdez.
Ho watz þe fayrest in felle, of flesche and of lyre,
And of compas and colour and costes, of alle oþer,
And wener þen Wenore, as þe wyȝe þoȝt.
Ho ches þurȝ þe chaunsel to cheryche þat hende.
An oþer lady hir lad bi þe lyft honde,
Þat watz alder þen ho, an auncian hit semed,
And heȝly honowred with haþelez aboute.
Bot vnlyke on to loke þo ladyes were,
For if þe ȝonge watz ȝep, ȝolȝe watz þat oþer;
Riche red on þat on rayled ayquere,
Rugh ronkled chekez þat oþer on rolled;
Kerchofes of þat on, wyth mony cler perlez,
Hir brest and hir bryȝt þrote bare displayed,
Schon schyrer þen snawe þat schedez on hillez;
Þat oþer wyth a gorger watz gered ouer þe swyre,
Chymbled ouer hir blake chyn with chalkquyte vayles,
Hir frount folden in sylk, enfoubled ayquere,
Toreted and treleted with tryflez aboute,
Manuscript Þat noȝt watz bare of þat burde bot þe blake broȝes,
Þe tweyne yȝen and þe nase, þe naked lyppez,
And þose were soure to se and sellyly blered;
A mensk lady on molde mon may hir calle,
for Gode!
Hir body watz schort and þik,
Hir buttokez balȝ and brode,
More lykkerwys on to lyk
Watz þat scho hade on lode.

When Gawayn glyȝt on þat gay, þat graciously loked,
Wyth leue laȝt of þe lorde he lent hem aȝaynes;
Þe alder he haylses, heldande ful lowe,
Þe loueloker he lappez a lyttel in armez,
He kysses hir comlyly, and knyȝtly he melez.
Þay kallen hym of aquoyntaunce, and he hit quyk askez
To be her seruaunt sothly, if hemself lyked.
Þay tan hym bytwene hem, wyth talkyng hym leden
To chambre, to chemné, and chefly þay asken
Spycez, þat vnsparely men speded hom to bryng,
And þe wynnelych wyne þerwith vche tyme.
Þe lorde luflych aloft lepez ful ofte,
Mynned merthe to be made vpon mony syþez,
Hent heȝly of his hode, and on a spere henged,
And wayned hom to wynne þe worchip þerof,
Þat most myrþe myȝt meue þat Crystenmas whyle--
'And I schal fonde, bi my fayth, to fylter wyth þe best
Er me wont þe wede, with help of my frendez.'
Þus wyth laȝande lotez þe lorde hit tayt makez,
For to glade Sir Gawayn with gomnez in halle
þat nyȝt,
Til þat hit watz tyme
Þe lord comaundet lyȝt;
Sir Gawen his leue con nyme
And to his bed hym diȝt.

On þe morne, as vch mon mynez þat tyme
Þat Dryȝtyn for oure destyné to deȝe watz borne,
Wele waxez in vche a won in worlde for his sake;
So did hit þere on þat day þurȝ dayntés mony:
Manuscript Boþe at mes and at mele messes ful quaynt
Derf men vpon dece drest of þe best.
Þe olde auncian wyf heȝest ho syttez,
Þe lorde lufly her by lent, as I trowe;
Gawan and þe gay burde togeder þay seten,
Euen inmyddez, as þe messe metely come,
And syþen þurȝ al þe sale as hem best semed.
Bi vche grome at his degré grayþely watz serued
Þer watz mete, þer watz myrþe, þer watz much ioye,
Þat for to telle þerof hit me tene were,
And to poynte hit ȝet I pyned me parauenture.
Bot ȝet I wot þat Wawen and þe wale burde
Such comfort of her compaynye caȝten togeder
Þurȝ her dere dalyaunce of her derne wordez,
Wyth clene cortays carp closed fro fylþe,
Þat hor play watz passande vche prynce gomen,
in vayres.
Trumpez and nakerys,
Much pypyng þer repayres;
Vche mon tented hys,
And þay two tented þayres.

Much dut watz þer dryuen þat day and þat oþer,
And þe þryd as þro þronge in þerafter;
Þe ioye of sayn Jonez day watz gentyle to here,
And watz þe last of þe layk, leudez þer þoȝten.
Þer wer gestes to go vpon þe gray morne,
Forþy wonderly þay woke, and þe wyn dronken,
Daunsed ful dreȝly wyth dere carolez.
At þe last, when hit watz late, þay lachen her leue,
Vchon to wende on his way þat watz wyȝe stronge.
Gawan gef hym god day, þe godmon hym lachchez,
Ledes hym to his awen chambre, þe chymné bysyde,
And þere he draȝez hym on dryȝe, and derely hym þonkkez
Of þe wynne worschip þat he hym wayued hade,
As to honour his hous on þat hyȝe tyde,
And enbelyse his burȝ with his bele chere:
'Iwysse sir, quyl I leue, me worþez þe better
Manuscript Þat Gawayn hatz ben my gest at Goddez awen fest.'
'Grant merci, sir,' quoþ Gawayn, 'in god fayth hit is yowrez,
Al þe honour is your awen--þe heȝe kyng yow ȝelde!
And I am wyȝe at your wylle to worch youre hest,
As I am halden þerto, in hyȝe and in loȝe,
bi riȝt.'
Þe lorde fast can hym payne
To holde lenger þe knyȝt;
To hym answarez Gawayn
Bi non way þat he myȝt.

Then frayned þe freke ful fayre at himseluen
Quat derue dede had hym dryuen at þat dere tyme
So kenly fro þe kyngez kourt to kayre al his one,
Er þe halidayez holly were halet out of toun.
'For soþe, sir,' quoþ þe segge, 'ȝe sayn bot þe trawþe,
A heȝe ernde and a hasty me hade fro þo wonez,
For I am sumned myselfe to sech to a place,
I ne wot in worlde whederwarde to wende hit to fynde.
I nolde bot if I hit negh myȝt on Nw Ȝeres morne
For alle þe londe inwyth Logres, so me oure lorde help!
Forþy, sir, þis enquest I require yow here,
Þat ȝe me telle with trawþe if euer ȝe tale herde
Of þe grene chapel, quere hit on grounde stondez,
And of þe knyȝt þat hit kepes, of colour of grene.
Þer watz stabled bi statut a steuen vus bytwene
To mete þat mon at þat mere, ȝif I myȝt last;
And of þat ilk Nw Ȝere bot neked now wontez,
And I wolde loke on þat lede, if God me let wolde,
Gladloker, bi Goddez sun, þen any god welde!
Forþi, iwysse, bi ȝowre wylle, wende me bihoues,
Naf I now to busy bot bare þre dayez,
And me als fayn to falle feye as fayly of myyn ernde.'
Þenne laȝande quoþ þe lorde, 'Now leng þe byhoues,
For I schal teche yow to þat terme bi þe tymez ende,
Þe grene chapayle vpon grounde greue yow no more;
Bot ȝe schal be in yowre bed, burne, at þyn ese,
Quyle forth dayez, and ferk on þe fyrst of þe ȝere,
Manuscript And cum to þat merk at mydmorn, to make quat yow likez
in spenne.
Dowellez whyle New Ȝeres daye,
And rys, and raykez þenne,
Mon schal yow sette in waye,
Hit is not two myle henne.'

Þenne watz Gawan ful glad, and gomenly he laȝed:
'Now I þonk yow þryuandely þurȝ alle oþer þynge,
Now acheued is my chaunce, I schal at your wylle
Dowelle, and ellez do quat ȝe demen.'
Þenne sesed hym þe syre and set hym bysyde,
Let þe ladiez be fette to lyke hem þe better.
Þer watz seme solace by hemself stille;
Þe lorde let for luf lotez so myry,
As wyȝ þat wolde of his wyte, ne wyst quat he myȝt.
Þenne he carped to þe knyȝt, criande loude,
'Ȝe han demed to do þe dede þat I bidde;
Wyl ȝe halde þis hes here at þys onez?'
'Ȝe, sir, for soþe,' sayd þe segge trwe,
'Whyl I byde in yowre borȝe, be bayn to ȝowre hest.'
'For ȝe haf trauayled,' quoþ þe tulk, 'towen fro ferre,
And syþen waked me wyth, ȝe arn not wel waryst
Nauþer of sostnaunce ne of slepe, soþly I knowe;
Ȝe schal lenge in your lofte, and lyȝe in your ese
To-morn quyle þe messequyle, and to mete wende
When ȝe wyl, wyth my wyf, þat wyth yow schal sitte
And comfort yow with compayny, til I to cort torne;
ȝe lende,
And I schal erly ryse,
On huntyng wyl I wende.'
Gauayn grantez alle þyse,
Hym heldande, as þe hende.

'Ȝet firre,' quoþ þe freke, 'a forwarde we make:
Quat-so-euer I wynne in þe wod hit worþez to yourez,
And quat chek so ȝe acheue chaunge me þerforne.
Swete, swap we so, sware with trawþe,
Queþer, leude, so lymp, lere oþer better.'
'Bi God,' quoþ Gawayn þe gode, 'I grant þertylle,
Manuscript And þat yow lyst for to layke, lef hit me þynkes.'
'Who bryngez vus þis beuerage, þis bargayn is maked':
So sayde þe lorde of þat lede; þay laȝed vchone,
Þay dronken and daylyeden and dalten vntyȝtel,
Þise lordez and ladyez, quyle þat hem lyked;
And syþen with Frenkysch fare and fele fayre lotez
Þay stoden and stemed and stylly speken,
Kysten ful comlyly and kaȝten her leue.
With mony leude ful lyȝt and lemande torches
Vche burne to his bed watz broȝt at þe laste,
ful softe.
To bed ȝet er þay ȝede,
Recorded couenauntez ofte;
Þe olde lorde of þat leude
Cowþe wel halde layk alofte.


Ful erly bifore þe day þe folk vprysen,
Gestes þat go wolde hor gromez þay calden,
And þay busken vp bilyue blonkkez to sadel,
Tyffen her takles, trussen her males,
Richen hem þe rychest, to ryde alle arayde,
Lepen vp lyȝtly, lachen her brydeles,
Vche wyȝe on his way þer hym wel lyked.
Þe leue lorde of þe londe watz not þe last
Arayed for þe rydyng, with renkkez ful mony;
Ete a sop hastyly, when he hade herde masse,
With bugle to bent-felde he buskez bylyue.
By þat any daylyȝt lemed vpon erþe
He with his haþeles on hyȝe horsses weren.
Þenne þise cacheres þat couþe cowpled hor houndez,
Vnclosed þe kenel dore and calde hem þeroute,
Blwe bygly in buglez þre bare mote;
Braches bayed þerfore and breme noyse maked;
And þay chastysed and charred on chasyng þat went,
A hundreth of hunteres, as I haf herde telle,
of þe best.
To trystors vewters ȝod,
Couples huntes of kest;
Manuscript Þer ros for blastez gode
Gret rurd in þat forest.

At þe fyrst quethe of þe quest quaked þe wylde;
Der drof in þe dale, doted for drede,
Hiȝed to þe hyȝe, bot heterly þay were
Restayed with þe stablye, þat stoutly ascryed.
Þay let þe herttez haf þe gate, with þe hyȝe hedes,
Þe breme bukkez also with hor brode paumez;
For þe fre lorde hade defende in fermysoun tyme
Þat þer schulde no mon meue to þe male dere.
Þe hindez were halden in with hay! and war!
Þe does dryuen with gret dyn to þe depe sladez;
Þer myȝt mon se, as þay slypte, slentyng of arwes--
At vche wende vnder wande wapped a flone--
Þat bigly bote on þe broun with ful brode hedez.
What! þay brayen, and bleden, bi bonkkez þay deȝen,
And ay rachches in a res radly hem folȝes,
Hunterez wyth hyȝe horne hasted hem after
Wyth such a crakkande kry as klyffes haden brusten.
What wylde so atwaped wyȝes þat schotten
Watz al toraced and rent at þe resayt,
Bi þay were tened at þe hyȝe and taysed to þe wattrez;
Þe ledez were so lerned at þe loȝe trysteres,
And þe grehoundez so grete, þat geten hem bylyue
And hem tofylched, as fast as frekez myȝt loke,
Þe lorde for blys abloy
Ful oft con launce and lyȝt,
And drof þat day wyth joy
Thus to þe derk nyȝt.

Þus laykez þis lorde by lynde-wodez euez,
And Gawayn þe god mon in gay bed lygez,
Lurkkez quyl þe daylyȝt lemed on þe wowes,
Vnder couertour ful clere, cortyned aboute;
And as in slomeryng he slode, sleȝly he herde
A littel dyn at his dor, and dernly vpon;
And he heuez vp his hed out of þe cloþes,
Manuscript A corner of þe cortyn he caȝt vp a lyttel,
And waytez warly þiderwarde quat hit be myȝt.
Hit watz þe ladi, loflyest to beholde,
Þat droȝ þe dor after hir ful dernly and stylle,
And boȝed towarde þe bed; and þe burne schamed,
And layde hym doun lystyly, and let as he slepte;
And ho stepped stilly and stel to his bedde,
Kest vp þe cortyn and creped withinne,
And set hir ful softly on þe bed-syde,
And lenged þere selly longe to loke quen he wakened.
Þe lede lay lurked a ful longe quyle,
Compast in his concience to quat þat cace myȝt
Meue oþer amount--to meruayle hym þoȝt,
Bot ȝet he sayde in hymself, 'More semly hit were
To aspye wyth my spelle in space quat ho wolde.'
Þen he wakenede, and wroth, and to hir warde torned,
And vnlouked his yȝe-lyddez, and let as hym wondered,
And sayned hym, as bi his saȝe þe sauer to worthe,
with hande.
Wyth chynne and cheke ful swete,
Boþe quit and red in blande,
Ful lufly con ho lete
Wyth lyppez smal laȝande.

'God moroun, Sir Gawayn,' sayde þat gay lady,
'Ȝe ar a sleper vnslyȝe, þat mon may slyde hider;
Now ar ȝe tan as-tyt! Bot true vus may schape,
I schal bynde yow in your bedde, þat be ȝe trayst':
Al laȝande þe lady lanced þo bourdez.
'Goud moroun, gay,' quoþ Gawayn þe blyþe,
'Me schal worþe at your wille, and þat me wel lykez,
For I ȝelde me ȝederly, and ȝeȝe after grace,
And þat is þe best, be my dome, for me byhouez nede':
And þus he bourded aȝayn with mony a blyþe laȝter.
'Bot wolde ȝe, lady louely, þen leue me grante,
And deprece your prysoun, and pray hym to ryse,
I wolde boȝe of þis bed, and busk me better;
I schulde keuer þe more comfort to karp yow wyth.'
Manuscript 'Nay for soþe, beau sir,' sayd þat swete,
'Ȝe schal not rise of your bedde, I rych yow better,
I schal happe yow here þat oþer half als,
And syþen karp wyth my knyȝt þat I kaȝt haue;
For I wene wel, iwysse, Sir Wowen ȝe are,
Þat alle þe worlde worchipez quere-so ȝe ride;
Your honour, your hendelayk is hendely praysed
With lordez, wyth ladyes, with alle þat lyf bere.
And now ȝe ar here, iwysse, and we bot oure one;
My lorde and his ledez ar on lenþe faren,
Oþer burnez in her bedde, and my burdez als,
Þe dor drawen and dit with a derf haspe;
And syþen I haue in þis hous hym þat al lykez,
I schal ware my whyle wel, quyl hit lastez,
with tale.
Ȝe ar welcum to my cors,
Yowre awen won to wale,
Me behouez of fyne force
Your seruaunt be, and schale.'

'In god fayth,' quoþ Gawayn, 'gayn hit me þynkkez,
Þaȝ I be not now he þat ȝe of speken;
To reche to such reuerence as ȝe reherce here
I am wyȝe vnworþy, I wot wel myseluen.
Bi God, I were glad, and yow god þoȝt,
At saȝe oþer at seruyce þat I sette myȝt
To þe plesaunce of your prys--hit were a pure ioye.'
'In god fayth, Sir Gawayn,' quoþ þe gay lady,
'Þe prys and þe prowes þat plesez al oþer,
If I hit lakked oþer set at lyȝt, hit were littel daynté;
Bot hit ar ladyes innoȝe þat leuer wer nowþe
Haf þe, hende, in hor holde, as I þe habbe here,
To daly with derely your daynté wordez,
Keuer hem comfort and colen her carez,
Þen much of þe garysoun oþer golde þat þay hauen.
Bot I louue þat ilk lorde þat þe lyfte haldez,
I haf hit holly in my honde þat al desyres,
þurȝe grace.'
Scho made hym so gret chere,
Manuscript Þat watz so fayr of face,
Þe knyȝt with speches skere
Answared to vche a cace.

'Madame,' quoþ þe myry mon, 'Mary yow ȝelde,
For I haf founden, in god fayth, yowre fraunchis nobele,
And oþer ful much of oþer folk fongen bi hor dedez,
Bot þe daynté þat þay delen, for my disert nys euen,
Hit is þe worchyp of yourself, þat noȝt bot wel connez.'
'Bi Mary,' quoþ þe menskful, 'me þynk hit an oþer;
For were I worth al þe wone of wymmen alyue,
And al þe wele of þe worlde were in my honde,
And I schulde chepen and chose to cheue me a lorde,
For þe costes þat I haf knowen vpon þe, knyȝt, here,
Of bewté and debonerté and blyþe semblaunt,
And þat I haf er herkkened and halde hit here trwee,
Þer schulde no freke vpon folde bifore yow be chosen.'
'Iwysse, worþy,' quoþ þe wyȝe, 'ȝe haf waled wel better,
Bot I am proude of þe prys þat ȝe put on me,
And, soberly your seruaunt, my souerayn I holde yow,
And yowre knyȝt I becom, and Kryst yow forȝelde.'
Þus þay meled of muchquat til mydmorn paste,
And ay þe lady let lyk as hym loued mych;
Þe freke ferde with defence, and feted ful fayre--
'Þaȝ I were burde bryȝtest', þe burde in mynde hade.
Þe lasse luf in his lode for lur þat he soȝt
boute hone,
Þe dunte þat schulde hym deue,
And nedez hit most be done.
Þe lady þenn spek of leue,
He granted hir ful sone.

Þenne ho gef hym god day, and wyth a glent laȝed,
And as ho stod, ho stonyed hym wyth ful stor wordez:
'Now he þat spedez vche spech þis disport ȝelde yow!
Bot þat ȝe be Gawan, hit gotz in mynde.'
'Querfore?' quoþ þe freke, and freschly he askez,
Ferde lest he hade fayled in fourme of his castes;
Bot þe burde hym blessed, and 'Bi þis skyl' sayde:
Manuscript 'So god as Gawayn gaynly is halden,
And cortaysye is closed so clene in hymseluen,
Couth not lyȝtly haf lenged so long wyth a lady,
Bot he had craued a cosse, bi his courtaysye,
Bi sum towch of summe tryfle at sum talez ende.'
Þen quoþ Wowen: 'Iwysse, worþe as yow lykez;
I schal kysse at your comaundement, as a knyȝt fallez,
And fire, lest he displese yow, so plede hit no more.'
Ho comes nerre with þat, and cachez hym in armez,
Loutez luflych adoun and þe leude kyssez.
Þay comly bykennen to Kryst ayþer oþer;
Ho dos hir forth at þe dore withouten dyn more;
And he ryches hym to ryse and rapes hym sone,
Clepes to his chamberlayn, choses his wede,
Boȝez forth, quen he watz boun, blyþely to masse;
And þenne he meued to his mete þat menskly hym keped,
And made myry al day, til þe mone rysed,
with game.
Watz neuer freke fayrer fonge
Bitwene two so dyngne dame,
Þe alder and þe ȝonge;
Much solace set þay same.

And ay þe lorde of þe londe is lent on his gamnez,
To hunt in holtez and heþe at hyndez barayne;
Such a sowme he þer slowe bi þat þe sunne heldet,
Of dos and of oþer dere, to deme were wonder.
Þenne fersly þay flokked in folk at þe laste,
And quykly of þe quelled dere a querré þay maked.
Þe best boȝed þerto with burnez innoghe,
Gedered þe grattest of gres þat þer were,
And didden hem derely vndo as þe dede askez;
Serched hem at þe asay summe þat þer were,
Two fyngeres þay fonde of þe fowlest of alle.
Syþen þay slyt þe slot, sesed þe erber,
Schaued wyth a scharp knyf, and þe schyre knitten;
Syþen rytte þay þe foure lymmes, and rent of þe hyde,
Þen brek þay þe balé, þe bowelez out token
Manuscript Lystily for laucyng þe lere of þe knot;
Þay gryped to þe gargulun, and grayþely departed
Þe wesaunt fro þe wynt-hole, and walt out þe guttez;
Þen scher þay out þe schulderez with her scharp knyuez,
Haled hem by a lyttel hole to haue hole sydes.
Siþen britned þay þe brest and brayden hit in twynne,
And eft at þe gargulun bigynez on þenne,
Ryuez hit vp radly ryȝt to þe byȝt,
Voydez out þe avanters, and verayly þerafter
Alle þe rymez by þe rybbez radly þay lance;
So ryde þay of by resoun bi þe rygge bonez,
Euenden to þe haunche, þat henged alle samen,
And heuen hit vp al hole, and hwen hit of þere,
And þat þay neme for þe noumbles bi nome, as I trowe,
bi kynde;
Bi þe byȝt al of þe þyȝes
Þe lappez þay lance bihynde;
To hewe hit in two þay hyȝes,
Bi þe bakbon to vnbynde.

Boþe þe hede and þe hals þay hwen of þenne,
And syþen sunder þay þe sydez swyft fro þe chyne,
And þe corbeles fee þay kest in a greue;
Þenn þurled þay ayþer þik side þurȝ bi þe rybbe,
And henged þenne ayþer bi hoȝez of þe fourchez,
Vche freke for his fee, as fallez for to haue.
Vpon a felle of þe fayre best fede þay þayr houndes
Wyth þe lyuer and þe lyȝtez, þe leþer of þe paunchez,
And bred baþed in blod blende þeramongez.
Baldely þay blw prys, bayed þayr rachchez,
Syþen fonge þay her flesche, folden to home,
Strakande ful stoutly mony stif motez.
Bi þat þe daylyȝt watz done þe douthe watz al wonen
Into þe comly castel, þer þe knyȝt bidez
ful stille,
Wyth blys and bryȝt fyr bette.
Þe lorde is comen þertylle;
When Gawayn wyth hym mette
Þer watz bot wele at wylle.

