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Sir Gowther


1 Then the form (kynde) of men they took there


Abbreviations: R: BL MS Royal l7.B.43; A: Advocates l9.3.1; B: Breul; M: Mills; N: Novelli.

1-14 R provides the first thirteen and a half lines (to the middle of "nyeght" in line l4), missing in A.

3 B omits on Rode.

10 The begetting of a child on a mortal woman by a demon or by sorcery is a frequent occurrence in Arthurian romance. Merlin and Arthur are archetypes of those conceived in this way. Merlin, who first appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, is engendered in a nun, a daughter of King Demetia, by a seductive incubus. King Arthur is conceived when Uther Pendragon, with the aid of Merlin's sorcery, appears to Igrayne in the form of her husband. He begets Arthur the same night Igrayne's husband, the Duke of Tintagel, is killed. Uther soon arranges to wed Igrayne, but when Arthur is born the child must be relinquished to Merlin in payment for his services. (See note on lines 61-65 and 97-99 on The Devil's Contract).

17 The belief that demons could engage in shapeshifting at will is expressed during the dialogue between the Summoner and the Friar in Chaucer's Friar's Tale:
"I wende ye were a yeman trewely.
Ye han a mannes shap as wel as I;
Han ye a figure thanne determinat
In helle, ther ye been in youre estat?"
"Nay, certainly," quod he, "ther have we noon;
But whan us liketh we kan take us oon,
Or elles make yow seme we been shape;
Somtyme lyk a man, or lyk an ape,
Or lyk an angel kan I ryde or go.
It is no wonder thyng thogh it be so;
A lowsy jogelour kan deceyve thee,
And pardee, yet kan I moore craft than he."
(II [D] l457-l468)
Even the thirteenth-century theologian Thomas Aquinas did not deny that demons could assume human form to have intercourse with mortal women; yet he maintained that the bodies they formed for the purpose could not be considered human and any children begotten in this way could only result from stolen human semen. See Summa Theologica, Pars I, Art. III, reply to Obj. 6.

28-29 A reads ysoughht in line 28 and have y broughht in line 29. M reads the y as a pronoun rather than as the first syllable in the participle in both lines, while B reads a pronoun in the first line and omits it in the second line so that the line reads have broughht. I have accepted B's first pronoun because the clause needs a subject, but read ybroughht as a participle (and omit have as being redundant and unmetrical).

31 B interprets Estryke and Ostrych as Austria (p. 118) though N favors the definitions in OED and MED "which would most probably have pointed to the Baltic region." The OED suggests both an eastern kingdom or country and an East Frankish Kingdom.

33 For comly undur kell. A similar line is found in Emaré (line 303) and in Pistil of Swete Susan (line 128). The "kell" or head-dress, a veil intended to hide female beauty, fails to obscure the extraordinary comeliness of any of these exemplary women.

34-35 The upper right section of this leaf of A is torn away and portions of lines 34 and 35 have been supplied by the reading in R.

34 The lily suggests purity and is often associated with the Virgin Mary or female virgin saints in Christian symbolism. In the iconography of the Annunciation, an event at which the Archangel Gabriel appears to the Virgin to announce the impending birth of Christ, the flower is frequently present (see George Ferguson, Signs & Symbols in Christian Art).

42-44 A has only nine lines in this stanza. Since this is a tail-rhyme romance in twelve-line stanzas, I agree with B's decision to substitute three lines (42, 43, 44) from R.

46 A: x rather than ten. I have emended all Roman numerals to their verbal equivalent.

56 Sterility could be grounds for divorce in the Middle Ages though, as James Brundage points out in Law, Sex, and Christian Society in Medieval Europe, "several authorities explicitly excluded sterility as a basis of separation" (p. 201). Some critics have seen an allusion to the apocryphal story of Joachim and Anna, who became the parents of the Virgin Mary under similar circumstances. While the aged and barren Anna is in an orchard one day, an angel appears to her and prophesies that she will bear an extraordinary child. Lydgate retells the story in his Life of Our Lady, one of the companion texts in the Advocates MS.

61-65 Folklorists have identified several folktale motifs in Gowther including the Wish Child and The Devil's Contract. In both of these folktale motifs parents longing for a child pray to God; in some cases the prayer is answered by an angel (e.g., Joachim and Anna), while in others a pact is made with a devil before the child's birth. The child is then subject to diabolic influence from whose dominion it is freed finally either by its own ingenuity or by the intervention of Providence. Stith Thompson in The Folktale identifies the Devil's Contract motif in both the legendary tale of Robert the Devil and Sir Gowther and remarks that "Gowther, or Robert the Devil, was not to blame for his demonic association, since the fault lay entirely with his mother" (p. 269).

71 In medieval romance encounters with supernatural beings frequently take place under a certain kind of tree (e.g., Sir Orfeo, Sir Degaré, etc.). Often referred to as ympe (grafted) trees these trees facilitate interaction between the Otherworld and reality. See note on line 233 for the significance of the chestnut tree.

74 felturd fende finds a parallel in Emaré: A fowlle, feltred fende (line 540). Hairiness is often a characteristic of the devil or those perceived as exhibiting diabolic influence by their wild behavior. Born with a hairy body, Merlin is often characterized as a wild man when he retreats into the woods to watch the wild animals while himself hidden like a beast (see Richard Bernheimer, Wild Men in the Middle Ages).

89 lappe. The OED defines this term as "a piece of cloth, the fold of a robe over the breast, which served as a pocket or pouch." That this pocket or pouch could also serve as a carrier for an infant is suggested in Chaucer's Clerk's Tale:
. . . that he pryvely
Sholde this child softe winde and wrappe . . .

And carie it in a cofre or in a lappe.
(IV [E] 582-85)
90 fonde. Perhaps the poet's choice of fonde for "lovemaking" indicates the husband's curiosity or the desire to procreate. The word might also be glossed as "try," or "find out," or "invent."

99 Gowther's kinship to Merlin is explicitly established here. See note to line 10. Merlin and Gowther have different mothers, but the same father. In Merlin, a twelfth-century version of the Merlin story by Robert de Boron, the prophet/magician is engendered by a demon on the pious daughter of a wealthy man while she sleeps. However, because she confesses and is signed with a cross at that time, her son's destiny is altered. Though he is born with a hairy body and preternatural knowledge, he is not subject to his father's will to evil.

105 A: wold is crossed out before coth.

106 gard is often used in a modal sense (e.g., caused, ordered, made).

108 A: barre; R: brathe. N suggests that "barre evidently came to the scribe's mind more readily than the original brathe" (p. 162). B preferred brathe, an emendation with which I agree.

115 R reverses lines 115 and 116. B's emendation follows R here as do I.

129 snaffulld. According to the OED "snaffle" and its related form "snuffle" means "to make a sniffling noise, to inhale audibly." This is a term, as Novelli suggests, "appropriate for a nursing infant" (p. 162), particularly one with Gowther's voracious appetite.

