Feb. 5th, 2009

gawainandthegreenknight: (Default)
"If you will worthily, lord," said Gawain to the king,
"Bid me step from this bench and stand by you there,
That I without rudeness might rise from this table,
And if my liege-lady liked it not ill,
I would come give you counsel before your rich court.
For I think it not seemly, if truth be known,
That such a challenge be borne so high in your hall
That you yourself should be tempted to take it on you
While so many bold knights sit about you at board--
Under heaven, I hope, none higher of will,
Nor better-bodied in battle where banners are raised.
I am the weakest, I know, and feeblest of wit,
And my life is of least value, let truth be told;
I am only praised because you are my uncle,
And my body knows no bounty but your blood.
Since this trial is too trifling to be taken by you,
And I have asked it of you first, then grant it to me;
And if I speak not fittingly, let this rich court not praise
But blame."
All spoke together low,
And all did say the same:
That the king might withdraw
And give Gawain the game.

Then the king commanded the knight to rise,
And he quickly rose up and strode to the floor,
Knelt down before the king to receive the axe;
Which Arthur gives lovingly, lifting up his hands
to bestow God's blessing, and gladly bids him
To be hardy of both his heart and his hands.
"Keep, cousin, your word to strike him one blow,
And if you pay him his due readily, I think
You'll easily abide the stroke he strikes after."
Gawain goes to the knight, giserne in hand,
Who calmly awaits him without sign of fear;
Then speaks to Sir Gawain the knight in the green:
"Let us form well our pact before we pass further.
First I ask thee, sir, how thou art called?
Tell me truly, as I may trust thee."
"In good faith," says the good knight, "Gawain I am,
That give thee this blow, whatever befall after,
And at this time twelvemonth take from thee another,
With what weapon thou wilt, and from no man else
Then answers him that other:
"Gawain, so may I thrive
As I would have none other
But thee this blow to drive!"


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