from: King Arthur's Death: The Middle English Stanzaic Morte Arthur and Alliterative Morte Arthure 1994
Alliterative Morte Arthure, Part I
ALLITERATIVE MORTE ARTHURE: FOOTNOTES1 Harmful Scotland with skill he rules as it pleases him
2 From Swynn (an arm of the North Sea near Zeeland) to Sweden, with his sharp sword
3 Created and gave out dukedoms in diverse realms
4 Caerleon; skillfully made
5 Where he might assemble his followers to review when it pleased him
6 Bishops and young knights (bachelers) and noble senior knights (bannerettes)
7 As the bold men at the table were served with bread (the first course)
8 And then (he bowed) again to the man (Arthur) and delivered his message
9 Think it not a trifle, his shield (armorial device) is to be seen hereon
10 August 1; hindrance found
11 Burn Britain the broad (Great Britain) and beat down your knights / And with anger bring you compliantly as a beast where he pleases / And you shall not sleep nor rest under the great heaven, / Though for fear of Rome you run to the earth (like a hunted animal)
12 The king looked on the man with his large eyes, / Which burned very fiercely like coals because of (his) anger
13 It is loyal (our duty) for us to do his pleasure
14 There is a certain man in this hall, and he was sorely grieved / That you dared not look on him once for all Lombardy (as a reward)
15 In appearance; lies; you seem
16 Since; country; holy oil
17 Don't save money on spices, but spend what you please
18 If you guard my honor, man, by my pledged word, / You shall have very great rewards that will profit you forever
19 Now are they nobly lodged and regarded as guests
20 In chambers with chimneys (heat), they change their clothes
22 All with men trained and taught, in very rich clothes, / All of royal blood in a troop, sixty together
23 Flesh fattened in season with noble frumentee (a wheat dish), / Along with wild (game) to choose, and pleasant birds
24 Very many large swans on silver platters, / Pies of Turkey, to be tasted by whomever it pleases
25 Then shoulders of wild boars, with the lean meat sliced, / Barnacle geese and bitterns in pastry-covered dishes
26 Wavy with azure-colored sauce all over, and they appeared to be flaming; / From each slice the flame leaped very high
27 With pastries glazed with egg yolks and many (other) dainties
28 Then Claret and Cretan wine were cunningly made to flow / By conduits that were skillfully made, all of pure silver
29 With great jewels gilded over, glorious of hue
30 So that if any poison should go secretly under them (in the cup), / The bright gold would burst all to pieces with anger, / Or else the poison should lose its power because of the virtue of the precious stones
31 Therefore, without pretending (that you are enjoying it), force yourself all the more
32 Went round very quickly in russet-colored (gold) cups
33 Smiles at him pleasantly with pleasing features
34 sadness because of the ban
35 You take account of no circumstances, nor consider (the matter) any further
36 stately man; Brittany
37 Arrested them unjustly and afterwards held them for ransom
38 At Lamas (August 1) I shall take my leave, to remain freely / In Lorraine or Lombardy, whichever seems preferable to me
39 riders; excellent; siege
40 Unless he (the eagle) is quickly rescued by vigorous knights
42 Before any day's fight (the major battle) begins, to joust with himself (Lucius)
43 Despite the strong (ones) in battle that remain in his troop
44 Within a week from today with one hundred and twenty knights
45 If I can see the Romans, who are considered so powerful, / Arrayed in their riotous groups on a broad field.
46 Ride through all the company, rear guard and the rest, / To make a ready way and paths full spacious
47 He needs be afraid; such
48 When they had confidently discussed (this business), they blew on trumpets afterwards (conclusion of the council)
49 Seize the revenues, in faith, of all those fair realms, / Despite the threat of his power and regardless of his resistance
50 With safe-conduct and credentials; go where you please
51 I shall assign the resting-places for your journey, order them myself
52 stoutly from. Wherever you set down by night you must by necessity remain
53 Lodge yourself under trees, wherever it seems good to you
54 Whether (my order) is now hateful or a hindrance in your mind
55 You shall be speedily beheaded and torn apart by horses, / And then quickly hanged for dogs to gnaw.
56 They dress themselves worthily in precious clothes
57 I summoned him solemnly (to appear in Rome) with his knights looking on
58 Since; born; fearful (afraid)
59 I advise you to prepare yourself therefore and delay no longer
60 A watch-tower shall be raised on Mount Goddard (in the Alps)
61 Equipped with noble bachelors and bannerets (see note to line 68)
62 To Ambyganye and Orcage (Albania?) and Alexandria as well, / To India and to Armenia, where the Euphrates runs
63 Hyrcania; Elam; outer isles
64 From Persia and Pamphilia and Prester John's lands
65 By this time; prepared
66 At the Octave of St. Hillary's day (i.e., a week after January 24) Sir Arthur himself
67 To outrage my enemy, if a chance should appear
68 See that my forests are enclosed (from poachers), on pain of losing my favor, / That no one be allowed to hunt the game except for Guinevere herself, / And even she is to hunt only at the season when the game are fat enough to be hunted, / So that she will take her pleasure at appropriate times
69 earthly prosperity; as well
70 Sheriffs sharply move the common soldiers about, / Give orders (to their men) before the powerful (men) of the Round Table
71 Large ships and small boats then hoist their sails
72 Stoutly on the gunwale they weigh up their anchors
73 Launch the lead on the luff (the bow) to measure the depth of the water
74 And all the stern men of the stream (sailors) struck sail at once
75 Wandering unbecomingly; surging waves
76 Covered with waves of azure, enamelled (colored) very fair; / His shoulders were all covered with scales of pure silver / That clothed the monster with shrinking points (like mail)
77 Then came out of the East, directly against him, / A wild, black bear above in the clouds, / With each paw as big as a post, and palms very huge, / With very perilous claws that seemed all curling; / Hateful and loathly, his hair and the rest, / With legs all bowed, covered with ugly hair / That was churlishly matted, with foaming lips
78 So violently he stamped on it (the earth) to enjoy himself
79 He reared up on his hind legs so rudely that all the earth was shaken
80 Thus he beat down the bear and killed him
81 These dreams so oppress the king aboard the ship / That he nearly bursts for pain on the bed
where he lies
82 Before I must die quickly, interpret my dream for me
83 trumpet calls; boldly
84 And as many infants (baptized babies) of noble children
85 I would give the revenues of all of France for the past fifteen years / To have been even a furlong from that man
86 visor; face guard; plated
87 He puts on the arm straps (braces) of a broad shield and asks for his sword
88 They tie their horses with a good distance between them
89 And afterwards you shall make your offerings, each after the other
90 You crossed yourself unsafely (started out wrong) to go to these mountains; / Six such as you would be too weak to attack him alone, / For, if you see him with sight (of your eyes), you will not have the heart / To cross yourself securely, so huge does he seem
91 He had murdered this mild one by the time that midday (bell) was rung
92 nations he thinks little of
93 For it will be a sorrow without remedy if you offer him anything else
94 spiced wine; Portuguese
95 There that fiend fills himself, to try when you please
96 smoke; went; quickest
97 Those who are roasted on spits in the field and broken with your hands
98 haired; eye-holes
99 Each fold (in the quivering skin of his lips) at once twisted out like the head of a wolf
100 Limbs and loins very loathesome, believe you, truly
101 Right up to; cut; asunder
102 In his death throes the thief squeezes him so fiercely
103 drags; holy body; these
104 He was stronger by far than any I had ever found
105 Quickly strike off his head and put it on a stake thereafter
106 Sir Kay himself brings the club and the coat as well
107 With his battalion spread out by those calm streams
108 Spares; liberty; affrights
109 By foreigners the French tongue is destroyed
110 I shall stop him before much longer if life is granted to me (if I live)
111 These courteous ones wait on a hill by the edge of the wood
112 Palaces (rich tents) proudly pitched, / That had rich walls of silk and purple cloth adorned with precious stones
113 Within a short time I shall not leave him in Paris / So much as a tiny spot; let him test this when he pleases
114 That bears on his shield a heraldic device all of purple, striped with silver
115 With great force, on a brown horse, he offers battle boldly
116 Outjousted at that battle despite his great boasts
117 is filled; pale sea; away
118 astonished; thrusts
119 May I never look on my lord the rest of my life / If we serve him so poorly, we who once pleased him so well
120 die; ground; cut down
121 Even so, he (Sir Gawain) rescued Sir Bois despite all their baleful knights!
122 For, doubtless, if you delay or play any tricks
123 Because of the crowd at the ford they leaped into the water together
124 On the path by the stream they adjust their hauberks
125 They placed the riotous (Roman) knights in the rear guard (as prisoners)
126 God skillfully handles trouble as He pleases. / No one is so harmful that he can escape or slip away from His hands
127 All that concerns temporal life is yours while I live
128 Make ready their battalions, display their banners
129 No attack from ambush is ever defeated
130 See that you pack up your trumpets and trifle no longer
131 Whether we shun (battle) or show (fight), decide as you please
132 I would be boiled alive and cut in quarters
133 Where shrubs were bright under the shining eaves of the forest
134 Of rivets and strong steel and rich gold chain mail
135 Ride on iron-gray steeds at the front rank (of the Romans)
136 Keep what you have taken; it does little harm, / For scorn is internal, use it who will
137 Sir Cador commanded that they be put in wagons and covered with fair cloths
138 When you were placed in a stronghold, you should have endured
139 astonished; destroyed
140 I did my duty today - I put myself at the judgment of lords
141 Commands that his fires be fed so that they flame very high / And (commands them) to pack up securely and march away thereafter
142 Suddenly; each side; troops
143 Sir Kayous, Sir Clegis, and good men of arms / The king decides should keep watch by those shining strands.
144 Six inches above the waist, between the short ribs
145 fulfilled [their] vows
146 Then rushes the steadfast man and grips his bridle
147 Fought with foot-soldiers (brigands) from afar in those lands; / With feathered arrows they very eagerly shoot those men
148 Crossbow bolts skillfully whip through knights
149 whole; hastily; heath;
150 draws; Excalibur
151 All crushed, stamped to death by armored steeds
152 cockatrices (crocodiles)
153 Camels; Arabian horses; elephants
154 Spoil or rot before they could arrive
155 Measured; money; much
156 take care not to deceive
157 While I have power to speak, the Church's possessions shall never be harmed
158 For fear of being dashed asunder by the draw bridge
159 further back
160 Pitched tents of silk and placed (themselves) in siege
161 On Sunday by the time the sun gave out a flood of light
162 (The hay) mown and unstacked, worked over but little, / In rows of cuttings swept down, full of sweet flowers
163 A carbuncle is in the chef (upper third of the shield), changing in colors, / And (he was) an adventurous chief, challenge him who will
164 To that man, steadfast in battle, strongly he stands
165 Near the lower arm plate, veiled with silver
166 We must have a bandage, ere your color changes
167 barbers (surgeons)
168 For he who is wounded with this broad sword shall never cease bleeding!
169 I give you grace and grant you your life, though you have deserved grief
170 confession; prepare
171 If I have the good luck, for my recovery, to serve that noble (Arthur), / I will be quickly cured, I tell thee truly
172 I would rather be stabbed to the heart in private / Than to have an ordinary soldier win such a prize
173 quickly; will be; pieces
174 And some had fallen asleep because of the skillful singing of the creatures
175 Wine casks; broke open
176 those adventuring; To arms!