130 That the infant Gowther is able to tear off his mother's nipple suggests the presence of teeth. Early dentition was often regarded as an indication of a child's extraordinary future and was frequently associated with dog-like attributes. Shakespeare expresses this folkloric belief in Richard III:
That dog, that had his teeth before his eyes.
To worry lambs, and lap their gentle blood.
(said of Richard III, Act IV, scene iv, lines 49-50)

In King Henry VI, Part III, Gloucester says of himself:

The midwife wonders and the women cried,
"Oh, Jesus bless us, he is born with teeth!"
And so I was; which plainly signified
That I should snarl, and bite, and play the dog.
(Act V, scene vi, lines 74-76)
Early dentition could also be a characteristic of vampirism, werewolfism, or the consequence of sorcery. See Paul Barber, Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore & Reality (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988), p. 30.

137 A: behovyd. B emends to behode.

141 A: No nodur mon myght hit beyr; B omits mon for the sake of the meter. I have retained it for the sake of Gowther's humanity.

142 The falchion Gowther has made for himself has symbolic value. For M it suggests Gowther's "unbridled violence in his unregenerate days, and his militancy in his later career. His refusal to give it up at the Pope's bidding in 289-91 underlines its significance as symbol and talisman; it is an essential part of him, and must go with him on his new quest for forgiveness" (p. 2l5). E. M. Bradstock, in "The Penitential Pattern in Sir Gowther," argues that the falchion, unlike the straight sword of a Christian knight, is of Oriental origin and a weapon the Saracens would carry. Bradstock sees it as "an apt weapon for a ferocious persecutor of Christians. Further, like its Saracen creators who had 'their dark origins in the race of Cain' but were always reclaimable through baptism, and like Gowther himself who was born of a devil, this falchion has the potential for good or evil" (p. 7).

149-50 This is a puzzling passage in that there seems to be no motivation for the Duke's knighting of Gowther. N suggests that this detail is evidence that Robert the Devil is a close analogue.

151-52 B emends these two lines with the corresponding lines in R: He gaf him his best swerd in honde / Ther was no knyght in all that londe.

157 Mor sorro: B follows R and substitutes dowrey for sorro.

172 Matins is the first of the canonical hours, followed by lauds, prime, terce, sext, none, vespers, and compline.

175 MS: For late lowde and styll: B emends to Erly and from R.

176 is fadur wyll. The question of Gowther's paternity is raised again. The poet reminds us that Gowther's father is a demon whose will he has been destined to carry out. Yet Gowther's baptism brings him into a state of grace that, in effect, cancels diabolic predestination and renders his actions a matter of free will.

179-80 B emends these two lines to correspond with R: In parke and in wylde forest, / Where he myght it gete.

181-92 R omits the raping of the nuns in line 188: (For he and is men bothe leyn hom by). R reads:
As he rode on huntyng uppon a day
He saw a nonnery bi the highway,
And theder gan he ride;
The prioresse and here covent
With procession agayn him went,
Trewly in that tyde.
Thei kneeled down oppon here knee,
And said "Leige lord, welcome be yee!"
Yn hert is nowght to hide
He drofe hem home into here churche,
And brend hem uppe thus gan he werche,
His lose spring ful wide.                                 fame
(lines 175-86)
187 That the prioress and her charges should be frightened of Gowther's body underscores his diabolical appearance. The absence of armor suggests Gowther's rejection of chivalric codes of conduct.

193 B emends to: All that ever on Cryst wold leve.

196 B emends maryage to maryagys.

233 cheston tre. The choice of tree may be significant. According to George Ferguson's Signs & Symbols in Christian Art (New York: Oxford University Press, 1954; rpt., 1961), the chestnut in its husk is surrounded by thorns, but unharmed by them. "For this reason it is a symbol of chastity because this virtue is a triumph over the temptations of the flesh symbolized by the thorns" (p. 29).

254 stydfast. B emends to styward perhaps to indicate to whom the property is bequeathed. Yet the identity of that person as "this olde erle" in the previous line serves adequately to designate the heir. The poet needs only to signify the quality of that heir's character which he has in his choice of stydfast.

256 Gowther's rejection of horse and man underscores both his determination to atone for his transgressions and the solitude that atonement requires.

259 See note to line 142.

296 B omits that thu revus to maintain metrical integrity.

301 B emends Pope stole to apostoyle.

305 The dog, because of its attributes of watchfulness, obedience, and fidelity, could be understood as a symbol of these virtues and for Gowther is a fitting sign of penance. There are many examples of the faithful dog that could have been known to the Gowther poet. One comes from the apocryphal story of Tobias in which the dog accompanies his master on an arduous journey to restore the eyesight of Tobias' father. Another is from the story of St. Roch, a fourteenth-century French hermit who, according to the Oxford Dictionary of Saints, "spent much of his life on pilgrimages" (p. 346). While on one of his many journeys, he caught the plague and was fed in the woods by a dog. "In England his memory is recalled in the Sussex place-name (St. Rokeshill) and by screen painting in Devon and Norfolk. These depict him as a pilgrim with a sore on his leg, accompanied by a dog with a loaf of bread in its mouth" (p. 346).

307 In A cuntré is crossed out before ceté.

309 testamentys is glossed by M as authorities, but witnesses seems a more likely meaning since at this point Gowther needs evidence of his first penitential act rather than validation.

311 Much like a ministering angel to a desert hermit, the greyhound succors Gowther in his neediness. Albertus Magnus in his encyclopedic work, Man and the Beasts, defines the special qualities of these dogs: "Greyhounds seldom, if ever, bark; on the contrary, they show disdain for the yelping of small dogs which bark for the sake of showing their prowess as watchdogs. Nor do they rush headlong to greet any newcomer, since they seem to regard such a flurry of activity as beneath their dignity. Moreover, this dog must be fed more milk than whey when it is weaned." See Albert the Great, Man and the Beasts: De Animalibus (Books 22-26), trans. James J. Scanlan (Binghamton, NY: Medieval & Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1987), p. 81.

313 The cardinal number three was called by Pythagoras the number of completion indicating beginning, middle, and end. Here it suggests, perhaps, a time of ordeal, like Christ's descent into Hell, though Gowther arises on the fourth day rather than the third.

320 R reads: The emperor of Almayn thereyn gan dwell.

324 Thof. A: Of. B emends to Thof. The variation between this line in A and the corresponding line in R is worth noting for the variance in sense as well as diction: A: Of he wer well wroght. R: Though him were woo yn thought. The line in A suggests that though Gowther is attractive and would have gained admittance based on his appearance he nonetheless assumes a posture of humility and does not force entry but waits until the appropriate signal is given before entering with the rest of the group. When he finally gains admittance he goes to a place under the table and assumes the posture of an obedient dog. The implication of R on the other hand is that despite his heavy heart Gowther chooses to remain outside the gate until a signal is given for general admittance. In this way R places emphasis on Gowther's psychological state rather than on his physical appearance as A does.

