Lancelot of the Laik, Book I
LANCELOT OF THE LAIK: FOOTNOTES1 When the bright and new[ly returned] source of light
2 While Phoebus [the sun] has thrice gone through his circuit
3 So, in such a way, fated was my lot
4 Then [I walked] to a garden, which was beautiful
5 There was the garden profusely adorned with flowers
6 Which is in poetry [i.e., figuratively] presented for my lady
7 And in such a state I endured very long
8 Alighted and said in her bird's way
9 And do nothing to bring about your own cure
10 Do you not know that the creator of all life
11 Makes no provision; for [it is] a long time before he will be healthy
12 Sound of body, who does not reveal his wound
13 Who speaks of love, between keeping it secret or revealing it
14 Neither am able nor know how to attain
15 Although often they contain much significance
16 And since letters and petitions such as these are
17 That [previously] unknown is, so as to undertake and write
18 Which does not cause any sorrow
19 However it might be, I shall not free myself from my responsibility
20 To what I know it pleases Love to command
21 Concerning his commands, as [one who is] entirely destitute
22 Nor many an encounter that Gawain caused to be made
23 This exposition must be closed and concluded
24 May his soul be saved in the joy [of heaven] on account of that
25 The Prologue ends and the first book begins
26 And in the morning singing as is their manner
27 Because observing the pleasant air / And the surpassing joy of the season
28 Were accustomed to hear of arms day by day [i.e., every day]
29 One of them, with their unanimous agreement
30 In such detail have they analyzed the thing [i.e., the dream]
31 The other [five] heard and are in agreement with them
32 For [knowledge of] things to come is reserved solely
33 Have designated one who will speak in this manner
34 But all night it was not out of his thoughts
35 The coming of day he eagerly longed for
36 The hunting dogs were unleashed upon the wild animals
37 After considering only a short time, the King gave his answer
38 That to please him is all they are concerned about
39 What have I done wrong or what [have I done] to deserve
40 Nothing that should give me joy remains to me
41 But that [being in prison] is nothing in comparison with my woe
42 Who have so long pleaded to you for a remedy
43 And intended to keep them in the perilous vanguard
44 The heads he smote off at the shoulders
45 For I presume there exist people of such a type
46 Sir knight, that's not the way things stand
47 For what I did was necessary because of a true need
48 I could not avoid it without harming my reputation
49 He arranged his forces facing the battlefield
50 What suffering I, in sorrow because of her, endure
51 Therefore I advise that you earn her thanks
52 It would be more expedient to pay heed to your honor
53 The spear is destroyed [literally gone]; with that [occurrence], he immediately leapt [to action]
54 But constantly conducted themselves courageously
55 Although they were good [warriors], they were a small force
56 And grant a respite to him until a year from today
57 And so he resolved, it seemed to him for the best
58 Each one of the knights of the lady of Melyhalt
59 She calls one of her very close relatives
60 That may you say, as if the best man that lives / Or the one who proves himself most worthy in arms / Or the one who has been [most worthy in arms] up to now, in any time before / Had worn them on the battlefield, in his greatest valor
61 It seems this knight has been well tested
62 So much has she worked upon her lady
63 The first book ends; the second begins
64 The sun rises; the warm morning dawns
65 "I do not heed, nor do I care about," said he
66 So fair is the path you depart from
67 You only look out for your own pleasure
68 And if it pleases you to abide by [my] advice
69 Done from the time when he passed the age of innocence
70 Where God Himself has taken up the cause
71 Consider your weakness and your lack [of sufficient manpower]
72 Whom they boast of as having such power
73 Ignorance is no defense
74 For whoever is accustomed to one of these [vices]
75 Therefore give your ears [i.e., a hearing] to the poor
76 A king should be the very light of truth
77 Where you [should] have summoned and called in every region
78 Then, to gladden and cheer them, conduct yourself
79 Who is capable of deeds of arms and of courage
80 Give them exotic, give them marvelous things
81 Or hawks or hounds provided for the occasion
82 And if he does not do so, the giver is deluded
83 For whoever gives as if he did not want to give
84 And shall in return so much the more altogether receive
85 Generously give, which you feared doing
86 Let him not care, but generously give always
87 As has been heard, because of generosity in former times
88 And whoever read these old books knows [it is so].
89 Therefore the voice, it shrieks quite directly up
90 For he, in truth, has given him the scepter
91 Is most adequate and most pleasing to him [the king]
92 To reprove them even though he knows of their vices
93 Should well maintain peace and order
94 As I have said, the wicked to be worthless people
95 The way the clerks interpreted them, / They said nothing about what they [truly] signified
96 In this world, [in] which they stand [i.e., are] enclosed
97 Their sin and also their great delight in the world [i.e., worldly things]
98 And has with him also other companions as well
99 To go home as soon as they can make provision
100 Very seriously wounded, and on [the litter] had [i.e., took] him with them
101 And let no knight from this time forth boast about himself
102 Heard of such a gathering made ever before
103 Either when they went or when they came back, they swore
104 For the enterprise is not so great a trial, / So I suppose, but that you shall accomplish it
105 Then took their leave and from the court they go
106 One day she had him brought into her presence
107 And if it had pleased you to say [your name]
108 For none worthier has been born on this earth
109 And greeted her with all his heart
110 I have a friend who has a trial by combat arranged
111 Necessarily tomorrow I must go home
112 Since it necessarily behooves me to go
113 When she had brought without delay
114 Whatever afterwards I might be able to attain
115 You shall have three choices and choose one of those
116 Constantly within your spirit to survive
117 Must say that thing which touches upon unknightly behavior
118 I shall have prepared according to your own instructions
119 She kept it secret. She was not gossipy about it.
120 Both for discretion and for womanly qualities, / For moral control, for breeding and for beauty
121 And holds feasts through all [times of] the year alike
122 The second part ends, the third part begins
123 Ornamented profusely and clad in fresh new [shoots]
124 Before the truce and the year had run [out]
125 And without delay they have undertaken their journey
126 Have come but [that they would] remain faithful to their quest
127 Where before he had one man now he had two [i.e., his forces were double what they were before]
128 In preparation for the morning, and to head for the field
129 Although he was poor, he fought well oftentimes
130 And has attacked directly into a band [of knights]
131 Yet always for one of them there were three of their enemies
132 That, in spite of themselves, they must necessarily retreat
133 But they made the King believe that not on account of that should he achieve death [i.e., die] at that time
134 To her to reveal, according to their intentions
135 Diligent effort in knightly deeds, always without sloth
136 "Sir," said she, "I advise you not to be displeased
137 That she had been so courteous to him
138 And comforted him and treated him hospitably
139 Just as the day began
140 Though he sees the knights jousting in the field
141 Immediately and caused his bed to be put
142 What is the cause that you ask and the reason
143 Has arranged and made ready his troops
144 As it did not please him [to go] back
145 Necessarily that army will take to flight
146 Tell the knight the Queen commends herself [to him]
147 According to his own wish, however it pleases him to arrange it
148 Unless death or another chance [which would prevent me] befall me
149 These six constantly remain by him as far as they are able
150 Who knew how to fight a battle quite valiantly
151 With the large number [of enemies] their army was overwhelmed
152 And say to him, "It seems to us that he is ill advised
153 And there are only two things which can cure you
154 That you make a good showing, since you may do no more
155 And in arms win yourself some reputation
156 His lance he lowered and swift as any cross-bow bolt
157 There the life of many a knight perishes
158 They may be called, and what they are I ask [you to tell me]
159 That Arthur's army would have perished
160 Were it not that they [Arthur's troops] were better, each one
161 As many as it pleases you to use
162 Through which we shall be much the less attacked
163 If we met them openly and resolutely
LANCELOT OF THE LAIK: NOTES2 Set is an astronomical term implying that the winter is no longer ascendent, but has passed.
3 Illumynare is an aureate term for the sun.
12 The kalendis (kalends) was the first day of a month in the Roman calendar (and the word from which "calendar" is derived).
18 The verb deuit (manuscript reading: "devit") is a form of "douen," which means "to have worth or validity; be useful, profitable, helpful, or effective; avail" (MED).
24 Phebus (Apollo) is the god of the sun.
28 The form carving reflects the common practice of this manuscript of using ing where one would expect to find en or in, as in infinitives or plural forms of verbs. Here "carving" is the infinitive following "cann," which gives a past sense to the verb (as also in line 36, "cann constrein" and many other places in the text). The subject of "cann carving" is the "suerd" of the following line, and "hart" is the object: "The terrible sword of love's intense desire did carve my sorrowful heart in two."
38-40 The motif of the helpless lover, frustrated by the knowledge that his beloved knows nothing of his plight, is commonplace in courtly literature. See, for example, Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, I, 806-812.
48 In the manuscript there is a line over the o, which is usually used for an abbreviation of n or m. Here it seems not to be significant (unless the scribe intended an abbreviation of gh. The same word with the same line occurs again in line 258.
51 Pryapus (Priapus) is the Greek god of fertility.
56 I follow Skeat in emending the manuscript reading "closit" to "clos it."
57 Skeat is probably correct in noting that the manuscript reading Alphest is erroneously written for "Alcest." Alcestis was a faithful wife who chose to die so that her husband Admetus could live. She was then rescued from the underworld by Hercules. Gower tells her story in Book VII of the Confessio Amantis, but the suggestion that she was turned into a flower is not found there. Nor is it found in the Classical sources of the legend such as Euripides' Alcestis. In the Prologue to The Legend of Good Women, Chaucer refers to "the quene Alceste, / That turned was into a dayesye" (lines 511-12). Perhaps this is the source of the identification here of Alceste with a "flour."
74 I follow Skeat and Gray in emending "besor" to "be sor." "Gan" in this line is an auxiliary to "occupy" in the following line and gives a past sense to that verb.
81 ff. Bird debates and instructions of lovers by birds are conventional devices in late medieval English poetry. See, for example, Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls and Thomas Clanvowe's "Boke of Cupid" ("The Cuckoo and the Nightingale").
109 Althir is a genitive plural of "al" (all). Literally the line translates: "The last he calls the best of all of the two (i.e., he calls the latter the better of the two)." The works of the Roman poet Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso [43 B.C.-17 or 18 A.D.]) were well known, particularly his Metamorphoses and his books about love. He is called by Chaucer "Venus clerk Ovide" in the House of Fame (1487). In the Art of Love (Ars amatoria), Ovid expresses the preference for keeping love secret that is referred to here: "Cytherea [Venus], especially, forbids that her mysteries should be revealed. I give thee warning, no babbling knaves should ever draw near her altars. . . . The beasts of the field abandon themselves, in any place and in the sight of all, to the delights of love, and often at the spectacle a young girl will turn away her head; but for our loves we must have a secret bower, closed doors, and we must needs cover with vesture the secret places of our body. . . . Let us, on the other hand, speak sparingly of our real amours, and hide our secret pleasures beneath an impenetrable veil" (The Art of Love and Other Love Books of Ovid [New York: The Universal Library, 1959], pp. 160-161).
112-14 The sense of these lines seems to be: Although you presume or believe that you will test yourself in his (Love's) service, to see whether you like it or not (literally, "whether it will run or walk"), do not presume it (that you will try love out and decide if you like it), for it will not be so.
115 Thine is the genitive of the pronoun "thou." Thus the opening of the line means "Entirely in spite of yourself" (or, loosely, "No matter what you want").
138 Say; in the manner; written. Be maner oft . That is, in courtly verse.
143 Skeat notes that at lyte (literally "in little") is here used as an expletive.
171 Gray glosses wyss as "wise man." Skeat translates the line: "At command of a wise (god from) whose vision." As Skeat's translation implies a preposition must be supplied or must be assumed to be implied by the case of the noun "visioune" in order to make sense of the line.
177-89 The poet's elaborate humility trope is part of the poem's wit. The device is common and ranges in its application from the pious sincerity of Chaucer's Parson (CT, X, 55-57) to the inflated modesty of his Franklin (CT, V, 716-28), or the youthful uncertainty of the Squire (CT, V, 34-41).
202 Lancelot's father, Ban, is king of Albanak (Malory's Benwick), generally said to be in Brittany.
204 A clerk in this context is someone who can read and write.
211 The term romans was originally applied to the language of France, as distinguished from Latin. (The term "romance language" was later used to describe any of the languages derived from the Latin of the Romans.) The word "romance" came to be transferred from the language itself to a story told in French. Then it came to be applied to the types of stories told in French, no matter what language they were written in.
214 Skeat translates the line: "I will not waste my efforts thereupon." Gray glosses "depend" as "expend, spend." The original reading may well have been "despend" rather than the manuscript reading "depend."
214-98 The author uses this elaborate instance of occupatio (the saying of what you say you are not going to say) to recount the material from his French source that he is not dealing with at length in his poem. This was a common rhetorical device. It appears, for example, in Chaucer's Knight's Tale (I, 2919-66) and, on a much smaller scale, in the Squire's Tale (V, 67-72).
226 Gray translates to the stak as "to the hilt." Skeat translates "iwondit to the stak" as "very deeply wounded." (In his glossary Skeat lists various conjectures to explain the phrase "to the stak." Among others, he quotes the Scottish phrase "to the steeks," meaning "completely" and refers to Gray's suggestion that "stak" may be a form of "stock" ("hilt"). MED cites the phrase "driven to the stak" (where "stak" is "a post to which someone is tied for execution, punishment, or restraint") as meaning "driven to the last extremity." A similar meaning might apply here. But perhaps, since the next line refers to the piercing of the heart, an anatomical image is intended here. MED cites one meaning of "stok n. (1)" as "a main vein or artery."
247-48 Skeat and Gray agree that the manuscript wrongly transposes these lines.
252 The prepositional phrase of desir seems not to be adjectival modifying "armys" but rather adverbial, meaning something like "eagerly."
255 The Lady of Nohalt (Nohaut in the Vulgate Lancelot) appealed to Arthur for a champion to aid her against the King of Northumberland, who was besieging her castle. Lancelot, who had just been knighted by Arthur, asked to be allowed to assist her; and Arthur could not refuse. Because Lancelot engaged in a fierce combat on his journey, the Lady of Nohalt delayed the fight with the King of Northumberland's champion until his wounds were healed. In the meantime, since no news had been received at court, Kay asked to be sent to complete the mission begun by Lancelot. When he arrived at the Lady of Nohalt's castle and found Lancelot ready to fight for the Lady, he was willing to fight Lancelot for the right to complete the mission. The Lady of Nohalt, however, diplomatically avoided such a fight by asking the King of Northumberland to send two champions so that both Lancelot and Kay could fight for her. In the ensuing combats both of Arthur's knights were victorious.
258 Achieved; extravagant. In the manuscript there is a line over the o in throue. Either this is a meaningless stroke or it is used to indicate the omission of gh. It surely does not signify here the omission of an m or n, as it usually does.
278 In the Vulgate Lancelot, while Lancelot is staring so intensely at Guinevere that he is unaware of what is going on around him, his horse wanders into dangerously deep water. Ywain leads him to a ford so he is out of danger. There Dagonet (Fr. "Daguenet") finds him and leads Lancelot, still gazing on the Queen and unaware of everything else, back to the court. In Malory, as in the French tradition, Dagonet is Arthur's fool as well as a knight.
