The Awntyrs Off Arthur
THE AWNTYRS OFF ARTHUR: FOOTNOTES1 Thriving because of the close season in the woods and hills
2 With rich strands of material reversed to show their colors, whoever takes proper notice
3 Lines 18-19: Her hood [is] a shade of aqua, [as] anyone who pays attention to her head [will note], / With fur, rich cloth, and jewels most pleasingly arranged
4 Who was born in Burgundy, [I swear] by book and by bell
5 To assign them to their hunting stations, to tell the truth
6 And at their hiding places the hounds set on the deer
7 There appeared a fire in the lake - not to conceal a word
8 It grieved, it murmered, it groaned as a mad person
9 To account [the number of] the toads clinging to her would be too tedious for my tongue
10 The knight pulls out his sword and the corpse stands still
11 [I demand] that you tell me the truth [about] where you intend to go
12 Have pity on the poor - you have the power [to do so]
13 Then little wish [they] to comfort you, who now will flatter you
14 According to what you distribute [to the poor] at your gate
15 All blanches (i.e., whitens) my countenance - [because] your skeleton is so black
16 May the hero who redeemed you on the Cross bring you to bliss
17 Achieve renown in warfare through prowess of arms
18 No man may overthrow him by force while Fortune holds him high on her wheel
19 Then shall the treacherous Tiber (Rome) cause you woe
20 Overcome by a subject (i.e., one of the King's retainers): he bears a black coat of arms
21 Lines 340-42: Under a canopy of silk, daintily wrought / With distinction and splendor, [a canopy located] up against the wall, / [With] birds embroidered and displayed on its brilliant panels
22 Decorated and crisscrossed with love-knots in a row
23 She was the most worthy person that anyone might wish to have governance of
24 Embroidered with burnished gold and fashioned most attractively
25 Lines 372-73: Her head-scarves were remarkable with many noble brooches, / Her clothing was admired by renowned warriors
26 Lines 395-97: And his handsome greaves (shin guards), that were sharp for slashing, / His knee guards with gems were pleasingly spangled. / With his lance at rest that worthy [knight] presented himself
27 What do you desire, knight, if you please
28 And why you, fearsome on your horse (i.e., mounted for combat), abide here so silently?
29 Fighting to demand (i.e., seeking combat) I set out from home
30 Before he wield them, indeed, over my resistance
31 Lines 432-33: To lose such lordship (i.e., dominion over those lands) to me would seem hateful, / And every warrior alive would laugh me to scorn
32 We have come to the forest to proceed on our hunt (i.e., we are unprepared for combat)
33 Lines 435-36: We are at our games (i.e., fitted out for the hunt); we have no champion ready, / Though nonetheless you shall be matched [with an opponent] by noon tomorrow
34 Therein was a chapel, a chamber (i.e., a private room), [and] a hall (i.e., a public space)
35 Candles and candleholders and tapers in the middle
36 Lines 462-63: Look [to it] now (i.e., take care), lords, [that] our honor (reputation) is not lost. / Who shall join battle with the knight? Decide between yourselves
37 "I believe [that] easily," said the King. "Your sense of honor is quick
38 "Don't worry!" said Sir Gawain. "May God stand with (uphold) the right"
39 They set [up] lists (i.e., jousting barriers) quickly on the level field
40 With all courtesy proper to the circumstances [of the impending combat], see to [preparing] the knight (i.e., Galeron)
41 Afterwards, he goes off in his armor that burnished was brightly
42 With many a sergeant-at-arms (i.e., mace bearer), as was the custom
43 Why do you draw yourself back so far and make such a fuss?
44 I shall pay you back [for] your stroke, if I have anything to say [about it]
45 The sword was bloody that polished had been brightly
46 Then his beloved screams aloud and shrieks
47 Lines 540-41: With a stroke of a sword, that knight (Galeron) promptly calls him up short; / He struck off the horse's head right where it stood
48 Except for the sadness over the dumb beast that died so [disgracefully]
49 The other (i.e., Galeron) drew himself away because of uncertainty about the knight (i.e., about the proper response to Gawain's want of a horse)
50 The sun had passed by that [time] midday and more (i.e., it was after noon)
51 Towards the knight (i.e., Gawain) with his [drawn] sword he (i.e., Galeron) moved quickly
52 That other (i.e., Galeron) falls back and stands still as a stone
53 Lines 584-85: He (i.e., Gawain) lacked nothing to be slain / [Only] the breadth of a hair (i.e., Gawain escaped death by a hair's breadth)
54 Boldly that fierce [knight] (i.e., Galeron) defended [himself] (i.e., retaliated) in haste
55 But something worse befell him (i.e., Galeron), and that well pleases me
56 He undertook a blow that would have slain him (i.e., Gawain) through its skill
57 I never imagined [there was a] knight in the world [who] was half so powerful [as you are]
58 And, before these royal [persons], [I] resign [to] you my right (i.e., all claims to lands and entitlements)
59 [Insofar] as [you are a] man of middle earth matchless in strength (i.e., as a man without equal in this world)
60 And offered that good [man] his sword that was brightly polished
61 What with the beatings and bleeding, their faces waxed black (i.e., had become darkened)
62 That have surrounding battlements and have been very well built
63 Both (royal persons) comfort the knights, the King and the Queen
64 Thus that knight quickly takes to himself that gracious [woman]
65 Lines 703-04: Guenevere commanded, wisely, [that] written messages be sent into the west (i.e., had word sent throughout the land) / To all the clergy to read and to sing (i.e. to celebrate masses)
66 Throughout all Britain the Queen had [them] ring [church] bells
THE AWNTYRS OFF ARTHUR: NOTESUnlike Hanna's edition, this text does not try to indicate the shape or intention of an author or original; and unlike Gates' edition, it does not attempt to document all variants and manuscript evidence. What I offer here is a conservative reading text, conservative in that it reproduces the readings of the Douce MS insofar as these make sense (or can be argued to make sense). I emend only when lexical, grammatical, metrical, or contextual lapses seem to demand it.
Abbreviations: D = Douce MS; Ir = Ireland MS; L = Lambeth MS; T = Thornton MS; A = Amours' edition; G = Gates' edition; H = Hanna's edition. See Select Bibliography for these selections.
1 In the tyme of Arthur. This is the classic characterization for the setting of a Gawain narrative. Compare the first line of Gologras: "In the tyme of Arthur, as trew men me tald"; Ragnelle, line 4: "In the tyme of Arthoure thys adventure betyd"; and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, line 2522 (nine lines from the end): "Thus in Arthurus day this aunter bitidde." The last line of Awntyrs repeats this first line almost verbatim (see note).
2 By the Turne Wathelan. Tarne or terne was a northern ME word for a small lake. The Tarn Wathelene (I adopt this spelling as common among local historians of Cumberland) was renowned out of all proportion to its size as a site for Arthurian adventure. It is mentioned in Avowyng ("Tarne Wathelan," lines 131 and 338, and notes at lines 29, 131, and 132), and in Marriage ("Tearne Wadling," line 32 and note), and its setting in Inglewood Forest is alluded to in Ragnelle (line 16 and note); Greene Knight may also invoke the Tarn (line 493 and note). The lake's name is given further variants in the colophon at the end of Awntyrs (see line 715 and note), and in the titles of editions by G and H.
as the boke telles. A conventional alliterative formula, though Awntyrs clearly draws upon literary sources.
3 that. D: and; Ir, T: that, so emended by A, G, and H.
4 dussiperes. The legendary twelve companions of Charlemagne. See line 277, and compare Gologras line 1334 and note at line 1313.
7 were. D: and; L: were, so emended by G and H.
8 fermesones. D: firmysthamis; Ir: fermesones; T: ferysone tyme; emended to fermysone tyme by A and G; to fermyson by H.
by the fermesones. A technical term for the closed season (approximately September to June), when hunting male deer was prohibited. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the first day's hunt for deer takes place "in fermysoun tyme," when the lord has forbidden the taking of "the male dere" (lines 1156-57). Arthur serves the Roman senators "Flesch fluriste of fermysone" (Alliterative Morte Arthure, line 180), apparently fatted does taken in the closed season.
13 Dame Gaynour. In his novel The Lyre of Orpheus (recounting the production of a rediscovered opera, Arthur of Britain, or The Magnanimous Cuckold), Robertson Davies suggests that in Welsh Guenevere's name signifies "white ghost" - which would give peculiar resonance to the queen's encounter with the blackened ghost of her mother. See The Lyre of Orpheus (New York: Viking, 1989), p. 137. Kenneth G. T. Webster, in his Guinevere: A Study of Her Abductions (Milton, Massachusetts: Turtle Press, 1951), notes that "the name in Welsh is Gwenhwfar, which may mean white ghost, or enchantress" (pp. 2-3).
18 hawe. D: herde; Ir, T: hawe, so emended by A, G, and H. H inserts ho to regularize hedes.
22 set by. Ir, L: serclet on, followed by G and H. See phrase in line 120.
30 Borgoyne. Neither Gawain nor Guenevere have connections with Burgundy. Madden and A somewhat desperately suggest that Gawain's horse (called Grissell at line 546) may have been born in France. H suggests that Borgoyne is a corrupted reading of "Orkney," connected to Gawain's birth.
by boke and by belle. A conventional phrase indicating an oath sworn by the Holy Sacrament (celebrated by reading the sacred text and ringing bells at the elevation), or by the rite of excommunication, which entailed the ritual use of bell, book, and candle.
48 The rhyme scheme makes clear that a line is lacking here in all surviving manuscripts.
51 dure. D: durere, with er abbreviated; dure given provisionally by G, unconditionally by H (disregarding G's note); emended to dere by A; I follow G's provisional reading of D as dure.
55 This line is omitted in D; supplied from T (following G).
56 wilde. D follows this word with swyne (agreeing with Ir, L, T); swyne is omitted by A, G, and H.
58 And till thaire riste raches relyes on the ro. D: And bluwe reches ryally, they ran to the ro, which repeats line 62; like A, G, and H, I follow T, though I substitute D's on the ro for T's final phrase, on thaire ray.
59 grythe. Omitted by D, though it occurs in the other three manuscripts (spelling from T).
60 greundes. D: grendes; I follow G's emendation (adopted by H).
62 rechas. This is a technical hunting term for the horn note that signals hounds and hunters to reassemble. Gawain and Guenevere ignore the call (lines 68 ff.).
70 By. D: Under; By inserted from Ir, L, T.
undur a lefesale substituted from Ir (following G and H), for D, that lady so small, which seems a nonsensical tag rhyme (though it occurs in L and T as well).
74 mele. D: meve; Ir, L: mele, followed by G and H.
80 fawe felle. D: fewe felles; I follow emendation suggested by A, accepted by G and H.
81 This line omitted by D; supplied from T (following G).
82 sneterand snawe. This is a notable instance (among many) where Awntyrs directly imitates a memorable passage from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight:
The snawe snitered ful snart, that snayped the wylde;83 a lowe one the loughe. D: a lede of the lawe; I follow T (with A).
The werbelande wynde wapped fro the hyghe,
And drof uche dale ful of dryftes ful grete.
84 This line omitted by D; I follow T (as do A, G, and H).
85 glides to Sir Gawayn. Ir, L, and T all have the ghost first approach Dame Gaynoure, and the opening of the next stanza, in giving Guenevere's horrified reaction, perhaps supports an initial address to the Queen by the apparition.
86 yelle. D: yelles; L, T: yelle, so emended by A, G, and H.
The participles and verbs of this and the next line vividly recall the second day's hunt in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, when the hounds "Ful yomerly yaule and yelle" (line 1453).
