Lancelot of the Laik, Book II
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 clowdy nyght, wndir whois obscure
The rest and quiet of every criatur
Lyith sauf, quhare the gost with besyness
Is occupiit with thoghtfull hevynes.
And, for that thocht furth schewing uil his mycht,
Go farewel rest and quiet of the nycht.
Artur, I meyne, to whome that rest is nocht,
But al the nycht supprisit is with thocht.
Into his bed he turnyth to and fro,
Remembryng the apperans of his wo,
That is to say, his deith, his confusioune,
And of his realme the opin distruccioune,
That in his wit he can nothing provide
Bot tak his forton thar for to abyd.
Up goith the son, up goith the hot morow. 64
The thoghtful King, al the nycht to sorow,
That sauch the day, upone his feit he start,
And furth he goith, distrublit in his hart.
A quhill he walkith in his pensyf gost,
So was he ware thar cummyne to the ost
O clerk, with whome he was aqwynt befor--
Into his tyme non better was ybore--
Of qwhois com he gretly uas rejosit,
For into hyme sum comfort he supposit.
Betuex them was one hartly affeccioune.
Non orderis had he of relegioune;
Famus he was and of gret excellence
And rycht expert in al the seven science,
Contemplatif and chast in governance,
And clepit was the Maister Amytans.
The King befor his palyoune one the gren,
That knew hyme well and haith his cummyn senn
Uelcummyt hyme and maid hyme rycht gud chere.
And he agan, agrevit as he were,
Saith, "Nothir of thi salosing nor the
Ne rak I nocht, ne charg I nocht," quod hee.
Than quod the King, "Maister, and for what why
Are ye agrevit or quhat tresspas have I
Commytit so that I shal yow disples?"
Quod he, "Nothing it is ayane myn ess
But only contrare of thiself alway,
So fare the courss yow passith of the way. 66
Thi schip that goth apone the stormy uall,
Ney of thi careldis, in the swelf it fall
Whar she almost is in the perell drent;
That is to say, yow art so far myswent
Of wykitness upone the urechit dans
That yow art fallyng in the storng vengans
Of Goddis wreth that shal the son devour.
For of His strok approchit now the hour
That boith thi ringe, thi ceptre and thi crounn
From hie estat He smyting shal adoune.
And that accordith well, for in thi thocht
Yow knawith not Hyme, the wich that haith the wrocht
And set the up into this hie estat
From povert. For, as theselvyne wat,
It cummyth al bot only of His myght
And not of the nor of thi elderis richt
To the discending as in heritage,
For yow was not byget onto spousag.
Wharfor yow aucht His biding to obserf,
And at thy mycht yow shuld Hyme pless and serf.
That dois yow nat, for yow art so confussit
With this fals warld that thow haith Hyme refusit
And brokine haith His reul and ordynans,
The wich to the He gave in governans.
He maid the King, He maid the governour,
He maid the so and set in hie honour
Of realmys and of peplis sere;
Efter His love thow shuld them reul and stere
And wnoppressit kep into justice
The wykit men and pwnyce for ther vice.
Yow dois nothing bot al in the contrare
And suffrith al thi puple to forfare.
Yow haith non ey bot one thyne awn delyt 67
Or quhat that plesing shall thyne appetyt.
In the defalt of law and of justice,
Wndir thi hond is sufferyt gret suppriss
Of fadirless and modirless also,
And wedwis ek sustenit mekill wo.
With gret myschef oppressit ar the pure;
And thow art causs of al this hol injure,
Wharof that God a raknyng sal craf
At the, and a sore raknyng sal hafe.
For thyne estat is gevyne to redress
Thar ned and kep them to rychtwysness.
And thar is non that ther complantis heris;
The mychty folk and ek the flattereris
Ar cheif with the and doith this oppressioun.
If thai complen, it is ther confussioune.
And Daniell saith that who doith to the pure
Or faderless or modirless, enjure
Or to the puple that ilke to God doth hee;
And al this harme sustenit is throw the.
Yow sufferith them, oppressith and anoyith.
So yow art causs; throw the thei ar distroyth.
Than, at thi mycht, God so distroys yow.
What shal He do agane? Quhat shal yow
When he distroys by vengance of his suerd
The synaris fra the vysagis of the erde?
Than utraly yow shall distroyt bee;
And that richt weill apperis now of thee,
For yow allon byleft art solitere.
And the wyss Salamon can duclar,
'Wo be to hyme that is byleft alone;
He haith no help.' So is thi forton gonne.
For he is callit, with quhom that God is nocht,
Allone. And so thi wykitness haith wrocht
That God Hymeself, He is bycummyn thi fo.
Thi pupleis hartis haith thow tynt also.
Thi wykitness thus haith the maid alon
That of this erth thi fortone is ygonn.
Yow mone thi lyf yow mone thi uorschip tyne
And eft to deth that never shal haf fyne."
"Maister," quod he, "of yowre benevolens
Y yow besech that tueching myn offens
Yhe wald vichsaif your consell to me if
How I sal mend and ek hereftir leif."
"Now, quod the Maister, "and I have mervell qwhy
Yow askith consail and wil in non affy
Nor wyrk tharby; and yhit yow may in tym,
If yow lykith to, amend the cryme."
"Yhis," saith the King, "and suthfastly I will
Your ordynans in everything fulfyll."
"And if the list at consail to abide, 68
The remed of thi harme to provyde,
First, the begyning is of sapiens
To dreid the Lord and His magnificens.
And what thow haith in contrar Hyme ofendit,
Whill yow haith mycht, of fre desir amendit.
Repent thi gilt, repent thi gret trespass;
And remembir one Goddis richwysness,
How for to Hyme that wykitness anoyt
And how the way of synaris He distroit.
And if ye lyk to ryng wnder his pess
The vengans of His mychty hond yow sess,
This schalt yow do, if yow wil be perfit.
First mone yow be penitent and contrit
Of everything that tuechith thi consiens,
Done of fre will or yhit of neglygens.
Thi neid requirith ful contretioune,
Princepaly, without conclusioune.
With humble hart and gostly bysyness,
Syne shalt yow go devotly the confess
Therof unto sum haly conffessour
That the wil consail tueching thin arour,
And to fulfill his will and ordynans
In satisfaccione and doing of pennans,
And to amend al wrang and al injure
By the ydone til every creature,
If yow can into thi hart fynde
Contretioune, well degest into thi mynd.
Now go thi weie, for if it leful were
Confessioune to me, I shuld it here."