291 The manuscript reads "to his his"; I follow Gray and Skeat in emending to "to hir his."
302 Galiot is referred to in Malory as "Galahalt" (or some variation thereof, such as "Galahaut" or "Galahaud"). He is sometimes referred to in French texts as the son of "la bele Jaiande," the wife of Brunor. The similarity between her name and the English word "giant" may have cause some confusion, as in the English Prose Merlin, where Galehaut is referred to as "the son of the Geaunt" (EETS os 36, 601).
309 Venus, siting hie abuf. Venus is the goddess of love and the deity usually addressed by courtly lovers as she, from her seat in the third sphere, watches over their woes. See, for example, Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, III, 1-49, his Complaint of Venus and Complaint of Mars, and the Knight's Tale, I, 1918-66; Henryson's Testament of Cresseid, lines 8-28; and Gower's Confessio Amantis, I, 124-202, and VIII, 2171-2940.
318 ff. The poet alludes to an unnamed Latin poet. Perhaps he has in mind a specific person like Ovid, who as a poet who wrote about love might be an appropriate figure to refer to and an obvious author for readers to think of in this context. Or perhaps he deliberately leaves the poet unnamed to create a mythic figure like the Lollius to whom Chaucer refers in Troilus and Criseyde, I, 394, or the "man of gret auctorite" at the end of The House of Fame.
334 Endit could mean one of two things in this context. Either it is a form of the verb "to end" and means that "this [prologue] ends [at this point]" or it is a noun meaning "composition" or "poem," in which case the meaning is that the great poet to whom the author refers has his thanks for any pleasant phrase that he writes and also for "this [entire] poem."
335-42 The Titans were pre-Olympian gods and were the children of Uranus and Gaia (Heaven and Earth). Among them was Hyperion, father of Helios (the Sun) to whom the name "Titan" is often applied in later poetry, as it is here. In this astrological reckoning of time, Titan (the sun) is twenty days into Aries. Since the sun enters Aries on March 12, the time is the very beginning of April. (See also the note to lines 2486-87.) Chaucer uses a similar device for telling the time in the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales, lines 1-8.
345 For anerding, Stevenson reads "awerding," which is clearly not the reading of the manuscript Skeat reads "auerding" and glosses "auerding to" as "belonging to (?)." Gray reads "anerding" and defines it as a Scottish word meaning "adhering." The confusion between u and n results from the fact that the two minims which comprise the letter could be read either way. Gray's reading seems correct. The Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue defines the verb "enherde" and its variant "anherd" as "to adhere." The OED lists "anerd" as another variant.
347 The Arthurian Handbook by Norris J. Lacy and Geoffrey Ashe (New York: Garland, 1988) identifies Carlisle as the "city of Cumbria, of Roman origin, that survived for some time after the separation of Britain from the empire. The first syllable of its old name, Luguvallum, suggests a connection with the god Lugh. In the course of time the name was shortened and the Welsh caer, "city," was prefixed. . . . It figures in English tales with Gawain as hero. It is also the place where, in Malory, Lancelot rescues Guinevere when she is about to be burnt at the stake" (323).
357 Camelot as the legendary site of Arthur's court first appears in Chrétien's Le Chavalier de la Charrette (l. 34). On the origin of the name see William C. Hale, "Camelot," Avalon to Camelot 2.2 (1986): 40-41. On the possible site of the central fortification of the historical figure behind the Arthurian legends, see Leslie Alcock, Was This Camelot? Excavations at Cadbury Castle 1966-70 (New York: Stein and Day, 1972).
374 The statement that Arthur thoght in the same manner (apone the samyne wyss) suggests a recurrence of the dream.
376 In his glossary under liging, Skeat notes that "the sense requires lay, i.e. the 3rd p. s. pt. t. indic., but properly the word is the present participle, lying." However, it may be that the ing is written for the ending normally appearing as en, as is a common practice in this manuscript Thus "liging" would be a plural form. The shift from singular to plural might reflect the difference between the stomach falling out and the guts lying on the ground.
390 The notion that dreams are thingis that askith no credens is similar to the opinion expressed by Pandarus in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde: "A straw for alle swevenes significaunce! / God helpe me so, I counte hem nought a bene!" (V, 362-63), and by Pertelote in the Nun's Priest's Tale: "Ne do no fors of dremes" (VII, 2941). According to Macrobius (Commentary on the Dream of Scipio, trans. William Harris Stahl [1952; rpt. New York: Columbia University Press, 1990]), one of the standard medieval authorities on dreams, there are certain types of dreams, the nightmare and the apparition, which "are not worth interpreting since they have no prophetic significance" (p. 88). However, there are other types which Macrobius considers meaningful: the "oracular" dream "in which a parent, or a pious or revered man, or a priest, or even a god clearly reveals what will or will not transpire, and what action to take or avoid"; the "prophetic vision," which "actually comes true"; and the "enigmatic dream," which conceals with strange shapes and veils with ambiguity the true meaning of the information being offered, and requires an interpretation for its understanding" (p. 90). The last is the sort of dream that Arthur has. A summary of medieval dream lore can be found in the "Proem" to Chaucer's House of Fame. For further information on medieval beliefs about dreams, see chapters 8 and 9 ("Mediaeval Dream-Lore" and "Chauntecleer and Pertelote on Dreams") in Walter Clyde Curry's Chaucer and the Mediaeval Sciences (1926; rpt. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1960), and Stephen F. Kruger's Dreaming in the Middle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).
393 Superfleuytee (or superfluity) is an excess of one of the bodily humors, which was believed to be one of the causes of dreams. In Chaucer's "The Nun's Priest's Tale," Pertelote tells Chauntecleer that his dream "Cometh of the greet superfluytee / Of youre rede colera" (VII, 2927-28).
401 Clergy here suggests not only clerics but also, and more importantly in this context, "learned men."
417 In order for the clerks to provide an astrological interpretation of the dream they must know the time ("the houre") and date ("the nyght") when it occurred.
433 Stevenson read "fete" for the manuscript "set." Skeat and Gray both suggest emending "set" to "fet" (fetched or got). However, it seems that the manuscript reading needs no emendation. The suggestion is that the scholars "arranged" or "set out" all the books they would need for their work.
434-36 A similar but longer list of authorities on astronomy occurs in Book 7 of Gower's Confession Amantis. George G. Fox, in The Mediaeval Sciences in the Works of John Gower (1931; rpt. New York: Haskell House, 1966), pp. 81-83, comments on Gower's list: "The astrological lore of Abraham [who is not mentioned in Lancelot of the Laik] and Moses may, Gower says, never have been committed to writing. Nimrod, or as Gower [as well as the author of Lancelot of the Laik] calls him, Nembrot, is the mighty hunter of the Bible, the son of Canaan, the son of Shem, the son of Noah. This is the genealogy given by Michael Scot . . . . Two manuscripts have been found which, although not by Nimrod himself, purport to be based on his teachings. Arachel refers probably to Arzachel (Al-Zarkali), whose astronomical tables were in common use." In Lancelot of the Laik, Danghelome is a bastardized form of Ptolemy (whose name appears in Gower as "Danz Tholome"). Ptolemy was most famous for a book called The System of Mathematics, which was known in the Middle Ages as the Almageste (from its Arabic title, al-Kitab-al-Midjisti, meaning "the greatest book"), a work which is, as its translator G. J. Toomer says (in Ptolemy's Almagest [New York: Springer, 1984], p. 1), "a complete exposition of mathematical astronomy as the Greeks understood the term." Herynes is, as Skeat notes, written for "Herymes" (Hermes). William Cecil Dampier in A History of Science (4th ed; Cambridge: Cambridge Up, 1949), p. 50, observes that "there are . . . writings, probably of the third century, assigned to "Hermes Trismegistor," the Greek equivalent of the Egyptian god Thoth. They are chiefly concerned with Platonic and Stoic philosophy, but they also contain much astrology as well as alchemy, and were afterwards well known in Latin translations."
438 The disposicioune is the "character or position (of a planet) in the horoscope as influencing persons or events" (MED).
472 I follow Skeat and Gray in emending manuscript "shat" to "shal."
519 Except through the watery lion; end. Fyne in this line is coordiante with "adew" in line 518.
536 The line completing the couplet (and rhyming with also) is apparently missing here, though there is no gap in the manuscript. Skeat constructs the line: "In to the feld can rusching to and fro" in imitation of line 3293.
538 Edward, Second Duke of York (in The Master of the Game, ed. Wm. A. and F. Baillie-Groham, [New York: Duffield, 1919]) says of the greyhound: "a good greyhound should go so fast that if he be well slipped he should overtake any beast . . . ." Line 538 echoes this idea.
554 To holde lands from someone is to receive them from a feudal lord. The implication is that Arthur would become a vassal to Galiot and thus owe him obligations ("tribut and rent") as overlord and ultimate owner of Arthur's lands.
559 Skeat and Gray read "Shir"; but Stevenson's edition follows the manuscript in reading "Schir."
599 Ackerman in An Index of the Arthurian Names in Middle English (Stanford: Stanford UP, 1952) identifies Galygantynis of Walys as "Seneschal to Galehaut." However, this is a different person. Galygantynis is clearly a knight of Arthur's court. Even in the Vulgate Lancelot, there are two different characters with similar names: Galeguinant, one of Galahot's knights whom Somers identifies as "le senescal Galahot" (Index, p. 39), and Galegantins li Galois (i.e., the Welshman), one of Arthur's knights.
600-601 These lines seem to echo the description of Chaucer's Knight who had "ridden, no man ferre, / As wel in cristendom as in hethenesse" and of whom we are told "At many a noble armee hadde he be" ("General Prologue," lines 48-49, 60).
621 Lest is a variant of "list" (to want or desire). The phrase translates literally, "This I want to say" and seems to be used as a way of emphasizing the previous statement. The phrase "ayan the morn" means "against the coming of the morning" or "towards the morning."
675-76 The use of anaphora, the repetition of a word or words at the beginning of successive clauses or sentences, in these lines and also in line 1289 has a Chaucerian ring. Compare these instances with the line from the Knight's Tale, "Up roos the sonne, and up roos Emelye" (I, 2273).
699 Skeat notes that "the metre of Lancelot's lament is that of Chaucer's 'Cuckoo and Nightingale,' and was very possibly copied from it." In his volume of Chaucerian and Other Pieces (1897), which is a supplement to the Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, Skeat himself observes that the author of this poem, "the true title" of which he gives as "The Book of Cupid, God of Love" is not Chaucer but probably Thomas Clanvowe, "a well known personage at the courts of Richard II and Henry IV" (lvii-lviii).
735-36 It is possible that the type of carts described here was some sort of armored vehicle with iron wheels and bars for defense against enemy weapons. In English Weapons & Warfare 449-1660, A. V. B. Norman and Don Pottinger (Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice Hall, 1979) describe such vehicles from the time of Henry VIII: "There are a number of references to armoured cars, and one drawing shows an English army accompanied by them. these were box-like structures on wheels with a battlemented top like a tiny castle. They were propelled by a horse or horses placed between the wheels and protected by the sides of the cart. . . . The immediate inspiration for these probably came from the Scots, who used them in the campaign of 1523, but ultimately they derive from the armoured wagons of the Hussite Wars in Bohemia (1420-1434)" (163).
753 As it was said Arthur's was. On the Kyng An Hundereth Knychtis, see the note to line 806.
771 The Dictionary of Middle English Musical Terms defines trumpet as "perhaps a short cylindrical bore instrument with a wide flared bell . . . (The ME. term may simply designate a small species of either the straight or the folded trumpet . . .)" and a "clarioun" as an instrument "of the trumpet class; before 1400 with probable reference to a straight trumpet . . . , afterwards to the folded trumpet." "Trumpet" is a diminutive from "trompe" or "trump," "a name applied to a wind-instrument with a long slender pipe, which was made of wood, horn, or metal, and which terminated in a fairly large, funnel-shaped bell . . .; after c1400, frequently an instrument folded in the shape of the letter S."
806 Maleginis is identified in the French source with the King of a Hundred Knights and is said to be the seneschal of Galiot ("la premiere bataille ot malaguins ses senescaus che fu li rois des C cheualiers qui moult estoit preus & hardis" [the first troop was commanded by Malaguins, his (i.e., Galiot's) seneschal, who was the King of One Hundred Knights who was very valiant and bold"] (Cf. H. Oskar Sommer's edition of The Vulgate Version of the Arthurian Romances, III, 236). The author of the English poem does not make a specific connection between the two in any of the places where he mentions Maleginis (see also line 2873, "Malenginys"; line 3151, "Malangins"; line 3155, "Malengynis"; line 753, "Kyng An Hundereth Knychtis"; line 1545, "King of Hundereth Knychtis"; line 1554, "King of Hunder Knyghtis").
809 Because of the way the second letter in the word is written in the manuscript, it is impossible to be sure whether the fourth word in this line should be read berde or borde. Stevenson and Skeat read "borde," but Skeat adds a note: "or 'berde.'" Skeat, who places a semicolon at the end of line 808, takes "borde" as a verb and translates "In the midst they encounter . . ." Gray, who has no punctuation at the end of line 808 and who reads "berde," glosses the phrase "in the berde" as "in the front, face to face." Gray's reading seems less forced.
817 The line translates: "When he saw their latter battalion move out . . ." In his note to the line, Skeat translates "latter" as "last." While it is possible that this is the sense, it seems more likely that the literal meaning is intended, perhaps as a way of showing the superior tactics of Gawain, who was advised on the disposition of his troops by Arthur. Instead of having one large charge by the mass of the army (the "rout") and just one battalion in reserve, Gawain has his smaller force attack in five waves, each time sending in fresh troops to support and boost the spirits of their comrades.
820 Skeat suggested the need for the insertion of the word "strokis" in this line. Both the meter and the sense suggest that something has been left out, and "strokis" seems satisfactory on both counts, and I have followed his emendation (though Skeat's translation "His enemies began his mortal strokes to feel" seems not quite accurate because it would be unusual for "feel" to be spelled with the double l. The line might better be translated: "His deadly strokes felled his enemies").
823 The manuscript reading into an hour seems strange and even inappropriate in this context, as if it sets a time limit on Gawain's ability to conduct himself well. It is more likely that the original reading was something like "into o shour" ("in a battle"). It makes much more sense to say that he conducts himself well in battle; and this formula is fairly common. See, for example lines 1107-8 where virtually the same phrase (with the substitution of "stour," another word meaning "battle" or "combat,") occurs.
895 At the beginning of the line a space for an illuminated letter (obviously a T) has been left. (A similar thing occurs in line 1083, where a space has been left for an A.)
911 The manuscript reads "presonerere" because of the use of an abbreviation for er followed by the letters er.
918 Skeat is probably correct in noting that wight is an "unusual, and perhaps wrong" form of "with."
923 It is tempting to emend mak to "tak." The sense would then be simple" Lancelot asks the Lady to accept the ransom which he is able to give. However the manuscript reading is possible if the phrase "mak the ransone" is taken to mean something like "set the ransom [at an amount]."
925 There are a couple of ways this line might be interpreted. If "on" is taken as part of "her" it could mean "Because I have been told about this ["her-on"] by word of mouth. But the construction "on be" meaning "by" appears again in line 964. So it seems preferable to read "her" as the verb "to hear" and translate the line as: Because I hear [it] told ["be-told," though the words are separated in the manuscript] by word of mouth.
