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Stanzaic Morte Arthur, Part 3


1 From which his armor was nobly (gentylly) fashioned (shore)

2 He does not keep to the high (main) road

3 And since he wants no one to know it

4 At that time it was the custom that, / When young knights were to show their shields for the first time, / They should bear arms all of one color (without any heraldic device) / Until the first year had passed

5 She was most often seen weeping, / So firmly was her heart set

6 He knew well by other signs in addition to her weeping

7 Do not make yourself sick for my sake

8 When they came alone by themselves (those two alone)

9 And then he told them about his amusements

10 Never a greater wonder did it seem to me

11 Even if by doing so he could have won the whole world

12 Sir, would it be your desire not to conceal it

13 That "My (wound) will be seen forevermore!"

14 And tell her not to long sorely for me

15 If only my husband knew this quickly!

16 That I ever had life in this nation (was ever born)!

17 Until I am clasped in cold clay (dead and buried)

18 May she never be so dear to you / That you give up performing deeds of arms; / Since I must remain alone in sorrow, / I would at least like to hear of your deeds of prowess

19 To amuse himself [he went] into the forest, / Which was in flower and had wide branches overhead

20 Adventures will begin very soon

21 I would like to know about her family lineage

22 I would very much like to know the cause

23 Then they wanted to know what it said

24 Though they searched out all the nobleness in the world

25 When I said that he belonged / To a lady or to some other maid

26 That he would not waste his love / In so low a place (a mere maiden) / But would rather love some noble and gay lady

27 He did not want her, as we can well see, / And therefore, that maiden, as white as a swan, is dead

28 I believe he never wronged you so much / That you ought so unjustly / To lie about him so churlishly

29 And, sir, you do not know right wisely (realize) / What harm has and could yet come from what you said

30 Madame, how can you come to us / When you yourself know so well

31 May You save and care for Launcelot

32 There is not one who would have refused this battle / Before her behavior became criminal

33 That he might grant him (Bors) success, / Give him the grace to win the battle

34 You who accuse her of treason, / Quickly see that you are ready to fight

35 Neither would flee nor advance one foot

36 One among all the squires there admitted

37 Of all the nights that you have gone to her, / None ever bothered me in any way / Or made my heart so sick / As this one does tonight

38 He had absolutely no fear of treason (betrayal); / He supposed there was no man on earth / Who would dare attempt to do him harm

39 I know that this news will be widely told

40 Can it be that Gahariet is dead and away from me?

41 Nothing but good ails Gahariet (he is all right)

42 prove [the accusation] false

43 Even if he could not prove it, he would slay some of my men

44 Unless no steel (sword) will go in him

45 Although their great sorrow was for the knight that was dead and away from them

46 Let not my lord (Arthur) be in the field of battle / And see that you yourself do not fight with me

47 And yet he rode about as fast as he could / To see that no man should be slain

48 He would place the land under interdict

49 Until one has sought (with a sword) the other's heart

50 [To see] on the field [of battle] who should have the prize

51 Nay, you may never expect reconciliation

52 Where the men were most eager to stay

53 And knelt and kissed Launcelot's foot and hand / And acknowledged him to be their lord, / And (promised) to obey his decrees / And to heed his laws

54 Arthur would not submit for lack of courage

55 With knobs on the tent poles bright as golden rings

56 Like a knight who was wise in his armor

57 She was very eager to succeed by (means of) her speech

58 That we shall turn aside for no obstacle

59 Each one arranged himself correctly (for battle)

60 But he had no sooner realized that attack, / Than out all his knights rushed

61 Gawain protected himself as he well knows how

62 He lacked not a bit of equipment; / He lacked no garment (armor) for war

63 Until one of them was dead or had surrendered

64 And yet, if you would come near me

65 Because of love (for you) and because you are the king's kinsman

66 Hardly any life remained in him

67 Launcelot proved he knew about war

68 So that she and her maidens could be clad [in new clothes for the wedding]

69 You can be sure it will be paid for

70 Do you expect to forbid me my desire?

71 Therefore he will not stop his evil deeds

72 Which he liked best to dwell in

73 But by the time that perilous battle was ended

74 And stirred the blood and bones of knights

75 Driven through with bright swords

76 They made a mound over each body, / So that all that ever walk or ride by / Might know some of them by their markers (on the mounds)

77 He went ever forth by the south side (of England)

78 And each (of the fiends) caught him by a limb

79 Like a troubled man with a disturbed mind

80 I have been beset by strong (painful) dreams

81 And try to set another day (for the battle), / Or truly this day I must be put to shame

82 By the time all (blows) are dealt on this down

83 And certainly, if we fail to keep our promises, / Let Arthur leap upon a steed

84 Let broad banners be brought forth (as a signal to attack)

85 But they lowered their spears; rushed

86 And fiercely they began to test each other

87 They robbed them of Byzantine coins, brooches, and rings

88 And, you can be sure, it must be paid for

89 You have been too long away from medical attention

90 Whatever may happen to us in this land (as we go) / To hear what lord has lost his life, / See that you do not rush to ride out (to help us)

91 Like one who did not know good from evil (in a daze)

92 Our desire (passion) has been too painfully bought and paid for

93 We must be determined to abstain / From what we once delighted in

94 He who saw that sorrow could tell of it forever

95 knew not evil from (i.e., in a daze)

96 Once I pledged my word to that; / Alas, I repent that I did so!

97 And cleansed himself of his sins by confession

98 Because they were all in a religious ecstasy, / They neither knew him nor did he know them

99 When they closely embrace that fair one (Ector, Bors' brother)

100 He wanted very much to know who this corpse was

101 But decided to dwell with them all and lead his life there


In the textual notes, corrections and emendations made by J. D. Bruce (see Bibliography) are accepted without comment. Additional changes made by Larry D. Benson in the edition on which this volume is based (see Preface to the Revised Edition) are indicated: Be.
Explanatory notes are Benson's, either verbatim or with minor changes to fit the format of this revision. Additional explanatory material is cited as follows:

F: Edward E. Foster, editor of this revision
M: Charles and Ruth Moorman, An Arthurian Dictionary. Oxford, Mississippi: University of Mississippi Press, 1978.
OED: Oxford English Dictionary

1 Lordinges: a familiar form of address for the audience at the beginning of romances. See, e.g., Havelok and the Pardoner's address to the other pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales. It implies nothing about the social status of the audience. (F)

152 The convention noted in lines 147-152 was not the case in actual life.

284 brown: the word is used in the sense of "shining, gleaming, or burnished" only with regard to swords or steel. (F)

309 MS hitte: hit him. (Be)

hood: "The part of a suit of armor that covers the head; applied to the helmet itself, or to a flexible head-covering inside the helmet" (OED).

361 The stanza beginning at 361 has only seven lines as does the stanza beginning at 1483; the stanza beginning at 3678 has only four lines; the stanzas beginning at 1176, 1318, 1490, 1920, 2318, 2716, 3130, and 3416 have only six lines. Nothing seems lost to the sense by these omissions or variations, although the six line stanzas beginning at 1176 and 1318 are at the beginning and end of the long gap in the MS.

