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“Madame,” said the merry man, “Mary reward you,
For in good faith, I find your free heart noble.
Others may freely accept favours for their deeds,
But these dignities are above my deserving.
It is only your worthiness, who know nought but well.”
“By Mary,” said the lady, “I think otherwise,
For if I were the worthiest of women alive,
And all the wealth of the world were in my hand,
And I should bid and bargain to betroth me to a lord,
Both for the signs that I’ve seen in you here, sir knight,
Of beauty and behaviour debonair and blithe,
And for that which I’ve heard and now hold to be true,
There should be no man chosen on earth before you.”
“Worthy lady,” said the wise man, “you have fared well better.
But I am proud indeed that you prize me so highly,
And, as your servant, I call you my sovereign,
And I now become your knight: Christ reward you!”
Thus they talked of this and that until past midmorning,
And ever the lady seemed to love him much,
And the knight with fair words made his defence.
“Though I were loveliest of all,” thought the lady then,
“I’d still lack his love-- for his quest lures him on
in chase.”
The blow that will him cleave
Must have its time and place.
The lady took her leave:
He granted with good grace.

She gave him good day, and glancing laughed,
And as she stood, she astonished him with strong words:
“Now He that speeds each speech reward you for this sport!
But truly, I cannot think that you are Gawain.”
“Wherefore?” the worried knight quickly asked,
Afraid lest he had failed in the forms of courtesy.
But the fair one blessed him, and spoke as follows:
“Gawain is generally given to be so good,
And so full of courtesy constant and clear,
He could not lightly have lingered so long with a lady
And not asked a kiss by his courtesy,
By some touch of trifling words at some tale’s end.”
Then said Gawain: “Well, let it be as you please,
I shall kiss at your command, as befits a knight,
And further, lest I displease you; so ask it no more.”
She comes nearer with that, catches him in her arms,
Leans down lovingly and kisses the man.
In comely wise they commend each other to Christ;
She lets herself out the door without more words;
And he readies himself to rise and rapidly dress,
Calls for his chamberlain, chooses his clothing,
When clad, goes forth blithely to mass;
Thence to the well-served meal that lay waiting,
And made merry all day till the moon rose
With games.
No man had fairer cheer
With two such worthy dames,
The younger and the sere:
For pleasure was their aim.
gawainandthegreenknight: (Default)
On the morrow, as each man remembers that time
That the Lord was born to die for our destiny,
Joy fills every dwelling in the world for his sake.
So did it there on that day with many treats:
Both at dinner and supper, quaint dishes aplenty
Were delivered to the daïs, daintily dressed.
The old ancient goodwife, highest she sits;
The lord at her side leans lovingly towards her, I believe.
Gawain and the gay lady, together they sat down
Right in the center, just as food was brought in;
And then throughout the hall, as all thought best,
To each man in his degree was swiftly served.
There was meat; there was mirth; there was so much joy
That to try to tell of it would trouble me sorely;
But I'll do my best to depict it, though I despair.
But yet I know that Gawain and the worthy lady
Took such comfort in their company together,
Through the dear dalliance of their secret speech,
With clean and courteous conversation free from filth,
That their play was more pleasant than any prince's game
For players.
Trumpets and drums, iwis,
Much piping there prepares;
Each man minded his--
And these two minded theirs.
gawainandthegreenknight: (Default)
By the time dinner was done and the company rose,
It was near night; so the time drew on.
To the chapels the chaplains led the way,
And rang full richly, right as they should,
To the high evensong of that holy day.
The lord bends his step thither, and the lady too;
Into a comely closed pew she quaintly enters.
Gawain goes gaily and soon gets there;
The lord siezes his sleeve and leads him to sit,
Courteously acknowledges him, calls him by name,
And said he was the welcomest guest in the world.
Gawain thanked him truly, and then they embraced,
And sat soberly side by side during the service.
Then the lady wished to look on the knight;
Then came she from her closed seat with many comely maids.
She was the fairest of face, of skin and of flesh,
And of shape and colour and condition, of them all;
More queenly than Guenevere, as Gawain thought:
He crosses through the chancel, to come at that chatelaine.
Another lady led her by the left hand,
That was older than she-- an ancient, it seemed,
And highly honoured by the lords all about.
But unlike to look on those ladies were,
For if the young one was fresh, the other was yellow;
Rich red on that one glowed everywhere;
Rough wrinkled cheeks hung in rolls on the other.
This one had kerchiefs with many clear pearls:
Her breast and her bright throat bare displayed
Shone whiter than snow that falls on the hills;
The other's neck was girt with a gorget
That hid her black chin with chalk-white veils,
And her forehead in folds of silk all pleated
And set with jewels and trefoils all about,
So that nothing was bare of her but the black brows,
The two eyes and the nose, the naked lips,
And those were sour to see and strangely bleared.
A most gracious lady on earth men might call her,
by God!
Her body was short and thick,
Her buttocks flat and broad;
More sweet to look and like
Was her companion's mode.

When Gawain's glance found her gay and graceful looks,
With the lord's leave he went to meet them.
The elder he hails, bowing full low;
The lovelier he clasps a little in his arms,
Kisses her courteously, and makes knightly speech.
They accept his acquaintance, and he quickly asks
To be their true servant, if it like them well.
They take him between them, and lead him in talk
To a chamber by the chimney, and then chiefly call
For spices, which men bring speedily, unsparing,
And the winsome wine with them, each time.
The loving lord often leaps aloft,
Commands mirth to be made many times over,
Nobly whips off his hood, hanging it on a spear,
And offers it as a prize, to be worshipfully won
By him who might move most mirth that Christmastime.
"And by my faith, you'll find me frolicking with the best
Before I lose my hood, with the help of my friends!"
Thus with laughing jests the lord makes sport,
For to gladden Sir Gawain with games in the hall
That night,
Until the time was sped;
The lord commanded lights.
Sir Gawain sought his bed,
Bidding them all goodnight.


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October 2010

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