960 Manuscript reads "behold." I follow Skeat and Gray in emending to "be hold."
963 Skeat is probably correct in identifying sutly here as a variant form of "sothly" ("truly").
979 Commandit is governed by haith in line 977.
1007 The manuscript reads "abertes." I follow Skeat and Gray in emending to "a bertes."
1009-10 Skeat translates: "His spirit started (owing to the) love (which) anon hath caught him."
1026 Mayne might be a variant of "mene" ("means" or "way") but it is probably a variant of "main" (force), the sense being that he is unable to come (to his lady's favor) by force.
1028 The ME verb "sterfen" or "sterven," which becomes the Modern English "starve," meant "to die" by any means and not just by hunger. Thus a knight could "sterf" in battle.
1047 The duties of the herlad originally seem to have concerned the conduct of tournaments but later also included such things as serving as messengers and marshalling troops in battle. They also recorded and reported deeds done in tournament or battle. Thus it seems perfectly appropriate for a herald to remind Lancelot to pay heed to his honor. By the fourteenth century knowledge of the heraldic devices of knights and noblemen, which was crucial to identifying knights in armor, became the herald's prime concern. On the history and functions of heralds, see Anthony Richard Wagner, Heralds and Heraldry in the Middle Ages (2d ed.; London: Oxford University Press, 1960) and Chapter VII of Maurice Keen's Chivalry (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984).
1053 Screwis (Modern English "shrews") means "rogues," "villains," or "ill-natured persons." In ME the term is more often applied to men than to women.
1056 The ventail is either "a piece of armour protecting the neck, upon which the helmet fitted" or "the lower movable part of the front of the helmet, as distinct from the vizor; latterly, the whole movable part including the vizor" or "one of the vents or air-holes in this" (cf. OED).
1064 As is explained below (1546-47) this king is so named because he is the first that Galyot conquered.
1066 The tother is from "thet other" or "that other"; it is formed in a manner similar to "the tone" (from "thet one" or "that one"), i.e., "the t of thet being attached to an, on [or other], when the became the general form of the definite article" (OED). ("The tother" is also found in lines 2571 and 2584, and the variant spelling "the tothir" in line 2536.)
1070 A hawbrek is a coat or tunic of chain mail.
1077 Manuscript reads "sched." Both Skeat and Gray emend to "scheld," which is obviously the correct reading.
1090 Gaping might refer to wounded knights and mean "gasping in pain" but more likely refers to the open mouths of the dead bodies.
1092 A vyre is a quarrel or bolt for a cross-bow.
1152-53 Generally, the places where I have placed a blank line between blocks of text are places where the manuscript indicates a division by a large capital letter. However, in order to facilitate reading, here and and after lines 1806, 1934, 1940, 1944, 1998, 2130, 2140, 2150, and 2252, I have added a blank line where no large capital appears.
1215 Skeat suggests that the manuscript reading of "them" might be a mistake for "then" but does not emend the text. Though the "Thir" at the beginning of the next line makes "them" seem redundant, the occurrence of a similar phrase in line 1552 (where the "them" again seems redundant and where Skeat again believes that "then" might be the correct reading), suggests the possibility of an idiomatic usage.
1221-22 The prefix "to-" serves as an intensive and is used with the words "hurt," "schent" and "rent" to indicate the severity with which Lancelot has been wounded, disfigured and cut up.
1233 Skeat and Gray emend "alyt" to "a lyt."
1243 The phrase the more is a survival of the instrumental form as in the phrase "the more, the merrier." The sense is that Lancelot will blame all others "by that much more."
1253 Gray offers no glosses for appelit or for thret. Skeat translates this and the following line, "But what if he be appealed to and threatened / and (meanwhile) his heart be elsewhere set to love." Thret is better read as from the verb "threte" meaning "to dispute, contend; to quarrel, wrangle" (OED). The sense seems to be: "But what if he is appealed to and [his love] disputed [by someone else], while his heart is fixed on love elsewhere [with the one contending for his affection]."
1302 The seven science (or branches of knowledge) are the seven areas of study in the medieval curriculum comprising the trivium (grammar, logic, and rhetoric) and the quadrivium (arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy).
1304 Bertram Vogel's article on "Secular Politics and the Date of 'Lancelot of the Laik' (Studies in Philology 40.1 [Jan. 1943]) observes that the wise man who advises Arthur is unnamed in the French source but that "Actually, the name Amytans is found elsewhere in the Old French story, in the slightly different form Amustans. Indeed, this character found in another section of the tale is also an advisor of King Arthur. He does not, however, give political advice, but denounces Arthur for his illicit relations with the second or 'false' Guinevere. What the Scottish poet has done, then, is apparent: he has converted a holy man who, in the Old French romance, gives Arthur exclusively moral advice into a political adviser . . ." (4-5). In a note to line 1608, Skeat observes that "for many of the precepts given by Amytans the author must have been indebted to Gower [Confessio Amantis, Book 7], or, at any rate, to the author of the Secreta Secretorum."
1318 Gray glosses careldis as "carols, merry-makings." Skeat suggests that it is the plural of "careld, a merry-making, revel"; but he adds a question mark to this gloss. In a note he translates the line: "nigh of thy revels (i.e. because of thy revels) in the gulf it falls." This is a forced reading of the phrase. Ney of seems not to be indicating causality but rather location. The phrase also appears to be part of the metaphor, which is explained in lines 1320 and following ("That is to say . . ."). The line seems to have been corrupted. The original sense may be something like "[Which] is near to [i.e., not far off the shore from] your [city of] Carduel" in which case the text should read "Ney of thi Carduel is."
1343 Skeat suggests that the word "diverss" is needed before "peplis" to complete the meter of the line and cites line 731 as an example of a similar construction.
1357 The concept of a spiritual raknyng (an accounting or reckoning) is similar to that found in Everyman, in which because of the sinfulness of the human race, God determines that He "will, in all the haste, / Have a reckoning of every man's person" (lines 45-46). When Death announces God's decision, he tells Everyman to bring "thy book of count" to the reckoning (line 104).
1365 and ff. It is not clear what Biblical passage the author is referring to in these lines. The author, who admits in lines 1438-39 that he is no confessor, may be mistaken about the source of the quotation. Perhaps he is thinking of Proverbs 14.31 ("He that oppresseth the poor upbraideth his Maker") or Proverbs 17.5 ("He that despiseth the poor, reporacheth the Maker"); but these are not the words of Daniel. Similarly in lines 1378-79, when the author attributes to "Salomon" the sentiment "Wo be to hyme that is byleft alone, / He haith no help" he is apparently misattributing the line from Ecclesiastes 4.10, "woe to him that is alone, for when he falleth, he hath none to lift him up."
1378-79 See the note to line 1365 and ff.
1404 Gray emends "amendit" to "amend it."
1414 Sins committed of fre will are sins of commission as opposed to those done of neglygens or by omission. Morton Bloomfield (The Seven Deadly Sins [1952; East Lansing: Michigan State UP, 1967] 126) observes that Vincent of Beauvais's Speculum naturale "discusses sins of omission and commisiion." See also Reginald Pecock's The Donet ([1921; rpt. New York: Kraus Reprint, 1971] EETS o.s. 156), which observes that sins can be the "leevingis or vnfulfillingis of eny poynt comaundid . . . or ellis doingis of the contrarye to eny poynt comaundid" (96).
1430 In addition to the five outer wits or senses, medieval theory recognized inner wits, one of which is the wit memoratyve. John of Trevisa (in On the Properties of Things: John of Trevisa's Translation of Bartholomæus Anglicus De Proprietatibus Rerum [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975] I, 98) says: "The innere witte is departid athre by thre regiouns of the brayn, for in the brayn beth thre smale celles. The formest hatte ymaginatiua, therin thingis that the vttir witte apprehendith withoute beth i-ordeyned and iput togedres withinne . . . . The middil chambre hatte logica therin the vertu estimatiue is maister. The thridde and the laste is memoratiua, the vertu of mynde. That vertu holdith and kepith in the tresour of the mynde thingis that beth apprehendid and iknowe bi the ymaginatif and racio."
1437 The holl romans or "whole romance" of which the author speaks is his French source, the Vulgate Lancelot. The author has catalogued above (lines 214-298) those parts of the source that he has chosen not to retell.
1448 The manuscript clearly reads "my" and not "thy"; and both Skeat and Gray follow the manuscript. However, the emendation to "thy" seems necessary. According to the Vulgate Lancelot, Arthur's father Uther Pendragon ("Uterpandragon") had helped Hoel (or Aramont) of Lesser Britain against his enemy Claudas. In return Hoel agreed to become Uther's vassal. Together Hoel and Uther desolated Claudas's lands. After the death of Hoel and Uther, Claudas regained control of his lands and began to wage war on Ban, who had been a vassal of Hoel. After Uther's death those who owed allegiance to him then became vassals of Arthur. When Arthur was fighting rebellious barons, he appealed to Ban for assistance and Ban responded, as was fitting for a vassal to do. When Claudas attacked Ban, the latter appealed to Arthur for help but Arthur did not respond because of his difficulties at home: "li rois bans auoit plusours fois enuoie pour secours au roi artu. Mail li rois artus auoit tant a faire de maintes pars quil ne se pooit mie legierement entremetre dautrui besoigne" (Sommer, III, p. 5). It is this failure to assist a vassal (one in his service) who had faithfully assisted him that Amytans suggests Arthur has forgotten to confess. The corresponding passage in the Vulgate Lancelot supports the emendation. Arthur is asked: "es tu confes del grant pechie que tu as del roi ban de benoic qui mors fu en ton ["thi" in English] seruice" (Sommer, III, p. 217).
1474 I follow Skeat and Gray in emending ms. "assit" to "assist."
1485 The land which God promised to his people is the land of Canaan, called the Promised Land because God promised to give it to Abraham and his descendants (see Genesis 12.7 and 28.13).
1500 Rent in this context must mean "the right to receive rents from tenants" (MED) rather than a payment made by Arthur to those who serve him. The term can also be used to mean the homage due to or from a lord. (See David Lyle Jeffrey, "The Friar's Rent," JEGP 70 , 600-06.)
1506 Punishment; so that they stand in awe.
1507 A fee is "an estate in land (in England always a heritable estate), held on condition of homage or service to a superior lord, by whom it is granted and in whom the ownership remains" (OED).
1517 The author seems to be presenting multitude (a term which often means "army" or "host") as an alternative to confluens ("a rushing together"). Thus the best translation for these terms might be something like "pitched battle" and "charge."
1541 Skeat's translation of the line--"Except wise conduct falleth to a king"--seems a forced reading. Perhaps a better translation is achieved by punctuating the Middle English line with a colon after "not" (which Skeat does not do): "Thus it does not fail: a king without moral control, both the realm and he go to ruin."
1545 On the King of Hundereth Knychtis, see note to line 806.
1546 As a name. Gray notes that she is emending Kinghe to "king he"; Skeat emends to "king" and explains the spelling as resulting from confusion with the word "knight" even though, as he believes, another spelling with h ("Kinghis") occurs in line 2527. In both cases, it seems that the scribe has merely run two words together and no emendation or further explanation is required to make sense of the lines.
1547 The phrase of one or "of ane" is used in Scottish in the sense of "of all," as, for example, in Rauf Coilyear, line 576 ("And in ane rob him arrayit richest of ane").
1552 On them thei both, where the "them" seems redundant and Skeat suggests the possibility of emending to "then," see the note to line 1215.
1608 Skeat suggests that the And at the beginning of the line is redundant in modern English. However, the word seems to have the force of "In either case."
1624 Skeat glosses medyre as "mediator" but follows his gloss with a question mark and says "I am not at all sure of this word." Gray notes: "Word almost undecipherable; 'medyre' is Professor Skeat's reading. Possibly 'mesyre,' a forced form of 'measure' for sake of rhyme." The word is in fact relatively clear in the manuscript except for the letter which Stevenson and Skeat read as d and which Gray suggests might be an s, which is partially obscured because it is written over the downward stroke of the elongated s from the line above. The letter does appear to be a d, but the word "medyre" is not recorded in the MED, the OED, or the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue. Assuming that the text is not corrupt and that the obscured letter is a d, the sense seems more likely to be "moderation" than "mediator."
1629 The ms. reads "w justly." Skeat is surely correct in emending to "wnjustly."
1666 The rhyme and an empty space in the ms. suggest that a line has been omitted here.
1668 I follow Skeat and Gray in emending "behold" to "be hold."
1687 Cuntreis might mean "countrysides" (to contrast with "tounis") or "counties."
1689 A bachelor is "a young knight, not old enough, or having too few vassals, to display his own banner, and who therefore followed the banner of another" (OED).
1700 The most philosephur or greatest philosopher is Aristotle, purported author of the Secreta Secretorum, which advises: "a kyng owith not to shewe him ouer oftene to his peple, ne ouer oft haunte the company of his sugetis, and specially of chorlis and ruralle folke, for bi ouyr moche homelynes [too much familiarity] he shalle be the lasse honourid" (Three Prose Versions of the Secreta Secretorum, ed. Robert Steele, EETS e.s. 74 [1898; rpt. Millwood, NY: Kraus Reprint, 1973] 12-13).
1728 The sense of the line is either that the greatest gifts and affections should be given after the knight berith uitnesing (bears witness) to his worthiness by his deeds or that the greatest gifts and affection should be given after the knight bears witness to the truth of the advice by having used well the earlier gifts of horse and treasure.
1729 Tennandis or "tennants" are those who hold land from a feudal lord. The OED, citing this line, defines a vavasour as "a feudal tenant ranking immediately below a baron."
1730 A hackney is "a small saddle horse, often one let for hire" (MED); a palfrey is a fine riding horse; and a courser is a war horse or charger.
1737 In the ms. there is a line over the a, but it appears to have not significance.
1788 The ms. reads "to lede"; the "to" seems in this context to make sense only as a prefix used as an intensive with "lede" (lead). Thus my reading of "to-lede."
1802 I take them to refer to princes, the plural being implied by the phrase "no prince" in line 1799. The sense is that except for virtue and honor which abide with princes, the world divides up the remainder (laif) when they are dead and buried. the lack of strict agreement according to modern rules is not uncommon in Middle English and is exemplified again in the verb "abidith," which is technically singular even though both "vertew" and "worschip" are subjects.
1818 The line contains a paradox: "The riches best kept are those well dispensed." The explanation is provided by the instruction given above in lines 1765-1778.
1856 Wearing the palm (palm leaf) was a sign of victory.
1864 The phrase takith larges in his awn kynd can be translated as "practice generosity according to its own [true] nature." "Take" in the phrase "take largess" seems to be used much as it is in "take pity."
1899 Skeat sees Ye as the equivalent of "The," which he says means "The one, He." However, the shift to direct address to God does not present any problems of interpretation and seems an effective rhetorical device.
1903-4 I take blyndis to be a variant of "blindness." (The MED does not record this form but gives "bleinasse" as a variant.) The sense of the lines is: In this [the oppression of his people which is punished by God] is the blindness of kings [because they do not foresee the ultimate rather than the immediate punishment by God] and the downfall of princes and of kingdoms.