Manuscript Thenne comaunded þe lorde in þat sale to samen alle þe meny,
Boþe þe ladyes on loghe to lyȝt with her burdes
Bifore alle þe folk on þe flette, frekez he beddez
Verayly his venysoun to fech hym byforne,
And al godly in gomen Gawayn he called,
Techez hym to þe tayles of ful tayt bestes,
Schewez hym þe schyree grece schorne vpon rybbes.
'How payez yow þis play? Haf I prys wonnen?
Haue I þryuandely þonk þurȝ my craft serued?'
'Ȝe iwysse,' quoþ þat oþer wyȝe, 'here is wayth fayrest
Þat I seȝ þis seuen ȝere in sesoun of wynter.'
'And al I gif yow, Gawayn,' quoþ þe gome þenne,
'For by acorde of couenaunt ȝe craue hit as your awen.'
'Þis is soth,' quoþ þe segge, 'I say yow þat ilke:
Þat I haf worthyly wonnen þis wonez wythinne,
Iwysse with as god wylle hit worþez to ȝourez.'
He hasppez his fayre hals his armez wythinne,
And kysses hym as comlyly as he couþe awyse:
'Tas yow þere my cheuicaunce, I cheued no more;
I wowche hit saf fynly, þaȝ feler hit were.'
'Hit is god,' quoþ þe godmon, 'grant mercy þerfore.
Hit may be such hit is þe better, and ȝe me breue wolde
Where ȝe wan þis ilk wele bi wytte of yorseluen.'
'Þat watz not forward,' quoþ he, 'frayst me no more.
For ȝe haf tan þat yow tydez, trawe non oþer
ȝe mowe.'
Þay laȝed, and made hem blyþe
Wyth lotez þat were to lowe;
To soper þay ȝede as-swyþe,
Wyth dayntés nwe innowe.

And syþen by þe chymné in chamber þay seten,
Wyȝez þe walle wyn weȝed to hem oft,
And efte in her bourdyng þay bayþen in þe morn
To fylle þe same forwardez þat þay byfore maden:
Wat chaunce so bytydez hor cheuysaunce to chaunge,
What nwez so þay nome, at naȝt quen þay metten.
Þay acorded of þe couenauntez byfore þe court alle;
Manuscript Þe beuerage watz broȝt forth in bourde at þat tyme,
Þenne þay louelych leȝten leue at þe last,
Vche burne to his bedde busked bylyue.
Bi þat þe coke hade crowen and cakled bot þryse,
Þe lorde watz lopen of his bedde, þe leudez vchone;
So þat þe mete and þe masse watz metely delyuered,
Þe douthe dressed to þe wod, er any day sprenged,
to chace;
Heȝ with hunte and hornez
Þurȝ playnez þay passe in space,
Vncoupled among þo þornez
Rachez þat ran on race.

SONE þay calle of a quest in a ker syde,
Þe hunt rehayted þe houndez þat hit fyrst mynged,
Wylde wordez hym warp wyth a wrast noyce;
Þe howndez þat hit herde hastid þider swyþe,
And fellen as fast to þe fuyt, fourty at ones;
Þenne such a glauer ande glam of gedered rachchez
Ros, þat þe rocherez rungen aboute;
Hunterez hem hardened with horne and wyth muthe.
Þen al in a semblé sweyed togeder,
Bitwene a flosche in þat fryth and a foo cragge;
In a knot bi a clyffe, at þe kerre syde,
Þer as þe rogh rocher vnrydely watz fallen,
Þay ferden to þe fyndyng, and frekez hem after;
Þay vmbekesten þe knarre and þe knot boþe,
Wyȝez, whyl þay wysten wel wythinne hem hit were,
Þe best þat þer breued watz wyth þe blodhoundez.
Þenne þay beten on þe buskez, and bede hym vpryse,
And he vnsoundyly out soȝt seggez ouerþwert;
On þe sellokest swyn swenged out þere,
Long sythen fro þe sounder þat siȝed for olde,
For he watz breme, bor alþer-grattest,
Ful grymme quen he gronyed; þenne greued mony,
For þre at þe fyrst þrast he þryȝt to þe erþe,
And sparred forth good sped boute spyt more.
Þise oþer halowed hyghe! ful hyȝe, and hay! hay! cryed,
Manuscript Haden hornez to mouþe, heterly rechated;
Mony watz þe myry mouthe of men and of houndez
Þat buskkez after þis bor with bost and wyth noyse
to quelle.
Ful oft he bydez þe baye,
And maymez þe mute inn melle;
He hurtez of þe houndez, and þay
Ful ȝomerly ȝaule and ȝelle.

Schalkez to schote at hym schowen to þenne,
Haled to hym of her arewez, hitten hym oft;
Bot þe poyntez payred at þe pyth þat pyȝt in his scheldez,
And þe barbez of his browe bite non wolde--
Þaȝ þe schauen schaft schyndered in pecez,
Þe hede hypped aȝayn were-so-euer hit hitte.
Bot quen þe dyntez hym dered of her dryȝe strokez,
Þen, braynwod for bate, on burnez he rasez,
Hurtez hem ful heterly þer he forth hyȝez,
And mony arȝed þerat, and on lyte droȝen.
Bot þe lorde on a lyȝt horce launces hym after,
As burne bolde vpon bent his bugle he blowez,
He rechated, and rode þurȝ ronez ful þyk,
Suande þis wylde swyn til þe sunne schafted.
Þis day wyth þis ilk dede þay dryuen on þis wyse,
Whyle oure luflych lede lys in his bedde,
Gawayn grayþely at home, in gerez ful ryche
of hewe.
Þe lady noȝt forȝate,
Com to hym to salue;
Ful erly ho watz hym ate
His mode for to remwe.

Ho commes to þe cortyn, and at þe knyȝt totes.
Sir Wawen her welcumed worþy on fyrst,
And ho hym ȝeldez aȝayn ful ȝerne of hir wordez,
Settez hir softly by his syde, and swyþely ho laȝez,
And wyth a luflych loke ho layde hym þyse wordez:
'Sir, ȝif ȝe be Wawen, wonder me þynkkez,
Wyȝe þat is so wel wrast alway to god,
And connez not of compaynye þe costez vndertake,
Manuscript And if mon kennes yow hom to knowe, ȝe kest hom of your mynde;
Þou hatz forȝeten ȝederly þat ȝisterday I taȝtte
Bi alder-truest token of talk þat I cowþe.'
'What is þat?' quoþ þe wyghe, 'Iwysse I wot neuer;
If hit be sothe þat ȝe breue, þe blame is myn awen.'
'Ȝet I kende yow of kyssyng,' quoþ þe clere þenne,
'Quere-so countenaunce is couþe quikly to clayme;
Þat bicumes vche a knyȝt þat cortaysy vses.'
'Do way,' quoþ þat derf mon, 'my dere, þat speche,
For þat durst I not do, lest I deuayed were;
If I were werned, I were wrang, iwysse, ȝif I profered.'
'Ma fay,' quoþ þe meré wyf, 'ȝe may not be werned,
Ȝe ar stif innoghe to constrayne wyth strenkþe, ȝif yow lykez,
Ȝif any were so vilanous þat yow devaye wolde.'
'Ȝe, be God,' quoþ Gawayn, 'good is your speche,
Bot þrete is vnþryuande in þede þer I lende,
And vche gift þat is geuen not with goud wylle.
I am at your comaundement, to kysse quen yow lykez,
Ȝe may lach quen yow lyst, and leue quen yow þynkkez,
in space.'
Þe lady loutez adoun,
And comlyly kysses his face,
Much speche þay þer expoun
Of druryes greme and grace.

'I woled wyt at yow, wyȝe,' þat worþy þer sayde,
'And yow wrathed not þerwyth, what were þe skylle
Þat so ȝong and so ȝepe as ȝe at þis tyme,
So cortayse, so knyȝtly, as ȝe ar knowen oute--
And of alle cheualry to chose, þe chef þyng alosed
Is þe lel layk of luf, þe lettrure of armes;
For to telle of þis teuelyng of þis trwe knyȝtez,
Hit is þe tytelet token and tyxt of her werkkez,
How ledes for her lele luf hor lyuez han auntered,
Endured for her drury dulful stoundez,
And after wenged with her walour and voyded her care,
And broȝt blysse into boure with bountees hor awen--
And ȝe ar knyȝt comlokest kyd of your elde,
Manuscript Your worde and your worchip walkez ayquere,
And I haf seten by yourself here sere twyes,
Ȝet herde I neuer of your hed helde no wordez
Þat euer longed to luf, lasse ne more;
And ȝe, þat ar so cortays and coynt of your hetes,
Oghe to a ȝonke þynk ȝern to schewe
And teche sum tokenez of trweluf craftes.
Why! ar ȝe lewed, þat alle þe los weldez?
Oþer elles ȝe demen me to dille your dalyaunce to herken?
For schame!
I com hider sengel, and sitte
To lerne at yow sum game;
Dos, techez me of your wytte,
Whil my lorde is fro hame.'

'In goud fayþe,' quoþ Gawayn, 'God yow forȝelde!
Gret is þe gode gle, and gomen to me huge,
Þat so worþy as ȝe wolde wynne hidere,
And pyne yow with so pouer a mon, as play wyth your knyȝt
With anyskynnez countenaunce, hit keuerez me ese;
Bot to take þe toruayle to myself to trwluf expoun,
And towche þe temez of tyxt and talez of armez
To yow þat, I wot wel, weldez more slyȝt
Of þat art, bi þe half, or a hundreth of seche
As I am, oþer euer schal, in erde þer I leue,
Hit were a folé felefolde, my fre, by my trawþe.
I wolde yowre wylnyng worche at my myȝt,
As I am hyȝly bihalden, and euermore wylle
Be seruaunt to yourseluen, so saue me Dryȝtyn!'
Þus hym frayned þat fre, and fondet hym ofte,
For to haf wonnen hym to woȝe, what-so scho þoȝt ellez;
Bot he defended hym so fayr þat no faut semed,
Ne non euel on nawþer halue, nawþer þay wysten
bot blysse.
Þay laȝed and layked longe;
At þe last scho con hym kysse,
Hir leue fayre con scho fonge
And went hir waye, iwysse.

The ruþes hym þe renk and ryses to þe masse,
Manuscript And siþen hor diner watz dyȝt and derely serued.
Þe lede with þe ladyez layked alle day,
Bot þe lorde ouer þe londez launced ful ofte,
Swez his vncely swyn, þat swyngez bi þe bonkkez
And bote þe best of his brachez þe bakkez in sunder
Þer he bode in his bay, tel bawemen hit breken,
And madee hym mawgref his hed for to mwe vtter,
So felle flonez þer flete when þe folk gedered.
Bot ȝet þe styffest to start bi stoundez he made,
Til at þe last he watz so mat he myȝt no more renne,
Bot in þe hast þat he myȝt he to a hole wynnez
Of a rasse bi a rokk þer rennez þe boerne.
He gete þe bonk at his bak, bigynez to scrape,
Þe froþe femed at his mouth vnfayre bi þe wykez,
Whettez his whyte tuschez; with hym þen irked
Alle þe burnez so bolde þat hym by stoden
To nye hym on-ferum, bot neȝe hym non durst
for woþe;
He hade hurt so mony byforne
Þat al þuȝt þenne ful loþe
Be more wyth his tusches torne,
Þat breme watz and braynwod bothe,

Til þe knyȝt com hymself, kachande his blonk,
Syȝ hym byde at þe bay, his burnez bysyde;
He lyȝtes luflych adoun, leuez his corsour,
Braydez out a bryȝt bront and bigly forth strydez,
Foundez fast þurȝ þe forth þer þe felle bydez.
Þe wylde watz war of þe wyȝe with weppen in honde,
Hef hyȝly þe here, so hetterly he fnast
Þat fele ferde for þe freke, lest felle hym þe worre.
Þe swyn settez hym out on þe segge euen,
Þat þe burne and þe bor were boþe vpon hepez
In þe wyȝtest of þe water; þe worre hade þat oþer,
For þe mon merkkez hym wel, as þay mette fyrst,
Set sadly þe scharp in þe slot euen,
Hit hym vp to þe hult, þat þe hert schyndered,
And he ȝarrande hym ȝelde, and ȝedoun þe water
Manuscript ful tyt.
A hundreth houndez hym hent,
Þat bremely con hym bite,
Burnez him broȝt to bent,
And doggez to dethe endite.

There watz blawyng of prys in mony breme horne,
Heȝe halowing on hiȝe with haþelez þat myȝt;
Brachetes bayed þat best, as bidden þe maysterez
Of þat chargeaunt chace þat were chef huntes.
Þenne a wyȝe þat watz wys vpon wodcraftez
To vnlace þis bor lufly bigynnez.
Fyrst he hewes of his hed and on hiȝe settez,
And syþen rendez him al roghe bi þe rygge after,
Braydez out þe boweles, brennez hom on glede,
With bred blent þerwith his braches rewardez.
Syþen he britnez out þe brawen in bryȝt brode cheldez,
And hatz out þe hastlettez, as hiȝtly bisemez;
And ȝet hem halchez al hole þe haluez togeder,
And syþen on a stif stange stoutly hem henges.
Now with þis ilk swyn þay swengen to home;
Þe bores hed watz borne bifore þe burnes seluen
Þat him forferde in þe forþe þurȝ forse of his honde
so stronge.
Til he seȝ Sir Gawayne
In halle hym poȝt ful longe;
He calde, and he com gayn
His feez þer for to fonge.

Þe lorde ful lowde with lote and laȝter myry,
When he seȝe Sir Gawayn, with solace he spekez;
Þe goude ladyez were geten, and gedered þe meyny,
He schewez hem þe scheldez, and schapes hem þe tale
Of þe largesse and þe lenþe, þe liþernez alse
Of þe were of þe wylde swyn in wod þer he fled.
Þat oþer knyȝt ful comly comended his dedez,
And praysed hit as gret prys þat he proued hade,
For suche a brawne of a best, þe bolde burne sayde,
Ne such sydes of a swyn segh he neuer are.
Þenne hondeled þay þe hoge hed, þe hende mon hit praysed,
Manuscript And let lodly þerat þe lorde for to here.
'Now, Gawayn,' quoþ þe godmon, 'þis gomen is your awen
Bi fyn forwarde and faste, faythely ȝe knowe.'
'Hit is sothe,' quoþ þe segge, 'and as siker trwe
Alle my get I schal yow gif agayn, bi my trawþe.'
He hent þe haþel aboute þe halse, and hendely hym kysses,
And eftersones of þe same he serued hym þere.
'Now ar we euen,' quoþ þe haþel, 'in þis euentide
Of alle þe couenauntes þat we knyt, syþen I com hider,
bi lawe.'
Þe lorde sayde, 'Bi saynt Gile,
Ȝe ar þe best þat I knowe!
Ȝe ben ryche in a whyle,
Such chaffer and ȝe drowe.'

Þenne þay teldet tablez trestes alofte,
Kesten cloþen vpon; clere lyȝt þenne
Wakned bi woȝez, waxen torches;
Seggez sette and serued in sale al aboute;
Much glam and gle glent vp þerinne
Aboute þe fyre vpon flet, and on fele wyse
At þe soper and after, mony aþel songez,
As coundutes of Krystmasse and carolez newe
With al þe manerly merþe þat mon may of telle,
And euer oure luflych knyȝt þe lady bisyde.
Such semblaunt to þat segge semly ho made
Wyth stille stollen countenaunce, þat stalworth to plese,
Þat al forwondered watz þe wyȝe, and wroth with hymseluen,
Bot he nolde not for his nurture nurne hir aȝaynez,
Bot dalt with hir al in daynté, how-se-euer þe dede turned
Quen þay hade played in halle
As longe as hor wylle hom last,
To chambre he con hym calle,
And to þe chemné þay past.

Andre þer þay dronken, and dalten, and demed eft nwe
To norne on þe same note on Nwe Ȝerez euen;
Bot þe knyȝt craued leue to kayre on þe morn,
For hit watz neȝ at þe terme þat he to schulde.
Manuscript Þe lorde hym letted of þat, to lenge hym resteyed,
And sayde, 'As I am trwe segge, I siker my trawþe
Þou schal cheue to þe grene chapel þy charres to make,
Leude, on Nw Ȝerez lyȝt, longe bifore pryme.
Forþy þow lye in þy loft and lach þyn ese,
And I schal hunt in þis holt, and halde þe towchez,
Chaunge wyth þe cheuisaunce, bi þat I charre hider;
For I haf fraysted þe twys, and faythful I fynde þe.
Now "þrid tyme þrowe best" þenk on þe morne,
Make we mery quyl we may and mynne vpon joye,
For þe lur may mon lach when-so mon lykez.'
Þis watz grayþely graunted, and Gawayn is lenged,
Bliþe broȝt watz hym drynk, and þay to bedde ȝeden
with liȝt.
Sir Gawayn lis and slepes
Ful stille and softe al niȝt;
Þe lorde þat his craftez kepes,
Ful erly he watz diȝt.

After messe a morsel he and his men token;
Miry watz þe mornyng, his mounture he askes.
Alle þe haþeles þat on horse schulde helden hym after
Were boun busked on hor blonkkez bifore þe halle ȝatez.
Ferly fayre watz þe folde, for þe forst clenged;
In rede rudede vpon rak rises þe sunne,
And ful clere costez þe clowdes of þe welkyn.
Hunteres vnhardeled bi a holt syde,
Rocheres roungen bi rys for rurde of her hornes;
Summe fel in þe fute þer þe fox bade,
Traylez ofte a traueres bi traunt of her wyles;
A kenet kyres þerof, þe hunt on hym calles;
His felaȝes fallen hym to, þat fnasted ful þike,
Runnen forth in a rabel in his ryȝt fare,
And he fyskez hem byfore; þay founden hym sone,
And quen þay seghe hym with syȝt þay sued hym fast,
Wreȝande hym ful weterly with a wroth noyse;
And he trantes and tornayeez þurȝ mony tene greue,
Hauilounez, and herkenez bi heggez ful ofte.
Manuscript At þe last bi a littel dich he lepez ouer a spenne,
Stelez out ful stilly bi a strothe rande,
Went haf wylt of þe wode with wylez fro þe houndes;
Þenne watz he went, er he wyst, to a wale tryster,
Þer þre þro at a þrich þrat hym at ones,
al graye.
He blenched aȝayn bilyue
And stifly start on-stray,
With alle þe wo on lyue
To þe wod he went away.

Thenne watz hit list vpon lif to lyþen þe houndez,
When alle þe mute hade hym met, menged togeder:
Suche a sorȝe at þat syȝt þay sette on his hede
As alle þe clamberande clyffes hade clatered on hepes;
Here he watz halawed, when haþelez hym metten,
Loude he watz ȝayned with ȝarande speche;
Þer he watz þreted and ofte þef called,
And ay þe titleres at his tayl, þat tary he ne myȝt;
Ofte he watz runnen at, when he out rayked,
And ofte reled in aȝayn, so Reniarde watz wylé.
And ȝe he lad hem bi lagmon, þe lorde and his meyny,
On þis maner bi þe mountes quyle myd-ouer-vnder,
Whyle þe hende knyȝt at home holsumly slepes
Withinne þe comly cortynes, on þe colde morne.
Bot þe lady for luf let not to slepe,
Ne þe purpose to payre þat pyȝt in hir hert,
Bot ros hir vp radly, rayked hir þeder
In a mery mantyle, mete to þe erþe,
Þat watz furred ful fyne with fellez wel pured,
No hwef goud on hir hede bot þe haȝer stones
Trased aboute hir tressour be twenty in clusteres;
Hir þryuen face and hir þrote þrowen al naked,
Hir brest bare bifore, and bihinde eke.
Ho comez withinne þe chambre dore, and closes hit hir after,
Wayuez vp a wyndow, and on þe wyȝe callez,
And radly þus rehayted hym with hir riche wordes,
with chere:
'A! mon, how may þou slepe,
Manuscript Þis morning is so clere?'
He watz in drowping depe,
Bot þenne he con hir here.

In dreȝ droupyng of dreme draueled þat noble,
As mon þat watz in mornyng of mony þro þoȝtes,
How þat destiné schulde þat day dele hym his wyrde
At þe grene chapel, when he þe gome metes,
And bihoues his buffet abide withoute debate more;
Bot quen þat comly com he keuered his wyttes,
Swenges out of þe sweuenes, and swarez with hast.
Þe lady luflych com laȝande swete,
Felle ouer his fayre face, and fetly hym kyssed;
He welcumez hir worþily with a wale chere.
He seȝ hir so glorious and gayly atyred,
So fautles of hir fetures and of so fyne hewes,
Wiȝt wallande joye warmed his hert.
With smoþe smylyng and smolt þay smeten into merþe,
Þat al watz blis and bonchef þat breke hem bitwene,
and wynne.
Þay lanced wordes gode,
Much wele þen watz þerinne;
Gret perile bitwene hem stod,
Nif Maré of hir knyȝt mynne.

For þat prynces of pris depresed hym so þikke,
Nurned hym so neȝe þe þred, þat nede hym bihoued
Oþer lach þer hir luf, oþer lodly refuse.
He cared for his cortaysye, lest craþayn he were,
And more for his meschef ȝif he schulde make synne,
And be traytor to þat tolke þat þat telde aȝt.
'God schylde,' quoþ þe schalk, 'þat schal not befalle!'
With luf-laȝyng a lyt he layd hym bysyde
Alle þe spechez of specialté þat sprange of her mouthe.
Quoþ þat burde to þe burne, 'Blame ȝe disserue,
Ȝif ȝe luf not þat lyf þat ȝe lye nexte,
Bifore alle þe wyȝez in þe worlde wounded in hert,
Bot if ȝe haf a lemman, a leuer, þat yow lykez better,
And folden fayth to þat fre, festned so harde
Manuscript Þat yow lausen ne lyst--and þat I leue nouþe;
And þat ȝe telle me þat now trwly I pray yow,
For alle þe lufez vpon lyue layne not þe soþe
for gile.'
Þe knyȝt sayde, 'Be sayn Jon,'
And smeþely con he smyle,
'In fayth I welde riȝt non,
Ne non wil welde þe quile.'

