Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
J.R.R. Tolkien and E.V. Gordon

Passus III

Ful erly bifore þe day þe folk vprysen,
Gestes þat go wolde hor gromez þay calden,
And þay busken vp bilyue blonkkez to sadel, Page  32
Tyffen her takles, trussen her males,
Richen hem þe rychest, to ryde alle arayde,
Lepen vp lyȝtly, lachen her brydeles,
Vche wyȝe on his way þer hym wel lyked.
Þe leue lorde of þe londe watz not þe last
Arayed for þe rydyng, with renkkez ful mony;
Ete a sop hastyly, when he hade herde masse,
With bugle to bent-felde he buskez bylyue.
By þat any daylyȝt lemed vpon erþe
He with his haþeles on hyȝe horsses weren.
Þenne þise cacheres þat couþe cowpled hor houndez,
Vnclosed þe kenel dore and calde hem þeroute,
Blwe bygly in buglez þre bare mote;
Braches bayed þerfore and breme noyse maked;
And þay chastysed and charred on chasyng þat went,
A hundreth of hunteres, as I haf herde telle,
of þe best.
To trystors vewters ȝod,
Couples huntes of kest; [folio 106v]
Þer ros for blastez gode
Gret rurd in þat forest.
At þe fyrst quethe of þe quest quaked þe wylde;
Der drof in þe dale, doted for drede,
Hiȝed to þe hyȝe, bot heterly þay were
Restayed with þe stablye, þat stoutly ascryed.
Þay let þe herttez haf þe gate, with þe hyȝe hedes,
Þe breme bukkez also with hor brode paumez;
For þe fre lorde hade defende in fermysoun tyme
Þat þer schulde no mon meue to þe male dere.
Þe hindez were halden in with hay! and war!
Þe does dryuen with gret dyn to þe depe sladez;
Þer myȝt mon se, as þay slypte, slentyng of arwes--
At vche wende vnder wande wapped a flone--
Þat bigly bote on þe broun with ful brode hedez.
What! þay brayen, and bleden, bi bonkkez þay deȝen,
And ay rachches in a res radly hem folȝes,
Hunterez wyth hyȝe horne hasted hem after
Wyth such a crakkande kry as klyffes haden brusten. Page  33
What wylde so atwaped wyȝes þat schotten
Watz al toraced and rent at þe resayt,
Bi þay were tened at þe hyȝe and taysed to þe wattrez;
Þe ledez were so lerned at þe loȝe trysteres,
And þe grehoundez so grete, þat geten hem bylyue
And hem tofylched, as fast as frekez myȝt loke,
Þe lorde for blys abloy
Ful oft con launce and lyȝt,
And drof þat day wyth joy
Thus to þe derk nyȝt.
Þus laykez þis lorde by lynde-wodez euez,
And Gawayn þe god mon in gay bed lygez,
Lurkkez quyl þe daylyȝt lemed on þe wowes,
Vnder couertour ful clere, cortyned aboute;
And as in slomeryng he slode, sleȝly he herde
A littel dyn at his dor, and dernly vpon;
And he heuez vp his hed out of þe cloþes, [folio 107r]
A corner of þe cortyn he caȝt vp a lyttel,
And waytez warly þiderwarde quat hit be myȝt.
Hit watz þe ladi, loflyest to beholde,
Þat droȝ þe dor after hir ful dernly and stylle,
And boȝed towarde þe bed; and þe burne schamed,
And layde hym doun lystyly, and let as he slepte;
And ho stepped stilly and stel to his bedde,
Kest vp þe cortyn and creped withinne,
And set hir ful softly on þe bed-syde,
And lenged þere selly longe to loke quen he wakened.
Þe lede lay lurked a ful longe quyle,
Compast in his concience to quat þat cace myȝt
Meue oþer amount--to meruayle hym þoȝt,
Bot ȝet he sayde in hymself, 'More semly hit were
To aspye wyth my spelle in space quat ho wolde.'
Þen he wakenede, and wroth, and to hir warde torned,
And vnlouked his yȝe-lyddez, and let as hym wondered,
And sayned hym, as bi his saȝe þe sauer to worthe,
with hande. Page  34
Wyth chynne and cheke ful swete,
Boþe quit and red in blande,
Ful lufly con ho lete
Wyth lyppez smal laȝande.
'God moroun, Sir Gawayn,' sayde þat gay lady,
'Ȝe ar a sleper vnslyȝe, þat mon may slyde hider;
Now ar ȝe tan as-tyt! Bot true vus may schape,
I schal bynde yow in your bedde, þat be ȝe trayst':
Al laȝande þe lady lanced þo bourdez.
'Goud moroun, gay,' quoþ Gawayn þe blyþe,
'Me schal worþe at your wille, and þat me wel lykez,
For I ȝelde me ȝederly, and ȝeȝe after grace,
And þat is þe best, be my dome, for me byhouez nede':
And þus he bourded aȝayn with mony a blyþe laȝter.
'Bot wolde ȝe, lady louely, þen leue me grante,
And deprece your prysoun, and pray hym to ryse,
I wolde boȝe of þis bed, and busk me better;
I schulde keuer þe more comfort to karp yow wyth.' [folio 107v]
'Nay for soþe, beau sir,' sayd þat swete,
'Ȝe schal not rise of your bedde, I rych yow better,
I schal happe yow here þat oþer half als,
And syþen karp wyth my knyȝt þat I kaȝt haue;
For I wene wel, iwysse, Sir Wowen ȝe are,
Þat alle þe worlde worchipez quere-so ȝe ride;
Your honour, your hendelayk is hendely praysed
With lordez, wyth ladyes, with alle þat lyf bere.
And now ȝe ar here, iwysse, and we bot oure one;
My lorde and his ledez ar on lenþe faren,
Oþer burnez in her bedde, and my burdez als,
Þe dor drawen and dit with a derf haspe;
And syþen I haue in þis hous hym þat al lykez,
I schal ware my whyle wel, quyl hit lastez,
with tale.