1956and ff. There is a shift from the plural kingis in line 1956, which states a wish that all kings would act in the way outlined in the following lines, to the singular he in the elaboration of the specific circumstances.
1983 The ms. reads "that," which is the reading found in all earlier editions. I have emended to thai because the sense seems to demand the change. The word "that" in the ms. could be the result of scribal confusion caused by "that" in the line above.
2035 Hee, that is the lion who represents God, is in the water of the sin of the clerks interpreting the dream, not, of course, of his own sin.
2036 Skeat suggests that the correct reading might be "see" instead of "bee," though he does not emend his text. "Bee" makes sense if we read it with an understood main verb from several lines above: "On account of which [being in the water of sin] it is impossible to be [standing in pure religion]. Standing in the cleanliness of religion rather than in the murky water of sin would have allowed them to see clearly.
2047 The notion of the lion as the king of the beasts, which is still current today, can be found in the Etymologies of Isidore of Seville. Isidore says that "Leonis vocabulum ex Græca origine inflexum est in Latinum. . . . Leo autem Græce, Latine rex interpretatur, eo quod princeps sit omnium bestiarum" (Patrologia Latina, 82, p. 434). John of Trevisa (in On the Properties of Things: John of Trevisa's Translation of Bartholomæus Anglicus De Proprietatibus Rerum [London: Oxford University Press, 1975]) echoes this notion in what is virtually a restatement of the passage from Isidore: "Leo in grew hatte rex in latyn, kyng in englisshe, and hatte leo 'king' for he is kyng and prince of alle bestes, as Ysidorus seith" (II, p. 1214).
2064 The qualyté of the year refers to the effect of a particular astrological sign. As Walter Clyde Curry notes in Chaucer and the Mediaeval Sciences (1926; rpt. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1960), "in astro-medical lore the Zodiacal signs have certain 'qualities' or 'virtues' assigned to them: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius are fiery; Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn are earthy; Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius are airy; Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces are watery."
2065-67 On disposicioune see the note to line 438. A medieval doctor was expected to have a knowledge of astrology. Chaucer's Doctour of Phisik, for example, "was grounded in astronomye" (Canterbury Tales, General Prologue, 414). This was important because the heavens were believed to control the elements which made up all things, including the human body. Much of medieval medical theory was founded on the notion that an excess of one of the four bodily hwmowris (or "humors") was the cause of disease. The four humors were thought to be combinations of the basic attributes (heat, cold, moistness, and dryness) of the four elements of earth (cold and dry), air (hot and moist), fire (hot and dry), and water (cold and moist). The attributes combined to form the humors of blood (which was hot and moist), phlegm (cold and moist), yellow bile or cholera (hot and dry), and black bile or melancholia (cold and dry). The proportion of the humors in the body produced the compleccyoune ("complexion") or the temperament. Thus a person could be sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, or melancholy. The dominance of one of these humors predisposed a person to certain diseases and also to certain emotional states.
2068 The phrase wnder reull probably means "under the control [of God]" though it might also mean "according to [medical] procedures."
2153 Cardole (or Carduel) is a city in Wales which is identified in several medieval romances as one of the places where Arthur holds court.
2180 Travell (travail) and ess (comfort) are a contrasting pair such as is commonly used in Middle English to denote completeness. Thus when Arthur says his knights would not leave him for "travell nor for ess," he means they would not leave him for any reason.
2212 The line might be interpreted to mean either "The more who go, the less they achieve" or "The more who go, the fewer are those who succeed."
2221-24 James Bentley observes that "from the time of St. Augustine until just before the reformation a relic remained a powerful sanction when any person was required to take an oath. Fear of the consequences of offending the saint in Heaven after swearing on his earthly remains could keep the most powerful from breaking their vows." And he notes that "the first reference to taking an oath in the presence of a relic is to be found in the writings of St. Augustine. Augustine recounts that the people of Milan brought home to a thief the evil fruits of his larceny by making him swear before a saint not to steal again. Presumably the Bishop of Milan (later St. Ambrose) supported this, but we cannot be certain. The first theologian actually to declare in writing his approval of the practice was Augustine himself. A couple more centuries elapsed before the Popes began to approve" (Restless Bones: The Story of Relics, [London: Constable, 1985]: 79-80).
2231-33 Gawain encourages the knights to swear (Yhour oth to swer) to keep the same oath that he will swear to (Myne oith to kep).
2301 Logris or Logres is sometimes used to refer to Arthur's kingdom, as, e.g., in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, line 691 ("ryalme of Logres") and in Malory (I, 444 of Vinaver's edition) ("realme of Logrys"). Here, however, it clearly refers to the capital city of Arthur's realm. Geoffrey of Monmouth, in The Historia Regum Britanniæ, ed. Acton Griscom (London: Longmans Green, 1929), p. 253, traces the name to Locrine, one of the sons of Brutus, the legendary founder of Britain: "Locrinus qui primogenitus fuerat possedit partem insule quæ postea de nomine suo appellata est loegria" (Locrine, who was the first-born, possessed the part of the island which afterwards from his name is called Logris").
2312 Skeat and Gray emend conne to "come." This is the easier reading to explain: the lady says she does not come to court for no reason (i.e., she comes for a reason, which she gives in the next line). The ms. reading is, however, possible. She says "I know [that I come] not for nothing," by which she might mean that she knows that her quest will meet with success at Arthur's court.
2356 Gray glosses wy as "person," (taking it as a variant of "wye"); Skeat glosses as "reason" (taking it as a variant of "why"). Gray's interpretation seems preferable in the context of knightly reputation.
2374 Skeat and Gray both suggest that the first "say" in the line might be a scribal error and that the proper reading might be "bee."
2386 To boast of one's lady is blameworthy because the code of courtly love, in which the lovers were not married, demanded secrecy. In the Middle English poem Sir Launfal, Launfal's fairy lover makes this clear: "But o thing, Syr Knyght, I warne the, / That thou make no bost of me / For no kennes mede" (lines 361-63); the breaking of the injunction is temporarily disastrous for Launfal.
2395 A space is left at the beginning of this line for an illuminated letter. Skeat supplies I, Gray A, which seems to make better sense.
2436 Ellisquhat means "otherwise." That Lancelot is "ellisquhat . . . afyre" means that he is burning with love for someone else.
2471 Skeat notes that "The line is too long, and the sense imperfect; but there is no doubt about the reading of the MS." He suggests emending "pasag" to "pasith."
2473 The altitud is "the elevation or angular height of a celestial body above the horizon" (MED).
2474 Saturn was traditionally associated with cold and stormy weather. In the Tetrabiblos (ed. and trans. F. E. Robbins, [Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1940]), Ptolemy observes that: "because two of the four humours are fertile and active, the hot and the moist (for all things are brought together and increased by them), and two are desructive and passive, the dry and the cold, through which all things, again, are separated and destroyed, the ancients accepted two of the planets, Jupiter and Venus, together with the moon, as beneficent because of their tempered nature and because they abound in the hot and the moist, and Saturn and Mars as producing effects of the opposite nature, one [Saturn] because of his excessive cold and the other for his excessive dryness; the sun and Mercury, however, they thought to have both powers, because they have a common nature, and to join their influences with those of the other planets, with whichever of them they are associated" (39).
2475 Skeat suggests that the manuscript reading valis should be "falis." However, one of the meanings of the verb "vailen" or "valen" is "to fall."
2483 Gray glosses Scilla as "a bird, a lark." The term comes from Scylla, daughter of Nisus of Megara. Her story is told by Ovid in the Metamorphoses, Book 8. For love of Minos of Crete, she cut off a lock of purple hair from her father's head. Nisus's life and the fate of his city depended on that lock of hair. When Minos, appalled by her betrayal of father and country, rejected her and sailed off, Scylla leapt into the sea and clung to his ship. Her father, who had been turned into an osprey, attacked her, whereupon she was turned into a bird called "ciris." The exact translation of "ciris" is uncertain; Lewis and Short, in their Latin Dictionary define it merely as "a bird . . . into which Scylla, the daughter of Nisus, was changed."
2486-87 These lines echo a similar astrological dating in the opening of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales: "the yonge sonne / Hath in the Ram his half cours yronne" (lines 7-8). In Chaucer's lines the sun is halfway through or in the latter half of Aries. Since the sun is in Aries from March 12 to April 11, Chaucer opens his poem near the beginning of April. In Lancelot of the Laik, the sun (Phebus) is said to be beginning its course in Aries. The time would thus be near March 12. However, the precise date seems less important than the indication that the year has passed and spring--and the time for battle--has arrived.
2527 See the note to line 1546.
2574 I follow Skeat in emending ms. "Wihill" to "Whill."
2575 The he in this line does not appear in the ms. Skeat, Gray, and Stevenson are surely correct in supplying it.
2589 I follow Skeat in emending "borne" to "lorne."
2591 Galiot's knight Sir Esquyris is a minor figure who appears only in this scene in the extant text. Perhaps the most significant thing about him is that despite his poverty he fought well. Since he later becomes one of Arthur's knights, as lines 2596-97 make clear, he is a perfect example of why Arthur should follow the advice of Amytans (in lines 1696-98) that he show his favor not only to the rich but to the poor worthy man as well.
2605 Arthur's knight Galys Gwynans appears in no other Middle English text.
2606 Ywane the Bastart or Ywain the Bastard, a different character from Sir Ywain, is the illegitimate son of Urien begotten on his steward's wife. He appears again in lines 3085-86. It may also be that this is the Ywain referred to as "Ywons the King" in line 2861 and as "Ywons King" in line 3261.
2618 Ywane the Anterus is identified by Ackerman in An Index of the Arthurian Names in Middle English (Stanford: Stanford UP, 1952) as Ywain, the legitimate son of Urien rather than Ywain the Bastard, perhaps because the latter appears just twelve lines above as "Ywane the Bastart." However, as Ackerman in An Index of the Arthurian Names in Middle English (Stanford: Stanford UP, 1952) notes, Ywain the Bastard is often called Ywain les Avoutres because "Avoutres represents the Latin adulter." In Malory, the name also appears as Auenturous. Apparently there is some confusion between "Avoutres" and "Auenturous." Thus "Ywane the Anterus" might well be "Ywane les Avoutres" or Ywain the Bastard.
2630-2635 Skeat explains the arithmetical discrepancy in these lines by saying "It would appear that Galiot had 40,000, of whom 10,000 were held in reserve; so that in line 2632 only 30,000 are mentioned.
2636 Forswornn is the past participle of "forsweren," which usually means "to break an oath" or "to leave (a country) under oath not to return, go into banishment" (MED). Such meanings are clearly not applicable here. The sense suggests that the word must mean something like "cleared" the field. Perhaps this is a reasonable extension of the notion of banishment or exile sometimes implied by the word.
2663 Led is the past participle of the verb "leien," used here in the sense of "struck down" or "humbled."
2687 Ywan is, as is mentioned in the text (lines 2865-67), son of Urien. In Malory, his mother is Morgan le Fay. He is the hero of Chrétien's Yvain and one of the heroes of the Middle English Ywain and Gawain. "Sir Ywan" also appears in line 2707.
2693-94 Skeat suggests emending ms. "erde" to "felde," which would preserve the rhyme. However, there appear to be two or more lines missing from the text, probably inadvertently omitted by the scribe, since the second line seems not to follow naturally from the first.
2712 I follow Skeat and Gray in inserting "to" between "fore" and "depart."
2744 I follow Skeat in emending ms. "in in" to "into."
2762 The des (dais) is a raised platform where those of the highest rank would sit. This arrangement is very different from the equality among knights suggested by the Round Table.
2796 The word withall, which literally means something like "moreover," or "at the same time," or "likewise," is often difficult to translate directly into a modern equivalent. Sometimes, as here, it seems merely to have a kind of intensive force.
2820 The t in "knychtly" does not appear in the ms.
2833 The second l in "Melyhalt" does not appear in the ms.
2851 Ydrus (or Ydras in line 3152) is probably the Idrus whom Malory identifies as son of Ywain and as one of the knights who fought with Arthur against Emperor Lucius.
2853 Harvy the Reveyll appears in Malory (as Heruys de Reuel) as a knight who, according to Malory, does "merveylous dedys of armes" in Arthur's battle against Nero, brother of King Royns, and is recommended by King Pellinore as one of the older knights to be made a Knight of the Round Table to fill the seats of those killed in battle.
2858 Angus, King of Scotland, appears as Auguselus in Geoffrey of Monmouth and is identified in Layamon's Brut as brother to Lot and Urien. Originally opposed to Arthur, Angus becomes his ally.
2861 On Ywons the King see the note to line 2602.
2865 I follow Skeat in emending ms. "first" to "fift," which is obviously the correct reading. The same error occurs in line 2883, where I again follow Skeat in emending to "fift."
2865-67 On Ywan or Ywain, son of Urien, see the note to line 2687.
2873 On Malenginys, see the note to line 806.
2879 Walydeyne, the leader of one of Galiot's forces, appears again in line 3249 (Walydone, which I have normalized from the ms. reading Valydone).
2881 King Clamedeus, one of Galiot's knights is "Lord of Far Ylys." The Far Isles, sometimes referred to as the "Oute Isles," may refer to the Scilly Isles or the Hebrides. Ackerman, in An Index of the Arthurian Names in Middle English (Stanford: Stanford UP, 1952), notes that the name "was used by early historians to designate many islands such as Orkney, Wight, etc." (184).
2883 See note to line 2865.
2884 Brandymagus is Malory's Bagdemagus, King of Gore. In Malory, he is the father of the wicked knight Meleagant, who kidnaps Guinevere. On the name, see the section on "Baudemaguz" in Roger Sherman Loomis's Arthurian Tradition and Chrétien de Troyes (New York: Columbia University Press, 1949), pp. 240-250.
2890 The Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue, citing this line, defines a prekyne hat as "a (presum. lightweight) head-piece for riding, perh. of the sallet or basinet variety." The term translates the French "capel de fer" (cf. Sommer, vol. 3, 236, line 17] and is derived from a Middle English word ("priken" or "preken") meaning "to ride"; cf. line 3089 below for an example of the verb in this romance.
2895 In this line couth is used much the way "can" or "gan" is frequently used, as an auxiliary verb indicating the past tense (and here perhaps adding emphasis). Thus "he couth abyde" might be translated "he did remain."
2984 The word "not" does not appear in the ms.; but, as Skeat suggests, it "seems required." Gray also adds "not" to the line.
3020 Into contynent is the equivalent of "incontynent," which means "immediately."
3041 On that parapet. The second sche in this line does not appear in the ms. Skeat is surely correct in supplying it. Gray suggests not supplying the second "sche," but changing "Whar that" in the next line to "Wha that"; this seems a less satisfactory emendation.
3071 A rest is "a projection attached to the right side of the breastplate to receive the butt end of the lance when couched for the charge" (MED).
3074 Skeat and Gray emend held to "help." However, the emendation does not seem necessary. Though "held(e)," meaning "favor" or "grace," is usually used in a religious context, the extension of the meaning to "aid" or "assistance" saeems natural enough.
3083 Syr Sygramors (Malory's Sagramore le Desyrus) is called "the Desyrand" in the sense of desirous of or eager for battle, that is, bold.