'Þat is a worde,' quoþ þat wyȝt, 'þat worst is of alle,
Bot I am swared for soþe, þat sore me þinkkez.
Kysse me now comly, and I schal cach heþen,
I may bot mourne vpon molde, as may þat much louyes.'
Sykande ho sweȝe doun and semly hym kyssed,
And siþen ho seueres hym fro, and says as ho stondes,
'Now, dere, at þis departyng do me þis ese,
Gif me sumquat of þy gifte, þi gloue if hit were,
Þat I may mynne on þe, mon, my mournyng to lassen.'
'Now iwysse,' quoþ þat wyȝe, 'I wolde I hade here
Þe leuest þing for þy luf þat I in londe welde,
For ȝe haf deserued, for soþe, sellyly ofte
More rewarde bi resoun þen I reche myȝt;
Bot to dele yow for drurye þat dawed bot neked,
Hit is not your honour to haf at þis tyme
A gloue for a garysoun of Gawaynez giftez,
And I am here an erande in erdez vncouþe,
And haue no men wyth no malez with menskful þingez;
Þat mislykez me, ladé, for luf at þis tyme,
Iche tolke mon do as he is tan, tas to non ille
ne pine.'
'Nay, hende of hyȝe honours,'
Quoþ þat lufsum vnder lyne,
'Þaȝ I hade noȝt of yourez,
Ȝet schulde ȝe haue of myne.'

Ho raȝt hym a riche rynk of red golde werkez,
Wyth a starande ston stondande alofte
Þat bere blusschande bemez as þe bryȝt sunne;
Wyt ȝe wel, hit watz worth wele ful hoge.
Bot þe renk hit renayed, and redyly he sayde,
Manuscript 'I wil no giftez, for Gode, my gay, at þis tyme;
I haf none yow to norne, ne noȝt wyl I take.'
Ho bede hit hym ful bysily, and he hir bode wernes,
And swere swyfte by his sothe þat he hit sese nolde,
And ho soré þat he forsoke, and sayde þerafter,
'If ȝe renay my rynk, to ryche for hit semez,
Ȝe wolde not so hyȝly halden be to me,
I schal gif yow my girdel, þat gaynes yow lasse.'
Ho laȝt a lace lyȝtly þat leke vmbe hir sydez,
Knit vpon hir kyrtel vnder þe clere mantyle,
Gered hit watz with grene sylke and with golde schaped,
Noȝt bot arounde brayden, beten with fyngrez;
And þat ho bede to þe burne, and blyþely bisoȝt,
Þaȝ hit vnworþi were, þat he hit take wolde.
And he nay þat he nolde neghe in no wyse
Nauþer golde ne garysoun, er God hym grace sende
To acheue to þe chaunce þat he hade chosen þere.
'And þerfore, I pray yow, displese yow noȝt,
And lettez be your bisinesse, for I bayþe hit yow neuer
to graunte;
I am derely to yow biholde
Bicause of your sembelaunt,
And euer in hot and colde
To be your trwe seruaunt.'

'Now forsake ȝe þis silke,' sayde þe burde þenne,
'For hit is symple in hitself? And so hit wel semez.
Lo! so hit is littel, and lasse hit is worþy;
Bot who-so knew þe costes þat knit ar þerinne,
He wolde hit prayse at more prys, parauenture;
For quat gome so is gorde with þis grene lace,
While he hit hade hemely halched aboute,
Þer is no haþel vnder heuen tohewe hym þat myȝt,
For he myȝt not be slayn for slyȝt vpon erþe.'
Þen kest þe knyȝt, and hit come to his hert
Hit were a juel for þe jopardé þat hym iugged were:
When he acheued to þe chapel his chek for to fech,
Myȝt he haf slypped to be vnslayn, þe sleȝt were noble.
Manuscript Þenne he þulged with hir þrepe and þoled hir to speke,
And ho bere on hym þe belt and bede hit hym swyþe--
And he granted and hym gafe with a goud wylle--
And bisoȝt hym, for hir sake, disceuer hit neuer,
Bot to lelly layne fro hir lorde; þe leude hym acordez
Þat neuer wyȝe schulde hit wyt, iwysse, bot þay twayne
for noȝte;
He þonkked hir oft ful swyþe,
Ful þro with hert and þoȝt.
Bi þat on þrynne syþe
Ho hatz kyst þe knyȝt so toȝt.

Thenne lachchez ho hir leue, and leuez hym þere,
For more myrþe of þat mon moȝt ho not gete.
When ho watz gon, Sir Gawayn gerez hym sone,
Rises and riches hym in araye noble,
Lays vp þe luf-lace þe lady hym raȝt,
Hid hit ful holdely, þer he hit eft fonde.
Syþen cheuely to þe chapel choses he þe waye,
Preuély aproched to a prest, and prayed hym þere
Þat he wolde lyste his lyf and lern hym better
How his sawle schulde be saued when he schuld seye heþen.
Þere he schrof hym schyrly and schewed his mysdedez,
Of þe more and þe mynne, and merci besechez,
And of absolucioun he on þe segge calles;
And he asoyled hym surely and sette hym so clene
As domezday schulde haf ben diȝt on þe morn.
And syþen he mace hym as mery among þe fre ladyes,
With comlych caroles and alle kynnes ioye,
As neuer he did bot þat daye, to þe derk nyȝt,
with blys.
Vche mon hade daynté þare
Of hym, and sayde, 'Iwysse,
Þus myry he watz neuer are,
Syn he com hider, er þis.'

Now hym lenge in þat lee, þer luf hym bityde!
Ȝet is þe lorde on þe launde ledande his gomnes.
He hatz forfaren þis fox þat he folȝed longe;
As he sprent ouer a spenne to spye þe schrewe,
Manuscript Þer as he herd þe howndes þat hasted hym swyþe,
Renaud com richchande þurȝ a roȝe greue,
And alle þe rabel in a res ryȝt at his helez.
Þe wyȝe watz war of þe wylde, and warly abides,
And braydez out þe bryȝt bronde, and at þe best castez.
And he schunt for þe scharp, and schulde haf arered;
A rach rapes hym to, ryȝt er he myȝt,
And ryȝt bifore þe hors fete þay fel on hym alle,
And woried me þis wyly wyth a wroth noyse.
Þe lorde lyȝtez bilyue, and lachez hym sone,
Rased hym ful radly out of þe rach mouþes,
Haldez heȝe ouer his hede, halowez faste,
And þer bayen hym mony braþ houndez.
Huntes hyȝed hem þeder with hornez ful mony,
Ay rechatande aryȝt til þay þe renk seȝen.
Bi þat watz comen his compeyny noble,
Alle þat euer ber bugle blowed at ones,
And alle þise oþer halowed þat hade no hornes;
Hit watz þe myriest mute þat euer men herde,
Þe rich rurd þat þer watz raysed for Renaude saule
with lote.
Hor houndez þay þer rewarde,
Her hedez þay fawne and frote,
And syþen þay tan Reynarde,
And tyruen of his cote.

And þenne þay helden to home, for hit watz nieȝ nyȝt,
Strakande ful stoutly in hor store hornez.
Þe lorde is lyȝt at þe laste at hys lef home,
Fyndez fire vpon flet, þe freke þer-byside,
Sir Gawayn þe gode, þat glad watz withalle,
Among þe ladies for luf he ladde much ioye;
He were a bleaunt of blwe þat bradde to þe erþe,
His surkot semed hym wel þat softe watz forred,
And his hode of þat ilke henged on his schulder,
Blande al of blaunner were boþe al aboute.
He metez me þis godmon inmyddez þe flore,
And al with gomen he hym gret, and goudly he sayde,
'I schal fylle vpon fyrst oure forwardez nouþe,
Manuscript Þat we spedly han spoken, þer spared watz no drynk.'
Þen acoles he þe knyȝt and kysses hym þryes,
As sauerly and sadly as he hem sette couþe.
'Bi Kryst,' quoþ þat oþer knyȝt, 'Ȝe cach much sele
In cheuisaunce of þis chaffer, ȝif ȝe hade goud chepez.'
'Ȝe, of þe chepe no charg,' quoþ chefly þat oþer,
'As is pertly payed þe chepez þat I aȝte.'
'Mary,' quoþ þat oþer mon, 'myn is bihynde,
For I haf hunted al þis day, and noȝt haf I geten
Bot þis foule fox felle--þe fende haf þe godez!--
And þat is ful pore for to pay for suche prys þinges
As ȝe haf þryȝt me here þro, suche þre cosses
so gode.'
'Inoȝ,' quoþ Sir Gawayn,
'I þonk yow, bi þe rode',
And how þe fox watz slayn
He tolde hym as þay stode.

With merþe and mynstralsye, with metez at hor wylle,
Þay maden as mery as any men moȝten--
With laȝyne of ladies, with lotez of bordes
Gawayn and þe godemon so glad were þay boþe--
Bot if þe douthe had doted, oþer dronken ben oþer.
Boþe þe mon and þe meyny maden mony iapez,
Til þe sesoun watz seȝen þat þay seuer moste;
Burnez to hor bedde behoued at þe laste.
Þenne loȝly his leue at þe lorde fyrst
Fochchez þis fre mon, and fayre he hym þonkkez:
'Of such a selly soiorne as I haf hade here,
Your honour at þis hyȝe fest, þe hyȝe kyng yow ȝelde!
I ȝef yow me for on of yourez, if yowreself lykez,
For I mot nedes, as ȝe wot, meue to-morne,
And ȝe me take sum tolke to teche, as ȝe hyȝt,
Þe gate to þe grene chapel, as God wyl me suffer
To dele on Nw Ȝerez day þe dome of my wyrdes.'
'In god fayþe,' quoþ þe godmon, 'wyth a goud wylle
Al þat euer I yow hyȝt halde schal I redé.'
Þer asyngnes he a seruaunt to sett hym in þe waye,
Manuscript And coundue hym by þe downez, þat he no drechch had,
For to ferk þurȝ þe fryth and fare at þe gaynest
bi greue.
Þe lorde Gawayn con þonk,
Such worchip he wolde hym weue.
Þen at þo ladyez wlonk
Þe knyȝt hatz tan his leue.

With care and wyth kyssyng he carppez hem tille,
And fele þryuande þonkkez he þrat hom to haue,
And þay ȝelden hym aȝayn ȝeply þat ilk;
Þay bikende hym to Kryst with ful colde sykyngez.
Syþen fro þe meyny he menskly departes;
Vche mon þat he mette, he made hem a þonke
For his seruyse and his solace and his sere pyne,
Þat þay wyth busynes had ben aboute hym to serue;
And vche segge as soré to seuer with hym þere
As þay hade wonde worþyly with þat wlonk euer.
Þen with ledes and lyȝt he watz ladde to his chambre
And blyþely broȝt to his bedde to be at his rest.
Ȝif he ne slepe soundyly say ne dar I,
For he hade muche on þe morn to mynne, ȝif he wolde,
in þoȝt.
Let hym lyȝe þere stille,
He hatz nere þat he soȝt;
And ȝe wyl a whyle be stylle
I schal telle yow how þay wroȝt.


Now neȝez þe Nw Ȝere, and þe nyȝt passez,
Þe day dryuez to þe derk, as Dryȝtyn biddez;
Bot wylde wederez of þe worlde wakned þeroute,
Clowdes kesten kenly þe colde to þe erþe,
Wyth nyȝe innoghe of þe norþe, þe naked to tene;
Þe snawe snitered ful snart, þat snayped þe wylde;
Þe werbelande wynde wapped fro þe hyȝe,
And drof vche dale ful of dryftes ful grete.
Þe leude lystened ful wel þat leȝ in his bedde,
Þaȝ he lowkez his liddez, ful lyttel he slepes;
Bi vch kok þat crue he knwe wel þe steuen.
Manuscript Deliuerly he dressed vp, er þe day sprenged,
For þere watz lyȝt of a laumpe þat lemed in his chambre;
He called to his chamberlayn, þat cofly hym swared,
And bede hym bryng hym his bruny and his blonk sadel;
Þat oþer ferkez hym vp and fechez hym his wedez,
And grayþez me Sir Gawayn vpon a grett wyse.
Fyrst he clad hym in his cloþez þe colde for to were,
And syþen his oþer harnays, þat holdely watz keped,
Boþe his paunce and his platez, piked ful clene,
Þe ryngez rokked of þe roust of his riche bruny;
And al watz fresch as vpon fyrst, and he watz fayn þenne
to þonk;
He hade vpon vche pece,
Wypped ful wel and wlonk;
Þe gayest into Grece,
Þe burne bede bryng his blonk.

Whyle þe wlonkest wedes he warp on hymseluen--
His cote wyth þe conysaunce of þe clere werkez
Ennurned vpon veluet, vertuus stonez
Aboute beten and bounden, enbrauded semez,
And fayre furred withinne wyth fayre pelures--
Ȝet laft he not þe lace, þe ladiez gifte,
Þat forgat not Gawayn for gode of hymseluen.
Bi he hade belted þe bronde vpon his balȝe haunchez,
Þenn dressed he his drurye double hym aboute,
Swyþe sweþled vmbe his swange swetely þat knyȝt
Þe gordel of þe grene silke, þat gay wel bisemed,
Vpon þat ryol red cloþe þat ryche watz to schewe.
Bot wered not þis ilk wyȝe for wele þis gordel,
For pryde of þe pendauntez, þaȝ polyst þay were,
And þaȝ þe glyterande golde glent vpon endez,
Bot for to sauen hymself, when suffer hym byhoued,
To byde bale withoute dabate of bronde hym to were
oþer knyffe.
Bi þat þe bolde mon boun
Wynnez þeroute bilyue,
Alle þe meyny of renoun
He þonkkez ofte ful ryue.

Manuscript Thenne watz Gryngolet grayþe, þat gret watz and huge,
And hade ben soiourned sauerly and in a siker wyse,
Hym lyst prik for poynt, þat proude hors þenne.
Þe wyȝe wynnez hym to and wytez on his lyre,
And sayde soberly hymself and by his soth swerez:
'Here is a meyny in þis mote þat on menske þenkkez,
Þe mon hem maynteines, ioy mot þay haue;
Þe leue lady on lyue luf hir bityde;
Ȝif þay for charyté cherysen a gest,
And halden honour in her honde, þe haþel hem ȝelde
Þat haldez þe heuen vpon hyȝe, and also yow alle!
And ȝif I myȝt lyf vpon londe lede any quyle,
I schuld rech yow sum rewarde redyly, if I myȝt.'
Þenn steppez he into stirop and strydez alofte;
His schalk schewed hym his schelde, on schulder he hit laȝt,
Gordez to Gryngolet with his gilt helez,
And he startez on þe ston, stod he no lenger
to praunce.
His haþel on hors watz þenne,
Þat bere his spere and launce.
'Þis kastel to Kryst I kenne':
He gef hit ay god chaunce.

The brygge watz brayde doun, and þe brode ȝatez
Vnbarred and born open vpon boþe halue.
Þe burne blessed hym bilyue, and þe bredez passed--
Prayses þe porter bifore þe prynce kneled,
Gef hym God and goud day, þat Gawayn he saue--
And went on his way with his wyȝe one,
Þat schulde teche hym to tourne to þat tene place
Þer þe ruful race he schulde resayue.
Þay boȝen bi bonkkez þer boȝez ar bare,
Þay clomben bi clyffez þer clengez þe colde.
Þe heuen watz vphalt, bot vgly þer-vnder;
Mist muged on þe mor, malt on þe mountez,
Vch hille hade a hatte, a myst-hakel huge.
Brokez byled and breke bi bonkkez aboute,
Schyre schaterande on schorez, þer þay doun schowued.
Manuscript Wela wylle watz þe way þer þay bi wod schulden,
Til hit watz sone sesoun þat þe sunne ryses
þat tyde.
Þay were on a hille ful hyȝe,
Þe quyte snaw lay bisyde;
Þe burne þat rod hym by
Bede his mayster abide.

'For I haf wonnen yow hider, wyȝe, at þis tyme,
And now nar ȝe not fer fro þat note place
Þat ȝe han spied and spuryed so specially after;
Bot I schal say yow for soþe, syþen I yow knowe,
And ȝe ar a lede vpon lyue þat I wel louy,
Wolde ȝe worch bi my wytte, ȝe worþed þe better.
Þe place þat ȝe prece to ful perelous is halden;
Þer wonez a wyȝe in þat waste, þe worst vpon erþe,
For he is stiffe and sturne, and to strike louies,
And more he is þen any mon vpon myddelerde,
And his body bigger þen þe best fowre
Þat ar in Arþurez hous, Hestor, oþer oþer.
He cheuez þat chaunce at þe chapel grene,
Þer passes non bi þat place so proude in his armes
Þat he ne dyngez hym to deþe with dynt of his honde;
For he is a mon methles, and mercy non vses,
For be hit chorle oþer chaplayn þat bi þe chapel rydes,
Monk oþer masseprest, oþer any mon elles,
Hym þynk as queme hym to quelle as quyk go hymseluen.
Forþy I say þe, as soþe as ȝe in sadel sitte,
Com ȝe þere, ȝe be kylled, may þe knyȝt rede,
Trawe ȝe me þat trwely, þaȝ ȝe had twenty lyues
to spende.
He hatz wonyd here ful ȝore,
On bent much baret bende,
Aȝayn his dyntez sore
Ȝe may not yow defende.

'Forþy, goude Sir Gawayn, let þe gome one,
And gotz away sum oþer gate, vpon Goddez halue!
Cayrez bi sum oþer kyth, þer Kryst mot yow spede,
And I schal hyȝ me hom aȝayn, and hete yow fyrre
Manuscript Þat I schal swere bi God and alle his gode halȝez,
As help me God and þe halydam, and oþez innoghe,
Þat I schal lelly yow layne, and lance neuer tale
Þat euer ȝe fondet to fle for freke þat I wyst.'
'Grant merci', quoþ Gawayn, and gruchyng he sayde:
'Wel worth þe, wyȝe, þat woldez my gode,
And þat lelly me layne I leue wel þou woldez.
Bot helde þou hit neuer so holde, and I here passed,
Founded for ferde for to fle, in fourme þat þou tellez,
I were a knyȝt kowarde, I myȝt not be excused.
Bot I wyl to þe chapel, for chaunce þat may falle,
And talk wyth þat ilk tulk þe tale þat me lyste,
Worþe hit wele oþer wo, as þe wyrde lykez
hit hafe.
Þaȝe he be a sturn knape
To stiȝtel, and stad with staue,
Ful wel con Dryȝtyn schape
His seruauntez for to saue.'

'Mary!' quoþ þat oþer mon, 'now þou so much spellez,
Þat þou wylt þyn awen nye nyme to þyseluen,
And þe lyst lese þy lyf, þe lette I ne kepe.
Haf here þi helme on þy hede, þi spere in þi honde,
And ryde me doun þis ilk rake bi ȝon rokke syde,
Til þou be broȝt to þe boþem of þe brem valay;
Þenne loke a littel on þe launde, on þi lyfte honde,
And þou schal se in þat slade þe self chapel,
And þe borelych burne on bent þat hit kepez.
Now farez wel, on Godez half, Gawayn þe noble!
For alle þe golde vpon grounde I nolde go wyth þe,
Ne bere þe felaȝschip þurȝ þis fryth on fote fyrre.'
Bi þat þe wyȝe in þe wod wendez his brydel,
Hit þe hors with þe helez as harde as he myȝt,
Lepez hym ouer þe launde, and leuez þe knyȝt þere
al one.
'Bi Goddez self,' quoþ Gawayn,
'I wyl nauþer grete ne grone;
To Goddez wylle I am ful bayn,
And to hym I haf me tone.'

Manuscript Thenne gyrdez he to Gryngolet, and gederez þe rake,
Schowuez in bi a schore at a schaȝe syde,
Ridez þurȝ þe roȝe bonk ryȝt to þe dale;
And þenne he wayted hym aboute, and wylde hit hym þoȝt,
And seȝe no syngne of resette bisydez nowhere,
Bot hyȝe bonkkez and brent vpon boþe halue,
And ruȝe knokled knarrez with knorned stonez;
Þe skwez of þe scowtes skayned hym þoȝt.
Þenne he houed, and wythhylde his hors at þat tyde,
And ofte chaunged his cher þe chapel to seche:
He seȝ non suche in no syde, and selly hym þoȝt,
Saue, a lyttel on a launde, a lawe as hit were;
A balȝ berȝ bi a bonke þe brymme bysyde,
Bi a forȝ of a flode þat ferked þare;
Þe borne blubred þerinne as hit boyled hade.
Þe knyȝt kachez his caple, and com to þe lawe,
Liȝtez doun luflyly, and at a lynde tachez
Þe rayne and his riche with a roȝe braunche.
Þenne he boȝez to þe berȝe, aboute hit he walkez,
Debatande with hymself quat hit be myȝt.
Hit hade a hole on þe ende and on ayþer syde,
And ouergrowen with gresse in glodes aywhere,
And al watz holȝ inwith, nobot an olde caue,
Or a creuisse of an olde cragge, he couþe hit noȝt deme
with spelle.
'We! Lorde,' quoþ þe gentyle knyȝt,
'Wheþer þis be þe grene chapelle?
Here myȝt aboute mydnyȝt
Þe dele his matynnes telle!

'Now iwysse,' quoþ Wowayn, 'wysty is here;
Þis oritore is vgly, with erbez ouergrowen;
Wel bisemez þe wyȝe wruxled in grene
Dele here his deuocioun on þe deuelez wyse.
Now I fele hit is þe fende, in my fyue wyttez,
Þat hatz stoken me þis steuen to strye me here.
Þis is a chapel of meschaunce, þat chekke hit bytyde!
Hit is þe corsedest kyrk þat euer I com inne!'
Manuscript With heȝe helme on his hede, his launce in his honde,
He romez vp to þe roffe of þe roȝ wonez.
Þene herde he of þat hyȝe hil, in a harde roche
Biȝonde þe broke, in a bonk, a wonder breme noyse,
Quat! hit clatered in þe clyff, as hit cleue schulde,
As one vpon a gryndelston hade grounden a syþe.
What! hit wharred and whette, as water at a mulne;
What! hit rusched and ronge, rawþe to here.
Þenne 'Bi Godde,' quoþ Gawayn, 'þat gere, as I trowe,
Is ryched at þe reuerence me, renk, to mete
bi rote.
Let God worche! "We loo"--
Hit helppez me not a mote.
My lif þaȝ I forgoo,
Drede dotz me no lote.'