Ȝe ar welcum to my cors,
Yowre awen won to wale,
Me behouez of fyne force
Your seruaunt be, and schale.' Page  35
'In god fayth,' quoþ Gawayn, 'gayn hit me þynkkez,
Þaȝ I be not now he þat ȝe of speken;
To reche to such reuerence as ȝe reherce here
I am wyȝe vnworþy, I wot wel myseluen.
Bi God, I were glad, and yow god þoȝt,
At saȝe oþer at seruyce þat I sette myȝt
To þe plesaunce of your prys--hit were a pure ioye.'
'In god fayth, Sir Gawayn,' quoþ þe gay lady,
'Þe prys and þe prowes þat plesez al oþer,
If I hit lakked oþer set at lyȝt, hit were littel daynté;
Bot hit ar ladyes innoȝe þat leuer wer nowþe
Haf þe, hende, in hor holde, as I þe habbe here,
To daly with derely your daynté wordez,
Keuer hem comfort and colen her carez,
Þen much of þe garysoun oþer golde þat þay hauen.
Bot I louue þat ilk lorde þat þe lyfte haldez,
I haf hit holly in my honde þat al desyres,
þurȝe grace.'
Scho made hym so gret chere, [folio 108r]
Þat watz so fayr of face,
Þe knyȝt with speches skere
Answared to vche a cace.
'Madame,' quoþ þe myry mon, 'Mary yow ȝelde,
For I haf founden, in god fayth, yowre fraunchis nobele,
And oþer ful much of oþer folk fongen bi hor dedez,
Bot þe daynté þat þay delen, for my disert nys euen,
Hit is þe worchyp of yourself, þat noȝt bot wel connez.'
'Bi Mary,' quoþ þe menskful, 'me þynk hit an oþer;
For were I worth al þe wone of wymmen alyue,
And al þe wele of þe worlde were in my honde,
And I schulde chepen and chose to cheue me a lorde,
For þe costes þat I haf knowen vpon þe, knyȝt, here,
Of bewté and debonerté and blyþe semblaunt,
And þat I haf er herkkened and halde hit here trwee,
Þer schulde no freke vpon folde bifore yow be chosen.'
'Iwysse, worþy,' quoþ þe wyȝe, 'ȝe haf waled wel better,
Bot I am proude of þe prys þat ȝe put on me,
And, soberly your seruaunt, my souerayn I holde yow, Page  36
And yowre knyȝt I becom, and Kryst yow forȝelde.'
Þus þay meled of muchquat til mydmorn paste,
And ay þe lady let lyk as hym loued mych;
Þe freke ferde with defence, and feted ful fayre--
'Þaȝ I were burde bryȝtest', þe burde in mynde hade.
Þe lasse luf in his lode for lur þat he soȝt
boute hone,
Þe dunte þat schulde hym deue,
And nedez hit most be done.
Þe lady þenn spek of leue,
He granted hir ful sone.
Þenne ho gef hym god day, and wyth a glent laȝed,
And as ho stod, ho stonyed hym wyth ful stor wordez:
'Now he þat spedez vche spech þis disport ȝelde yow!
Bot þat ȝe be Gawan, hit gotz in mynde.'
'Querfore?' quoþ þe freke, and freschly he askez,
Ferde lest he hade fayled in fourme of his castes;
Bot þe burde hym blessed, and 'Bi þis skyl' sayde: [folio 108v]
'So god as Gawayn gaynly is halden,
And cortaysye is closed so clene in hymseluen,
Couth not lyȝtly haf lenged so long wyth a lady,
Bot he had craued a cosse, bi his courtaysye,
Bi sum towch of summe tryfle at sum talez ende.'
Þen quoþ Wowen: 'Iwysse, worþe as yow lykez;
I schal kysse at your comaundement, as a knyȝt fallez,
And fire, lest he displese yow, so plede hit no more.'
Ho comes nerre with þat, and cachez hym in armez,
Loutez luflych adoun and þe leude kyssez.
Þay comly bykennen to Kryst ayþer oþer;
Ho dos hir forth at þe dore withouten dyn more;
And he ryches hym to ryse and rapes hym sone,
Clepes to his chamberlayn, choses his wede,
Boȝez forth, quen he watz boun, blyþely to masse;
And þenne he meued to his mete þat menskly hym keped,
And made myry al day, til þe mone rysed,
with game.
Watz neuer freke fayrer fonge
Bitwene two so dyngne dame, Page  37
Þe alder and þe ȝonge;
Much solace set þay same.
And ay þe lorde of þe londe is lent on his gamnez,
To hunt in holtez and heþe at hyndez barayne;
Such a sowme he þer slowe bi þat þe sunne heldet,
Of dos and of oþer dere, to deme were wonder.
Þenne fersly þay flokked in folk at þe laste,
And quykly of þe quelled dere a querré þay maked.
Þe best boȝed þerto with burnez innoghe,
Gedered þe grattest of gres þat þer were,
And didden hem derely vndo as þe dede askez;
Serched hem at þe asay summe þat þer were,
Two fyngeres þay fonde of þe fowlest of alle.
Syþen þay slyt þe slot, sesed þe erber,
Schaued wyth a scharp knyf, and þe schyre knitten;
Syþen rytte þay þe foure lymmes, and rent of þe hyde,
Þen brek þay þe balé, þe bowelez out token [folio 109r]
Lystily for laucyng þe lere of þe knot;
Þay gryped to þe gargulun, and grayþely departed
Þe wesaunt fro þe wynt-hole, and walt out þe guttez;
Þen scher þay out þe schulderez with her scharp knyuez,
Haled hem by a lyttel hole to haue hole sydes.