177 broke; breath
178 If they are not defeated, in faith, it would seem to me a great wonder
179 false of faith; falsehood
180 Meddles; middle guard
181 Devil take you
182 Marquis of Metz; pierces
183 hillside by skill
184 Monasteries and hospitals they hammer to earth
185 Strikes straight; narrow
186 I intend to be lord of that pleasing land!
187 Scout for those hiding so that no harm may befall them
188 Meekly on St. Martin's Day (November 11) to pay homage with his treasures
189 talk; spending; bitterness
190 Sept. 13-14; invade
191 He throws himself quickly on the bed and loosens his belt
192 Beautifully enclosed upon the noble boughs; / There was no moisture that could harm anything
193 expensively; patterned
194 brooches; medallions
195 strange (hostile) to others
196 defeated; hostile
197 Whom you unkindly (as a stranger) left dead in France.
198 Charlemagne; king's
199 An armor neckpiece, a stomach guard, and an excellent belt
200 Pauses at a main road, thinking by himself
201 A man in a full-cut cloak and very roomy clothes
202 With wallet and with pilgrim's mantle and many scallop shells, / Both staff and palm branch,
as if he were a pilgrim
203 I need ask for no credentials; I know you are true
204 Therefore to Great Britain it behooves us to hasten
205 See that in Lombardy no man change his allegiance
206 Sends forth troops and baggage and goes forth thereafter
207 Linked together with great wagon chains
208 Arranged wooden shields on the left (port), painted shields
209 All bareheaded because of business, with beaver-colored locks
210 They are on the rascal's side, I swear by my hand
211 But there was placed in the chef (upper third of shield) a chalk-white maiden
212 They talk in their jargon about what has happened
213 Weather (wind) brings stout ships against planks (of other ships), / So that the bilge and the beam burst apart
214 mast-stays; edgewise; hack
215 Armored knights rush boldly on board, / (Coming) out of small boats on board, (and) were pelted with stones
216 i.e., the captives'
217 By the time the battle was finished the high tide had passed; / Then was the water near the shore such a slush in very large pools / That the king could not land in the low water. / Therefore, he remained on the deep water for fear of losing his horses
218 exhausted with fighting
219 Each man may be warned by vengeance wreaked on another
220 Until he could get away by stealth and come to speak to her
221 not whole (i.e., dead)
222 Nor was there anything that sank him so sad as that sight alone
223 Get knights who hold your castles from their countries
224 Christians; crossed themselves
225 Why did the Lord not destine (me to die) at His dear will
226 Passant (shown from the side, walking) on a purple background of very rich jewels
227 (i.e., the sword Clarent); dainty
228 lifeblood left
229 Let us go to Glastonbury, nothing else avails
230"Into Your hands"
ALLITERATIVE MORTE ARTHURE: NOTESThe following abbreviations are used in these notes to indicate editorial attribution:
Ba: Mary Macleod Banks, ed. An Alliterative Poem of the Fourteenth Century. London, New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1900.
Be: Larry D. Benson, ed. King Arthur's Death. Indianapolis and New York: Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1974.
Bj: Erik Bjorkman, ed. Morte Arthure. Alt- und mittelenglische Texte, 9. Heidelberg and New York: Carl Winters, 1915.
Br: Edmund Brock, ed. Morte Arthure or The Death of Arthur. EETS o.s. 8. London, New York, Toronto: Oxford University Press, New Edition, 1871; reprinted 1961.
F: the present editor
GV: E. V. Gordon and Eugene Vinaver. "New Light on the Text of the Alliterative Morte Arthure." Medium Aevum 6 (1937), 81-98.
H: Mary Hamel, ed. Morte Arthure: A Critical Edition. Garland Medieval Texts, 9. New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1984.
K: Valerie Krishna, ed. The Alliterative Morte Arthure. New York: Burt Franklin and Company, Inc., 1976.
OED: Oxford English Dictionary
OL: J. L. N. O'Loughlin. "The Middle English Alliterative Morte Arthure." Medium Aevum 4 (1935), 153-168.
1 Himselven. On the prominence of reflexive formulas in the poem (himselven, him likes, etc.) as indicators of the will and willfulness, see Peck, pp. 158 ff.
29 Uter. Uther Pendragon, Arthur's father.
32 Scotland and England were often at war in the fourteenth century, hence scathel ("harmful") Scotland.
37 Grace. The MS reading. Most editors emend to Grece (Greece) but Grace (Grasse) makes more geographical sense. Grasse is a small city in southern France, north of Cannes, which was an episcopal see from 1244 to 1790. K retains Grace.
41 Vienne. Ackerman suggests Vienna, though K thinks, rather, that it must refer to a town north of Valence or a district in Poitier.
42 Overgne (Ba, Be, K, H). I.e., Auvergne. MS: Eruge.
47 I.e., the whole extent of Denmark.
61 Caerlion. One of Arthur's principal cities where, according to the chronicles, he often spent Pentecost. K suggests that the reference to the city's "curious walles" may derive from Giraldus' description of the city: "[Caerleon] was of undoubted antiquity, and handsomely built of masonry, with courses of bricks, by the Romans. Many vestiges of its former splendour may yet be seen; immense palaces . . . a tower of prodigious size, remarkable hot baths, relics of temples, and theatres, all enclosed within fine walls, parts of which remain standing. You will find on all sides, both within and without the circuit of the walls, subterraneous buildings, aqueducts, underground passages; and what I think worthy of notice, stoves contrived with wonderful art, to transmit the heat insensibly through narrow tubes passing up the side walls" (p. 164).
64 Carlisle. Here, Arthur's new city, located on the Scottish border; another favorite site for Arthur's festivities, according to Froissant. The Middle English romance Sir Gawain and the Carl of Carlisle suggests the city's foundation at a place where courtesy turned monstrosity to civility.
66 douspeeres. Originally Charlemagne's twelve peers, but here simply "high noblemen."
68 A bannerette was a senior knight entitled to bear his own banner; a bacheler ranked somewhat lower and was either a newly made knight or a young man about to be knighted.
77 West Marches. The territories bordering Wales.
79 The bread is the first course (since the other food was heaped upon it), and the first course is the traditional time for the arrival of a messenger. Compare Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, lines 116-132.
86 Lucius Iberius: "The Emperor Lucius was apparently invented by Geoffrey of Monmouth [History of the Kings of Britain], who calls him Lucius Tiberius. . . . The attempt at a reconquest of Britain by the Romans in the sixth century also derives from Geoffrey" (K, p. 165).
92 Lamass Day: a harvest festival formerly celebrated on August 1.
95 Prime was "the first hour of the day, beginning at six-o'clock throughout the year or at the varying times of sunrise" (OED).
105 The Romans held title to Britain on the basis of Caesar's conquest, as recorded in chronicles based ultimately on Book V of Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain.
108 route. "Ambigious: either 'snore' (OE hrutan), an expression of Lucius's angry contempt, or more neutrally 'go, travel' (OF router), a contrast rather than a parallel to ryste (rest)" (H, p. 257).
134 There is (Br, Be, K). MS: thare.
142 crowned was (Bj, Be, K). MS: corounde.
168 Chambers with chimneys are heated rooms, a luxury at this time. See note to line 61.
176ff. The elaborate feast that follows might actually have been served at a royal household of the late fourteenth century. Menus for royal feasts are printed in Two Fifteenth-Century Cooking Books, ed. Austin, EETS o.s. 91 (London, 1888; reprinted 1964). See H's extensive notes on the dishes and feast practices of the later fourteenth century (pp. 259-63).
178 togges (OL, Be). MS: togers. H reads toges; Br and K follow MS.
186 whom. MS: whame. Bj, Be, and H emend to when or whan, but I have followed Br and K in retaining MS sense.
200 Crete. The poet regularly identifies wines by their place of origin. The universality of Arthur's wine cellar is impressive.
213 The virtues (powers) of precious stones were commonplace in the Middle Ages. See English Medieval Lapidaries, eds. Evans and Serjeantson, EETS o.s. 190 (London, 1932; reprinted 1960).
233 Waynor and Gaynor for Guinevere are used interchangeably as are Gawain and Wawain for Gawain.
234 Sir Owglitreth. Sir Owghtreth of Turry is evidently one of Arthur's vassals. Turry perhaps is Turin, Italy. J. L. N. O'Loughlin, "The Middle English Alliterative Morte Arthure,"Medium Aevum 4 (1935), 159, suggests that he is one of Lucius' ambassadors, who out of courtesy is assigned with Gawain to accompany the Queen.
245 Giauntes Towr. Since giants occupied Britain before the arrival of Brutus, this tower is, presumably, a "prehistoric" edifice.
256 deffuse. Be and H emend to disuse, but I have followed Br and K in retaining MS.
277 In Book III of Geoffrey's History we are told that, long before Caesar came to Britain, Belinus and Brennius conquered and ravaged Rome. This is, of course, not historical.
"Baldwin the Third is unknown; perhaps he was invented for the sake of alliteration" (K, p. 169).
282 According to Geoffrey (Book V, chapter 6) Constantine was the son of a Roman Senator and a British Princess, and he succeeded to the kingship of Britain. Then he overthrew the Emperor Maxentius and became Emperor. According to legend, his mother, Helen, discovered the True Cross. Arthur claims kinship with Constantine because of his supposed British mother. Constantine actually did proclaim himself Caesar while in York, but he was never king of Britain and not of British descent.
288 King Aungers. Robert W. Ackerman, An Index of Arthurian Names in Middle English (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1952), p. 20, identifies King Aungers as Geoffrey of Monmouth's Auguselus, a king of Scotland, son of Bryadens, grandson of Igerne, and brother of Lot and Urien. He was, like Lot, an enemy of Arthur who later became an ally.
297 The vernacle (the relic of Veronica) is the handkerchief with which St. Veronica wiped the face of Christ on His way to the Crucifixion. Miraculously, the image of His face was preserved on the handkerchief, which still survives. The cult of Veronica was especially strong in the fourteenth century. Pope John XXII granted an indulgence of ten thousand days for a prayer to the Veronica, and its legend had an important part in the popular romances about Titus and Vespasian.
301 eldes. Bj and Be emend to monthes, but I have followed Br, K, and H in retaining MS. It probably means "of two generations".
304 Berne of Britain the Little. King Hoel of Brittany.
305 beseekes. MS; besekys. Bj and Be emend to congee beseekes, but I have followed Br, K, and H in adhering to the MS reading.
320 The Welsh king. Perhaps Sir Valiant (line 2064).
334 Of Wyghte and. GV and Be emend to of wightest; H emends to of wyghte men, but I have followed Br and K in retaining MS.
337 Sir Ewain fitz Urien. Iwain son of Urien and Morgan le Fay.
352 Petersand (Petrasanta, i.e., the Vatican); Pis (Pisa); Pount Tremble (Pontremoli).
368-70 "Lancelot, the great hero of the Vulgate tradition, was unknown in the earlier chronicles. In introducing him as one of the 'lesse men' among Arthur's retainers, the poet gives his audience a clear signal: this poem will not be concerned with the issues and themes of that tradition" (H, p. 268).
369 love. H reads lone and translates the line "I praise God for this contribution" (H, p. 268).
375 Genivers (Genoese): "The notorious giants from Genoa in Lucius' army may derive from the Genoan mercenaries who fought with France against Edward III at Crecy and other important battles" (K, p. 170).
391 renkes. Not rankes (men) but renkes (paths) from OF renc.
415 Epiphany. From the Greek for "appearance" or "manifestation," it is the feast on January 6, commemorating the coming of the Magi to see the child Jesus and symbolizing the "manifestation" of the newborn savior to the whole world (OED).
450 Watling Street. The old Roman road leading from the southern coast by way of London to Cardigan in Wales.
451 nyghes (Ba, K). MS: nyghttes. "The appearance of nyghte in the same line is very likely the source of the scribal error" (K, p. 171).
458 lette. Bj, Be, and H emend to lefe, but I have followed Br and K in retaining MS.
471 sixteen (Bj, Be, K, H). MS: sex sum of six. "Either 'part of a company of six' or 'along with a company of six'. . . . In either case the number given [in the MS] is inconsistent with that of line 81, where the Senator arrives with a company of sixteen" (K, p. 171).
482 Catrik. A town in Yorkshire, identified with the Roman cataractonium.
490 Sandwich is the port from which the Romans will take ship. One of the "cinque ports," Sandwich is the site of the Church of St. Peter where curfew, now ceremonial, was rung.
497 Mount Goddard. One of the principal passes through the French Alps into Italy.
513 sandes. Bj, Be, and H emend to sandesman, but I have followed Br and K in retaining MS.
515 wye (OL, Be, K, H). MS: waye. Br's emendation.
572 Ambyganye and Orcage are apparently in the East. H emends to Arcage, the OF spelling of Arcadia. Ambyganye, she suggests, could be Albania.
575 Irritane (Hyrcania) and Elamet (Elam) are not islands but countries in Asia.
587 Bayous. Be emends to boyes; H emends to barons, but I have followed Br and K in retaining MS. This is an odd location in the context, but the suggested emendations are not persuasive. Bayonne (Beune) is in southwestern France.
588 Prester John was thought to be a Christian ruler living somewhere in the Orient. In The Travels of Sir John Mandeville (a famous fourteenth century book of fictitious travels, presented as a true account), Prester John is said to be the Emperor of India, allied by marriage to the great Khan of China. The legend was probably based on reports of Christian communities which actually did exist in the East. Pamphile is a region of Asia Minor.
604-05 Prussland (Prussia) and Lettow (Lithuania) were still pagan in the fourteenth century.