3084 Gresown is a name otherwise unknown in Middle English Arthurian romance. Robert W. Ackermann (in An Index of the Arthurian Names in Middle English [Stanford: Stanford UP, 1952] suggests that the name mught be "a corrupt form of Gryflet." Though Ackermann offers no explanation for the conjecture, it must be based on the fact that in the corresponding passage in the Vulgate Lancelot "Gifles" (Middle English Gryflet) appears with Kay, Sagramore and Ywain (see Sommers, III, 239).
3087 Gaherss is Malory's Gaheris, son of Lot and Morgawse and brother to Gawain, Agravain and Gareth.
3150 The sense seems to be: "And many a fine point in the art of combat they performed."
3151, 3155 On Malangins or Malengynis, see note to line 806.
3184 Skeat glosses ward as "world" and observes that "the omission of the l is common." Gray glosses the word as "a division of an army, an army."
3204 Skeat gives the ms. reading of "qsquyaris." I follow Gray in omitting the initial q.
3240 Skeat glosses sarues as "service." However, it seems more likely that it is a plural form of "sorwe," hear meaning "injuries." The suggestion is that Sir Gawain laughs at the sufferings of his enemy at the hand of the older knight.
3249 On Walydone, see the note to line 2879.
3259 On King Clamedyus see the note to line 2881.
3261 On Ywons King see the note to line 2606.
3318 I follow Skeat in emending the ms. reading "Whilk" to "Whill."
3345 Skeat adds the word "in" after the manuscript reading "foundyne," though, as he notes, the word is required by the sense and not the meter. Thus Gray is probably right when he suggests that the correct reading is probably "found in" rather than "foundyne."
3373 I follow Skeat and Gray in adding his to this line.
3386 The reference here is to the practice of bear-baiting, "the sport of setting dogs to attack a bear ['bere'] chained to a stake ['stok']" (OED).
3435-36 On trumpetis and claryownis see the note to line 771. Hornys were "wind instruments which have as a distinguishing feature a tube gradually tapering outward from the mouthpiece to the opening rather than terminating in the flared bell of instruments of the trumpet class." Bugillis or "bugles" were wind instruments "of straight or semi-circular design, consisting of a hollow tube, usually of horn, which tapered gradually from the bell to the mouthpiece" and which were "used for sounding military or heraldic signals, alarms, announcements or assemblies" (quotations are from Henry Holland Carter, A Dictionary of Middle English Musical Terms [Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1961]).
3452 The Dictionary of Middle English Musical Terms, citing this line, defines wind: "In reference to the playing of a wind instrument: the breath, or breath control." However, the "wyndis bost" or "boast of wind" surely refers not only to the musical calls to battle but also to what Lancelot sees as the insubstantiality of the enemy's martial claims.
The soft morow ande the lustee Aperill,
The wynter set, the stormys in exill,
Quhen that the brycht and fresch illumynare 1
Uprisith arly in his fyré chare
His hot courss into the orient,
And frome his spere his goldine stremis sent
Wpone the grond, in maner off mesag
One every thing, to ualkyne thar curage,
That natur haith set wnder hire mycht,
Boith gyrss and flour and every lusty uicht,
And namly thame that felith the assay
Of lufe, to schew the kalendis of May,
Throw birdis songe with opine vox one hy
That sessit not one lufaris for to cry,
Lest thai forghet, throw slewth of ignorans,
The old wsage of Lovis observans.
And fromme I can the bricht face asspy,
It deuit me no langare fore to ly,
Nore that love schuld sleuth into me finde,
Bot walkine furth, bewalinge in my mynde
The dredful lyve endurit al to longe,
Sufferans in love of sorouful harmys stronge,
The scharpe dais and the hevy yerys
Quhill Phebus thris haith passith al his speris, 2
Uithoutine hope ore traistinge of comfort.
So be such meine fatit was my sort. 3
Thus in my saull rolinge al my wo,
My carful hart carving cann in two
The derdful suerd of lovis hot dissire;
So be the morow set I was afyre
In felinge of the access hot and colde,
That haith my hart in sich a fevir holde;
Only to me thare was nonne uthir ess
Bot thinkine qhow I schulde my lady pless.
The scharp assay and ek the inwart peine
Of dowblit wo me neulyngis cann constrein
Quhen that I have remembrit one my thocht
How sche, quhois bewté al my harmm haith wrocht,
Ne knouith not how I ame wo-begonne,
Nor how that I ame of hire servandis onne.
And in myself I cann nocht fynde the meyne
Into quhat wyss I sal my wo compleine.
Thus in the feild I walkith to and froo,
As thochtful wicht that felt of nocht bot woo,
Syne to o gardinge, that wess weil besenn 4
Of quiche the feild was al depaynt with grenn.
The tendyre and the lusty flouris new
Up throue the grenn upone thar stalkis grew
Aghane the sone, and thare levis spred,
Quharwith that al the gardinge was iclede.
That Pryapus, into his tyme before,
In o lustear walkith nevir more.
And al about enveronyt and iclosit
One sich o wyss, that none within supposit
Fore to be senn with ony uicht thareowt.
So dide the levis clos it all about.
Thar was the flour, thar was the Quenn Alphest,
Rycht wering being of the nychtis rest,
Wnclosing ganne the crownel for the day;
The brycht sone illumynit haith the spray,
The nychtis sobir ande the most schowris,
As cristoll terys withhong upone the flouris
Haith upwarpith in the lusty aire,
The morow makith soft, ameyne, and faire.
And the byrdis thar mychty voce out-throng
Quhill al the wood resonite of thar songe
That gret confort till ony uicht it wer
That plessith thame of lustenes to here.
Bot gladness til the thochtful, ever mo
The more he seith, the more he haith of wo.
Thar was the garding with the flouris ovrfret, 5
Quich is in posy fore my lady set, 6
That hire represent to me oft befor
And thane also; thus al day gan, be sor
Of thocht, my gost with torment occupy,
That I becamme into one exasy,
Ore slep, or how I wot; bot so befell
My wo haith done my livis gost expell,
And in sich wiss weil long I can endwr; 7
So me betid o wondir aventur.
As I thus lay, rycht to my spreit uas senn
A birde, that was as ony lawrare grenn,
Alicht and sayth into hir birdis chere, 8
"O woful wrech that levis into were!
To schew the thus the God of Love me sent
That of thi service no thing is content,
For in his court yhoue levith in disspar
And uilfully sustenis al thi care
And schapith no thinge of thine awn remede 9
Bot clepith ay and cryith apone dede.
Yhow callith the birdis be morow fro thar bouris;
Yhoue devith boith the erbis and the flouris
And clepit hyme unfaithful King of Love.
Yow devith hyme into his rigne abufe;
Yhow tempith hyme, yhoue doith thiself no gud;
Yhoue are o monn of wit al destitude.
Wot yhoue nocht that al livis creatwre 10
Haith of thi wo into his hand the cwre?
And set yhoue clep one erbis and one treis,
Sche heris not thi wo, nore yhit sche seis;
For none may know the dirkness of thi thocht
Ne blamyth her thi wo sche knowith nocht.
And it is weil accordinge it be so
He suffir harme, that to redress his wo
Previdith not; for long ore he be sonde, 11
Holl of his leich, that schewith not his uound. 12
And of Ovid the autor schall yhow knaw,
Of lufe that seith, for to consel or schow, 13
The last he clepith althir best of two;
And that is suth and sal be ever mo.
And Love also haith chargit me to say
Set yhoue presume, ore beleif, the assay
Of his service, as it wil ryne ore go,
Preswme it not, fore it wil not be so;
Al magré thine a servand schal yow bee.
And as tueching thine adversytee,
Complen and sek of the ramed, the cwre;
Ore, gif yhow likith, furth thi wo endure."
And, as me thocht, I ansuerde againn
Thus to the byrde, in wordis schort and plane:
"It ganyth not, as I have harde recorde,
The servand for to disput with the lord;
Bot well he knowith of al my uo the quhy
And in quhat wyss he hath me set, quhar I
Nore may I not, nore can I not attane, 14
Nore to hir hienes dare I not complane."
"Ful," quod the bird, "lat be thi nyss dispare,
For in this erith no lady is so fare,
So hie estat, nore of so gret empriss
That in hireself haith uisdome ore gentrice,
Yf that o wicht, that worthy is to be
Of Lovis court schew til hir that he
Servith hire in lovis hartly wyss
That schall tharfor hyme hating or dispiss.
The God of Love thus chargit the, at schort,
That to thi lady yhoue thi wo report.
Yf yhoue may not, thi plant schall yhou urit.
Se, as yhoue cane, be maner oft endit
In metir, quhich that no man haith susspek,
Set ofttyme thai contenyng gret effecc; 15
Thus one sume wyss yhow schal thi wo dwclar.
And for thir sedulis and thir billis are 16
So generall and ek so schort at lyte
And swme of thaim is lost the appetit,
Sum trety schall yhoue for thi lady sak,
That wnkouth is, als tak one hand and mak 17
Of love ore armys or of sum othir thing
That may hir oneto thi remembryng brynge,
Qwich soundith not oneto no hevyness 18
Bot oneto gladness and to lusteness
That yhoue belevis may thi lady pless,
To have hir thonk and be oneto hir ess
That sche may wit in service yhow art one.
Faire weil," quod sche, "thus schal yhow the dispoe
And mak thiself als mery as yhoue may;
It helpith not thus fore to wex alway."
With that the bird sche haith hir leif tak,
For fere of quich I can onone to wak.
Sche was ago, and to myself thocht I
Quhat may this meyne? Quhat may this signify?
Is it of troucht or of illusioune?
Bot finaly, as in conclusioune,
Be as be may, I schal me not discharge 19
Sen it apperith be of Lovis charg
And ek myne hart nonne othir bissynes
Haith bot my ladice service, as I gess.
Among al utheris I schal one honde tak
This litil occupatioune for hire sak.
Bot hyme I pray, the mychty Gode of Love,
That sitith hie into his spir abuf
(At command of o wyss quhois visioune
My gost haith takin this opunioune)
That my lawboure may to my lady pless
And do wnto hir ladeschip sum ess
So that my travell be nocht tynt, and I
Quhat utheris say setith nothing by.
For wel I know that be this worldis famme
It schal not be bot hurting to my namme
Quhen that thai here my febil negligens
That empit is and bare of eloquens,
Of discressioune, and ek of retoryk,
The metire and the cuning both elyk
So fere discording frome perfeccioune,
Quhilk I submyt to the correccioune
Of thaim the quhich that is discret and wyss
And enterit is of Love in the service,
Quhich knouyth that no lovare dare withstonde:
Quhat Love hyme chargit he mot tak one honde,
Deith or defamm or ony maner wo.
And at this tyme with me it stant rycht so
As I that dar makine no demande
To quhat I wot it lykith Love commande. 20
Tueching his chargis, as with al-destitut, 21
Within my mynd schortly I conclud
For to fulfyll, for ned I mot do so.
Thane in my thocht rolling to and fro
Quhare that I myhct sum wnkouth mater fynde
Quhill at the last it fell into my mynd
Of o story, that I befor had sene,
That boith of love and armys can contenn,
Was of o knycht clepit Lancelot of the Laik,
The sone of Bane was, King of Albanak,
Of quhois fame and worschipful dedis
Clerkis into diverss bukis redis,
Of quhome I thynk her sumthing for to writ
At Lovis charge, and as I cane endit,
Set men tharin sal by experiens
Know my consait and al my negligens.
Bot for that story is so pasing larg,
Oneto my wit it war so gret o charg
For to translait the romans of that knycht.
It passith fare my cunyng and my mycht;
Myne ignorans may it not comprehende.
Quharfor thareone I wil me not depend
How he was borne, nor how his fader deid
And ek his moder, nore how he was denyed
Efter thare deth, presumyng he was ded,
Of al the lond, nore how he fra that stede
In sacret wyss wnwyst away was tak
And nwrist with the Lady of the Lak.
Nor, in his youth, think I not to tell
The aventouris, quhich to hyme befell,
Nor how the Lady of the Laik hyme had
Oneto the court, quhare that he knycht was mad.
None wist his nome nore how that he was tak
By love and was iwondit to the stak
And throuch and throuch persit to the hart
That al his tyme he couth it not astart;
For thare of Love he enterit in service
Of Wanore throuch the beuté and franchis,
Throuch quhois service in armys he has urocht
Mony wonderis, and perellis he has socht.
Nor how he thor, into his young curage
Hath maid avoue and into lovis rage
In the revenging of o wondit knycht
That cumyne was into the court that nycht.
Into his hed a brokin suerd had he
And in his body also mycht men see
The tronsione of o brokine sper that was,
Quhich no man out dedenyt to aras;
Nor how he haith the wapnis out tak
And his avow apone this wis can mak,
That he schuld hyme reveng at his poware
One every knycht that lovith the hurtare
Better thane hyme, the quhich that uas iwond.
Throw quich avoue in armys hath ben founde
The deth of mony wereoure ful wicht;
For, fro tho vow was knowing of the knycht,
Thare was ful mony o pasage in the londe
By men of armys kepit to withstond
This knycht, of quhome thai ben al set afyre
Thaim to reveng in armys of desir.
Nor how that thane incontynent was send
He and Sir Kay togidder to defend
The Lady of Nohalt, nor how that hee
Governit hyme thare, nore in quhat degré.
Nor how the gret pasing vassolag
He eschevit throue the outragouss curag,
In conquiryng of the sorowful castell.
Nor how he passith doune in the cavis fell
And furth the keys of inchantment brocht,
That al distroyt quhich that thare uas urocht.
Nore howe that he reskewit Sir Gawane,
With his nine falouss into presone tane.
Nore mony uthere diverss adventure,
Quhich to report I tak not in my cwre.
Nor mony assemblay that Gawane gart be maid 22
To wit his name; nor how that he hyme hade
Wnwist and hath the worschip and empriss;
Nor of the knychtis into mony diverss wyss
Throuch his avoue that hath thare dethis found.
Nor of the sufferans that by Lovis wounde
He in his travel sufferith avermore.
Nor in the Quenis presens how tharfor
By Camelot, into that gret revare,
He was ner dround. I wil it not declare
How that he was in lovis hevy thocht
By Dagenet into the court ibrocht;
Nor how the knycht that tyme he cane persew,
Nor of the gyantis by Camelot he slew;
Nor wil I not her tell the maner how
He slew o knycht, by natur of his vow,
Off Melyholt; nore how into that toune
Thar came one hyme o gret confusione
Of pupil and knychtis al enarmyt;
Nor how he thar haith kepit hyme wnharmyt;
Nor of his worschip, nor of his gret prowes,
Nor his defens of armys in the pres;
Nor how the Lady of Melyhalt that sche
Came to the feild and prayth hyme that he
As to o lady to hir his suerd hath yold,
Nor how he was into hir keping hold.
And mony uthir nobil deid also
I wil report quharfor I lat ovrgo.
For quho thaim lykith forto specyfy
Of one of thaim mycht mak o gret story.
Nor thing I not of his hye rennown
My febil wit to makin mensioune.