331 R: He presid blythely thorow the prese.

340 The emphasis on Gowther's fair appearance here justifies the reading of line 324 above. A similar line is found in Sir Isumbras: "The faireste mane that ever I seghe" (line 258). It has been suggested by N and others that this tale incorporates a male Cinderella motif. For N "the menial station of the male Cinderella becomes the hero's means of doing penance, and his provision with armor and his success in the three battles a sign that he is in divine favor" (p. 32-33).

371 B suggests that the name Hob, a diminutive of Robert, provides a verbal link between Sir Gowther and Robert the Devil. N rejects the notion as mere coincidence because the name may also be associated with rustics and clowns.

394 B emends to Yeit mey God gyffe hur thoro Is myght. In a request reminiscent of the one made by Gowther's mother, the Emperor expresses his keen desire to have his daughter's voice restored. The daughter's muteness differs from Gowther's because it is neither self-imposed nor penitential, but an accident of nature. For this reason the Emperor seeks a corrective from God. In Robert the Devil the daughter's muteness is greatly expanded when she attempts several times to reveal Gowther's true identity to her father, but is unable to communicate effectively.

420 In A fo is cancelled before fadur.

429 R: Whan blade thorow brenyys brast.

442 A: H is cancelled at the beginning of the line.

445 The juxtaposition of the "two small hunting dogs" (raches) with the "two fine greyhounds" calls attention to the importance of dogs and their attributes in this poem. It may be recalled that a greyhound is the first dog to assist Gowther's penance by bringing him a loaf of bread (like the dog in the Life of St. Roch) while the spaniel and the hunting dogs serve as his dinner companions. Gowther's association with hunting dogs seems to complement his own early predilection for hunting prey while his contact with greyhounds suggests an increasing association with the divine. For an interesting discussion of the divine attributes of this breed of dog see Jean-Claude Schmitt, The Holy Greyhound: Guinefort, Healer of Children Since the Thirteenth Century, trans. Martin Thom (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983).

454 The messenger plays a significant supporting role in medieval romance serving as a link between characters, between the human and the supernatural worlds, and between elements of plot.

456 sone he come. B emends to come he sone, thus maintaining the rhyme.

463-65 B substitutes from R to maintain a consistent twelve-line stanzaic structure. M omits them in his edition, but indicates their presence by ellipsis. He then transfers the three lines to his endnotes and comments on their "corrupt" nature. But though they may be corrupt, something like them must have been part of the original poem.

501 A: That laft wer on lyve slone, with lyve marked for cancellation.

504 B emends he hym cheys to is gone to maintain the rhyme scheme. M follows B.

537 A: Amoghe. R: Amonghe.

554 The epithet styff in stour appears several times in the second half of the poem (lines 482, 554, 613). Taken with similar descriptions such as stalworthe and store, doghhty of body and bon, and styf and store, the phrase seems to indicate Gowther's increasing practice of chivalric codes of behavior.

563 Gowther's white suit of armor, the third and most symbolic, completes the color triad. The progression from black to red and finally to white parallels Gowther's moral progression. For a discussion of color symbolism in medieval romance see Jessie Laidlay Weston, The Three Days' Tournament, and Shirley Marchalonis, "Sir Gowther: The Process of a Romance," Chaucer Review 6 (1971/72), 14-29.

566 with wene. B emends to withowt wene.

575 baners. A: barons; R: baners. I prefer R to avoid the repetition of barons in line 574.

578 The description here indicates the heraldic symbols on the Sultan's banner.

584 B omits suryly.

591 B emends y wene to thanne.

621 thei. A: the. M emends to them, the sense being that the enemies' lives became painful (lothe) to them.

629 N suggests that the sense of this line should be: "The dumb duke made him [the Sultan] remain a hostage," but a more probable reading (concurrent with R) is leve his wedde, i.e., "leave his hostage." Gowther causes the Sultan to leave his hostage permanently by decapitating him in the next line.

632 B reads: And lovyd God in hart ful feyn.

635 Here Gowther is wounded in the shoulder. In Robert the Devil the hero is wounded in the thigh, an injury which then becomes an important sign of recognition. The placement of Robert's wound recalls the Scriptural Jacob, wounded in the thigh in his struggle with an angel, the wound of the Fisher King in the Grail stories, and Odysseus' wound in Homer's Odyssey. For an interesting discussion of symbolic wounding see Bruno Bettelheim, Symbolic Wounds: Puberty Rites and the Envious Male (New York: Collier Books, 1962).

646-47 B reverses these lines.

653 B emends he come sone to sone he come.

668 The three-day tournament motif, popular in medieval romance, serves as the ultimate test of knightly prowess and carries implications of progressive spiritual refinement. The hero fights incognito in different suits of armor for three successive days to prove his worthiness both to serve his lord and to win a noble lady. See Jessie Laidlay Weston, The Three Days' Tournament: A Study in Romance and Folklore (London: D. Nutt, 1902).

683 B adds heynde at the end of this line to complete the rhyme.

689 hym. A: kym. B's emendation.

699 Gowther's remorse for his crimes against the nuns is so great that he builds an abbey and a convent in order that all those contained within might pray for the souls of their murdered sisters. It is interesting to note that R, which omits the rape scene, substitutes monkus grey for the sisters. In R Gowther builds two abbeys, one for the nuns and another for Cistercian monks. The monks, rather than the sisters, pray for the souls of the dead nuns.

711 The Emperor is actually Gowther's father-in-law, a term not used before the late sixteenth century according to the OED.

715 B deletes so.

718 B adds mayntened before ryche. R reads pouer rather than ryche.

720 to be crossed out before toke.

730 B changes has to was.

735 In A this line appears in the upper right margin rather than in its appropriate place in the stanza.

744 A omits any reference to Saint Guthlac while R explicitly identifies Gowther with the English saint:
There he lyeth in a shryne of gold
And doth maracles, as it is told,
And hatt Seynt Gotlake.                             is called
He make blynd men for to se,
Wode men to have here wit, parde,
Crokyd here crucches forsake.
(lines 679-84)
According to the Oxford Dictionary of Saints, Guthlac (c. 673-714), of royal blood from the Mercian tribe of Guthlacingas, became a soldier at age fifteen. After nine years of warfare, however, he decided to become a monk at Repton, a double monastery ruled by Abbess Aelfrith. In about 701 he adopted the hermetic life at Crowland, a site surrounded by fens and marshes and thought to be inhabited by evil spirits. Guthlac fought the demons for fifteen years before he died. At that time Edburga, the new abbess of Repton, sent a shroud and leaden coffin. Guthlac's sister, Pega, attended his burial with several of his disciples. A year later the grave was opened and the body was discovered incorrupt. Guthlac is regarded as one of the most important pre-Conquest saints of England (pp. 184-85).