625 The octave of St. Hillary's day would be a week after January 24.
628-29 Constantine (the Peninsula of Cotentin) and Barflete (Barfleur) are on the coast of Normandy.
656 Arthur's concern for the protection of his game is not surprising in a century when (as shown by Sir Gawain and the Green Knight) hunting was of great importance to the aristocracy.
674 wordles. MS: werdez. Bj, K, H read wer[l]de?.
716 Sways (Bj, Be). MS: Twys.
734 Hackes. MS: Hukes. K emends to Hekes. H follows MS on grounds that hukes are outergarments or possibly "caparisons for horses" (MED, s.v.); she finds Bj's emendation hackes to be redundant if paired with hackeneys.
769 Be, following GV, supplies a supposed missing line after 769: His tail was totattered with tonges ful huge; K notes but does not accept the insertion. H accepts. I have followed K.
771 Be, following GV, supplies a supposed missing line after 771: And his clawes were enclosed with clene gold; K does not note. H accepts. I have not included the line.
785 at. Be notes MS at, but prints it. I have retained the MS reading as do Br and K. H deletes the word, explaining that the scribe miscopied the following to which he then corrected by writing to but failed to cross out the at.
Rapped, H suggests, means "barked," not dashed to earth, which is inconsistent with the flying posture.
804 thring. MS: brynge. Holthausen's emendation, followed by Bj, Be, and K. H suggests breen, meaning "frighten, terrify." See her note discussing the problem. Br follows MS.
808 seven science. The seven liberal arts (grammar, rhetoric, logic, which were the trivium, and arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music, which were the quadrivium); these were the basis of Medieval education.
812 Second half of 812 appears in the MS as the second half of 813 and vice versa (Bj, Be). K and H disagree, but I have followed Be.
821 tattered (Bj, Be, K, H). MS: taschesesede. Br: tachesesede.
841 Templar. A member of the Knights Templar, a military order founded c. 1118 for the protection of the Holy Sepulchre and pilgrims visiting the Holy Land. The order was suppressed in 1312.
848 countree of Constantine. The country around Cotentin, a peninsula on the coast of Normandy.
880 The promontory is Mont-Saint-Michel, on which, according to this story, Arthur founds the famous monastery to commemorate his victory. See also line 899.
905 jupon. A gipon is a sleeveless cloth garment worn over the armor; Arthur's is jagged in shredes - with fashionable scallopings at the edges. Jerodine is apparently a kind of cloth (perhaps gabardine).
910 enarmed. Bj and Be emend to enamelled, but I have followed Br, K, and H in retaining MS.
946 them. MS: thus. Br, K, and H retain MS.
964 Wade. A figure in German legend and a now-lost English romance.
1028 piment. Wine mixed with honey and spices.
1041 source (Bj, Be). MS: sowre. Br and K retain MS. H emends to sowþe.
1083 eyen-holes (Bj, Be). MS: hole eyghn. Br, K, and H retain MS.
1123 genitals (Bj, Br, Be, K, H). MS: genitates.
1142 buskes. Bj and Be emend to wild buskes, but I have followed Br and K in retaining MS.
1175 A reference to the giant Pitho, whom Arthur slew "in Aravio Montem" (in the mount of Araby), the Aran mountains in Wales. The story is from Geoffrey of Monmouth, History of the Kings of Britain, Book X.
1225 Castel Blank is unique in this poem.
1231 mene-while. GV, Be, and H emend to mete-while, but I have followed Br and K in retaining MS even though the emendation is plausible.
1248 frayes (Bj, Be, K). MS: fraisez. Br and H retain MS.
1263 Sir Bois. Earl of Oxford. "The name Bos (Boso de Vado Boum in Geoffrey [of Monmouth] was probably invented by Geoffrey as a pun on bos and Oxford" (Ackerman, p. 38).
1264 Sir Berille. Perhaps Borel, Earl of Mans, who fights on Arthur's side and is given Le Mans.
1265 Sir Grime. Bj emends to Geryn of Chartres, one of Arthur's vassals who appears at this point in the chronicles and also in line 3708. Grime is not known elsewhere.
1281 with (Bj, Be, K, H). MS: that with. Br follows MS.
1302 worthy (Bj, Be, K). MS: worthethy. Br and H retain MS.
1334 Appears in MS as line 1330 (Bj, Be, H).
1364 sable (Bj, Be, K, H). MS: salle. Br follows MS.
1378 unabaist all. Bj and Be emend to all unabaist, but I have followed Br, K, and H in retaining MS word order and have punctuated to make the grammatical relation clear.
1402-02 The perilous water that falls from the sea fifty miles away apparently refers to a tidal estuary (n.b. salt strandes in line 1422).
1405 I agree with H that changen should be taken as a hunting metaphor: to "change" attention from prey to prey.
1408 all (Bj, Be). MS: and; Bedvere (Be, H). MS: Bedwyne. Br and K retain both MS readings. Perhaps a miswriting of Baldwin, who appears in lines 1606 and 2384.
1427 redies. Be emends to relies, but I have followed Br, K, and H in retaining MS.
1436 stokes. Br and Be emend to strokes, but K notes that emendation is unnecessary, citing OED stoke sb2 (p. 182). H follows MS too.
1466-67 Appear in MS in reverse order (Be). I have followed K, H in retaining MS order.
1503 not (Bj, Be). MS: now. Br, K, and H follow MS.
1558 Sir Ewain fitz Henry. Probably Sir Ewain fitz Urien, as in line 337. Ackerman notes that he is given both names in Layamon's Brut as well (p. 248).
1567 tithandes (Bj, Be, H). MS: thy?andez. Br and K retain MS spelling, as a variant of tydandis.
1622 Sir Evander. King of Syria and one of Lucius's vassals.
1638 Sir Clegis, Sir Cleremus, Sir Cleremond. Sir Clegis is a knight of the Rount Table. Either Sir Cleremus and Sir Cleremond might allude to Clarrus of Clere Mounte who appears in other romances aiding Launcelot in his war against Arthur. Here the pair fill out the alliterative quatrain.
1653 kith (Bj, Be, K, H). MS: lythe. Br retains MS but glosses: "Read Kythe."
1681 Clegis challenges the Romans to a formal tournament, with three courses of war (that is, three jousts with the lance) and the claims of knighthood (the winner to take the horse and arms of the loser.)
1683 Clegis' insult, like the King of Syria's, is part of the formal "flyting."
1688 hufe. Bj and Be emend to leng, but I have followed Br, K, and H in retaining MS. The charge that Clegis is trying to delay things is only a pro forma insult. More significant is the King of Syria's inquiry about Clegis' ancestry, since it would be beneath his dignity to joust with any but the highest noble.
1690 crest (Bj, Be, H). MS: breste (Br, K).
1695 Sir Brut. The legendary founder of Britain. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth he was the great-grandson of Aeneas of Troy.
1698 Forthy (Be). MS: ffro the.
Brut (Bj, Be, H). MS: Borghte (Br, K).
1732 on. Bj, Be, and H emend to on the, but I have followed Br and K in retaining MS.
1744 Wawayne. Bj, Be, and H emend to Bawdwyne, but I have followed Br and K in retaining MS.
1745 Rowlaundes (Bj, Be, H). MS: and Rowlandez (Br, K).
1768 all on loud (Bj, Be). MS: o laundone (Br, K, H).
1786 corn-bote. Literally a fine paid in grain.
1797 in his (Bj, Be, K). MS: his ine (Br). H argues that MS reads in his.
1855 I.e., the Saracens are six feet from the waist up.
1866 Cordewa. Be and H emend to Cornett, but I have followed Br and K in retaining MS.
1878 men. Bj, Be, and H emend to hethen men, but I have followed K in retaining MS.
1904 Utolf (Bj, Be, K, H). MS: Vtere (Br). Uther, Arthur's father, is dead. Utolfe appears in lines 1622 and 1868, along with Evander, as knights on the Roman side.
1908 Carous (K, H). MS: Barous. Br emends to Barouns.
1911 Sarazenes ynow (Bj, Be, K). MS: sarazenes.
1912 are (Bj, Be, H). MS: a (Br, K).
1930 never berne (Bj, Be). MS: never (Br, K, H).
1938 Though (Be). MS: Thofe (Br, K, H).
1979 them. Bj and Be emend to then, but I have followed Br, K, and H in retaining MS.
1980 halfe. Bj and Be emend to side, but I have followed Br, K, and H in retaining MS.
1982 Wales (Bj, Be, H). MS: Vyleris (Br, K).
2016 sees. Bj and Be emend to him sees, but I have followed Br, K, and H in retaining MS.
2047 The knights of the Round Table fulfill the vows they made; the King of Wales fulfills the vow he made in lines 330-32.
2066 Ewain fitz Urien (Bj, Be, K, H). MS: Ewayne sir Fytz Vriene (Br). Ewain fitz Urien fulfills the vow he made in lines 357-63.
2073 Lancelot had vowed (lines 372-77) to strike down the emperor himself, and accordingly he now strikes him down and leaves a spear stuck in his belly. The emperor evidently recovers very quickly, for he is soon back in battle.
2081 Lot had vowed to be the first to ride through the Roman ranks (lines 386-94), which he now does. When Lot has accomplished this, the vows are all fulfilled and the battle proper begins.
2108 hethe (Bj, Be, K). MS: heyghe (Br,H).
2112 Jonathal (OL, Be, H, K). MS: Ienitall (Br). Jonathal appears in a corresponding passage in Geoffrey of Monmouth.
2123 Caliburn is used for Excalibur by Geoffrey of Monmouth.
2151 on folde (Bj, Be, K). MS: fygured folde (Br). H emends to faireste-fygured felde.
2157 Sir Cleremond the noble (Bj, K). MS: with clene mene of armes (Br). Be, H have Sir Bedvere the rich, but Cleremond the noble is as familiar a formula and improves the alliteration.
2180 real renk (Bj, Be, H). MS: reall (K). Br reads ryalle. The addition of renk so much improves both rhythm and alliteration that a scribal omission seems likely.
2181 he (K). MS: and (Br, H).
2198 into. Bj, Be, and H emend to into the, but I have followed Br and K in retaining MS.
2217 chis. Bj, Be, and H emend to thriches, but I have followed Br and K in retaining MS.
2250 at. Bj, Be, and H emend to all, but I have followed Br and K in retaining MS.
2280 lighte. Bj and Be emend to lithe, but I have followed Br, K, and H in retaining MS.
2283 cokadrisses (Be, K, H). MS: sekadrisses (Br).
2286 dromedaries of (Bj, Be, H). MS: of dromondaries (Br).
2288 Olfendes (Bj, Be, K). MS: elfaydes (Br, H).
2305 he lenged (Br, Be, K, H). MS: lengede. The colours are the heraldic devices on the banners set above the caskets.
2328 ne. Bj, Be, and H emend to we ne, but I have followed Br and K in retaining MS.
2343 full monee. Bj and Be emend to full of the monee, but I have followed Br and K in retaining MS.
2358 Br, Bj, Be, and H all emend MS fowre to ten. "However, though the messenger is presumably referring in 2358 to the tribute that Arthur's court owed and had not paid for four score winters, Arthur in 2344 is referring to something else - the tribute from Rome to his own kingdom that was lost in his ancestors' days" (K, 187).
2384 Sir Bedwar the rich. Apparently not the same knight as Sir Bedwere the rich who was buried in line 2379. See Bj, p. 158, and K, pp. 187-88, on defects in lines 2371-85.
2386 the Auguste. OL, Be, and H emend to Auguste, but I have followed Br and K in retaining MS.
2390 Cristofer day. St. Christopher's day, July 25. St. Christopher has since been de-canonized.
2398 Lorraine the lele. Bj and Be emend to of Lorraine the lege, but I have followed Br, K, and H in retaining MS.
2403 to (K). MS: and.
2408 Tuskan (Ba, Be, K, H). MS: Turkayne (Br).
2418 is in (Bj, Be, K, H). MS: es (Br).
2419 Citee (Br, Be, K, H). MS: Pety.
2424 Br, Be, and H note MS beneyde: bended (Bj). K emends to bendyde.
2438 ferde. Bj and Be emend to rade, but I have followed K and H in retaining MS.
2478 plattes. Bj and Be emend to plantes, but I have followed K in retaining MS.
2495 Wecharde. Be emends to Wicher, but I have followed K in retaining MS.
2519 withouten any berne (Bj, Be, K, H). MS: with birenne ony borne.