91 I gloppen and I grete. Guenevere's reaction here echoes the description of the fright Morgan Le Faye intended for the Queen in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: she hoped "to haf greved Gaynour and gart hir to dyghe / With glopnyng of that ilke gome that gostlyche speked / With his hede in his honde bifore the hyghe table" (She hoped to have grieved Guenevere and caused her to die from fright of that being that, like a ghost, spoke with his head in his hand before the high table; lines 2460-62).
94 clippes of the son. Gawain's quick-witted and protective rationalization of the horrible apparition (like his resilient efforts in his exchanges with Lady Bertilak in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, where "he defended hym so fayr that no faut semed" line 1531) expresses the unfailing courtesy that upholds his "knighthede."
96 Sir Cadour, Sir Clegis, Sir Costardyne, Sir Cay. What these four knights, all familiar figures in Arthurian romance, have here in common seems mainly to be their alliterating names; see Carlisle, lines 35, 44, and notes. Costardyne seems to be a variant spelling of "Constantine," perhaps the son of Sir Cadour who succeeded Arthur as king; see also Avowyng line 914 and note.
112 he. Omitted by D; included by other manuscripts and editors.
114 cholle. D: clolle; clearly a misspelling, corrected by A, G, and H, according to Ir, L, and T.
119 Umbeclipped in a cloude of clethyng unclere. D: Umbeclipped him with a cloude of cleyng; A, G, and H follow Ir and T in substituting in and expanding to clethyng.
120 Serkeled. D: skeled; T: serkeled, followed by A, G, and H.
124 holtes. D: wode; alliteration demands h (as in Ir, L, and T). I follow Ir (with G).
131 the hendeste in halle. D: so fer into halle; A, G, and H substitute hendeste in from T.
132 the chaftis and the chynne. D: the chalus on the chynne; A, G, and H correct reduplication of cholle by substituting chaftis and from T (H spells chaftes).
134 ff. The syntax here is confusing because of the repeated thou (lines 134, 135 twice, 136). Gawain begins by calling upon Christ for aid, but then addresses the ghost in the same second-person singular. Having uttered his prayer directly to Christ, Gawain seems to feel authorized to make the demand of the ghost that follows (paraphrased in the footnote).
138 knowen. L agrees in this reading, while Ir and T read krysommede, adopted by A, G, and H to eliminate reduplication in the following line.
145 Berell or Brangwayn. I capitalize Berell, assuming that the phrase names two women (rather than comparing the speaker's brows to beryl). Berell is otherwise unknown in ME romance, and H suggests the line originally named the enchantress Brusen (see Malory, Works, pp. 794 ff.). Brangwayn is Isolde's servant in the Tristan stories.
158 the burde bright. D: and to the burde; I omit and to as intrusive.
162 lonched. D: louched (so A and G read); H reads lonched, which I follow, though I retain on hight from D, in place of so light (G, H).
165 Thus am I lyke to Lucefere: takis witnes by mee! D: Take truly tent tight nowe by me. The repetition of a key word, usual in the ninth line of each stanza, fails in D. I follow A and G (and H, with modification) in substituting T's line.
167 Muse on my mirrour. Ir: your; L: thy, followed by H; T: thir. D's reading makes good sense within the tradition of the three living and the three dead, where the supernatural apparition forms a mirror of the ultimate fate of the living. In Gologras, the latter hero offers a commentary on his defeat by Gawain, and Gawain's pretense of submission, in which he invokes in passing Fortune and the Nine Worthy; in the course of the speech, Gologras suggests that each person, "Baith knyght, king and empriour . . . [may] muse in his myrrour" (lines 1230-31; see note). The recommendation of grisly, gruesome, and morbid subjects as useful mirrors of moral understanding to those in the midst of life occurs widely in ME poetry; in The Parlement of the Thre Ages, Elde admonishes (just before launching into a lengthy exposition of the Nine Worthy), "Makes youre mirrours bi me, men, bi youre trouthe" (line 290; see M. Y. Offord's edition [EETS 246 (Oxford, 1959)], with note at line 290, and Introduction, pp. xl-xlii).
169 dight. This word is inserted from L, following H, for stanza linking.
170 Thus dethe wil. D: Thus dight wil; dethe inserted from Ir, L, and T (following G and H).
173 thou art of power. Ir, L add whil, and T adds for before this phrase.
174 that ben the aboute. Ir, L, T present variants of are besye the aboute.
179 at the yete. D: at the thete; Ir, L, T: yate; emended for rhyme by G and H.
183 ar. D: art.
199 meble on molde. Guenevere's spontaneous question - whether possessions on earth can aid those beyond the grave - and the ghost's grateful, affirmative reply underscores the profound bond in Awntyrs of material with spiritual, living with dead; in doctrinal terms, this is epitomized by the communion of the saints, which allows grace and merit to be redistributed among the saved. Communal prayer - matens or Mas - may thus undo temporal punishment (in some legends, even eternal punishment) due an individual's sinful acts, and the individual's fate is beyond her own control. The phrase itself is a distinctive alliterative formula, occurring only here and in Gologras, line 807; compare line 499.
202 mervaile. D: wonder; alliteration demands mervaile (from T, though I take spelling from lines 73 and 74); so emended by A, G, and H (note).
209 the saven of thi sytis. D: the sauen ywys; I emend with L's phrase for the sake of alliteration and rhyme, following A and G.
211 body bites. D: body is; rhyme demands bites, as in Ir, L, and T (so emended by A, G, and H).
212 blendis. D: bledis; L, T: blendis, followed by A, G, and H.
218 thritty tentales. A trental is a series of thirty Masses in memory of the dead; Guenevere's mother therefore requests that nine hundred Masses be said for her soul. The merit earned by these Masses (in the form of indulgences) frees her from the torment of Helle (line 84), which may actually mean Purgatory. See line 236 and note.
220 were. This word is inserted from Ir, L, following G, H.
227 barne. D: barme, an apparent misspelling; correctly given in Ir and L; emended by A (glossary) and H.
228 grete. This form seems to draw upon a collapsed sense of greten, "greet, give honor" (MED, 2) and a different verb with identical form, greten, "lament, cry out" (MED, 3), which can be transitive, as here. The variant in D of the for thi soule indicates that the verb takes an object, and is seen as salutation by the D scribe. Yet the passage suggests that grete here takes in both the formal features of honor and the personal dimension of lament in referring to the liturgical remembrance and intercession of the Trental of Masses. It seems then to mean "commemorate, mourn for"; this meaning is reinforced by mynge in the next line, which also refers to the formal commemoration of the soul through Masses for the dead.
236 a myllion of Masses. Guenevere's promise here encompasses a huge number of Masses, though not literally a million. Lollards and their sympathizers, who openly criticized the ritual observances of the Church, were particularly outraged by the assumption (implied, for example, by trentals) that the eternal merit and satisfaction of Christ's sacrifice in the Mass might be improved by multiplication. The thritty trentales requested by the ghost (line 218 and note) would comprise nine hundred Masses, and myllion may here (and at line 706) simply round this number to one thousand. Archbishop Henry Bowet of York, who died in 1421, designated in his will that money be given "pro mille missis celebrandis more trentale Sancti Gregorii . . ." (for a thousand Masses to be celebrated in the form of St. Gregory's trental); see Speculum 49 (1974), 89. Such a request was therefore not so unusual for late medieval Christians.
237 Bot one word, quod Waynour. D: A quod Waynour iwis; alliteration requires word, which appears in L and T (so emended by A, G, and H); I omit iwis for the sake of meter.
239 Pride. While pride is here designated the greatest of the seven deadly sins, Awntyrs places a corresponding emphasis on the sin which, during the high and later Middle Ages, came to rival pride as the worst - avarice. The ghost's concern for charity to the poor (see lines 232 ff., 251 ff., and her final exhortation at line 319) suggests that the remedy for aristocratic excess is acceptance of responsibility for the material support of all in the Christian community. The ghost's instructions reinforce the corporate identity that marks late medieval chivalry and religion by linking the spiritual treasury of merit (trentales, line 218) with the distribution of earthly goods (almessedede, line 253).
240 apertly. D: apt; L: apertly, T: appertly, so emended by A and G; H: apert.
242 boune. D: bly; Ir: boune (adopted by G) makes contextual sense.
253 aure. D: cure. To make sense and complete alliteration, I follow Ir's reading (adopted by A and G; modified by H).
255 withoute speling. H gives "destruction, waste" (from OE spillan); G gives "sparing" (from OE spelian). The context implies, however, that these gifts are infused in each soul - graceful, enspires iche sprete - and that speling therefore means "formal training, instruction," which conscience does not require in order to act charitably. Awntyrs here offers the view that the moral understanding prerequisite for salvation - the Golden Rule or the two great commandments - is implanted in each person withoute speling. The reference in the next line to spiritual thing about which a lay woman should dispute no further links the passage yet more closely to formal theological discourse. Similar issues, concerning intuitive knowledge or "kinde knowing" versus the need for explicit dogmatic or sacramental understanding, are explored in contemporary poems like St. Erkenwald and Piers Plowman.
261 ff. Gawain's question to the ghost, had it originated with an actual medieval knight, would demonstrate a remarkable degree of self-consciousness and self-criticism. Other chivalric narratives offer similar chastisement of territorial avarice that renders a king to covetous; in particular, Arthur's downfall in the Alliterative Morte Arthure follows upon his desire to spread his rule across Europe to Jerusalem (see lines 3216-17).
266 while his whele stondes. The ghost here refers to the traditional image of Fortune's wheel, which commonly shows four kings moving through various phases of rule (about to rule, ruling, falling from power, out of power) as the wheel turns; Arthur is momentarily at the top of the wheel, and cannot be overthrown while Fortune keeps him there. But the ghost also prophesies that the wonderfull wheelwryght will give the king a chaunce, and he will suffer a fall from high estate (lines 267-68). The Alliterative Morte Arthure provides an elaborate dream, complete with interpretation, of Fortune's Wheel; as a prophecy of Arthur's eventual downfall, and the disintegration of the Round Table, it serves as a commentary and explanation for the end of the Arthurian fellowship. Gologras also employs the image of Fortune's Wheel, together with the Nine Worthy, but uses these to pinpoint the nature of knightly honor, rather than to underscore its transitoriness; see Gologras, lines 1220 ff. and notes.
269 Kinge. D: knight; Ir, T: kynge, followed by A, G, and H.
a. D: thorgh; Ir, L, T: a, followed by A, G, and H.
270 Falsely Fortune. D: Falsely fordone; L, T: False Fortune, followed by A, G, and H.
271 That wonderfull wheelwryght. D: With a wonderfull wight; Ir, T (followed by A, G, and H) give the present reading.
273 Take witnesse by Fraunce. This line and the next stanza to which it links allusively encompass the entire career of Arthur's European adventures, and in a version that closely resembles that told in the Alliterative Morte Arthure. The ghost's account of the Round Table's exploits, though they are presented as if already accomplished (at least through line 280, which moves to future tense), must be taken as a prophetic prologue to Arthur's downfall.
275 Freol and his folke. In the Alliterative Morte Arthure and other versions of Arthur's career (beginning with Geoffrey of Monmouth), Arthur initiates his continental conquests by defeating Frollo, the tribune in charge of Roman forces in France (Gaul). Fortune tells Arthur that she has "fellid downe Sir Frolle" (Alliterative Morte Arthure, line 3345), and the interpreters of Arthur's dream link "Froille" with "Ferawnt" (line 3404). T's reading, Freol and his farnaghe, would appear to be a confused reminiscence, one of many signs of borrowing from the Alliterative Morte Arthure in Awntyrs.
276 and. D: in; Ir, L, T: and, followed by A, G, and H.