457 The boards are set on trestles to form tables. Permanently assembled tables were still rare at this time.

603 Launcelotes sheld du Lake: Launcelot du Lake's shield. The inflectional ending is placed on the primary noun rather than on the last word of the noun phrase. The construction was disappearing in the fourteenth century but can be observed in Chaucer's "Wyves Tale of Bath" ("Wife of Bath's Tale"). (F)

764 Cross and Rood. The redundancy perhaps implies urgency. Benson notes, however, that the expression Cross on (or and) Rood is frequently used in this poem; the word cross is probably a metathesis of cors - body, as in line 2880, where Cors on Rood does appear.

840 No reason is provided as to why the squire wishes to poison Gawain and, within the narrative conventions of romance, none is needed: our interest is in what the effects will be for Guinevere. (F)

916 Guinevere has two choices: to be "defended" in combat or be tried by a group of the knights. She knows that if the latter occurs she is doomed.

1105 ender (Be). MS: [yogh]ender.

1350 Cross on Rood. See note to line 764.

1377 aguilte (Be). MS: gilte.

1396 Identical to line 1380.

1414 A missing line is provided here by Furnivall's conjecture, accepted by Br and Be. (F)

1472 Sometimes blake has the meaning white and Be glosses it thus. I think, however, that it is more likely that Lancelot is dressed in black and the more ordinary meaning can stand. (F)

1617-18 Compare Priamus's words to Gawain in the Alliterative Morte Arthure, lines 2646-49.

1831 hauberk: "Originally intended for the defense of the neck and shoulders; but already in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries developed into a long coat of mail, or military tunic, usually of ring or chain mail, which adapted itself readily to the motions of the body" (OED).

1951 The smock is a loose, usually white, simple sleeveless dress over which the other garments were put; the counterpart of a modern slip, though it would usually show beneath the vest, sleeves, cloaks, and such that were put over it.

2025 Launcelot apparently thinks Gaheriet fought against him.

2052 Launcelot offers to take part in a judicial duel of the sort he previously fought to prove Guenevere's innocence of the charge of poisoning.

2253 A papal interdict would deny the sacraments of the Church to everyone in the country.

2305 Benwick is Bayonne (or Beune), a city in southwestern France. See Alliterative Morte Arthure, line 587. (F)

2345 Joyous Gard then they (Be). MS: Ioyus gard the they. Joyous Gard is Lancelot's castle (fortress) in Northern England. (F)

2361 The heathen nations are in the Orient, from which silk came.

2466 Caerleon, in South Wales on the River Usk near the Bristol Channel, was one of the chief Arthurian cities. See Alliterative Morte Arthure, note to line 61. (F)

2639 The phrase wise . . . under weed has little real meaning and conveys only the idea of a "good knight."

2837 Gawain is Arthur's nephew.

2934 oute. Br reads cute.

2954 That false traitour, applied here to Mordred, is a commonplace epithet for Satan, who led the rebellion against God. (F)

2955 Mordred was the product of an incestuous union between Arthur and his own sister. Though little is made of it in this poem, Arthur's fall is partly a consequence of his own sin.

2957 The motif of the false steward, who evilly abuses his stewardship, is a familiar literary and folk motif. (F)

2960 Thus Mordred intends to commit incest, made worse since Guenevere is also his father's wife. (Compare line 2987.)

3121 his (Be). MS: hye.

3160 The Feast of the Trinity is the first Sunday after Pentecost.

3179 Besaunt: a coin of Byzantine origin, sometimes used as ornamental jewelry. (F)

3357 fewtered: placed spears against the "fewter," the spear rest on the saddle, into which the spear would be placed when the knight prepared to attack.

3376 Brutus. MS: Britain. Be notes the error but does not emend (F). Brutus is the legendary hero who, according to Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain (Book I), conquered what is now England from a race of giants and founded the nation to which he gave his name.

3413 names seven. The number seven commonly signifies a totality. Thus the seven names implies all the names of Jesus. But traditions reaching far back into the rabbinical commentaries often, in fact, identify seven specific names for God. According to The Jewish Encyclopedia, "The number of divine names that require the scribe's special care is seven: El, Elohim, Adonai, YHWH, Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh, Shaddai, and Zeba'ot" (9, 163). The seven names of the Lord are also referred to in The Second Shepherd's Play (lines 190-91), where Mak says: "Now lord, for thy naymes sevyn, that made both moyn and starnes /Well mo then I can neuen thi will, lorde, of me tharnys [is unclear]." See also Brian P. Copenhaver, "Names of God," in A Dictionary of Biblical Traditions in English Literature, ed. David Lyle Jeffrey (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1992), pp. 535-37, who notes more than one hundred and fifty substitute names for God and, in the New Testament, more than forty names and titles for Jesus.

3504 Possibly Morgan le Fay, Arthur's half-sister. Although often antagonistic to Arthur and Guenevere, she often helps heal Arthurian knights and assists in transporting Arthur to Avalon. (M)

3507 leching. In the fourteenth century, leeching had no necessary connection with the therapeutic application of leeches. It means simply "medical care" from OE laece, to heal.

3569 Aumsbury: Almesbury (or Amesbury): a town in Wiltshire where Guenevere retreats to a convent after Arthur's death. (M, F)

3628 nun (Be). MS: man.

3709 black and white (Be). MS: whyte and blak.

3759 The "recent events" are Mordred's treachery and Arthur's death.

3815 ring a bell (Be). MS: a bell ring.

3862 received in this line refers to receiving the sacrament of the Eucharist, the body and blood of Christ, after having been forgiven (shriven) one's sins.

3896 fifth (Be). MS: fyfty.

