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The bold knight brought his horse to a halt on the bank
Of the deep double ditch that defended the place.
The wall stood in the water wondrously deep,
And then rose to a full huge height up above
Of hard hewn stone up to the corbels,
Placed beneath the battlements in the best method;
Between were watchtowers, brightly bedecked,
With many lovely loopholes, cleanly cut;
A better barbican that brave man had never beheld.
And within, he discerned a hall full high,
Towers evenly spaced, thickly adorned
With fair fine-pointed finials, peerlessly tall,
Their carven capstones craftily worked.
Chalk-white chimneys he saw, rising
From tower roofs that twinkled all white.
So many painted pinnacles were strewn everywhere,
Among the crenellations crowded so thickly,
That a castle cut from clean white paper it seemed.
The free man on his fine horse thought it a fair thing
If he might contrive to come within the cloister,
To be harboured in that house while the holiday lasted
By right.
There came soon at his call
A porter, a pleasant wight.
He stood upon the wall
And hailed the errant knight.

"Good sir," says Gawain, "Would you bear my message
To the high lord of this house, safe harbour to crave?"
"Yes, by Peter," says the porter, "and pretty sure I am
That you, sir, will be welcome to stay while you please."
The porter went and swiftly returned again,
And folk freely with him to receive the knight.
They let down the great drawbridge and courteously came out,
And knelt down on their knees on the cold earth
To welcome this same man in the way they thought worthy.
They hauled the broad gate up wide to let him pass,
And he courteously bid them rise and rode over the bridge.
Several men seized his saddle to help him dismount,
And strong men enough helped to stable his steed.
Knights and squires came down then
For to bring this bold knight blissfully into the hall.
When he heaved off his helm, many came hurrying
To take it from his hands, to do him service;
His sword and blazoned shield both they took.
Then he graciously thanked each of the knights,
And many proud men there pressed to honour that prince.
All hasped in his high harness they brought him to the hall,
Where a fair fire fiercely burned in the hearth.
Then the lord of those people hastens from his chamber
To meet with honour the man on the floor.
He says: "You are welcome to stay as you like.
What's here is all your own, to have and wield at will
In this place."
"Great thanks!" Gawain replies,
"May Christ reward your grace."
As men whom friendship ties
The two do now embrace.

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gawainandthegreenknight

October 2010

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