gawainandthegreenknight: (Default)
“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.


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October 2010

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