Then it befell upon a tide,
   Sir Gawain, that was hende and free,
He made him redy for to ride,
   Before the gates of the citee;
Launcelot of tresoun he becried,
   That he had slain his brethern three;
That Launcelot might no lenger abide,
   But he ever a coward sholde be.
The lord that grete was of honour,
   Himself, Sir Launcelot du Lake,
Above the gates upon the towr,
   Comely to the king he spake:
"My lord, God save your honour!
   Me is wo now for your sake,
Against thy kin to stand in stour,
   But needes I moste this batail take."
Launcelot armed him full well,
   For sooth, had full grete need,
Helme, hauberk, and all of steel,
   And stiffly stert upon a steed;
His harnes lacked he never a dele; 62
   To warre wanted him no weed,
Ne wepen with all to dele;
   Forth he sprang as spark on glede,
Then it was warned fast on high,
   How in world that it sholde fare,
That no man sholde come them nigh, 63
   Til the tone dede or yolden were.
Folk withdrew them then by;
   Upon the feld, was brode and bare,
The knightes met, as men it sigh
   How they set their dintes sore.
Then had Sir Gawain such a grace -
   An holy man had bodden that boon -
When he were in any place
   There he sholde batail don,
His strength sholde wax in such a space,
   From the under-time til noon,
And Launcelot forbore for that case;
   Again twenty strokes he gave not one.
Launcelot saw there was no succour;
   Needes moste he his venture abide;
Many a dint he gan well endure
   Til it drew near the noone tide;
Then he straught in that stour
   And gave Gawain a wounde wide;
The blood all covered his colour
   And he fell down upon his side.
Thorough the helm into the hede
   Was hardy Gawain wounded so
That unnethe was him life leved;
   On foot might he no ferther go;
But wightly his sword about he waved,
   For ever he was both keen and thro.
Launcelot then him lyand leved;
   For all the world he nolde him slo.
Launcelot then him drew on dryghe,
   His sword in his hande drayn,
And Sir Gawain cried loud on high:
   "Traitour and coward, come again,
When I am hole and going on high;
   Then will I prove with might and main;
And yet a thou woldest nighe me nigh, 64
   Thou shalt well wite I am not slain!"
"Gawain, while thou mightest stiffly stand,
   Many a stroke today of thee I stood,
And I forbore thee in every land,
   For love and for the kinges blood; 65
When thou art hole in herte and hand,
   I rede thee turn and change thy mood;
While I am Launcelot and man livand,
   God shelde me from workes wode!"
"But have good day, my lord the king,
   And your doughty knightes all;
Wendeth home and leve your warring;
   Ye win no worship at this wall;
And I wolde my knightes oute bring,
   I wot full sore rew it ye shall;
My lord, therefore think on such thing,
   How fele folk therefore might fall."
Launcelot, that was much of main,
   Boldly to his citee went;
His goode knightes there-of were fain
   And hendely him in armes hent.
The tother party tho took Sir Gawain;
   They wesh his woundes in his tent;
Ere ever he covered might or main, 66
   Unnethe was him the life lente.
A fourtenight, the sooth to say,
   Full passing seke and unsound
There Sir Gawain on leching lay
   Ere he were hole all of his wound.
Then it befell upon a day,
   He made him redy for to wonde;
Before the gate he took the way,
   And asked batail in that stound:
"Come forth, Launcelot, and prove thy main,
   Thou traitour that hast tresoun wrought;
My three brethern thou hast slain
   And falsely them to grounde brought;
While me lasteth might or main,
   This quarrel leve will I nought,
Ne pees shall there never be seen,
   Ere thy sides be thorough sought."
Then Launcelot thought it nothing good,
   And for these wordes he was full wo;
Above the gates then he yode,
   And to the king he saide so:
"Sir, me rewes in my mood
   That Gawain is in herte so thro;
Who may me wite, for Cors on Rood,
   Though I him in batail slo?"
Launcelot busked and made him boun;
   He will boldly the batail abide,
With helme, sheld, and hauberk brown,
   None better in all this worlde wide,
With spere in hand and gonfanoun,
   His noble sworde by his side;
Out he rode a grete randoun,
   When he was redy for to ride.
Gawain grippes a full good spere,
   And in he glides glad and gay;
Launcelot kydde he coude of war, 67
   And even to him he takes the way;
So stoutly they gan togeder bere
   That marvel it was, sooth to say;
With dintes sore gan they dere,
   And deepe woundes delten they.
When it was nighed ner-hand noon
   Gawaines strength gan to increse;
So bitterly he hewed him upon,
   That Launcelot all for-wery was;
Then to his sword he grippes anon,
   And sithe that Gawain will not sese,
Such a dint he gave him one,
   That many a riche rewed that rese.
Launcelot stert forth in that stound,
   And sithe that Gawain will not sese,
The helm, that was rich and round,
   The noble sword rove that rese;
He hit him upon the olde wound
   That over the saddle down he went,
And grisly groned upon the ground,
   And there was good Gawain shent.
Yet Gawain, swooning there as he lay,
   Gripped to him both sword and sheld;
"Launcelot," he said, "soothly to say,
   And by Him that all this world shall weld,
While me lasteth life today,
   To thee me shall I never yeld;
But do the worst that ever thou may,
   I shall defend me in the feld."
Launcelot then full stille stood,
   As man that was much of might:
"Gawain, me rewes in my mood
   Men hold thee so noble a knight.
Weenestou I were so wode
   Against a feeble man to fight?
I will not now, by Cross on Rood,
   Nor never yet did by day or night.
"But have good day, my lord the king,
   And all your doughty knightes bydene;
Wendeth home and leve your warring,
   For here ye shall no worship win.
Yif I wolde my knightes oute bring,   
   I hope full soon it sholde be seen;
But, good lord, think upon a thing,
   The love that hath us be between."
After was it monthes two,
   As freely folk it understand,
Ere ever Gawain might ride or go,
   Or had foot upon erthe to stand.
The thirde time he was full thro
   To do batail with herte and hand;
But then was word comen them to
   That they moste home to Yngland.
Such message was them brought,
   There was no man that thought it good.
The king himself full soon it thought -
   Full muche morned he in his mood
That such tresoun in Yngland sholde be wrought -
   That he moste needes over the flood.
They broke sege and homeward sought;
   And after they had much angry mood.
That false traitour, Sir Mordred,   
   The kinges soster son he was   
And eek his own son, as I rede
   (Therefore men him for steward chese),
So falsely hath he Yngland led,
   Wite you well, withouten lees,
His emes wife wolde he wed,   
   That many a man rewed that rese.
Festes made he many and fele,
   And grete giftes he gave also;
They said with him was joy and wele,
   And in Arthurs time but sorrow and wo;
And thus gan right to wronge go;
   All the counsel, is not to hele,
Thus it was, withouten mo,
   To hold with Mordred in land with wele.
False lettres he made be wrought,
   And caused messengeres them to bring,
That Arthur was to grounde brought
   And chese they moste another king.
All they said as them thought:
   "Arthur loved nought but warring
And such thing as himselfe sought;
   Right so he took his ending."
Mordred let cry a parlement;
   The peple gan thider to come,
And holly through their assent
   They made Mordred king with crown.
At Canterbury, fer in Kent,
   A fourtenight held the feste in town,
And after that to Winchester he went;
   A riche bride-ale he let make boun.
In sommer, when it was fair and bright,
   His faders wife then wolde he wed
And her hold with main and might,
   And so her bring as bride to bed.
She prayd him of leve a fourtenight -
   The lady was full hard bestedde -