Thenne þe knyȝt con calle ful hyȝe:
'Who stiȝtlez in þis sted me steuen to holde?
For now is gode Gawayn goande ryȝt here.
If any wyȝe oȝt wyl, wynne hider fast,
Oþer now oþer neuer, his nedez to spede.'
'Abyde', quoþ on on þe bonke abouen ouer his hede,
'And þou schal haf al in hast þat I þe hyȝt ones.'
Ȝet he rusched on þat rurde rapely a þrowe.
And wyth quettyng awharf, er he wolde lyȝt;
And syþen he keuerez bi a cragge, and comez of a hole,
Whyrlande out of a wro wyth a felle weppen,
A denez ax nwe dyȝt, þe dynt with to ȝelde,
With a borelych bytte bende by þe halme,
Fyled in a fylor, fowre fote large--
Hit watz no lasse bi þat lace þat lemed ful bryȝt--
And þe gome in þe grene gered as fyrst,
Boþe þe lyre and þe leggez, lokkez and berde,
Saue þat fayre on his fote he foundez on þe erþe,
Sette þe stele to þe stone, and stalked bysyde.
When he wan to þe watter, þer he wade nolde,
He hypped ouer on hys ax, and orpedly strydez,
Bremly broþe on a bent þat brode watz aboute,
on snawe.
Manuscript Sir Gawayn þe knyȝt con mete,
He ne lutte hym noþyng lowe;
Þat oþer sayde, 'Now, sir swete,
Of steuen mon may þe trowe.'

'Gawayn,' quoþ þat grene gome, 'God þe mot loke!
Iwysse þou art welcom, wyȝe, to my place,
And þou hatz tymed þi trauayl as truee mon schulde,
And þou knowez þe couenauntez kest vus bytwene:
At þis tyme twelmonyth þou toke þat þe falled,
And I schulde at þis Nwe Ȝere ȝeply þe quyte.
And we ar in þis valay verayly oure one;
Here ar no renkes vs to rydde, rele as vus likez.
Haf þy helme of þy hede, and haf here þy pay.
Busk no more debate þen I þe bede þenne
When þou wypped of my hede at a wap one.'
'Nay, bi God,' quoþ Gawayn, 'þat me gost lante,
I schal gruch þe no grwe for grem þat fallez.
Bot styȝtel þe vpon on strok, and I schal stonde stylle
And warp þe no wernyng to worch as þe lykez,
He lened with þe nek, and lutte,
And schewed þat schyre al bare,
And lette as he noȝt dutte;
For drede he wolde not dare.

THEN þe gome in þe grene grayþed hym swyþe,
Gederez vp hys grymme tole Gawayn to smyte;
With alle þe bur in his body he ber hit on lofte,
Munt as maȝtyly as marre hym he wolde;
Hade hit dryuen adoun as dreȝ as he atled,
Þer hade ben ded of his dynt þat doȝty watz euer.
Bot Gawayn on þat giserne glyfte hym bysyde,
As hit com glydande adoun on glode hym to schende,
And schranke a lytel with þe schulderes for þe scharp yrne.
Þat oþer schalk wyth a schunt þe schene wythhaldez,
And þenne repreued he þe prynce with mony prowde wordez:
'Þou art not Gawayn,' quoþ þe gome, 'þat is so goud halden,
Þat neuer arȝed for no here by hylle ne be vale,
Manuscript And now þou fles for ferde er þou fele harmez!
Such cowardise of þat knyȝt cowþe I neuer here.
Nawþer fyked I ne flaȝe, freke, quen þou myntest,
Ne kest no kauelacion in kyngez hous Arthor.
My hede flaȝ to my fote, and ȝet flaȝ I neuer;
And þou, er any harme hent, arȝez in hert;
Wherfore þe better burne me burde be called
Quoþ Gawayn, 'I schunt onez,
And so wyl I no more;
Bot þaȝ my hede falle on þe stonez,
I con not hit restore.

'Bot busk, burne, bi þi fayth, and bryng me to þe poynt.
Dele to me my destiné, and do hit out of honde,
For I schal stonde þe a strok, and start no more
Til þyn ax haue me hitte: haf here my trawþe.'
'Haf at þe þenne!' quoþ þat oþer, and heuez hit alofte,
And waytez as wroþely as he wode were.
He myntez at hym maȝtyly, bot not þe mon rynez,
Withhelde heterly his honde, er hit hurt myȝt.
Gawayn grayþely hit bydez, and glent with no membre,
Bot stode stylle as þe ston, oþer a stubbe auþer
Þat raþeled is in roché grounde with rotez a hundreth.
Þen muryly efte con he mele, þe mon in þe grene:
'So, now þou hatz þi hert holle, hitte me bihous.
Halde þe now þe hyȝe hode þat Arþur þe raȝt,
And kepe þy kanel at þis kest, ȝif hit keuer may.'
Gawayn ful gryndelly with greme þenne sayde:
'Wy! þresch on, þou þro mon, þou þretez to longe;
I hope þat þi hert arȝe wyth þyn awen seluen.'
'For soþe,' quoþ þat oþer freke, 'so felly þou spekez,
I wyl no lenger on lyte lette þin ernde
riȝt nowe.'
Þenne tas he hym stryþe to stryke,
And frounsez boþe lyppe and browe;
No meruayle þaȝ hym myslyke
Þat hoped of no rescowe.

He lyftes lyȝtly his lome, and let hit doun fayre
Manuscript With þe barbe of þe bitte bi þe bare nek;
Þaȝ he homered heterly, hurt hym no more
Bot snyrt hym on þat on syde, þat seuered þe hyde.
Þe scharp schrank to þe flesche þurȝ þe schyre grece,
Þat þe schene blod ouer his schulderes schot to þe erþe;
And quen þe burne seȝ þe blode blenk on þe snawe,
He sprit forth spenne-fote more þen a spere lenþe,
Hent heterly his helme, and on his hed cast,
Schot with his schulderez his fayre schelde vnder,
Braydez out a bryȝt sworde, and bremely he spekez--
Neuer syn þat he watz burne borne of his moder
Watz he neuer in þis worlde wyȝe half so blyþe--
'Blynne, burne, of þy bur, bede me no mo!
I haf a stroke in þis sted withoute stryf hent,
And if þow rechez me any mo, I redyly schal quyte,
And ȝelde ȝederly aȝayn--and þerto ȝe tryst--
and foo.
Bot on stroke here me fallez--
Þe couenaunt schop ryȝt so,
Fermed in Arþurez hallez--
And þerfore, hende, now hoo!'

The haþel heldet hym fro, and on his ax rested,
Sette þe schaft vpon schore, and to þe scharp lened,
And loked to þe leude þat on þe launde ȝede,
How þat doȝty, dredles, deruely þer stondez
Armed, ful aȝlez: in hert hit hym lykez.
Þenn he melez muryly wyth a much steuen,
And wyth a rynkande rurde he to þe renk sayde:
'Bolde burne, on þis bent be not so gryndel.
No mon here vnmanerly þe mysboden habbez,
Ne kyd bot as couenaunde at kyngez kort schaped.
I hyȝt þe a strok and þou hit hatz, halde þe wel payed;
I relece þe of þe remnaunt of ryȝtes alle oþer.
Iif I deliuer had bene, a boffet paraunter
I couþe wroþeloker haf waret, to þe haf wroȝt anger.
Fyrst I mansed þe muryly with a mynt one,
And roue þe wyth no rof-sore, with ryȝt I þe profered
Manuscript For þe forwarde þat we fest in þe fyrst nyȝt,
And þou trystyly þe trawþe and trwly me haldez,
Al þe gayne þow me gef, as god mon schulde.
Þat oþer munt for þe morne, mon, I þe profered,
Þou kyssedes my clere wyf--þe cossez me raȝtez.
For boþe two here I þe bede bot two bare myntes
boute scaþe.
Trwe mon trwe restore,
Þenne þar mon drede no waþe.
At þe þrid þou fayled þore,
And þerfor þat tappe ta þe.

'For hit is my wede þat þou werez, þat ilke wouen girdel,
Myn owen wyf hit þe weued, I wot wel for soþe.
Now know I wel þy cosses, and þy costes als,
And þe wowyng of my wyf: I wroȝt hit myseluen.
I sende hir to asay þe, and sothly me þynkkez
On þe fautlest freke þat euer on fote ȝede;
As perle bi þe quite pese is of prys more,
So is Gawayn, in god fayth, bi oþer gay knyȝtez.
Bot here yow lakked a lyttel, sir, and lewté yow wonted;
Bot þat watz for no wylyde werke, ne wowyng nauþer,
Bot for ȝe lufed your lyf; þe lasse I yow blame.'
Þat oþer stif mon in study stod a gret whyle,
So agreued for greme he gryed withinne;
Alle þe blode of his brest blende in his face,
Þat al he schrank for schome þat þe schalk talked.
Þe forme worde vpon folde þat þe freke meled:
'Corsed worth cowarddyse and couetyse boþe!
In yow is vylany and vyse þat vertue disstryez.'
Þenne he kaȝt to þe knot, and þe kest lawsez,
Brayde broþely þe belt to þe burne seluen:
'Lo! þer þe falssyng, foule mot hit falle!
For care of þy knokke cowardyse me taȝt
To acorde me with couetyse, my kynde to forsake,
Þat is larges and lewté þat longez to knyȝtez.
Now am I fawty and falce, and ferde haf ben euer
Of trecherye and vntrawþe: boþe bityde sorȝe
and care!
Manuscript I biknowe yow, knyȝt, here stylle,
Al fawty is my fare;
Letez me ouertake your wylle
And efte I schal be ware.'

Thenn loȝe þat oþer leude and luflyly sayde:
'I halde hit hardily hole, þe harme þat I hade.
Þou art confessed so clene, beknowen of þy mysses,
And hatz þe penaunce apert of þe poynt of myn egge,
I halde þe polysed of þat plyȝt, and pured as clene
As þou hadez neuer forfeted syþen þou watz fyrst borne;
And I gif þe, sir, þe gurdel þat is golde-hemmed,
For hit is grene as my goune. Sir Gawayn, ȝe maye
Þenk vpon þis ilke þrepe, þer þou forth þryngez
Among prynces of prys, and þis a pure token
Of þe chaunce of þe grene chapel at cheualrous knyȝtez.
And ȝe schal in þis Nwe Ȝer aȝayn to my wonez,
And we schyn reuel þe remnaunt of þis ryche fest
ful bene.'
Þer laþed hym fast þe lorde
And sayde: 'With my wyf, I wene,
We schal yow wel acorde,
Þat watz your enmy kene.'

'Nay, for soþe,' quoþ þe segge, and sesed hys helme,
And hatz hit of hendely, and þe haþel þonkkez,
'I haf soiorned sadly; sele yow bytyde,
And he ȝelde hit yow ȝare þat ȝarkkez al menskes!
And comaundez me to þat cortays, your comlych fere,
Boþe þat on and þat oþer, myn honoured ladyez,
Þat þus hor knyȝt wyth hor kest han koyntly bigyled.
Bot hit is no ferly þaȝ a fole madde,
And þurȝ wyles of wymmen be wonen to sorȝe,
For so watz Adam in erde with one bygyled,
And Salamon with fele sere, and Samson eftsonez--
Dalyda dalt hym hys wyrde--and Dauyth þerafter
Watz blended with Barsabe, þat much bale þoled.
Now þese were wrathed wyth her wyles, hit were a wynne huge
To luf hom wel, and leue hem not, a leude þat couþe.
Manuscript For þes wer forne þe freest, þat folȝed alle þe sele
Exellently of alle þyse oþer, vnder heuenryche
þat mused;
And alle þay were biwyled
With wymmen þat þay vsed.
Þaȝ I be now bigyled,
Me þink me burde be excused.

'Bot your gordel', quoþ Gawayn, 'God yow forȝelde!
Þat wyl I welde wyth guod wylle, not for þe wynne golde,
Ne þe saynt, ne þe sylk, ne þe syde pendaundes,
For wele ne for worchyp, ne for þe wlonk werkkez,
Bot in syngne of my surfet I schal se hit ofte,
When I ride in renoun, remorde to myseluen
Þe faut and þe fayntyse of þe flesche crabbed,
How tender hit is to entyse teches of fylþe;
And þus, quen pryde schal me pryk for prowes of armes,
Þe loke to þis luf-lace schal leþe my hert.
Bot on I wolde yow pray, displeses yow neuer:
Syn ȝe be lorde of þe ȝonder londe þer I haf lent inne
Wyth yow wyth worschyp--þe wyȝe hit yow ȝelde
Þat vphaldez þe heuen and on hyȝ sittez--
How norne ȝe yowre ryȝt nome, and þenne no more?'
'Þat schal I telle þe trwly,' quoþ þat oþer þenne,
'Bertilak de Hautdesert I hat in þis londe.
Þurȝ myȝt of Morgne la Faye, þat in my hous lenges,
And koyntyse of clergye, bi craftes wel lerned,
Þe maystrés of Merlyn mony hatz taken--
For ho hatz dalt drwry ful dere sumtyme
With þat conable klerk, þat knowes alle your knyȝtez
at hame;
Morgne þe goddes
Þerfore hit is hir name:
Weldez non so hyȝe hawtesse
Þat ho ne con make ful tame--

'Ho wayned me vpon þis wyse to your wynne halle
For to assay þe surquidré, ȝif hit soth were
Þat rennes of þe grete renoun of þe Rounde Table;
Ho wayned me þis wonder your wyttez to reue,
Manuscript For to haf greued Gaynour and gart hir to dyȝe
With glopnyng of þat ilke gome þat gostlych speked
With his hede in his honde bifore þe hyȝe table.
Þat is ho þat is at home, þe auncian lady;
Ho is euen þyn aunt, Arþurez half-suster,
Þe duches doȝter of Tyntagelle, þat dere Vter after
Hade Arþur vpon, þat aþel is nowþe.
Þerfore I eþe þe, haþel, to com to þyn aunt,
Make myry in my hous; my meny þe louies,
And I wol þe as wel, wyȝe, bi my faythe,
As any gome vnder God for þy grete trauþe.'
And he nikked hym naye, he nolde bi no wayes.
Þay acolen and kyssen and kennen ayþer oþer
To þe prynce of paradise, and parten ryȝt þere
on coolde;
Gawayn on blonk ful bene
To þe knygez burȝ buskez bolde,
And þe knyȝt in þe enker-grene
Whiderwarde-so-euer he wolde.

Wylde wayez in þe worlde Wowen now rydez
On Gryngolet, þat þe grace hade geten of his lyue;
Ofte he herbered in house and ofte al þeroute,
And mony aventure in vale, and venquyst ofte,
Þat I ne tyȝt at þis tyme in tale to remene.
Þe hurt watz hole þat he hade hent in his nek,
And þe blykkande belt he bere þeraboute
Abelef as a bauderyk bounden bi his syde,
Loken vnder his lyfte arme, þe lace, with a knot,
In tokenyng he watz tane in tech of a faute.
And þus he commes to þe court, knyȝt al in sounde.
Þer wakned wele in þat wone when wyst þe grete
Þat gode Gawayn watz commen; gayn hit hym þoȝt.
Þe kyng kyssez þe knyȝt, and þe whene alce,
And syþen mony syker knyȝt þat soȝt hym to haylce,
Of his fare þat hym frayned; and ferlyly he telles,
Biknowez alle þe costes of care þat he hade,
Þe chaunce of þe chapel, þe chere of þe knyȝt,
Manuscript Þe luf of þe ladi, þe lace at þe last.
Þe nirt in þe nek he naked hem schewed
Þat he laȝt for his vnleuté at þe leudes hondes
for blame.
He tened quen he schulde telle,
He groned for gref and grame;
Þe blod in his face con melle,
When he hit schulde schewe, for schame.

'Lo! lorde,' quoþ þe leude, and þe lace hondeled,
'Þis is þe bende of þis blame I bere in my nek,
Þis is þe laþe and þe losse þat I laȝt haue
Of couardise and couetyse þat I haf caȝt þare;
Þis is þe token of vntrawþe þat I am tan inne,
And I mot nedez hit were wyle I may last;
For mon may hyden his harme, bot vnhap ne may hit,
For þer hit onez is tachched twynne wil hit neuer.'
Þe kyng comfortez þe knyȝt, and alle þe court als
Laȝen loude þerat, and luflyly acorden
Þat lordes and ladis þat longed to þe Table,
Vche burne of þe broþerhede, a bauderyk schulde haue,
A bende abelef hym aboute of a bryȝt grene,
And þat, for sake of þat segge, in swete to were.
For þat watz acorded þe renoun of þe Rounde Table,
And he honoured þat hit hade euermore after,
As hit is breued in þe best boke of romaunce.
Þus in Arthurus day þis aunter bitidde,
Þe Brutus bokez þerof beres wyttenesse;
Syphen Brutus, þe bolde burne, boȝed hider fyrst,
After þe segge and þe asaute watz sesed at Troye,
Mony aunterez here-biforne
Haf fallen suche er þis.
Now þat here þe croun of þorne,
He bryng vus to his blysse! AMEN.



Soon as the siege and assault had ceased at Troy,
the burg broken and burnt to brands and ashes,
the traitor who trammels of treason there wrought
was tried for his treachery, the foulest on earth.
It was Aeneas the noble and his high kin
who then subdued provinces, lords they became,
well-nigh of all the wealth in the Western Isles:
forth rich Romulus to Rome rapidly came,
with great business that burg he builds up first,
and names it with his name, as now it has;
Ticius to Tuscany, and townships begins;
Langobard in Lombardy lifts up homes;
and fared over the French flood Felix Brutus
on many banks all broad Britain he settles
where war and wreck and wonder
betimes have worked within,
and oft both bliss and blunder
have held sway swiftly since.

And when this Britain was built by this baron rich,
bold men were bred therein, of battle beloved,
in many a troubled time turmoil that wrought.
More flames on this fold have fallen here oft
than any other I know of, since that same time.
But of all that here built, of Britain the kings,
ever was Arthur highest, as I have heard tell.
And so of earnest adventure I aim to show,
that astonishes sight as some men do hold it,
an outstanding action of Arthur’s wonders.
If you will list to this lay but a little while,
I’ll tell it straight, as I in town heard it,
with tongue;
as it was said and spoken
in story staunch and strong,
with linked letters loaded,
as in this land so long.

This king lay at Camelot nigh on Christmas
with many lovely lords, of leaders the best,
reckoning of the Round Table all the rich brethren,
with right ripe revel and reckless mirth.
There tourneyed tykes by times full many,
jousted full jollily these gentle knights,
then carried to court, their carols to make.
For there the feast was alike full fifteen days,
with all the meat and mirth men could devise:
such clamour and glee glorious to hear,
dear din in the daylight, dancing of nights;
all was happiness high in halls and chambers
with lords and ladies, as liked them all best.
With all that’s well in the world were they together,
the knights best known under the Christ Himself,
and the loveliest ladies that ever life honoured,
and he the comeliest king that the court rules.
For all were fair folk and in their first age
the happiest under heaven,
king noblest in his will;
that it were hard to reckon
so hardy a host on hill.

While New Year was so young it was new come in,
that day double on the dais was the dole served,
for the king was come with knights into the hall,
and chanting in the chapel had chimed to an end.
Loud cry was there cast of clerics and others,
Noel nurtured anew, and named full oft;
and see the rich run forth to render presents,
yelled their gifts on high, yield them to hand,
argued busily about those same gifts.
Ladies laughed out loud, though they had lost,
while he that won was not wrath, that you’ll know.
All this mirth they made at the meal time.
When they had washed well they went to be seated,
the best of the barons above, as it seemed best;
with Guinevere, full gaily, gracing their midst,
dressed on the dais there, adorned all about –
splendid silk by her sides, and sheer above
of true Toulouse, of Tartar tapestries plenty,
that were embroidered, bright with the best gems
that might be price-proved with pennies
any a day.
the comeliest to descry
glanced there with eyen grey;
a seemlier ever to the sight,
sooth might no man say.

But Arthur would not eat till all were served,
he was so joyous a youth, and somewhat boyish:
he liked his life lively, he loved the less
either to long lie idle or to long sit,
so busied him his young blood and his brain wild.
And also another matter moved him so,
that he had nobly named he would never eat
on such dear days, before he had been advised,
of some adventurous thing, an unknown tale,
of some mighty marvel, that he might believe,
of ancestors, arms, or other adventures;
or else till someone beseeched for some sure knight
to join with him in jousting, in jeopardy to lay,
lay down life for life, allow each to the other,
as fortune might favour them, a fair advantage.
This was the king’s custom when he in court was,
at each fine feast among his many friends
in hall.
Therefore with fearless face
he stands straight and tall;
full lively at that New Year
much mirth he makes with all.

Thus there stands straight and tall the king himself,
talking at the high table of trifles full courtly.
There good Gawain was graced by Guinevere beside,
and Agravain a la dure main on the other side sits,
both the king’s sister-sons and full sure knights;
Bishop Baldwin above, he begins the table,
and Ywain, Urien’s son, ate alongside him.
These sat high on the dais and deftly served,
and many another sat sure at the side-tables.
Then the first course came with crack of trumpets,
with many a banner full bright that thereby hung;
new noise of kettledrums and noble pipes,
wild warbles and wide wakened echoes,
that many a heart full high heaved at their notes.
Dainties drawn in therewith of full dear meats,
foods of the freshest, and in such files of dishes
they find no room to place them people before
and to set the silver that holds such servings
on cloth.
Each his load as he liked himself,
there ladled and nothing loath;
Every two had dishes twelve,
good beer and bright wine both.

Now will I of their service say you no more,
for each man may well know no want was there
another noise full new neared with speed,
that would give the lord leave to take meat.
For scarce was the noise not a while ceased,
and the first course in the court duly served,
there hales in at the hall door a dreadful man,
the most in the world’s mould of measure high,
from the nape to the waist so swart and so thick,
and his loins and his limbs so long and so great
half giant on earth I think now that he was;
but the most of man anyway I mean him to be,
and that the finest in his greatness that might ride,
for of back and breast though his body was strong,
both his belly and waist were worthily small,
and his features all followed his form made
and clean.
Wonder at his hue men displayed,
set in his semblance seen;
he fared as a giant were made,
and over all deepest green.

And all garbed in green this giant and his gear:
a straight coat full tight that stuck to his sides,
a magnificent mantle above, masked within
with pelts pared pertly, the garment agleam
with blithe ermine full bright, and his hood both,
that was left from his locks and laid on his shoulders;
neat, well-hauled hose of that same green
that clung to his calves and sharp spurs under
of bright gold, on silk stockings rich-barred,
and no shoes under sole where the same rides.
And all his vesture verily was bright verdure,
both the bars of his belt and other bright stones,
that were richly rayed in his bright array
about himself and his saddle, on silk work,
it were tortuous to tell of these trifles the half,
embroidered above with birds and butterflies,
with gay gaudy of green, the gold ever inmost.
The pendants of his harness, the proud crupper,
his bridle and all the metal enamelled was then;
the stirrups he stood on stained with the same,
and his saddle bows after, and saddle skirts,
ever glimmered and glinted all with green stones.
The horse he rode on was also of that hue,
A green horse great and thick,
a steed full strong to restrain,
in broidered bridle quick –
to the giant he brought gain.