280 Romans. D: remayns; Ir, L, T: Romans, followed by A, G, and H.
you. D: one; Ir, L, T: you, followed by A, G, and H.
280 ff. Arthur's campaign against the Romans, the culmination in the Alliterative Morte Arthure of his continental wars, takes him to Tuscany (lines 284, 291), but is aborted before he can reach Rome and receive the Emperor's crown; the dream of Fortune, and the news of Mordred's treachery in Britain, cause him to lead his fellowship back to England for the final battles, as the ghost here prophesies (lines 291 ff.).
282 Then. D: thus; then, suggested for sense by A, followed by G.
you. D: with; T: you, supported by A.
286 knight. D: King; Ir, L, T: knyghte (followed by A, G); here as elsewhere, I adopt an emendation (as does H) to reflect D's usual scribal spelling.
knight kene. The phrase refers to Mordred, Arthur's son-nephew, as the oblique and ominous prediction of the fall of the Round Table in the following twenty-five lines indicates. The ghost makes clear the inevitability of Arthur's death (line 302), Gawain's death (line 298), and the disintegration of the fellowship (line 293), all through treson (line 291). As H and William Matthews (The Tragedy of Arthur: A Study of the Alliterative "Morte Arthure" [Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1960], pp. 156-61) point out, many details and verbal echoes connect this passage to the Alliterative Morte Arthure and its descriptions of Mordred's arms, his actions, Gawain's death, and the fall of the Round Table. The ghost's striking vision of the destruction of Arthurian chivalry through a little child who even now "playes at the balle" (line 310), nursed in the household of the powerful Arthur, epitomizes the emphasis in Awntyrs on the tensions inherent in Christian knighthood.
287 shal kenely croyse the crowne. D: shal be clanly enclosed with a crowne. To have Mordred decisively crowned makes less sense than Ir's reading of Mordred's treason, which I adopt. In accepting the reading of Ir, croyse, I follow the MED in taking this as a form of crushen, used figuratively to mean "acquire by conquest" (though this is the only instance cited where such a meaning is possible). H ingeniously inserts encroche the crowne.
288 at Carlele. The adventures of Awntyrs start when Arthur comes to Carlisle (line 3), and the poem concludes with the entire court assembled again at Carlisle (lines 689, 690). In making Carlisle the seat of the Round Table, Awntyrs resembles Ragnelle, Avowyng, Greene Knight, and so on, which place Arthur's court there. This explains the precise appropriateness of Mordred's overthrowing his uncle/father by being crowned at the very center of power. No other romance stages the rebellion in this way.
289 That sege shal be sesede at a sesone. D: A sege shal he seche with a cession. All editors reject D's line as "meaningless" (A); I substitute T's reading (with slightly modified spelling).
292 tydynge. D: tying; Ir, L, T: tydynge, followed by A, G, and H.
293 ff. The ghost here foretells to Gawain his own death - In Dorsetshire shal dy the doughtest of alle - though it remains unclear whether Gawain understands her indirection. By muffling this prophecy of Gawain's death and the fall of the Round Table, Awntyrs potentially magnifies its shattering impact; this effect, however, depends upon the audience's familiarity with the vivid description of Gawain's final combat in the Alliterative Morte Arthure, when after a sea battle he wades ashore and is slain by Mordred (lines 3706-3863). Both Mordred and Arthur offer moving laments on his death (lines 3875 ff., 3956 ff.). In the Alliterative Morte Arthure, Arthur moves his force "to Dorsett" (line 4052) for the confrontation with Mordred only after Gawain's death.
294 Ramsey. Matthews argues that this is Romsey in Hampshire, next to Dorset, and that the line therefore refers to the place of Arthur's last battle in the Alliterative Morte Arthure.
riding. This word must mean "battle" or "encounter" rather than "region," "area." It has the latter meaning only when applied to one of the three "ridings" (i.e., "thridings," thirds) of Yorkshire.
298 Matthews (following A's note) argues that the precision of this prophecy, involving as it does the relatively unusual word slake, proves direct borrowing from the Alliterative Morte Arthure, where Gawain impetuously wades ashore at a "slyke" only to meet death at Mordred's hand (line 3719).
306 suget. D: surget; I follow G's emended spelling.
306 ff. Any description of Mordred's arms is exceptional in Arthurian literature; in this case, the details are unmistakably taken from the Alliterative Morte Arthure, where Mordred disguises himself by putting aside "the sawturoure engrelede" (line 4182).
314 to. Omitted from D, this word is supplied from Ir, L, and T (followed by A, G, and H).
316 welle. D: dwelle; alliteration requires welle, as in Ir and T (followed by A, G, and H).
318 and. D: that; Ir, L, T: and the dole (with variants), which meter requires (so emended by A, G, and H).
337 Rondoles Halle. The other manuscripts read "Rondallsete" (Ir, L) and "Randolfesett" (T). A, following a nineteenth-century local historian, connects this with Randalholme, "an ancient manor house near the junction of the Ale with the Tyne" in Cumberland.
339 sale. D: halle; Ir, L, T: sale, which alliteration requires (followed by A, G, and H).
341 innewith. D: menewith the walle (so A, G read MS); as A notes, the abbreviation strokes are not clear, and H ingeniously reads (without comment) innewith, which I adopt.
342 brauden. A reads branden, G concurs, offering "(? for braudene)"; my reading agrees with H.
352 The mon in his mantell sittes at his mete. D: Mon, in thy mantell, that sittes at thi mete; G adopts T's reading, and H emends using T, a decision I follow.
354 This line is omitted in D; supplied from T, following A, G, and H. This line may have been omitted in exemplars of the other copies as well, and supplied by scribal copying from line 510, with which it is nearly identical. The descriptions here, and of the tapestries above and the lady's cloak and Galeron's pavilion below (lines 340 ff., 367 ff., and 443 ff.) echo the elaborately embroidered materials associated in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight with the Green Knight's appearance (lines 165-66), the arming of Sir Gawain (lines 609 ff.), and the dress of Morgan (lines 959-60).
357 his beveren berde. Bertilak's beard is "bever-hwed" in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (line 845), and in the Alliterative Morte Arthure (in a scene reminiscent of Froissart's description of King Edward III's wearing a beaverskin hat in his ship before the battle of Winchelsea, 1350) Arthur is described "with beveryne lokkes" (line 3630).
360 carpes. D: talkes; Ir, T: carpis, which alliteration requires (followed by A, G, and H).
363 Whethen. D: Whelen; emended from Ir and T (followed by A, G, and H).
365 eny wy welde wolde. D: eny wede wolde; present emendation adapts T, wy myghte welde, following G.
372 prene. D: pene; Ir, L: prene, followed by A, G, and H.
375 ynoghe. D: Had I nore; Ir, T: ynoghe, followed by G, H.
381 bordur. D: brandur; Ir, L, T: bordur, followed by A, G, and H.
382 enclawet ful clene. D: white many hit seen; reading from Ir adopted for alliteration (also by A, G, and H).
385 blake. D: brake; emended for sense by A, G, and H.
387 ff. The suggestion that the cheveron - ME chaumfrein, from French chaufrein, the top or front of the horse's head-armor - makes Gawain's horse resemble a unicorn is not simply a literary fantasy. In the later Middle Ages armor for both knight and mount became ever more elaborate and decorative, and visual evidence affirms the use of dagger-like horns such as that described here.
392 that stanseld was one straye. D: golde his pencell displaied; the manuscripts show much confusion here, though Ir, L, T show vague agreement in their description. I adopt T's phrasing, though I insert Ir's stanseld; A, G, and H make other modifications.
394 graithed. D: graied; L, T: graythede; emended for sense (following A, G, and H).
396 poleinus. A and G read D as polemus; I follow H's astute reading of D and his gloss.
pelydodis. D: pelicocus; Ir: pelidoddes, L: pelydodis (emended variously by A, G, and H).
397 that lovely con lede. Variants show that scribes thought the phrase should be taken as "the knight accompanies or leads in that lovely woman": that lady gane he lede (T), that lovely he ledus he ludus (Ir, with obvious scribal error). MED, loveli, 4a, interprets the line similarly, reediting "Thus, launce opon lofte, that lovely [T: lady] he ledus" (which agrees with no manuscript reading, but follows Robson's edition, stanza XXI). But loveli, as adjective and substantive, is used of men as well as women; given that the lady has preceded Galeron into the hall and moved to the dais, it makes no sense that he would be said to be leading her. In this case, lede would mean either procede - "that worthy knight did go forward with his lance at rest" - or, better, conduct himself (see OED, lead, v.1, 9, 12, and so on) - "that worthy knight did present himself." See also line 497, where "lordes . . . hom . . . ledes" is used reflexively, meaning "the lords move."
398 A freke on a freson. A Frisian horse was apparently not an appropriate chivalric mount, but a workhorse; when Galeron offers Gawain his "freson, fairest on fote" (line 551) as a substitute steed, the latter refuses with scorn. The phrase recalls the Alliterative Morte Arthure, where a Roman warrior pursuing Gawain and his band is described (perhaps contemptuously) as a "freke alle in fyne golde . . . [who did] Come forthermaste on a fresone" (lines 1364-65).
404 herand him alle. All four manuscripts read hem alle, which may refer to the lady and Galeron, to whom Arthur will give a hearing. But the context of public speech engaging the interest of the entire court suggests the line specifies that the assembled nobility stand as witnesses for the formal exchanges and compact that follow. The phrase is equivalent to "in their hearing"; I therefore emend hem to him, reading the phrase as "with all hearing him (Arthur)." Here and in many other details the narrative emphasizes that the public, festive nature of the occasion intensifies how much of the court's reputation as the font of chivalric values is at stake in Galeron's challenge.
410 be. D lacks this word, which is supplied from Ir, L, and T (followed by A, G, and H).
412 Fighting to fraist. Galeron's statement of his desire for combat with a champion of the Round Table recalls the Green Knight's disavowal of any such interest: "Nay, frayst I no fyght, in fayth I the telle . . . Here is no mon me to mach, for myghtez so wayke" (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, lines 279-81: "Nay, I seek no fight, in faith I tell you . . . There is no man here to match me, for want of might").
415 and. D lacks this word, which occurs in Ir, L, and T.
417 Sir Galaron. Carlisle mentions "Syr Galerowne" in its roster of knights of the Round Table (line 43), and "Galyran" appears (together with Gawain) in the Alliterative Morte Arthure (line 3636). As Sir Galeron of Galloway he makes one of the twelve knights (all "of Scotlonde" or connected to Gawain's affinity) who in Malory align themselves with Mordred and Aggravayne in the ambush of Lancelot at the Castle of Carlisle (Works, p. 1164). Sir Gyngalyne, clearly the same knight as the son of Ragnelle and Gawain (Ragnelle, line 799) and identical in other romances with the Fair Unknown (Libeaus Desconus; see Carlisle, line 55 and note), is also among this group, as is Sir Gromore Somyr Joure (see Ragnelle, line 62 and note, and Turke, line 320 and note).
418 gyllis. D: grylles; Ir, L, T: gyllis (followed by A and G); H: gylles.
Galwey. Galloway is the southwesternmost territory of Scotland, northwest of Carlisle and the Solway Firth, and north of the Isle of Man (the setting of Turke). In his note (p. xli), Madden points out that from the Middle Ages Gawain was popularly known as Lord of Galloway, making Galeron's challenge to Arthur's sovereignty particularly pointed.