Siþen britned þay þe brest and brayden hit in twynne,
And eft at þe gargulun bigynez on þenne,
Ryuez hit vp radly ryȝt to þe byȝt,
Voydez out þe avanters, and verayly þerafter
Alle þe rymez by þe rybbez radly þay lance;
So ryde þay of by resoun bi þe rygge bonez,
Euenden to þe haunche, þat henged alle samen,
And heuen hit vp al hole, and hwen hit of þere,
And þat þay neme for þe noumbles bi nome, as I trowe,
bi kynde;
Bi þe byȝt al of þe þyȝes
Þe lappez þay lance bihynde;
To hewe hit in two þay hyȝes,
Bi þe bakbon to vnbynde.
Boþe þe hede and þe hals þay hwen of þenne,
And syþen sunder þay þe sydez swyft fro þe chyne, Page  38
And þe corbeles fee þay kest in a greue;
Þenn þurled þay ayþer þik side þurȝ bi þe rybbe,
And henged þenne ayþer bi hoȝez of þe fourchez,
Vche freke for his fee, as fallez for to haue.
Vpon a felle of þe fayre best fede þay þayr houndes
Wyth þe lyuer and þe lyȝtez, þe leþer of þe paunchez,
And bred baþed in blod blende þeramongez.
Baldely þay blw prys, bayed þayr rachchez,
Syþen fonge þay her flesche, folden to home,
Strakande ful stoutly mony stif motez.
Bi þat þe daylyȝt watz done þe douthe watz al wonen
Into þe comly castel, þer þe knyȝt bidez
ful stille,
Wyth blys and bryȝt fyr bette.
Þe lorde is comen þertylle;
When Gawayn wyth hym mette
Þer watz bot wele at wylle. [folio 109v]
Thenne comaunded þe lorde in þat sale to samen alle þe meny,
Boþe þe ladyes on loghe to lyȝt with her burdes
Bifore alle þe folk on þe flette, frekez he beddez
Verayly his venysoun to fech hym byforne,
And al godly in gomen Gawayn he called,
Techez hym to þe tayles of ful tayt bestes,
Schewez hym þe schyree grece schorne vpon rybbes.
'How payez yow þis play? Haf I prys wonnen?
Haue I þryuandely þonk þurȝ my craft serued?'
'Ȝe iwysse,' quoþ þat oþer wyȝe, 'here is wayth fayrest
Þat I seȝ þis seuen ȝere in sesoun of wynter.'
'And al I gif yow, Gawayn,' quoþ þe gome þenne,
'For by acorde of couenaunt ȝe craue hit as your awen.'
'Þis is soth,' quoþ þe segge, 'I say yow þat ilke:
Þat I haf worthyly wonnen þis wonez wythinne,
Iwysse with as god wylle hit worþez to ȝourez.'
He hasppez his fayre hals his armez wythinne,
And kysses hym as comlyly as he couþe awyse: Page  39
'Tas yow þere my cheuicaunce, I cheued no more;
I wowche hit saf fynly, þaȝ feler hit were.'
'Hit is god,' quoþ þe godmon, 'grant mercy þerfore.
Hit may be such hit is þe better, and ȝe me breue wolde
Where ȝe wan þis ilk wele bi wytte of yorseluen.'
'Þat watz not forward,' quoþ he, 'frayst me no more.
For ȝe haf tan þat yow tydez, trawe non oþer
ȝe mowe.'
Þay laȝed, and made hem blyþe
Wyth lotez þat were to lowe;
To soper þay ȝede as-swyþe,
Wyth dayntés nwe innowe.
And syþen by þe chymné in chamber þay seten,
Wyȝez þe walle wyn weȝed to hem oft,
And efte in her bourdyng þay bayþen in þe morn
To fylle þe same forwardez þat þay byfore maden:
Wat chaunce so bytydez hor cheuysaunce to chaunge,
What nwez so þay nome, at naȝt quen þay metten.
Þay acorded of þe couenauntez byfore þe court alle; [folio 110r]
Þe beuerage watz broȝt forth in bourde at þat tyme,
Þenne þay louelych leȝten leue at þe last,
Vche burne to his bedde busked bylyue.
Bi þat þe coke hade crowen and cakled bot þryse,
Þe lorde watz lopen of his bedde, þe leudez vchone;
So þat þe mete and þe masse watz metely delyuered,
Þe douthe dressed to þe wod, er any day sprenged,
to chace;
Heȝ with hunte and hornez
Þurȝ playnez þay passe in space,
Vncoupled among þo þornez
Rachez þat ran on race.
SONE þay calle of a quest in a ker syde,
Þe hunt rehayted þe houndez þat hit fyrst mynged,
Wylde wordez hym warp wyth a wrast noyce;
Þe howndez þat hit herde hastid þider swyþe,
And fellen as fast to þe fuyt, fourty at ones; Page  40
Þenne such a glauer ande glam of gedered rachchez
Ros, þat þe rocherez rungen aboute;
Hunterez hem hardened with horne and wyth muthe.
Þen al in a semblé sweyed togeder,
Bitwene a flosche in þat fryth and a foo cragge;
In a knot bi a clyffe, at þe kerre syde,
Þer as þe rogh rocher vnrydely watz fallen,
Þay ferden to þe fyndyng, and frekez hem after;
Þay vmbekesten þe knarre and þe knot boþe,
Wyȝez, whyl þay wysten wel wythinne hem hit were,
Þe best þat þer breued watz wyth þe blodhoundez.
Þenne þay beten on þe buskez, and bede hym vpryse,
And he vnsoundyly out soȝt seggez ouerþwert;
On þe sellokest swyn swenged out þere,
Long sythen fro þe sounder þat siȝed for olde,
For he watz breme, bor alþer-grattest,
Ful grymme quen he gronyed; þenne greued mony,
For þre at þe fyrst þrast he þryȝt to þe erþe,
And sparred forth good sped boute spyt more.
Þise oþer halowed hyghe! ful hyȝe, and hay! hay! cryed, [folio 110v]
Haden hornez to mouþe, heterly rechated;
Mony watz þe myry mouthe of men and of houndez
Þat buskkez after þis bor with bost and wyth noyse
to quelle.