Than Arthur, richt obedient and mek,
Into his wit memoratyve can seik
Of every gilt wich that he can pens
Done frome he passith the yeris of innocens; 69
And as his Maister hyme commandit hade,
He goith and his confessione haith he maad
Richt devotly with lementable chere.
The maner wich quho lykith for to here
He may it fynd into the holl romans.
Off confessione o pasing cercumstans
I can it not; I am no confessour.
My wyt haith evil consat of that labour,
Quharof I wot I aucht repent me sore.
The King wich was confessit, what is more,
Goith and til his Maister tellith hee
How every syne into his awn degree
He shew that mycht occuryng to his mynde.
"Now," quod the Maistere, "left thow aght behynde
Of Albenak the uorschipful King Ban,
The wich that uas into thy service slan,
And of his wif disherist eft also?
Bot of ther sone, the wich was them fro,
Ne spek Y not." The King in his entent
Abasyt was and furthwith is he went
Agane and to his confessour declarith.
Syne to his Maister he ayane reparith,
To quhome he saith, "I aftir my cunyng
Your ordinans fulfillit in al thing.
And now right hartly Y beseich and prey
Yhe wald vithschaif sumthing to me say
That may me comfort in my gret dreid
And how my men ar falyet in my neid
And of my dreme, the wich that is so dirk."
This Maister saith, "And thow art bound to uirk
At my consail, and if yow has maad
Thi confessione, as yow before hath said,
And in thi conciens thinkith persevere,
As I presume that thow onon shalt here
That God Hymeself shal so for the provide,
Thow shal remayne and in thi ring abyd.
And why thi men ar falyet at this nede,
At short this is the causs, shalt yow nocht dred,
Fore yow to Gode was frawart and perwert.
Thi ryngne and the He thocht for to subvart.
And yow sal knaw na power may recist
In contrar quhat God lykith to assist.
The vertw nore the strenth of victory,
It cummyth not of man, bot anerly
Of Hyme, the wich haith every strinth; and than
If that the waiis plessit Hyme of man,
He shal have forss againe his ennemys.
Aryght agan apone the samyne uyss,
If he displess unto the Lord, he shall
Be to his fais a subjet or a thrall,
As that we may into the Bible red
Tueching the folk He tuk Hymeself to led
Into the lond, the wich He them byhicht.
Ay when thei yhed into His ways richt,
Ther fois gon befor there suerd to nocht;
And when that thei ayanis Hyme hath urocht,
Thei war so full of radur and disspare
That of o leif fleing in the air,
The sound of it haith gart o thousand tak
At onys apone themself the bak
And al ther manhed uterly foryhet,
Sich dreid the Lord apone ther hartis set.
So shalt yow know no powar may withstond
Ther God Hymeself hath ton the causs on hond. 70
And the quhy stant in thyne awn offens
That al thi puple falyhet off defens.
And sum are falyeing magré ther entent;
Thei ar to quhom yow yevyne hath thi rent,
Thi gret reuard, thi richess and thi gold
And cherissith and held in thi houshold.
Bot the most part ar falyheit the at wyll,
To quhome yow haith wnkyndness schawin till,
Wrong and injure and ek defalt of law
And pwnysing of qwhich that thei stand aw,
And makith service but reward or fee,
Syne haith no thonk bot fremmytness of the.
Such folk to the cummyth bot for dred,
Not of fre hart the for to help at nede.
And what avalith owthir sheld or sper
Or horss or armoure according for the were
Uithouten man them for to stere and led?
And man, yow wot, that uantith hart is ded
That into armys servith he of noght.
A coward oft ful mekil harm haith uroght.
In multitude nore yhit in confluens
Of sich is nowther manhed nore defens.
And so thow hath the rewlyt that almost
Of al thi puple the hartis ben ylost
And tynt richt throw thyne awn mysgovernans
Of averice and of thyne errogans.
What is o prince, quhat is o governoure
Withouten fame of worschip and honour?
What is his mycht, suppos he be a lorde,
If that his folk sal nocht to hyme accorde?
May he his rigne, may he his holl empire
Susten al only of his owne desyre
In servyng of his wrechit appetit
Of averice and of his awn delyt
And hald his men wncherist in thraldome?
Nay! that shal sone his hie estat consome,
For many o knycht therby is broght ydoune
All uteraly to ther confusioune.
For oft it makith uther kingis by
To wer on them in trast of victory.
And oft als throw his peple is distroyth
That fyndith them agrevit or anoyth.
And God also oft with His awn swerd
Punysith ther vysis one this erd.
Thus falith not: o king but governans,
Boith realme and he goith oneto myschans."
As thai war thus speking of this thinge,
Frome Galiot cam two knychtis to the King.
That one the King of Hundereth Knychtis was;
That other to nome "The Fyrst-Conquest King" he has
As first that Galyot conquerit of one.
The nerest way oneto the King thei gon,
And up he ross as he that wel couth do
Honor to qwhome that it afferith to.
And yhit he wist not at thei kingis were;
So them thei boith and uyth rycht knyghtly cher
Reverendly thei salust hyme and thane
The King of Hunder Knyghtis he began
And said hyme, "Sir, to yow my lord ws sende,
Galiot, whilk bad ws say he wende
That of this world the uorthiest king wor yhe,
Gretest of men and of awtoritee.
Wharof he has gret wonder that yhe ar
So feblé cummyne into his contrare
For to defend your cuntré and your londe,
And knowith well yhe may hyme nocht withstonde.
Wharfor he thinkith no worschip to conquere
Nore in the weris more to persyvere.
Considdir yowr wakness and yowr indegens, 71
Aganis hyme as now to mak defens.
Wharfore, my lord haith grantit by us here
Trewis to yhow and resput for o yhere,
If that yhow lykith by the yheris space
For to retwrn ayane into this place,
Her to manteine yhour cuntré and withstand
Hyme with the holl power of yhour lond.
And for the tyme the trewis shal endure,
Yhour cuntré and yhour lond he will assurre;
And wit yhe yhit his powar is nocht here.
And als he bad ws say yhow by the yhere
The gud knycht wich that the red armys bure
And in the feild maid the discumfiture,
The whilk the flour of knychthed may be cold,
He thinkith hyme to have of his houshold."
"Well," quod the King, "I have hard quhat yhe say;
But if God will and ek if that I may,
Into sich wyss I think for to withstond,
Yhour lord shall have no powar of my londe."
Of this mesag the King rejosing hass
And of the trewis wich that grantit was,
Bot anoyt yhit of the knycht was he,
Wich thei avant to have in such dogré. 72
Ther leif thei tuk, and when at thei war gon,
This Maister saith, "How lykith God dispone
Now may yhow se and suth is my recorde.
