gawainandthegreenknight: (Default)
In the morning he merrily rides by a mound
Into a forest full deep that was wondrous wild,
High hills on either hand, and holtwoods below
Of hoar oaks full huge, a hundred together.
The hazel and the hawthorn were hurled together
With rough ragged moss draped everywhere,
With many birds, not blithe, upon bare twigs
That piteously piped there, pining in the cold.
Gawain upon Gryngolet glides underneath
Through many a marsh and mire, a man all alone,
Full of care for the cost, if he should not come
To see the service of that sire, who that selfsame night
Was born of a bright maiden, our battles to quell.
And therefore sighing he said: "I beseech thee, Lord,
And Mary, that is thy mild mother so dear,
For some haven where, with high heart, I might hear mass
And thy matins tomorrow: meekly I ask this,
And with this prayer I say my Paternoster and Ave
And Creed."
He rode on in his prayer
And wept for his misdeeds;
Crossed himself often there,
Saying "Christ's cross be my speed!"

He had signed himself, good soldier, only thrice
When he was aware in the wood of a moated dwelling
Above a lawn, on a little hill, locked in by boughs
Of many ancient oaks about by the ditches:
A castle, the comeliest that ever knight kept,
In the midst of a meadow, a park all around it,
Stoutly surrounded with a spiked palisade
That enclosed many trees, more than two miles about.
That house, on one side, our hero beheld
As it shimmered and shone through the bare oak branches.
He hastily takes off his helm, and with high heart thanks
Jesus and Saint Julian for their gentleness
That courteously heard him and hearkened to his cry.
"Now a good welcome," says Gawain, "I beseech you yet!"
Then he goads Gryngolet on with gilt-spurred heels
And by good chance he has chosen the chief path
That brought him swiftly to the bridge's end
In haste.
The bridge was drawn away,
And all the gates shut fast;
The walls in good array
Against the winter's blast.
gawainandthegreenknight: (Default)
Now rides this man through the realm of Logres,
Sir Gawain, God guide him! No game he thought it.
Often abandoned and alone he lay at night
Where he found not before him the fare that he liked;
He had no friend but his foal through forests and downs,
Nor no one but God to gossip with on the way,
Until he drew full near to North Wales.
All the isles of Anglesea are on his left hand
As he fares over the ford by the foremost lands
Over at the Holy Head, till he had come ashore
In the wilderness of Wirral. Few dwelt there
That loved either God or man with good heart.
And ever he asked all that he met as he rode
If they had heard any talk of a knight that was green,
In a green chapel, in grounds thereabout.
And all answered nay, that never in their life
They'd seen never a knight that was of such hues
Of green.
The knight took ways full strange
On hills where none had been.
His cheer would often change
Before that chapel was seen.

He clambered over many cliffs in country strange;
Far afield from his friends, as a stranger he rides.
At each ford or waterway where the weary man passed,
He found a foe before him, else it were a wonder:
And those so foul and so fell that they must be fought.
So many marvels the man finds there in the mountains,
It were too terrible to tell of the tenth part.
Sometimes with dragons he wars, and with wolves too,
Sometimes with woodwoses that dwell in the crags,
Both with bulls and with bears, and boars at times,
And giants that chased him off the high fells.
Had he not been strong and steadfast and the Lord's servant,
Doubtless he had been dead a dozen times over:
For war wearied him not so much, but winter was worse,
When the cold clear water from the clouds was shed
And froze before it could fall to the fallow earth,
Near slain by sleet he slept in his harness
More nights than enough, on the naked rocks
Where clattering from the crest the cold burn runs
And hung high over his head in hard icicles.
Thus in peril and pain and plight full hard
This knight rides through the country till Christmas Eve
alone.
The knight that Christmastide
To Mary made his moan,
That she his way might guide
Unto some house or home.
gawainandthegreenknight: (Default)
This adventure was the first Arthur had
In the young year, for he yearned to hear of heroics.
Though all were lost for words when they went to be seated,
Now there is hard work to be done; their hands are full.
Gawain was glad to begin those games in the hall,
But have no wonder if the end be heavy;
For though men be merry in mind when they have hard drink,
A year slips away speedily, and never like the last:
The first is full seldom formed like the finish.
Therefore this Yule quickly passed, and the year after,
Each season swiftly shifting into the next:
After Christmas came the slow-creeping Lent
That mortifies flesh with the fish and food more simple.
But then the weather of the world strives against winter;
Cold ceases to cling, clouds arise,
The sheer rain sweeps down in warm showers,
Falls upon fair fields, where flowers unfold.
Both the ground and the groves are clad in green,
Birds briskly build, and blithely they sing
For solace of the soft summer that swiftly comes after
In thanks,
And blossoms bud and blow
In richest rows and ranks,
And sweet notes high and low
Are heard by woods and banks.

Then comes the season of summer with the soft winds
When Zephyrus himself sighs on seeds and herbs:
The plant shall prosper that pushes up shoots
As the damp dew drops off the leaves
To bide a blissful blush of the bright sun.
But then comes harvest to harden the grain,
Warns him before the winter to wax full ripe;
With drought he drives the dust to rise,
From the face of the earth to fly full high;
Wrathful wind from above wrestles with the sun,
The leaves drop from the linden, and alight on the ground,
And all grey grows the grass that was green before;
All that first rose up ripens and rots.
And thus wanes the year in many yesterdays,
And turns to winter again, as the world wags
Its way,
Till Michaelmas's moon
Is come in winter's sway.
Then thinks Gawain full soon
Of his anxious journey.

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October 2010

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