Ful oft he bydez þe baye,
And maymez þe mute inn melle;
He hurtez of þe houndez, and þay
Ful ȝomerly ȝaule and ȝelle.
Schalkez to schote at hym schowen to þenne,
Haled to hym of her arewez, hitten hym oft;
Bot þe poyntez payred at þe pyth þat pyȝt in his scheldez,
And þe barbez of his browe bite non wolde--
Þaȝ þe schauen schaft schyndered in pecez,
Þe hede hypped aȝayn were-so-euer hit hitte. Page  41
Bot quen þe dyntez hym dered of her dryȝe strokez,
Þen, braynwod for bate, on burnez he rasez,
Hurtez hem ful heterly þer he forth hyȝez,
And mony arȝed þerat, and on lyte droȝen.
Bot þe lorde on a lyȝt horce launces hym after,
As burne bolde vpon bent his bugle he blowez,
He rechated, and rode þurȝ ronez ful þyk,
Suande þis wylde swyn til þe sunne schafted.
Þis day wyth þis ilk dede þay dryuen on þis wyse,
Whyle oure luflych lede lys in his bedde,
Gawayn grayþely at home, in gerez ful ryche
of hewe.
Þe lady noȝt forȝate,
Com to hym to salue;
Ful erly ho watz hym ate
His mode for to remwe.
Ho commes to þe cortyn, and at þe knyȝt totes.
Sir Wawen her welcumed worþy on fyrst,
And ho hym ȝeldez aȝayn ful ȝerne of hir wordez,
Settez hir softly by his syde, and swyþely ho laȝez,
And wyth a luflych loke ho layde hym þyse wordez:
'Sir, ȝif ȝe be Wawen, wonder me þynkkez,
Wyȝe þat is so wel wrast alway to god,
And connez not of compaynye þe costez vndertake, [folio 111r]
And if mon kennes yow hom to knowe, ȝe kest hom of your mynde;
Þou hatz forȝeten ȝederly þat ȝisterday I taȝtte
Bi alder-truest token of talk þat I cowþe.'
'What is þat?' quoþ þe wyghe, 'Iwysse I wot neuer;
If hit be sothe þat ȝe breue, þe blame is myn awen.'
'Ȝet I kende yow of kyssyng,' quoþ þe clere þenne,
'Quere-so countenaunce is couþe quikly to clayme;
Þat bicumes vche a knyȝt þat cortaysy vses.'
'Do way,' quoþ þat derf mon, 'my dere, þat speche,
For þat durst I not do, lest I deuayed were;
If I were werned, I were wrang, iwysse, ȝif I profered.'
'Ma fay,' quoþ þe meré wyf, 'ȝe may not be werned, Page  42
Ȝe ar stif innoghe to constrayne wyth strenkþe, ȝif yow lykez,
Ȝif any were so vilanous þat yow devaye wolde.'
'Ȝe, be God,' quoþ Gawayn, 'good is your speche,
Bot þrete is vnþryuande in þede þer I lende,
And vche gift þat is geuen not with goud wylle.
I am at your comaundement, to kysse quen yow lykez,
Ȝe may lach quen yow lyst, and leue quen yow þynkkez,
in space.'
Þe lady loutez adoun,
And comlyly kysses his face,
Much speche þay þer expoun
Of druryes greme and grace.
'I woled wyt at yow, wyȝe,' þat worþy þer sayde,
'And yow wrathed not þerwyth, what were þe skylle
Þat so ȝong and so ȝepe as ȝe at þis tyme,
So cortayse, so knyȝtyly, as ȝe ar knowen oute--
And of alle cheualry to chose, þe chef þyng alosed
Is þe lel layk of luf, þe lettrure of armes;
For to telle of þis teuelyng of þis trwe knyȝtez,
Hit is þe tytelet token and tyxt of her werkkez,
How ledes for her lele luf hor lyuez han auntered,
Endured for her drury dulful stoundez,
And after wenged with her walour and voyded her care,
And broȝt blysse into boure with bountees hor awen--
And ȝe ar knyȝt comlokest kyd of your elde, [folio 111v]
Your worde and your worchip walkez ayquere,
And I haf seten by yourself here sere twyes,
Ȝet herde I neuer of your hed helde no wordez
Þat euer longed to luf, lasse ne more;
And ȝe, þat ar so cortays and coynt of your hetes,
Oghe to a ȝonke þynk ȝern to schewe
And teche sum tokenez of trweluf craftes.
Why! ar ȝe lewed, þat alle þe los weldez?
Oþer elles ȝe demen me to dille your dalyaunce to herken?
For schame!
I com hider sengel, and sitte
To lerne at yow sum game; Page  43
Dos, techez me of your wytte,
Whil my lorde is fro hame.'
'In goud fayþe,' quoþ Gawayn, 'God yow forȝelde!
Gret is þe gode gle, and gomen to me huge,
Þat so worþy as ȝe wolde wynne hidere,
And pyne yow with so pouer a mon, as play wyth your knyȝt
With anyskynnez countenaunce, hit keuerez me ese;
Bot to take þe toruayle to myself to trwluf expoun,
And towche þe temez of tyxt and talez of armez
To yow þat, I wot wel, weldez more slyȝt
Of þat art, bi þe half, or a hundreth of seche
As I am, oþer euer schal, in erde þer I leue,
Hit were a folé felefolde, my fre, by my trawþe.
I wolde yowre wylnyng worche at my myȝt,
As I am hyȝly bihalden, and euermore wylle
Be seruaunt to yourseluen, so saue me Dryȝtyn!'
Þus hym frayned þat fre, and fondet hym ofte,
For to haf wonnen hym to woȝe, what-so scho þoȝt ellez;
Bot he defended hym so fayr þat no faut semed,
Ne non euel on nawþer halue, nawþer þay wysten
bot blysse.
Þay laȝed and layked longe;
At þe last scho con hym kysse,
Hir leue fayre con scho fonge
And went hir waye, iwysse.