2521 gessenande. Be and H emend to glessenand, but I have followed K. Instead of glistening in gold the sable (black) grayhounds are lying couchant.
2522 and (Bj, Be, K, H). MS: a (Br).
2531 the lange (Bj, Be, H). MS: a launde (Br, K).
2568 vailed (K). MS: vrayllede (Br). Bj and Be emend to railed.
2586 Salerne. Salerno. The University of Salerno was famous in the Middle Ages for its medical school.
2588 Be follows GV suggestion to insert two lines to follow 2588: That I might be cristened, with crisom annointed, / Become meek for my misdeeds for meed of my soul.
2594 legeaunce and land (OL, Be). MS: legyaunce (Br, K). H emends to undir what legyaunce.
2648 It would be dishonorable for Priamus to be defeated by an ordinary soldier. Gawain is such a great knight that even to be defeated by him is an honor that Priamus would prize even if no one were to learn of it.
2663 Be, following GV, inserts the following after 2663: For here hoves at thy hand an hundreth good knightes. H agrees, but I have followed Br and K in omitting the line.
2664 For they are. Be emends to they are, but I have followed Br, K, and H in retaining MS.
2675 slight (Bj, Be, K). MS: slaughte. H emends to a slaughte.
2680 Wecharde (K). MS: Wychere.
2705 The four wells of Paradise (which were thought to be in the East) were celebrated for their magical qualities (one was the Fountain of Youth) and thought to be the sources of the four great rivers of the East - the Nile, the Ganges, the Tigris, and the Euphrates.
2771 breth (Bj, Be, H). MS: breste (Br, K).
2797 and (Bj, Be, H). MS: a (Br, K).
2854 Though (Bj, Be). MS: Thofe (Br, K, H).
2868 Unwine. A legendary hero of the Goths, probably known to the poet from a lost English romance.
Absolon. Absalom (2 Samuel 13-19), celebrated in medieval romance for his personal beauty.
2876 The adventure in the vale of Josephat, to which the gestes refer, is an episode in the Fuerre de Gaderes, a story of the Crusades.
2890 Gerard (Bj, Be, H). MS: Ierante (Br, K).
2891 He stabs him through a gyronny shield (a shield decorated with two colors divided into triangles).
2908 Giauntes. Bj and Be emend to giauntes are, but I have followed Br, K, and H in retaining MS.
2940 duke dresses (Bj, Be, H). MS: duke (Br, K).
2950 Marches. MS: maches (Br). Be emends to matchless, but I have followed K and H.
2951 middle-erthe. "The earth, as placed between heaven and hell, or as supposed to occupy the centre of the universe" (OED).
2977 sleghte (Bj, Be, K, H). MS: elagere (Br).
3013 at heste (Bj, Be, H). MS: the beste (Br, K).
3031 in Hampton. According to H, the phrase "indicates that the messenger's reward is not simply a lump sum but an estate worth £100 a year - a princely gift for a mere herald" (p. 351).
3057 none (GV, Be, H). MS: no (Br, K).
3061 be deemed (Bj, Be, K). MS: idene the (Br). H emends to indeue the, meaning "endow you" or "provide you with a livelihood."
3064 he. Bj and Be emend to sho, but I have followed K and H in retaining MS.
3067 MS lines 3068-3083 are moved by Be to become lines 3112-3127. Although H agrees with Be, I have followed K in leaving them in their MS position.
3074 knighte. GV, H, and Be emend to king, but I have followed Br and K in retaining MS.
3101 He crosses over Lake Lucerne into Switzerland.
3117 Slely. MS: slal (Br). Bj and Be emend to skathel, but I have followed K.
3140 for Pawnce and for (Bj, Be, H, K). MS: of Pawnce and of. Br: Plesaunce (Piacenza), Pawnce (Ponte), and Pownte Tremble (Pontremole) are towns in Lombardy.
3150 thus wele timed. GV and Be emend to him time semed, but I have followed Br, K, and H in retaining MS.
3186 sceptre and swerde. MS: his ceptre (Br). Be emends to sceptre, for sooth, but I have followed K. H emends to ceptre forsothe.
3209 honden. Bj and Be emend to holde, but I have followed K in retaining MS. H emends to honouren.
3212 Cross-days: Rogation Days, three special days of prayer preceding Ascension Day (forty days after Easter).
3220 slakes his (Bj, Be). MS: slakes (Br, H, K).
3241 clerewort. Bj and Be emend to clevewort, but I have followed Br, K, and H in retaining MS.
3251 Dame Fortune, with her Wheel of Fortune, is a familiar figure in late Medieval poetry, as are the Nine Worthies whom Arthur sees in his dream. The Nine Worthies first appear in fourteenth century works such as The Parlement of Three Ages and reappear as late as Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream.
3256 With brouches (Bj, Be, H). MS: bruches (Br, K).
besauntes are coins, originally from Byzantium, here coin-shaped golden discs.
3257 Her back (Bj, Be, H). MS: With hir bake (Br, K).
3263 riches (Bj, Be, K). MS: reched (Br), but K thinks MS may read reches anyway.
3272 this (Bj, Be). MS: thir (Br, K). H reads thi.
roo (Bj, Be, K). MS: rog (Br, H).
3282 tone eye (Bj, Be, K, H). MS: two eyne (Br).
3308 folded (Bj, Be, K). MS: fayled (Br). H emends to falded in.
3345 Frollo was the ruler of France whom Arthur killed in single combat when he conquered that country as part of the conquests that immediately precede the action of this poem and that are summarized in the opening lines. The story is told in Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain, Book IX, chapter 11, where Arthur's adversary is called Flollo, and in Wace's Brut (which our poet may have known), where he is called Frolle or Frollo.
3352 crispand (Bj, Be, H). MS: krispane (Br, K).
3356 Circled (Bj, Be, K, H). MS: Selkylde (Br).
3408-10 Alexander the Great, Hector of Troy, and Julius Caesar are the three Pagan Worthies.
3412-16 Judas Maccabeus, Joshua, and King David are the three Jewish Worthies.
3422 tone climand kyng (Bj, Be, H). MS: two clymbande kynges.
3423 Karolus (Charlemagne) is the first of the three Christian Worthies. The second is Godfrey of Bouillon (line 3430), and the third is Arthur himself.
3427 lifelich. Bj and Be emend to loveliche, but I have followed Br, K, and H in retaining MS.
3434 He shall recover the cross when he conquers Jerusalem. Godfrey's deeds, like Charlemagne's (lines 3423-29), are prophesied, since Arthur historically precedes both.
3439 ninde (Bj, Be). Ms: nynne (Br, K, H).
3470 Be interprets rowme ("roomy, or full-cut") to be fashionable, as he does the shreddes and shragges ("scalloped edges") in line 3473, but I am inclined to agree with H that the stranger is dressed quite unfashionably.
3474 slawin. Bj and Be emend to sclavin ("pilgrim's garb"), but I have followed Br, K, and H in retaining MS.
The scallop shells were the mark of a pilgrimage to St. James of Compostela in Spain, the palm branch of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
3480 wathe (Bj, Be, H). MS: wawthe (Br, K).
3505 Be reverses 3505 and 3506, but I have followed Br, K, and H in retaining MS.
3510 I. Bj and Be emend to I was, but I have followed K and H in retaining MS.
3530 Of (Bj, Be). MS: To (Br, K, H).
3541 From the Humber River (at the southern border of Yorkshire) to the town of Hawick (in southern Scotland), i.e., the whole North Country.
3545 Hengest and Horsa were traditionally the first Germanic (that is, Anglo-Saxon) invaders of Britain; Geoffrey of Monmouth (History, Book VI, chapter 11) gives the traditional account.
3592 trome. Bj, Be, and H emend to trumpe, but I have followed Br and K in retaining MS.
3605 Lines 3605 and 3606 appear in reverse order in the MS (Be).
3611 Apparently the painted cloths (sewn together and doubled) are meant to serve as a protection against arrows.
3648-49 The maiden on the chef, the upper third of the shield, is the Blessed Virgin, who is holding the Christ-child, the Chef or Lord of heaven. In 3650 the sense seems to be "noble."
3650 Arthur will not change his arms to disguise himself even when hard-pressed, as Mordred later does (lines 4181-85).
3662 Wether (Be). MS: With hir (Br, K, H).
Ramming and boarding were the principal tactics in fourteenth century sea battles, since cannon had only recently been introduced.
3672 bernes (Bj, Be). MS: braynes (Br, K). H reads berynes.
3675 Up ties (Be, K, H). MS: Vpcynes (Br).
3678 Many freke (Bj, Be). MS: ffreke (Br, K, H).
3684 englaimes (Bj, Be, K, H). MS: englaymous (Br).
3709 Galuth is Gawain's sword, here personified as "a good gome."
3720 in (Be, K). MS: and (Br, H).
3743 Engendure may be a reference to Mordred's incestuous begetting (see Stanzaic Morte Arthure, lines 2955-56), though there is no direct reference to it in this poem.
3773 The Montagues were a famous Northern English family. The head of the family was a supporter of Richard II and a suspected heretic. He rebelled against Henry IV in 1400; he was beheaded and his head was displayed on London Bridge as a warning to other potential traitors.
3796 help. Be emends to help me, but I have followed Br, K, and H in retaining MS.
3797 to see us (Br, Be, K, H). MS: to us.
3864 Fres. Bj and Be emend to Frisland, but I have followed Br, K, and H in retaining MS.
3869 The golden griffin (a winged dragon) is Gawain's usual heraldic device.
3891 sib-blood. Mordred and Gawain are half brothers; their mother is Arthur's sister.
3911 yeyes (Bj, Be, H, K). MS: ?ee (Br).
3924 Swalters. Bj and Be emend to swafres, but I have followed Br, K, and H in retaining MS.
3929 trewth (Bj, Be, H). MS: trewghe (Br, K).
3937 It is unclear whether the MS reads Guthede or Guchede. The former makes more sense.
3942 encircled (Bj, Be, K, H). MS: enserchede (Br).
3996 kithe (Bj, Be, H). MS: kyghte (Br, K).
4010 Carried it (Br, Be, H). MS: Karyed (Br, K).
4017 Don for him (Bj, Be). MS: Done for (Br, K, H).
4020 erthe. Bj, Be, and H emend to bere, but I have followed Br and K in retaining MS.
4095 The banners must be defended not only for the sake of honor but because signals made with the banners are the only means of communication during a battle.
4129 sere. Bj and Be emend to fele, but I have followed Br, K, and H in retaining MS.
4157 Why then ne (Be). MS: Qwythen. K explains that an emendation may not really be necessary since the OED glosses the MS word in the same words as the emendation.
4181 churles. OL and Be emend to churlish, but I have followed Br, K, and H in retaining MS. Mordred adopts the cowardly stratagem of changing his heraldic devices, which Arthur would never do (see note on line 3650).
4221 and in (Br, Be, K, H). MS: and.
4223 he ne (Br, Be, K, H). MS: ne he.
4303 Arthur is said to have been buried at Glastonbury.
4305 day. Be emends to dayes, but I have followed Br, K, and H in retaining MS.
4326 In manus is a common Medieval short form of Pater, in manus tuas commendo spiritum meum: "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit," Christ's last words on the cross according to Luke 23:46.
4332 Requiem. Mass for the dead.
4343 blude. Bj and Be emend to kin, but I have followed Br, K, and H in retaining MS.
4346 Brut. The History of Britain, which begins with Brutus, who settled the country. Brut refers to any history of Britain, though the poet may have meant some specific work, such as the popular English prose Brut.
4347 This and the following lines are not by the original author of our poem. This line, which is the inscription on Arthur's tomb (dating from 1278), was added by a later reader of the manuscript. The next lines concern the scribe rather than the author of the poem. Robert Thornton, who lived in Yorkshire, about 1440, wrote out the manuscript that contains this and a number of other romances. The final Latin line, asking that Robert be blessed for his work, was written by a grateful reader in the later fifteenth century.
Here beginnes Morte Arthure. In Nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti. Amen pur Charite. Amen.
Now grete glorious God through grace of Himselven
And the precious prayer of his pris Moder
Sheld us fro shamesdeede and sinful workes
And give us grace to guie and govern us here
In this wretched world through virtuous living,
That we may kaire til his court, the kingdom of heven
When our soules shall part and sunder fro the body
Ever to beld and to bide in bliss with Himselven;
And wisse me to warp out some word at this time
That nother void be ne vain but worship til Himselven
Plesand and profitable to the pople that them heres.