For by Hyme now is makith this accord,
And by non uthir worldly providens
Sauf only grant of His bynevolans,
To se if that the lykith to amend
And to provid thi cuntré to defend.
Wharfor yow shalt into thi lond home fair
And governe the as that I shall declaire:
First, thi God with humble hart yow serfe
And his comand at al thi mycht obserf;
And syne, lat pass the ilk blessit wonde
Of lowe with mercy justly throw thi londe.
And Y beseich to qwhome yow sal direke
The rewle upone the wrangis to correk
That yow be nocht in thi electioune blynde;
For writin it is and yow sal trew it fynde
That be thei for to thonk or ellis blame
And towart God thi part shal be the samm;
Of ignorans shalt yow nocht be excusit, 73
Bot in ther werkis sorly be accusit.
For thow shuld ever chess apone sich wyss
The minsteris that rewll haith of justice:
First, that he be descret til wnderstond
And lowe and ek the mater of the londe,
And be of mycht and ek autoritee--
For puple ay contempnith low degré--
And that of trouth he folow furth the way;
That is als mych as he lovyth trewth alway
And haitith al them the wich sal pas therfro.
Syne, that he God dreid and love also.
Of averice bewar with the desyre,
And of hyme full of hastyness and fyre;
Bewar tharfor of malice and desire
And hyme also that lovith no medyre.
For al this abhominable was hold
When justice was into the tymis olde.
For qwho that is of an of thir byknow, 74
The lest of them subvertith all the low
And makith it wnjustly to procede.
Eschew tharfor, for this sal be thi meid
Apone the day when al thing goith aright,
Whar none excuss hidyng schal the lyght,
But He the Jug, that no man may susspek,
Everything ful justly sal correk.
Bewar tharwith, as before have I told,
And chess them wysly that thi low shal hold.
And als I will that it well oft be sen,
Richt to thiself how thei thi low conten,
And how the right and how the dom is went
For to inquer that yow be delygent.
And punyss sor, for o thing shal yow know,
The most trespas is to subvert the low,
So that yow be not in thar gilt accusit
And frome the froit of blissit folk refusit.
And pas yow shalt to every chef toune
Throwout the boundis of thi regioune
Whar yow sall be, that justice be elyk
Without divisione baith to pur and ryk.
And that thi puple have awdiens
With thar complantis and also thi presens,
For qwho his eris frome the puple stekith
And not his hond in ther support furth rekith,
His dom sall be ful grevous and ful hard
When he sal cry and he sal nocht be hard.
Wharfor thyne eris ifith to the pwre, 75
Bot in redress of ned and not of injure.
Thus sall thei don of ressone and knawlag.
"But kingis when thei ben of tender ag,
Y wil not say I trast thei ben excusit,
Bot schortly thei sall be sar accusit
When so thei cum to yheris of resone
If thei tak not full contrisioune
And pwnyss them that hath ther low mysgyit.
That this is trouth it may not be denyit;
For uther ways thei sal them not discharg
. . . . . . . . . . . .
One estatis of ther realm that shold
Within his youth se that his low be hold.
And thus thow the, with mercy, kep alway
Of justice furth the ilk blessit way.
"And of thi wordis beis trew and stable,
Spek not to mych, nore be not vareable.
O kingis word shuld be o kingis bonde
And said it is, a kingis word shuld stond.
O kingis word, among our faderis old,
Al-out more precious and more sur was hold
Than was the oth or seel of any wight.
O king of trouth suld be the verray lyght, 76
So treuth and justice to o king accordyth.
And als, as thir clerkis old recordith,
"In tyme is larges and humilitee
Right well according unto hie dugré
And plessith boith to God and man also.
Wharfor I wil incontinent thow go
And of thi lond in every part abide,
Whar yow gar fet and clep one every sid 77
Out of thi cuntreis and ek out of thi tounis,
Thi dukis, erlis and thi gret baronis,
Thi pur knychtis and thi bachleris,
And them resauf als hartly as afferis
And be themself yow welcum them ilkon.
Syne, them to glaid and cheris, thee dispone 78
With festing and with humyll contynans.
Be not pensyve, nore proud in arrogans,
Bot with them hold in gladnes cumpany.
Not with the rich nor myghty anerly,
Bot with the pure worthi man also,
With them thow sit, with them yow ryd and go.
I say not to be ovr fameliar,
For, as the most philosephur can duclar,
To mych to oyss familiaritee
Contempnyng bryngith oneto hie dugré;
Bot cherice them with wordis fair depaynt,
So with thi pupelle sal yow the aquaynt.
Than of ilk cuntré wysly yow enquere
An agit knycht to be thi consulere,
That haith ben hold in armys richt famus,
Wyss and discret, and nothing invyus.
For there is non that knowith so wel, iwyss,
O worthy man as he that worthi is.
When well long haith yow swjornyt in a place
And well acqueynt the uith thi puple has,
Than shalt thow ordand and provid the
Of horss and ek of armour gret plenté,
Of gold and silver, tressore and cleithing,
And every riches that longith to o king.
And when the lykith for to tak thi leif,
By largess thus yow thi reward geif,
First to the pure worthy honorable
That is til armys and til manhed able. 79
Set he be pur, yhit worschip in hyme bidith.
If hyme the horss one wich thiselvyne ridith
And bid hyme that he rid hyme for yhour sak;
Syne til hyme gold and silver yow betak:
The horss to hyme for worschip and prowes,
The tresor for his fredome and larges.
If most of riches and of cherising
Eftir this gud knycht berith uitnesing.
Syne to thi tennandis and to thi vavasouris
If essy haknays, palfrais and cursouris,
And robis sich as plesand ben and fair.
Syne to thi lordis, wich at mychty aire,
As dukis, erlis, princis and ek kingis,
Yow if them strang, yow if them uncouth thingis, 80
As diverss jowellis and ek preciouss stonis,
Or halkis, hundis, ordinit for the nonis, 81
Or wantone horss that can nocht stand in stable.
Thar giftis mot be fair and delitable.
Thus first unto the uorthi pur yow if
Giftis that may ther poverté releif,
And to the rich iftis of plesans--
That thei be fair, set nocht of gret substans.
For riches askith nothing bot delyt,
And povert haith ay ane appetyt,
For to support ther ned and indigens.
Thus shall yow if and makith thi dispens.
And ek the Quen, my lady, shalt also
To madenis and to ladeis, quhar yhe go,
If and cheriss one the samyne wyss;
For into largess al thi welfar lyis.