Then ruþes hym þe renk and ryses to þe masse, [folio 112r]
And siþen hor diner watz dyȝt and derely serued.
Þe lede with þe ladyez layked alle day,
Bot þe lorde ouer þe londez launced ful ofte,
Swez his vncely swyn, þat swyngez bi þe bonkkez
And bote þe best of his brachez þe bakkez in sunder
Þer he bode in his bay, tel bawemen hit breken,
And madee hym mawgref his hed for to mwe vtter,
So felle flonez þer flete when þe folk gedered.
Bot ȝet þe styffest to start bi stoundez he made,
Til at þe last he watz so mat he myȝt no more renne,
Bot in þe hast þat he myȝt he to a hole wynnez
Of a rasse bi a rokk þer rennez þe boerne. Page  44
He gete þe bonk at his bak, bigynez to scrape,
Þe froþe femed at his mouth vnfayre bi þe wykez,
Whettez his whyte tuschez; with hym þen irked
Alle þe burnez so bolde þat hym by stoden
To nye hym on-ferum, bot neȝe hym non durst
for woþe;
He hade hurt so mony byforne
Þat al þuȝt þenne ful loþe
Be more wyth his tusches torne,
Þat breme watz and braynwod bothe,
Til þe knyȝt com hymself, kachande his blonk,
Syȝ hym byde at þe bay, his burnez bysyde;
He lyȝtes luflych adoun, leuez his corsour,
Braydez out a bryȝt bront and bigly forth strydez,
Foundez fast þurȝ þe forth þer þe felle bydez.
Þe wylde watz war of þe wyȝe with weppen in honde,
Hef hyȝly þe here, so hetterly he fnast
Þat fele ferde for þe freke, lest felle hym þe worre.
Þe swyn settez hym out on þe segge euen,
Þat þe burne and þe bor were boþe vpon hepez
In þe wyȝtest of þe water; þe worre hade þat oþer,
For þe mon merkkez hym wel, as þay mette fyrst,
Set sadly þe scharp in þe slot euen,
Hit hym vp to þe hult, þat þe hert schyndered,
And he ȝarrande hym ȝelde, and ȝedoun þe water [folio 112v]
ful tyt.
A hundreth houndez hym hent,
Þat bremely con hym bite,
Burnez him broȝt to bent,
And doggez to dethe endite.
There watz blawyng of prys in mony breme horne,
Heȝe halowing on hiȝe with haþelez þat myȝt;
Brachetes bayed þat best, as bidden þe maysterez
Of þat chargeaunt chace þat were chef huntes.
Þenne a wyȝe þat watz wys vpon wodcraftez
To vnlace þis bor lufly bigynnez.
Fyrst he hewes of his hed and on hiȝe settez, Page  45
And syþen rendez him al roghe bi þe rygge after,
Braydez out þe boweles, brennez hom on glede,
With bred blent þerwith his braches rewardez.
Syþen he britnez out þe brawen in bryȝt brode cheldez,
And hatz out þe hastlettez, as hiȝtly bisemez;
And ȝet hem halchez al hole þe haluez togeder,
And syþen on a stif stange stoutly hem henges.
Now with þis ilk swyn þay swengen to home;
Þe bores hed watz borne bifore þe burnes seluen
Þat him forferde in þe forþe þurȝ forse of his honde
so stronge.
Til he seȝ Sir Gawayne
In halle hym poȝt ful longe;
He calde, and he com gayn
His feez þer for to fonge.
Þe lorde ful lowde with lote and laȝter myry,
When he seȝe Sir Gawayn, with solace he spekez;
Þe goude ladyez were geten, and gedered þe meyny,
He schewez hem þe scheldez, and schapes hem þe tale
Of þe largesse and þe lenþe, þe liþernez alse
Of þe were of þe wylde swyn in wod þer he fled.
Þat oþer knyȝt ful comly comended his dedez,
And praysed hit as gret prys þat he proued hade,
For suche a brawne of a best, þe bolde burne sayde,
Ne such sydes of a swyn segh he neuer are.
Þenne hondeled þay þe hoge hed, þe hende mon hit praysed, [folio 113r]
And let lodly þerat þe lorde for to here.
'Now, Gawayn,' quoþ þe godmon, 'þis gomen is your awen
Bi fyn forwarde and faste, faythely ȝe knowe.'
'Hit is sothe,' quoþ þe segge, 'and as siker trwe
Alle my get I schal yow gif agayn, bi my trawþe.'
He hent þe haþel aboute þe halse, and hendely hym kysses,
And eftersones of þe same he serued hym þere.
'Now ar we euen,' quoþ þe haþel, 'in þis euentide
Of alle þe couenauntes þat we knyt, syþen I com hider,
bi lawe.'
Þe lorde sayde, 'Bi saynt Gile,
Ȝe ar þe best þat I knowe! Page  46
Ȝe ben ryche in a whyle,
Such chaffer and ȝe drowe.'
Þenne þay teldet tablez trestes alofte,
Kesten cloþen vpon; clere lyȝt þenne
Wakned bi woȝez, waxen torches;
Seggez sette and serued in sale al aboute;
Much glam and gle glent vp þerinne
Aboute þe fyre vpon flet, and on fele wyse
At þe soper and after, mony aþel songez,
As coundutes of Krystmasse and carolez newe
With al þe manerly merþe þat mon may of telle,
And euer oure luflych knyȝt þe lady bisyde.
Such semblaunt to þat segge semly ho made
Wyth stille stollen countenaunce, þat stalworth to plese,
Þat al forwondered watz þe wyȝe, and wroth with hymseluen,
Bot he nolde not for his nurture nurne hir aȝaynez,
Bot dalt with hir al in daynté, how-se-euer þe dede turned
Quen þay hade played in halle
As longe as hor wylle hom last,
To chambre he con hym calle,
And to þe chemné þay past.