Ye that lust has to lithe or loves for to here
Of elders of olde time and of their awke deedes,
How they were lele in their law and loved God Almighty
Herkenes me hendely and holdes you stille,
And I shall tell you a tale that trew is and noble
Of the real renkes of the Round Table
That chef were of chivalry and cheftains noble
Both wary in their workes and wise men of armes,
Doughty in their doings and dredde ay shame,
Kind men and courtais and couth of court thewes,
How they won with war worshippes many,
Slogh Lucius the lithere that lord was of Rome,
And conquered that kingrik through craftes of armes;
Herkenes now hiderward and heres this story!
When that the king Arthur by conquest had wonnen
Casteles and kingdomes and countrees many,
And he had covered the crown of that kith riche
Of all that Uter in erthe ought in his time:
Argayle and Orkney and all these oute-iles,
Ireland utterly, as Ocean runnes,
Scathel Scotland by skill he skiftes as him likes, 1
And Wales of war he won at his will,
Bothe Flaunders and Fraunce free til himselven
Holland and Hainault they held of him bothen,
Burgoigne and Brabaunt and Bretain the less
Guienne and Gothland and Grace the rich,
Bayonne and Bourdeaux he belded full fair,
Touraine and Toulouse with towres full high,
Of Poitiers and Provence he was prince holden;
Of Valence and Vienne, of value so noble,
Of Overgne and Anjou, those erldoms rich,
By conquest full cruel they knew him for lord
Of Navarre and Norway and Normandy eek
Of Almaine, of Estriche, and other ynow;
Denmark he dressed all by drede of himselven
Fro Swynne unto Swetherwike, with his sword keen! 2
When he these deedes had done, he dubbed his knightes,
Devised ducheries and delt in diverse rewmes, 3
Made of his cosins kinges annointed
In kithes there they covet crownes to bere.
When he these rewmes had ridden and rewled the pople,
Then rested that real and held the Round Table;
Sujourns that seson to solace himselven
In Bretain the brodder, as him best likes;
Sithen went into Wales with his wyes all,
Sways into Swaldie with his snell houndes
For to hunt at the hartes in those high landes,
In Glamorgan with glee there gladship was ever,
And there a citee he set, by assent of his lordes
That Caerlion was called, with curious walles, 4
On the rich river that runnes so fair,
There he might semble his sorte to see when him liked. 5
Then after at Carlisle a Christenmass he holdes,
This ilk kidd conquerour and held him for lord
With dukes and douspeeres of diverse rewmes,
Erles and erchevesques and other ynow,
Bishoppes and bachelers and bannerettes noble 6
That bowes to his banner, busk when him likes.
But on the Christenmass-day when they were all sembled,
That comlich conquerour commaundes himselven
That ilk a lord sholde lenge and no leve take
To the tende day fully were taken to the end.
Thus on real array he held his Round Table
With semblaunt and solace and selcouthe metes;
Was never such noblay in no mannes time
Made in mid-winter in tho West Marches!
But on the New-Yere day, at the noon even,
As the bold at the borde was of bred served, 7
So come in sodenly a senatour of Rome,
With sixteen knightes in a suite, sewand him one;
He salued the soveraign and the sale after
Ilk a king after king, and made his inclines;
Gaynor in her degree he grette as him liked
And sinn again to the gome he gave up his needes: 8
"Sir Lucius Iberius, the Emperour of Rome,
Salues thee as subjet, under his sele rich;
It is credan, Sir King, with cruel wordes;
Trow it for no troufles, his targe is to shew! 9
Now in this New-Yeres Day, with notaries sign,
I make thee summons in sale to sew for thy landes,
That on Lamass Day there be no let founden 10
That thou be redy at Rome with all thy Round Table
Appere in his presence with thy pris knightes
At prime of the day, in pain of your lives,
In the kidd Capitoil before the king selven
When he and his senatours bes set as them likes,
To answer only why thou occupies the landes
That owe homage of old til him and his elders,
Why thou has ridden and raimed and ransound the pople
And killed down his cosins, kinges annointed;
There shall thou give reckoning for all thy Round Table,
Why thou art rebel to Rome and rentes them with-holdes!
Yif thou these summons withsit, he sendes thee these wordes:
He shall thee seek over the se, with sixteen kinges,
Brin Bretain the brode and britten thy knightes 11
And bring thee buxomly as a beste with brethe where him likes,
That thou ne shall route ne rest under the heven rich
Though thou for reddour of Rome run to the erthe!
For if thou flee into Fraunce or Frisland other,
Thou shall be fetched with force and overset forever!
Thy fader made fewtee we find in our rolles,
In the regestré of Rome, who-so right lookes;
Withouten more troufling the tribute we ask
That Julius Cesar won with his gentle knightes!"
The king blushed on the berne with his brode eyen, 12
That full bremly for brethe brent as the gledes,
Cast colours as the king with cruel lates
Looked as a lion and on his lip bites.
The Romanes for radness rusht to the erthe,
For ferdness of his face as they fey were;
Couched as kennetes before the king selven;
Because of his countenaunce confused them seemed!
Then covered up a knight and cried full loud:
"King, crowned of kind, courtais and noble,
Misdo no messanger for mensk of thyselven,
Senn we are in thy manrede and mercy thee beseekes;
We lenge with Sir Lucius, that lord is of Rome,
That is the marveloustest man than on molde lenges;
It is lelful til us his liking til work; 13
We come at his commaundment; have us excused."
Then carpes the conquerour cruel wordes:
"Ha! cravand knight, a coward thee seemes!
There is some segge in this sale, and he were sore greved 14
Thou durst not for all Lumbardy look on him ones!"
"Sir," says the senatour, "so Crist mot me help,
The vout of thy visage has wounded us all!
Thou art the lordliest lede that ever I on looked.
By looking, withouten lees, a lion thee seemes!" 15
"Thou has me summoned," quod the king, "and said what thee likes.
For sake of thy soveraign I suffer thee the more;
Senn I crowned was in kith with crisom annointed, 16
Was never creature to me that carped so large!
But I shall take counsel at kinges annointed
Of dukes and douspeeres and doctours noble,
Of peeres of the parlement, prelates and other
Of the richest renkes of the Round Table;
Thus shall I take avisement of valiant bernes,
Work after the wit of my wise knightes.
To warp wordes in waste no worship it were,
Ne wilfully in this wrath to wreken myselven.
Forthy shall thou lenge here and lodge with these lordes
This seven-night in solace to sujourn your horses,
To see what life that we lede in these low landes."
For by the realtee of Rome, that richest was ever,
He commaundes Sir Kayous, "Take keep to those lordes
To stightel tho stern men as their state askes,
That they be herbered in haste in those high chambres,
Sithen sittandly in sale served thereafter,
That they find no faute of food to their horses,
Nother wine ne wax ne welth in this erthe;
Spare for no spicery, but spend what thee likes 17
That there be largess on loft and no lack founden;
If thou my worship wait, wye, by my trewth, 18
Thou shall have gersoms full grete that gain shall thee ever!"
Now are they herbered in high and in host holden, 19
Hastily with hende men within these high walles.
In chambers with chimpnees they changen their weedes, 20
And sithen the chaunceller them fetched with chevalry noble;
Soon the senatour was set as him well seemed,
At the kinges own borde; two knightes him served,
Singulere, soothly, as Arthur himselven,
Richly on the right hand at the Round Table.
By resoun that the Romans were so rich holden,
As of the realest blood that regned in erthe.
There come in at the first course, before the king selven, 21
Borehevedes that were bright, burnisht with silver
All with taught men and towen in togges full rich, 22
Of sank real in suite, sixty at ones;
Flesh flourisht of fermison, with frumentee noble, 23
There-to wild to wale, and winlich briddes,
Pacockes and plovers in platters of gold
Pigges of pork despine that pastured never;
Sithen herons in hedoyne heled full fair,
Grete swannes full swithe in silveren chargeours, 24
Tartes of Turky, taste whom them likes;
Gumbaldes graithly, full gracious to taste;
Senn bowes of wild bores with the brawn leched, 25
Bernakes and botoures in batterd dishes,
Thereby braunchers in bred, better was never,
With brestes of barrowes that bright were to shew;
Senn come there sewes sere with solace thereafter,
Ownde of azure all over and ardaunt them seemed; 26
Of ilk a leche the lowe launched full high,
That all ledes might like that looked them upon;
Then cranes and curlewes craftily rosted,
Connies in cretoyne coloured full fair,
Fesauntes enflourished in flamand silver,
With darielles endorded and dainties ynow; 27
Then Claret and Crete clergially rennen 28
With condethes full curious all of clene silver,
Osay and Algarde and other ynow
Rhenish wine and Rochelle, richer was never,
Vernage of Venice, virtuous, and Crete,
In faucetes of fine gold, fonde who-so likes;
The kinges cup-bord was closed in silver,
In grete gobletes overgilt, glorious of hew; 29
There was a chef butler, a chevaler noble
Sir Kayous the courtais, that of the cup served;
Sixty cuppes of suite for the king selven,
Crafty and curious, corven full fair,
In ever-ilk a party pight with precious stones,
That none enpoison sholde go privily there-under 30
But the bright gold for brethe sholde brist all to peces,
Or else the venom sholde void through virtue of the stones;
And the conquerour himselven, so clenly arrayed,
In colours of clene gold cledde, with his knightes,
Dressed with his diadem on his dese rich,
For he was deemed the doughtiest that dwelled in erthe.
Then the conquerour kindly carped to those lordes,
Reheted the Romans with real speche:
"Sirs, bes knightly of countenaunce and comfortes yourselven;
We know nought in this countree of curious metes;
In these barrain landes breedes none other;
Forthy, withouten feining, enforce you the more 31
To feed you with such feeble as ye before find."
"Sir," says the senatour, "so Crist mot me help,
There regned never such realtee within Rome walles!
There ne is prelate ne pope ne prince in this erthe
That he ne might be well payed of these pris metes!"
After their welth they wesh and went unto chamber,
This ilk kidd conquerour with knightes ynow;
Sir Gawain the worthy Dame Waynor he ledes,
Sir Owghtreth on tother side, of Turry was lord.
Then spices unsparely they spended thereafter,
Malvesy and Muskadell, those marvelous drinkes,
Raiked full rathely in rosset cuppes 32
Til all the rich on row, Romans and other.
But the soveraign soothly, for solace of himselven,
Assigned to the senatour certain lordes
To lede to his levere, when he his leve askes,
With mirth and with melody of minstralsy noble.
Then the conquerour to counsel kaires thereafter
With lordes of his legeaunce that to himself longes
To the Giauntes Towr jollily he wendes
With justices and judges and gentle knightes.
Sir Cador of Cornwall to the king carpes,
Laugh on him lovely with likand lates; 33
"I thank God of that thro that thus us thretes!
You must be trailed, I trow, but yif ye tret better!
The lettres of Sir Lucius lightes mine herte.
We have as losels lived many long day
With delites in this land with lordshippes many
And forlitened the los that we are laited.
I was abashed, by our Lord, of our best bernes,
For grete dole of deffuse of deedes of armes. 34
Now wakenes the war! Worshipped be Crist!
And we shall win it again by wightness and strength!"
"Sir Cador," quod the king, "thy counsel is noble;
But thou art a marvelous man with thy merry wordes!
For thou countes no case ne castes no further, 35
But hurles forth upon heved, as thy herte thinkes;
I moste trete of a trews touchand these needes,
Talk of these tithandes that teenes mine herte.
Thou sees that the emperour is angerd a little;
It seemes by his sandesman that he is sore greved;
His senatour has summond me and said what him liked,
Hethely in my hall, with heinous wordes,
In speche despised me and spared me little;
I might not speke for spite, so my herte trembled!
He asked me tyrauntly tribute of Rome,
That teenfully tint was in time of mine elders,
There alienes, in absence of all men of armes,
Coverd it of commouns, as cronicles telles.
I have title to take tribute of Rome;
Mine auncestres were emperours and ought it themselven,
Belin and Bremin and Bawdewyne the third;
They occupied the empire eight score winters,
Ilkon eier after other, as old men telles;
They covered the Capitol and cast down the walles,
Hanged of their hedesmen by hundrethes at ones;
Senn Constantine, our kinsman, conquered it after,
That eier was of Yngland and emperour of Rome,
He that conquered the cross by craftes of armes,
That Crist was on crucified, that King is of heven.
Thus have we evidence to ask the emperour the same,
That thus regnes at Rome, what right that he claimes."