So to London she her dight,
   That she and her maidens might be cledde. 68
The queen, white as lily flowr,
   With knightes fele of her kin,
She went to London to the towr
   And sperred the gates and dwelled therein.
Mordred changed all his colour;
   Thider he went and wolde not blinne;
There-to he made many a showr,
   But the walles might he never win.
The Archebishop of Canterbury thider yode
   And his cross before him brought;
He said: "Sir, for Crist on Rood,
   What have ye now in all your thought?
Thy faders wife, whether thou be wode,
   To wed her now mayst thou nought.
Come Arthur ever over the flood,
   Thou mayst be bold, it will be bought!" 69
"A, nice clerk," then Mordred said,
   "Trowest thou to warn me of my will? 70
By Him that for us suffred pain,
   These wordes shalt thou like full ill!
With wilde horse thou shalt be drayn
   And hanged high upon a hill!"
The bishop to flee then was fain,
   An suffred him his follies to fulfill.
Then he him cursed with book and bell
   At Canterbury, fer in Kent.
Soon, when Mordred herde thereof tell,
   To seech the bishop hath he sent;
The bishop durst no lenger dwell,
   But gold and silver he hath hent;
There was no lenger for to spell,
   But to a wildernesse he is went.
The worldes wele there he will forsake;
   Of joy keepeth he never more,
But a chapel he lette make
   Between two highe holtes hore;
Therein wered he the clothes black,
   In wood as he an ermite were;
Often gan he weep and wake
   For Yngland that had such sorrows sore.
Mordred had then lien full long,
   But the towr might he never win,
With strengthe ne with stoure strong
   Ne with none other kinnes gin;
His fader dredde he ever among;
   Therefore his bale he nill not blinne; 71
He wend to warn them all with wrong
   The kingdom that he was crowned in.
Forth to Dover gan he ride,
   All the costes well he kend;
To erles and to barons on ilk a side
   Grete giftes he gave and lettres sent
And forset the se on ilk a side
   With bolde men and bowes bent;
Fro Yngland, that is brode and wide,
   His owne fader he wolde defend.
Arthur, that was mikel of might,
   With his folk come over the flood,
An hundreth galleys that were well dight
   With barons bold and high of blood;
He wend to have landed, as it was right,
   At Dover, there him thought full good,
And there he fand many an hardy knight
   That stiff in stour again him stood.
Arthur soon hath take the land
   That him was levest in to lende; 72
His fele fomen that he there fand
   He wend before had been his frend;
The king was wroth and well-nigh wode,
   And with his men he gan up wend;
So strong a stour was upon that strand
   That many a man there had his end.
Sir Gawain armed him in that stound;
   Alas! Too long his hede was bare;
He was seke and sore unsound;
   His woundes greved him full sore.
One hit him upon the olde wound
   With a tronchon of an ore;
There is good Gawain gone to ground,
   That speche spake he never more.
Bolde men, with bowes bent,
   Boldly up in botes yode,
And rich hauberkes they rive and rent
   That through-out brast the redde blood.
Grounden glaives through them went;
   Tho games thought them nothing good;
But by that the stronge stour was stent, 73
   The stronge stremes ran all on blood.
Arthur was so much of might
   Was there none that him withstood;
He hewed on their helmes bright
   That through their brestes ran the blood.
By then ended was the fight;
   The false were felld and some were fled
To Canterbury all that night
   To warn their master, Sir Mordred.
Mordred then made him boun,
   And boldly he will batail abide
With helme, sheld, and hauberk brown;
   So all his rout gan forthe ride;
They them met upon Barendown,
   Full erly in the morrow tide;
With glaives grete and gonfanoun,
   Grimly they gonne togeder ride.
Arthur was of rich array
   And hornes blewe loud on hight,
And Mordred cometh glad and gay,
   As traitour that was false in fight.
They fought all that longe day
   Til the night was nighed nigh;
Who had it seen well might say
   That such a stour never he sigh.
Arthur then fought with herte good;
   A nobler knight was never none.
Through helmes into hede it yode
   And sterred knightes both blood and bone. 74
Mordred for wrath was nighe wode,
   Called his folk and said to them one:
"Releve you, for Cross on Rood!
   Alas! This day so soon is gone!"
Fele men lieth on bankes bare,
   With brighte brandes through-oute borne; 75
Many a doughty dede was there,
   And many a lord his life hath lorne.
Mordred was full of sorrow and care;
   At Canterbury was he upon the morn;
And Arthur all night he dwelled there;
   His freely folk lay him beforn.   
Erly on the morrow tide
   Arthur bade his hornes blow,
And called folk on every side,
   And many a dede buried on a row,
In pittes that was deep and wide;
   On ich an hepe they laid them low, 76
So all that ever gon and ride
   Some by their markes men might know.
Arthur went to his dinner then,
   His freely folk him followed fast,
But when he fand Sir Gawain
   In a ship lay dede by a mast,
Ere ever he covered might or main,
   An hundreth times his herte nigh brast.
They laid Sir Gawain upon a bere,
   And to a castle they him bore,
And in a chapel amid the quere
   That bold baron they buried there.
Arthur then changed all his cheer;
   What wonder though his herte was sore!
His soster son, that was him dere,
   Of him sholde he here never more.
Sir Arthur he wolde no lenger abide;
   Then had he all manner of ivil rest;
He sought ay forth the southe side, 77
   And toward Wales went he west.
At Salisbury he thought to bide,
   At that time he thought was best,
And call to him at Whitsuntide
   Barons bold to battail prest.
Unto him came many a doughty knight,
   For wide in world these wordes sprong,
That Sir Arthur had all the right,
   And Mordred warred on him with wrong.
Hidous it was to see with sight;
   Arthures host was brode and long,
And Mordred, that mikel was of might,
   With grete giftes made him strong.
Soon after the feste of the Trinitee,   
   Was a batail between them set,
That a stern batail there sholde be;
   For no lede wolde they it let;
And Sir Arthur maketh game and glee,
   For mirth that they sholde be met;
And Sir Mordred came to the countree
   With fele folk that fer was fette.
At night when Arthur was brought in bed
   (He sholde have batail upon the morrow),
In stronge swevenes he was bestedde,
   That many a man that day sholde have sorrow,
Him thought he sat in gold all cledde,
   As he was comely king with crown,
Upon a wheel that full wide spredde,
   And all his knightes to him boun.
The wheel was ferly rich and round;
   In world was never none half so high;
Thereon he sat richly crowned,
   With may a besaunt, brooch, and bee;   
He looked down upon the ground;
   A black water there under him he see,
With dragons fele there lay unbound,
   That no man durst them nighe nigh.
He was wonder ferde to fall
   Among the fendes there that fought.
The wheel over-turned there with-all
   And everich by a limm him caught. 78
The king gan loude cry and call,
   As marred man of wit unsaught; 79
His chamberlains waked him there with-all,
   And wodely out of his sleep he raught.
All nighte gan he wake and weep,
   With drery herte and sorrowful steven,
And against the day he fell on sleep.
   About him was set tapers seven.
Him thought Sir Gawain him did keep,
   With mo folk than men can neven,
By a river that was brode and deep;
   All seemed angeles come from heven.
The king was never yet so fain,
   His soster son when that he sigh:
"Welcome," he said, "Sir Gawain,
   And thou might live, well were me.
Now, leve frend, withouten laine,
   What are tho folk that follow thee?"
"Certes, sir," he said again,
   "They bide in bliss there I mot be.
"Lordes they were, and ladies hende
   This worldes life that han forlorn;