419 ff. Galeron's territorial possessions - the source of identity for a knight, as a member of the landed aristocracy - are all presumably in Scotland, though scribal corruption of proper names makes some difficult to locate precisely. The claim by a Scots lord that the English king had illegitimately taken his lands resonates with the continuous hostilities between England and Scotland in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It reflects also a pattern common to the Gawain romances, whereby the Arthurian court (often set in its familiar seat at Carlisle, near the northern border) gains possession or control of far-flung, sometimes exotic or magical (and often Celtic) territories and provinces. At the point when Galeron accepts Arthur's lordship and joins the Round Table, he has some of the lands mentioned in these lines restored to him by Gawain (lines 677 ff. and note).
424 unwylles. D: umwylles; Ir, L: unwilles, followed by A, G, and H.
433 What motivates Galeron is less an internalized sense of righteousness than his public identity derived from the honor of his lordship, and the desire to avoid the shame of public derision for non-action.
434 ff. Arthur's remarks here point up the intrusive character of Sir Galeron's combat-ready status. He sits upon his charger in battle armor, facing a court that is on holiday and unready for the rites of chivalric violence. The scene precisely repeats the opening confrontations of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Greene Knight, where a mounted knight challenges the court. It also resembles the opening of Ragnelle, where Arthur, in the midst of a hunt, is approached by the armed Sir Gromer Somer Joure, who unchivalrously coerces the King's agreement in a compact. Galeron has demonstrated his own knightly honor by insisting that he wishes to fight by the laws of war, "On a faire felde" (line 429). In its adherence to the codes of chivalric combat, promoting honor through ritualized but unrestrained violence, the fight between the two heroes in the present poem resembles that between Gawain and Gologras, even down to the description of particular details and the use of verbal formulas; see line 499 below, with note, and Gologras, lines 586, 754, 807, and notes.
438 H emends ingeniously to I rede the, renke, rest the al night, which suits the alliterative pattern; A and G adopt readings from T. I have left D unemended.
443 it. D lacks this word, which is supplied from L and T (followed by A, G, and H).
450 Sanapes and salers. D: sanape and saler; Ir, L, T: sanapes and salers, followed by A, G, and H.
471 God stond with the right. Gawain's assertion here is not simply equivalent to "May the best man win," but a statement of an honor code's fundamental commitment to the display or vindication of worship through violence. The public and ritualized combat of the joust or duel, like an ordeal, assumes that God's honor is at stake as well, or at least that divine justice supports the rightness of the outcome. Awntyrs itself creates a showcase for the display of chivalric honor, even as it raises questions (through Guenevere's mother, Galeron's complaints, or the references to the poor) about the self-evident rightness of traditional aristocratic values.
475 Plumton Land. Plumpton and Plumpton Head are villages in Cumberland, south of Carlisle, along the Roman road that passes alongside Inglewood Forest and the Tarn Wathelene.
477 Thei setten listes. Here and at lines 489 and 497 listes refers to the barriers that enclose the area set off for the joust between the two knights, and perhaps as well to a central barrier or palisade serving to keep the mounted knights apart but on course as they rush at each other with lances. The rule-bound and spectacular nature of the chivalric ethos emerges clearly in the care given to organizing this combat, including the installation of viewing places for the King and other noble witnesses (line 492). Two further examples from Malory (Works, pp. 518, 1233, cited by H), and Chaucer's description of Theseus' seat in the Knight's Tale, equally emphasize the essential role of display and judgment in chivalric combat.
bylyve. I agree with H, where A and G read by lyne.
482 kindeli. D: krudely; Ir: kindeli (followed by G, whose reading I adopt); H takes krudely as a garbled proper name.
490 Alle bot. D: bothe, without Alle; Ir, L, T: Alle bot, followed by A, G, and H.
492 Abowve. D: Quene; Ir, L, T: Abowve, followed by A, G, and H.
495 ff. The single combat that follows underscores Gawain's role as the preeminent champion of the Round Table. It strikingly resembles Gawain's part as representative of the Round Table in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and his comparably bloody duels with Sir Gologras (see note at lines 434 ff., above) and with Sir Piramus in the Alliterative Morte Arthure (lines 2513 ff.).
499 The burnes broched the blonkes that the side bledis. Gologras offers almost identical phrasing of this distinctive alliterative formula; see lines 306, 754.
509 griffons of golde engreled. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Gawain's heraldic device is the pentangle; in the Alliterative Morte Arthure, Kyng Froderike of Frisia asks Mordred about the knight "with the gaye armes, / With this gryffoune of golde" (lines 3868-69). In Carlisle (lines 80 ff.), the arms of Sir Ironside (son of the Knyght of Armus Grene) consist of a golden griffin on a field of blue, surrounded by fleurs-de-lis. In Carle (lines 55 ff.; see note), Ironside bears similar arms, though apparently with several griffins, which are said to be those of his father (the Knight of Green Arms) with a difference. In one fifteenth-century album of arms, Gawain's device is said to be three golden lions' heads on an azure field, or, alternatively, three golden griffins on a green field (see General Introduction, note 21). It may be that the arms of Gawain or his kin have been mistakenly transferred to Ironside; see the notes accompanying the lines in Carlisle and Carle mentioned above.
511 startand. D: staryand; Ir, T: startand, followed by A, G, and H.
he. D: that; Ir, L, T: he, followed by A, G, and H.
521-22 These lines echo the description in the Alliterative Morte Arthure of the blows Arthur strikes against Mordred:
The cantelle of the clere schelde he kerfes in sondyre,A further variation of line 521 occurs in Gologras: "And claif throw the cantell of the clene schelde"; see line 937 and note.
Into the schuldyre of the schalke a schaftmonde large.
522 shinand. D: shiand; I emend spelling for sense.
523 the lathely lord. D: the lady loude; L: lothely that lord, adopted by G; H: lathely.
536 skrikes. D: skirkes; I emend spelling for sense, following G and H.
539 of his grace. D: fele sithe; Ir, L: of his grace, followed by A, G, and H.
540 swithely. D: swathel; G: swithely.
542 bi the Rode. D: o the grounde; Ir: bi the Rode, followed by A, G, and H for the sake of rhyme.
544 He was swithely smert. D: Of he were hasty and smert; line supplied from L (following G), for the sake of sense.
546 Grissell. Gawain's horse bears this name (meaning "gray") in no other romance; in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (as in Chrétien and other French romances) Gawain's horse is Gryngolet (line 597 and elsewhere).
559 wepputte. D: siked; I emend to Ir's reading (following A, G, and H) for the sake of concatenation with the first line of the following stanza.
562 ff. The action of these lines is so compacted that it is hard to follow. With the killing of Gawain's horse and his refusal of another mount, Galeron feels drede - doubt, not fear - about how the combat should properly continue. He boldely - vigorously - spurs his horse across the field, so that he can dismount and continue the fight fairly, on foot (lines 566-67); but first he taunts Gawain for his want of action (line 564) in the wake of Grissell's death. A and H take line 564 as spoken by Gawain, not Galeron.
565 Other editors place quotation marks at the end of this line, making it part of the direct discourse of the preceding line. As a marker of time on the part of the narrator, the line seems to recall Gawain's mythic associations with the sun god, whereby his strength increased until noon and diminished afterward (see Stanzaic Morte Arthur lines 2802-07, and Malory, Works, pp. 1216-17).
567 yare. D: thare; Ir, L: yare, followed by A, G, and H.
576 D omits this line; I follow H in substituting L's line.
577 brouched. A, G read bronched, which A glosses as "pierced" and G glosses as "crouched"; I follow H in my reading of the manuscript.
591 stright. D: stight; Ir: streghte, followed by A and G; H: stright, emended for rhyme.
594-98 D gives the following for these lines:
Then gretes Gaynour, with bothe her gray ene,The nonsensical use of rhyming tags and the lack of concatenation with the following stanza indicate the lines are corrupt; A, G, and H emend. I follow G in adopting L for these lines.
For tho doughti that fight,
Were manly mached of might
Withoute reson or right,
As al men sene.
595 Sir Lete and Sir Lake. A and H follow Ir, where the first name reads Lote, no doubt King Lot of Lothian and Orkney, Gawain's father; A and H identify Lake as the father of Erec, King Lac. Medieval forms of address almost never make use of the last term (derived from a place or family name) in a knight's title, so that an allusion to Lancelot de Lake or to Arrak Fiz Lake (that is Erec, son of King Lac, line 654) could not be intended here.
600 wound. D: wounded; I follow A, G, and H for the sake of rhyme.
602 stound. D: stonded; A, H: stound.
603 the knyght. D lacks the article, which is supplied from Ir and L (so emended by A, G, and H).
609 unredely. I follow H's reading of D.
610 on his tras. I retain the reading of D, which makes adequate sense. A, G, and H emend to Ir's on his face (T: faas). All three editors seem to take this literally as specifying the place where Galeron attacks Gawain. The immense array of words for "face," "visage," "countenance," "look," "gaze," "glance," and so on, which occurs throughout Awntyrs, Gologras, and other martial chivalric romances, may indicate that this should be taken as an adverbial phrase of manner: Galeron, wounded and exhausted, makes his last desperate attack "in Gawain's face" - that is, without any care for self-protection, in full view of others and especially of one's adversary, and therefore in the face of ultimate threat. Such a usage resembles phrases appropriated by American English from African-American dialects: "in your face," "in your face disgrace," "get out of my face." As in chivalric romances, such contemporary phrases contain traces of orality and oral contest, and insist that the ultimate point of self-display in an honor society is to command the attention of others. In such situations, success does not depend upon physical victory, for dying gloriously (as Galeron seems about to do) can be a vindication of honor; success instead consists in making a spectacle of honor and prowess and of forcing others - in particular, the adversary - to witness and assent to it, as the court and Gawain do here.
613 a cast of the carhonde. D: a scas of care; Ir: a cast of the carhonde, followed by A, G, and H.
cantil. I follow H's reading, where A and G give cautil ("craft," "deceit").
618 bi the coler. Gawain takes hold of Galeron by his coler, the part of his armor that protects his neck and throat (the gorget). The idiomatic use of "collar" as a verb does not seem implied here, and is not recorded in English until the sixteenth century.
625 Than wilfully. D: wisly, without than; T: Than wilfully, followed by A, G, and H for concatenation.
625 ff. The Queen's plea for mercy, on bended knee before her sovereign, seeking the life of a captive knight, is a stylized scene in chronicle and romance. A notable instance occurs in Froissart, when six citizens of Calais, stripped to their undergarments with nooses around their necks, present themselves to Edward III and offer him the keys to their city. When Edward orders them put to death, "the noble Queen of England, pregnant as she was, humbly threw herself on her knees before the King and said, weeping: 'Ah, my dear lord, since I crossed the sea at great danger to myself, you know that I have never asked a single favour from you. But now I ask you in all humility, in the name of the Son of the Blessed Mary and by the love you bear me, to have mercy on these six men.' The King remained silent for a time, looking at his gentle wife as she knelt in tears before him. His heart was softened . . . , and at last he said: 'My lady, I could wish you were anywhere else but here. Your appeal has so touched me that I cannot refuse it. So, although I do this against my will, here, take them. They are yours to do what you like with"' (Froissart: Chronicles, trans. Geoffrey Bereton, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969, p. 109). Similar scenes of queenly intervention occur in Chaucer's Knight's Tale and Wife of Bath's Tale. In the morality play Pride of Life, the Queen of Life attempts to warn her mate against deadly arrogance; in the romance Athelston, the pregnant Queen kneels and begs mercy for the King's sworn brother, though he strikes her and thereby kills their unborn heir. These poetical and dramatic scenes underscore the conventionality of Froissart's anecdote, discussed by Paul Strohm in "Queens as Intercessors," Hochon's Arrow: The Social Imagination of Fourteenth-Century Texts (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1992), pp. 95-119.