Then answerd King Aungers to Arthur himself:
"Thou ought to be overling over to all other kinges,
For wisest and worthyest and wightest of handes,
The knightlyest of counsel that ever crown bore.
I dare say for Scotland that we them scathe limped;
When the Romans regned they ransound our elders
And rode in their riot and ravished our wives,
Withouten resoun or right reft us our goodes;
And I shall make my avow devotly to Crist
And to the holy vernacle, virtuous and noble,
Of this grete vilany I shall be venged ones,
On yon venomous men with valiant knightes!
I shall thee further of defence fostred ynow
Twenty thousand men within two eldes
Of my wage to wend where-so thee likes,
To fight with thy fomen that us unfair ledes!"
Then the burlich berne of Bretain the Little 36
Counsels Sir Arthur and of him beseekes
To answer the alienes with austeren wordes,
To entice the emperour to take over the mountes.
He said: "I make mine avow verily to Crist,
And to the holy vernacle, that void shall I never
For radness of no Roman that regnes in erthe,
But ay be redy in array and at erest founden;
No more dout the dintes of their derf wepens
Than the dew that is dank when that it down falles;
Ne no more shoun for the swap of their sharp swordes
Than for the fairest flowr that on the folde growes!
I shall to batail thee bring of brenyed knightes
Thirty thousand by tale, thrifty in armes,
Within a month-day, into what march
That thou will soothly assign, when thyself likes."
"A! A!" says the Welsh king; "worshipped be Crist!
Now shall we wreke full well the wrath of our elders!
In West Wales, iwis, such wonders they wrought
That all for wandreth may weep that on that war thinkes.
I shall have the avauntward witterly myselven,
Til that I have vanquisht the Viscount of Rome,
That wrought me at Viterbo a vilany ones,
As I past in pilgrimage by the Pount Tremble.
He was in Tuskane that time and took of our knightes,
Arrest them unrightwisly and ransound them after. 37
I shall him surely ensure that saghtel shall we never
Ere we sadly assemble by ourselven ones
And dele dintes of deth with our derf wepens!
And I shall wage to that war of worshipful knightes,
Of Wyghte and of Welshland and of the West Marches,
Two thousand in tale, horsed on steedes,
Of the wightest wyes in all yon West Landes!"
Sir Ewain fitz Urien then egerly fraines,
Was cosin to the conquerour, corageous himselven:
"Sir, and we wiste your will we wolde work thereafter;
Yif this journee sholde hold or be ajourned further,
To ride on yon Romans and riot their landes,
We wolde shape us therefore, to ship when you likes."
"Cosin," quod the conquerour, "kindly thou askes
Yif my counsel accord to conquer yon landes.
By the kalendes of Juny we shall encounter ones
With full cruel knightes, so Crist mot me help!
Thereto I make mine avow devotly to Crist
And to the holy vernacle, virtuous and noble;
I shall at Lamass take leve to lenge at my large 38
In Lorraine or Lumbardy, whether me leve thinkes;
Merk unto Meloine and mine down the walles
Both of Petersand and of Pis and of the Pount Tremble;
In the Vale of Viterbo vitail my knights,
Sujourn there six weekes and solace myselven,
Send prikers to the pris town and plant there my sege 39
But if they proffer me the pees by process of time."
"Certes," says Sir Ewain, "and I avow after,
And I that hathel may see ever with mine eyen
That occupies thine heritage, the empire of Rome,
I shall aunter me ones his egle to touch
That borne is in his banner of bright gold rich,
And rase it from his rich men and rive it in sonder,
But he be redily rescued with riotous knightes. 40
I shall enforce you in the feld with fresh men of armes,
Fifty thousand folk upon fair steedes,
On thy fomen to founde there thee fair thinkes,
In Fraunce or in Frisland, fight when thee likes!"
"By our Lord," quod Sir Launcelot, "now lightes mine herte! 41
I lowe God of this love these lordes has avowed!
Now may less men have leve to say what them likes,
And have no letting by law; but listenes these wordes:
I shall be at journee with gentle knightes
On a jamby steed full jollily graithed,
Ere any journee begin to joust with himselven 42
Among all his giauntes, Genivers and other,
Strike him stiffly fro his steed with strenghe of mine handes, 43
For all the steren in stour that in his stale hoves!
Be my retinue arrayed, I reck it but a little
To make route into Rome with riotous knightes.
Within a seven-night day, with six score helmes, 44
I shall be seen on the se, sail when thee likes."
Then laughes Sir Lot and all on loud meles:
"Me likes that Sir Lucius longes after sorrow;
Now he wilnes the war his wandreth beginnes;
It is our werdes to wreke the wrath of our elders!
I make mine avow to God and to the holy vernacle:
And I may see the Romans that are so rich holden, 45
Arrayed in their riotes on a round feld,
I shall at the reverence of the Round Table
Ride through all the rout, rereward and other, 46
Redy wayes to make and renkes full rowm,
Runnand on red blood, as my steed rushes!
He that followes my fare and first comes after
Shall find in my fare-way many fey leved!"
Then the conquerour kindly comfortes these knightes,
Alowes them gretly their lordly avowes;
"Allweldand God worship you all!
And let me never want you, whiles I in world regn;
My mensk and my manhed ye maintain in erthe,
Mine honour all utterly in other kinges landes;
My wele and my worship of all this world rich,
Ye have knightly conquered that to my crown longes.
Him thar be ferd for no foes that swilk a folk ledes, 47
But ever fresh for to fight in feld when him likes.
I account no king that under Crist lives;
Whiles I see you all sound, I set by no more."
When they trustily had treted they trumped up after, 48
Descended down with a daunce of dukes and erles.
Then they sembled to sale and souped als swithe,
All this seemly sorte, with semblaunt full noble.
Then the roy real rehetes these knightes
With reverence and riot of all his Round Table
Til seven dayes was gone. The senatour askes
Answer to the Emperour with austeren wordes.
After the Epiphany, when the purpose was taken
Of peeres of the parlement, prelates and other,
The king in his counsel, courtais and noble,
Uters the alienes and answers himselven:
"Greet well Lucius, thy lord, and laine not these wordes;
If thou be legemen lele, let him wite soon
I shall at Lamass take leve and lodge at my large
In delite in his landes with lordes ynow,
Regne in my realtee and rest when me likes;
By the river of Rhone hold my Round Table,
Fang the fermes in faith of all tho fair rewmes 49
For all the menace of his might and maugree his eyen!
And merk sithen over the mountes into his main landes,
To Miloine the marvelous and mine down the walles;
In Lorraine ne in Lumbardy leve shall I nother
Nokine lede upon life that there his lawes yemes;
And turn into Tuskane when me time thinkes,
Ride all those rowm landes with riotous knightes.
Bid him make rescues for mensk of himselven,
And meet me for his manhed in those main landes!
I shall be founden in Fraunce, fraist when him likes!
The first day of Feveryer in those fair marches!
Ere I be fetched with force or forfeit my landes,
The flowr of his fair folk full fey shall be leved!
I shall him sekerly ensure under my sele rich
To sege the citee of Rome within seven winter
And that so sekerly ensege upon sere halves
That many a senatour shall sigh for sake of me one!
My summons are certified and thou art full served
Of cundit and credens; kaire where thee likes. 50
I shall thy journee engist, enjoin them myselven, 51
Fro this place to the port there thou shall pass over:
Seven days to Sandwich I set at the large;
Sixty mile on a day, the sum is but little!
Thou moste speed at the spurs and spare not thy fole;
Thou wendes by Watling Street and by no way elles;
There thou nyghes on night needes moste thou lenge; 52
Be it forest or feld, found thou no further;
Bind thy blonk by a busk with thy bridle even,
Lodge thyselven under linde as thee lefe thinkes; 53
There owes none alienes to ayer upon nightes,
With such a ribawdous rout to riot thyselven.
Thy license is limit in presence of lordes,
Be now loth or lette, right as thee thinkes, 54
For both thy life and thy limm ligges thereupon,
Though Sir Lucius had laid thee the lordship of Rome,
For be thou founden a foot withoute the flood marches
After the aughtende day when undern is rungen,
Thou shall be heveded in hie and with horse drawen, 55
And senn hiely be hanged, houndes to gnawen!
The rent ne red gold that unto Rome longes
Shall not redily, renk, ransoun thine one!"
"Sir," says the senatour, "so Crist mot me help,
Might I with worship win away ones
I sholde never for Emperour that on erthe lenges
Eft unto Arthur ayer on such needes;
But I am singely here with sixteen knightes;
I beseek you, sir, that we may sound pass.
If any unlawful lede let us by the way,
Within thy license, lord, thy los is inpaired."
"Care not," quod the king; "thy cundit is knowen
Fro Carlisle to the coste there thy cogge lenges;
Though thy coffers were full, crammed with silver,
Thou might be seker of my sele sixty mile further."
They enclined to the king and congee they asked,
Kaires out of Carlisle, catches on their horses;
Sir Cador the courtais kend them the wayes,
To Catrik them conveyed and to Crist them bekenned.
So they sped at the spurres they sprangen their horses,
Hires them hackenayes hastily thereafter.
So for reddour they ridden and rested them never,
But yif they lodged under linde whiles them the light failed;
But ever the senatour forsooth sought at the gainest.
By the sevende day was gone the citee they reched.
Of all the glee under God so glad were they never
As of the sound of the se and Sandwich belles.
Withouten more stunting they shipped their horses;
Wery to the wan se they went all at ones.
With the men of the wale they weighted up their ankers
And fled at the fore flood; in Flaunders they rowed
And through Flaunders they found, as them fair thought,
Til Aachen in Almaine, in Arthur landes;
Gos by Mount Goddard full grevous wayes,
And so into Lumbardy, likand to shew.
They turn through Tuskane with towres full high;
In pris appairelles them in precious weedes. 56
The Sononday in Sutere they sujourn their horses
And seekes the saintes of Rome by assent of knightes;
Sithen prikes to the palais with portes so rich,
There Sir Lucius lenges with lordes ynow;
Loutes to him lovely and lettres him bedes
Of credens enclosed with knightlich wordes.
Then the Emperour was eger and enkerly fraines;
The answer of Arthur he askes him soon,
How he arrayes the rewm and rewles the pople,
Yif he be rebel to Rome, what right that he claimes;
"Thou sholde his sceptre have sesed and sitten aboven
For reverence and realtee of Rome the noble;
By certes thou was my sandes and senatour of Rome,
He sholde for solempnitee have served thee himselven."
"That will he never for no wye of all this world rich
But who may win him of war, by wightness of handes;
Many fey shall be first upon the feld leved,
Ere he appere in this place, proffer when thee likes.
I say thee, sir, Arthur is thine enmy forever,
And ettles to be overling of the empire of Rome,
That all his auncestres ought but Uter himselven.
Thy needes in this New Yere I notified myselven
Before that noble of name and nine sum of kinges;
In the most real place of the Round Table
I summond him solemnly on-seeand his knightes; 57
Senn I was formed, in faith, so ferd was I never, 58
In all the places there I passed of princes on erthe.
I wolde forsake all my suite of seignoury of Rome
Ere I eft to that soveraign were sent on such needes!
He may be chosen cheftain, chef of all other
Both by chaunces of armes and chevalry noble,
For wisest and worthyest and wightest of handes.
Of all the wyes that I wot in this world rich -
The knighliest creature in Cristdendom holden
Of king or of conquerour crowned in erthe,
Of countenaunce, of corage, of cruel lates,
The comlyest of knighthood that under Crist lives!
He may be spoken in dispens despiser of silver,
That no more of gold gives than of grete stones,
No more of wine than of water that of the well runnes,
Ne of welth of this world but worship alone.
Such countenance was never knowen in no kith riche
As was with this conquerour in his court holden;
I counted at this Cristenmass of kinges annointed,
Hole ten at his table that time with himselven.
He will warray, iwis, be ware yif thee likes;
Wage many wight men and watch thy marches,
That they be redy in array and at erest founden,
For yif he reche unto Rome, he ransouns it forever.
I rede thou dress thee therefore and draw no let longer; 59
Be seker of thy soudeours and send to the mountes;
By the quarter of this yere, and him quert stand,
He will wightly in a while on his wayes hie."
"By Ester," says the Emperour, "I ettle myselven
To hostay in Almaine with armed knightes;
Send frekly into Fraunce, that flowr is of rewmes;
Fonde to fette that freke and forfeit his landes,
For I shall set keepers, full cunnand and noble,
Many giaunt of Gene, jousters full good.