And if thi giftis with sich continans
That thei be sen ay gifyne uith plesans.
The wyss man sais, and suth it is approvit,
Thar is no thonk, thar is no ift alowit,
Bot it be ifyne into sich manere--
That is to say, als glaid into his chere--
As he the wich the ift of hyme resavith;
And do he not, the gifar is dissavith. 82
For who that iffis as he not if wald, 83
Mor profit war his ift for to withhald.
His thonk he tynith and his ift also.
Bot that thow ifith, if with boith two,
That is to say, uith hart and hand atonis.
And so the wys man ay the ift disponis.
Beith larg and iffis frely of thi thing,
For largess is the tresour of o king
And not this other jowellis nor this gold
That is into thi tresory withholde.
Who gladly iffith, be vertew of larges,
His tresory encresis of richess
And sal aganne the mor al-out resave. 84
For he to quhome he gevith sall have
First his body, syne his hart with two,
His gudis al for to dispone also
In his service; and mor atour he shall
Have o thing, and that is best of all:
That is to say, the worschip and the loss
That upone larges in this world furth goss.
And yow shal knaw the lawbour and the press
Into this erth about the gret richess
Is ony bot apone the causs we see
Of met, of cloth, and of prosperitee.
All the remanant stant apone the name
Of purches, furth apone this worldis fame.
And well yow wot, in thyne allegians
Ful many is, the wich haith sufficians
Of everything that longith to ther ned.
What haith yow more, qwich them al to-lede,
For al thi realmys and thi gret riches
If that yow lak of worschip the encress?
Well less al-out, for efter thar estate
Thei have uorschip and kepith it algat;
And yow degradith al thyne hie dugree
That so schuld shyne into nobelitee,
Throuch vys and throw the wrechitness of hart.
And knowis yow not what sall by thi part,
Out of this world when yow sal pass the courss?
Fair well, iwyss; yow never shall recourss
Whar no prince more shall the subjet have
But be als dep into the erd ygrave,
Sauf vertew only and worschip wich abidith
With them, the world apone the laif devidith.
And if he, wich shal eftir the succed,
By larges spend, of quhich that yhow had dreid, 85
He of the world comendit is and prisit,
And yow stant furth of everything dispisit.
"The puple saith and demyth thus of thee:
'Now is he gone, a verray urech was hee,
And he the wich that is our king and lord
Boith vertew haith and larges in accorde.
Welcum be he!' And so the puple soundith.
Thus through thi viss his vertew mor aboundith,
And his vertew the more thi vice furth schawith.
Wharfor yhe, wich that princes ben yknawith,
Lat not yhour urechit hart so yhow dant
That he that cummyth next yhow may avant
To be mor larg, nore more to be commendit;
Best kepit is the riches well dispendit.
O yhe, the wich that kingis ben, fore sham
Remembrith yhow this world hath bot o naamm
Of good or evill, efter yhe ar gone.
And wysly tharfor chessith yhow the tonn
Wich most accordith to nobilitee
And knytith larges to yhour hie degré.
For qwhar that fredome in o prince ringnis,
It bryngith in the victory of kingis
And makith realmys and puple boith to dout
And subectis of the cuntré al about.
And qwho that thinkith ben o conquerour,
Suppos his largess sumquhat pas mysour,
Ne rak he nat bot frely iffith ay; 86
And as he wynyth beis uar alway
To mych nor yhit to gredy that he hold,
Wich sal the hartis of the puple colde
And lov and radour cummyth boith two
Of larges. Reid and yhe sal fynd it so.
Alexander, this lord the warld that wan,
First with the suerd of larges he began
And as he wynith ifith largely;
He rakith nothing bot of chevelry
Wharfor of hyme so passith the renown
That many o cetee and many o strang townn
Of his worschip that herith the recorde
Dissirith so to haveing sich o lorde
And offerith them withouten strok of spere,
Suppos that thei war manly men of were,
But only for his gentilless that thei
Have hard. And so he lovit was alway
For his larges, humilitee and manhed
With his awn folk that nevermore, we reid,
For al his weris nor his gret travell,
In al his tym that thei hyme onys faill.
Bot in his worschip al thar besynes
Thei set and levith into no distres.
Wharthrow the suerd of victory he berith.
And many prince full oft the palm werith,
As has ben hard, by largess of before, 87
In conqueringe of rignis and of glore.
And wrechitnes richt so, in the contrar,
Haith realmys maid ful desolat and bare
And kingis broght doun from ful hie estat,
And who that red ther old bukis wat. 88
The vicis lef, the vertew have in mynde
And takith larges in his awn kynd,
Amyd standing of the vicis two,
Prodegalitee and averice also.
Wharfor herof it nedith not to more,
So mych therof haith clerkis urit tofore.
Bot who the vertw of larges and the law
Sal chess mot ned considir well and knaw
Into hymeself and thir thre wnderstande:
The substans first, the powar of his land
Whome to he iffith and the causs wharfore,
The nedful tyme awatith evermore.
Kepith thir thre; for qwho that sal exced
His rent, he fallith sodandly in nede.
And so the king that onto myster drowis,
His subjettis and his puple he ovrthrawis
And them dispolyeith boith of lond and rent.
So is the king, so is the puple schent.
Forquhi the voice it scrikth up ful evyne 89
Without abaid and passith to the hevyne
Whar God Hymeself resavith ther the crye
Of the oppresioune and the teranny
And uith the suerd of vengans doun ysmytith,
The wich that carvith al to sor and bitith
And hyme distroyth, as has ben hard or this
Of every king that wirkith sich o mys.
For ther is few eschapith them; it sall
Boith upone hyme and his successione fall.
For He, forsuth, haith ifyne hyme the wond 90
To justefy and reull in pece his lond,
The puple all submytit to his cure.
And he agan oneto no creatur
Save only shall unto his Gode obey.
And if he passith so far out of the wey,
Them to oppress, that he shuld reul and gid
Ther heritag, there gwdis to devide,
Ye, wnder whome that he most nedis stond,
At correccioune sal strek his mychty hond,
Not every day, bot shal at onys fall
On hyme, mayhap, and his succescione all.
In this, allace, the blyndis of the kingis
And is the fall of princis and of rygnis.
The most vertew, the gret intellegens,
The blessit tokyne of wysdom and prudens
Iss, in o king, for to restren his honde
Frome his pupleis riches and ther lond.
Mot every king have this vice in mynd
In tyme and not when that he ned fynde.
And in thi larges beith war, I pray,
Of nedful tyme, for than is best alway.