746 The theme of the vicissitudes of fortune is also found in Sir Isumbras, a companion text in A.
God, that art of myghtis most,
Fader and Sone and Holy Gost,
   That bought man on Rode so dere,
Shilde us from the fowle fende,
That is about mannys sowle to shende
   All tymes of the yere!
Sumtyme the fende hadde postee
For to dele with ladies free
   In liknesse of here fere,
So that he bigat Merlyng and mo,
And wrought ladies so mikil wo
   That ferly it is to here.
A selcowgh thyng that is to here,
That fend nyeght wemen nere
   And makyd hom with chyld;
Tho kynde of men wher thei hit tane, 1
For of hom selfe had thei nan,
   Be meydon Maré mylde,
Therof seyus clerkus, y wotte how;
That schall not be rehersyd now,
   As Cryst fro schame me schyld.
Bot y schall tell yow of a warlocke greytt,
What sorow at his modur hart he seyt
   With his warcus wylde.
Jesu Cryst, that barne blythe,
Gyff hom joy, that lovus to lythe
   Of ferlys that befell.
A law of Breyten long y soghht,
And owt ther of a tale ybroghht,
   That lufly is to tell.
Ther wonde a Duke in Estryke,
He weddyt a ladé non hur lyke
   For comly undur kell;
To tho lyly was likened that lady clere,
Hur rod reyde as blosmes on brere,
   That ylke dere damsell.
When he had weddyd that meydyn schene
And sche Duches withowt wene,
   A mangere con thei make;
Knyghtus of honowr tho furst dey
Justyd gently hom to pley
   Here shaftes gan thei shake.
On the morow the lordes gente
Made a riall tournement
   For that lady sake;
Tho Duke hym selfe wan stedys ten.
And bare don full doghty men,
   And mony a cron con crake.
When this turment was y-ses,
Tho ryche Duke and tho Duches
   Lad hor lyfe with wyn;
Ten yer and sum dele mare
He chylde non geyt ne sche non bare,
   Ther joy began to tyne;
To is ladé sone con he seyn,
"Y tro thu be sum baryn,
   Hit is gud that we twyn;
Y do bot wast my tyme on the,
Eireles mon owre londys bee";
   For gretyng he con not blyn.
Tho ladé sykud and made yll chere
That all feylyd hur whyte lere,
   For scho conseyvyd noght;
Scho preyd to God and Maré mylde
Schuld gyffe hur grace to have a chyld,
   On what maner scho ne roghth.
In hur orchard apon a day
Ho meyt a mon, tho sothe to say,
   That hur of luffe besoghth,
As lyke hur lorde as he myght be;
He leyd hur down undur a tre,
   With hur is wyll he wroghtth.
When he had is wylle all don
A felturd fende he start up son,
   And stode and hur beheld;
He seyd, "Y have geyton a chylde on the
That in is yothe full wylde schall bee,
   And weppons wyghtly weld."
Sche blessyd hur and fro hym ran,
Into hur chambur fast ho wan,
   That was so bygly byld.
Scho seyd to hur lord, that ladé myld,
"Tonyght we mon geyt a chyld
   That schall owre londus weld."
"A nangell com fro hevon bryght
And told me so this same nyght,
   Y hope was Godus sond;
Then wyll that stynt all owr stryfe."
Be tho lappe he laght his wyfe
   And seyd, "Dame, we schall fonde."
At evon to beyd thei hom ches,
Tho ryche Duke and tho Duches,
   And wold no lengur wonde;
He pleyd hym with that ladé hende,
And ei yode scho bownden with tho fende,
   To God wold losse hur bonde.
This chyld within hur was no nodur,
Bot eyvon Marlyon halfe brodur,
   For won fynd gatte hom bothe;
Thei sarvyd never of odyr thyng
But for to tempe wemen yon.
   To deyle with hom was wothe.
Ylke a day scho grette fast
And was delyverid at tho last
   Of won that coth do skathe;
Tho Duke hym gard to kyrke beyre,
Crystond hym and cald hym Gwother,
   That sythyn wax breme and brathe.
Tho Duke comford that Duches heynde,
And aftur melche wemen he sende,
   Tho best in that cuntré,
That was full gud knyghttys wyffys.
He sowkyd hom so thei lost ther lyvys,
   Sone had he sleyne three!
Tho chyld was yong and fast he wex -
The Duke gard prycke aftur sex -
   Hende harkons yee:
Be twelfe monethys was gon
Nine norsus had he slon
   Of ladys feyr and fre.
Knyghtus of that cuntré geydyrd hom samun
And seyd to tho Duke hit was no gamun
   To lose hor wyffus soo;
Thei badde hym orden for is son
He geytys no more is olde won,
   Norsus now no moo.
His modur fell afowle unhappe,
Upon a day bad hym tho pappe,
   He snaffulld to hit soo
He rofe tho hed fro tho brest -
Scho fell backeward and cald a prest,
   To chambur fled hym froo.
Lechus helud that ladé yare,
Wemen durst gyffe hym souke no mare,
   That yong chyld Gowther,
Bot fed hym up with rych fode
And that full mych as hym behovyd,
   Full safly mey y sweyre.
Be that he was fifteen yere of eld
He made a wepon that he schuld weld,
   No nodur mon myght hit beyr;
A fachon bothe of stylle and yron,
Wytte yow wyll he wex full styron
   And fell folke con he feyr.
In a twelmond more he wex
Then odur chyldur in seyvon or sex,
   Hym semyd full well to ryde;
He was so wekyd in all kyn wyse
Tho Duke hym myght not chastyse,
   Bot made hym knyght that tyde,
With cold brade bronde;
Ther was non in that londe
   That dynt of hym durst byde.
For sorro tho Duke fell don ded;
His modur was so wo of red
   Hur care scho myght not hyde.
Mor sorro for hym sche myght have non,
Bot to a castyll of lyme and ston
   Frely then scho fled;
Scho made hit strong and held hur thare,
Hor men myght tell of sorro and care,
   Evyll thei wer bested,
For wher he meyt hom be tho way,
"Evyll heyle!" myght thei say
   That ever modur hom fed;
For with his fachon he wold hom slo
And gurde hor horssus backus in too -
   All seche parellys thei dred.
Now is he Duke of greyt renown,
And men of holy kyrke dynggus down
   Wher he myght hom mete.
Masse ne matens wold he non here
Nor no prechyng of no frere,
   That dar I heyly hette;
Erly and late, lowde and styll,
He wold wyrke is fadur wyll
   Wher he stod or sete.
Hontyng lufde he aldur best,
Parke, wodd and wylde forest,
   Bothe be weyus and strete.
He went to honte apon a day,
He see a nonry be tho way
   And thedur con he ryde;
Tho pryorys and hur covent
With presescion ageyn hym went
   Full hastely that tyde;
Thei wer full ferd of his body,
For he and is men bothe leyn hom by -
   Tho sothe why schuld y hyde?
And sythyn he spard hom in hor kyrke
And brend hom up, thus con he werke;
   Then went his name full wyde.
All that ever on Cryst con lefe,
Yong and old, he con hom greve
   In all that he myght doo:
Meydyns maryage wolde he spyll
And take wyffus ageyn hor wyll,
   And sley hor husbondus too,
And make frerus to leype at kraggus
And parsons for to heng on knaggus,