Well garbed was this giant geared in green,
and the hair of his head like his horse’s mane.
Fair fanned-out flax enfolds his shoulders;
A beard big as a bush over his breast hangs,
that with the haul of hair that from his head reaches
was clipped all round about above his elbows,
that half his hands thereunder were hid in the wise
of a king’s broad cape that’s clasped at his neck.
The mane of that mighty horse was much alike,
well crisped and combed, with knots full many
plaited in thread of gold about the fair green,
here a thread of the hair, and there of gold.
The tail and his forelock twinned, of a suit,
and bound both with a band of a bright green,
dressed with precious stones, as its length lasted;
then twined with a thong, a tight knot aloft,
where many bells bright of burnished gold ring.
Such a man on a mount, such a giant that rides,
was never before that time in hall in sight of human
He looked as lightning bright,
said all that him descried;
it seemed that no man might
his mighty blows survive.

And yet he had no helm nor hauberk, neither,
nor protection, nor no plate pertinent to arms,
nor no shaft, nor no shield, to strike and smite,
but in his one hand he held a holly branch,
that is greatest in green when groves are bare,
and an axe in his other, one huge, monstrous,
a perilous spar to expound in speech, who might.
The head of an ell-rod its large length had,
the spike all of green steel and of gold hewn,
the blade bright burnished with a broad edge
as well shaped to sheer as are sharp razors.
The shaft of a strong staff the stern man gripped,
that was wound with iron to the wand’s end,
and all engraved with green in gracious workings;
a cord lapped it about, that linked at the head,
and so around the handle looped full oft,
with tried tassels thereto attached enough
on buttons of the bright green broidered full rich.
This stranger rides in and the hall enters,
driving to the high dais, danger un-fearing.
Hailed he never a one, but high he overlooked.
The first word that he spoke: ‘Where is,’ he said,
‘the governor of this throng? Gladly I would
see that soul in sight and with himself speak
On knights he cast his eyes,
And rolled them up and down.
He stopped and studied ay
who was of most renown.

There was a looking at length the man to behold,
for each man marvelled what it might mean
for a rider and his horse to own such a hue
as grew green as the grass and greener it seemed,
than green enamel on gold glowing the brighter.
All studied that steed, and stalked him near,
with all the wonder of the world at what he might do.
for marvels had they seen but such never before;
and so of phantom and fairie the folk there it deemed.
Therefore to answer was many a knight afraid,
and all stunned at his shout and sat stock-still
in a sudden silence through the rich hall;
as all had slipped into sleep so ceased their noise
and cry.
I think it not all in fear,
but some from courtesy;
to let him all should revere
speak to him firstly.

Then Arthur before the high dais that adventure beholds,
and, gracious, him reverenced, a-feared was he never,
and said: ‘Sir, welcome indeed to this place,
the head of this house, I, Arthur am named.
Alight swiftly adown and rest, I thee pray,
and what thy will is we shall wait after.’
‘Nay, so help me,’ quoth the man, ‘He that on high sits:
to wait any while in this way, it was not my errand.
But as the light of thee, lord, is lifted so high,
and thy burg and thy barons the best, men hold,
strongest under steel gear on steeds to ride,
the wisest and worthiest of the world’s kind,
proof to play against in other pure sports,
and here is shown courtesy, as I have heard said,
so then I wandered hither, indeed, at this time.
You may be sure by this branch that I bear here
that I pass by in peace and no plight seek.
For were I found here, fierce, and in fighting wise,
I had a hauberk at home and a helm both,
a shield and a sharp spear, shining bright,
and other weapons to wield, I well will, too;
but as I wish no war, I wear the softer.
But if you be as bold as all bairns tell,
you will grant me goodly the gift that I ask
by right.’
Arthur answered there,
and said: ‘Sir courteous knight,
if you crave battle bare,
here fails you not the fight.’

‘Nay, follow I no fight, in faith I thee tell.
About on these benches are but beardless children;
if I were clasped in armour on a high steed,
here is no man to match me, his might so weak.
From thee I crave in this court a Christmas gift,
for it is Yule and New Year, and here many young men.
If any so hardy in this house holds himself,
is so bold of blood, hot-brained in his head,
that dare staunchly strike a stroke for another,
I shall give him as gift this weapon so rich,
this blade, that is heavy enough to handle as he likes,
and I will bear the first blow, as bare as I sit.
If any friend be so fell as to fare as I say,
Leap lightly to me; latch on to this weapon –
I quit claim for ever, he keeps it, his own.
And I will stand his stroke straight, on this floor,
if you will grant me the gift to give him another,
and yet give him respite
a twelvemonth and a day.
Now hurry, let’s see aright
dare any herein aught say.’

If he had stunned them at first, stiller were then
all the host in the hall, the high and the low.
The man on his mount he turned in his saddle,
and roundly his red eyes he rolled about,
bent his bristling brows, burning green,
waving his beard about waiting who would rise.
When none would come to his call he coughed full high,
and cleared his throat full richly, ready to speak:
‘What, is this Arthur’s house,’ quoth the horseman then,
‘that all the rumour runs of, through realms so many?
Where now your superiority and your conquests,
your grinding down and your anger, your great words?
Now is the revel and the renown of the Round Table
overthrown with the word of a wanderer’s speech,
for all duck down in dread without dint of a blow!’
With this he laughed so loud that the lord grieved;
the blood shot for shame into his fair face
and there,
he waxed as wrath as wind;
so did all that there were.
The king, so keen by kind,
then stood that strong man near.

And said: ‘Horseman, by heaven you ask as a fool,
and as a folly you fain, to find it me behoves.
I know no guest that’s aghast at your great words.
Give me now your weapon, upon God’s name,
and I shall bear you the boon you’d be having.’
lightly he leaped to him and caught at his hand;
then fiercely the other fellow on foot alighted.
Now has Arthur his axe, and the helm grips,
and strongly stirs it about, to strike with a thought.
The man before him drew himself to full height,
higher than any in the house by a head and more.
With stern face where he stood he stroked his beard,
and with fixed countenance tugged at his coat,
no more moved or dismayed by mighty blows
than if any man to the bench had brought him a drink
of wine.
Gawain, that sat by the queen,
to the king he did incline:
‘I beseech in plain speech
that this mêlée be mine’

‘Would you, worthiest lord,’ quoth Gawain to the king,
‘bid me bow from this bench and stand by you there,
that I without villainy might void this table,
and if my liege lady liked it not ill,
I would come counsel you before your court rich.
For I think it not seemly, as it is true known,
that such an asking is heaved so high in your hall,
that you yourself are tempted, to take it to yourself,
while so many bold men about you on benches sit,
that under heaven, I hope, are none higher of will,
nor better of body on fields where battle is raised.
I am the weakest, I know, and of wit feeblest.
least worth the loss of my life, who’d learn the truth.
Only inasmuch as you are my uncle, am I praised:
No bounty but your blood in my body I know.
And since this thing is folly and naught to you falls,
and I have asked it of you first, grant it to me;
and if my cry be not comely, let this court be free
of blame.’
Nobles whispered around,
and after counselled the same,
to free the king and crown,
and give Gawain the game.

Then commanded the king the knight for to rise,
and he readily up-rose and prepared him fair,
knelt down before the king, and caught the weapon;
and he lightly left it him, and lifted up his hand
and gave him God’s blessing, and gladly him bade
that his heart and his hand should hardy be, both.
‘Take care, cousin,’ quoth the king, ‘how you set on,
and if you read him aright, readily I trow,
that you shall abide the blow he shall bring after.’
Gawain goes to the giant, with weapon in hand,
and boldly abides him, never bothered the less.
Then to Sir Gawain says the knight in the green:
‘Re-affirm we our oaths before we go further.
First I entreat you, man, how are you named,
that tell me truly, then, so trust it I may.’
‘In God’s faith,’ quoth the good knight, ‘Gawain am I,
that bear you this buffet, whatever befalls after,
and at this time twelvemonth take from thee another
with what weapon you wilt, and no help from any
The other replies again:
‘Sir Gawain, may I so thrive,
if I am not wondrous fain
for you this blow to drive.’

‘By God,’ quoth the green knight, ‘Sir Gawain, I like
That I’ll face first from your fist what I found here.
And you have readily rehearsed, with reason full true,
clearly all the covenant that I the king asked,
save that you shall secure me, say, by your troth,
that you shall seek me yourself, where so you think
I may be found upon field, and fetch you such wages
as you deal me today before this dear company.’
‘Where should I seek,’ quoth Gawain, ‘where is your place?
I know nothing of where you walk, by Him that wrought me,
nor do I know you, knight, your court or your name.
But teach me truly the track, tell me how you are named,
and I shall wind all my wit to win me thither;
and that I swear you in truth, and by my sure honour.’
‘That is enough this New Year, it needs no more,’
quoth the giant in the green to courteous Gawain:
‘if I shall tell you truly, when you have tapped me
and you me smoothly have smitten, I swiftly you teach,
of my house and my home and my own name.
Then may you find how I fare, and hold to your word;
and if I spend no speech, then it speeds you the better,
for you may linger in your land and seek no further –
but oh!
Take now your grim steel to thee,
and see how you fell oaks.’
‘Gladly, sir, indeed,’
quoth Gawain; his axe he strokes.

The green knight on his ground graciously stands:
with a little lean of the head, flesh he uncovers;
his long lovely locks he laid over his crown,
and let the naked neck to the stroke show.
Gawain gripped his axe and glanced it on high,
his left foot on the field before him he set,
letting it down lightly light on the naked,
that the sharp of the steel sundered the bones,
and sank through the soft flesh, sliced it in two,
that the blade of the bright steel bit in the ground.
The fair head from the frame fell to the earth,
that folk flailed it with their feet, where it forth rolled;
the blood burst from the body, the bright on the green.
Yet nevertheless neither falters nor falls the fellow,
but stoutly he started forth on strong shanks,
and roughly he reached out, where the ranks stood,
latched onto his lovely head, and lifted it so;
and then strode to his steed, the bridle he catches,
steps into stirrup and strides him aloft,
and his head by the hair in his hand holds.
and as steady and staunch him in his saddle sat
as if no mishap had him ailed, though headless now
He twined his trunk about,
that ugly body that bled;
many of him had doubt,
ere ever his speech was said.

For the head in his hand he holds up even,
towards the dearest on dais addresses the face;
and it lifted its eyelids, and looked full wide,
and made this much with its mouth, as you may now hear;
‘Look, Gawain, be you geared to go as you promised,
and look out loyally till you me, lord, find,
as you swore oath in this hall, these knights hearing.
To the green chapel you go, I charge you, to find
such a dint as you dealt – deserved you have –
to be readily yielded on New Year’s morn.
The knight of the green chapel, men know me as, many;
therefore to find me, if you fain it, you’ll fail never.
Come then, or be called recreant it behoves you.’
With a rough rasping the reins he twists,
hurled out the hall door, his head in his hand,
that the fire of the flint flew from fleet hooves.
to what land he came no man there knew,
no more than they knew where he had come from
what then?
The king and Gawain there
at that green man laugh and grin;
yet broadcast it was abroad
as a marvel among those men.

Though Arthur the high king at heart had wonder,
he let no semblance be seen, but said aloud
to the comely queen, with courteous speech:
‘Dear dame, today dismay you never;
well become us these crafts at Christmas,
larking at interludes, to laugh and to sing
among the courtly carols of lords and ladies.
Nevertheless my meat I may now me address,
for I have seen my marvel, I may not deny.’
He glanced at Sir Gawain and graciously said:
‘Now sir, hang up your axe that has hewn enough.’
And it adorned the dais, hung on display,
where all men might marvel and on it look,
and by true title thereof to tell the wonder.
Then they went to the board these two together,
the king and the godly knight, and keen men them served
of all dainties double, as dearest might fall,
with all manner of meat and minstrelsy both.
Full well they whiled that day till it worked its end
on land
Now think well, Sir Gawain,
lest by peril unmanned,
this adventure to sustain,
you have taken in hand.


This gift of adventure has Arthur thus on the first
of the young year, for he yearned exploits to hear.
Though words were wanting when they went to sit,
now are they stoked with stern work, fullness to hand.
Gawain was glad to begin those games in hall,
yet if the end be heavy, have you no wonder;
though men be merry in mind when they have strong ale,
a year turns full turn, and yields never a like;
the form of its finish foretold full seldom.
For this Yuletide passed by, and the year after,
and each season slips by pursuing another:
after Christmas comes crabbed Lenten time,
that forces on flesh fish and food more simple.
But then the weather of the world with winter it fights,
cold shrinks down, clouds are uplifted,
shining sheds the rain in showers full warm,
falls upon fair flats, flowers there showing.
Both ground and groves green is their dress,
birds begin to build and brightly sing they
the solace of the soft summer ensuing after
on bank;
and blossoms bloom to blow
by hedges rich and rank,
while noble notes do flow
in woodland free and frank.

After, in season of summer with the soft winds,
when Zephyrus sighs himself on seeds and herbs;
well-away is the wort that waxes out there,
when the dunking dew drops from the leaves,
biding a blissful blush of the bright sun.
But then hies Harvest and hardens it soon,
warns it before the winter to wax full ripe;
then drives with drought the dust for to rise,
from the face of the field to fly full high;
wild wind from the welkin wrestles the sun,
the leaves lance then from linden, light on the ground,
and all grey is the grass, that green was ere;
then all ripens and rots, that rose up at first.
And thus wears the year into yesterdays many,
and winter walks again, as the world’s way is,
I gauge,
till Michaelmas moon
threatens a wintry age.
Then thinks Gawain full soon,
of his wearisome voyage.

Yet till All-Hallows with Arthur he lingers,
and he made a feast on that day for the knight’s sake,
with much revel and rich of the Round Table.
Knights full courteous and comely ladies,
all for love of that lad in longing they were;
but nevertheless they named nothing but mirth,
many joyless for that gentle soul jokes made there.
For, after meat, with mourning he makes to his uncle,
and speaks his departure, and openly says:
‘Now, liege lord of my life, I ask you leave.
You know the cost in this case, care I no more
to tell you the trial thereof, naught but a trifle;
but I am bound to bear it, be gone, and tomorrow,
to seek the giant in the green, as God will me guide.’
Then the best of the burg were brought together,
Ywain and Eric and others full many,
Sir Dodinal le Sauvage, the Duke of Clarence,
Lancelot and Lionel and Lucan the Good,
Sir Bors and Sir Bedivere, big men both,
and many other men, with Mador de la Porte.
All this courtly company came the king near,
for to counsel the knight, with care in their hearts.
There was much dark dolefulness deep in the hall,
that so worthy as Gawain should wend on that errand,
to endure a dreadful dint, and no more with sword
The knight made yet good cheer,
and said: ‘Why should I falter?
Such destinies foul or fair
what can men do but suffer?’

He dwelt there all that day, and dressed on the morn,
asks early for his arms, and all were they brought.
First a crimson carpet, cast over the floor,
and much was the gilded gear that gleamed thereon.
The strong man steps there, and handles the steel,
dressed in a doublet of silk of Turkestan,
and then a well-crafted cape, clasped at the top,
that with a white ermine was trimmed within.
Then set they the plate shoes on his strong feet,
his legs lapped in steel with lovely greaves,
with knee-pieces pinned thereto, polished full clean,
about his knees fastened with knots of gold;
then the cuisses, that cunningly enclosed
his thick-thewed thighs, attached with thongs;
and then the hauberk linked with bright steel rings
over rich wear, wrapped round the warrior;
and well-burnished bracelets over both arms,
elbow-pieces good and gay, and gloves of plate,
and all the goodly gear that should bring him gain
that tide;
with rich coat armour,
his gold spurs set with pride,
girt with a blade full sure
with silk sword-belt at his side.

When he was hasped in armour, his harness was rich;
the least laces or loops gleamed with gold.
So harnessed as he was he hears the Mass,
offered and honoured at the high altar,
then he comes to the king and his companions,
takes his courteous leave of lords and ladies;
and they him kiss and convey, commend him to Christ.
By then Gringolet was game, girt with a saddle
that gleamed full gaily with many gold fringes,
everywhere nailed full new, for that noted day;
the bridle barred about, with bright gold bound;
the apparel of the breast-guard and proud skirts,
crupper, caparison, in accord with the saddle-bows;
and all was arrayed with rich red gold nails,
that all glittered and glinted as gleam of the sun.
Then hefts he the helm, and hastily it kisses,
that was strongly stapled and stuffed within.
It was high on his head, clasped behind,
with a light covering over the face-guard,
embroidered and bound with the best gems
on broad silken border, and birds on the seams,
such as parrots painted preening between,
turtle-doves, true-love knots, so thick entailed
as many burdened with it had been seven winters
in town.
The circlet of greater price
that embellished his crown,
of diamonds all devised
that were both bright and brown.

Then they showed him the shield that was of shining gules,
with the pentangle painted there in pure gold hues.
He brandishes it by the baldric, casts it about his neck,
that suited the wearer seemly and fair.
And why the pentangle applies to that prince noble,
I intend to tell, though I tarry more than I should.
It is a sign Solomon settled on some while back,
in token of truth, by the title that it has,
for it is a figure that has five points,
and each line overlaps and locks with another,
and everywhere it is endless, and English call it
over all the land, as I here, the Endless Knot.
For so it accords with this knight and his bright arms,
forever faithful in five ways, and five times so,
Gawain was for good known, and, as purified gold,
void of every villainy, with virtues adorned
all, so.
And thus the pentangle new
he bore on shield and coat,
as title of trust most true
and gentlest knight of note.

First he was found faultless in his five senses,
and then failed never the knight in his five fingers,
and all his trust in the field was in the five wounds
that Christ caught on the cross, as the creed tells.
And wheresoever this man in mêlée was stood,
his first thought was that, over all other things,
all his force in fight he found in the five joys
that holy Heaven’s Queen had of her child;
for this cause the knight fittingly had
on the inner half of his shield her image painted,
that when he beheld her his boldness never failed.
The fifth five that I find the knight used
was Free-handedness and Friendship above all things;
his Continence and Courtesy corrupted were never,
and Piety, that surpasses all points – these pure five
were firmer founded in his form than another.
Now all these five-folds, forsooth, were fused in this knight,
and each one joined to another that none end had,
and fixed upon five points that failed never,
never confused on one side, nor sundered neither,
without end at any angle anywhere, I find,
wherever its guise begins or glides to an end.
Therefore on his shining shield shaped was the knot
royally with red gold upon red gules,
thus is the pure pentangle called by the people
of lore.
Now geared was Gawain gay,
lifted his lance right there,
and gave them all good day –
as he thought, for evermore.

He struck the steed with the spurs, and sprang on his way
so strongly the stone-fire sparked out thereafter.
All that saw the seemly sight sighed in their hearts,
and said softly the same thing all to each other,
in care of that comely knight: ‘By Christ, ‘tis pity,
that you, lord, shall be lost, who art of life noble!
To find his fellow in field, in faith, is not easy.
Warily to have wrought would wiser have been,
to have dealt yon dear man a dukedom of worth.
A loyal leader of this land’s lances in him well seems,
and so had better have been than brought to naught,
beheaded by an elvish man, out of arrogant pride.
Who knew any king ever such counsel to take
as knights in altercations in Christmas games?’
Well was the water warm much wept from eyen,
when that seemly sire spurred from the court
that day.
He made no delay,
but swiftly went his way;
Many a wild path he strayed,
so the books do say.

Now rides this knight through the realm of Logres,
Sir Gawain, in God’s name, yet no game it thought.
Oft friendless alone he lay long a-nights,
where he found no fare that he liked before him.
He had no friend but his steed by furze and down,
and no one but God to speak with on the way,
till that he neared full nigh to northern Wales.
All the Isle of Anglesey on the left hand he held,
and fared over the fords by the forelands,
over at Holyhead, till he reached the bank
in the wilderness of Wirral – few thereabouts
that either God or other with good heart loved.
And ever he asked as he fared, of fellows he met,
if they had heard any word of a knight in green,
on any ground thereabout, of the green chapel;
and all met him with nay, that never in their lives
saw they ever a sign of such a one, hued
in green.
The knight took pathways strange
by many a bank un-green;
his cheerfulness would change,
ere might that chapel be seen.

Many cliffs he over-clambered in countries strange,
far flying from his friends forsaken he rides.
at every twist of the water where the way passed
he found a foe before him, or freakish it were,
and so foul and fell he was beholden to fight.
So many marvels by mountain there the man finds,
it would be tortuous to tell a tenth of the tale.
Sometimes with dragons he wars, and wolves also,
sometimes with wild woodsmen haunting the crags,
with bulls and bears both, and boar other times,
and giants that chased after him on the high fells.
had he not been doughty, enduring, and Duty served,
doubtless he had been dropped and left for dead,
for war worried him not so much but winter was worse,
when the cold clear water from the clouds shed,
and froze ere it fall might to the fallow earth.
Near slain by the sleet he slept in his steel
more nights than enough in the naked rocks,
where clattering from the crest the cold burn runs,
and hung high over his head in hard icicles.
Thus in peril and pain, and plights full hard
covers the country this knight till Christmas Eve
The knight that eventide
to Mary made his moan,
to show him where to ride,
and guide him to some home.

By a mount in the morn merrily he rides
into a forest full deep, wonderfully wide,
high hills on either hand, and woodlands under
of hoar oaks full huge a hundred together.
The hazel and the hawthorn were tangled and twined,
with rough ragged moss ravelled everywhere,
with many birds un-blithe upon bare twigs,
that piteously they piped for pinch of the cold.
The gallant on Gringolet glides them under
through many a marsh and mire, a man alone,
full of care lest to his cost he never should
see the service of that Sire, that on that self night,
of a bright maid was born, our burden to quell.
And therefore sighing he said; ‘I beseech thee, Lord,
and Mary, that is mildest mother so dear,
of some harbour where highly I might hear Mass,
and thy Matins tomorrow, meekly I ask,
and thereto promptly I pray my Pater and Ave
and Creed.’
He rode as he prayed,
And cried for his misdeeds;
He crossed himself always,
And said: ‘Christ’s Cross me speed!’

Now he had signed himself times but three,
when he was aware in the wood of a wall in a moat,
above a level, on high land locked under boughs
of many broad set boles about by the ditches:
a castle the comeliest that ever knight owned,
perched on a plain, a park all about,
with a pointed palisade, planted full thick,
encircling many trees in more than two miles.
The hold on the one side the knight assessed,
as it shimmered and shone through the shining oaks.
Then humbly has off with his helm, highly he thanks
Jesus and Saint Julian, that gentle are both,
that courtesy had him shown, and his cry hearkened.
‘Now hospitality,’ he said, ‘I beseech you grant!’
Then goads he on Gringolet, with his gilded heels,
and he by chance there has chosen the chief way,
that brought the man bravely to the bridge’s end
in haste.
The drawbridge was upraised,
the gates were firm and fast,
the walls were well arrayed –
it trembled at no wind’s blast.