Ande þer þay dronken, and dalten, and demed eft nwe
To norne on þe same note on Nwe Ȝerez euen;
Bot þe knyȝt craued leue to kayre on þe morn,
For hit watz neȝ at þe terme þat he to schulde. [folio 113v]
Þe lorde hym letted of þat, to lenge hym resteyed,
And sayde, 'As I am trwe segge, I siker my trawþe
Þou schal cheue to þe grene chapel þy charres to make,
Leude, on Nw Ȝerez lyȝt, longe bifore pryme.
Forþy þow lye in þy loft and lach þyn ese,
And I schal hunt in þis holt, and halde þe towchez,
Chaunge wyth þe cheuisaunce, bi þat I charre hider;
For I haf fraysted þe twys, and faythful I fynde þe.
Now "þrid tyme þrowe best" þenk on þe morne,
Make we mery quyl we may and mynne vpon joye,
For þe lur may mon lach when-so mon lykez.'
Þis watz grayþely graunted, and Gawayn is lenged, Page  47
Bliþe broȝt watz hym drynk, and þay to bedde ȝeden
with liȝt.
Sir Gawayn lis and slepes
Ful stille and softe al niȝt;
Þe lorde þat his craftez kepes,
Ful erly he watz diȝt.
After messe a morsel he and his men token;
Miry watz þe mornyng, his mounture he askes.
Alle þe haþeles þat on horse schulde helden hym after
Were boun busked on hor blonkkez bifore þe halle ȝatez.
Ferly fayre watz þe folde, for þe forst clenged;
In rede rudede vpon rak rises þe sunne,
And ful clere costez þe clowdes of þe welkyn.
Hunteres vnhardeled bi a holt syde,
Rocheres roungen bi rys for rurde of her hornes;
Summe fel in þe fute þer þe fox bade,
Traylez ofte a traueres bi traunt of her wyles;
A kenet kyres þerof, þe hunt on hym calles;
His felaȝes fallen hym to, þat fnasted ful þike,
Runnen forth in a rabel in his ryȝt fare,
And he fyskez hem byfore; þay founden hym sone,
And quen þay seghe hym with syȝt þay sued hym fast,
Wreȝande hym ful weterly with a wroth noyse;
And he trantes and tornayeez þurȝ mony tene greue,
Hauilounez, and herkenez bi heggez ful ofte. [folio 114r]
At þe last bi a littel dich he lepez ouer a spenne,
Stelez out ful stilly bi a strothe rande,
Went haf wylt of þe wode with wylez fro þe houndes;
Þenne watz he went, er he wyst, to a wale tryster,
Þer þre þro at a þrich þrat hym at ones,
al graye.
He blenched aȝayn bilyue
And stifly start on-stray,
With alle þe wo on lyue
To þe wod he went away. Page  48
Thenne watz hit list vpon lif to lyþen þe houndez,
When alle þe mute hade hym met, menged togeder:
Suche a sorȝe at þat syȝt þay sette on his hede
As alle þe clamberande clyffes hade clatered on hepes;
Here he watz halawed, when haþelez hym metten,
Loude he watz ȝayned with ȝarande speche;
Þer he watz þreted and ofte þef called,
And ay þe titleres at his tayl, þat tary he ne myȝt;
Ofte he watz runnen at, when he out rayked,
And ofte reled in aȝayn, so Reniarde watz wylé.
And ȝe he lad hem bi lagmon, þe lorde and his meyny,
On þis maner bi þe mountes quyle myd-ouer-vnder,
Whyle þe hende knyȝt at home holsumly slepes
Withinne þe comly cortynes, on þe colde morne.
Bot þe lady for luf let not to slepe,
Ne þe purpose to payre þat pyȝt in hir hert,
Bot ros hir vp radly, rayked hir þeder
In a mery mantyle, mete to þe erþe,
Þat watz furred ful fyne with fellez wel pured,
No hwef goud on hir hede bot þe haȝer stones
Trased aboute hir tressour be twenty in clusteres;
Hir þryuen face and hir þrote þrowen al naked,
Hir brest bare bifore, and bihinde eke.
Ho comez withinne þe chambre dore, and closes hit hir after,
Wayuez vp a wyndow, and on þe wyȝe callez,
And radly þus rehayted hym with hir riche wordes,
with chere:
'A! mon, how may þou slepe, [folio 114v]
Þis morning is so clere?'
He watz in drowping depe,
Bot þenne he con hir here.
In dreȝ droupyng of dreme draueled þat noble,
As mon þat watz in mornyng of mony þro þoȝtes,
How þat destiné schulde þat day dele hym his wyrde
At þe grene chapel, when he þe gome metes,
And bihoues his buffet abide withoute debate more;
Bot quen þat comly com he keuered his wyttes, Page  49
Swenges out of þe sweuenes, and swarez with hast.
Þe lady luflych com laȝande swete,
Felle ouer his fayre face, and fetly hym kyssed;
He welcumez hir worþily with a wale chere.
He seȝ hir so glorious and gayly atyred,
So fautles of hir fetures and of so fyne hewes,
Wiȝt wallande joye warmed his hert.
With smoþe smylyng and smolt þay smeten into merþe,
Þat al watz blis and bonchef þat breke hem bitwene,
and wynne.
Þay lanced wordes gode,
Much wele þen watz þerinne;
Gret perile bitwene hem stod,
Nif Maré of hir knyȝt mynne.
For þat prynces of pris depresed hym so þikke,
Nurned hym so neȝe þe þred, þat nede hym bihoued
Oþer lach þer hir luf, oþer lodly refuse.
He cared for his cortaysye, lest craþayn he were,
And more for his meschef ȝif he schulde make synne,
And be traytor to þat tolke þat þat telde aȝt.
'God schylde,' quoþ þe schalk, 'þat schal not befalle!'
With luf-laȝyng a lyt he layd hym bysyde
Alle þe spechez of specialté þat sprange of her mouthe.