Bot of the weris that was scharp and strong,
Richt perellouss, and hath enduryt long;
Of Arthur in defending of his lond
Frome Galiot, sone of the fair Gyonde
That brocht of knychtis o pasing confluens
And how Lancelot of Arthuris hol defens
And of the ueris berith the renownn;
And how he be the wais of fortoune
Tuex the two princis makith the accorde
Of al there mortall weris to concorde;
And how that Venus, siting hie abuf,
Reuardith hyme of travell into love
And makith hyme his ladice grace to have,
And thankfully his service can resave:
This is the mater quhich I think to tell.
Bot stil he mot rycht with the lady duell
Quhill tyme cum eft that we schal of hym spek.
This process mot closine benn and stek, 23
And furth I wil oneto my mater go.
Bot first I pray and I besek also
Oneto the most conpilour to support,
Flour of poyetis, quhois nome I wil report
To me nor to nonn uthir it accordit
Into our rymyng his namm to be recordit;
For sum suld deme it of presumpsioune
And ek our rymyng is al bot derysioune
Quhen that remembrit is his excellens
So hie abuf that stant in reverans.
The fresch enditing of his Laiting toung
Out throuch this world so wid is yroung
Of eloquens and ek of retoryk.
Nor is nor was nore never beith hyme lyk;
This world gladith of his suet poetry.
His saul i blyss conservyt be forthy; 24
And yf that ony lusty terme I wryt
He haith the thonk therof and this endit.
EXPLICIT PROLOGUS, ET INCIPIT PRIMUS LIBER. 25
Quhen Tytan withe his lusty heit
Twenty dais into the Aryeit
Haith maid his courss and all with diverss hewis
Aparalit haith the feldis and the bewis,
The birdis amyd the erbis and the flouris
And one the branchis makyne gone thar bouris,
And be the morow singing in ther chere 26
Welcum the lusty sessone of the yere.
Into this tyme the worthi conqueroure
Arthure, wich had of al this worlde the floure
Of chevelry anerding to his crown--
So pasing war his knychtis in renoune--
Was at Carlill; and hapynnit so that hee
Sojornyt well long in that faire cuntree,
Into whilk tyme into the court thai heire
None aventure, for wich the knyghtis weire
Anoit all at the abiding thare.
Forwhy beholding one the sobir ayre
And of the tyme the pasing lustynes 27
Can so thir knyghtly hartis to encress
That thei Shir Kay oneto the King haith sende
Beseiching hyme he wold vichsaif to wende
To Camelot the cetee, whare that thei
Ware wont to heryng of armys day be day. 28
The King forsuth, heryng thare entent,
To thare desir, be schort avysment,
Ygrantid haith; and so the king proponit
And for to pas hyme one the morne disponit.
Bot so befell hyme that nycht to meit
An aperans, the wich oneto his spreit
It semyth that of al his hed the hore
Of fallith and maid desolat; wharfore
The King therof was pensyve in his mynd
That al the day he couth no resting fynde
Wich makith hyme his jorneye to delaye.
And so befell apone the thrid day,
The bricht sone pasing in the west
Hath maid his courss and al thing goith to rest.
The Kinge, so as the story can devyss,
He thoght ageine apone the samyne wyss:
His uombe out fallith uith his hoil syde
Apone the ground and liging hyme besid,
Throw wich anon out of his slep he stert,
Abasit and adred into his hart.
The wich be morow oneto the Qwen he told,
And she ageine to hyme haith ansuer yolde.
"To dremys, sir, shuld no man have respek,
For thei ben thingis veyn, of non affek."
"Well," quod the King, "God grant it so befall."
Arly he ross and gert oneto hyme call
O clerk, to whome that al his hevynes
Tweching his drem shewith he express,
Wich ansuer yaf and seith oneto the Kinge:
"Shir, no record lyith to such thing;
Wharfor now, shir, I praye yow tak no kep
Nore traist into the vanyteis of slep.
For thei are thingis that askith no credens
But causith of sum maner influens,
Empriss of thoght, ore superfleuytee,
Or than sum othir casualytee."
"Yit," quod the King, "I sal nocht leif it so."
And furth he chargit mesingeris to go
Throgh al his realm, withouten more demande,
And bad them stratly at thei shulde comande
All the bishopes and makyng no delay
The shuld appere be the tuenty day
At Camelot with al thar hol clergy
That most expert war for to certefye
A mater tueching to his gost be nyght.
The mesag goith furth with the lettres right.
The King eftsone, within a litill space,
His jornay makith haith frome place to place,
Whill that he cam to Camelot.
The clerkis all, as that the chargit were,
Assemblit war and cam to his presens,
Of his desir to uiting the sentens.
To them that war to hyme most speciall
Furth his entent shauyth he al hall;
By whois conseil of the worthiest
He chesith ten, yclepit for the best,
And most expert and wisest was supposit,
To qwhome his drem all hail he haith disclossit--
The houre, the nyght, and al the cercumstans--
Besichyne them that the signifycans
Thei wald hyme shaw, that he mycht resting fynde
Of it, the wich that occupeid his mynde.
And one of them with al ther holl assent 29
Saith, "Shire, fore to declare our entent
Upone this matere, ye wil ws delay
Fore to avysing oneto the ninth day."
The King therto grantith haith, bot hee
Into o place that strong was and hye,
He closith them whare thei may nowhare get
Unto the day, the wich he to them set.
Than goith the clerkis sadly to avyss
Of this mater, to seing in what wyss
The Kingis drem thei shal best specefy.
And than the maistris of astronomy
The bookis longyne to ther artis set.
Not was the bukis of Arachell forget,
Of Nembrot, of Danghelome, thei two,
Of Moyses, and of Herynes allsoo.
And seking be ther calcolacioune
To fynd the planetis disposicioune,
The wich thei fond ware wonder evill yset
The samyne nyght the King his sweven met.
So ner the point socht thei have the thing, 30
Thei fond it wonder hevy to the King,
Of wich thing thei waryng into were
To shew the King for dreid of his danger.
Of ane accorde thei planly have proponit
No worde to show, and so thei them disponit.
The day is cumyng and he haith fore them sent,
Besichyne them to shewing ther entent.
Than spak thei all and that of an accorde:
"Shir, of this thing we can no thing recorde,
For we can noght fynd intil our sciens
Tweching this mater ony evydens."
"Now," quod the King, "and be the glorius Lorde,
Or we depart ye shall sumthing recorde;
So pas yhe not, nor so it sall not bee."
"Than," quod the clerkis, "grant ws dais three."
The wich he grantid them, and but delay
The term passith; nothing wold the say,
Wharof the King stondith hevy cherith;
And to the clerkis his visag so apperith
That all thei dred them of the Kingis myght.
Than saith o clerk, "Sir, as the thrid nyght
Ye dremyt, so giffis ws delay
The thrid tyme and to the thrid day."
By whilk tyme thei fundyng haith the ende
Of this mater, als far as shal depend
To ther sciens; yit can thei not avyss
To schewing to the King be ony wyss.
The day is cum; the King haith them besocht;
Bot one no wyss thei wald declar ther thoght.
Than was he wroth into hisself and noyt
And maid his vow that thei shal ben distroyt.
His baronis he commandit to gar tak
Fyve of them oneto the fir stak
And uther fyve be to the gibbot tone;
And the furth with the Kingis charg ar gone.
He bad them into secret wyss that thei
Shud do no harm but only them assey.
The clarkis, dredful of the Kingis ire
And saw the perell of deth and of the fyre,
Fyve, as thei can, has grantit to record,
That uther herde and ben of ther accorde. 31
And al thei ben yled oneto the King
And shew hyme thus as tueching of this thing.
"Shir, sen that we constrenyt ar by myght
To shaw wich that we knaw nothing aricht,
For thing to cum preservith it allan 32
To Hyme the wich is every thing certann
Excep the thing that til our knawleg Hee
Hath ordynat of certan for to bee.
Therfor, shir King, we your magnificens
Beseich it turne till ws to non offens
Nor hald ws nocht as learis, thoght it fall
Not in this mater, as that we telen shall."
And that the King haith grantit them, and thei
Has chargit one, that one this wiss sall seye. 33
"Presumyth, shir, that we have fundyne so:
All erdly honore ye nedist most forgo
And them the wich ye most affy intyll
Shal failye yow, magré of ther will;
And thus we have into this matere founde."
The King, qwhois hart was al wyth dred ybownd,
And askit at the clerkis if thei fynde
By there clergy that stant in ony kynde
Of possibilitee fore to reforme
His desteny, that stud in such a forme,
If in the hevyne is preordynat
On such o wiss his honor to translat.
The clerkis saith, "Forsuth, and we have sene
O thing wharof, if we the trouth shal menn,
Is so obscure and dyrk til our clergye
That we wat not what it shal signefye
Wich causith ws we can it not furth say."
"Yis," quod the King, "as lykith yow ye may,
For wers than this can nat be said for me."
Thane saith o maistir, "Than suthly thus finde we:
Thar is nothing sal sucour nor reskew;
Your worldly honore nedis most adew,
But throuch the watrye lyone, and ek fyne,
On throuch the liche and ek the wattir syne,
And throuch the conseill of the flour; God wot
What this shude menn, for mor ther-of we not."
No word the King ansuerid ayane,
For al this resone thinkith bot in veyne.
He shawith outwart his contenans
As he therof takith no grevans;
But al the nyght it passid nat his thoght. 34
The dais courss with ful desir he socht, 35
And furth he goith to bring his mynd in rest
With mony o knyght unto the gret forest.
The rachis gon wncopelit for the deire 36
That in the wodis makith nois and cheir;
The knychtis with the grewhundis in aweit
Secith boith the planis and the streit.
Doune goith the hart, doune goith the hynd also.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The swift grewhund, hardy of assay;
Befor ther hedis nothing goith away.
The King of hunting takith haith his sport
And to his palace home he can resort
Ayan the noon. And as that he was set
Uith all his noble knyghtis at the met,
So cam therin an agit knyght; and hee
Of gret esstat semyt for to bee,
Anarmyt all, as tho it was the gyss,
And thus the King he salust one this wiss.
"Shir King, oneto yow am Y sende
Frome the worthiest that in world is kend
That levyth now of his tyme and age,
Of manhed, wisdome, and of hie curag,
Galiot, sone of the fare Gyande.
And thus, at short, he bidis yow your londe
Ye yald hyme ovr, without impedyment
Or of hyme holde, and if tribut and rent.
This is my charge at short, whilk if youe lest
For to fulfill, of al he haith conquest
He sais that he most tendir shal youe hald."
By short avys the King his ansuer yald: 37
"Schir knycht, your lorde wondir hie pretendis
When he to me sic salutatioune sendis;
For I as yit, in tymys that ar gone,
Held never lond excep of God alone
Nore never thinkith til erthly lord to yef
Trybut nor rent, als long as I may lef."
"Well," quod the knycht, "ful sor repentith me;
Non may recist the thing the wich mone bee.
To yow, sir King, than frome my lord am I
With diffyans sent, and be this resone why:
His purpos is, or this day moneth day,
With all his ost, planly to assay
Your lond with mony manly man of were
And helmyt knychtis, boith with sheld and spere
And never thinkith to retwrn home whill
That he this lond haith conquest at his will
And ek Uanour the Quen, of whome that hee
Herith report of al this world that shee
In fairhed and in vertew doith excede,
He bad me say he thinkis to possede."
"Schir," quod the King, "your mesag me behufis
Of resone and of curtasy excuss;
But tueching to your lord and to his ost,
His powar, his mesag and his bost,
That pretendith my lond for to distroy,
Tharof as yit tak I non anoye;
And say your lord one my behalf, when hee
Haith tone my lond, that al the world shal see
That it shal be magré myne entent."
With that the knycht, withouten leif, is went,
And richt as he was pasing to the dure
He saith, "A Gode!What wykyt adventure
Apperith!"With that his hors he nome--
Two knichtis kepit, waiting his outcome.
The knicht is gon; the King he gan inquere
At Gawan and at other knychtis sere
If that thei knew or ever hard recorde
Of Galiot, and wharof he wes lorde.
And ther was non among his knychtis all
Which ansuerd o word into the hall.
Than Galygantynis of Walys rase,
That travelit in diverss londis has,
In mony knychtly aventur haith ben.
And to the King he saith, "Sir, I have sen
Galiot, which is the farest knycht
And hiest be half a fut one hycht
That ever I saw, and ek his men accordith;
Hym lakid nocht that to a lord recordith.
For uisare of his ag is non than hee
And ful of larges and humylytee.
An hart he haith of pasing hie curag
And is not twenty-four yer of age.
And of his tyme mekil haith conquerit:
Ten kingis at his command ar sterit.
He uith his men so lovit is, Y gess,
That hyme to pless is al ther besynes. 38
Not say I this, sir, into the entent
That he, nor none wnder the firmament,
Shal pouere have ayane your majestee;
And or thei shuld, this Y sey for mee--
Rather I shall knychtly into feild
Resave my deith anarmyt wnder sheld.
This spek Y lest."The King, ayan the morn,
Haith uarnit huntaris baith with hund and horne
And arly gan oneto the forest ryd
With mony manly knyghtis by his sid
Hyme for to sport and comfort with the dere
Set contrare was the sesone of the yere
His most huntyng was atte wyld bore.
God wot a lustye cuntree was it thoore
In the ilk tyme.Weil long this noble King
Into this lond haith maid his sujornyng.
Frome the Lady was send o mesinger
Of Melyhalt, wich saith one this maner,
As that the story shewith by recorde:
"To yow, sir King, as to hir soveran lorde,
My lady hath me chargit for to say
How that your lond stondith in affray
For Galiot, sone of the fare Gyande,
Enterit is by armys in your land;
And so the lond and cuntré he anoyth
That quhar he goith planly he distroyth
And makith al obeisand to his honde
That nocht is left wnconquest in that lond,
Excep two castellis longing to hir cwre,
Wich to defend she may nocht long endure.
Wharfor, sir, in wordis plan and short,
Ye mon dispone your folk for to support."
"Wel," quod the King, "oneto thi lady say
The neid is myne; I sall it not delay.
But what folk ar thei nemmyt for to bee
That in my lond is cumyne in sich degree?"
"An hundreth thousand boith uith sheld and spere
On hors ar armyt, al redy for the were."
"Wel," quod the King, "and but delay this nycht,
Or than tomorn as that the day is lycht
I shal remuf; ther shal nothing me mak
Impedyment my jorney for to tak."
Than seith his knychtis al with one assent,
"Shir, that is al contrare our entent;
For to your folk this mater is wnwist
And ye ar here ovr few for to recist
Yone power and youre cuntré to defende.
Tharfor abid and for your folk ye send,
That lyk a king and lyk a weriour
Ye may susten in armys your honoure."
"Now," quod the King, "no langer that I yeme
My crowne, my septure, nor my dyademe
Frome that I here ore frome I wnderstand
That ther by fors be entrit in my land
Men of armys, by strenth of vyolens,
If that I mak abid or resydens
Into o place langar than o nycht
For to defend my cuntré and my rycht."
The King that day his mesage haith furth sent
Throuch al his realme and syne to rest is went.
Up goith the morow; wp goith the brycht day;
Wp goith the sone into his fresh aray.
Richt as he spred his bemys frome northest,
The King wprass withouten more arest
And by his awn conseil and entent
His jornaye tuk at short avysment.