   And odur prestys sloo;
To bren armettys was is dyssyre,
A powre wedow to seyt on fyre,
   And werke hom mykyll woo.
A nolde erle of that cuntré
Unto tho Duke then rydys hee
   And seyd, "Syr, why dose thu soo?
We howpe thu come never of Cryston stryn,
Bot art sum fendys son, we weyn,
   That werkus hus this woo.
Thu dose never gud, bot ey tho ylle -
We hope thu be full syb tho deyll."
   Syr Gowther wex then throo;
Hee seyd, "Syr, and thu ly on mee,
Hongud and drawon schall thu bee
   And never qwycke heythyn goo."
He gard to putte tho erle in hold
And to his modur castyll he wold
   As fast as he myght ryde;
He seyd, "Dame, tell me in hye,
Who was my fadur, withowt lye,
   Or this schall thoro the glyde";
He sette his fachon to hur hart:
"Have done, yf thu lufe thi qwart!"
   Ho onswarde hym that tyde -
"My lord," scho seyd, "that dyed last."
"Y hope," he seyd, "thou lyus full fast";
   Tho teyrus he lett don glyde.
"Son, sython y schall tho sothe say:
In owre orcharde apon a day
   A fende gat the thare,
As lyke my lorde as he myght be,
Undurneyth a cheston tre";
   Then weppyd thei bothe full sare.
"Go schryfe the, modur, and do tho best,
For y wyll to Rome or that y rest
   To lerne anodur lare."
This thoght come on hym sodenly:
"Lorde, mercy!" con he cry
   To God that Maré bare,
To save hym fro is fadur tho fynde;
He preyd to God and Maré hynde,
   That most is of posté,
To bryng is sowle to tho blys
That He boght to all His
   Apon tho Rode tre.
Sythyn he went hym hom ageyn
And seyd to tho erle, withowt leyn,
   Tho sothe tale tolde thu mee;
Y wyll to Rome to tho apostyll,
That he mey schryfe me and asoyll;
   Kepe thu my castyll free."
This old erle laft he theyr
For to be is stydfast heyre,
   Syr Gwother forthe con glyde;
Toward Rome he radly ranne,
Wold he nowdur hors ne man
   With hym to ren ne ryde;
His fauchon con he with hym take,
He laft hit not for weyle ne wrake,
   Hyt hong ei be his syde.
Toward Rome cety con hee seche;
Or he come to tho Powpe speche
   Full long he con abyde.
As sone has he the Pope con see,
He knelys adown apon is kne
   And heylst hym full sone;
He preyd hym with mylde devocyon
Bothe of schryfte and absolyscion;
   He granttyd hym is bone.
"Whethon art thu and of what cuntré?"
"Duke of Estryke, lorde," quod hee,
   "Be tru God in trone;
Ther was y geyton with a feynde
And borne of a Duches hende;
   My fadur has frenchypus fone."
"Y wyll gladly, be my fey!
Art thou Crystond?" He seyd, "Yey,
   My name it is Gwother;
Now y lowve God." "Thu art commun hedur,
For ellus y most a traveld thedur
   Apon the for to weyre,
For thu hast Holy Kyrke destryed."
"Nay, holy fadur, be thu noght agrevyd,
   Y schall the truly swere
At thi byddyng beyn to be,
And hald tho penans that thu leys to me,
   And never Cryston deyre."
"Lye down thi fachon then the fro;
Thou schallt be screvon or y goo,
   And asoylyd or y blyn."
"Nay, holy fadur," seyd Gwother,
"This bous me nedus with mee beyr,
   My frendys ar full thyn."
"Wherser thu travellys, be northe or soth,
Thu eyt no meyt bot that thu revus of howndus mothe
   Cum thy body within;
Ne no worde speke for evyll ne gud,
Or thu reyde tokyn have fro God,
   That forgyfyn is thi syn."
He knelyd down befor tho Pope stole,
And solemly he con hym asoyle,
   Tho sarten sothe to sey.
Meyte in Rome gatte he non
Bot of a dog mothe a bon,
   And wyghttly went is wey;
He went owt of that ceté
Into anodur far cuntré,
   Tho testamentys thus thei sey;
He seyt hym down undur a hyll,
A greyhownde broght hym meyt untyll
   Or evon yche a dey.
Thre neythtys ther he ley:
Tho grwhownd ylke a dey
   A whyte lofe he hym broghht;
On tho fort day come hym non,
Up he start and forthe con gon,
   And lovyd God in his thoght.
Besyde ther was a casstell,
Therein an emperowr con dwell,
   And thedurwarde he soghht;
He seyt hym down withowt the yate
And durst not entur in ther atte,
   Thof he wer well wroght.
Tho weytus blu apon tho wall,
Knyghttus geydert into tho hall,
   Tho lord buskyd to his saytte;
Syr Gwother up and in con gwon,
At tho dor uschear fond he non,
   Ne porter at tho yatte,
Bot gwosse prystely thoro tho pres,
Unto tho hye bord he chesse,
   Ther undur he made is seytt.
Tho styward come with yarde in honde,
To geyt hym thethyn fast con he fonde
   And throly hym con threyt
To beyt hym, bot he wende awey.
"What is that?" tho Emperour con sey.
   "My lord," he seyd, "a mon,
And that tho feyryst that ever y sye;
Cum loke on hym, it is no lye,"
   And thedur wyghtly he wan.
Won word of hym he myght not geyt;
Thei lette hym sytt and gafe hym meyt.
   "Full lytyll gud he can,
And yett mey happon thoro sum chans
That it wer gyffon hym in penans,"
   Tho lord thus onsward than.
When tho Emperowr was seyt and sarvyd
And knyghttus had is breyd karvyd,
   He sent tho dompmon parte;
He lette hit stond and wold ryght non.
Ther come a spanyell with a bon,
   In his mothe he hit bare,
Syr Gwother hit fro hym droghhe,
And gredely on hit he gnofe,
   He wold nowdur curlu ne tartte.
Boddely sustynans wold he non
Bot what so he fro tho howndus wan,
   If it wer gnaffyd or mard.
Tho Emperowre and tho Emperrys
And knyghttys and ladys at tho des
   Seyt and hym behelld;
Thei gaffe tho hondus meyt ynoghhe,
Tho dompe Duke to hom he droghhe,
   That was is best beld.
Among tho howndys thus was he fed,
At evon to a lytyll chambur led
   And hyllyd undur teld;
At none come into tho hall,
Hob hor fole thei con hym call;
   To God he hym con yelde.
But now this ylke Emperowre
Had a doghtur whyte as flowre,
   Was too soo dompe as hee;
Scho wold have spokyn and myght noght.
That meydon was worthely wroght,
   Bothe feyr, curteys and free.
A messynger come apon a dey,
Tyll her fadur con he sey,
   "My lord wele gretys the;
Tho Sawdyn, that is of mykyll myght
Wyll wer apon the dey and nyghtt
   And bren thi bowrus free,
And sley thi men bot thu hym sende
Thi doghttur that is so feyr and heynde,
   That he mey hur wedde."
Tho Emperowr seyd, "Y have bot won,
And that is dompe as any ston,
   Feyrur thar non be feyd;
And y wyll not, be Cryst wonde,
Gyffe hor to no hethon hownde,
   Then wer my bale bredde.
Yet mey God thoro Is myght
Ageyn to geyt hur spech ryght."
   Tho messynger ageyn hym spedde
To tho Sadyn and told hym soo.
Then wakynd ey more wo and wo,
   He toke is oste and come nere.
Tho Emperowr, doghtty undur schyld,