To meet him in the mountes and martyr his knightes,
Strike them down in straites and stroy them forever.
There shall upon Goddard a garret be rered 60
That shall be garnisht and keeped with good men of armes,
And a becon aboven to brin when them likes,
That none enmy with host shall enter the mountes.
There shall on Mount Bernard be belded another,
Busked with bannerettes and bachelers noble. 61
In at the portes of Pavia shall no prince pass
Through the perilous places for my pris knightes."
Then Sir Lucius lordlich lettres he sendes
Anon into the Orient with austeren knightes
Til Ambyganye and Orcage and Alisaundere eek 62
To Inde and to Ermonye, as Eufrates runnes,
To Asia and to Afrike, and Europe the large,
To Irritaine and Elamet, and all those oute iles, 63
To Arraby and Egypt, til erles and other
That any erthe occupies in those este marches
Of Damaske and Damiet, and dukes and erles.
For drede of his daunger they dressed them soon;
Of Crete and of Capados the honourable kinges
Come at his commaundement clenly at ones;
To Tartary and Turkey when tithinges is comen
They turn in by Thebay, tyrauntes full huge,
The flowr of the fair folk of Amazonnes landes;
All that failes on the feld be forfeit forever.
Of Babylon and Baldake the burlich knightes
Bayous with their baronage bides no longer;
Of Perse and of Pamphile and Preter John landes 64
Ech prince with his power appertlich graithed;
The Sowdan of Surry assembles his knightes
Fro Nilus to Nazareth, numbers full huge;
To Garyere and to Galilee they gader all at ones,
The sowdanes that were seker soudeours to Rome;
They gadered over the Greekes Se with grevous wepens,
In their grete galleys, with glitterande sheldes;
The King of Cyprus on the se the Sowdan abides,
With all the reales of Rhodes arrayed with him one;
They sailed with a side wind over the salt strandes,
Sodenly the Sarazenes, as themselve liked;
Craftyly at Cornett the kinges are arrived,
Fro the citee of Rome sixty mile large.
By that the Greekes were graithed, a full grete number, 65
The mightiest of Macedone, with men of tho marches,
Pulle and Prussland, presses with other,
The lege-men of Lettow with legions ynow.
Thus they semble in sortes, summes full huge;
The sowdanes and Sarazenes out of sere landes
The Sowdan of Surry and sixteen kinges
At the citee of Rome assembled at ones.
Then ishews the Emperour, armed at rightes
Arrayed with his Romans upon rich steedes;
Sixty giauntes before, engendered with fendes,
With witches and warlaws, to watchen his tentes
Aywere where he wendes wintres and yeres.
Might no blonkes them bere, those bustous churles,
But coverd cameles of towrs, enclosed in mailes;
He ayeres out with alienes, hostes full huge
Even into Almaine, that Arthur had wonnen,
Rides in by the river and riotes himselve,
And ayeres with a huge will all those high landes;
All Westfale by war he winnes as him likes,
Drawes in by Danuby and dubbes his knightes,
In the countree of Coloine castelles enseges
And sujourns that sesoun with Sarazenes ynow.
At the utas of Hillary Sir Arthur himselven 66
In his kidd counsel commaunde the lordes:
"Kaire to your countrees and semble your knightes,
And keepes me at Constantine, clenlich arrayed,
Bides me at Barflete upon the blithe stremes
Boldly within borde, with your best bernes;
I shall menskfully you meet in those fair marches."
He sendes forth sodenly sergeauntes of armes
To all his mariners in row to arrest him shippes;
Within sixteen dayes his fleet was assembled,
At Sandwich on the se, sail when him likes.
In the palais of York a parlement he holdes
With all the peeres of the rewm, prelates and other;
And after the preching, in presence of lordes,
The king in his counsel carpes these wordes:
"I am in purpose to pass perilous wayes,
To kaire with my keen men to conquer yon landes,
To outraye mine enmy, yif aventure it shew, 67
That occupies mine heritage, the empire of Rome.
I set you here a soveraign, assent yif you likes,
That is my sib, my sister son; Sir Mordred himselven
Shall be my leutenant, with lordshippes ynow
Of all my lele lege-men that my landes yemes."
He carpes to his cosin then, in counsel himselven:
"I make thee keeper, Sir Knight, of kingrikes many,
Warden worshipful to weld all my landes,
That I have wonnen of war in this world rich.
I will that Waynor, my wife, in worship be holden.
That her want no wele ne welth that her likes;
Look my kidd casteles be clenlich arrayed,
There sho may sujourn herselve with seemlich bernes;
Fonde my forestes be frithed, of frendship for ever, 68
That none warray my wild but Waynor herselven,
And that in the sesoun when grees is assigned,
That sho take her solace in certain times.
Chaunceller and chamberlain change as thee likes,
Auditours and officers, ordain them thyselven,
Both jurees and judges, and justices of landes;
Look thou justify them well that injury workes.
If me be destained to die at Drightens will,
I charge thee my sektour, chef of all other,
To minister my mobles for meed of my soul
To mendinauntes and misese in mischef fallen.
Take here my testament of tresure full huge;
As I traist upon thee, betray thou me never!
As thou will answer before the austeren Judge
That all this world winly wisse as Him likes,
Look that my last will be lely perfourned!
Thou has clenly the cure that to my crown longes
Of all my wordles wele and my wife eek; 69
Look thou keep thee so clere there be no cause founden
When I to countree come, if Crist will it thole;
And thou have grace goodly to govern thyselven,
I shall crown thee, knight, king with my handes."
Then Sir Mordred full mildly meles himselven,
Kneeled to the conquerour and carpes these wordes:
"I beseek you, sir, as my sib lord,
That ye will for charitee chese you another,
For if ye put me in this plitt, your pople is deceived;
To present a prince estate my power is simple;
When other of war-wisse are worshipped hereafter,
Then may I, forsooth, be set but at little.
To pass in your presence my purpose is taken
And all my perveance appert for my pris knightes."
"Thou art my nevew full ner, my nurree of old,
That I have chastied and chosen, a child of my chamber;
For the sibreden of me, forsake not this office;
That thou ne work my will, thou wot what it menes."
Now he takes his leve and lenges no longer
At lordes, at lege-men that leves him behinden;
And senn that worthiliche wye went unto chamber
For to comfort the queen that in care lenges.
Waynor waikly weepand him kisses,
Talkes to him tenderly with teres ynow;
"I may werye the wye that this war moved,
That warnes me worship of my wedde lord;
All my liking of life out of land wendes,
And I in langour am left, leve ye, forever!
Why ne might I, dere love, die in your armes,
Ere I this destainy of dole sholde drie by mine one!"
"Greve thee not, Gaynor, for Goddes love of heven,
Ne grouch not my ganging; it shall to good turn!
Thy wandrethes and thy weeping woundes mine herte;
I may not wite of this wo for all this world rich;
I have made a keeper, a knight of thine owen,
Overling of Yngland, under thyselven,
And that is Sir Mordred, that thou has mikel praised,
Shall be thy dictour, my dere, to do what thee likes."
Then he takes his leve at ladies in chamber,
Kissed them kindlich and to Crist beteches;
And then sho swoones full swithe when he his sword asked,
Sways in swooning, swelte as sho wolde!
He pressed to his palfrey, in presence of lordes,
Prikes of the palais with his pris knightes
With a real rout of the Round Table,
Sought toward Sandwich; sho sees him no more.
There the grete were gadered with galiard knightes,
Garnished on the green feld and graitheliche arrayed;
Dukes and douspeeres daintely rides,
Erles of Yngland with archers ynow.
Shirreves sharply shiftes the commouns, 70
Rewles before the rich of the Round Table,
Assignes ilk a countree to certain lordes,
In the south on the se bank sail when them likes.
Then barges them buskes and to the bank rowes,
Bringes blonkes on borde and burlich helmes
Trusses in tristly trapped steedes,
Tentes and other tooles, and targes full rich,
Cabanes and cloth-sackes and cofferes full noble,
Hackes and hackeneys and horses of armes;
Thus they stow in the stuff of full steren knightes.
When all was shipped that sholde, they shunt no lenger,
But unteld them tite, as the tide runnes;
Cogges and crayers then crosses their mastes, 71
At the commaundement of the king uncovered at ones;
Wightly on the wale they wie up their ankers, 72
By wit of the watermen of the wale ythes.
Frekes on the forestaine faken their cables
In floynes and fercostes and Flemish shippes,
Titt sailes to the top and turnes the luff,
Standes upon steerbord, sterenly they songen.
The pris shippes of the port proven their deepness,
And foundes with full sail over the fawe ythes;
Holly withouten harm they hale in botes,
Shipmen sharply shutten their portes,
Launches lede upon luff latchen their deepes, 73
Lookes to the lode-stern when the light failes,
Castes courses by craft when the cloud rises
With the needle and the stone on the night tides.
For drede of the dark night they dreched a little
And all the steren of the streme steken at ones. 74
The king was in a grete cogge with knightes full many,
In a cabane enclosed, clenlich arrayed;
Within on a rich bed restes a little,
And with the swogh of the se in swefning he fell.
Him dremed of a dragon, dredful to behold,
Come drivand over the deep to drenchen his pople,
Even walkand out the West landes,
Wanderand unworthyly over the wale ythes; 75
Both his hed and his hals were holly all over
Ounded of azure, enamelled full fair; 76
His shoulders were shaled all in clene silver
Shredde over all the shrimp with shrinkand pointes;
His womb and his winges of wonderful hewes,
In marvelous mailes he mounted full high.
Whom that he touched he was tint forever!
His feet were flourished all in fine sable
And such a venomous flaire flow from his lippes
The flood of the flawes all on fire seemed!
Then come out of the Orient, even him againes, 77
A black bustous bere aboven in the cloudes,
With ech a paw as a post and paumes full huge
With pikes full perilous, all pliand them seemed;
Lothen and lothly, lockes and other,
All with lutterd legges, lokkerd unfair,
Filtered unfreely, with fomand lippes -
The foulest of figure that formed was ever!
He baltered, he blered, he braundished thereafter;
To batail he bounes him with bustous clawes;
He romed, he rored, that rogged all the erthe,
So rudely he rapped at to riot himselven! 78
Then the dragon on dregh dressed him againes
And with his duttes him drove on dregh by the welken;
He fares as a faucon, frekly he strikes;
Both with feet and with fire he fightes at ones.
The bere in the batail the bigger him seemed,
And bites him boldly with baleful tuskes;
Such buffetes he him reches with his brode klokes,
His breste and his brayell was bloody all over.
He ramped so rudely that all the erthe rives, 79
Runnand on red blood as rain of the heven!
He had weried the worm by wightness of strenghe
Ne were it not for the wild fire that he him with defendes.
Then wanders the worm away to his heightes,
Comes glidand fro the cloudes and coupes full even,
Touches him with his talones and teres his rigge,
Betwix the taile and the top ten foot large!
Thus he brittened the bere and brought him o live, 80
Let him fall in the flood, fleet where him likes.
So they thring the bold king binne the ship-borde, 81
That ner he bristes for bale on bed where he ligges.
Then waknes the wise king, wery fortravailed,
Takes him two philosophers that followed him ever,
In the seven science the sutelest founden,
The cunningest of clergy under Crist knowen;
He told them of his torment that time that he sleeped:
"Dreched with a dragon and such a derf beste,
Has made me full wery, as wisse me Our Lord;
Ere I mon swelt as swithe, ye tell me my swefen!" 82
"Sir," said they soon then, these sage philosophers,
"The dragon that thou dremed of, so dredful to shew,
That come drivand over the deep to drenchen thy pople,
Soothly and certain thyselven it is,
That thus sailes over the se with thy seker knightes.
The coloures that were casten upon his clere winges
May be thy kingrikes all, that thou has right wonnen,
And the tattered tail, with tonges so huge,
Betokens this fair folk that in thy fleet wendes.
The bere that brittened was aboven in the cloudes
Betokenes the tyrauntes that tormentes thy pople
Or elles with some giaunt some journee shall happen,
In singular batail by yourselve one;
And thou shall have the victory, through help of Our Lord,
As thou in thy vision was openly shewed.
Of this dredful dreme ne drede thee no more,
Ne care not, sir conquerour, but comfort thyselven
And these that sailes over the se with thy seker knightes."
With trumpes then tristly they trussen up their sailes 83
And rowes over the rich se, this rout all at ones;
The comly coste of Normandy they catchen full even
And blithely at Barflete these bold are arrived,
And findes a fleet there of frendes ynow,
The flowr and the fair folk of fifteen rewmes,
For kinges and capitaines keeped him fair,
As he at Carlisle commaunded at Cristenmass himselven.