627 Roye. D: ioy; L, T: roye, followed by A, G, and H.
634 I follow H's punctuation, which makes leve not an adjective ("dear lord"), but a subjunctive verb form ("if you would allow").
637 here. D: ther; L, T: here, followed by A, G, and H.
640 releyse. Galeron here uses a quasi-technical term in giving a quitclaim on Gawain's estates; since he makes it byfore thiese ryalle - in the royal presence - it stands as a legally binding agreement. A knight's word delivered in public, oral performance thus becomes the ultimate example and guarantee of his honor.
641 byfore thiese ryalle, resynge. D: by rial reyson relese; I adopt T's reading, following A, G, and H.
654 Ewayn Fiz Uryayn. D: Ewayn Fiz Grian; the other manuscripts contain different variants, and I adapt the spelling "Uryayn" [Urian] from Ir's Fusuryayn.
654-55 The names of the knights specified here appear muddled because of scribal transmission. Carlisle includes in its roster of the Round Table Syr Eweyne the Uyttryan (line 40 - Ywain fitz Urien) and Syr Mewreke (line 34). Before the final battle with Mordred in the Alliterative Morte Arthure, Arthur arrays his troops so that
Sir Ewayne, and Sir Errake, and othire gret lordesThe group that runs to the lists in Awntyrs clearly seems to be drawn from this passage.
Demenys the medilwarde menskefully thareaftyre,
With Merrake and Meneduke, myghtty of strenghes
655 Marrake and Moylard. D: Sir Drurelat and Moylard; Ir, L, T mention Marrake, and all three garble a second alliterating name (Melidule, Marcaduk, Menegalle). A, G, H emend to Meneduke (as found in the Alliterative Morte Arthure; see previous note). I follow the other editors in substituting Marrake for the non-alliterating Drurelat, but retain D's Moylard as metrically appropriate (if otherwise unknown).
664 ff. Arthur seems here to bestow upon Gawain, in compensation for the territories he is about to restore to Galeron, the lordship of Wales together with a collection of individual lands. Glamorganshire occupies the southeast portion of Wales, with its major towns Cardiff and Swansea on the Bristol Channel. Bretayne likely refers to Brittany, an area of northwestern France with strong Celtic links. The other place names cannot be precisely identified; A and H assume they refer to towns in Wales or northern England. Ulstur Halle and Waterforde might as easily refer to Ireland; the English crown was actively involved in holding and developing its possessions in these two areas of Ireland during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The vagueness and interchangeability of reference to these fringe territories underscores their function in the Gawain romances as tokens of Arthur's kingly power; such scenes suggest that the English king can give away to his vassals (and thus retain control of) the entire Celtic world. In granting Gawain The worship of Wales Arthur seems close to endowing Gawain with the principality of Wales. From the time of Edward III (fourteenth century, a generation or so before the composition of Awntyrs), the eldest son of the king was created Prince of Wales by the monarch to signify his status as heir to the throne. Given that he has no son (except Mordred), Arthur's bestowal here of The worship of Wales upon Gawain seems to hint at the possibility that the King intends his sister's son to be his successor; in any case, the title given here would have special resonance for a medieval audience.
666 at wolde. D: al wolde; I follow emendation of A, G, and H.
667 Criffones Castelles. Ir: kirfre castell; T: Gryffones castelle. I take this as another garbled place name, though (as the scribe of T suggests in his rationalized reading) one might stretch the line to mean "crenelated castles with griffins." The latter symbols are associated with Gawain in romance heraldry; see Carlisle, lines 80 ff. and note, and Carle, lines 55 ff. and note.
669 wallede. D: in Wales; Ir, L, T: wallede, followed by A, G, and H.
672 doue. D: dight; Ir: doue; T: endewe; A, G: endowe (misreading T); H: dowe, emending spelling.
677 Gawayn. D: G.; I expand abbreviation, with G.
678 ff. Gawain's gift returns to Galeron some of those territories Arthur had bestowed upon Gawain (though not Galloway; compare lines 418, 419 ff. and notes). Except for the names repeated from this earlier passage, none of the place names can be identified with certainty, and equally garbled names appear in the other manuscripts. Though some invite guesses (Lother, the Lowther Hills?; Carlele itself), they seem mainly to serve as empty markers of Arthur's power to exercise dominion over border territories; indeed, Galeron seems positioned - as a lord with holdings in both Scotland and England - as a marcher lord, entrusted with resolving differences between emergent national identities.
680 There are several erasures and additions to the line in D, and the other manuscripts show more confusion than usual. I follow G in simply retaining D with its inserted corrections.
683 Withthi. I follow H in supplying this word from Ir as a connective.
our. D: your; Ir, L: our, followed by H.
thou. D: to; Ir: thou, followed by H.
684 make thy. D: to make (corrected in MS); L: make thy, followed by H.
685 the. D: him; Ir, L: the, followed by H.
693 saned. A and G read D as saved; I follow H's equally plausible reading of the MS (here and in line 699) since it seems more appropriate.
696 wlonkest. D: slonkest; Ir: wlonkest, so emended by G and H.
703 into. D: in; Ir, L, T: into, followed by A, G, and H.
708 belles the burde. D: besely the burde; G: belles the burde, followed by H. The ringing of church bells usually signals public celebration, and in particular marks the passage of a soul from Purgatory; St. Erkenwald (which, like Awntyrs, has connections to the Trental of St. Gregory) ends on this same note.
709 Ingulwud. D: Englond; Ir: Ingulwud, followed by G and emended for spelling by H.
711 holtis. D: haast; Ir, T: holtis, followed by A, G, and H (with modification).
714-15 In having these last lines almost precisely repeat the opening lines, Awntyrs creates a final stanzaic concatenation that links the whole poem in a circular structure. A number of other alliterative poems, most of them nearly contemporary with Awntyrs, employ this structural device; these include Avowyng, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Patience. T provides a colophon in couplets following the final line: "This ferly byfelle, full sothely to sayne, / In Yggillwode Foreste at the Tern Wathelayne." For this location, see line 2 and note.
In the tyme of Arthur an aunter bytydde,
By the Turne Wathelan, as the boke telles,
Whan he to Carlele was comen, that conquerour kydde,
With dukes and dussiperes that with the dere dwelles.
To hunte at the herdes that longe had ben hydde,
On a day thei hem dight to the depe delles,
To fall of the femailes in forest were frydde,
Fayre by the fermesones in frithes and felles.1
Thus to wode arn thei went, the wlonkest in wedes,
Bothe the Kyng and the Quene,
And al the doughti bydene.
Sir Gawayn, gayest on grene,
Dame Gaynour he ledes.
Thus Sir Gawayn the gay Gaynour he ledes,
In a gleterand gide that glemed full gay -
With riche ribaynes reversset, ho so right redes,2
Rayled with rybees of riall array;
Her hode of a hawe huwe, ho that here hede hedes,
Of pillour, of palwerk, of perré to pay;3
Schurde in a short cloke that the rayne shedes,
Set over with saffres sothely to say,
With saffres and seladynes set by the sides;
Here sadel sette of that ilke,
Saude with sambutes of silke;
On a mule as the mylke,
Gaili she glides.
Al in gleterand golde, gayly ho glides
The gates with Sir Gawayn, bi the grene welle.
And that burne on his blonke with the Quene bides
That borne was in Borgoyne, by boke and by belle.4
He ladde that Lady so longe by the lawe sides;
Under a lorre they light, loghe by a felle.
And Arthur with his erles ernestly rides,
To teche hem to her tristres, the trouthe for to telle.5
To here tristres he hem taught, ho the trouthe trowes.
Eche lorde withouten lette
To an oke he hem sette,
With bowe and with barselette,
Under the bowes.
Under the bowes thei bode, thes burnes so bolde,
To byker at thes baraynes in bonkes so bare.
There might hatheles in high herdes beholde,
Herken huntyng in hast, in holtes so hare.
Thei kest of here couples in cliffes so colde,
Conforte her kenettes to kele hem of care.
Thei fel of the femayles ful thikfolde;
With fressh houndes and fele, thei folowen her fare.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
With gret questes and quelles,
Both in frethes and felles.
All the dure in the delles,
Thei durken and dare.
Then durken the dere in the dymme skuwes,
That for drede of the deth droupes the do.
And by the stremys so strange that swftly swoghes
Thai werray the wilde and worchen hem wo.
The huntes thei halowe, in hurstes and huwes,
And till thaire riste raches relyes on the ro.6
They gaf to no gamon grythe that on grounde gruwes.
The grete greundes in the greves so glady thei go;
So gladly thei gon in greves so grene.
The King blowe rechas
And folowed fast on the tras
With many sergeant of mas,
That solas to sene.
With solas thei semble, the pruddest in palle,
And suwen to the Soverayne within schaghes schene.
Al but Sir Gawayn, gayest of all,
Beleves with Dame Gaynour in greves so grene.
By a lorer ho was light, undur a lefesale
Of box and of berber bigged ful bene.
Fast byfore undre this ferly con fall
And this mekel mervaile that I shal of mene.
Now wol I of this mervaile mele, if I mote.
The day wex als dirke
As hit were mydnight myrke;
Thereof the King was irke
And light on his fote.
Thus to fote ar thei faren, the frekes unfayn,
And fleen fro the forest to the fawe felle.
Thay ranne faste to the roches, for reddoure of the raynne
For the sneterand snawe snartly hem snelles.
There come a lowe one the loughe - in londe is not to layne -7
In the lyknes of Lucyfere, laytheste in Helle,
And glides to Sir Gawayn the gates to gayne,
Yauland and yomerand, with many loude yelle.
Hit yaules, hit yameres, with waymynges wete,
And seid, with siking sare,
"I ban the body me bare!
Alas! Now kindeles my care;
I gloppen and I grete!"
Then gloppenet and grete Gaynour the gay
And seid to Sir Gawen, "What is thi good rede?"
"Hit ar the clippes of the son, I herd a clerk say,"
And thus he confortes the Quene for his knighthede.
"Sir Cadour, Sir Clegis, Sir Costardyne, Sir Cay -
Thes knyghtes arn uncurtays, by Crosse and by Crede,
That thus oonly have me laft on my dethday
With the grisselist goost that ever herd I grede."
"Of the goost," quod the grome, "greve you no mare,
For I shal speke with the sprete.
And of the wayes I shall wete,
What may the bales bete
Of the bodi bare."
Bare was the body and blak to the bone,
Al biclagged in clay uncomly cladde.
Hit waried, hit wayment as a woman,
But on hide ne on huwe no heling hit hadde.
Hit stemered, hit stonayde, hit stode as a stone,
Hit marred, hit memered, hit mused for madde.8
Agayn the grisly goost Sir Gawayn is gone;
He rayked oute at a res, for he was never drad.
Drad was he never, ho so right redes.
On the chef of the cholle,
A pade pikes on the polle,
With eighen holked ful holle
That gloed as the gledes.
Al glowed as a glede the goste there ho glides,
Umbeclipped in a cloude of clethyng unclere,
Serkeled with serpentes all aboute the sides -
To tell the todes theron my tonge wer full tere.9
The burne braides oute the bronde, and the body bides;10
Therefor the chevalrous knight changed no chere.
The houndes highen to the holtes, and her hede hides,
For the grisly goost made a grym bere.
The grete greundes wer agast of the grym bere.
The birdes in the bowes,
That on the goost glowes,
Thei skryke in the skowes
That hatheles may here.
Hathelese might here, the hendeste in halle,
How chatered the cholle, the chaftis and the chynne.
Then conjured the knight - on Crist con he calle:
"As thou was crucifiged on Croys to clanse us of syn:
That thou sei me the sothe whether thou shalle,11
And whi thou walkest thes wayes the wodes within."