And but dulay he goith frome place to place
Whill that he cam nere whare the lady was
And in one plane apone o rever syde
He lichtit doune, and ther he can abide.
And yit with hyme to batell fore to go
Seven thousand fechteris war thei and no mo.
This was the lady, of qwhome befor I tolde
That Lancilot haith into hir kepinge holde,
But for to tell his pasing hevynesse,
His peyne, his sorow, and his gret distresse
Of presone and of loves gret suppris,
It war to long to me for to devys.
When he remembrith one his hevy charge
Of love, wharof he can hyme not discharge,
He wepith and he sorowith in his chere;
And every nyght semyth hyme o yere.
Gret peité was the sorow that he maad,
And to hymeself apone this wiss he saade:
"Qwhat have Y gilt, allace, or qwhat deservit 39
That thus myne hart shal uondit ben and carvit
One by the suord of double peine and wo?
My comfort and my plesans is ago;
To me is nat that shuld me glaid reservit. 40
"I curss the tyme of myne nativitee,
Whar in the heven it ordinyd was for me
In all my lyve never til have eess
But for to be example of disess;
And that apperith that every uicht may see.
"Sen thelke tyme that I had sufficians
Of age and chargit thoghtis sufferans,
Nor never I continewite haith o day
Without the payne of thoghtis hard assay;
Thus goith my youth in tempest and penans.
"And now my body is in presone broght,
But of my wo, that in regard is noght, 41
The wich myne hart felith evermore.
O deth, allace!Whi hath yow me forbore
That of remed haith the so long besoght?" 42
Thus nevermore he sesith to compleine,
This woful knyght that felith not bot peine
So prekith hyme the smert of loves sore
And every day encressith more and more.
And with this lady takine is also
And kepit whar he may nowhare go
To haunt knychthed, the wich he most desirit.
And thus his hart with dowbil wo yfirite
We lat hyme duel here with the lady still
Whar he haith laisere for to compleine his fyll.
And Galiot in this meynetyme he laie
By strong myght o castell to assay
With many engyne and diverss wais sere
For of fute folk he had a gret powere
That bowis bur and uther instrumentis,
And with them lede ther palyonis and ther tentis,
With mony o strong chariot and cher
With yrne qwhelis and barris long and sqwar,
Well stuffit with al maner apparell
That longith to o sege or to batell,
Wharwith his ost was closit al about
That of no strenth nedith hyme to dout.
And when he hard the cumyne of the King
And of his ost and of his gaderyng,
The wich he reput but of febil myght
Ayanis hyme for to susten the ficht,
His consell holl assemblit he, but were,
Ten kingis with other lordis sere,
And told theme of the cuming of the King
And askit them there consell of that thing.
Hyme thoght that it his worschip wold degrade
If he hymeself in propir persone raide
Enarmyt ayane so few menyé
As it was told Arthur fore to bee.
And thane the Kyng An Hundereth Knychtis cold
(And so he hot, for nevermore he wolde
Ryd of his lond but in his cumpany
O hundyre knyghtis ful of chivellry),
He saith, "Shir, ande I one hond tak,
If it you pless, this jorney shal I mak."
Quod Galiot, "I grant it yow, but ye
Shal first go ryd, yone knychtis ost and see."
Withouten more he ridith ovr the plan
And saw the ost and is returnyd ayann
And callit them mo than he hade sen, forwhy
He dred the reprefe of his cumpany.
And to his lord apone this wys saith hee:
"Shir, ten thousand Y ges them for to bee."
And Galiot haith chargit hyme to tak
Als fell folk and for the feld hyme mak.
And so he doith and haith them wel arayt;
Apone the morne his banaris war displayt.
Up goth the trumpetis with the clariouns;
Ayaine the feld blawen furth ther sownis,
Furth goth this king with al his ost anon.
Be this the word wes to King Arthur gone,
That knew nothing, nor wist of ther entent;
But sone his folk ar oneto armys went.
But Arthur by report hard saye
How Galiot non armys bur that day;
Wharfor he thoght of armys nor of sheld
None wald he tak, nor mak hyme for the feld.
But Gawane haith he clepit, was hyme by,
In qwhome rignith the flour of chevelry,
And told one what maner and one what wyss
He shuld his batelles ordand and devys,
Beseching hyme wisly to forsee
Againe thei folk, wich was far mo than hee.
He knew the charg and passith one his way
Furth to his horss and makith no dulay.
The clariounis blew and furth goth al ononn
And ovr the watter and the furd ar gonne.
Within o playne upone that other syd,
Ther Gawan gon his batellis to devide,
As he wel couth, and set them in aray,
Syne with o manly contynans can say,
"Ye falowis wich of the Round Table benn,
Through al this erth whois fam is hard and sen,
Remembrith now it stondith one the poynt,
Forwhy it lyith one your speris poynt,
The wellfare of the King and of our londe;
And sen the sucour lyith in your honde
And hardement is thing shall most availl
Frome deth ther men of armys in bataill,
Lat now your manhed and your hie curage
The pryd of al thir multitude assuage;
Deth or defence, non other thing we wot."
This fresch king, that Maleginis was hot,
With al his ost he cummyne ovr the plann;
And Gawan send o batell hyme agann
In myde the berde, and festinit in the stell
The sperithis poynt, that bitith scharp and well;
Bot al to few thei war and mycht nocht lest
This gret rout that cummyth one so fast.
Than haith Sir Gawan send, them to support,
One othir batell with one knychtly sorte,
And syne the thrid, and syne the ferde also;
And syne hymeself oneto the feld can go
When that he sauch thar latter batell steir,
And the ten thousand cummyne, al thei ueir.
Qwhar that of armes previt he so well,
His ennemys gane his mortall strokis fell.
He goith ymong them in his hie curage
As he that had of knyghthed the wsage
And couth hyme weill conten into o shour;
Againe his strok resistit non armour.
And mony knycht that worth ware and bolde
War thore with hyme of Arthuris houshold
And knyghtly gan oneto the feld them bere,
And mekil wroght of armys into were.
Sir Gawan than upone such wyss hyme bure,
This othere goith al to discumfitoure.
Sevyne thousand fled and of the feld thei go,
Wharof this king into his hart was wo,
For of hymeself he was of hie curage.
To Galiot than send he in mesag
That he shuld help his folk for to defende
And he to hyme hath thirté thousand sende,
Wharof this king gladith in his hart
And thinkith to reveng all the smart
That he tofor haith suffirit and the payne.
And al his folk returnyt is ayayne
Atour the feld and cummyne thilk as haill.
The swyft horss goith first to the assall.
This noble knyght that seith the grete forss
Of armyt men that cummyne upone horss
Togiddir semblit al his falowschip
And thoght them at the sharp poynt to kep 43
So that thar harmm shal be ful deir yboght.
This uthere folk with straucht courss hath socht
Out of aray atour the larg felld.
Thar was the strokis festnit in the shelde
Thei war resavit at the speris end.
So Arthuris folk can manfully defend;
The formest can thar lyves end conclude.
Whar sone assemblit al the multitude,
Thar was defens, ther was gret assaill;
Richt wonderfull and strong was the bataill
Whar Arthuris folk sustenit mekil payn
And knychtly them defendit haith againe.
Bot endur thei mycht apone no wyss
The multitude and ek the gret suppriss.
But Gawan, wich that setith al his payn
Upone knyghthed, defendid so againe
That only in the manhede of this knyght
His folk rejosit them of his gret myght,
And ek abasit hath his ennemys;
For throw the feld he goith in such wyss
And in the press so manfully them servith
His suerd atwo the helmys al tokervith,
The hedis of he be the shouderis smat; 44
The horss goith, of the maister desolat.
But what avaleth al his besynes,
So strong and so insufferable uas the press?
His folk are passit atour the furdis ilkon,
Towart ther bretis and to ther luges gon,
Whar he and many worthy knyght also
Of Arthuris houss endurit mekill wo
That never men mar into armys uroght
Of manhed; yit was it al for noght.
Thar was the strenth, ther was the pasing myght
Of Gawan, wich that whill the dirk nyght
Befor the luges faucht al hyme alonn,
When that his falowis entrit ware ilkonn,
On Arthuris half war mony tan and slan.
And Galotis folk is hame returnyd againe,
For it was lait.Away the ostis ridith,
And Gawan yit apone his horss abidith
With suerd in hond when thei away uar gon;
And so forwrocht hys lymmys uer ilkon
And wondit ek his body up and doune,
Upone his horss right thore he fel in swoune.
And thei hyme tuk and to his lugyne bare.
Boith King and Qwen of hyme uare in dispare;
For thei supposit, throw marvellis that he uroght,
He had hymeself to his confusioune broght.
This was nereby of Melyhalt, the hyll
Whar Lanscelot yit was with the lady still.
The knychtis of the court pasing homme;
This ladiis knychtis to hir palice com
And told to hir how that the feld was uent
And of Gawan and of his hardyment
That mervell was his manhed to behold.
And sone thir tithingis to the knycht uas told
That was with wo and hevyness opprest,
So noyith hyme his sujorne and his rest.
And but dulay one for o knycht he send
That was most speciall with the lady kend.
He comyne and the knycht unto hyme said,
"Displess you not, sir, be yhe not ill paid,
So homly thus I yow exort to go
To gare my lady spek o word or two
With me that am a carful presonere."
"Sir, your commande Y shall, withouten were,
Fulfill."And to his lady passit hee,
In lawly wyss besiching hir that she
Wald grant hyme to pas at his request
Unto hir knycht stood wnder hir arest.
And she, that knew al gentilless aright,
Furth to his chamber passit wight the licht.
And he aross and salust curtasly
The lady and said, "Madem, her I,
Your presoner, besekith yow that yhe
Wold mersy and compassione have of me
And mak the ransone wich that I may yeif.
I waist my tyme in presone thus to leife
Forwhy I her on be report be-told
That Arthur, with the flour of his housholde,
Is cummyne here and in this cuntré lyis
And stant in danger of his ennemyis
And haith assemblit; and eft this shalt bee
Within short tyme one new assemblee.
Tharfor, my lady, Y youe grace besech
That I mycht pas, my ranson for to fech,
Fore I presume thar longith to that sort 45
That lovid me and shal my nede support."
"Shire knycht, it stant nocht in sich dugree; 46
It is no ransone wich that causith
To holden yow or don yow sich offens.
It is your gilt, it is your violens
Wharof that I desir nothing but law,
Without report, your awnn trespas to knaw."
"Madem, your plesance may ye wel fulfill
Of me that am in presone at your will.
Bot of that gilt I was for til excuss
For that I did of verrey nede behwss-- 47
It tuechit to my honore and my fame;
I mycht nocht lefe it but hurting of my nam, 48
And ek the knycht was mor to blam than I.
But ye, my lady, of your curtessy,
Wold ye deden my ransone to resave
Of presone so I my libertee myght have,
Y ware yolde evermore your knyght
Whill that I leif with al my holl myght.
And if so be ye lykith not to ma
My ransone, if me leif to ga
To the assemblé, wich sal be of new;
And, as that I am feithful knycht and trew,
At nycht to yow I enter shall againe--
But if that deth or other lat certann,
Throw wich I have such impediment
That I be hold, magré myne entent."
"Sir knycht," quod she, "I grant yow leif, withthy
Your name to me that ye wil specify."
"Madem, as yit sutly I ne may
Duclar my name, one be no maner way;
But I promyt, als fast as I have tyme
Convenient or may uithouten cryme,
I shall."And than the lady saith hyme tyll,
"And I, schir knycht, one this condiscione will
Grant yow leve, so that ye oblist bee
For to return as ye have said to me."
Thus thei accord.The lady goith to rest.
The sone discending closit in the uest.
The ferd day was devysit for to bee
Betuex the ostis of the assemblee.
And Galiot richt arly by the day
Ayane the feld he can his folk aray. 49
And fourty thousand armyt men haith he
That war not at the othir assemblé
Commandit to the batell for to gon.
"And I myself," quod he, "shal me dispone
Onto the feild againe the thrid day,
Wharof this were we shal the end assay."
And Arthuris folk that come one every syd,
He for the feld can them for to provide,
Wich ware to few againe the gret affere
Of Galiot yit to susten the were.
The knychtis al out of the ceté ross
Of Melyholt, and to the semblé gois.
And the lady haith, into sacret wyss,
Gart for hir knycht and presoner dewyss
In red al thing that ganith for the were:
His curseir red, so was boith scheld and spere.
And he to qwham the presone hath ben smart
With glaid desir apone his cursour start.
Towart the feld anon he gan to ryd
And in o plan hovit one rever syde.
This knycht, the wich that long haith ben in cag,
He grew into o fresch and new curage,
Seing the morow blythfull and amen,
The med, the rever and the uodis gren,
The knychtis in armys them arayinge,
The baneris ayaine the feld displayng.
His youth in strenth and in prosperytee
And syne of lust the gret adversytee,
Thus in his thocht remembryng at the last
Efterward one syd he gan his ey to cast
Whar ovr a bertes lying haith he sen
Out to the feld luking was the Qwen.
Sudandly with that his gost astart
Of love anone haith caucht hyme by the hart.
Than saith he, "How long shall it be so,
Love, at yow shall wirk me al this wo,
Apone this wyss to be infortunat,
Hir for to serve the wich thei no thing wate
What sufferance I in hir wo endure 50
Nor of my wo nor of myne adventure?
And I wnworthy ame for to attane
To hir presens nor dare I noght complane.
Bot, hart, sen at yow knawith she is here
That of thi lyve and of thi deith is stere,
Now is thi tyme, now help thiself at neid
And the devod of every point of dred
That cowardy be none into the senn;
Fore and yow do, yow knowis thi peyne, I weyn.
Yow art wnable ever to attane
To hir mercy or cum be ony mayne.
Tharfor Y red hir thonk at yow disserve 51
Or in hir presens lyk o knycht to sterf."
With that confusit with an hevy thocht
Which ner his deith ful oft tyme haith hyme socht,
Devoydit was his spritis and his gost,
He wist not of hymeself nor of his ost
Bot one his horss, als still as ony ston.
When that the knychtis armyt war ilkon,
To warnnyng them up goith the bludy sown
And every knyght upone his horss is bown,
Twenty thousand armyt men of were.
The King that day he wold non armys bere;
His batellis ware devysit everilkon
And them forbad out ovr the furdis to gon.
Bot frome that thei ther ennemys haith sen,
Into such wys thei couth them noght sustenn.
Bot ovr thei went uithouten more delay
And can them one that other sid assay.
The Red Knycht still into his hevy thoght
Was hufying yit apone the furd and noght
Wist of himeself; with that a harrold com
And sone the knycht he be the brydill nom
Saying, "Awalk!It is no tyme to slep.
Your worschip more expedient uare to kep." 52
No word he spak, so prikith hyme the smart
Of hevynes that stood unto his hart.
Two screwis cam with that, of quhich onn
The knychtis sheld rycht frome his hals haith tonn;
That uthir watter takith atte last
And in the knychtis ventail haith it cast.
When that he felt the uatter that uas cold,
He wonk and gan about hyme to behold
And thinkith how he sumquhat haith mysgonn.
With that his spere into his hand haith ton,
Goith to the feild withouten uordis more.
So was he uare whare that there cam before,
O manly man he was into al thing
And clepit was the Ferst-Conquest King.
