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Now rides this man through the realm of Logres,
Sir Gawain, God guide him! No game he thought it.
Often abandoned and alone he lay at night
Where he found not before him the fare that he liked;
He had no friend but his foal through forests and downs,
Nor no one but God to gossip with on the way,
Until he drew full near to North Wales.
All the isles of Anglesea are on his left hand
As he fares over the ford by the foremost lands
Over at the Holy Head, till he had come ashore
In the wilderness of Wirral. Few dwelt there
That loved either God or man with good heart.
And ever he asked all that he met as he rode
If they had heard any talk of a knight that was green,
In a green chapel, in grounds thereabout.
And all answered nay, that never in their life
They'd seen never a knight that was of such hues
Of green.
The knight took ways full strange
On hills where none had been.
His cheer would often change
Before that chapel was seen.

He clambered over many cliffs in country strange;
Far afield from his friends, as a stranger he rides.
At each ford or waterway where the weary man passed,
He found a foe before him, else it were a wonder:
And those so foul and so fell that they must be fought.
So many marvels the man finds there in the mountains,
It were too terrible to tell of the tenth part.
Sometimes with dragons he wars, and with wolves too,
Sometimes with woodwoses that dwell in the crags,
Both with bulls and with bears, and boars at times,
And giants that chased him off the high fells.
Had he not been strong and steadfast and the Lord's servant,
Doubtless he had been dead a dozen times over:
For war wearied him not so much, but winter was worse,
When the cold clear water from the clouds was shed
And froze before it could fall to the fallow earth,
Near slain by sleet he slept in his harness
More nights than enough, on 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 plight full hard
This knight rides through the country till Christmas Eve
The knight that Christmastide
To Mary made his moan,
That she his way might guide
Unto some house or home.

Date: 2009-03-16 07:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I like this part: "Nor no one but God to gossip with on the way"

Date: 2009-03-16 01:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
He clambered over many cliffs in country strange &c.

This is my favourite stanza in the whole poem.

Do you know the Peak District at all?

Date: 2009-03-19 12:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm ashamed to say I've never been to the Peak District. I'd really like to go, though.

I hope I didn't let you down in this stanza. Translations in general are a silly business, and Middle English has so much more grandeur than its modern sister, but one soldiers on (like Gawain.)

Also, the word "ysse ikkles" is one of my favourite words in the poem.

Date: 2009-03-19 01:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I hope I didn't let you down in this stanza.

No, actually I think you have done a great job.

I'm ashamed to say I've never been to the Peak District. I'd really like to go, though.

Well, let me know if you find yourself in or near the Midlands and I'll take you to see the Green Chapel. (Unless, of course, you don't actually like walking. It's not a really major hike, but there is walking involved.)

Date: 2009-03-17 12:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Very telling that it's the cold, the wet, the sleet, that gets him down most. Same's true of Beowulf: Grendel's mother is no scarier than the bleak, damp, cold waste the Geats cross to get to her mere. I guess we're all spoilt by good roads, lighting and heating: we've forgotten just how dire plain travel can be in winter.


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