"I was of figure and face fairest of alle,
Cristened and knowen with kinges in my kynne;
I have kinges in my kyn knowen for kene.
God has me geven of his grace
To dre my paynes in this place.
I am comen in this cace
To speke with your Quene.
"Quene was I somwile, brighter of browes
Then Berell or Brangwayn, thes burdes so bolde;
Of al gamen or gle that on grounde growes
Gretter then Dame Gaynour, of garson and golde,
Of palaies, of parkes, of pondes, of plowes,
Of townes, of toures, of tresour untolde,
Of castelles, of contreyes, of cragges, of clowes.
Now am I caught oute of kide to cares so colde;
Into care am I caught and couched in clay.
Lo, sir curtays kniyght,
How delfulle deth has me dight!
Lete me onys have a sight
Of Gaynour the gay."
After Gaynour the gay Sir Gawyn is gon,
And to the body he her brought, the burde bright.
"Welcom, Waynour, iwis, worthi in won.
Lo, how delful deth has thi dame dight!
I was radder of rode then rose in the ron,
My ler as the lelé lonched on hight.
Now am I a graceles gost, and grisly I gron;
With Lucyfer in a lake logh am I light.
Thus am I lyke to Lucefere: takis witnes by mee!
For al thi fressh foroure,
Muse on my mirrour;
For, king and emperour,
Thus dight shul ye be.
"Thus dethe wil you dight, thare you not doute;
Thereon hertly take hede while thou art here.
Whan thou art richest arraied and ridest in thi route,
Have pité on the poer - thou art of power.12
Burnes and burdes that ben the aboute,
When thi body is bamed and brought on a ber,
Then lite wyn the light that now wil the loute,13
For then the helpes no thing but holy praier.
The praier of poer may purchas the pes -
Of that thou yeves at the yete,14
Whan thou art set in thi sete,
With al merthes at mete
And dayntés on des.
"With riche dayntés on des thi diotes ar dight,
And I, in danger and doel, in dongone I dwelle,
Naxte and nedefull, naked on night.
Ther folo me a ferde of fendes of helle;
They hurle me unhendely; thei harme me in hight;
In bras and in brymston I bren as a belle.
Was never wrought in this world a wofuller wight.
Hit were ful tore any tonge my turment to telle;
Nowe wil Y of my turment tel or I go.
Thenk hertly on this -
Fonde to mende thi mys.
Thou art warned ywys:
Be war be my wo."
"Wo is me for thi wo," quod Waynour, "ywys!
But one thing wold I wite, if thi wil ware:
If auther matens or Mas might mende thi mys,
Or eny meble on molde? My merthe were the mare
If bedis of bisshopps might bring the to blisse,
Or coventes in cloistre might kere the of care.
If thou be my moder, grete mervaile hit is
That al thi burly body is broughte to be so bare!"
"I bare the of my body; what bote is hit I layn?
I brak a solempne avowe,
And no man wist hit but thowe;
By that token thou trowe,
That sothely I sayn."
"Say sothely what may the saven of thi sytis
And I shal make sere men to singe for thi sake.
But the baleful bestes that on thi body bites
Al blendis my ble - thi bones arn so blake!"15
"That is luf paramour, listes and delites
That has me light and laft logh in a lake.
Al the welth of the world, that awey witis
With the wilde wormes that worche me wrake;
Wrake thei me worchen, Waynour, iwys.
Were thritty trentales don
Bytwene under and non,
Mi soule were socoured with son
And brought to the blys."
"To blisse bring the the Barne that bought the on Rode,16
That was crucifiged on Croys and crowned with thorne.
As thou was cristened and crisomed with candel and code,
Folowed in fontestone on frely byforne -
Mary the mighti, myldest of mode,
Of whom the blisful barne in Bedlem was borne,
Lene me grace that I may grete the with gode
And mynge the with matens and Masses on morne."
"To mende us with Masses, grete myster hit were.
For Him that rest on the Rode,
Gyf fast of thi goode
To folke that failen the fode
While thou art here."
"Here hertly my honde thes hestes to holde,
With a myllion of Masses to make the mynnyng.
Bot one word," quod Waynour, "yit weten I wolde:
What wrathed God most, at thi weting?"
"Pride with the appurtenaunce, as prophetez han tolde
Bifore the peple, apertly in her preching.
Hit beres bowes bitter: therof be thou bolde;
That makes burnes so boune to breke his bidding.
But ho his bidding brekes, bare thei ben of blys;
But thei be salved of that sare,
Er they hethen fare,
They mon weten of care,
"Wysse me," quod Waynour, "som wey, if thou wost,
What bedis might me best to the blisse bring?"
"Mekenesse and mercy, thes arn the moost;
And sithen have pité on the poer, that pleses Heven king.
Sithen charité is chef, and then is chaste,
And then almessedede aure al other thing.
Thes arn the graceful giftes of the Holy Goste
That enspires iche sprete withoute speling.
Of this spiritual thing spute thou no mare.
Als thou art Quene in thi quert,
Hold thes wordes in hert.
Thou shal leve but a stert;
Hethen shal thou fare."
"How shal we fare," quod the freke, "that fonden to fight,
And thus defoulen the folke on fele kinges londes,
And riches over reymes withouten eny right,
Wynnen worshipp in werre thorgh wightnesse of hondes?"17
"Your King is to covetous, I warne the sir knight.
May no man stry him with strenght while his whele stondes.18
Whan he is in his magesté, moost in his might,
He shal light ful lowe on the sesondes.
And this chivalrous Kinge chef shall a chaunce:
Falsely Fortune in fight,
That wonderfull wheelwryght,
Shall make lordes to light -
Take witnesse by Fraunce.
"Fraunce haf ye frely with your fight wonnen;
Freol and his folke, fey ar they leved.
Bretayne and Burgoyne al to you bowen,
And al the Dussiperes of Fraunce with your dyn deved.
Gyan may grete the werre was bigonen;
There ar no lordes on lyve in that londe leved.
Yet shal the riche Romans with you be aurronen,
And with the Rounde Table the rentes be reved;
Then shal a Tyber untrue tymber you tene.19
Gete the, Sir Gawayn:
Turne the to Tuskayn.
For ye shul lese Bretayn
With a knight kene.
"This knight shal kenely croyse the crowne,
And at Carlele shal that comly be crowned as king.
That sege shal be sesede at a sesone
That myche baret and bale to Bretayn shal bring.
Hit shal in Tuskan be tolde of the treson,
And ye shullen turne ayen for the tydynge.
Ther shal the Rounde Table lese the renoune:
Beside Ramsey ful rad at a riding
In Dorsetshire shal dy the doughtest of alle.
Gete the, Sir Gawayn,
The boldest of Bretayne;
In a slake thou shal be slayne,
Sich ferlyes shull falle.
"Suche ferlies shull fal, withoute eny fable,
Uppon Cornewayle coost with a knight kene.
Sir Arthur the honest, avenant and able,
He shal be wounded, iwys - wothely, I wene.
And al the rial rowte of the Rounde Table,
Thei shullen dye on a day, the doughty bydene,
Suppriset with a suget: he beris hit in sable,20
With a sauter engreled of silver full shene.
He beris hit of sable, sothely to say;
In riche Arthures halle,
The barne playes at the balle
That outray shall you alle,
Delfully that day.
"Have gode day, Gaynour, and Gawayn the gode;
I have no lenger tome tidinges to telle.
I mot walke on my wey thorgh this wilde wode
In my wonyngstid in wo for to welle.
Fore Him that rightwisly rose and rest on the Rode,
Thenke on the danger and the dole that I yn dwell.
Fede folke for my sake that failen the fode
And menge me with matens and Masse in melle.
Masses arn medecynes to us that bale bides;
Us thenke a Masse as swete
As eny spice that ever ye yete."
With a grisly grete
The goste awey glides.
With a grisly grete the goost awey glides
And goes with gronyng sore thorgh the greves grene.
The wyndes, the weders, the welken unhides -
Then unclosed the cloudes, the son con shene.
The King his bugle has blowen and on the bent bides;
His fare folke in the frith, thei flokken bydene,
And al the riall route to the Quene rides;
She sayes hem the selcouthes that thei hadde ther seen.
The wise of the weder, forwondred they were.
Prince proudest in palle,
Dame Gaynour and alle,
Went to Rondoles Halle
To the suppere.
The King to souper is set, served in sale,
Under a siller of silke dayntly dight
With al worshipp and wele, innewith the walle,
Briddes brauden and brad in bankers bright.21
There come in a soteler with a symballe,
A lady lufsom of lote ledand a knight;
Ho raykes up in a res bifor the Rialle
And halsed Sir Arthur hendly on hight.
Ho said to the Soverayne, wlonkest in wede,
"Mon makeles of might,
Here commes an errant knight.
Do him reson and right
For thi manhede."
The mon in his mantell sittes at his mete
In pal pured to pay, prodly pight,
Trofelyte and traverste with trewloves in trete;22
The tasses were of topas that wer thereto tight.
He gliffed up with his eighen that grey wer and grete,
With his beveren berde, on that burde bright.
He was the soveraynest of al sitting in sete
That ever segge had sen with his eye sight.
King crowned in kith carpes hir tille:
"Welcom, worthely wight -
He shal have reson and right!
Whethen is the comli knight,
If hit be thi wille?"
Ho was the worthiest wight that eny wy welde wolde;23
Here gide was glorious and gay, of a gresse grene.
Here belle was of blunket, with birdes ful bolde,
Brauded with brende gold, and bokeled ful bene.24
Here fax in fyne perré was fretted in folde,
Contrefelet and kelle coloured full clene,
With a crowne craftly al of clene golde.
Here kercheves were curiouse with many proude prene,
Her perré was praysed with prise men of might:25
Bright birdes and bolde
Had ynoghe to beholde
Of that frely to folde,
And on the hende knight.
The knight in his colours was armed ful clene,
With his comly crest clere to beholde,
His brené and his basnet burneshed ful bene,
With a bordur abought al of brende golde.
His mayles were mylke white, enclawet ful clene;
His horse trapped of that ilke, as true men me tolde;
His shelde on his shulder of silver so shene,
With bere hedes of blake browed ful bolde;
His horse in fyne sandel was trapped to the hele.
And, in his cheveron biforne,
Stode as an unicorne,
Als sharp as a thorne,
An anlas of stele.
In stele he was stuffed, that stourne uppon stede,
Al of sternes of golde, that stanseld was one straye;
His gloves, his gamesons glowed as a glede
With graynes of rebé that graithed ben gay.
And his schene schynbaudes, that sharp wer to shrede,
His poleinus with pelydodis were poudred to pay.
With a launce on loft that lovely con lede;26
A freke on a freson him folowed, in fay.
The freson was afered for drede of that fare,
For he was selden wonte to se
The tablet fluré:
Siche gamen ne gle
Sagh he never are.
Arthur asked on hight, herand him alle:
"What woldes thou, wee, if hit be thi wille?27
Tel me what thou seches and whether thou shalle,
And whi thou, sturne on thi stede, stondes so stille?"28
He wayved up his viser fro his ventalle;
With a knightly contenaunce, he carpes him tille:
"Whether thou be cayser or king, her I the becalle
Fore to finde me a freke to fight with my fille.
Fighting to fraist I fonded fro home."29
Then seid the King uppon hight,
"If thou be curteys knight,
Late and lenge al nyght,
And tel me thi nome."
"Mi name is Sir Galaron, withouten eny gile,
The grettest of Galwey of greves and gyllis,
Of Connok, of Conyngham, and also Kyle,
Of Lomond, of Losex, of Loyan hilles.
Thou has wonen hem in werre with a wrange wile
And geven hem to Sir Gawayn - that my hert grylles.
