gawainandthegreenknight: (Default)
So the lord plays his game in the eaves of the greenwood,
And Gawain the good man lies in that gay bed,
Lying low till the daylight gleamed on the walls,
Under a bright coverlet, curtained about.
And sunk in slumber as he was, softly he heard
A little sound at his door as it quickly opened,
And he heaves up his head out of the bedclothes.
A corner of the curtain he takes up a little,
And lies warily in wait to see what it might be.
It was the lady, loveliest to behold,
That shut the door after her, secret and silent,
And bent toward the bed; and the man felt shame,
And laid him down to let her think he slept.
And she stepped softly and stole to his bed,
Cast up the curtain and crept within,
And sat herself softly down on the bedside
And lingered there strangely long, to look when he wakened.
The man lay lurking a full long while,
Questioning in his conscience what this case might
Mean, or lead to: a marvel he thought it.
But yet he said to himself: "More seemly it were
To find out in speech, in short space, what she wants."
Then he wakened and writhed and turned towards her,
And unlocked his eyelids and looked quite surprised,
And crossed himself as though to save his soul
The while.
Her chin and cheek full sweet
With white and red beguile;
Lovingly did she greet
Him with a sweet-lipped smile.
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.
gawainandthegreenknight: (Default)
A chair before the chimney where charcoal burned
Was dressed for Sir Gawain swiftly with clothes,
Cushions upon quilted cloths, both quaintly worked.
And then a merry mantle was cast on that man
Of a brown bleaunt silk, embroidered full richly,
And fair furred within with fells of the best
Of all ermine on earth; his hood of the same.
And he sat in that seat, seemly and rich,
And warmed himself well, and then his mood mended.
Soon a table was set up on fair trestles,
Clad with a clean cloth that showed clear white,
Serviette and salt-cellar and silver spoons.
He washed with good will and went to his meat:
Strong men enough served him in seemly wise
With several stews and sweets, seasoned finely,
Twofold servings, as was fitting, and fish of many kinds,
Some baked in bread, some roasted on the coals,
Some seethed, some in stews that savoured of spices,
And all sauces so subtle, as Sir Gawain liked.
The fair man called it a feast, full freely and often,
Right regally, and all the men of rank replied at once
Thereupon,
"This penance now you take,
It will amend anon."
Much mirth Gawain did make
For wine to his head had gone.

Then it was sought and spoken of in sparing fashion,
By certain personal points of that prince, which they put to him,
That he acknowledged courteously of what court he came:
That the high King Arthur held him as his,
The rich royal king of the Round Table,
And it is Gawain himself that sits in that hall,
Come to keep Christmas with them, as chance would have it.
When the lord learned that he had Gawain as his guest,
Loud he laughed for his delight at it,
And all the men within the motte made much joy
To appear in his presence at precisely that time,
For all peerlessness, prowess and pure politeness
Appertain to his person, for which he is praised;
Among all men on earth his honour is highest.
Each spectator softly said to his companion:
"Now we shall see seemly and courtly manners,
And the untarnished terms of noble talk.
What is splendid in speech, unsought we may learn it,
Since we have found here that fine father of nurture.
God has given us his good grace, forsooth,
That He grants us to have such a guest as Gawain,
When blithe men of His birth shall sit
and sing.
"The mode of manners clear
This knight shall to us bring.
I hope that we who hear
Shall learn of love-talking."
gawainandthegreenknight: (Default)
Gawain glanced at the man that did greet him so gladly,
And thought it a bold man that owned this castle,
Huge-built he was, in his high prime of age.
Broad, bright was his beard, and all beaver-brown,
Stern and strong was his stride on his stalwart shanks,
His face fierce as fire, but friendly and free of speech,
A well-seeming man, forsooth, as Gawain thought,
To be leader and liege of this lordly company.
The lord escorts him to a chamber, and quickly commands
That someone be on hand, humbly to serve him.
And brisk at his bidding there came bold men enough
That brought him to a bright bower with noble bedding:
Curtains of pure silk with shining gold hems,
And coverlets curiously made with comely panels
Of bright ermine above, with embroidered borders,
And running on ropes through red-gold rings,
Tapestries tight to the walls of Toulouse and Tars silk,
And underfoot, on the floor, of the selfsame kind.
There, with words of mirth, they disarmed the knight
Of his coat of chainmail and his bright clothes.
Men of the house hurried to bring him rich robes
So he might choose of the best to change into.
As soon as he took one and wrapped it about him,
That suited him well, with sailing skirts,
To well-nigh every noble that looked on his face,
It seemed springtime had come, from all the hues
Glowing and lovely, that enveloped his limbs,
That a comelier knight Christ never made,
They thought.
From wheresoe'er he were,
It seemed that he ought
To be prince without peer
In the field where fierce men fought.
gawainandthegreenknight: (Default)
He dwells there all that day, and dresses in the morning,
Asks early for his arms, and they all were brought.
First a crimson carpet was uncurled on the floor,
And much gilded gear laid gleaming upon it.
The strong man steps onto it and inspects the steel,
Clad in a doublet of dear Tarsian silk,
And a fine-crafted cape à dos, closed at the neck,
That with fair white fur was trimmed within.
Then they set the sabatons upon the strong man's feet,
His legs lovingly lapped in steel greaves,
With clean-polished polaynes attached to them,
Fastened about his knees with knots of gold;
Clean cuisses then, that quaintly closed
About his thick strong thighs, attached with thongs;
And then the hauberk, the body of bright steel rings,
Woven to guard that warrior over the doublet he wore,
And well-burnished braces upon both his arms,
With couters good and gay, and gloves of plate,
And all the goodly gear that should be to his gain
Beside,
A rich cote over his mail,
His gold spurs sprung with pride,
A sword that could not fail
On a silk sash by his side.