While I was man on life to lende,
   Against their fon I fought them forn;
Now find I them my moste frend;
   They bless the time that I was born;
They asked leve with me to wend,
   To meet with you upon this morn.
"A monthe-day of trewes moste ye take
   And then to batail be ye bain;
You cometh to help Launcelot du Lake,
   With many a man mikel of main;
To-morn the batail ye moste forsake,
   Or elles, certes, ye shall be slain."
The king gan woefully weep and wake,
   And said, "Alas, this rewful regne!"
Hastely his clothes on him he did,
   And to his lordes gan he sayn:
"In stronge swevenes I have been stedde, 80
   That glad I may not for no games gay.
We moste unto Sir Mordred send
   And fonde to take another day, 81
Or trewly this day I mon be shend;
   This know I in bed as I lay."
"Go thou, Sir Lucan de Botteler,
   That wise wordes hast in wold,
And look that thou take with thee here
   Bishoppes fele and barons bold;
Forth they went all in a fere,
   In trewe bookes as it is told,
To Sir Mordred and his lordes, there they were,
   And an hundreth knightes all untold.
The knightes that were of grete valour,
   Before Sir Mordred as they stood,
They greeten him with grete honour,
   As barons bold and high of blood:
"Right well thee greetes King Arthur,
   And prayeth thee with milde mood,
A monthe-day to stint this stour,
   For His love that died on Rood."
Mordred, that was both keen and bold,
   Made him breme as any bore at bay,
And swore by Judas that Jesus sold:
   "Such sawes are not now to say;
That he hath hight he shall it hold;
   The tone of us shall die this day;
And tell him trewly that I told:
   I shall him mar, yif that I may."
"Sir," they said, "withouten lees,
   Though thou and he to batail boun, 82
Many a rich shall rew that rese,
   By all be delt upon this down,
Yet were it better for to sese,
   And let him be king and bere the crown,
And after his dayes, full dredeless,
   Ye to welde all Yngland, towr and town."
Mordred tho stood still a while,
   And wrothly up his eyen there went,
And said: "Wiste I it were his will
   To give me Cornwall and Kent!
Let us meet upon yonder hill
   And talk togeder with good entent;
Such forwardes to fulfill
   There-to shall I me soon assent.
"And yif we may with speches speed,
   With trewe trouthes of entail,
Hold the bode-word that we bede,
   To give me Kent and Cornwall,
Trewe love shall there leng and lende,
   And certes, forwardes yif we fail, 83
Arthur to stert upon a steed
   Stiffly for to do batail."
"Sir, will ye come in such manner,
   With twelve knightes or fourteen,
Or elles all your strength in fere,
   With helmes bright and hauberkes sheen?"
"Certes, nay," then said he there,
   "Other work thou thar not ween,
But both our hostes shall nighe ner,
   And we shall talke them between."
They took their leve, withouten lees,
   And wightly upon their way they went;
To King Arthur the way they chese,
   There that he sat, within his tent:
"Sir, we have proffered pees,
   Yif ye will there-to assent;
Give him your crown after your dayes
   And in your life Cornwall and Kent.
"To his behest yif ye will hold
   And your trouth trewly there-to plight,
Maketh all redy your men bold,
   With helme, sword, and hauberk bright;
Ye shall meet upon yon molde,
   That either host may see with sight,
And yif your forward fail to hold,
   There is no boot but for to fight."
But when Arthur herde this neven,
   Trewly there-to he hath sworn,
And arrayed him with batailes seven,
   With brode banners before him borne;
They lemed bright as any leven
   When they sholde meet upon the morn.
There lives no man under heven
   A fairer sight hath seen beforn.
But Mordred many men had mo;
   So Mordred, that was mikel of main,
He had ever twelve against him two,
   Of barons bold to batail bain.
Arthur and Mordred - both were thro -
   Sholde meete both upon a plain;
The wise sholde come to and fro,
   To make accord, the sooth to sayn.
Arthur in his herte hath cast,
   And to his lordes gan he say:
"To yonder traitour have I no trust,
   But that he will us falsely betray;
Yif we may not our forwardes faste,
   And ye see any wepen drayn,
Presseth forth as princes preste,
   That he and all his host be slain.
Mordred, that was keen and thro,
   His freely folk he said toforn:
"I wot that Arthur is full wo
   That he hath thus his landes lorn;
With fourteen knightes and no mo
   Shall we meet at yonder thorn;
Yif any tresoun between us go,
   That brode banners forth be borne." 84
Arthur with knightes fully fourteen
   To that thorn on foot they founde,
With helme, sheld, and hauberk sheen;
   Right so they trotted upon the ground.
But as they accorded sholde have been,
   An adder glode forth upon the ground;
He stang a knight, that men might sen
   That he was seke and full unsound.
Out he brayed with sworde bright;
   To kill the adder had he thought.
When Arthur party saw that sight,
   Freely they togeder sought;
There was no thing withstand them might;
   They wend that tresoun had been wrought;
That day died many a doughty knight,
   And many a bold man was brought to nought.
Arthur stert upon his steed;
   He saw no thing him withstand might;
Mordred out of wit ner yede,
   And wrothly into his saddle he light;
Of accord was nothing to bede,
   But fewtered speres and togeder sprent; 85
Full many a doughty man of deed
   Soon there was laid upon the bente.
Mordred ymarred many a man,
   And boldly he gan his batail abide;
So sternly out his steede ran,
   Many a rout he gan through ride.
Arthur of batail never blanne
   To dele woundes wicke and wide,
For the morrow that it began
   Til it was ner the nightes tide.
There was many a spere sprent,
   And many a thro word they spake;
Many a brand was bowed and bent,
   And many a knightes helm they brake;
Riche helmes they rove and rente;
   The riche routes gan togeder raike,
An hundreth thousand upon the bente;
   The boldes ere even was made right meek.
Sithe Brutus out of Troy was sought   
   And made in Britain his owne wonne,
Such wonders never ere was wrought,
   Never yet under the sun.
By even leved was there nought
   That ever sterred with blood or bone,
But Arthur and two that he thider brought,
   And Mordred was leved alone.
The tone was Lucan de Botteler,
   That bled at many a baleful wound,
And his broder, Sir Bedivere,
   Was sely seke and sore unsound.
Than spake Arthur these wordes there:
   "Shall we not bring this thef to ground?"
A spere he gripped with felle cheer,
   And felly they gan togeder founde. 86
He hit Mordred amid the breste
   And out at the backe bone him bore;
There hath Mordred his life lost,
   That speche spake he never more;
Then keenly up his arm he cast
   And gave Arthur a wounde sore,
Into the hede through the helm and crest,
   That three times he swooned there.
Sir Lucan and Sir Bedivere
   Between them two the king upheld;
So forthe went tho three in fere,
   And all were slain that lay in feld.
The doughty king that was them dere
   For sore might not himselfe weld;
To a chapel they went in fere;
   Of boot they saw no better beld.
All night they in the chapel lay,
   By the se side, as I you neven,
To Mary mercy cryand aye,
   With drery herte and sorrowful steven,
And to her leve Son gonne they pray:
   "Jesu, for thy names seven,   
Wisse his soul the righte way,
   That he lese not the bliss of Heven."
As Sir Lucan de Botteler stood,
   He sigh folk upon plaines hie;
Bolde barons of bone and blood
   They reft them of besaunt, brooch, and bee; 87
And to the king again they yode
   Him to warn with wordes slee.
To the king spake he full still,
   Rewfully as he might then roun:
"Sir, I have been at yon hill,
   There fele folk drawen to the down;
I not whether they will us good or ill;
   I rede we busk and make us boun,
Yif it were your worthy will
   That we wende to some town."