With anodur kepped hym in tho fyld,
   Eydur had batell sere.
Syr Gwother went to a chambur smart,
And preyd to God in his hart
   On Rode that boghtt Hym dere,
Schuld sende hym armur, schyld and speyr,
And hors to helpe is lord in weyr
   That wyll susstand hym thare.
He had no ner is preyr made,
Bot hors and armur bothe he hade,
   Stode at his chambur dor;
His armur, is sted was blacke color;
He leypus on hors, that stythe in stowr,
   That stalworthe was and store;
His scheld apon his schuldur hong,
He toke his speyre was large and long
   And spard nodur myre ne more;
Forthe at tho yatus on hors he went,
Non hym knew bot that meydyn gent,
   And aftur hur fadur he fore.
Tho Emperour had a batell kene,
Tho Sawden anodur, withowt wene,
   Assemuld, as was hor kast;
Bot fro Syr Gwother comun were,
Mony a crone con he stere
   And hew apon full fast;
He gard stedus for to stakur
And knyghttus hartys for to flakur
   When blod and brenus con brast;
And mony a heython hed of smott,
And owt of hor sadyls, wylle y wott,
   Thei tombull at tho last.
He putte tho Sawden to tho flyghth
And made tho chasse to it was nyghth,
   And sluye tho Sarsyns kene;
Sython rode before tho Emperowr.
Non hym knew bot that bryghtt in bowr,
   Tho dompe meydon schene.
To chambur he went, dysharnest hym sone,
His hors, is armur awey wer done,
   He ne wyst wher hit myght bene.
In hall he fond his lorde at meyt;
He seytt hym down and made is seytt
   Too small raches betwene.
Tho meydon toke too gruhowndus fyn
And waschyd hor mowthus cleyn with wyn
   And putte a lofe in tho ton;
And in tho todur flesch full gud;
He raft bothe owt with eyggur mode,
   That doghty of body and bon.
He seytt, made hym wyll at es,
Sythyn to chambur con he ches,
   In that worthely won.
On tho morne cum a messengere
Fro tho Sawdyn with store chere,
   To tho Emperowr sone he come;
He seyd: "Syr, y bryng yow a lettur:
My lord is commun, wyll take hym bettur,
   Yesturdey ye slo his men;
Todey he is commun into tho feyld
With knyghtys that beyrus speyr and schyld,
   Thowsandus mo then ten;
On the he will avenied be."
"Hors and armour," than said he,
   "Hastly had we thenne."
God sende Syr Gwother thro Is myghth
A reyd hors and armur bryght,
   He fowlyd thro frythe and fen.
When bothe batels wer areyd,
Truly, as tho romandys seyd,
   Syr Gwother rode betwene;
Mony a sturdy gard he stombull,
Toppe over teyle hor horssus to tombull,
   For to wytte withowt wene;
He hewde insondur helme and schelde,
He feld tho baner in tho feld
   That schon so bryght and schene;
He leyd apon tho Sarsyns blake
And gard hor basnettus in too crake;
   He kyd that he was kene.
"A, Lord God!" seyd tho Emperowre,
"What knyght is yondur so styffe in stowr
   And all areyd in red,
Bothe his armur and his sted,
Mony a hethon he gars to bled
   And dynggus hom to tho deyd,
And hedur come to helpe me?
Anodur in blacke yesturdey had we
   That styrd hym wyll in this styd,
Dyscomfytt the Sawden and mony a Sarsyn;
So wyll yondur do, as y wene,
   His dyntys ar heyve as leyde;
His fochon is full styffe of stele -
Loke, he warus his dyntus full wele,
   And wastus of hom never won."
Tho Emperowr pryckus into tho pres,
Tho doghtty knyght with hym he ches,
   And byrkons hom flesche and bon.
Tho Sawdyn to a forest fled,
And his ost with hym he led
   That laft wer onslon.
Syr Gwother turnyd is brydyll bryght
And rode befor is lorde full ryghtt,
   To chambur then he hym cheys.
When his armur of wer don,
His hors and hit away wer son,
   That he wyst not whare.
When he come into tho hall,
He fond tho Emperour and is men all
   To meyt was gwon full yare;
Among tho howndus down he hym seytt,
Tho meydon forthe tho greyhondus feytt,
   And leytt as noghtt ware;
Fedde Hob tho fole, for sothe to sey
Lyke as sche dyd tho forme dey;
   To chambur sython con fare.
Tho Emperour thonkud God of hevun,
That schope tho nyght and tho deyus seyvun,
   That he had soo sped;
Dyscomfyd tho Sawdyn thwys,
And slen is men most of prys,
   Save thos that with hym fled.
"Anturus knyghtus come us too,
Aydur dey won of thoo,
   Y ne wyst wher thei wer bred;
Tho ton in reyd, tho todur in blacke -
Had eydur of hom byn to lacke
   Full evyll we had ben steyd."
They pypud and trompud in tho hall,
Knyghtus and ladys dancyd all
   Befor that mynstralsy;
Syr Gwother in his chambur ley,
He lyst nowdur dance ne pley,
   For he was full wery,
Bryssud for strokus that he had laghtth
When he in tho batell faghtth,
   Amonghe that carefull cry.
He had no thoght bot of is syn,
And how he myght is soule wyn
   To tho blys that God con hym by.
Thes lordys to bed con hom bown,
And knyghttys and ladys of renown,
   Thus this romans told.
On tho morne come a messynger
And seyd to tho Emperour, "Now is wer,
   Thi care mey be full cold;
My lord is comun with his powyr,
Bot yf thu gyff hym thi doghttur dere
   He wyll hampur the in hold,
And byrkon the bothe blod and bon,
And leyve on lyfe noght won
   Off all thi barons bold."
"Y count hym noght," quod tho Emperour;
"Y schall gare sembull as styff in stour,
   And meyt hym yf y mey."
Tho doghtty men that to hym dyd long
Anon wer armyd, old and yong,
   Be undur of tho dey.
Thei leype on hors, toke schyld and speyr,
Then tho gud knyght Gwotheyr
   To God in hart con prey,
Schulde sende hym hors and armur tyte;
Sone he had bothe, mylke whyte,
   And rod aftur in gud arey.
Hys to commyngus tho dompe meydon had sene,
And to tho thryd went with wene,
   No mon hit knew bot God,
For he fard nodur with brag ne bost,
Bot preystely pryckys aftur tho ost,
   And foloud on hor trowd.
Tho Emperour was in tho voward,
And Gowther rode befor is lord,
   Of knyghttys was he odde.
Tho berons wer to tho dethe dongon
And baners bryght in sladus slongon,
   With strokus greyt and lowd.
Tho Sawdyn bare in sabull blacke,
Three lyons rampand, withowt lacke,
   That all of silver schon;
Won was corvon with golys redde,
Anodur with gold in that steyd,
   Tho thryde with aser, y wene;
And his helmyt full rychely frett,
With charbuckolus stonus suryly sett
   And dyamondus betwene;
And his batell wele areyd,
And his baner brodly dyspleyd;
   Sone aftur tyde hom tene.
Tho gud knyght, Syr Gowtheyr,
He styrd hym styfly in his geyr,
   Ther levyd non doghttear, y wene;
Ylke a dyntte that he smotte
Throowt steyll helmus it boott,
   He felld bothe hors and mon,
And made hom tombull to tho gronde;