The Red Knycht with spuris smat the sted;
The tother cam that of hyme hath no drede.
With ferss curag ben the knychtis met.
The king his spere apone the knycht hath set
That al in peciss flaw into the felde.
His hawbrek helpit, suppos he had no scheld.
And he the king into the scheld haith ton
That horss and man boith to the erd ar gon.
Than to the knycht he cummyth, that haith tan
His sheld, to hyme deliverith it ayane,
Besiching hyme that of his ignorance,
That knew hyme nat, as takith no grevance.
The knycht his scheld but mor delay haith tak
And let hyme go and nothing to hyme spak.
Than thei the wich that so at erth haith sen
Ther lord, the Ferst-Conquest King, Y menn,
In haist thei cam, as that thei uar agrevit;
And manfully thei haith ther King relevit.
And Arthuris folk, that lykith not to byde,
In goith the spuris in the stedis syde.
Togiddir thar assemblit al the ost,
At whois meting many o knycht was lost.
The batell was richt crewell to behold,
Of knychtis wich that haith there lyvis yolde.
Oneto the hart the spere goith throw the scheld;
The knychtis gaping lyith in the feld.
The Red Knycht, byrnyng in loves fyre,
Goith to o knycht als swift as ony vyre,
The wich he persit throuch and throuch the hart.
The spere is went; with that anon he start 53
And out o suerd into his hond he tais.
Lyk to o lyone into the feld he gais,
Into his rag smyting to and fro:
Fro sum the arm, fro sum the nek in two;
Sum in the feild lying is in swoun,
And sum his suerd goith to the belt al dounne.
For qwhen that he beholdith to the Qwen,
Who had ben thore his manhed to have sen,
His doing into armys and his myght,
Shwld say in world war not such o wight.
His falouschip siche comfort of his dede
Haith ton that thei ther ennemys ne dreid
But can themself ay manfoly conten 54
Into the stour that hard was to susten.
For Galyot was o pasing multitude
Of previt men in armys that war gude,
The wich can with o fresch curag assaill
Ther ennemys that day into batell,
That ne ware not the uorschip and manhede
Of the Red Knycht, in perell and in dreid
Arthuris folk had ben, uithouten uere.
Set thei uar good, thei uar of smal powere. 55
And Gawan, wich gart bryng hymeself befor
To the bertes, set he was uondit sore,
Whar the Qwen uas and whar that he mycht see
The manere of the ost and assemblé.
And when that he the gret manhed haith sen
Of the Red Knycht, he saith oneto the Qwen,
"Madem, yone knycht into the armys rede,
Nor never I hard nore saw into no sted
O knycht, the wich that into schortar space
In armys haith mor forton nore mor grace,
Nore bettir doith boith with sper and scheild;
He is the hed and comfort of our feild."
"Now, sir, I traist that never more uas sen
No man in feild more knyghtly hyme conten.
I pray to Hyme that everything hath cure,
Saif hyme fro deth or wykit adventure."
The feild it was rycht perellus and strong
On boith the sydis and continewit long,
Ay from the sone the uarldis face gan licht
Whill he was gone and cumyne uas the nycht.
And than o forss thei mycht it not asstart:
On every syd behovit them depart.
The feild is don and ham goith every knycht;
And prevaly, unwist of any wicht,
The way the Red Knycht to the ceté taiis,
As he had hecht, and in his chambre gais.
When Arthure hard how the knycht is gon,
He blamyt sore his lordis everilkone;
And oft he haith remembrit in his thoght
What multitud that Galiot had broght.
Seing his folk that ware so evil arayt,
Into his mynd he stondith al affrayt
And saith, "I traist ful suth it sal be founde,
My drem richt as the clerkis gan expounde;
Forwhy my men failyeis now at neid
Myself, my londe, in perell and in dreide."
And Galiot upone hie worschip set,
And his consell anon he gart be fet.
To them he saith, "With Arthur weil ye see
How that it stant and to qwhat degré,
Aganis ws that he is no poware.
Wharfor, me think, no worschip to ws ware
In conqueryng of hyme nor of his londe;
He haith no strenth, he may ws not uithstonde.
Wharfor, me think it best is to delay
And resput hyme for a tuelmonneth day 56
Whill that he may assemble al his myght;
Than is mor worschip aganis hyme to ficht."
And thus concludit, thoght hyme for the best. 57
The uery knychtis passing to there rest;
Of Melyholt the ladeis knychtis ilkone 58
Went home and to hir presens ar thei gon,
At qwhome ful sone than gan scho to inquere
And al the maner of the ostis till spere:
How that it went and in what maner wyss,
Who haith most worschip and who is most to pryss.
"Madem," quod thei, "o knycht was in the
Of red was al his armour and his shield--
Whois manhed can al otheris exced; feild
May nan report in armys half his deid;
Ne wor his worschip, shortly to conclud,
Our folk of help had ben al destitud.
He haith the thonk, the uorschip in hyme lyis
That we the feld defendit in sich wyss."
The lady thane oneto hirself haith thocht,
"Whether is yone my presonar ore noght,
The suthfastness that shal Y wit onon."
When every wight unto ther rest war gon
She clepith one hir cwsynes ful nere, 59
Wich was to hir most speciall and dere,
And saith to hir, "Qwhethar if yone bee
Our presoner, my consell is we see."
With that the maden in hir hand hath ton
O torche and to the stabille ar thei gon
And fond his sted lying at the ground,
Wich wery was, ywet with mony wounde.
The maden saith, "Upone this horss is sen
He in the place quhar strokis was hath benn;
And yhit the horss, it is nocht wich that hee
Furth with hyme hade," the lady said; "per Dee,
He usyt haith mo horss than one or two.
I red oneto his armys at we go."
Tharwith oneto his armys ar thei went.
Thei fond his helm, thei fond his hawbrek rent;
Thei fond his scheld was fruschit al to nocht.
At schort, his armour in sich wyss uas urocht
In every place that no thing was left haill
Nore never eft accordith to bataill.
Than saith the lady to hir cusyness,
"What sal we say, what of this mater gess?"
"Madem, I say thei have nocht ben abwsyt;
He that them bur, schortly he has them usyt."
"That may ye say, suppos the best that levis
Or most of worschip intil armys previs
Or yhit haith ben in ony tyme befornn,
Had them in feld, in his mast curag, bornn." 60
"Now," quod the lady, "will we pass and see
The knycht hymeself and ther the suth may we
Knaw of this thing."Incontynent them boith
Thir ladeis unto his chambre goith.
The knycht al wery fallyng was on slep;
This maden passith in and takith kep.
Sche sauch his brest with al his schowderis bare
That bludy war and woundit her and thare.
His face was al tohurt and al toschent;
His nevis swellyng war and al torent.
Sche smylyt a lyt and to hir lady said,
"It semyth weill this knycht hath ben assaid." 61
The lady sauch and rewit in hir thoght
The knychtis worschip wich that he haith uroght.
In hire remembrance Loves fyré dart
With hot desyre hir smat oneto the hart.
And than a quhill, withouten wordis mo,
Into hir mynd thinking to and fro,
She studeit so and at the last abraid
Out of hir thocht and sudandly thus said.
"Withdraw," quod she, "one syd a lyt the lyght
Or that I pass that I may kyss the knyght."
"Madem," quod sche, "what is it at ye menn?
Of hie worschip ovr mekill have ye senn
So sone to be supprisit with o thoght.
What is it at yhe think?Preswm ye noght
That if yon knycht wil walkin and persaif
He shal tharof nothing bot evill consaif,
In his entent ruput yow therby
The ablare to al lychtness and foly?
And blam the more al utheris in his mynd
If your gret wit in sich desire he fynde?"
"Nay," quod the lady, "nothing may I do,
For sich o knycht may be defam me to."
"Madem, I wot that for to love yone knycht--
Considir his fame, his worschip and his mycht--
And to begyne as worschip wil devyss,
Syne he ayaine mycht love yow one such wyss
And hold yow for his lady and his love,
It war to yow no maner of reprwe.
But quhat if he appelit be and thret
His hart to love and elliswhar yset?
And wel Y wot, madem, if it be so,
His hart hyme sal not suffir to love two,
For noble hart wil have no dowbilness.
If it be so, yhe tyne yowr lov, I gess.
Than is yourself, than is your love refusit,
Your fam is hurt, your gladness is conclusit.
My consell is therfore you to absten
Whill that to yow the verray rycht be senn
Of his entent, the wich ful son yhe may
Have knawlag if yow lykith to assay."
So mokil to hir lady haith she uroght 62
That at that tyme she haith returnyt hir thocht
And to hir chambre went, withouten more,
Whar love of new assaith hir ful sore.
So well long thei speking of the knycht,
Hir cusynace hath don al at she mycht
For to expel that thing out of hir thocht.
It wil not be.Hir labour is for nocht.
Now leif we hir into hir newest pan,
And to Arthur we wil retwrn agann.
past; (see note)
Upon the earth
awaken their spirit
grass; vigorous person
love; reveal; (see note)
open voice (i.e. aloud)
from the time that; bright
helps; (see note)
trying days; distressing
Without; reliance on
soul; meditating on
Except thinking how
whose; (see note)
one of her servants
In what manner; lament
In the sunlight
in; (see note)
In a more fertile [one]
surrounded and enclosed
In such a way
by any person outside
Unclosed the diadem
gentle; moist showers
drawn up; pleasant
Until; resounded with
to any person
joy[ful sound] to hear
to the melancholy
(see note); by sorrow
before I knew how
befell a wondrous adventure
spirit was seen; (see note)
who lives in doubt
Who with; is not at all
you live in despair
call constantly; death
in the morning
deafen; in his kingdom above
although you call on
[That] he should suffer
Lament; remedy; cure
it seemed to me I replied
It avails; heard said
woe the reason
in what manner; where
exalted rank; lament
Of such high degree; renown
show to her
hate or despise
in some way
also; (see note)
narrative; lady's sake
you believe; please
so [sad] to be always
her leave taken
I woke up at once
Since; appears to be Love's mandate
high in his sphere above
effort; be pleasing
her ladyship; pleasure
What; care nothing for
by; (see note)
skill at versification; craft; alike
those who are; wise
[who] have entered
Who know; oppose
he must undertake
[Whether it be] death or disgrace
to make; countermand
necessarily I must
in various books read; (see note)
whom [= Lancelot]
as I am able compose
frame of mind
without its being known; taken
there; in; heart
sworn an oath; frenzy
deigned to pull out
in this manner made
to the best of his ability
the one who did the harm
warrior very valiant; (see note)
many a combat
as my responsibility
know; kept himself
press of battle
yielded; (see note)
why I disregard them
bitter and fierce
a great gathering
high above; (see note)
for his labors in love
beseech; (see note)
greatest author; for support
Flower of poets
In our rhyming
judge it presumptuous
who stands in reverence
vivid writing; Latin
will be [one] like him
(see note); pleasant warmth
made their nests
it chanced that; (see note)
At which; in; hear
deign to go
after brief consideration
from; head; hair
Because of; sprang up
Startled and terrified
in the morning
Early; had summoned to him
worthless things; (see note)
call for no credence
Pre-occupation; (see note)
Rather than some other cause
They; by; twentieth
concerning his spirit
And there Until
they were commanded
to know; gist
he reveals completely
chooses; named as
details; (see note)
pertaining; (see note)
were very ill situated
dreamed his dream
were in doubt
fear of his power
say; they intended
declare their understanding
in our learning
Concerning; any clue
be the concern
Of; devise [something]
reveal; in any way
to have taken
put them to the test
agreed to report
reveal to him;concerning
Him to whom
put faith in
in spite of
was shaped in such a way
to our learning
if you wish
necessarily must depart
mean; know not
seems to be to no effect
bark and sport
clearings; narrow paths
heads; escapes; (see note)
Armed; then; custom
hand over to him; delay
(see note); give
it pleases you
aspires; (see note)
it grieves me
which must be
a declaration of war
before a month from today
it behooves me
in spite of my intention
guarded [it]; departure
Of; of various other knights
heard an account
rose; (see note)
tallest by; in height
in his time much
with (i.e., by)
Shall avail against
knows; pleasant; there
In that time
by force of arms into
obedient to him
under her dominion
said to be
in such a way
Before the morning when
in opposition to
too few to resist
From [the time] that
If I hesitate or delay
in his new adornment
was sorrowful of demeanor
to have ease
so that every person
Since that; sufficiency
had the space of one day
nothing but pain
afflicts; pain; sorrow
engage in knightly deeds
foot soldiers; army
carried; other weapons
cart; (see note)
iron wheels; square
whole; without a doubt
It seemed to him
in [his own] person rode
a host so small in number
more [ado]; field
By [means of]
by rumor heard it said
head for the field
arrange and array his troops
For that army; more
fame; heard; seen
on the brink
courage; help [to keep]
bold; called; (see note)
hold out against
battalion; knightly band
then; third; fourth
to the field went
he proved himself
who had practised knighthood
greatly; in war
from the battlefield
loss; dearly paid for
direct charge; gone
In a disorderly manner throughout
defended themselves in return
in no way
who devoted all his efforts
army rejoiced in
in the thick of battle
across the fords
did greater deeds in arms
until the dark
tents fought all by himself
Arthur's side; taken; slain
exhausted with toil
there; a swoon
sorrow and sadness
favorably by; known
cause my lady to speak
wretched prisoner; (see note)
without a doubt
[who] was in her custody
(see note); give
I was blameless
I would be dedicated [as]
As long as I live
give me leave to go
in spite of; (see note)
truly; (see note)
promise; as soon
you are bound
Between the armies; battle
quite early in
encounter; (see note)
plan [to go]
emerged from the city
Had . . . prepared
are useful for war
on his warhorse leapt
morning; delightful; pleasant
parapet; (see note)
who however; knows
Who; life; ruler
cowardice; seen in you
if; I suppose
die; (see note)
Departed; thoughts; soul
To warn; sound
arranged every one
over the fords
from (the time) that
In this way
called; (see note)
struck the horse
other; (see note)
even though; (see note)
in; taken (i.e., struck)
who had taken
to take no offense
without; (see note)
on the ground
open-mouthed; (see note)
when he looks upon
deeds of arms
companions such; from
taken; do not fear
In the combat; endure
So that were it not for
without a doubt
who had himself brought
parapet; although; wounded
in the red armor
heard; in any place
in a shorter time
[fighting on the] field
Ever since; world's
then perforce; avoid
they had to withdraw
secretly; unknown by any person
on high honor fixed his mind
council; he had summoned
it seems to me; honor
From whom; she
to ask about
to be esteemed
half of what he did
Were it not for
truth; know soon
Whether that man might be
On [the evidence of]
not the one that
coat of mail slashed
In short; worked upon
after would be of use in battle
wore for a short time
Immediately; (see note)
Of these ladies
had fallen asleep
goes in and observes
here and there
wounded; disfigured; (see note)
fists were swollen; cut up
aside; a little; (see note)
Before I go
that you say
too much; seen
awaken and perceive
more capable of; frivolity
[a cause of] dishonor
as honor will prescribe
[And] then he in return
It would be; disgrace
you will lose
Until; true nature
it pleases you to try
without more ado
female relative; that
leave; in; pain
Go To Lancelot of the Laik, Book II