Avyss the ek quhome to that thow salt if,
Of there fam and ek how that thei leif;
And of the vertws and vicious folk also,
I the beseich devidith well thir two
So that thei stond nocht in o degree.
Discreccioune sall mak the diversitee
Wich clepith the moder of al vertewis.
And beith war, I the beseich of this,
That is to say of flatry, wich that longith
To court and al the kingis larges fongith.
The vertuouss man no thing tharof resavith.
The flattereris now so the king dissavith
And blyndith them that wot nothing, iwyss,
When thei do well or quhen thei do omyss,
And latith kingis oft til wnderstonde
Thar vicis and ek the faltis of ther lond.
Into the realme about o king is holde
O flatterere were than is the stormys cold,
Or pestelens, and mor the realme anoyith;
For he the law and puple boith distroyith.
And into principall ben ther three thingis
That caussith flattereris stonding with the kingis:
"And on, it is the blyndit ignorans
Of kingis wich that hath no governans
To wnderstond who doith sich o myss;
But who that farest schewith hym, iwyss,
Most suffisith and best to his plesans. 91
Wo to the realme that havith sich o chans!
"And secundly, quhar that o king is
Veciuss hymeself, he cherissith, ywys,
Al them the wich that oneto vicis soundith
Wharthrow that vicis and flattery ek aboundith.
"The thrid is the ilk schrewit harrmful vice,
Wich makith o king within hymeself so nyce
That al thar flattry and ther gilt he knowith
Into his wit and yhit he hyme withdrowith
Them to repref and of ther vicis he wot; 92
And this it is wich that dissemblyng hot
That in no way accordith for o king.
Is he not set abuf apone his ringne
As soverane his puple for to lede?
Whi schuld he spare or quhom of schuld he dred
To say the treuth, as he of right is hold?
And if so ware that al the kingis wold
When that his legis comytit ony vyce
As beith not to schamful nore to nyce
That thei presume that he is negligent
But als far as he thinkith that they mysswent
But dissemblyng reprevith as afferis
And pwnice them quhar pwnysing requeris,
Sauf only mercy in the tyme of ned.
And so o king he schuld his puple led
That no trespass that cummyth in his way
Shuld pass his hond wnepwnist away,
Nor no good deid into the samyn degree,
Nore no vertew suld wnreuardid bee.
Than flattry shuld, that now is he, be low,
And vice from the kingis court withdrow.
His ministeris that shuld the justice reull
Shuld kep well furth of quiet and reull 93
That now, God wat, as it conservit is,
The stere is lost and al is gon amys.
And vertew shuld hame to the court hyme dress
That exillith goith into the wildernes.
Thus if o king stud lyk his awn degree,
Vertwis and wyss than shuld his puple bee
Only set by vertew hyme to pless
And sore adred his wisdom to displess.
And if that he towart the vicis draw,
His folk sall go on to that ilk law.
What shal hyme pless, thai wil nocht ellis fynd
Bot therapon setith al ther mynde.
Thus only in the vertew of o king
The reull stant of his puple and his ringne,
If he be wyss and, but dissemblyng, schewis,
As I have said, the vicis oneto schrewis. 94
And so thus, sir, it stant apone thi will
For to omend thi puple or to spill,
Or have thi court of vertewis folk or fullis.
Sen yow art holl maister of the scoullis,
Teichith them and thei sal gladly leir--
That is to say, that thei may no thing heir
Sauf only vertew towart thyn estat.
And cheriss them that vertews ben algait.
And thinkith what that vertew is to thee:
It plessith God, uphaldith thi degree."
"Maister," quod he, "me think rycht profitable
Yowr conseell is and wonder honorable
For me and good. Rycht well I have consavit
And in myne hartis inwartness resavit.
I shall fulfill and do yowr ordynans
Als far of wit as I have suffisans.
Bot Y beseich yow intil hartly wyss
That of my drem yhe so to me devyss,
The wich so long haith occupeid my mynd,
How that I shal no maner sucour fynd
Bot only throw the wattir lyon and syne
The leich that is withouten medysyne;
And of the consell of the flour; wich ayre
Wonderis lyk that no man can duclar."
"Now, sir," quod he, "and I of them al thre
What thei betakyne shal I schaw to the.
Such as the clerkis at them specefiit,
Thei usit nothing what thei signefiit. 95
The wattir lyone is the God verray.
God to the lyone is lyknyt many way;
But thei have Hyme into the wattir senn;
Confusit were ther wittis al, Y wenn.
The wattir was ther awn fragelitee
And thar trespas and thar inequitee
Into this world, the wich thei stond yclosit; 96
That was the wattir wich thei have supposit
That haith there knowlag maad so inperfyt.
Thar syne and ek ther worldis gret delyt, 97
As clowdy wattir was evermore betwenn
That thei the lyone perfitly hath nocht senn,
Bot as the wattir wich was ther awn synne
That evermor thei stond confusit in.
If thei haith stond into religionn clen,
Thei had the lyone not in watter sen
Bot clerly up into the hevyne abuf,
Eternaly whar He shal not remufe.
And evermore in uatter of syne was Hee,
Forquhi it is imposseble for to bee.
And thus the world, wich that thei ar in
Yclosit is in dyrknes of ther syne;
And ek the thikness of the air betwen
The lyone mad in uattir to be sen.
For it was nocht bot strenth of ther clergy
Wich thei have here (and it is bot erthly)
That makith them there resouns devyss
And se the lyone thus in erthly wyss.
This is the lyone, God and Goddis Sone,
Jhesu Crist, wich ay in hevyne sal wonne.
For as the lyone of every best is king,
So is He lord and maister of al thing,
That of the Blessit Vyrgyne uas ybore.
Ful many a natur the lyone haith, quharfore
That he to God resemblyt is, bot I
Lyk not mo at this tyme specify.
This is the lyone--tharof have yow no dred--
That shal the help and comfort in thi ned.
"The sentens here now woll I the defyne
Of Hyme, the Lech withouten medysyne,
Wich is the God that everything hath uroght.
For yow may know that uther is it noght
As surgynis and fesicianis, wich that delith
With mortell thingis and mortell thingis helyth
And al thar art is into medysyne,
As it is ordanit be the mycht devyne,
As plasteris, drinkis, and anounytmentis seir,
And of the qualyté watyng of the yher
And of the planetis disposicioune
And of the naturis of compleccyoune,
And in the diverss changing of hwmowris.
Thus wnder reull lyith al there cwris.
And yhit thei far as blynd man in the way,
Oft quhen that deith thar craft list to assay.
Bot God, the wich that is the soveran Lech,
Nedith no maner medysyne to sech;
For ther is no infyrmyté nore wound
Bot as Hyme lykith al is holl and sound.