Tho fote men on tho feld con stonde
   And then ward radly ranne.
Tho Sawdyn for tho Emperourus doghttur
Gard Cryston and hethon to dye in slaghttur:
   That tyme hym burd wele ban.
To whyle Syr Gwother freschely faghtte
Mony a doghtté hors is deythe ther kaghtte,
   That he myghtte over reche;
All that he with his fawchon hytte
Thei fell to tho ground and ross not yette,
   Nor lokyd aftur no leyche.
Bot he wold not for yre ne tene
No worde speyke, withowt wene,
   For dowtte of Godus wreke;
If all he hongurt, noght he dyd eytte
Bot what he myght fro tho howndus geyt;
   He dyd as tho Pwope con hym teche.
Syr Gwother, that stythe in stowre,
Rydys ey with tho Emperour
   And weyrus hym fro wothe;
Ther was no Sarsyn so mykull of strenthe,
That durst come within is speyre lenthe,
   So doghttey wer thei bothe.
With his fachon large and long
Syche dyntus on them he dong
   Hor lyfus myghtte thei lothe;
All that ever abode that becur
Of hor deythus meghtt be secur,
   He styrd his hondus so rathe.
That dey he tent noght bot is fyght;
Tho Emperour faght with all his myght,
   Bot radly was he takon,
And with tho Sawdyn awey was led;
Tho dompe Duke gard hym ley a wed,
   Stroke of his hed anon,
Rescowyd is lord, broght hym ageyn,
Lovyd be God in hart was ful feyn,
   That formod bothe blod and bon.
Ther come a Sarsyn with a speyre,
Thro tho scholdur smott Gotheyr.
   Then made the dompe meydon mon;
For sorro fell owt of hur toure,
Tho doghtur of tho Emperour,
   To whyte withowt wene.
A doghtty sqwyer in hur bare;
Of all too deyus hoo styrd no mare
   Then ho deyd had ben.
Tho lord come hom, to meyt was seytt,
And tho doghtty knyght, withowt leytt,
   That had in tho batell byn,
To chambur he went, dyd of is geyre,
This gud knyght Syr Gwothere,
   Then myssyd he that meydon schene.
Emong tho howndus is meyt he wan;
Tho Emperour was a drury man
   For his doghttur gent;
He gard erlys and barons go to Rome
Aftur tho Pope, and he come sone
   To hur enterment,
And cardynals to tho beryng
To assoyle that swett thyng.
   Syche grace God hur sentt
That scho raxeld hur and rase,
And spake wordus that wyse was
   To Syr Gwother, varement.
Ho seyd, "My lord of heyvon gretys the well,
And forgyffeus the thi syn yche a dell,
   And grantys the tho blys;
And byddus the speyke on hardely,
Eyte and drynke and make mery;
   Thu schallt be won of His."
Scho seyd to hur fadur, "This is he
That faght for yow deys thre
   In strong batell, ywys."
Tho Pope had schryvon Syr Gother -
He lovyd God and Maré ther -
   And radly hym con kys,
And seyd, "Now art thu Goddus chyld;
The thar not dowt tho warlocke wyld,
   Ther waryd mot he bee."
Thro tho Pope and tho Emperour asent
Ther he weyd that meydyn gent,
   That curtesse was and fre.
And scho a lady gud and feyr,
Of all hur fadur londus eyr;
   Beyttur thurte non bee.
Tho Pope toke his leyfe to weynde,
With tham he laft his blessyng,
   Ageyn to Rome went hee.
When this mangeyre was broght to ende,
Syr Gwother con to Estryke wende
   And gaff tho old erle all;
Made hym Duke of that cuntré,
And lett hym wed his modur fre,
   That ladé gent and small;
And ther he made an abbey
And gaff therto rent for ey,
"And here lye y schall";
And putte therin monkus blake
To rede and syng for Godys sake,
   And closyd hit with gud wall.
All yf tho Pope had hym schryvyn
And God is synnus clene forgevon,
   Yett was his hart full sare
That ever he schuld so yll wyrke
To bren tho nunnus in hor kyrke,
   And made hor plasse so bare.
For hom gard he make that abbey
And a covent therin for ey
   That mekull cowde of lare,
For them unto tho wordus end
For hor soulus that he had brend
   And all that Cryston ware.
And then he went hym hom ageyn,
And be that he come in Allmeyn
   His fadur tho Emperour was deyd,
And he lord and emperowr,
Of all Cryston knyghttus tho flowre,
   And with tho Sarsyns dredde.
What mon so bydus hym for Godys loffe doo
He was ey redy bown thertoo,
   And stod pore folke in styd,
And ryche men in hor ryght,
And halpe holy kyrke in all is myght;
   Thus toke he bettur reyd.
Furst he reynod mony a yere,
An emperour of greyt power,
   And whysyle con he wake;
And when he dyed, tho sothe to sey,
Was beryd at tho same abbey
   That hymselfe gart make;
And he is a varré corsent parfett,
And with Cryston pepull wele belovyd;
   God hase done for his sake
Myrrakull, for he has hym hold;
Ther he lyse in schryne of gold
   That suffurd for Goddus sake.
Who so sechys Hym with hart fre,
Of hor bale bote mey bee,
   For so God hase hym hyght;
Thes wordus of hym thar no mon wast,
For he is inspyryd with tho Holy Gost,
   That was tho cursod knyght;
For he garus tho blynd to see
And tho dompe to speyke, pardé,
   And makus tho crokyd ryght,
And gyffus to tho mad hor wytte,
And mony odur meracullus yette,
   Thoro tho grace of God allmyght.
Thus Syr Gwother coverys is care,
That fyrst was ryche and sython bare,
   And effte was ryche ageyn,
And geyton with a felteryd feynd;
Grace he had to make that eynd
   That God was of hym feyn.
This is wreton in parchemeyn,
A story bothe gud and fyn
   Owt off a law of Breyteyn.
Jesu Cryst, Goddys son,
Gyff us myght with Hym to won,
   That Lord that is most of meyn. Amen
   Explicit Syr Gother
(see note)
Cross; (see note)
Protect; foul fiend
Once; power
copulate; noblewomen
their husbands
Merlin; others; (see note)
caused; great pain
wondrous; hear
marvelous; hear
lay with; so near
For they themselves had no form; (see note)
By maiden Mary
clerks say; I know
great demon
mother's heart; brought
wild deeds
joyful child
Give them; love; listen
lay; (see note)
[once] lived; Austria; (see note)
lady unsurpassed
beauty; head-dress; (see note)
the lily; bright (innocent); (see note)
Her complexion rosy; briar
feast did
the first day
Their lances; shatter; (see note)
(see note)
brought down; valiant
cracked many a skull
tournament; over
worthy; the
Led their; joy
somewhat more
begot; bore
To his lady
I believe you to be somewhat barren; (see note)
Heirless must
weeping; cease
The lady sighed; (see note)
pale face
She; Mary
she didn't care
She met a man; truth
(see note)
her his desire he wrought
his pleasure taken
As a shaggy fiend; lept up quickly; (see note)
begotten; you
in his youth
mightily wield
crossed herself
she went
firmly built
may beget
An angel
God's messenger
By a fold of her robe; seized; (see note)
make love; (see note)