"Now, Sir Lucan, as thou redde,
   Lift me up, while I may last."
Both his armes on him he spredde,
   With all his strength to hold him fast.
The king was wounded and forbledde,
   And swooning on him his eyen he cast;
Sir Lucan was hard bestedde;
   He held the king to his own herte brast.
When the king had swooned there,
   By an auter up he stood;
Sir Lucan, that was him dere,
   Lay dede and fomed in the blood.
His bolde broder, Sir Bedivere,
   Full mikel morned in his mood;
For sorrow he might not nighe him ner,
   But ever weeped as he were wode.
The king turned him there he stood,
   To Sir Bedivere with wordes keen:
"Have Excaliber, my sworde good,
   A better brand was never seen;
Go cast it in the salte flood,
   And thou shalt see wonder, as I ween;
Hie thee fast, for Cross on Rood,
   And tell me what thou hast there seen."
The knight was bothe hende and free;
   To save that sword he was full glad,
And thought: "Whether I better be,
   Yif never man it after had?
And I it cast into the se,
   Of molde was never man so mad."
The sword he hid under a tree,
   And said: "Sir, I did as ye me bade."
"What saw thou there?" then said the king,
   "Tell me now, yif thou can."
"Certes, sir," he said, "nothing
   But watres deep and wawes wan."
"A, now thou hast broke my bidding!
   Why hast thou do so, thou false man?
Another bode thou must me bring."
   Then carefully the knight forth ran,
And thought the sword yet he wolde hide
   And cast the scauberk in the flood:
"Yif any aventures shall betide,
   Thereby shall I see tokenes good."
Into the se he let the scauberk glide;
   A while on the land he there stood;
Then to the king he went that tide
   And said: "Sir, it is done, by the Rood."
"Saw thou any wondres more?"
   "Certes, sir, I saw nought."
"A, false traitour!" he said there,
   "Twice thou hast me tresoun wrought;
That shall thou rewe sely sore,
   And, be thou bold, it shall be bought." 88
The knight then cried, "Lord, thine ore!"
   And to the sworde soon he sought.
Sir Bedivere saw that boot was best,
   And to the goode sword he went;
Into the se he it cast;
   Then might he see what that it ment.
There came an hand withouten rest,
   Out of the water, and fair it hent,
And braundished as it sholde brast,
   And sithe, as glem, away it glent.
To the king again went he there
   And said: "Leve sir, I saw an hand;
Out of the water it came all bare
   And thrice braundished that riche brand."
"Help me, soon that I were there."
   He led his lord unto that strand;
A riche ship, with mast and ore,
   Full of ladies there they fand.
The ladies, that were fair and free,
   Courtaisly the king gan they fonge;
And one that brightest was of blee   
   Weeped sore and handes wrang.
"Broder," she said, "wo is me!
   Fro leching hastou be too long; 89
I wot, that gretly greveth me,
   For thy paines are full strong."
The knight cast a rewful roun,
   There he stood, sore and unsound,
And said: "Lord, whider are ye boun?
   Allas! Whider will ye fro me found?"
The king spake with sorry soun:
   "I will wend a little stound
Into the vale of Aveloun,
   A while to hele me of my wound."
When the ship from the land was brought,
   Sir Bedivere saw of them no more.
Through the forest forth he sought
   On hilles and holtes hore.
Of his life rought he right nought;
   All night he went weeping sore;
Against the day he fand there wrought
   A chapel between two holtes hore.
To the chapel he took the way,
   There he might see a wonder sight;
Then saw he where an ermite lay,
   Before a tomb that was new dight,
And covered it was with marble gray,
   And with riche lettres rayled aright;
There-on an herse, soothly to say,
   With a hundreth tapers light.
Unto the ermite went he there
   And asked who was buried there.
The ermite answerd swithe yare:
   "Thereof can I tell no more;
About midnight were ladies here,
   In world ne wiste I what they were;
This body they brought upon a bere
   And buried it with woundes sore.
"Besauntes offred they here bright,
   I hope an hundreth pound and more,
And bade me pray both day and night
   For him that is buried in these moldes hore
Unto our Lady both day and night
   That she his soul help sholde."
The knight redde the lettres aright;
   For sorrow he fell unto the folde.
"Ermite," he said, "without leesing,
   Here lieth my lord that I have lorn,
Bold Arthur, the beste king
   That ever was in Britain born.
Give me some of thy clothing,
   For Him that bore the crown of thorn,
And leve that I may with thee lenge,
   While I may live, and pray him forn."
The holy ermite wolde not wonde;
   Some time Archebishop he was,
That Mordred flemed out of land,
   And in the wood his wonning chese;
He thanked Jesu all of his sound
   That Sir Bedivere was comen in pees;
He received him with herte and hand,
   Togeder to dwell, withouten lees.
When Queen Gaynor, the kinges wife,
   Wiste that all was gone to wrake,
Away she went, with ladies five,
   At Aumsbury, a nun her for to make.   
There-in she lived an holy life,
   In prayers for to weep and wake;
Never after she coude be blithe;
   There wered she clothes white and black.
When this tidinges was to Launcelot brought,
   What wonder though his herte were sore?
His men, his frendes, to him sought,
   And all the wise that with him were.
Their galleys were all redy wrought;
   They busked them and made yare;
To help Arthur was their thought
   And make Mordred of bliss full bare.
Launcelot had crowned kinges seven,
   Erles fele and barons bold;
The number of knightes I can not neven,
   The squires too fele to be told;
They lemed light as any leven;
   The wind was as themselve wolde;
Through the grace of God of Heven,
   At Dover they took haven and hold.
There herde tell Launcelot in that town,
   In land it is not for to laine,
How they had fought at Barendown
   And how buried was Sir Gawain,
And how Mordred wolde be king with crown,
   And how either of them had other slain,
And all that were to batail boun,
   At Salisbury lay dede upon the plain.
Also in lande herde it kithe
   That made his herte wonder sore:
Queen Gaynor, the kinges wife,
   Much had lived in sorrow and care;
Away she went with ladies five,
   In land they wiste not whider where,
Dolven dede or to be on life;
   That made his morning much the more.
Launcelot cleped his kinges with crown;
   Sir Bors stood him ner beside;
He said: "Lordinges, I will wend toforn,
   And by these bankes ye shall abide
Unto fifteen dayes at the morn.
   In land whatsoever us betide 90
To herken what lord his life hath lorn,
   Look ye rappe you not up to ride."
There had he neither roo ne rest,
   But forth he went with drery mood,
And three dayes he went even west
   As man that coude neither ivel nor good. 91
Then sigh he where a towr by west
   Was bigged by a burnes flood;
There he hoped it were best
   For to get him some lives stood.
As he came through a cloister clere -
   Almost for weeping he was mad -
He sigh a lady bright of lere,
   In nunnes clothing was she cledde;
Thrice she swooned swiftly there,
   So stronge paines she was in stedde
That many a nun then nighed her ner,   
   And to her chamber was she led.
"Mercy, madame," they said all,
   "For Jesu, that is King of bliss,
Is there any bride in bowr or hall
   Hath wrathed you?" She said: "Nay, iwis."
Launcelot to her gan they call,
   The abbess and the other nunnes, iwis,
They that wonned within the wall.
   In counsel there then said she thus:
"Abbess, to you I knowlech here
   That through this ilke man and me,
For we togeder han loved us dere,
   All this sorrowful war hath be;
My lord is slain, that hath no peer,
   And many a doughty knight and free;
Therefore for sorrow I died ner,
   As soon as I ever gan him see.
"When I him see, the sooth to say,
   All my herte began to colde;
That ever I sholde abide this day,