So can He heill infyrmytee of thoght,
Wich that one erdly medesyne can noght.
And als the saul that to confusioune goith
And haith with hyme and uther parteis boith, 98
His dedly wound God helyth frome the ground.
Onto his cure no medysyne is found.
This is His mycht that nevermore shall fyne,
This is the Leich withouten medysyne.
And if that yhow at confessioune hath ben
And makith the of al thi synnis clen,
Yow art than holl and this ilk samyn is He
Schall be thi leich in al necessitee.
"Now of the flour Y woll to the discernn.
This is the flour that haith the froyt eternn;
This is the flour, this fadith for no schour;
This is the flour of every flouris floure;
This is the flour of quhom the Froyt uas bornn;
This ws redemyt efter that we war lornn;
This is the flour that ever spryngith new;
This is the flour that changith never hew;
This is the Vyrgyne; this is the blessit flour
That Jhesu bur that is our Salveour,
This flour wnwemmyt of hir virginitee;
This is the flour of our felicitee;
This is the flour to quhom ue shuld exort;
This is the flour not sessith to support
In prayere, consell, and in byssynes
Us catifis ay into our wrechitnes
Onto hir Sone, the quich hir consell herith;
This is the flour that al our gladness sterith,
Throuch whois prayer mony one is savit,
That to the deth eternaly war resavit
Ne war hir hartly suplicatioune;
This is the flour of our salvatioune,
Next hir Sone, the froyt of every flour;
This is the sam that shal be thi succour
If that the lykith hartly reverans
And service yeld oneto hir excellens,
Syne worschip hir with al thi byssyness.
Sche sal thi harm, sche sall thi ned redress.
Sche sal sice consell if oneto the two,
The Lyone and the soverane Lech also,
Yow sall not ned thi dremm for to dispar
Nor yhit no thing that is in thi contrare.
Now," quod the Maister, "yow may well wnderstand
Tueching thi drem as I have born on hande
And planly haith the mater al declarith
That yhow may know of wich yow was disparith.
The Lech, the Lyone, and the flour also,
Yow worschip them, yow serve them evermo
And ples the world as I have said before.
In governans thus stondith al thi glore.
Do as yow list, for al is in thi honde
To tyne thiself, thi honore and thi londe
Or lyk o prince, o conquerour or king
In honore and in worschip for to ringe."
"Now," quod the King, "I fell that the support
Of yhour consell haith don me sich comfort,
Of every raddour my hart is into ess;
To yhour command, God will, Y sal obess.
Bot o thing is yneuch wnto me:
How Galiot makith his avant that he
Shall have the knycht that only by his honde
And manhed was defendour of my londe,
If that shall fall Y pray yhow tellith me,
And quhat he hecht and of quhat lond is hee."
"What that he hecht, yow shall no forther know;
His dedis sall herefterwart hyme schaw.
Bot contrar the he shall be found no way.
No more tharof as now Y will the say."
With that the King haith at his Maistir tone
His leve, oneto his cuntré for to gonne.
And al the ost makith none abyde
To passing home anone thei can provid. 99
And to Sir Gawane thei haith o lytter maad,
Ful sore ywound, and hyme on with them haade. 100
The King, as that the story can declar,
Passith to o ceté that was right fair
And clepit Cardole, into Walis was,
For that tyme than it was the nerest place
And thar he sojornyt twenty-four days
In ryall festing, as the auttore says.
So discretly his puple he haith cherit
That he thar hartis holy haith conquerit.
And Sir Gawan, helyt holl and sound
Be fiftene dais he was of every wounde.
Right blyth therof into the court war thei
And so befell the twenty-fourth day
The King to fall into o hevynes
Right ate his table siting at the mess.
And Sir Gawan cummyth hyme before
And saide hyme, "Sir, yhour thoght is al to sore,
Considering the diverss knychtis sere
Ar of wncouth and strang landis here."
The King ansuert, as into matalent,
"Sir, of my thocht or yhit of myne entent
Yhe have the wrang me to repref; forquhy
Thar levith none that shuld me blam, for I
Was thinkand one the worthiest that levyt
That al the worschip into armys prevyt,
And how the thonk of my defens he had
And of the vow that Galiot haith mad.
But I have sen, when that of my houshold
Thar was, and of my falowschip, that wold
If that thei wist, quhat thing shuld me pless,
Thei wald nocht leif for travell nor for ess.
And sumtyme it preswmyt was and said
That in my houshold of al this world I had
The flour of knychthed and of chevalry.
Bot now tharof Y se the contrarye,
Sen that the flour of knychthed is away."
"Schir," quod he, "of resone suth yhe say;
And if God will, in al this warld so round
He sal be soght, if that he may be found."
Than Gawan goith with o knychtly chere;
At the hal dure he saith in this maner:
"In this pasag who lykith for to wend?
It is o jorné most for to comend
That in my tyme into the court fallith,
To knyghtis wich that chevellry lovith
Or travell into armys for to hant.
And lat no knycht fra thynefurth hyme avant 101
That it denyith." With that onon thei ross,
Al the knychtis, and frome the burdis goss.
The King that sauch, into his hart was wo
And said, "Sair Gawan, nece, why dois yow so?
Knowis yow nocht I myne houshold suld encress
In knychthed and in honore and largess?
And now yow thinkith mak me dissolat
Of knychtis and my houss transulat
To sek o knycht and it was never more
Hard sich o semblé makith o before." 102
"Sir, quod he, "als few as may yhow pless,
For what I said was nothing for myne ess,
Nor for desir of falouschip, forwhy
To pass alone, but cumpany, think I,
And ilk knycht to pass o sundry way.
The mo thei pass the fewar eschef thay,
Bot thus shal pas no mo bot as yhow lest."
"Takith," quod he, "of quhom yhe lykith best,
Fourty in this pasag for to go."
At this command and Gawan chesit so
Fourty, quhich that he lovit and that was
Richt glaid into his falowschip to pas.
And furth thei go, and al anarmyt thei
Come to the King, withouten more delay,
The relykis brocht, as was the maner tho
When any knyghtis frome the court suld go.
Or when the passit, or quhen thei com, thei swor 103
The trouth to schaw of every adventur.
Sir Gawan knelyng to his falowis sais,
"Yhe lordis, wich that in this seking gais,
So many noble and worthi knychtis ar yhe,
Methink in vayne yhour travel shuld nocht be;
For adventur is non so gret to pref,
As I suppone, nor yhe sal it esschef. 104
And, if yhe lyk, as I that shal devyss
Yhour oth to swer, into the samyne wyss,
Myne oith to kep." And that thei undertak,
However so that he his oith mak
It to conserf, and that thei have all swornn.