evening; bed; made their way
gracious lady
ever went she burdened; devil's child
Until; release; burden
none other
Than Merlin's
For one fiend begot them both; (see note)
never did anything else
have intercourse; sinful
Each; grew more obviously pregnant
one; could do harm; (see note)
had him taken to the church; (see note)
soon grew fierce; violent; (see note)
comforted; diligently
wet nurses
Who were; wives
sucked them
grew; (see note)
had sent for six [other wet nurses]
Pay heed, gentle audience
banded themselves together
[That] he practice no more his old habits
[On] no more nurses
offered him her breast
suckled; (see note)
tore the nipple; (see note)
Physicians; promptly
as much as he demanded; (see note)
may I swear
When; age
bear; (see note)
curved sword; (see note)
Know; waxed; fierce
many; terrorize
He grew more in a year
other children did in six or seven
wicked in all kinds of ways
(see note)
broad sword; (see note)
blow; could abide
weary of the secret
might not endure; (see note)
They were ill-situated
slay them
strike their; two
church he smites down
nor matins; hear; (see note)
solemnly swear
(see note)
do his father's; (see note)
He loved hunting best of all
(see note)
byways; highways
hunt; (see note)
nunnery by
procession; went to meet him
very frightened; (see note)
lay with them
then he enclosed them
burned them; did
did believe; (see note)
caused them grief
destroy by rape; (see note)
jump off cliffs
hang on hooks
other; slew
burn hermits
poor widow; set
do them great
An old earl
suspect; strain
causes us
always the bad
think you must be close kin to the devil
became angry
if you tell lies
alive go hence
ordered to be imprisoned
set off
at once
through you
her heart
Speak; health
I think; lie
Son, now I
begot thee
chestnut; (see note)
His [people]
took himself
may confess; absolve
his steadfast heir; (see note)
readily; (see note)
(see note)
lifted; joy nor pain
did he journey
for confession
his request
By; on throne
few friendships
Holy Church
assign penance
confessed before I go
absolved; cease
falchion I needs must carry
very few
eat no food; snatch; (see note)
Until you've received a sign
chair of authority; (see note)
did he absolve him
To tell the very truth
from a dog's mouth; (see note)
quickly; his
(see note)
witnesses; (see note)
set himself
regularly; (see note)
Before evening every day
nights; (see note)
each day
onward he went
(see note)
thither he proceeded
outside the gate
Though he was powerfully built; (see note)
guards on the wall blew [a signal]
hurried; seat
no usher
Nor; gate
goes swiftly; crowd; (see note)
head table; went
under [the table]; his seat
steward; stick
deal with him quickly
fiercely threatened him
beat; unless
fairest; saw; (see note)
quickly he went
One word from
Except what; circumstance
given; penance
seated; served
cut up
mute man
would not eat any
it from him drew
eagerly; gnawed
would [accept] neither curlew nor quail
Even if it were chewed or spoiled
high table
mute Duke [Gowther]; drew close
hidden; a curtain
noon he would come
Hob their fool they called him; (see note)
also as mute as Gowther
very beautiful
Sultan; great power
[make] war upon you
burn; bowers
she is mute
None fairer could be imagined
by Christ's wounds
would my sorrows be engendered
through His power; (see note)
Return to her
hastened away
awakened increasing sorrow
Each; several battalions
no sooner said his prayer
his horse
sturdy in battle [was]
shunned neither mere nor moor
rode; (see note)
fierce battalion
Assembled as was their design
But once
head did he remove
cut down
made horses stagger
hearts quake in fear
brains burst; (see note)
heathen head smote off
well I know
gave pursuit until
slew the fierce Saracens
lovely [princess]
so beautiful
soon disarmed himself
dinner; (see note)
took his place
Two small hunting dogs
two fine greyhounds; (see note)
loaf of bread in the one
other fresh meat
wrested; eagerly
worthy one
well at ease
(see note)
foreboding news
(see note)
On you; avenged; (see note)
sent; His
followed; forest; marsh
armies; prepared
sturdy [knight] he caused to stumble
hewed in two
felled; field
helmets to crack in two
proved; brave
causes; bleed
beat them to death
handled himself well in this place
blows; heavy as lead
delivers his blows
wastes; never a one
gallops, thick of battle
belabors them
Those that were left unslain; (see note)
as was fitting
returned; (see note)
was taken off
didn't know where
brought forth
behaved as if nothing had happened
created; seven days
most highly valued
I do not know; born
The one; the other
Had either of them been absent
Great evil we would have incurred
piped; played trumpets
desired neither
Bruised; received
(see note)
did purchase for him
got ready
besiege; castle
thrash you
leave no one alive
assemble together; strong; warfare; (see note)
By 9:00 a.m.
(see note)
well equipped
two comings
full knowingly; (see note)
without hesitation rides; host
in their path
valleys cast down; (see note)
rampant; peer; (see note)
adorned; red gules
carbuncle stones securely; (see note)
he came to harm
lived none more doughty; (see note)
steel helmets; cut
retreated quickly
he had good reason to curse
All the while
caught its death there
anger nor injury
without doubt
divine vengeance
Even though; was hungry
fierce one in battle
ever alongside
protects; harm
his spear's length
Their lives; detest; (see note)
thought of nothing but his fighting
made him a pledge; (see note)
Cut off
rescued his
(see note)
(see note)
know without a doubt
squire carried her in
For two full days she stirred no more
Than if she were dead
took off his armor; (see note)
(see note)
awoke and raised herself up
each part
days; (see note)
quickly [the Pope] kissed him
You need not fear; devil
vanquished must
took leave to go
(see note)
wedding feast
(see note)
support forever
I shall be buried
[i.e., Benedictines]
Even though
grieved; (see note)
their place; desolate
them he ordered construction of
much knew of wisdom
by the time that; Germany
(see note)
the flower of knighthood
asked; (see note)
always ready
stood in support of the poor
(see note)
he followed better counsel; (see note)
a truly pious person
Miracle; (see note)
Their suffering help may
promised; (see note)
makes the blind
by God
(see note)
recovers his estate
poor; (see note)
Though begotten by; hairy
omnipotent might

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