When he was wholly armed, his harness was rich;
The least latchet or loop gleamed with gold.
So harnessed as he was, he goes to hear Mass,
Makes offerings and does honour to the high altar.
After, he comes to the king and his courtly companions,
Takes a loving leave of lords and ladies,
And they kissed him and came with him, commending him to Christ.
By then Gryngolet was groomed, and girded with a saddle
That gleamed gaily with many gold fringes
Newly nailed everywhere, enriched for the new quest;
The bridle striped about, bound with bright gold.
The apparel of the breastplate and of the proud skirts,
The crupper and caparisons, accorded with the saddlebows,
And all was adroned with rich red-gold nails,
That all glittered as the sun's gleam glanced off them.
Then he takes the helmet, and hastily kisses it,
That was stapled together strongly and stuffed within.
It was high on his head, fastened behind
With a light cloth covering the mail aventail,
Embroidered and bounded with the best gems
On its broad silken border, and birds on the seams,
Painted parrots preening between,
Turtledoves and true-love knots entwined so thick
As if many maidens had spent seven winters to make it
In town.
Yet of far greater price
The circlet that bound his crown:
Of diamonds a device,
That were both bright and brown.
gawainandthegreenknight: (Default)
Now of their service I'll say no more,
For anyone with wits can tell there was no want.
Another noise, a new one, was nearing,
The thing that would give the king leave to eat;
For hardly was the noise not a while ceased,
And the first course in the court courteously served,
When there hauls in at the door a frightful master,
One of the most massive men in the world by measure,
From the neck to the waist so square and so thick,
And his loins and his limbs so long and so great,
Half-ogre on earth I think that he was,
But man for the most part I mind him to be,
And of men the merriest in his strength that might ride,
For though he was broad of back and of breast,
Both his belly and waist were worthily small,
And all his features fitting the form that he had
Full clean.
For wonder of his hue men had,
In his semblance to be seen:
He moved like one gone mad--
And overall, bright green.
Three more stanzas below, including a green horse )
gawainandthegreenknight: (Default)
The king lay at Camelot upon Christmas
With many loving lords, ladies of the best;
All these rich brothers of the Round Table
With right rich revels and reckless mirth
There tourneyed; true knights full many a time
Jousted full joyfully; these gentle knghts
Then returned to the court to dance and sing carols;
For there the feast was held for full fifteen days,
With all the meat and the mirth that men could devise,
Such gleaming glee, glorious to hear:
Loud singing by day, dancing by night;
All was high and happy in halls and chambers
With lords and ladies as pleased them best;
With all the joy of the world they dwelt there assembled:
The most famous knights under Christ's self
And the loveliest ladies that ever had life
And he the comeliest king that ever held court;
For all these fair folk were in their first age
on earth,
The happiest under heaven,
With their high-willed king;
To name a better host
Today were a hard thing.
More revelry under here )

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October 2010

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