Than Gawan, wich that was the King beforn,
On kneis swore, "I sal the suth duclar
Of everything when I agan repar
Nor never more aghane sal I returnn
Nore in o place long for to sujornn
Whill that the knycht or verray evydens
I have, that shal be toknis of credens."
His falouschip abasit of that thing
And als therof anoyt was the King,
Saying, "Nece, yow haith al foly uroght
And wilfulness that haith nocht in thi thoght
The day of batell of Galot and me."
Quod Gawan, "Now non other ways ma be."
Tharwith he and his falowschip also
Thar halmys lasit; onto ther horss thei go,
Syne tuk ther lef and frome the court the fare. 105
Thar names ware to long for to declar.
Now sal we leif hyme and his cumpany
That in thar seking passith bissely;
And of the Lady of Melyhalt we tell,
With whome the knycht mot ned alway duell.
O day she mayd hyme onto hir presens fet 106
And on o sege besid hir haith hyme set.
"Sir, in keping I have yow halding long,"
And thus sche said, "for gret trespas and wrong,
Magré my stewart, in worschip, and forthi
Yhe suld me thonk." "Madem," quod he, "and I
Thonk yhow so that ever, at my mycht,
Wharso I pass that I sal be yhour knycht."
"Grant mercy, sir, bot o thing I yow pray,
What that yhe ar yhe wold vichsauf to say."
"Madem," quod he, "yhour mercy ask I, quhy
That for to say apone no wyss may I."
"No! Wil yhe not? Non other ways as now
Yhe sal repent, and ek I mak avow
Oneto the thing the wich that I best love,
Out frome my keping sal yhe not remuf
Befor the day of the assemblee,
Wich that, o yher, is nerest for to bee.
And if that yow haith plessit for to say 107
Yhe had fore me deliverit ben this day;
And I sal knaw, quhether yhe wil or no,
For I furthwith oneto the court sal go
Whar that al thithingis goith and cumyth sonn."
"Madem," quod he, "yhour plesance mot be donne."
With that the knycht oneto his chalmer goith
And the lady hir makith to be wroith
Aganis hyme, but suthly uas sche not,
For he al-out was mor into hir thoght.
Than schapith she agane the ferd day
And richly sche gan hirself aray,
Syne clepit haith apone hir cusynes
And saith, "Y will oneto the court me dress.
And malice I have schawin onto yhon knycht
Forquhy he wold nocht schew me quhat he hicht;
Bot so, iwyss, it is nocht in my thocht,
For worthyar non into this erth is wrocht. 108
Tharfor I pray and hartly I requer
Yhe mak hyme al the cumpany and chere
And do hyme al the worschip and the ess,
Excep his honore, wich that may hym pless.
And quhen I cum, deliverith hyme als fre
As he is now." "Ne have no dred," quod sche.
The lady partit and hir lef hath ton,
And by hir jorné to the court is gon.
The King hapnit at Logris for to bee,
Wich of his realme was than the chef ceté,
And haith hir met and intil hartly wyss
Resavit her and welcummyt oftsyss
And haith hir home oneto his palice brocht,
Whar that no danté nedith to be socht,
And maid hir cher with al his ful entent. 109
Eft supir oneto o chalmer ar thei went,
The King and sche and ek the Quen--al thre.
Of hir tithandis at hir than askit hee
And what that hir oneto the court had brocht.
"Sir," quod sche, "I conne not al for nocht;
I have o frend haith o dereyne ydoo, 110
And I can fynd none able knycht tharto.
For he the wich that in the contrar is
Is hardy, strong and of gret kyne, iwyss.
Bot it is said if I mycht have with me
Your knycht quich in the last assemblé
Was in the feld and the red armys bur,
In his manhed Y mycht my causs assur.
And yhow, sir, richt hartly I exort
Into this ned my myster to support."
"Madem, by faith oneto the Quen I aw,
That I best love, the knycht I never saw
In nerness by which that I hyme knew;
And ek Gawane is gan hyme for to sew
With other fourty knychtis into cumpany."
The lady smylit at ther fantessy.
The Quen tharwith presumyt wel that sche
Knew quhat he was and said, "Madem, if yhe
Knowith of hyme what that he is or quhar,
We yhow besech til ws for to declar."
"Madem," quod sche, "now, be the faith that I
Aw to the King and yhow, as for no why
To court I cam but of hyme to inquere;
And sen of hyme I can no tithingis here,
Nedlyngis tomorn homwart mon I fair." 111
"Na," quod the King, "madem, ovr son it waire.
Yhe sal remayne her for the Qwenys sak;
Syne shal yhe of our best knychtis tak."
"Sir," quod sche, "I pray yow me excuss,
Forquhy to pass nedis me behuss. 112
Nor, sen I want the knycht which I have socht,
Wtheris with me to have desir I nocht,
For I of otheris have that may suffice."
Bot yhit the King hir prayt on sich wyss
That sche remanit whill the thrid day,
Syne tuk hir leif to pasing hom hir way.
It nedis not the festing to declar
Maid oneto hir nor company nor fare.
Sche had no knycht, sche had no damyseill
Nor thei richly rewardit war and well.
Now goith the lady homwart and sche
In her entent desyrus is to see
The flour of knychthed and of chevelry:
So was he prysit and hold to every wy.
The lady, which oneto hir palace come,
Bot of schort time remanith haith at home
When sche gart bryng, withouten recidens, 113
With grete effere this knycht to hir presens
And said hyme, "Sir, so mekil have I socht
And knowith that befor I knew nocht,
That if yhow lyk I wil yhour ransone mak."
"Madem, gladly, wil yhe vichsauf to tak
Efter that as my powar may attenn 114
Or that I may provid be ony menn."
"Now, sir," sho said, "forsuth it sal be so:
Yhe sal have thre and chess yhow on of tho. 115
And if yhow lykith them for to refuss
I can no mor, but yhe sal me excuss;
Yhe nedis mot susten yhour adventur
Contynualy inward for til endur." 116
"Madem," quod he, "and I yhow hartly pray
What that thei say yhe wald vichsauf to say."
"The first," quod sche, "who hath into the chenn
Of lov yhour hart, and if yhe may derenn.
The next, yhour nam, the which ye sal not lye.
The thrid, if ever yhe think of chevalry
So mekil worschip to atten in feild
Apone o day in armys wnder scheld
As that yhe dyd the samyne day when yhe
In red armys was at the assemblee."