The knight stuck to his steed, that hugged the bank,
of the deep double ditch driven round the place.
The wall washed in the water wonderfully deep,
and then a full huge height it haled up aloft,
of hard hewn stone to the entablature,
embedded under the battlements in best style;
and there were turrets full tall towering between,
with many lovely loopholes clean interlocked:
a better barbican that knight never beheld.
And innermost he beheld a hall full high,
towers trim between, crenellated full thick,
fair finials that fused, and fancifully long,
with carven copes, cunningly worked.
Chalk white chimneys he descried enough,
on tower rooftops that gleamed full white.
So many painted pinnacles powdered there
among castle crenellations, clustered so thick,
that pared out of paper purely it seemed.
the fair knight on the horse it fine enough thought,
if he might contrive to come the cloister within,
to harbour in that hostel while Holy Day lasted,
all content. He called and soon there came
a porter pure pleasant.
From the wall his errand he craved,
and hailed the knight errant.

‘Good sir,’ quoth Gawain, ‘will you do my errand
to the high lord of this house, harbour to crave?’
‘Yes, by Saint Peter,’ quoth the porter, ‘for I believe
That you’ll be welcome to dwell as long as you like.’
Then the welcomer on the wall went down swiftly,
and folk freely him with, to welcome the knight.
They let down the great drawbridge and dignified
knelt down on their knees upon the cold earth
to welcome this knight as they thought the worthiest way.
They yielded him the broad gate, opened wide,
and he them raised rightly and rode over the bridge.
Several then seized his saddle, while he alighted,
and then strong men enough stabled his steed.
Knights and their squires came down then
for to bring this bold man blithely to hall,
When he lifted his helmet, they hastened forward
to heft it from his hand, the guest to serve;
his blade and his blazon both they took.
then hailed he full handily the host each one,
and many proud men pressed close, that prince to honour.
All clasped in his noble armour to hall they him brought,
where a fair fire on a hearth fiercely flamed.
Then the lord of that land left his chamber
for to meet with manners the man on the floor.
He said: ‘You are welcome to dwell as you like.
What is here, is all your own, to have at your will
and wield you.
‘Graunt merci,’ quoth Gawain,
‘May Christ reward it you.’
As friends that meet again
Each clasped the other true.

Gawain gazed on the gallant that goodly him greet,
and thought him a brave baron that the burg owned,
a huge man in truth, and mature in his years;
broad, bright was his beard and all beaver-hued,
stern, striding strongly on stalwart shanks,
face fell as the fire, and free of his speech;
and well he seemed to suit, as the knight thought,
the leading a lordship, along of lords full good.
The chief him led to a chamber, expressly commands
a lord be delivered to him, him humbly to serve;
and there were brave for his bidding a band of men,
that brought him to a bright bower, the bedding was noble,
of curtains of clear silk with clean gold hems,
and coverlets full curious with comely panels,
of bright ermine above embroidered sides,
curtains running on cords, red gold rings,
tapestries tied to the wall, of Toulouse, Turkestan,
and underfoot, on the floor, that followed suit.
There he was disrobed, with speeches of mirth,
the burden of his mail and his bright clothes.
Rich robes full readily retainers brought him,
to check and to change and choose of the best.
Soon as he held one, and hastened therein,
that sat on him seemly, with spreading skirts,
verdant in his visage Spring verily seemed
to well nigh everyone, in all its hues,
glowing and lovely, all his limbs under,
that a comelier knight never Christ made,
they thought.
However he came here,
it seemed that he ought
to be prince without peer
on fields where fell men fought.

A chair before the chimney, where charcoal burned,
graciously set for Gawain, was gracefully adorned,
coverings on quilted cushions, cunningly crafted both.
And then a mighty mantle was on that man cast
of a brown silk, embroidered full rich,
and fair furred within with pelts of the best –
the finest ermine on earth – his hood of the same.
And he sat on that settle seemly and rich,
and chafed himself closely, and then his cheer mended.
Straightway a table on trestles was set up full fair,
clad with a clean cloth that clear white showed,
the salt-cellars, napkins and silvered spoons.
The knight washed at his will, and went to his meat.
Servants him served seemly enough
with several soups, seasoned of the best,
double bowlfuls, as fitting, and all kinds of fish,
some baked in bread, some browned on the coals,
some seethed, some in stews savoured with spices,
and sauces ever so subtle that the knight liked.
While he called it a feast full freely and oft
most politely, at which all spurred him on politely
‘This penance now you take,
after it shall amend.’
That man much mirth did make,
for the wine to his head did tend.

Then they sparred and parried in precious style
with private points put to the prince himself,
so he conceded courteously of that court he came,
where noble Arthur is headman himself alone,
that is the right royal king of the Round Table;
and that it is Gawain himself that in that house sits,
come there at Christmas, as chance has him driven.
When the lord learned what prince that he there had,
loud laughed he thereat, so delightful he thought it,
and all the men in that manse made it a joy
to appear in his presence promptly that time,
who all prize and prowess and purest ways
appends to his person, and praised is ever;
above all men upon earth his honour is most.
Each man full softly said to his neighbour:
‘Now shall we see show of seemliest manners
and the faultless phrases of noble speaking.
What superior speech is, unasked we shall learn,
since we have found this fine master of breeding.
God has given us of his goodly grace forsooth,
that such a guest as Gawain grants us to have,
when barons blithe at His birth shall sit
and sing.
The meaning of manners here
this knight now shall us bring.
I hope whoever may hear
Shall learn of love-making.’

When the dinner was done and the diners risen,
it was nigh on the night that the time was near.
Chaplains to the chapel took their course,
ringing all men, richly, as they rightly should,
to the holy evensong of that high eventide.
The lord goes thereto and the lady as well;
into a comely enclosure quietly she enters.
Gawain gaily goes forth and thither goes soon;
the lord grasps him by the gown and leads him to sit,
acknowledges him with grace, calls him by name,
and said he was the most welcome man in the world;
and he thanked him thoroughly, they clasped each other,
and sat with sober seeming the service through.
Then liked the lady to look on the knight;
and came from the close with many fine women.
She was the fairest in feature, in flesh and complexion,
and in compass and colour and ways, of all others,
and fairer than Guinevere, as the knight thought.
He strode through the chancel to squire the dame.
Another lady her led by the left hand,
who was older than her, and aged it seemed,
and highly honoured with her men about her.
Not alike though to look on those ladies were,
for if the one was fresh, the other was withered:
rich red in this one distinguished her,
rough wrinkled cheeks on that other, in rolls.
Kerchiefs on this one, with many clear pearls,
her breast and her bright throat bare displayed
shone sweeter than snow that’s shed on the hills;
that other swathed with a wimple wound at the throat,
clothed to her swarthy chin with chalk-white veils,
her forehead folded in silk, enveloped everywhere,
ringed and trellised with trefoils about,
that naught was bare of the lady but the black brows,
the two eyen and nose, the naked lips,
and those were sorry to see, and somewhat bleary –
a great lady on earth a man might her call,
by God!
Her body was short and thick,
her buttocks big and broad;
Much sweeter a sweet to lick
the one at her side for sure.

When Gawain gazed on that gracious-looking girl,
with leave asked of the lord he went to meet them.
The elder he hails, bowing to her full low;
the lovely-looking he laps a little in his arms,
he kisses her courteously and nobly he speaks.
They crave his acquaintance, and he quickly asks
to be their sworn servant, if they themselves wished.
They take him between them, and talking they lead him
to a chamber, to the chimney, and firstly they ask for
spices, which men unstintingly hastened to bring,
and the winning wine with them, every time.
The lord laughing aloft leaps full oft,
minding that mirth be made and many a time,
nobly lifted his hood, and on a spear hung it,
and wished him to win the worth and honour thereof
who most mirth might move at that Christmastide.
‘And I shall swear, by my faith, to strive with the best
before I lose the hood, with the help of my friends.’
Thus with laughing words the lord makes all merry,
for to gladden Sir Gawain with games in the hall
that night.
Till, when it was time,
the lord demanded light.
Gawain his way did find
To bed as best he might.

On the morn, when each man minds that time
the dear Lord for our destiny to die was born,
joy waxes in each house in the world for His sake.
So did it there on that day with dainties many:
both when major and minor meals were eaten
deft men on the dais served of the best.
The old ancient wife highest she sits;
the lord, so I believe, politely beside her.
Gawain and the sweet lady together they sat
in the midst, as the masses came together;
and then throughout the hall, as seemed right,
each man in his degree was graciously served.
There was meat, there was mirth, there was much joy,
that it would be a trouble for me to tell all,
and however perchance I pined to make my point.
But yet I know Gawain and the sweet lady
such comfort of their company caught together
through their dear dalliance of courtly words,
with clean courteous chat, closed from filth,
their play surpassed every princely game with which it
Kettledrums and trumpets,
much piping there of airs;
Each man minded his,
and those two minded theirs.

Much mirth was there driven that day and another,
and a third as thickly thronged came in thereafter;
The joy of St John’s Day was gentle to hear,
and was the last of the larking, the lords thought.
There were guests set to go on the grey morn,
so they stayed wonderfully waking and wine drank,
dancing the day in with noble carols.
At the last, when it was time, they took their leave,
each one to wend on his way into strange parts.
Gawain gave them good day, the good man grasps him,
and leads him to his own chamber, the chimney beside,
and there he grips him tight, heartily thanks him
for the fine favour that he had shown him,
so to honour his house on that Christmastide,
and embellish his burg with his bright cheer.
‘Indeed, sir, while I live, I am the better
for Gawain being my guest at God’s own feast.’
‘Graunt merci, sir,’ quoth Gawain, ‘in good faith it’s yours,
all the honour is your own – the High King requite you!
And I am here, at your will, to work your behest,
as I am beholden to do, in high things and low,
by right.’
The lord was at great pains
To keep longer the knight;
To him answers Gawain
That by no means he might.

Then the lord aimed full fair at him, asking
what daring deed had him driven at that dear time
so keenly from the king’s court to stray all alone,
before the holy holiday was haled out of town.
‘Forsooth, sir,’ quoth the knight, ‘you say but the truth,
a high errand and a hasty had me from those halls,
for I am summoned myself to seek for a place,
with no thought in the world where to go find it.
I would not dare fail find it by New Year’s morning
for all the land in Logres, so me our Lord help!
So, sir, this request I make of you here,
that you tell me true if ever you tale heard
of the green chapel, on what ground it stands,
and of the knight that keeps it, the colour of green.
There was established by statute a pact us between
both to meet at that mark, if I should live;
and of that same New Year but little is wanting,
and I would look on that lord, if God would let me,
more gladly, by God’s Son, than any goods gain.
So, indeed, by your leave, it behoves me to go.
Now to work this business I’ve barely three days,
and it’s fitter I fall dead than fail of my errand.’
Then, laughing, quoth the lord: ‘Now stay, it behoves you,
for I’ll teach you the trysting place ere the term’s end.
The green chapel upon ground grieve for no more;
but you shall be in your bed, sir, at your ease,
while day unfolds, and go forth on the first of the year,
and come to that mark at mid-morn, to act as you wish
and when.
Dwell until New Year’s Day,
and rise and ride on then.
You shall be shown the way;
it is not two miles hence.’

Then was Gawain full glad, and gleefully he laughed:
‘Now I thank you thoroughly beyond all things;
now achieved is my goal, I shall at your will
dwell here, and do what else you deem fit.’
Then the lord seized him and set him beside,
and the ladies had fetched, to please him the better.
There was seemly solace by themselves still.
The lord lofted for love notes so merry,
as one that wanted his wits, nor knew what he did.
Then he cried to the knight, calling aloud:
‘You have deemed to do the deed that I bid.
Will you hold to this promise here and now?’
‘Yes, sire, indeed,’ said the knight and true,
‘While I bide in your burg, I’m at your behest.’
‘As you have travelled,’ quoth the lord, ‘from afar,
and since then waked with me, you are not well served
neither of sustenance nor of sleep, surely I know.
You shall linger in your room and lie there at ease
tomorrow till Mass, and then to meat wend
when you will, with my wife, that with you shall sit
and comfort you with company, till I come to court:
time spend,
And I shall early rise;
a-hunting will I wend.’
Gawain thinks it wise,
as is fitting to him bends.

‘And further,’ quoth the lord, ‘a bargain we’ll make:
whatsoever I win in the wood is worthily yours;
and whatever here you achieve, exchange me for it.
Sweet sir, swap we so – swear it in truth –
whether, lord, that way lies worse or better.’
‘By God,’ quoth Gawain the good, ‘I grant it you,
and that you lust for to play, like it methinks.’
‘Who’ll bring us a beverage, this bargain to make?’
so said the lord of that land. They laughed each one,
they drank and dallied and dealt in trifles,
these lords and ladies, as long as they liked;
and then with Frankish faring, full of fair words,
they stopped and stood and softly spoke,
kissing full comely and taking their leave.
By many lively servants with flaming torches,
each brave man was brought to his bed at last
full soft.
To bed yet ere they sped,
repeating the contract oft;
the old lord of that spread
could keep a game aloft.


Full early before the day the folk were risen;
Guests who would go their grooms they called on,
and they busied them briskly the beasts to saddle,
tightening their tackle, trussing their baggage.
The richest ready themselves to ride all arrayed,
leaping up lightly, latched onto their bridles,
each rode out by the way that he most liked.
The beloved lord of the land was not the last
arrayed for the riding, with ranks full many;
ate a sop hastily, when he had heard Mass,
with horns to the hunting field he hastens away.
By the time that daylight gleamed upon earth,
he with his knights on high horses were.
Then the cunning hunters coupled their hounds,
unclosed the kennel door and called them out,
blew briskly on their bugles three bare notes;
braches bayed therefore, and bold noise made,
and men chastised and turned those that chasing went,
a hundred of hunters, as I have heard tell,
of the best.
To station, keepers strode,
huntsmen leashes off-cast;
great rumpus in that wood
there rose with their good blasts.

At the first call of the quest quaked the wild;
deer drove for the dales, darting for dread,
hied to the high ground, but swiftly they were
stayed by the beaters, with their stout cries.
They let the harts with high branched heads have way,
the brave bucks also with their broad antlers;
for the noble lord had bidden that in close season
no man there should meddle with those male deer.
The hinds were held back with a ‘Hey’ and a ‘Ware!’
The does driven with great din to the deep coves.
There might men see, as they loosed, the slanting of arrows;
at each winding of the wood whistled a flight,
that bit into brown flanks, with broad blade-heads.
What screaming and bleeding, by banks they lay dying,
and ever the hounds in a rush hard on them followed,
hunters with high horn-calls hastened them after,
with such a crack and cry as cliffs were bursting.
What wild beasts so escaped the men shooting
were all dragged down and rent by the new reserves,
when hunted from high ground, and harried to water.
The lads were so skilled at the lower stations,
and the greyhounds so great, that gripped so quickly
and dragged them down, as swift I swear,
as sight.
In bliss without alloy
the lord does spur or alight,
and passes that day with joy
and so to the dark night.

Thus larks the lord by linden-wood eaves,
while Gawain the good man gaily abed lies,
lurks till the daylight gleams on the walls,
under canopy full clear, curtained about.
And as in slumber he lay, softly he heard
a little sound at his door, and it slid open;
and he heaves up his head out of the clothes,
a corner of the curtain he caught up a little,
and watches warily to make out what it might be.
It was the lady, the loveliest to behold,
that drew the door after her full silent and still,
and bent her way to the bed; and the knight ashamed,
laid him down again lightly and feigned to sleep.
And she stepped silently and stole to his bed,
caught up the curtain and crept within,
and sat her full softly on the bedside
and lingered there long, to look when he wakened.
The lord lay low, lurked a full long while,
compassing in his conscience what this case might
mean or amount to, marvelling in thought.
But yet he said to himself: ‘More seemly it were
to descry with speech, in a space, what she wishes.’
Then he wakened and wriggled and to her he turned,
and lifted his eyelids and let on he was startled,
and signed himself with his hand, as with prayer, to be
With chin and cheek full sweet,
both white and red together,
full graciously did she greet,
lips light with laughter.

‘Good morning, Sir Gawain,’ said that sweet lady,
‘You are a sleeper unsafe, that one may slip hither.
Now are you taken in a trice, lest a truce we shape,
I shall bind you in your bed, that you may trust.’
All laughing the lady made her light jests.
‘Good morrow, sweet,’ quoth Gawain the blithe,
‘I shall work your will, and that I well like,
for I yield me swiftly and sue for grace;
and that is the best, to my mind, since behoves I must.’
And thus he jested again with much blithe laughter.
‘But would you, lovely lady, but grant me leave
and release your prisoner and pray him to rise,
I would bound from this bed and dress me better,
I should discover more comfort in speaking with you.’
‘Nay, forsooth, beau sire,’ said that sweet,
‘You shall not rise from your bed. I charge you better:
I shall wrap you up here on this other side,
and then chat with my knight whom I have caught;
for I know well, indeed, Sir Gawain you are,
that all the world worships, wherever you ride.
Your honour, your courtesy, is nobly praised
among lords, among ladies, all who life bear.
And now you are here, indeed, and we on our own;
my lord and his lords are far off faring,
other knights are abed, and my ladies also,
the door drawn and shut with a strong hasp.
And since I have in this house him who all like,
I shall work my time well, while it lasts,
with a tale.
Your are welcome to my body,
Your pleasure to take all;
I must by necessity
your servant be, and shall.’

‘In good faith,’ quoth Gawain, ‘a gain’s that me thinks,
though I be not now him of whom you are speaking;
to reach to such reverence as you rehearse here,
I am all ways unworthy, I know well myself.
By God, I’d be glad though if you thought it fit
in speech or service that I might set myself
to the pleasing of your worth – that were a pure joy.’
‘In good faith, Sir Gawain,’ quoth the sweet lady,
‘The worth and the prowess that pleases all others,
if I slighted or thought light of it, that were little grace;
but there are ladies enough that would far rather
have you, dear man, to hold, as I have you here,
to dally dearly in your delightful words,
comfort themselves and ease their cares,
than make much of the treasure and gold they have.
But as I love that same Lord that the heavens rules,
I have wholly in my hand what all desire
through grace.’
She made him thus sweet cheer,
who was so fair of face;
the knight with speeches clear
answered her every case.

‘Madam,’ quoth the merry man, ‘Mary give you grace,
for I have found, in good faith, your friendship is noble.
Others gain full much of other folks praise for their deeds,
but the deference they deal me is undeserved in my case.
It is honour to you that naught but good you perceive.’
‘By Mary,’ quoth the lady, ‘methinks it otherwise;
for were I worth all the wonder of women alive,
and all the wealth of the world were in my hand,
and I should bargain to win myself a brave lord,
with the qualities that I know of you, knight, here,
of beauty and debonair and blithe seeming,
that I hearkened to ere now and have here found true,
then should no errant on earth before you be chosen.’
‘Indeed, lady,’ quoth the knight, ‘you have done much better;
but I am proud of the value you place on me,
and, solemnly your servant, my sovereign I hold you,
and your knight I become, and Christ reward you!’
Thus they mulled many matters till mid-morn passed,
and ever the lady let fall that she loved him much;
yet the knight held to his guard, and acted full fair.
‘Though I were loveliest lady,’ so her mind had it,
‘the less is there love in his load’ – for his fate he sought
that one,
the stroke that should him cleave,
and it must needs be done.
The lady then sought to leave,
he granting her that boon.

Then she gave him good day, with a laughing glance,
and stunned him as she stood there, with cutting words:
‘May He who speeds each speech reward you this sport!
But that you should be Gawain, it baffles the mind.’
‘Wherefore?’ quoth the knight, and urgently asked,
fearful lest he had failed in forms of politeness.
But the lady blessed him and spoke as follows:
‘One gracious as Gawain is rightly held to be,
with courtesy contained so clear in himself,
could not lightly have lingered so long with a lady,
but he had craved a kiss out of courtesy,
with some trifling touch at some tale’s end.’
Then quoth Gawain: ‘Indeed, let it be as you like;
I shall kiss at your command, as befits a knight,
and further, lest I displease you, so plead no more.’
She comes nearer at that, and catches him in her arms,
leans lovingly down, and the lord kisses.
They graciously commend to Christ one another;
and she goes out at the door with not a word more;
And he readies himself to rise and hurries anon,
calls to his chamberlain, chooses his clothes,
going forth, when he is ready, blithely to Mass.
And then he went to the noble meal that awaited,
and made merry all day till the moonrise,
at games.
Was never knight fairer sung
between two such noble dames,
the elder and the young;
much joy had they of the same.

And ever the lord of the land intent on his games,
hunted, in holts and heath, for barren hinds,
Such a sum he there slew by the set of sun,
of does and other deer, it were deemed a wonder.
Then fiercely they flocked in, folk at the last,
and quickly of the quenched deer a heap they made.
The noblest sped there with servants enough,
gathered the quarry greatest in flesh that were there,
and had them deftly undone as custom demands.
Some that were there searched them in assay,
and two fingers of fat they found on the feeblest.
Then they slit the slot, and seized the first stomach,
shaved it with sharp knives, and knotted the sheared.
Then lopped off the four limbs and rent off the hide,
next broke they the belly, the bowels out-taking,
deftly, lest they undid and destroyed the knot.
They gripped the gullet, and swiftly severed
the weasand from the windpipe and whipped out the guts.
Then sheared out the shoulders with their sharp knives,
hauled them through a little hole, left the sides whole.
Then they slit up the breast and broke it in twain.
And again at the gullet one then began
rending all readily right to the fork,
voiding the entrails, and verily thereafter
all the membranes by the ribs readily loosened.
So too they cleared to the backbone, rightly,
even down to the haunch that hangs from the same,
and heaved it all up whole and hewed it off there.
and that they properly call the numbles, I deem,
by kind.
At the fork then of the thighs
they loose the lappets behind;
to hew it in two they hie,
by the backbone it to unbind.

Both the head and the neck they hewed off then,
and after sundered the sides swift from the chine,
and the ravens’ fee they cast into a grove.
Then they skewered each thick flank by the ribs,
and hung each up by the hocks of the haunches,
every fellow taking his fee as it fell to him.
On a skin of the fair beast fed they their hounds
with the liver and lights, and the stomach lining,
and bread bathed in blood blent there among.
Boldly they blew the kill their hounds a-baying;
then rode home with the flesh tightly packed,
stalwartly sounding out many stout notes.
As the daylight was done, the company came
to the comely castle, where our knight bides
all still,
in bliss by bright fire set.
The lord is come from the hill;
when Gawain with him is met,
there they but joy as they will.