   To see so many barons bold
Sholde for us be slain away!
   Our will hath be too sore bought sold; 92
But God, that all mightes may,
   Now hath me set where I will hold.
"Yset I am in such a place
   My soule hele I will abide,
Til God send me some grace,
   Through mercy of his woundes wide,
That I may do so in this place,
   My sinnes to amend this ilke tide,
After to have a sight of His face,
   At Doomes-day on His righte side.
"Therefore, Sir Launcelot du Lake,
   For my love now I thee pray,
My company thou ay forsake,
   And to thy kingdom thou take thy way,
And keep thy reme from war and wrake,
   And take a wife with her to play,
And love well then thy worldes make;
   God give you joy togeder, I pray!
"Unto God I pray, Allmighty King,
   He give you togeder joy and bliss;
But I beseech thee in alle thing
   That never in thy life after this
Ne come to me for no sokering,
   Nor send me sonde, but dwell in bliss;
I pray to God Everlasting
   To graunt me grace to mend my misse."
"Now, sweet madame, that wolde I not do
   To have all the world unto my meed;
So untrew find ye me never mo;
   It for to do Crist me forbede!
"Forbede it God that ever I sholde
   Against you work so grete unright,
Sinne we togeder upon this molde
   Have led our life by day and night!
Unto God I give a hest to hold:
   That same destainy that you is dight
I will receive in some house bold
   To plese hereafter God Allmight.
"To plese God all that I may
   I shall hereafter do mine entent,
And ever for you specially pray,
   While God will me life lente."
"A, wilt thou so," the queen gan say,
   "Fulfill this forward that thou has ment?"
Launcelot said: "Yif I said nay,
   I were well worthy to be brent."
"Brent to ben worthy I were,
   Yif I wolde take none such a life,
To bide in penaunce, as ye do here,
   And suffer for God sorrow and strife;
As we in liking lived in fere,
   By Mary, Moder, maid, and wife,
Til God us depart with dethes dere,
   To penaunce I yeld me here as blithe.
"All blyve to penaunce I will me take,
   As I may find any ermite
That will me receive for Goddes sake,
   Me to clothe with black and white."   
The sorrow that the tone to the tother gan make
   Might none erthely man see it.
"Madame," then said Launcelot du Lake,
   "Kiss me, and I shall wend as-tite."
"Nay," said the queen, "that will I not;
   Launcelot, think on that no more;
To abstain us we moste have thought 93
   Fro such we have delited in ere.
Let us think on Him that us hath bought,
   And we shall plese God therefore.
Think on this world, how there is nought
   But war and strife and batail sore."
What helpeth lenger for to spell?
   With that they gan depart in twain;
But none erthely man coude tell
   The sorrow that there began to ben;
Wringing their handes and loud they yell,
   As they never more sholde blinne,
And sithe in swoon both down they fell;
   Who saw that sorrow ever might it mene. 94
But ladies then, with morning cheer,
   Into the chamber the queen they bore,
And all full busy made them there
   To cover the queen of her care.
But many also that with Launcelot were,
   They comfort him with rewful care;
When he was covered he took his gere
   And went from thence withouten more.
His herte was hevy as any lede,
   And lever he was his life have lorn.
He said: "Rightuous God, what is my rede?
   Alas, forbore, why was I born?"
Away he went, as he had fled,
   To a forest that was him beforn;
His life fain he wolde have leved;
   His rich attire he wolde off-torn.
All night gan he weep and wring
   And went about as he were wode;
Erly, as the day gan spring,
   Tho sigh he where a chapel stood;
A bell herde he rewfully ring;
   He hied him then and thider yode;
A prest was redy for to sing,
   And mass he herde with drery mood.
The Archebishop was ermite there,
   That flemed was for his workes trew;
The mass he sang with sighing sore,
   And oft he changed hide and hew;
Sir Bedivere had sorrow and care
   And oft morned for tho workes new;   
After mass was morning more,
   When ech of them other knew.
When the sorrow was to the end,
   The bishop took his habit there
And welcomed Launcelot as the hende,
   And on his knees down gan he fare:
"Sir, ye be welcome as our frend,
   Unto this bigging in bankes bare;
Were it your will with us to lende
   This one night, yif ye may no more!"
When they knew him at the last,
   Fair in armes they gan him fold,
And sithe he asked freely fast
   Of Arthur and of other bold;
An hundreth times his herte ner brast,
   While Sir Bedivere the tale told.
To Arthures tomb he cast;
   His careful corage wexed all cold.
He threw his armes to the walle,
   That riche were and bright of blee;
Before the ermite he gan down fall
   And comely kneeled upon his knee;
Then he shrove him of his sinnes all,
   And prayd he might his broder be,
To serve God in bowr and hall,
   That might-full King of mercy free.
The holy bishop nolde not blinne,
   But blithe was to do his boon;
He received him with wele and winne,
   And thanked Jesu trew in trone,
And shrove him there of his sin,
   As clene as he had never done none;
And sithe he kiste him cheek and chin
   And an habit there did him upon.
His grete host at Dover lay,
   And wend he sholde have come again,
Til after befell upon a day,
   Sir Lionel, that was mikel of main,
With fifty lordes, the sooth to say,
   To seek his lord he was full fain;
To London he took the righte way;
   Alas, for wo! There was he slain.
Bors de Gawnes wolde no lenger abide
   But busked him and made all boun,
And bade all the host homeward ride -
   God send them wind and weder round!
To seek Launcelot will he ride;
   Ector and he diverse wayes yode,
And Bors sought forth the weste side,
   As he that coude neither ivel nor good. 95
Full erly in a morrow tide
   In a forest he fand a well;
He rode ever forth by the river side,
   Til he had sight of a chapel;
There at mass thought he abide;
   Rewfully he herde ring a bell;   
There Launcelot he fand with mikel pride,
   And prayd he might with him there dwell.
Ere the half yere were comen to the end,
   There was comen of their fellowes seven,
Where ichon had sought their frend,
   With sorrowful herte and drery steven;
Had none never will away to wend,
   When they herde of Launcelot neven,
But all togeder there gan they lende,
   As it was Goddes will of heven.
Holich all tho seven yeres
   Launcelot was prest and mass song,
In penaunce and in diverse prayers;
   That life him thought nothing long;
Sir Bors and his other feres
   On bookes redde and belles rong.
So little they wex of lin and leres
   Them to know it was strong.
It fell again an even-tide
   That Launcelot sekened sely sore.
The bishop he cleped to his side,
   And all his fellows less and more;
He said: "Brethern, I may no lenger abide;
   My baleful blood of life is bare;
What boot is it to hele and hide?
   My foul flesh will to erthe fare.
"But, brethern, I pray you tonight,
   Tomorrow, when ye find me dede,
Upon a bere that ye will me dight,
   And to Joyous Gard then me lede;
For the love of God Almight,
   Bury my body in that stede;
Some time my trouth there-to I plight; 96
   Alas! Me forthinketh that I so did!"
"Mercy, sir," they said all three,
   "For His love that died on Rood;
Yif any ivel have greved thee,
   It is but hevyness of your blood;
Tomorrow ye shall better be;
   When were ye but of comfort good?"
Merrily spake all men but he,
   But straight unto his bed he yode.
And cleped the bishop him until,
   And shrove him of his sinnes clene, 97
Of all his sinnes loud and still,
   And of his sinnes much did he mene;
There he received with goode will   
   God, Maryes Son, maiden clene.
Then Bors of weeping had never his fill;
   To bed they yede then all bydene.
A little while before the day,
   As the bishop lay in his bed,
