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[personal profile] gawainandthegreenknight
Much mirth was made there that day and the next,
And the third just as thoroughly, that came thereafter:
The joy of Saint John's Day was gentle to hear,
That was the last of Christmastime, as they kept it there.
The guests were to go upon the grey morning,
So that night they were wondrous wakeful, drinking the wine,
Dancing dauntlessly to the delightful carols.
At the last, when it was late, they took their leave,
Each one who lived elsewhere to go on their way.
Gawain bade good day to his host, who takes him aside,
Leads him to his own chamber beside the chimney,
And there clasps him in arms and dearly thanks him
For the fair worship that he had shown him
As to honour his house on those high days,
And grace the castle with his courteous cheer.
"I know, sir, all my life I'll be the better off
That Gawain has been my guest at God's own feast."
"Great thanks, sir," said Gawain, "in good faith I owe you.
All the honour is your own-- the high king reward you!
And I am, sir, yours to command at will,
As I am bound to do, in high things and low,
By right."
The lord he was at pains
To longer hold the knight;
To him answers Gawain
There's no way that he might.

Then the fine man asked him the question fairly:
What dark deed had driven him at that dear time
So keenly from the king's court to quest all alone
Before the holidays' holly were hauled out of town.
"Forsooth, sir," says the strong knight, "you say only the truth.
A high and hasty errand holds me from home,
For I am summoned by myself to some place--
But I know not where in the world to go to find it.
I would not fail to draw near it on New Year's morn
For all the land here in Logres, so help me our Lord!
Therefore, sir, this request I make of you here:
That you tell me with truth if you ever heard a tale
Of the green chapel, on what ground it stands,
And of the knight that keeps it, of the colour of green.
There's a bargain established by statute between us
To meet that man at that mark, if I might live;
And of that same New Year but little now lacks,
And I would look on that lord, if God would let me,
More gladly, by God's Son, than get any good thing.
So indeed, with your goodwill, I must soon go;
I have no time but barely three days for this business,
And I'd as soon fall dead as fail in my errand."
Then laughing the lord said "Now you must linger,
For I shall teach you the way there by the time's end.
The green chapel's ground shall grieve you no more,
But you shall be in your bed, bold knight, at thine ease,
Until full daylight, and go forth on the first of the year,
And come to that mark at midmorning, to make what you will
Dwell here till New Year's Day
And rise and ride then, clear.
I'll set you on your way;
It's not two mile from here."


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