Then the lord commanded all be summoned to the hall,
both the ladies, aloft, to descend with their maids.
Before all the folk on the floor, he bid men
verily his venison to bring there before him;
and all gaily in courtesy Gawain he called,
and tells over the tally of full fat beasts,
shows him the fine flesh shorn from the ribs.
‘How does this sport please you? Have I won praise?
Have I won thanks, thoroughly served by my craft?’
‘Yes, indeed,’ quoth the other, ‘here spoils are fairest
of all I have seen this seven-year in season of winter.’
‘And I give all this to you, Gawain,’ quoth the man then,
‘for according to covenant you may call it your own.’
‘That is so,’ quoth the knight, ‘I say you the same:
what I have worthily won this house within,
shall with as good a will be worthily yours.’
And he clasps his fair neck his arms within,
and kisses him in as comely a way as he can:
‘Take you there my prize, I received no more;
I would grant it all, though it were greater.’
‘That is good,’ quoth the lord, ‘many thanks therefore.
This may be the better gift, if you would tell me
where you won this same prize by your own wits.’
‘That was not pledged,’ quoth he, ‘ask me no more;
for you have taken what’s due, none other to you
I owe.’
They laughed and made blithe
with words worth praise, and so
to supper then side by side,
with dainties in plenty go.

And then by the chimney in chamber sitting,
servants brought to them choice wines oft,
and in their banter they agreed in that morn
to fulfil the same bond they had made before:
what chance might betide, their prize to exchange,
each new thing they named, at night when they met.
They made accord of this covenant before all the court;
and beverage was brought forth in banter at this time.
Then they lovingly took their leave at the last,
each man at his leaving going brisk to his bed.
When the cock had crowed and cackled but thrice,
the lord leapt from his bed, the liegemen each one,
so that meat and a Mass were swiftly delivered,
the company off to the wood, ere daylight sprang,
to the chase.
Proudly with huntsmen and horns
through wilds they passed apace,
uncoupled among the thorns,
the hounds ran headlong race.

Soon they called for a search by the marsh-side,
the huntsman urged on the first hounds up,
wild cries he uttered with wondrous noise.
The hounds that heard him hastened there swiftly,
and fell as fast to the trail, forty at once.
Then such a baying and clamour of gathered hounds
rose that the rocks rang out all about.
Huntsmen harried them with horn and by mouth;
then all in a pack they swung together
between a pool in that place and a cruel crag.
On a knoll by a cliff, at the marsh side,
where the rough rock had ruggedly fallen,
they sped to the finding, the huntsmen after.
They surrounded the crag and the knoll both,
while they made sure they had well within
the beast that was bayed at, there, by their bloodhounds.
Then they beat at the bushes and bade him rise up,
and he savagely swung athwart the huntsmen –
a most splendid boar it was, rushed out there,
solitary through age, long split from the herd,
but he was still mighty, the greatest of boars,
full grim when he grunted. Then grieved many
for three hounds at first thrust he felled to the earth,
and sped him forth at great speed all unscathed.
The hunt hallooed ‘Hi!’ full loud, and cried ‘Hey! Hey!
and horns to mouths, hastily recalled them.
Many were the merry cries of men and of hounds
that brisk chased the boar, with barking and clamour,
to quell,
Full oft he bides at bay
and downs the dogs pell-mell;
he harries the hounds, and they
full piteously yowl and yell.

Shaping to shoot him some shoved through then,
hurling their arrows at him, hitting him often;
but their points were parried by bristling flanks,
and their barbs would not bite there in his brow,
though the smooth shaft were shattered in pieces,
the head skipped away wherever it hit.
but when by dint of dire strokes they damaged him,
then, maddened by baiting, he rushes the men,
hurts them full heavily as forth he hies,
and many were awed at that and drew backwards.
But the lord on a lithe horse lunges after him,
as knight bold in the battle his bugle he blows,
rallied the hounds as he rode through rank thicket,
pursuing this wild swine till the sun had set.
The day with these same deeds they passed in this wise,
while our courteous knight lay in his bed,
Gawain gladly at home, in gear full rich
of hue.
The lady did not forget,
to come to greet him too;
full early she him beset
to seek a change of mood.

She came to the curtain and peeped at the knight.
Sir Gawain welcomed her courteously first,
and she answered him again eager her words,
sits herself soft by his side, and sweetly she laughs,
and with a loving look she led with these words:
‘Sir, if you be Gawain, it’s a wonder methinks,
why one so well disposed always to good,
knows not how to manage his manners in company,
and if any teach you to know them, you cast them from mind.
You have swiftly forgot what but yesterday I taught
with all the truest tokens of talk that I could.’
‘What is that?’ quoth the knight, ‘Indeed I know not.
If it be truth that you breathe, the blame is mine own.’
‘Yet I taught you of kissing.’ quoth the fair dame,
‘where countenance is fair, quick make your claim;
that becomes every knight that courtesy uses.’
‘Unsay,’ quoth that brave man, ‘my dear, that speech,
for that I dare not do, lest I were denied;
if I were spurned, I’d be wrong, indeed, to have proffered.’
‘By my faith,’ quoth the lady, ‘you cannot be spurned;
you are strong enough to constrain by strength, if you like,
if any were so villainous as to deny you.’
‘Yes, by God,’ quoth Gawain, ‘true is your speech,
but threats do never thrive in the land where I live,
nor any gift that is given without a good will.
I am at your command, to kiss when you like;
you may lip when you will, and leave when you wish
in a space.’
The lady bends her adown
and sweetly she kisses his face;
much speech they there expound
of love, its grief and grace.

‘I would know of you, knight,’ that lady then said,
‘if you are not angered by this, what is the reason
that so young and lively a one as you at this time,
so courteous, so knightly, as widely you’re known
(and from all chivalry to choose, the chief things praised
are the laws of loyal love, and the lore of arms;
for in telling those tales of the truest of knights,
all the title and text of their works is taken
from how lords hazard their lives for loyal love,
endured for that duty’s sake dreadful trials,
and after with valour avenged, and void their cares,
brought bliss to the bower by bounties their own)
and you, the knight, the noblest child of your age,
your high fame and honour told everywhere,
why I have sat by yourself here separately twice,
yet heard I never that your head held even a word
that ever belonged to love, the less nor the more.
And you, that are so courteous and coy of your vows,
ought, to a young thing, to yearn to show
and teach some tokens of true love’s craft
What! Are you ignorant, who garner all praise,
or else do you deem me too dull to heed your dalliance?
For shame!
I come hither single and sit
to learn of you some game;
do teach me of your wit,
while my lord is away.’

‘In good faith,’ quoth Gawain, ‘may God reward you!
Great is the gladness, and pleasure to me,
that so worthy as you should wind her way hither,
at pains with so poor a man as to sport with your knight
with any show of favour – it sets me at ease.
But to take on the travail myself of expounding true love,
and touch on the themes of the texts and tales of arms
to you who, I know well, wield more skill
in that art, by half, than a hundred of such
as I am or ever shall be, on this earth where I live –
that were a manifold folly, my dear, by my troth.
I would your wishes work if ever I might,
as I am highly beholden, and evermore will
be servant to yourself, so save me God!’
Thus that lady framed her questions and tempted him oft,
for to win him to woe, whatever else she thought of;
but he defended himself so fairly no fault it seemed,
no evil on either hand, nor did they know aught
but bliss.
They laughed and larked full long;
at the last she did him kiss,
farewell was on her tongue,
and went her way, with this.

Then bestirs him the knight and rises for Mass,
and then the dinner was done and duly served.
The knight with the ladies larked all day,
but the lord of the land gallops full oft,
hunts the ill-fated swine, that surges by banks
and bites the best of his hounds’ backs asunder
biding at bay, till bowmen bettered him,
made him head for the open, for all he could do,
so fast flew the arrows where those folk gathered.
But yet at times the bravest he made to start,
till at the last so weary he was he could not run,
but, with best haste he might, to a hole he wins
in the bank, by a rock where runs the burn.
He got the bank at his back, began to scrape,
the froth foamed from his mouth foul at the corners,
and he whet his white tusks. It was irksome then
to the all the beaters so bold that by him stood
to harass him from afar, but nigh him no man
dared go.
He had hurt so many before
that all were then full loath
to be torn by his tusks once more,
that was fierce and frenzied both.

Till the lord came himself, urged on his horse,
saw the boar bide at bay, his men beside.
He alights lively adown, leaves his courser,
brings out a bright blade and boldly strides forth,
fast through the ford, where the fell foe bides.
The wild beast was wary of one with a weapon in hand,
his bristles rose high, so fiercely he snorts
that folk feared for the lord, lest worst him befell.
The swine straight away set on the man,
that the baron and boar were both in a heap,
in the white water. The worst had the creature,
For the man marked him well, as they first met,
set the sharp point firm in its chest-hollow,
hit him up to the hilt, so the heart burst asunder,
and he yielded him snarling, downstream was swept
A hundred hounds him rent,
that bravely could him bite;
beaters brought him to bank
and the dogs to death, in fight.

There was blowing the kill on many brave horns,
hallooing on high as loud as men might;
Hounds bayed at the beast, as bid by their masters,
who of that hard chase were the chief huntsmen.
Then a man who was wisest in woodcraft
with loving care to undo the beast begins:
first he hews off his head and sets it on high,
then rends him roughly along the ridge of his back,
brings out the bowels, and broils them on coals,
with bread blent therewith his hounds rewards.
Then he breaks out the brawn in broad bright slabs,
and has out the entrails, as is seemly and right;
attaches the two halves wholly together,
and then on a strong stake stoutly them hangs.
Now with this same swine they set off for home;
the boar’s head was borne before the baron himself,
who felled him down by the ford through force of his hand
so strong.
Till he saw Sir Gawain
in the hall it seemed full long;
he calls, and he comes again
for the dues that to him belong.

The lord, full loud he cried, laughed merrily
when he saw Sir Gawain; and with joy he speaks.
The good ladies were summoned, the household gathered;
he shows him the boar’s sides, and shapes him the tale
of the largeness and length, the malignity also,
of the war on the wild swine in woods where he fled.
So the other knight full nobly commended his deeds,
and praised it, the great merit that he had proved;
for such brawn from a beast, the brave knight said,
nor such flanks on a swine he’d not seen before.
Then they handled the huge head, the knight gave praise,
and showed horror at it, for the lord to hear.
‘Now Gawain,’ quoth the good man, ‘this game is your own,
by a firm and fast promise, as in faith you know.’
‘That is true,’ quoth the knight, ‘and as surely true
is that all I got I shall give you again, by my troth.’
He clasped the lord at the neck and gently kissed him,
and after that of the same he again served him there.
‘Now are we even quit,’ quoth the knight, ‘this eventide,
of all the covenants made here, since I came hither,
by law.’
The lord said: ‘By Saint Giles,
you are the best that I know;
you’ll be rich in a while,
if your trade continues so.’

Then they set up tables on trestles aloft,
casting cloths on them. Clear light then
wakened the walls, waxen torches
servants set, and served food all about.
Much gladness and glee gushed out therein
round the fire on the floor, and in fulsome wise
at the supper and after, many noble songs,
such as Christmas carols and dances new,
with all manner of mirth that man may tell of,
and ever our courteous knight the lady beside.
Such sweetness to that man she showed all seemly,
with secret stolen glances, that stalwart knight to please,
that all wondering was the man, and wrath with himself;
but he could not out of breeding spurn her advances,
but dealt with her daintily, howsoever the deed might
be cast.
When they had dallied in hall
as long as their will might last,
to chamber the lord him called,
and to the hearth they passed.

And there they drank and debated and decided anew
to act on the same terms on New Year’s Eve;
but the knight craved leave to go forth on the morn,
for it was nearing the time when he must go.
The lord persuaded him not to, pressed him to linger,
and said: ‘As I am true, I pledge you my troth
you shall gain the Green Chapel, and render your dues,
sir, by New Year’s light, long before prime.
And so go lie in your room and take your ease,
and I shall hunt in the holt and hold to the covenant,
exchanging what has chanced, when I spur hither;
for I have tested you twice, and faithful I find you.
Now: “third time pays all,” think on that tomorrow;
Make we merry while we may, and mind only joy,
for a man may find sorrow whenever he likes.’
This was graciously granted and Gawain lingered;
Blithely they brought him drink, and bed-wards they went
with light.
Sir Gawain lies down and sleeps
full still and soft all night;
the lord who to woodcraft keeps,
rises early and bright.

After Mass a morsel he and his men took;
merry was the morning, his mount he summoned.
All the men that a-horse were followed him after,
ready set on their steeds before the hall gates.
Fairest of fair was the field, for the frost clung.
In red ruddiness on wrack rises the sun,
and, full clear, casts the clouds from the welkin.
Huntsmen unleashed the hounds by a holt side;
rocks in woods rang out with the cry of the horns.
some hounds fell to the track where the fox lurked,
oft traversing the trail by dint of their wiles.
A little one cried scent, the huntsman to him called;
his fellows fell to, panting full thick,
running forth in a rabble on the right track.
And fox frisked before them; they found him soon,
and when they had him in sight pursued him fast,
marking him clearly with wrathful noise;
and he twists and turns through many a tangled grove,
doubles back and hearkens by hedges full often.
At the last by a little ditch he leaps over a thicket,
steals out full silent by the side of a valley,
thinks to slip from the wood by guile, from the hounds.
Then he came, ere he knew it, to a fine hunt-station,
where three hounds in a cleft threaten him together,
all grey.
There he started aside
and boldly he did stray;
with all the woe in life,
to the wood he went away.

Then was it lively delight to list to the hounds,
when all the meet had met him, mingled together.
Such curses at that sight rained down on his head
as if all the clinging cliffs clattered down in a heap.
Here was he hallooed when huntsmen met him,
loud was he greeted with snarling speech;
there he was threatened and called thief often,
and ever the hounds at his tail, that he might not tarry.
Oft he was rushed at when he made for the open,
and often swerved back again, so wily was Reynard.
and so he led them astray, the lord and his liegemen,
in this manner by mountains till after mid-morning,
while the honoured knight at home happily slept
within the comely curtains, on that cold morn.
But the lady for love could get no sleep,
nor could the purpose impair pitched in her heart,
but rose up swiftly, and took herself thither
in a merry mantle, that reached the earth,
that was furred full fine with purest pelts;
without coif on her head, but the noblest gems
traced about her hair-net by twenties in clusters;
her fair face and her throat shown all naked,
her breast bare before, and her back the same.
She came in by the chamber door and closed it after,
threw open a window and to the knight called,
and roundly thus rebuked him with her rich words
with cheer:
‘Ah! Man, how can you sleep?
This morning is so clear.’
He was in slumber deep,
and yet he could her hear.

In heavy depths of dreaming murmured that noble,
as one that was troubled with thronging thoughts,
of how destiny would that day deal him his fate
at the Green Chapel, where he must meet his man,
bound there to bear his buffet without more debate.
But when he had fully recovered his wits,
he started from dreaming and answered in haste.
The lovely lady with laughter so sweet,
bent over his fair face and fully him kissed.
He welcomed her worthily with noble cheer;
he saw her so glorious and gaily attired,
so faultless of feature and of such fine hue,
bright welling joy warmed all his heart.
With sweet smiling softly they slip into mirth,
that to all bliss and beauty, that breaks between them,
they win.
They spoke in words full good,
much pleasure was therein;
in great peril would have stood,
kept not Mary her knight from sin.

For that peerless princess pressed him so closely,
urged him so near the edge, he felt it behoved him
either to bow to her love, or with loathing refuse her.
He cared for his courtesy, lest he were churlish,
and more for the mischief if he should work sin
and be traitor to that lord who held the dwelling.
‘God shield us!’ quoth the knight, ‘that must not befall!’
With loving laughter a little he put aside
all the special pleading that sprang from her mouth.
Quoth beauty to the brave: ‘Blame you deserve,
if you love not that live lady that you lie next,
who above all of the world is wounded in heart,
unless you have a leman, a lover, that you like better,
and firm of faith to that fair one, fastened so hard
that you list not to loose it – and that I believe.
If that you tell me that truly, I pray you;
by all the lovers alive, hide not the truth
with guile.’
The knight said: ‘By Saint John,’
and gentle was his smile
‘In faith I love no one,
nor none will love the while.’

‘These words,’ said the lady, ‘are the worst words of all;
but I am answered forsooth, so that it grieves me.
Kiss me now gently, and I shall go hence;
I may but mourn upon earth, a maid that loves much.’
Sighing she stooped down, and sweetly him kissed,
and then she severs from him, and says as she stands:
‘Now, dear, at this our parting set me at ease:
give me something, a gift, if only your glove,
that I may think of you, man, my mourning to lessen.’
‘Now indeed,’ quoth the knight, ‘I would I had here
the dearest thing, for your sake, I own in the world,
for you have deserved, forsooth, and in excess,
a richer reward, by rights, than I might reckon;
but as a love-token, this would profit you little.
It is not to your honour to have at this time
a glove of Gawain’s giving to treasure;
and I am here on an errand in lands unknown,
and have no servants with sacks of precious things.
I dislike this, my lady, for your sake, at this time;
but each man must do as he must, take it not ill
nor pine.’
‘Nay, knight of high honours,’
quoth that love-some lady fine,
‘though I shall have naught of yours,
yet shall you have of mine.’

She proffered him a rich ring of red gold work,
with a sparkling stone glittering aloft,
that blazed brilliant beams like the bright sun;
know you well that it’s worth was full huge.
But the knight refused it and he readily said:
‘I’ll no gifts, before God, my dear, at this time;
I have none to give you, nor naught will I take.’
She offered it him eagerly, yet he her gift spurned,
and swore swiftly his oath that he would not seize it;
and she grieved he refused her, and said thereafter:
‘Since you reject my ring, too rich it may seem,
for you would not be so high beholden to me,
I shall give you my girdle: that profits you less.’
She loosed a belt lightly that lay round her sides,
looped over her kirtle beneath her bright mantle.
Gear it was of green silk and with gold trimmed,
at the edges embroidered, with finger-stitching;
and that she offered the knight, and blithely besought
that he would take it though it were unworthy.
but he said he might have nigh him in no wise
neither gold nor treasure, ere God sent him grace,
to achieve the errand he had chosen there.
‘And therefore, I pray you, be not displeased,
and let your gift go, for I swear it I can never
you grant.
To you I am deeply beholden,
your kindness is so pleasant,
and ever in heat and cold, then
I’ll be your true servant.’

‘Now do you shun this silk,’ said the lady,
‘because it is simple in itself? And so it may seem.
Lo! It is slight indeed, and so is less worthy.
But whoso knew the worth woven therein
he would hold it in higher praise, perchance;
for whatever man is girt with this green lace,
while he has it closely fastened about him,
there is no man under heaven might hew him,
for he may not be slain by any sleight upon earth.’
Then the knight thought, and it came to his heart,
it was a jewel for the jeopardy judged upon him,
when he gained the Green Chapel, his fate to find;
if he might slip past un-slain, the sleight were noble.
Then he indulged her suit, and told her to speak.
And she pressed the belt on him urging it eagerly;
and he granted it, and she gave it him with goodwill,
and besought him, for her sake, never to reveal it,
but loyally conceal it from her lord. The knight agrees
that no one should know of it, indeed, but they two,
He thanked her as he might,
with all his heart and mind.
By then the gallant knight,
she had kissed three times.

Then took she her leave and left him there,
for more of that man she might not get.
When she is gone, Sir Gawain attires himself,
rises and dresses himself in noble array,
lays aside the love-lace the lady gave him,
hides it full handily where he might find it.
Then swiftly to the chapel took he his way,
privately approached a priest, and there prayed him
that he would enlighten his life and teach him better
how his soul might be saved when he went hence.
Then he shrove himself fully, eschewed his misdeeds
the major and minor, and mercy beseeches,
and calls on the priest for absolution;
and he absolved him surely and left him so pure
that Doomsday yet might be declared on the morn.
And then he made himself merry among the fair ladies,
with comely carols and all manner of joy,
more than ever before that day, till the dark night,
in bliss.
Each one had courtesy there
of him, and said: ‘He is
the merriest he was ever
since he came hither, ere this.’

Now long in that leisure there let him abide!
Yet is the lord on his land, pursuing his sport.
He has done for the fox that he followed so long.
As he spurred through a spinney to spy the shrew,
there where he heard the hounds harry him on,
Reynard came rushing through the rough grove,
and all the rabble in a race, right at his heels.
The lord, aware of the wild thing, warily waits,
and brandishes his bright blade, drives at the beast.
And it shunned the sharp edge and sought to retreat;
but a hound rushed at him, before ere he might,
and right before the horse’s feet they fell on him all
and worried the wily one with a wrathful noise.
The lord swiftly alighted then and latched on,
raised him full suddenly out of the ravening mouths,
holds him high over his head, halloos full loud,
while there bayed at him many brave hounds.
Huntsmen hied them thither with horns full many,
sounding the rally aright till they saw their lord.
When his noble company had all come in,
all that ever bore bugle blew at once,
and all the others hallooed who had no horn.
It was the merriest meet that ever men heard,
the ripe roar raised there for Reynard’s soul from every
man’s throat.
Their hounds they then reward,
Their heads they fondle and stroke;
and then they take Reynard
and strip him of his coat.

And then they hurry for home, for it was nigh night,
striking up strongly on their stout horns.
The lord alights at last at his much-loved home,
finds fire upon hearth, the knight there beside,
Sir Gawain the good who glad was withal –
for among the ladies he was joyfully beloved.
He wore a gown of blue that reached to the ground.
His surcoat suited him well, all soft with fur,
and his hood of the same hung from his shoulder,
trimmed all with ermine were both all about.
He met with the lord in the midst of the floor,
and all with joy did him greet, and gladly he said:
‘I shall fulfil the first our contract now,
that we settled so speedily sparing no drink.’
Then he clasped the lord and kissed him thrice,
as strongly and steadily as he well could.
‘By Christ,’ quoth the other, ‘you’ve found much luck
in transacting this trade, if your profit was good.’
‘You need not care about profit,’ quick quoth the other,
‘as I’ve promptly paid over the profit I took.’
‘Marry,’ quoth the other, ‘my own falls behind,
for I have hunted all this day, and naught have I got
but this foul fox fell – the fiend take such goods! –
and that’s a poor price to pay for such precious things
as you so have given me here, three such kisses
so good.’
‘Enough,’ quoth Sir Gawain,
‘I thank you, by the Rood.’
And how the fox was slain
the lord told as they stood.