A laughter took him there he lay,
   That all they were right sore adredde;
They wakened him, for sooth to say,
   And asked yif he were hard bestedde.
He said: "Alas, and wele-away!
   Why ne had I lenger thus be led?
"Alas! Why nighed ye me nigh
   To awake me in word or steven?
Here was Launcelot bright of blee
   With angeles thirty thousand and seven;
Him they bore up on high;
   Against him opened the gates of heven;
Such a sight right now I see,
   Is none on erthe that might it neven."
"Sir," they said, "for Cross on Rood,
   Doth such wordes clene away.
Sir Launcelot aileth nothing but good;
   He shall be hole by prime of day."
Candle they light and to him yode,
   And fand him dede, for sooth to say,
Red and fair of flesh and blood,
   Right as he in sleeping lay.
"Alas!" said Bors, "That I was born!
   That ever I sholde see this in-deed!
The beste knight his life hath lorn
   That ever in stour bestrode steed!
Jesu, that crowned was with thorn,
   In heven his soul foster and feed!"
Unto the fifth day at the morn   
   They left not for to sing and rede,
And after they made them a bere,
   The bishop and these other bold,
And forth they went, all in fere,
   To Joyous Gard, that riche hold;
In a chapel, amiddes the quere,
   A grave they made as they wolde,
And three dayes they waked him there,
   In the castel with cares cold.
Right as they stood about the bere
   And to burying him sholde have brought,
In came Sir Ector, his broder dere,
   That seven yere afore had him sought.
He looked up into the quere;
   To here a mass then had he thought;
For that they all ravished were 98
   They knew him and he them nought.
Sir Bors both wept and sang,
   When they that faire fast unfold; 99
There was none but his handes wrang,
   The bishop nor none of the other bold.
Sir Ector then thought long;
   What this corpse was fain wite he wolde; 100
An hundreth times his herte nigh sprang,
   By that Bors had him the tale told.
Full hendely Sir Bors to him spake,
   And said: "Welcome, Sir Ector, iwis;
Here lieth my lord Launcelot du Lake,
   For whom that we have morned thus."
Then in armes he gan him take,
   The dede body to clipp and kiss,
And prayed all night he might him wake,
   For Jesu love, King of bliss.
Sir Ector of his wit ner went,
   Wallowed and wrang as he were wode;
So wofully his mone he ment
   His sorrow minged all his mood;
When the corpse in armes he hent,
   The teres out of his eyen yode;
At the last they might no lenger stent,
   But buried him with drery mood.
Sithen on their knees they kneeled down -
   Grete sorrow it was to see with sight:
"Unto Jesu Crist I ask a boon,
   And to his Moder, Mary bright:
Lord, as thou madest both sun and moon,
   And God and Man art most of might,
Bring this soul unto Thy trone,
   And ever Thou rewdest on gentle knight."
Sir Ector tent not to his steed,
   Wheder he wolde stint or run away,
But with them all to dwell and lede, 101
   For Launcelot all his life to pray.
On him did he ermites weed,
   And to their chapel went their way;
A fourtenight on foot they yede,
   Ere they home come, for sooth to say.
When they came to Aumsbury,
   Dede they found Gaynor the queen,
With rodes fair and red as cherry,
   And forth they bore her them between,
And buried her with mass full merry
   By Sir Arthur, as I you mene;
Now hight their chapel Glastonbury,
   An abbey full rich, of order clene.
Of Launcelot du Lake tell I no more,
   But thus beleve these ermites seven.
And yet is Arthur buried there,
   And Queen Gaynor, as I you neven,
With monkes that are right of lore;
   They rede and sing with milde steven:
"Jesu, that suffred woundes sore,
   Graunt us all the bliss of heven!"
Explicit le Morte Arthur
(Here ends the Death of Arthur)
must by necessity
quickly leapt
live coal
proclaimed emphatically
granted that gift
grow; space of time
about 9 a.m. until
By necessity he had to wait his chance
straightened up; battle
complexion (face)
That life was hardly left to him
left him lying (there)
would not slay him
(see note)
advise you; mind
mad deeds
in medical care
pierced through
I grieve; mind
blame, by the Body on the Cross
at a rapid pace
blows severe; harm
was nearly noon
tired out
since; cease
nobleman rued that attack
pierced; rash onslaught
put to shame
wield (control)
Do you think
(see note)
been between us
cross over the sea
(see note)
king's sister's son; (see note)
(see note)
uncle's; (see note)
course of action
fortnight; feast
bridal feast; had prepared
delay; fortnight
hard pressed
barred the gates
shower (of arrows)
even if you are crazy
If Arthur comes
foolish clergyman
drawn apart
excommunicated him
He cares no more for joy
commanded to be built
grey woods
lain (in siege)
sort of trick
expected to deny them
coasts; knew
deny (entry)
strong in battle
many enemies; found
handle; oar
cut; tear
Sharpened spears
struck down
Barlam Down (Kent)
on high
i.e., a sword (Excalibur)
Recover yourselves
noble; before him; (see note)
nearly broke
sister's son
(see note)
should meet [in battle]
were fetched from afar
By painful dreams; beset
stood [ready] by him
Byzantine coin; ring; (see note)
come near them
strangely afraid of falling
The wheel then turned
madly; roused
near day (-light)
sister's son; saw
dear; deceit
where I must be
Who have lost this world's life
foes; for them
greatest friends
month's truce
Launcelot is coming to help you
pitiful kingdom
in (your) power
all together
beyond counting
To delay this battle for a month
What; promised
The one
for battle prepare
powerful knight; rue; attack
him (Arthur)
without doubt
You would rule
good character
Keep; agreements; made
stay and reside
need not expect
armies; approach near
gleamed; flash of lighting
i.e., agree on our terms
And if; drawn
hawthorn tree
hawthorn tree
stung; see
Instantly; charged
angrily; leaped
nearly went
No peace was offered
(see note)
cut; tore
powerful companies; rush
before evening
Since; came; (see note)
fierce expression
pain; wield (move)
For a remedy; comfort
(see note)
Teach (direct)
sly (wise)
know not
bled freely
hard beset
until; burst
Would I be any better
pale waves
i.e., keeping his word
shook; break
then, like a gleam; glided
complexion; (see note)
(see note)
I know
whither are you bound?
hoary (gray) forests
Before daybreak
rightly adorned
bier (hearse)
quite readily
this hoary ground
grant; stay
pray for him
put to flight
dwelling chose
good fortune
Almesbury; (see note)
wore; a nun's habit
hurried; ready
gleamed as bright as any lightning
they desired
The news is not to be concealed
he heard it said
knew not where
Whether dead and buried or still living
before (onward)
hear; lost
on the west
built; stream's flood basin
support for life (food)
(see note)
grow cold
soul's healing; await
Judgment Day
worldly mate
as my reward
great a wrong
Since; earth
i.e., receive monkhood
make my intent
promise; said
burned (in Hell)
in pleasure; together
(see note)
one; other
go quickly away
mournful face
gear (equipment)
rather he would; lost
what shall I do
misbegotten (creature)
gladly; departed
have torn off
wring his hands
Then saw
hastened; went
banished; loyal deeds
complexion; hue
those recent events; (see note)
more mourning
as a courteous person should
sorrowful heart
confessed himself
would not refuse
fulfill his request
monastic habit put on him
ample wind
(see note)
heard tell of Lancelot
priest and sang mass
read; rang
thin; grew; loin; face
happened one evening
sickened wondrously
What good is it to conceal and hide it?
bier; prepare (embalm)
to him
(see note)
been led (in dreams)
the first hour
(see note)
amid the choir
gave him a wake
chilled with grief
nearly broke
watch by him
nearly went out of his mind
wrung his hands
confused; mind
If; You had pity
paid no attention
stand still
himself he put hermit's
is named
pure (monastic) order
remain; hermits

Go To The Alliterative Morte Arthure