Quoþ þat burde to þe burne, 'Blame ȝe disserue,
Ȝif ȝe luf not þat lyf þat ȝe lye nexte,
Bifore alle þe wyȝez in þe worlde wounded in hert,
Bot if ȝe haf a lemman, a leuer, þat yow lykez better,
And folden fayth to þat fre, festned so harde [folio 115r]
Þat yow lausen ne lyst--and þat I leue nouþe;
And þat ȝe telle me þat now trwly I pray yow,
For alle þe lufez vpon lyue layne not þe soþe
for gile.'
Þe knyȝt sayde, 'Be sayn Jon,'
And smeþely con he smyle,
'In fayth I welde riȝt non,
Ne non wil welde þe quile.'
'Þat is a worde,' quoþ þat wyȝt, 'þat worst is of alle, Page  50
Bot I am swared for soþe, þat sore me þinkkez.
Kysse me now comly, and I schal cach heþen,
I may bot mourne vpon molde, as may þat much louyes.'
Sykande ho sweȝe doun and semly hym kyssed,
And siþen ho seueres hym fro, and says as ho stondes,
'Now, dere, at þis departyng do me þis ese,
Gif me sumquat of þy gifte, þi gloue if hit were,
Þat I may mynne on þe, mon, my mournyng to lassen.'
'Now iwysse,' quoþ þat wyȝe, 'I wolde I hade here
Þe leuest þing for þy luf þat I in londe welde,
For ȝe haf deserued, for soþe, sellyly ofte
More rewarde bi resoun þen I reche myȝt;
Bot to dele yow for drurye þat dawed bot neked,
Hit is not your honour to haf at þis tyme
A gloue for a garysoun of Gawaynez giftez,
And I am here an erande in erdez vncouþe,
And haue no men wyth no malez with menskful þingez;
Þat mislykez me, ladé, for luf at þis tyme,
Iche tolke mon do as he is tan, tas to non ille
ne pine.'
'Nay, hende of hyȝe honours,'
Quoþ þat lufsum vnder lyne,
'Þaȝ I hade noȝt of yourez,
Ȝet schulde ȝe haue of myne.'
Ho raȝt hym a riche rynk of red golde werkez,
Wyth a starande ston stondande alofte
Þat bere blusschande bemez as þe bryȝt sunne;
Wyt ȝe wel, hit watz worth wele ful hoge.
Bot þe renk hit renayed, and redyly he sayde, [folio 115v]
'I wil no giftez, for Gode, my gay, at þis tyme;
I haf none yow to norne, ne noȝt wyl I take.'
Ho bede hit hym ful bysily, and he hir bode wernes,
And swere swyfte by his sothe þat he hit sese nolde,
And ho soré þat he forsoke, and sayde þerafter,
'If ȝe renay my rynk, to ryche for hit semez,
Ȝe wolde not so hyȝly halden be to me,
I schal gif yow my girdel, þat gaynes yow lasse.' Page  51
Ho laȝt a lace lyȝtly þat leke vmbe hir sydez,
Knit vpon hir kyrtel vnder þe clere mantyle,
Gered hit watz with grene sylke and with golde schaped,
Noȝt bot arounde brayden, beten with fyngrez;
And þat ho bede to þe burne, and blyþely bisoȝt,
Þaȝ hit vnworþi were, þat he hit take wolde.
And he nay þat he nolde neghe in no wyse
Nauþer golde ne garysoun, er God hym grace sende
To acheue to þe chaunce þat he hade chosen þere.
'And þerfore, I pray yow, displese yow noȝt,
And lettez be your bisinesse, for I bayþe hit yow neuer
to graunte;
I am derely to yow biholde
Bicause of your sembelaunt,
And euer in hot and colde
To be your trwe seruaunt.'
'Now forsake ȝe þis silke,' sayde þe burde þenne,
'For hit is symple in hitself? And so hit wel semez.
Lo! so hit is littel, and lasse hit is worþy;
Bot who-so knew þe costes þat knit ar þerinne,
He wolde hit prayse at more prys, parauenture;
For quat gome so is gorde with þis grene lace,
While he hit hade hemely halched aboute,
Þer is no haþel vnder heuen tohewe hym þat myȝt,
For he myȝt not be slayn for slyȝt vpon erþe.'
Þen kest þe knyȝt, and hit come to his hert
Hit were a juel for þe jopardé þat hym iugged were:
When he acheued to þe chapel his chek for to fech,
Myȝt he haf slypped to be vnslayn, þe sleȝt were noble. [folio 116r]
Þenne he þulged with hir þrepe and þoled hir to speke,
And ho bere on hym þe belt and bede hit hym swyþe--
And he granted and hym gafe with a goud wylle--
And bisoȝt hym, for hir sake, disceuer hit neuer,
Bot to lelly layne fro hir lorde; þe leude hym acordez
Þat neuer wyȝe schulde hit wyt, iwysse, bot þay twayne
for noȝte;
He þonkked hir oft ful swyþe,
Ful þro with hert and þoȝt. Page  52
Bi þat on þrynne syþe
Ho hatz kyst þe knyȝt so toȝt.
Thenne lachchez ho hir leue, and leuez hym þere,
For more myrþe of þat mon moȝt ho not gete.
When ho watz gon, Sir Gawayn gerez hym sone,
Rises and riches hym in araye noble,
Lays vp þe luf-lace þe lady hym raȝt,
Hid hit ful holdely, þer he hit eft fonde.
Syþen cheuely to þe chapel choses he þe waye,
Preuély aproched to a prest, and prayed hym þere
Þat he wolde lyste his lyf and lern hym better
How his sawle schulde be saued when he schuld seye heþen.
Þere he schrof hym schyrly and schewed his mysdedez,
Of þe more and þe mynne, and merci besechez,
And of absolucioun he on þe segge calles;
And he asoyled hym surely and sette hym so clene
As domezday schulde haf ben diȝt on þe morn.
And syþen he mace hym as mery among þe fre ladyes,
With comlych caroles and alle kynnes ioye,
As neuer he did bot þat daye, to þe derk nyȝt,
with blys.