With mirth and minstrelsy, with meals at will,
they made as merry as any men might,
with laughter of ladies, and jesting with words.
Gawain and the good man so glad are they both:
must be, lest the diners are drunkards or dotards.
Both master and men played many jokes,
till the time it was come that they must sever;
his men at the last must go to their beds.
Then humbly his leave of the lord at first
takes the noble knight, and fairly him thanks:
‘For such a splendid sojourn as I have had here,
your honour at this high feast, the High King reward you!
I would give myself as one of your men, if you so like;
but I must needs, as you know, move on tomorrow,
if you’ll grant me a guide to show, as you promised,
the way to the Green Chapel, as God wills for me
to be dealt on New Year’s day the doom my fate brings.’
‘In good faith,’ quoth the good man, ‘by my goodwill
all that ever I promised you, I shall hold ready.’
Then he assigned him a servant to show him the way
and conduct him through the hills, so he’d not delay,
and faring through forest and thickset the shortest way
he’d weave.
The lord Gawain did thank,
such honour he did receive.
Then of the ladies of rank
the knight must take his leave.

With sad care and kissing he spoke to them still,
and full heartfelt thanks he pressed on them:
and they yielded him again replies the same,
commending him to Christ then with frozen sighs.
So from the company he courteously parts;
each man that he met, he gave him his thanks
for his service and for the solicitous care
that they had shown busied about him in serving;
and all were as sorry to sever from him there
as if they had dwelt nobly with that knight ever.
Then the lads with lights led him to his chamber,
and blithely brought him to bed to be at his rest.
If he did not sleep soundly, I dare say nothing,
for he had much on the morrow to mind, if he would,
in thought.
Let him lie there quite still,
he is near what he sought;
and quiet you a while until
I tell you of all that they wrought.


Now nears the New Year and the night passes,
the day drives away dark, as the Deity bids.
But wild weather awoke in the world outside,
clouds cast cold keenly down to the earth,
with wind enough from the north, to flail the flesh.
The snow sleeted down sharp, and nipped the wild;
the whistling wind wailed from the heights
and drove each dale full of drifts full great.
The knight listened full well, as he lay in his bed.
Though he closes his lids, full little he sleeps;
with each cock that crew he well knew his tryst.
Deftly he dressed himself, ere the day sprang,
for there was a lighted lamp gleamed in his chamber.
He called to his servant who promptly replied,
and bade him bring coat of mail and saddle his mount;
the man rises up and fetches him his clothes,
and attires Sir Gawain in splendid style.
First he clad him in clothes to ward off the cold,
and then in his harness, that burnished was kept,
both his belly-armour and plate, polished full bright,
the rings of his rich mail-coat rubbed free of rust;
and all was as fresh as at first, and he to give thanks
was glad.
He had put on each piece
and in bright armour clad ;
fairest from here to Greece,
his steed to be brought he bade.

While he wound himself in the most splendid weeds –
his coat-armour with its badge of clear deeds,
set out upon velvet, with virtuous stones
embellished and bound about it, embroidered seams,
and fair lined within with fine furs –
yet he forgot not the lace, the lady’s gift;
that Gawain did not fail of, for his own good.
when he had bound the blade on his smooth haunches,
then he wound the love-token twice him about,
swiftly swathed it about his waist sweetly that knight.
The girdle of green silk that gallant well suited,
upon that royal red cloth that rich was to show.
But it was not for its richness he wore this girdle,
nor for pride in the pendants, though polished they were,
and though the glittering gold gleamed at the ends,
but to save himself when it behoved him to suffer,
to abide baneful stroke without battling with blade
or knife.
With that the knight all sound,
goes swift to risk his life;
all the men of renown
he thanks, prepares for strife.

Then was Gringolet readied, that was huge and great,
and had been stabled snugly and in secure wise;
he was eager to gallop, that proud horse then.
The knight went to him and gazed at his coat,
and said soberly to himself, and swore by the truth:
‘Here are many, in this motte, that of honour think.
The man who maintains it, joy may he have!
The fair lady through life may love her befall!
Thus if they for charity cherish a guest,
and hold honour in their hand, the Lord them reward
who upholds the heavens on high, and also you all!
And if I should live for any while upon earth,
I would grant you some reward readily, if I might.’
Then steps he into the stirrup and strides aloft.
His man showed him his shield; on shoulder he slung it,
gives spur to Gringolet with his gilded heels,
and he starts forth on the stones – pausing no longer
to prance.
His servant to horse got then,
who bore his spear and lance.
‘This castle to Christ I commend:
May he grant it good chance!’

The drawbridge was let down, and the broad gates
unbarred and flung open upon both sides.
The knight blessed himself swiftly, and passed the boards;
praised the porter kneeling before the prince,
who gives him God and good-day, that Gawain He save;
and goes on his way with his one man,
who shall teach him the path to that perilous place
where the grievous blow he shall receive.
They brushed by banks where boughs were bare,
they climbed by cliffs where clung the cold.
the heavens were up high, but ugly there-under
mist moved on the moors, melted on mountains,
each hill had a hat, a mist-mantle huge.
Brooks boiled and broke their banks about,
sheer shattering on shores where they down-flowed.
Well wild was the way where they by woods rode,
till it was soon time that the sun in that season
does rise.
They were on a hill full high,
the white snow lay beside;
the man that rode him by
bade his master abide.

‘For I have brought you hither, sir, at this time,
and now you are not far from that noted place
that you have sought and spurred so specially after.
But I must say, forsooth, that since I know you,
and you are a lord full of life whom I well love,
if you would hark to my wit, you might do better.
The place that you pace to full perilous is held;
there lives a man in that waste, the worst upon earth,
for he is strong and stern and loves to strike,
and more man he is than any upon middle-earth,
and his body bigger than the best four
that are in Arthur’s house, Hector, or others.
He makes it so to chance at the Green Chapel,
that none passes by that place so proud in arms
that he but does him to death by dint of his hand;
for he is a mighty man, and shows no mercy,
for be it churl or chaplain that rides by the chapel,
monk or priest of the Mass, or any man else,
he is as quick to kill him, as to live himself.
Therefore I say, as true as you sit in the saddle,
come there, and you will be killed, if he has his way,
trust me truly in that, though you had twenty lives
to spend.
He has lived here of yore,
and battled to great extent.
Against his blows full sore,
you may not yourself defend.’

‘Therefore, good Sir Gawain, let him alone,
and go by some other way, for God’s own sake!
Course some other country where Christ might you speed.
And I shall hie me home again, and undertake
that I shall swear by God and all his good saints –
so help me God and the Holy things, and oaths enough –
that I shall loyally keep your secret, and loose no tale
that ever you fled from any man that I know of.’
‘Grant merci,’ quoth Gawain, and galled he said:
‘It is worthy of you, man, to wish for my good,
and loyally keep my secret I know that you would.
But, keep it ever so quiet, if I passed here,
and fled away in fear, in the form that you tell of,
I were a cowardly knight, I might not be excused.
For I will go to the chapel, whatever chance may befall,
and talk with that same fellow in whatever way I wish,
whether it’s weal or woe, as fate may to me
Though he be a stern fellow
to manage, armed with a stave,
full well does the Lord know
His servants how to save.’

‘Marry!’ quoth the other man, ‘now you spell it out
that you will take all your own trouble on yourself,
if you will lose your life, I’ll not you delay.
Have your helm here on your head, your spear in your hand,
and ride down this same track by yon rock side,
till you’re brought to the bottom of the wild valley,
then look a little on the level, to your left hand,
and you shall see in that vale that selfsame chapel
and the burly giant on guard that it keeps.
Now farewell, in God’s name, Gawain the noble!
For all the gold in the ground I’d not go with you,
nor bear fellowship through this forest one foot further.’
With that the man in the wood tugs at his bridle,
hits his horse with his heels as hard as he might,
leaps away over the land, and leaves the knight there
‘By God’s self,’ quoth Gawain,
‘I will neither weep nor groan;
to God’s will I bend again
and I am sworn as His own.’

So he gives spur to Gringolet and picks up the path,
pushing on through, by a bank, at the side of a wood,
rode down the rough slope right to the dale.
And then he gazed all about, and wild it seemed,
and saw no sign of shelter anywhere near,
but high banks and steep upon either side,
and rough rugged crags with gnarled stones;
so the sky seemed to be grazed by their barbs.
Then he halted and reined in his horse awhile,
and scanned all about this chapel to find.
He saw no such thing either side, and thought it quite strange,
save a little mound, as it were, off in a field,
a bald barrow by a bank beside the burn,
by a force of the flood that flowed down there;
the burn bubbled therein as if it were boiling.
The knight urges on his mount and comes to the mound,
alights there lightly, and ties to a lime-tree
the reins of his horse round a rough branch.
Then he goes to the barrow, and about it he walked,
debating with himself what it might be.
It had a hole at each end and on either side,
and was overgrown with grass in great knots;
and all was hollow within, naught but an old cave,
or a crevice of an old crag – he could not distinguish
it well.
‘Who knows, Lord,’ quoth the gentle knight
‘whether this be the Green Chapel?
Here might about midnight
the Devil his Matins tell!’

‘Now indeed,’ quoth Gawain, ‘desolation is here;
this oratory is ugly, with weeds overgrown;
well is it seemly for the man clad in green
to deal his devotion here in the devil’s wise.
Now I feel it’s the Fiend, in my five senses,
who set me this meeting to strike at me here.
This is a chapel of mischance – bad luck it betide!
It is the most cursed church that ever I came to.’
With high helm on his head, his lance in his hand,
he roamed up to the roof of that rough dwelling.
Then he heard from that high hill, from a hard rock
beyond the brook, on the bank, a wondrous brave noise.
What! It clanged through the cliff as if it would cleave it,
as if on a grindstone one ground a great scythe.
What! It whirred and whetted, as water in a mill.
What! It rushed and rang, revolting to hear.
Then ‘By God,’ quoth Gawain, ‘this here I believe
is arranged to reverence me, to greet rank
by rote.
‘Let God’s will work! “Alas” –
will help me not a mote.
My life though it be lost
I dread no wondrous note.’

Then the knight called out loud on high;
‘Who stands in this stead, my tryst to uphold?
For now is good Gawain grounded right here.
If any man wills aught, wind hither fast,
either now or never his needs to further.’
‘Abide,’ quoth one on the bank above his head,
‘and you shall have all in haste I promised you once.’
Yet he then turned to his tumult swiftly a while,
and at whetting he worked, ere he would alight.
And then he thrust by a crag and came out by a hole,
whirling out of the rocks with a fell weapon,
a Danish axe new honed, for dealing the blow,
with a biting blade bow-bent to the haft,
ground on a grindstone, four feet broad –
no less, by that love-lace gleaming full bright.
And the giant in green was garbed as at first,
both the looks and the legs, the locks and the beard,
save that firm on his feet he finds his ground,
sets the haft to the stones and stalks beside it.
When he came to the water, he would not wade,
he hopped over on his axe and boldly he strides,
blazing with wrath, on a bit of field broad about
in snow.
Sir Gawain the man did greet,
he bowed to him, nothing low;
the other said: ‘Now, Sir Sweet,
men may trust your word, I owe.’

‘Gawain,’ quoth the green man, ‘God may you guard!
Indeed you are welcome, knight, to my place,
and you have timed your travel as true man should.
And you know the covenant pledged between us:
at this time twelvemonth gone you took what befell,
that I should at this New Year promptly requite.
And we are in this valley verily alone;
here are no ranks to sever us, serve as you will.
Heft your helm off your head, and have here your pay.
Ask no more debate than I did of you then
when you whipped off my head at a single blow.’
‘Nay, by God,’ quoth Gawain, ‘who lent me a soul,
I shall bear you no grudge for the grief that befalls.
Strike but the one stroke, and I shall stand still
and offer no hindrance, come work as you like,
I swear.’
He leant down his neck, and bowed,
and showed the white flesh all bare,
as if he were no way cowed;
for to shrink he would not dare.

Then the man in green readies him swiftly,
girds up his grim blade, to smite Gawain;
with all the strength in his body he bears it aloft,
manages it mightily as if he would mar him.
Had he driven it down as direly as he aimed,
one had been dead of the deed who was dauntless ever.
But Gawain glanced at the grim blade sideways,
as it came gliding down on him to destroy him,
and his shoulders shrank a little from the sharp edge.
The other man with a shrug the slice withholds,
and then reproves the prince with many proud words:
‘You are not Gawain,’ quoth the man, ‘held so great,
that was never afraid of the host by hill or by vale,
for now you flinch for fear ere you feel harm.
Such cowardice of that knight have I never heard.
I neither flinched nor fled, friend, when you let fly,
nor cast forth any quibble in King Arthur’s house.
My head flew off, at my feet, yet fled I never;
yet you, ere any harm haps, are fearful at heart.
And I ought to be branded the better man, I say,
Quoth Gawain: ‘I flinched once,
Yet so will I no more;
Though if my head fall on the stones,
I cannot it restore.’

‘Be brisk, man, by your faith, and bring me to the point.
Deal me my destiny and do it out of hand,
for I shall stand your stroke, and start no more
till your axe has hit me – have here my troth.’
‘Have at you, then,’ quoth the other, and heaves it aloft
and glares as angrily as if he were mad.
He menaces him mightily, but touches him not,
swiftly withholding his hand ere it might hurt.
Gawain gravely it bides and moves not a muscle,
but stands still as a stone or the stump of a tree
that is riven in rocky ground with roots a hundred.
Then merrily again he spoke, the man in green:
‘So now you have your heart whole, it me behoves.
Hold you safe now the knighthood Arthur gave you,
and keep your neck from this cut, if ever it may!’
Gawain full fiercely with anger then said:
‘Why, thrash on, you wild man, threaten no longer;
it seems your heart is warring with your own self.’
‘Forsooth,’ quoth the other, ‘so fiercely you speak,
I’ll not a moment longer delay your errand
I vow.’
Then he takes up his stance to strike
pouts lips and puckers his brow;
Nothing there for him to like
who hopes for no rescue now.

Up the weapon lifts lightly, is let down fair,
and the blade’s border beside the bare neck.
Though heaved heavily it hurt him not more,
but nicked him on the one side, and severed the skin.
The sharp edge sank in the flesh through the fair fat,
so that bright blood over his shoulders shot to the earth.
And when the knight saw his blood blotting the snow,
he spurted up, feet first, more than a spear-length,
seized swiftly his helm and on his head cast it,
shrugged with his shoulders his fine shield under,
broke out his bright sword, and bravely he spoke –
never since he was a babe born of his mother
had he ever in this world a heart half so blithe –
‘Back man, with your blade, and brandish no more!
I have received a stroke in this place without strife,
and if you offer another I’ll readily requite you
and yield it you swiftly again – of that be you sure –
as foe.
But one stroke to me here falls;
the covenant stated so,
arranged in Arthur’s halls,
so lay your weapon, now, low!’

The other then turned away and on his axe rested,
set the haft to the earth and leant on the head,
and looked at the lord who held to his ground,
how doughty, and dread-less, enduring he stands
armed, without awe; in his heart he him liked.
Then he spoke merrily in a mighty voice,
and with a ringing roar to the knight he said:
‘Bold man be not so fierce in this field.
No man here has mistreated you, been unmannerly,
nor behaved but by covenant at King’s court made.
I hit with a stroke, and you have it, and are well paid;
I release you from the rest of all other rights.
If I had been livelier, a buffet perchance
I could have worked more wilfully, to bring you anger.
First I menaced you merrily with a single feint,
and rent you with no riving cut, rightly offered
for the pledge that we made on the very first night;
for you truthfully kept troth and dealt with me true,
all the gain you gave me, as good men should.
The next blow for the morn, man, I proffered;
you kissed my fair wife, the kisses were mine.
For both these days I brought you but two bare feints,
without scathe.
Truth for the truth restore,
then man need dread no wraith.
On the third you failed for sure,
and so took that blow, in faith.’

‘For it is mine that you wear, that same woven girdle;
my own wife gave it you, I know it well forsooth.
Now, know I well your kisses and conduct too,
and the wooing of my wife; I wrought it myself.
I sent her to test you, and truly I think you
the most faultless man that was ever afoot.
As a pearl beside whitened pea is more precious,
so is Gawain, in good faith, beside other good knights.
But here sir you lacked a little, wanting in loyalty;
but that was for no wily work, nor wooing neither,
but for love of your life – so I blame you the less.’
The other strong man in study stood a great while,
so aggrieved that for grief he grimaced within.
All the blood of his breast burnt in his face,
that he shrank for shame at all the man said.
The first words the knight could frame on that field:
‘Curse upon cowardice and covetousness both!
In you are villainy and vice that virtue distress.’
Then he caught at the knot and pulled it loose,
and fair flung the belt at the man himself:
‘Lo! There’s the falseness, foul may it fall!
For fear of your knock cowardice me taught
to accord with covetousness, forsake my kind,
the largesse and loyalty that belongs to knights.
Now am I faulted and false, and ever a-feared;
from both treachery and untruth come sorrow
and care!
I confess to you knight, here, still,
my fault in this affair;
let me understand your will,
and henceforth I shall beware.’

Then laughed that other lord and lightly said:
‘I hold it happily made whole, the harm that I had;
You are confessed so clean, cleared of your faults,
and have done penance plain at the point of my blade,
I hold you absolved of that sin, as pure and as clean,
as though you were never at fault since first you were born.
And I give you, sir, the girdle that is gold-hemmed.
As it is green as my gown, Sir Gawain, you may
think upon this same trial when you throng forth
among princes of price, and this the pure token
of the test at the Green Chapel to chivalrous knights.
And you shall this New Year come back to my castle,
and we shall revel away the remnant of this rich feast
I mean’
Thus urged him hard the lord,
and said: ‘With my wife, I ween,
we shall bring you in accord,
who was your enemy keen.’

‘Nay, forsooth,’ quoth the knight, and seized his helm
doffed it deliberately, and dealt his thanks:
‘I have sojourned enough. May luck you betide,
and may He yield you reward that rewards all men!
And commend me to the courteous, your comely wife,
both the one and the other, my honoured ladies,
that thus their knight with a trick have cunningly beguiled.
But it is no wonder for a fool to run mad
and through wiles of woman be won to sorrow.
For so was Adam on earth with one beguiled,
and Solomon with many such, Samson too –
Delilah dealt him his doom – and David thereafter
was blinded by Bathsheba, and suffered much ill.
Since these were wounded with wiles, it were wise
to love them well and believe them not, if a lord could.
For these were the finest formerly, favoured by fate
excellently of all those under heaven’s rule
ill used;
And all these were beguiled
with women that they used.
If I am now beguiled
I think I should be excused.’

‘For your girdle,’ quoth Gawain, ‘God reward you!
That I will wear with good will, not for the white gold,
nor the stuff, the silk, nor the slender pendants,
its worth, nor richness, nor for the fine working;
but as a sign of my sin I shall see it often
when I ride in renown, remorseful, remembering
the fault and the frailty of perverse flesh,
how it tends to entice to the tarnish of sin.
And thus when pride shall stir me in prowess of arms,
one look at this love-lace shall lower my heart.
But one thing I would you pray, displease you never:
Since you are lord of yonder land where I lingered
Say you by your knighthood – may He reward you
that upholds the heavens and on high sits –
how you tell your true name, and then no more?’
‘That shall I tell you truly,’ quoth the other then,
‘Bertilak de Hautdesert I am in this land,
through might of Morgan la Faye, that dwells in my house,
and is mistress of magic, by crafts well learned
the mysteries of Merlin, many has she taken,
for she has dealt in depths full dearly sometime
with that excellent sage, and that know all your knights
at home.
Morgan the Goddess
therefore is now her name;
none has such high haughtiness
that she cannot make full tame.’

‘She sent me in this same wise to your wide hall
for to assay its pride, test if all that were truth
that runs on the great renown of the Round Table.
She worked all this wonder your wits to ravel,
to grieve Guinevere and to bring her to die
aghast at that same ghoul with his ghostly speech
with his head in his hand before the high table.
That is she that is at home, the ancient lady;
she is even your aunt, Arthur’s half-sister,
daughter of Tintagel’s Duchess that dear Uther after
had Arthur upon, who now is your king.
Therefore, sir, I entreat you, come to your aunt,
make merry in my house. My men do love you,
and I wish you as well, man, by my faith,
as any man under God, for your great truth.’
Yet Gawain denied him, nay, he would in no way.
They clasped and kissed, commending each other
to the Prince of Paradise, parted in the cold where
they stood.
Gawain on steed I ween
to the King goes fast as he could,
and the man in the emerald green
whithersoever he would.

Wild ways in the world Gawain now rides,
on Gringolet, he whom grace had gifted with life.
Often he harboured in houses, and often outside,
had adventures much in the vales, often vanquisher,
that I do not at this time intend to recall.
The hurt was all whole that he had in his neck,
and the bright belt he bore all thereabout,
obliquely, as a baldric, bound at his side,
tied under his left arm, the lace, with a knot,
as token he was tainted with guilt of his fault.
And so he comes to the court, all safe and sound.
Delight dawned in that dwelling when the great knew
that good Gawain was come; and thought it gain.
The King kisses the knight, and the queen also,
and then many staunch knights sought to salute him,
to know ow he had fared; and faithfully he tells
confessing all the cost of the cares he had suffered –
what chanced at the chapel, the cast of its lord,
the love of the lady, the lace at the last.
The nick in the neck he naked them showed,
that he had for his lie, from the lord’s hands,
in blame.
He was pained he must tell,
he groaned for grief at the same;
blood ran to his face pell-mell,
when he showed the mark, for shame.

‘Lo, Lord!’ quoth the knight, and handled the lace,
‘This is the belt of blame I bear at my neck,
this is the hurt and the harm that I have learned
through the cowardice and covetousness I caught there.
This is the token of the untruth I am taken in,
and I must needs it wear while I may last.
For none may hide harm done, and go unscathed,
for where it is once attached depart will it never.’
The King comforts the knight, and all the court also,
laughing loudly thereat, and lovingly agreeing,
those lords and ladies that belonged to the Table,
that each born to the brotherhood, a baldric should have,
a belt, oblique him about, of a bright green,
and that for the sake of the knight, the same hue.
For it was accorded to the renown of the Round Table,
and he that had it was honoured, evermore after,
as is borne out by the best book of romance.
Thus in Arthur’s day this adventure was tried,
the books of Brutus thereof bear witness.
Since Brutus, the bold baron, first bent hither,
after the siege and assault had ceased at Troy,
there is,
many an adventure born
befallen such, ere this.
Now who bears the crown of thorn,
May He bring us to his bliss! AMEN.