II.mclviii

Apr. 1st, 2009 07:46 am
gawainandthegreenknight: (Default)
[personal profile] gawainandthegreenknight
The strong knight had not thrice made the sign of the cross
When he heard heavy hoofbeats on the hill ahead.
Gawain on Gryngolet turns, grimly grasps his sword-hilt,
And saw a stern lord striding swiftly toward him.
Upon his high-helmed head was fastened a hart's crown
Of antlers that exceeded a double arm-span;
A hooded cloak hung from his broad shoulders,
Of fair wool trimmed with fur, falling down in folds
Almost to the ground -- a great distance indeed,
For the towering stranger stood taller than any two
Of the mightiest men on the earth, by any measure.
Gawain stands his ground and greets the stranger,
Saying "Sir knight, in sooth, joy on this Christmastide.
If you, for courtesy or charity, will counsel
A fellow knight far from home or any harbour,
May I be bold to beseech you, brave lord, to say
If you have heard tell any tidings of a Green Chapel,
Where it may be found, and the fellow who defends it,
A high lord, whose hair and harness is all of green
To see?"
The stranger fixed his stare
On Gawain silently.
He stood full stiffly there,
And spoke no word but "Ni!"

Then at that terrible word true Gawain trembled,
And scarcely heard the screeching voice of the stranger
Shred the air with a shriek, shrilly demanding a shrubbery.
Fierce and fell was this foe the fair knight had found,
But Gawain was wise and ware of his wild ways.
The brave man in a brief space drew breath and grew bold,
Saying "Knight, thy name is known in Arthur's noble house,
The blithe king and Sir Bedivere have both bested you.
Now guide me to the green chapel and its grim lord,
And I shall show thee a shrubbery, shining and shapely."
"Iwys," whispered that wild man, "I know not where it is.
But shall you not bestow on me the shrubbery still?"
"Goddammit," said Gawain, "I was saving that shrubbery.
But a brother knight should not be obliged to beg,
And today is Christmastide, so take it and be gone."
Then with great mirth the mighty one merrily ran away,
Leaving Gawain shrubberiless and shivering, unsheltered,
Only watching with wonder as the wild man went his way
On ground:
No horse the tall man rode,
But in his hands unbound,
An Afric swallow's load
Of coconuts did sound.
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