Vche mon hade daynté þare
Of hym, and sayde, 'Iwysse,
Þus myry he watz neuer are,
Syn he com hider, er þis.'
Now hym lenge in þat lee, þer luf hym bityde!
Ȝet is þe lorde on þe launde ledande his gomnes.
He hatz forfaren þis fox þat he folȝed longe;
As he sprent ouer a spenne to spye þe schrewe, [folio 116v]
Þer as he herd þe howndes þat hasted hym swyþe,
Renaud com richchande þurȝ a roȝe greue,
And alle þe rabel in a res ryȝt at his helez.
Þe wyȝe watz war of þe wylde, and warly abides,
And braydez out þe bryȝt bronde, and at þe best castez.
And he schunt for þe scharp, and schulde haf arered;
A rach rapes hym to, ryȝt er he myȝt,
And ryȝt bifore þe hors fete þay fel on hym alle, Page  53
And woried me þis wyly wyth a wroth noyse.
Þe lorde lyȝtez bilyue, and lachez hym sone,
Rased hym ful radly out of þe rach mouþes,
Haldez heȝe ouer his hede, halowez faste,
And þer bayen hym mony braþ houndez.
Huntes hyȝed hem þeder with hornez ful mony,
Ay rechatande aryȝt til þay þe renk seȝen.
Bi þat watz comen his compeyny noble,
Alle þat euer ber bugle blowed at ones,
And alle þise oþer halowed þat hade no hornes;
Hit watz þe myriest mute þat euer men herde,
Þe rich rurd þat þer watz raysed for Renaude saule
with lote.
Hor houndez þay þer rewarde,
Her hedez þay fawne and frote,
And syþen þay tan Reynarde,
And tyruen of his cote.
And þenne þay helden to home, for hit watz nieȝ nyȝt,
Strakande ful stoutly in hor store hornez.
Þe lorde is lyȝt at þe laste at hys lef home,
Fyndez fire vpon flet, þe freke þer-byside,
Sir Gawayn þe gode, þat glad watz withalle,
Among þe ladies for luf he ladde much ioye;
He were a bleaunt of blwe þat bradde to þe erþe,
His surkot semed hym wel þat softe watz forred,
And his hode of þat ilke henged on his schulder,
Blande al of blaunner were boþe al aboute.
He metez me þis godmon inmyddez þe flore,
And al with gomen he hym gret, and goudly he sayde,
'I schal fylle vpon fyrst oure forwardez nouþe, [folio 117r]
Þat we spedly han spoken, þer spared watz no drynk.'
Þen acoles he þe knyȝt and kysses hym þryes,
As sauerly and sadly as he hem sette couþe.
'Bi Kryst,' quoþ þat oþer knyȝt, 'Ȝe cach much sele
In cheuisaunce of þis chaffer, ȝif ȝe hade goud chepez.'
'Ȝe, of þe chepe no charg,' quoþ chefly þat oþer,
'As is pertly payed þe chepez þat I aȝte.' Page  54
'Mary,' quoþ þat oþer mon, 'myn is bihynde,
For I haf hunted al þis day, and noȝt haf I geten
Bot þis foule fox felle--þe fende haf þe godez!--
And þat is ful pore for to pay for suche prys þinges
As ȝe haf þryȝt me here þro, suche þre cosses
so gode.'
'Inoȝ,' quoþ Sir Gawayn,
'I þonk yow, bi þe rode',
And how þe fox watz slayn
He tolde hym as þay stode.
With merþe and mynstralsye, with metez at hor wylle,
Þay maden as mery as any men moȝten--
With laȝyng of ladies, with lotez of bordes
Gawayn and þe godemon so glad were þay boþe--
Bot if þe douthe had doted, oþer dronken ben oþer.
Boþe þe mon and þe meyny maden mony iapez,
Til þe sesoun watz seȝen þat þay seuer moste;
Burnez to hor bedde behoued at þe laste.
Þenne loȝly his leue at þe lorde fyrst
Fochchez þis fre mon, and fayre he hym þonkkez:
'Of such a selly soiorne as I haf hade here,
Your honour at þis hyȝe fest, þe hyȝe kyng yow ȝelde!
I ȝef yow me for on of yourez, if yowreself lykez,
For I mot nedes, as ȝe wot, meue to-morne,
And ȝe me take sum tolke to teche, as ȝe hyȝt,
Þe gate to þe grene chapel, as God wyl me suffer
To dele on Nw Ȝerez day þe dome of my wyrdes.'
'In god fayþe,' quoþ þe godmon, 'wyth a goud wylle
Al þat euer I yow hyȝt halde schal I redé.'
Þer asyngnes he a seruaunt to sett hym in þe waye, [folio 117v]
And coundue hym by þe downez, þat he no drechch had,
For to ferk þurȝ þe fryth and fare at þe gaynest
bi greue.
Þe lorde Gawayn con þonk,
Such worchip he wolde hym weue.
Þen at þo ladyez wlonk
Þe knyȝt hatz tan his leue. Page  55
With care and wyth kyssyng he carppez hem tille,
And fele þryuande þonkkez he þrat hom to haue,
And þay ȝelden hym aȝayn ȝeply þat ilk;
Þay bikende hym to Kryst with ful colde sykyngez.
Syþen fro þe meyny he menskly departes;
Vche mon þat he mette, he made hem a þonke
For his seruyse and his solace and his sere pyne,
Þat þay wyth busynes had ben aboute hym to serue;
And vche segge as soré to seuer with hym þere
As þay hade wonde worþyly with þat wlonk euer.
Þen with ledes and lyȝt he watz ladde to his chambre
And blyþely broȝt to his bedde to be at his rest.
Ȝif he ne slepe soundyly say ne dar I,
For he hade muche on þe morn to mynne, ȝif he wolde,
in þoȝt.
Let hym lyȝe þere stille,
He hatz nere þat he soȝt;
And ȝe wyl a whyle be stylle
I schal telle yow how þay wroȝt.