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And still the lord of the land is intent on his game,
To hunt the barren hinds through holt and heath.
Such a sum he slew there while the sun shone
Of does and other deer, you’d deem it a wonder.
Then a throng of folk flocked in at the last,
And quickly they gathered the fresh-killed quarry.
The best busied themselves, and so did the others,
Gathered the greatest and fattest there were,
And dressed them in detail, as the deed asks.
Some that were there assayed the dead deer:
Two fingers of fat they found even on the foulest.
Then they slit the slot, siezed the stomach-tube,
Sheared it free with a sharp knife and knotted it off;
Then they lopped off the legs and tore off the hide,
Then broke open the belly and took out the bowels
Light-handedly, lest they should loosen the knot.
They gripped the gullet, and gracefully severed
The weasand from the windpipe, and whipped out the guts.
Then they severed the shoulders with their sharp knives,
Hauling them through a small hole, to leave whole sides.
Then they broke the breast into two halves,
Made a good cut beginning at the gullet
Rapidly right down to the fork of the forelegs,
To lift out the lungs and the heart, and thereafter
All the ribbons of sinew they loosen from the ribs,
Severing the sides from the bones of the spine
Even to the haunch that still hung in one piece,
Hauled it up whole and hewed it off there.
The bowels, I believe, are named the numbles
By kind.
Then where the hind legs join
They loose the folds behind,
To cleave in two the groin,
By the backbone to unbind.

Both the head and the neck they hew off then,
And swiftly sunder the sides from the chine;
The crows’ fee they cast into a covert.
Then they thrust through each thick side by the ribs,
And hung up each haunch by the hocks,
So that each man might have his share of meat.
They fed their hounds on the flayed hide of the fair beast,
With the liver and the lights, and the leather of the paunches,
Blended together with bread bathed in blood.
Boldly then the horns blew, the hounds began baying,
And the hunters took home their haul of flesh,
Lustily blowing many long notes and loud.
By the time daylight was done, the doughty company
Were come into the castle, where the knight all day
Has lain.
Blissful by the bright fire
The lord finds Sir Gawain;
All joy they could desire
Their meeting gives these twain.


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October 2010

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