But he shal wring his honde and warry the wyle,
Er he weld hem, ywys, agayn myn unwylles.30
Bi al the welth of the worlde, he shal hem never welde,
While I the hede may bere,
But if he wyn hem in were,
With a shelde and a spere,
On a faire felde.
"I wol fight on a felde - thereto I make feith -
With eny freke uppon folde that frely is borne.
To lese suche a lordshipp me wolde thenke laith,31
And iche lede opon lyve wold lagh me to scorne."
"We ar in the wode went to walke on oure waith,32
To hunte at the hertes with hounde and with horne.
We ar in oure gamen; we have no gome graithe,33
But yet thou shalt be mached be mydday tomorne.
Forthi I rede the, thenke rest al night."
Gawayn, grathest of all,
Ledes him oute of the hall
Into a pavilion of pall
That prodly was pight.
Pight was it prodly with purpour and palle,
Birdes brauden above, in brend gold bright.
Inwith was a chapell, a chambour, a halle,34
A chymné with charcole to chaufe the knight.
His stede was stabled and led to the stalle;
Hay hertly he had in haches on hight.
Sithen thei braide up a borde, and clothes thei calle,
Sanapes and salers, semly to sight,
Torches and brochetes and stondardes bitwene.35
Thus thei served that knight
And his worthely wight,
With rich dayntes dight
In silver so shene.
In silver so semely thei served of the best,
With vernage in veres and cuppes ful clene.
And thus Sir Gawayn the good glades hour gest,
With riche dayntees endored in disshes bydene.
Whan the riall renke was gone to his rest,
The King to counsaile has called his knightes so kene.
"Loke nowe, lordes, oure lose be not lost.36
Ho shal encontre with the knight? Kestes you bitwene."
Then seid Gawayn the goode, "Shal hit not greve.
Here my honde I you hight,
I woll fight with the knight
In defence of my right,
Lorde, by your leve."
"I leve wel," quod the King. "Thi lates ar light,37
But I nolde for no lordeshipp se thi life lorne."
"Let go!" quod Sir Gawayn. "God stond with the right!38
If he skape skathlesse, hit were a foule skorne."
In the daying of the day, the doughti were dight,
And herden matens and Masse erly on morne.
By that on Plumton Land a palais was pight,
Were never freke opon folde had foughten biforne.
Thei setten listes bylyve on the logh lande.39
Thre soppes demayn
Thei brought to Sir Gawayn
For to confort his brayn,
The King gared commaunde.
The King commaunded kindeli the Erlis son of Kent:
"Curtaysly in this case, take kepe to the knight."40
With riche dayntees or day he dyned in his tente;
After buskes him in a brené that burneshed was bright.41
Sithen to Waynour wisly he went;
He laft in here warde his worthly wight.
After aither in high hour horses thei hent,
And at the listes on the lande lordely done light
Alle bot thes two burnes, baldest of blode.
The Kinges chaier is set
Abowve on a chacelet;
Many galiard gret
For Gawayn the gode.
Gawayn and Galerone gurden her stedes;
Al in gleterand golde, gay was here gere.
The lordes bylyve hom to list ledes,
With many serjant of mace, as was the manere.42
The burnes broched the blonkes that the side bledis;
Ayther freke opon folde has fastned his spere.
Shaftes in shide wode thei shindre in shedes,
So jolilé thes gentil justed on were!
Shaftes thei shindre in sheldes so shene,
And sithen, with brondes bright,
Riche mayles thei right.
There encontres the knight
With Gawayn on grene.
Gawayn was gaily grathed in grene,
With his griffons of golde engreled full gay,
Trifeled with tranes and trueloves bitwene;
On a startand stede he strikes on stray.
That other in his turnaying, he talkes in tene:
"Whi drawes thou the on dregh and makes siche deray?"43
He swapped him yn at the swyre with a swerde kene;
That greved Sir Gawayn to his dethday.
The dyntes of that doughty were doutwis bydene;
Fifté mayles and mo
The swerde swapt in two,
The canelbone also,
And clef his shelde shene.
He clef thorgh the cantell that covered the knight,
Thorgh the shinand shelde a shaftmon and mare.
And then the lathely lord lowe uppon hight,
And Gawayn greches therwith and gremed ful sare:
"I shal rewarde the thi route, if I con rede right."44
He folowed in on the freke with a fressh fare;
Thorgh blason and brené, that burneshed wer bright,
With a burlich bronde thorgh him he bare.
The bronde was blody that burneshed was bright.45
Then gloppened that gay -
Hit was no ferly, in fay.
The sturne strikes on stray
In stiropes stright.
Streyte in his steroppes, stoutely he strikes,
And waynes at Sir Wawayn als he were wode.
Then his lemman on lowde skirles and skrikes,46
When that burly burne blenket on blode.
Lordes and ladies of that laike likes
And thonked God of his grace for Gawayn the gode.
With a swap of a swerde, that swithely him swykes;
He stroke of the stede hede streite there he stode.47
The faire fole fondred and fel, bi the Rode.
Gawayn gloppened in hert;
He was swithely smert.
Oute of sterops he stert
Fro Grissell the goode.
"Grissell," quod Gawayn, "gon is, God wote!
He was the burlokest blonke that ever bote brede.
By Him that in Bedeleem was borne ever to ben our bote,
I shall venge the today, if I con right rede."
"Go fecche me my freson, fairest on fote;
He may stonde the in stoure in as mekle stede."
"No more for the faire fole then for a risshrote.
But for doel of the dombe best that thus shuld be dede,48
I mourne for no montur, for I may gete mare."
Als he stode by his stede,
That was so goode at nede,
Ner Gawayn wax wede,
So wepputte he sare.
Thus wepus for wo Wowayn the wight,
And wenys him to quyte, that wonded is sare.
That other drogh him on dreght for drede of the knight49
And boldely broched his blonk on the bent bare.
"Thus may thou dryve forthe the day to the derk night!"
The son was passed by that mydday and mare.50
Within the listes the lede lordly done light;
Touard the burne with his bronde he busked him yare.51
To bataile they bowe with brondes so bright.
Shene sheldes wer shred,
Bright brenés bybled;
Many doughti were adred,
So fersely thei fight.
Thus thei feght on fote on that fair felde
As fressh as a lyon that fautes the fille.
Wilelé thes wight men thair wepenes they welde;
Wyte ye wele, Sir Gawayn wantis no will.
He brouched him yn with his bronde under the brode shelde
Thorgh the waast of the body and wonded him ille.
The swerd stent for no stuf - hit was so wel steled.
That other startis on bak and stondis stonstille.52
Though he were stonayed that stonde, he strikes ful sare -
He gurdes to Sir Gawayn
Thorgh ventaile and pesayn;
He wanted noght to be slayn53
The brede of an hare.
Hardely then thes hathelese on helmes they hewe.
Thei beten downe beriles and bourdures bright;
Shildes on shildres that shene were to shewe,
Fretted were in fyne golde, thei failen in fight.
Stones of iral thay strenkel and strewe;
Stithe stapeles of stele they strike done stright.
Burnes bannen the tyme the bargan was brewe,
The doughti with dyntes so delfully were dight.
The dyntis of tho doghty were doutous bydene.
Bothe Sir Lete and Sir Lake
Miche mornyng thei make.
Gaynor gret for her sake
With her grey eyen.
Thus gretis Gaynour with bothe her grey yene
For gref of Sir Gawayn, grisly was wound.
The knight of corage was cruel and kene,
And, with a stele bronde, that sturne oft stound;
Al the cost of the knyght he carf downe clene.
Thorgh the riche mailes that ronke were and rounde
With a teneful touche he taght him in tene,
He gurdes Sir Galeron groveling on gronde.
Grisly on gronde, he groned on grene.
Als wounded as he was,
Sone unredely he ras
And folowed fast on his tras
With a swerde kene.
Kenely that cruel kevered on hight,54
And with a cast of the carhonde in cantil he strikes,
And waynes at Sir Wawyn, that worthely wight.
But him lymped the worse, and that me wel likes.55
He atteled with a slenk haf slayn him in slight;56
The swerd swapped on his swange and on the mayle slikes,
And Gawayn bi the coler keppes the knight.
Then his lemman on loft skrilles and skrikes -
Ho gretes on Gaynour with gronyng grylle:
"Lady makeles of might,
Haf mercy on yondre knight
That is so delfull dight,
If hit be thi wille."
Than wilfully Dame Waynour to the King went;
Ho caught of her coronall and kneled him tille:
"As thou art Roye roial, richest of rent,
And I thi wife wedded at thi owne wille -
Thes burnes in the bataile so blede on the bent,
They arn wery, iwis, and wonded full ille.
Thorgh her shene sheldes, her shuldres ar shent;
The grones of Sir Gawayn dos my hert grille.
The grones of Sir Gawayne greven me sare.
Wodest thou leve, Lorde,
Make thes knightes accorde,
Hit were a grete conforde
For all that here ware."
Then spak Sir Galeron to Gawayn the good:
"I wende never wee in this world had ben half so wight.57
Here I make the releyse, renke, by the Rode,
And, byfore thiese ryalle, resynge the my ryghte;58
And sithen make the monraden with a mylde mode
As man of medlert makeles of might."59
He talkes touard the King on hie ther he stode,
And bede that burly his bronde that burneshed was bright:60
"Of rentes and richesse I make the releyse."
Downe kneled the knight
And carped wordes on hight;
The King stode upright
And commaunded pes.
The King commaunded pes and cried on hight,
And Gawayn was goodly and laft for his sake.
Then lordes to listes they lopen ful light -
Sir Ewayn Fiz Uryayn and Arrak Fiz Lake,
Marrake and Moylard, that most wer of might -
Bothe thes travayled men they truly up take.
Unneth might tho sturne stonde upright -
What, for buffetes and blode, her blees wex blak;61
Her blees were brosed, for beting of brondes.
Withouten more lettyng,
Dight was here saghtlyng;
Bifore the comly King,
Thei held up her hondes.
"Here I gif Sir Gawayn, with gerson and golde,
Al the Glamergan londe with greves so grene,
The worship of Wales at wil and at wolde,
With Criffones Castelles curnelled ful clene;
Eke Ulstur Halle to hafe and to holde,
Wayford and Waterforde, wallede I wene;
Two baronrees in Bretayne with burghes so bolde,
That arn batailed abought and bigged ful bene.62
I shal doue the a duke and dubbe the with honde,
Withthi thou saghtil with the knight
That is so hardi and wight,
And relese him his right,
And graunte him his londe."
"Here I gif Sir Galeron," quod Gawayn, "withouten any gile,
Al the londes and the lithes fro Lauer to Layre,
Connoke and Carlele, Conyngham and Kile;
Yet, if he of chevalry chalange ham for aire,
The Lother, the Lemmok, the Loynak, the Lile,
With frethis and forestes and fosses so faire.
Withthi under our lordeship thou lenge here a while,
And to the Round Table make thy repaire,
I shal refeff the in felde in forestes so fair."
Bothe the King and the Quene
And al the doughti bydene,
Thorgh the greves so grene,
To Carlele thei cair.
The King to Carlele is comen with knightes so kene,
And al the Rounde Table on rial aray.
The wees that weren wounded so wothely, I wene,
Surgenes sone saned, sothely to say;
Bothe confortes the knightes, the King and the Quene.63
Thei were dubbed dukes both on a day.
There he wedded his wife, wlonkest I wene,
With giftes and garsons, Sir Galeron the gay;
Thus that hathel in high withholdes that hende.64
Whan he was saned sonde,
Thei made Sir Galeron that stonde
A knight of the Table Ronde
To his lyves ende.