By they had taken the land and tentes up rered,
Comes a Templar tite and touched to the king;
"Here is a tyraunt beside that tormentes thy pople,
A grete giaunt of Gene, engendered of fendes;
He has freten of folk mo than five hundreth,
And als fele fauntekins of free-born childer. 84
This has been his sustenaunce all this seven winteres,
And yet is that sot not sad, so well him it likes!
In the countree of Constantine no kind has he leved
Withouten kidd casteles, enclosed with walles,
That he ne has clenly distroyed all the knave childer,
And them carried to the crag and clenly devoured.
The duchess of Bretain today has he taken,
Beside Reines as sho rode with her rich knightes,
Led her to the mountain there that lede lenges
To lie by that lady ay whiles her life lastes.
We followed o ferrome mo than five hundreth
Of bernes and of burges and bachelers noble,
But he covered the crag; sho cried so loud
The care of that creature cover shall I never
Sho was the flowr of all Fraunce or of five rewmes,
And one of the fairest that formed was ever,
The gentilest jowell ajudged with lordes
Fro Gene unto Gerone by Jesu of heven!
Sho was thy wifes cosin, know it if thee likes,
Comen of the richest that regnes in erthe;
As thou art rightwise king, rew on thy pople
And fonde for to venge them that thus are rebuked!"
"Alas," says Sir Arthur, "so long have I lived!
Had I witten of this, well had me cheved.
Me is not fallen fair but me is foul happened
That thus this fair lady this fend has destroyed!
I had lever than all Fraunce this fifteen winter 85
I had been before that freke a furlong of way
When he that lady had laght and led to the mountes;
I had left my life ere sho had harm limped.
But wolde thou ken me to that crag there that keen lenges,
I wolde kaire to that coste and carp with himselven,
To trete with that tyraunt for tresoun of landes
And take trews for a time til it may tide better."
"Sir, see ye yon forland with yon two fires?
There filsnes that fend, fraist when thee likes,
Upon the crest of the crag by a cold well
That encloses the cliff with the clere strandes;
There may thou find folk fey withouten number,
Mo florines, in faith, than Fraunce is in after,
And more tresure untrewly that traitour has getten
Than in Troy was, as I trow, that time that it was wonnen."
Then romes the rich king for rewth of the pople,
Raikes right to a tent and restes no lenger;
He welteres, he wresteles, he wringes his handes;
There was no wye of this world that wiste what he mened.
He calles Sir Kayous that of the cup served
And Sir Bedvere the bold that bore his brand rich:
"Look ye after even-song be armed at rightes
On blonkes by yon buscaile, by yon blithe stremes,
For I will pass in pilgrimage privily hereafter,
In the time of souper, when lordes are served,
For to seeken a saint by yon salt stremes,
In Saint Michel mount, there miracles are shewed."
After even-song Sir Arthur himselven
Went to his wardrope and warp off his weedes
Armed him in a aketoun with orfrayes full rich;
Aboven, on that, a jerin of Acres out over;
Aboven that a gesseraunt of gentle mailes,
A jupon of Jerodine jagged in shredes;
He braides on a bacenett burnisht of silver
The best that was in Basel, with bordours rich;
The crest and the coronal enclosed so fair
With claspes of clere gold, couched with stones;
The vesar, the aventail, enarmed so fair, 86
Void withouten vice, with windowes of silver;
His gloves gaylich gilt and graven at the hemmes
With graines and gobelets, glorious of hew.
He braces a brode sheld and his brand askes, 87
Bouned him a brown steed and on the bente hoves;
He stert til his stirrup and strides on loft,
Straines him stoutly and stirres him fair,
Broches the bay steed and to the busk rides,
And there his knightes him keeped full clenlich arrayed.
Then they rode by that river that runned so swithe,
There the rindes over-reches with real boughes;
The roe and the reindeer reckless there runnen,
In ranes and in rosers to riot themselven;
The frithes were flourisht with flowres full many,
With faucons and fesauntes of ferlich hewes;
All the fowles there flashes that flies with winges,
For there galed the gouk on greves full loud;
With alkine gladship they gladden themselven;
Of the nightingale notes the noises was sweet;
They threped with the throstels three hundreth at ones!
That whate swowing of water and singing of birds,
It might salve him of sore that sound was never!
Then ferkes this folk and on foot lightes,
Fastenes their fair steedes o ferrom between; 88
And then the king keenly commaunded his knightes
For to bide with their blonkes and boun no further;
"For I will seek this saint by myselve one
And mele with this master man that this mount yemes,
And senn shall ye offer, either after other 89
Menskfully at Saint Michel, full mighty with Crist."
The king covers the crag with cloughes full high,
To the crest of the cliff he climbes on loft,
Cast up his umbrere and keenly he lookes,
Caught of the cold wind to comfort himselven.
Two fires he findes flamand full high;
The fourtedele a furlong between them he walkes;
The way by the well-strandes he wanderd him one
To wite of the warlaw, where that he lenges.
He ferkes to the first fire and even there he findes
A wery woful widow wringand her handes,
And gretand on a grave grisly teres,
New merked on molde, senn mid-day it seemed.
He salued that sorrowful with sittand wordes
And fraines after the fend fairly thereafter.
Then this woful wife unwinly him greetes,
Coverd up on her knees and clapped her handes,
Said: "Careful, careman, thou carpes too loud!
May yon warlaw wite, he warrays us all!
Weryd worth the wight ay that thee thy wit reved,
That mas thee to waife here in these wild lakes!
I warn thee, for worship, thou wilnes after sorrow!
Whider buskes thou, berne? unblessed thou seemes!
Weenes thou to britten him with thy brand rich?
Were thou wighter than Wade or Wawain either,
Thou winnes no worship, I warn thee before.
Thou sained thee unsekerly to seek to these mountes; 90
Such six were too simple to semble with him one,
For, and thou see him with sight, thee serves no herte
To saine thee sekerly, so seemes him huge.
Thou art freely and fair and in thy first flowres,
But thou art fey, by my faith, and that me forthinkes!
Were such fifty on a feld or on a fair erthe,
The freke wolde with his fist fell you at ones.
Lo! Here the duchess dere - today was sho taken -
Deep dolven and dede, diked in moldes.
He had murthered this mild by mid-day were rungen, 91
Withouten mercy on molde, I not what it ment;
He has forced her and filed and sho is fey leved;
He slew her unslely and slit her to the navel.
And here have I baumed her and buried thereafter.
For bale of the bootless, blithe be I never!
Of all the frendes sho had there followed none after
But I, her foster moder, of fifteen winter.
To ferk off this forland fonde shall I never,
But here be founden on feld til I be fey leved."
great; (see note)
Pleasing; people; hear
courteous; skilled; manners
Listen; here; hear
Uther; earth; owned; (see note)
entirely; where the
Grasse; (see note)
Auvergne; earldoms; (see note)
Germany; Austria; many others
directed; dread; (see note)
countries where; bear
realms; ruled; people
Great Britain; pleases
Moves; South Wales; swift
Christmas; (see note)
high nobles; realms; (see note)
go when it pleases him
each; should remain; leave
splendor; rare foods
those; (see note)
New Year's; exactly
company following; alone
Salutes; subject; seal
first hour; on; (see note)
are; it pleases them
sea; (see note)
father; fealty; records
Turned pale; features
fear; fated to die
Crouched like hounds
got up (on his knees)
by nature courteous
Since; power; beseech
most marvelous; earth
craven; you seem
spoke so freely
high noblemen; theologians
most powerful men
Do according to
royalty; most powerful
arrange those; requires
Then suitably in hall
most royal; reigned
Then; plumage concealed
pies; Turkey; pleases; (see note)
Beef pies readily
young hawks; bread
breasts; pigs; be seen
Then; stews various
Rabbits; milk and spices
Pheasants adorned; flaming
Alsatian and Spanish wines; many others
White wine; full-bodied
vessels; to try
cups in a set
Skillfully made; carved
each part adorned
Cheered; royal speech
is no; nor
pleased; excellent foods
bounteous feast; washed
same famous; many knights
Guinevere; leads; (see note)
the other; (see note)
Malmsey and Muscatel
To; in turn
lead; desired place; leave
Tower; goes; (see note)
dragged; believe; unless
lessened; praise; esteemed
spout off; heart
consider; truce; matters
could not speak
Each one heir
head men; hundreds; once
Then; (see note)
suffered harm from them
reason; bereft us of
image of Veronica; (see note)
villainy; avenged at once
ages; (see note)
At my expense; travel
beseeches; (see note)
image of Veronica; retreat
ready; the first
fear the blows; grim
avenge; injury to
Tuscany; some of
bring at my expense
Isle of Wight; (see note)
eagerly asks; (see note)
if we knew; would
would prepare us
first day of June
image of Veronica
Go; Milan; undermine
If; man; eyes
snatch; cut it asunder
foemen to go where
praise; (see note)
the day's fight; noble
giants, Genoese; (see note)
fates to avenge
image of Veronica
path; dead left
be without you
take account of
group (dance); earls
met; hall; dined quickly
royal king regales
January 6; (see note)
liege-man loyal; know
August 1; freely
delight; many lords
Lombardy; leave; neither
No kind of man; keeps
securely besiege; all sides
as a maximum time
travel; else; (see note)
laid on you
edge of the sea
eighth; nine a.m.
man, ransom you alone
Again; go; a message
singly; (see note)
fame is impaired
said; safe conduct
From; coast; ship
entrusted; (see note)
By (the time)
sea; curfew; (see note)
Weary; pale sea
first high tide; to
They go; grievous; (see note)
pleasant to be seen
Sunday; Sutri; rest
spur; palace; gates
Where; many lords
Bows; properly; offers
eager; ardently asks
orders the realm
royalty; (see note)
man; (see note)
tell you; enemy
message; made knowen
nine in all
called in his expenditures
wealth; except for
Ten in all
at the earliest time
year, if; health remains
lead a host; Germany
Try; fetch; man
narrow places; destroy
Cappadocia (in Turkey)
land of the Amazons
Cairo; Bagdad; stately
Men of Bayonne; (see note)
Each; openly prepared
Gadara; gather; once
sultans; trusty mercenaries
royal (ones); alone
Apulia; Prussia; hasten; (see note)
sultans; Saracens; various
horses; bear; wild
camels covered with towers
await; completely; (see note)
aboard (ships); men
kin; sister's son
lieutenant; enough authority
loyal liege-men; possess
famous; completely equipped
she; fair knights
do justice to; do
mendicants; those in misery
come home; allow
beseech; related by blood
cunning in warfare
be little regarded
nephew; near; nursling
blood relationship to
If; know; means
then; worthy man
destiny; suffer; alone
depart (turn aside from)
kindly; entrusts (them)
as if she would die; (see note)
Spurs from; palace
drawn up suitably
the soldiers from each country
horses aboard; stately
Cabins; sacks of clothes
hold back; longer
Men; bow coil
small ships; merchantmen
starboard sternly; sang
go; bounding waves
Wholly; haul; boats
i.e., with a compass
decorated; (see note)
danced about; grimaced
prepares himself; wild
bellowed; roared; rocked
finally came against him
blows; afar; sky
reaches to (gives); claws
wearied; serpent; stoutness
wakens; wearily exhausted
most subtle; (see note)
most learned of scholars
Harassed; dire beast
guide me; (see note)
tongues; (see note)
else; day's fight
By the time; reared
quickly; told; (see note)
Genoa; by fiends
devoured; more; hundred
family; left; (see note)
most noble jewel; by
righteous; have pity
show; keen one
promontory; (see note)
horses; brush; calm
wardrobe; threw; clothes
padded jacket; gold trim
Upon that, a leather jacket
coat of mail
gipon; shreds; (see note)
clear (shining); set
Devoid of defects
seed pearls; jewels
went to; ground waits
trees reach over; stately
bushes; rose bushes; amuse
falcons; pheasants; wondrous
sang; cuckoo; groves
all sorts of gladness
gets to; ravines
quarter to; (see note)
learn; warlock; dwells
Newly dug in the earth
warlock know; attacks
Cursed be; man; stole
Expect; destroy; sword
fiercer; (see note)
fated to die; grieves
fifty such (as you)
buried; buried; ground
ground; knew not; meant
raped; defiled; left dead
sorrow; the helpless
go; promontory; endeavor
Go to Alliterative Morte Arthure, Part II