Waynour gared wisely write into the west65
To al the religious to rede and to singe;
Prestes with procession to pray were prest,
With a mylion of Masses to make the mynnynge.
Bokelered men, bisshops the best,
Thorgh al Bretayne belles the burde gared rynge.66
This ferely bifelle in Ingulwud Forest,
Under a holte so hore at a huntyng -
Suche a huntyng in holtis is noght to be hide.
Thus to forest they fore,
Thes sterne knightes in store.
In the tyme of Arthore
This anter betide.
adventure occurred; (see note)
relates; (see note)
famous; (see note)
companions; beloved [king]; (see note)
hidden (i.e., in the wild)
themselves went off; valleys
slay; does; enclosed; (see note)
most splendid in apparel
brave ones together
the most polished of all
Guenevere; (see note)
Ornamented; rubies; royal
celedonies studded at; (see note)
as [white as] milk
she passes [along]
knight; horse; stays
along; hill sides
laurel; low; ridge
stations; who; believes
At an oak
shoot; fawnless does; hills
nobles in haste; espy
Take note; haste; woods; frosty
cast off their [dogs'] leashes
their hounds; cool them of agitation
many; pursue their trail
deer; valleys; (see note)
cower; dark woods
[So] that; goes to ground; doe
rapids so strong; rush; (see note)
make war on; cause them woe; (see note)
hunters; shout; hillsides; cliffs
game quarter; lives; (see note)
greyhounds; thickets; (see note)
blows "rechase"; (see note)
That pleasant sight to [go] see
pleasure; gather; noblest; dress
meet up with; woods bright
[knight] most gracious
[Who] stays behind; groves
laurel she remained; arbor; (see note)
box trees; barberry amply made
Just; mid-morning; marvel did occur
speak; might; (see note)
became as dark
alighted [from his horse]
have proceeded the troubled knights
mottled hill; (see note)
rocks; severity; rain; (see note)
driving hail keenly them stings; (see note)
most hateful; (see note)
path to block; (see note)
Howling and wailing; (see note)
cries out; lamentations tearful
curse; [that] me bore
despair; wail; (see note)
became fearful and wailed
It is an eclipse of the sun; (see note)
all alone; left (abandoned)
knight; worry; more
its pains; inquire
clotted with earth foully covered
skin; complexion; cover
stammered; was stunned
moved; in a rush; frightened; (see note)
whoever correctly understands
top; neck; (see note)
toad bites into the skull
eyes sunken; hollow
Enclosed; shrouds unfathomable; (see note)
Encircled; on all sides; (see note)
At that; expression
hasten; their heads hide; (see note)
noble men may hear
Nobles; hear; handsomest; (see note)
jowls; jaws; chin; (see note)
cleanse; (see note)
on these paths
Baptized and renowned; family; (see note)
celebrated for bold deeds
at this time
formerly; in looks
those women; (see note)
pleasures or mirth; occurs on earth
More [I enjoyed] than; treasure
lands; mountains; valleys
snared without kin in
ghostly corpse; woman; (see note)
indeed, among your people
Behold; grievous; your mother left
ruddier of complexion; branch
face; lily bloomed; (see note)
take warning; (see note)
Think; (see note)
so treated; (see note)
treat you, of that; (see note)
heartily; still alive
decked out; company
Servants and women; you; (see note)
embalmed; borne on a bier
nothing helps you
for you peace
seat of honor
feasts are furnished; (see note)
sorrow, in bondage I languish
rudely; lacerate me violently
brass (cauldron); burn; bonfire
a more woeful person
Try to amend your misdoing
by my woe
know, if it were your will
either liturgy or Mass; hardship
goods on earth; joy; more; (see note)
clergy; deliver you from
fine; has lost color
bore; profit; conceal it
you save; troubles; (see note)
beasts; your; (see note)
[The cause] is sexual love; pleasure
brought me low and left me deep
that [wealth] completely vanishes
work me pain
thirty series of masses said; (see note)
morning and afternoon (in one day)
aided immediately; (see note)
Baptized at font openly when young
child; Bethlehem; (see note)
Grant; commemorate you properly; (see note)
remember you; each morning
For [the sake of] Him who hung; Cross
[I promise] these vows to keep
multitude; you remembrance; (see note)
But; know about; (see note)
angered; according to your understanding
excess; have; (see note)
openly; their; (see note)
sprouts branches; vigilant
people ready; commandment; (see note)
whoever; deprived; heaven
Unless; absolved; wound
go hence from this world
must endure woe
prayers; best lead me
are the greatest
Accordingly; paramount; chastity
next almsgiving above; (see note)
inspires each soul; instruction; (see note)
doctrine dispute no further
live; fit (i.e., a short time)
warrior; undertake; (see note)
put down; diverse; countries
enter; realms; any
[Just at the point] when
fall full low; seashore
shall receive his fate; (see note)
strife; (see note)
Frollo; troop, dead; left; (see note)
Brittany and Burgundy; have yielded; (see note)
warcry are stunned
Aquitaine; rue that war
no warriors alive; left
by you be overrun; (see note)
And by; incomes be taken over
Through; bold; (see note)
boldly sieze office of king; (see note)
nobleman; (see note)
knight; empowered; time; (see note)
come back; news; (see note)
lose its renown; (see note)
suddenly; battle; (see note)
valley; (see note)
Such wonders; occur
wonders; befall; falsehood
coast because of a knight fierce
honorable, gracious and powerful
indeed; lethally, I trust
one day the brave ones together
cross showing a notched edge; bright
more time to give information; (see note)
dwelling place; woe; seethe; (see note)
righteously; hung; Cross
peril; sorrow; in; (see note)
who lack food
remember; services; besides
who torment endure
We think (i.e., to us seems)
weathers; sky clears
parted; sun did
wood; flock together
tells them of the wonders
learned; utterly bewildered
every one [else]
seated; hall; (see note)
lovely of face leading
She moves quickly; King
saluted; courteously aloud
She; most radiant in clothing
Sire without equal
Treat him with consideration and justice
man [King]; meal; (see note)
cloth trimmed handsomely, richly displayed
topaz; to that affixed
reddish beard, at that woman fair; (see note)
lordliest; in his proper place
person had seen
among his household speaks to her; (see note)
From where; (see note)
If it pleases you [to say]
Her dress; grass-green
cloak; wool, [embroidered]
Her hair; jewels; arranged in pleats
Ribbon and head-dress; brightly
enough; (see note)
that [woman] gracious to embrace
heraldic dress; armed to perfection
armor; headpiece; well
about; burnished; (see note)
[coat of] mail; fastened; (see note)
in trappings of the same
bear heads; with brows; (see note)
silk; draped; feet
horse's head armor; (see note)
armor; warrior [mounted]
stars; patterned at random; (see note)
outer coat; coal
beads of ruby; fashioned; graciously; (see note)
squire; Friesland horse; in truth; (see note)
spooked with fear of those goings on
table so decorated with fleurs-de-lis
Such games or festivities
Saw; ere (i.e., before)
aloud all hearing him; (see note)
seek; wither you intend to go
lifted; visor; helmet
chivalric manner; speaks to him
emperor; challenge; (see note)
an opponent; to my satisfaction
Stay; tarry; (see note)
guile; (see note)
greatest [knight]; thickets; ravines; (see note)
[places in Scotland?]; (see note)
taken; war; unjust trick
hand(s); curse the time
them never rule
fair field (i.e., in equitable combat)
warrior; earth; nobly
Therefore I advise you take care to; (see note)
proudly made up
Adorned; purple; rich cloth; (see note)
Birds embroidered; burnished
chimney; coals; warm
set up a table; call for
Table-cloths; salt-cellars; (see note)
wine in glasses; brim full
entertains their guest
glazed; in succession
princely warrior had gone
[with] my hand; promise
would not for any; lost
escape unscathed; insult
dawning; bold men; outfitted
matins (i.e., early service)
Right after that; enclosure; pitched; (see note)
Where; warrior on earth
Three pieces of fine bread soaked in wine
Earl of Kent's son; (see note)
before daylight he (i.e., Galeron)
Afterwards to Guenevere prudently
left in her keeping his noble lady
Then both hastily their horses seized
barriers onto; nobly did alight
warriors; boldest; blood (i.e., in spirit); (see note)
dais; (see note)
Many a hardy [knight] called out
gird (i.e., ready); (see note)
promptly move to the barrier
spurred the horses so that; (see note)
Each warrior on the turf; fixed
split wood; splinter in shards
spiritedly; nobles jousted in combat
splinter upon; bright
enters combat; (i.e., Galeron)
on [the] grass
engraved; (see note)
Adorned with devices; love-knots
rearing; hammers away; (see note)
jousting; speaks in anger
struck; neck; sharp
blows; absolutely dreadful
mail-links and more
cleft (i.e., cut through)
shield-cover; protected; (see note)
shining; hand's-breadth; more; (see note)
fierce; laughed out loud; (see note)
seethed at that; felt deep anger
moved in; new thrust
shield; mail coat
stout sword into him he cut
was stunned that knight [Galeron]
marvel, in truth
hardy [knight] (Galeron) hammers away
[Standing] in his stirrups upright
goodly knight shone with
with that turnabout are pleased
foal (i.e., horse) stumbled; Cross; (see note)
intensely angry; (see note)
[his horse]; (see note)
hardiest horse; took food
avenge [myself on] you
Frisian [horse]; afoot
serve you in combat just as well
[I'll take] no more; weed
grieve for; mount; more
Nearly; went mad
sorrowfully; (see note)
intends to get revenge; sorely
spurred his horse; field open
throw away (pass)
warrior (i.e., Galeron); did dismount
mail-coats stained with blood
brave [warriors]; afraid
fierce; lacks its fill
Adroitly; wield their weapons
Believe me; lacks no determination; (see note)
stabbed into him; (see note)
stopped; equipment; forged
face and neck armor
Fiercely; warriors; helmets
knock off beryls (gems) and trim
Shields on shoulders; bright; look on
[Which] adorned were; fail
rainbow colors; scatter
Strong clasps; right off; (see note)
People curse; brewed (made)
strokes so grievously were covered
absolutely terrible; (see note)
lamented for their
Out of distress for; [who]; (see note)
the bold [Galeron] often stunned; (see note)
side; carved through cleanly; (see note)
hurtful stroke; attacked him in anger
strikes; writhing to the ground
Horribly; on [the] grass
rashly he arose; (see note)
pursued [Gawain] fast in his tracks; (see note)
left hand; shield corner; (see note)
rushes; worthy warrior
struck; thigh; slides
by the collar takes captive; (see note)
lover; screams and shrieks
She beseeches; groaning bitter
woefully set upon
removed her crown; to him
King majestic; most powerful overlord; (see note)
weary, surely; wounded grievously
Through their; destroyed
If you please; (see note)
here were; (see note)
grant you quit-claim, sir; Cross; (see note)
after; homage; good will
aloud from where
peace (i.e., silence)
gracious; left [off]
wearied; gave support
Scarcely; those bold [knights]
faces were bruised
goings on (delay)
[in sign of agreement]
together with treasure; (see note)
lordship; at his command; (see note)
crenellated; (see note)
fortified [towns] I guess; (see note)
endow (invest); (see note)
On condition you accord
bold and strong
give freely to
vassals; (see note)
In addition; claims them as heir; (see note)
If then; you [will] abide; (see note)
(i.e., join in the fellowship); (see note)
reinvest you on this field with; (see note)
Surgeons swiftly made [them] whole; (see note)
a [single] day
most beautiful; (see note)
They (i.e., the court); at that point
perform the memorials
marvel occurred; Inglewood; (see note)
wood so bare
left untold; (see note)
brave; in battle
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