"Madem," quod he, "is thar non uther way
Me to redem but only thus to say
Of thingis which that rynyth me to blam,
Me to avant my lady or hir name?
But if that I most schawin furth that one,
What suerté schal I have for to gone
At libertee out of this danger free?"
"Schir, for to dred no myster is," quod shee;
"As I am trew and fathfull woman hold,
Yhe sal go fre quhen one of thir is told."
"Madem, yhour will non uther ways I may,
I mone obey. And to the first Y say,
As to declar the lady of myne hart,
My gost sal rather of my brest astart."
(Wharby the lady fayndit al for nocht
The love quhich long hath ben into her thocht.)
"And of my nam, schortly for to say,
It stondith so that one no wyss I may.
Bot of the thrid, madem, I se that I
Mon say the thing that tuechith velany. 117
For suth it is I trast, and God before,
In feld that I sal do of armys more
Than ever I did, if I commandit bee.
And now, madem, I have my libertee,
For I have said I never thocht to say."
"Now, sir," quod sche, "whenever yhe wil, ye may;
Bot o thing is, I yhow hartly raquer,
Sen I have hold yhow apone such maner,
Not as my fo, that yhe uald grant me till."
"Madem," quod he, "it sal be as yhe will."
"Now, sir," quod sche, "it is nothing bot yhe
Remann with ws wnto the assemblé,
And everythyng that in yhour myster lyis
I sall gar ordan at yhour awn devyss. 118
And of the day I shall yow certefy
Of the assemblé yhe sal not pas therby."
"Madem," quod he, "It sal be as yhow list."
"Now sir," quod sche, "and than I hald it best
That yhe remann lyk to the samyne degré
As that yhe war, that non sal wit that yhe
Deliverit war. And into sacret wyss
Thus may yhe be. And now yhe sal devyss
What armys that yhow lykyth I gar mak."
"Madem," quod he, "armys al of blak."
With this, this knycht is to his chalmer gonn.
The lady gan ful prevaly disspone
For al that longith to the knycht in feild.
Al blak his horss, his armour, and his scheld;
That nedful is, al thing sche well previdith.
And in hir keping thus with hir he bidith.
Suppos of love sche takyne hath the charg,
Sche bur it clos. Therof sche uas not larg; 119
Bot wysly sche abstenit hir dissir,
For ellisquhat, sche knew, he was afyre.
Tharfor hir wit hir worschip haith defendit,
For in this world thar was nan mor commendit,
Boith of discreccioune and of womanhed,
Of governans, of nurtur, and of farhed. 120
This knycht with hir thus al this whil mon duell,
And furth of Arthur sumthing wil we tell--
That walkyng uas furth into his regiounis
And sojornyt in his ceteis and his townis
As he that had of uisdome sufficyans.
He kepit the lore of Maister Amytans
In ryghtwysnes, in festing and larges,
In cherising cumpany and hamlynes.
For he was bissy and was deligent,
And largly he iffith and dispent
Rewardis, boith oneto the pur and riche
And holdith fest throw al the yher eliche. 121
In al the warld passing gan his name;
He chargit not bot of encress and famme
And how his puples hartis to empless.
Thar gladnes ay was to his hart most ess.
He rakith not of riches nor tressour
Bot to dispend one worschip and honour.
He ifith riches, he ifith lond and rent,
He cherissyth them with wordis eloquent
So that thei can them utraly propone
In his service thar lyves to dispone,
So gladith themme his homely contynans,
His cherisyng, his wordis of plesans,
His cumpany and ek his mery chere,
His gret rewardis and his iftis sere.
Thus hath the King non uthir besynes
Bot cherising of knychtis and largess
To mak hymeself of honour be commend.
And thus the yher he dryvith to the ende.
safe; spirit diligently
Who saw; leapt up
In; had been born
in (i.e., from); expected
Between; a heartfelt
He was not a clergyman
called; (see note)
pavilion; grassy field
greeted him cordially
in return, as if he were annoyed
greeting nor of you
contrary to my comfort
(see note); whirlpool
strong (i.e., fierce)
wrath; you soon
shall strike down
as you yourself know
all comes only from
from you; ancestors'
as an inheritance
begotten in wedlock
as far as you can
under your authority
various; (see note)
rule and govern
restrain under the law
allow; be ruined
In the absence of
widows also; much
accounting; demand; (see note)
From you; bitter accounting
Their; in righteousness
[thai=the poor]; ruin
poor; (see note)
inflict pain on them
in your grandeur
face of the earth
are left forsaken
has become your enemy
have you lost
must; honor lose
afterwards [go]; end
grant; to give me
act according to it
concerns your conscience
First of all; end
Then; to confess yourself
advise about your sin
Done by you to
in your heart
To confess; hear
Searched his memory; (see note)
in the whole romance; (see note)
a wealth of details
I know it not
poorly conceived of
For which I know
sin in its own turn
told that might occur
slain; (see note)
deprived of her inheritance
in his heart
according to my skill
turned away; perverse
Against; (see note)
Indeed; in the same way
promised; (see note)
Always; went in
a leaf floating
[take the back upon oneself=flee]
in spite of
given; (see note)
failed you deliberately
without; (see note)
only out of fear
suitable for the war
govern and lead
you know; lacks
So that in
courage nor protection
be in sympathy
unloved in servitude
make war; assurance
also through [i.e., by]
knew how to do
is suitable to
yet; knew not that
demeanor; (see note)
who bade us; thought
inadequately; against him
honor in conquering you
Truce; respite; a year
it pleases you; year's time
also; within the year
caused the defeat
heard what you
In such a way
it pleases; to arrange
Except; favor; benevolence
it pleases you
with all your might
then; very; scepter
Both law; also; nature
follows directly the path
stray from it [truth]
Then [i.e., secondly]
are set right
Judge; have doubts about
greatest fault; law
distinction; poor; rich
reasonably and knowingly
the age of reason
free from guilt
be kept; (see note)
once it is said
oath or seal; person
want you to go immediately
poor; (see note)
receive; as is fitting
individually; each one
feasting; humble behavior
ride and walk
greatest; declared; (see note)
each; seek out
held to be
prepare; provide yourself
it pleases you; leave
With generosity; give
Although; poor; resides
Give gentle; (see note)
who are powerful
Such as unusual gems
gifts of pleasure
Give; show favor
give; such bearing
always to be given gladly
it is proven true
thanks; gift recognized
given in such
as glad in his demeanor
it would be; gift
thanks; loses; gift
what you give give
this way; gift grants
generous; give liberally
honor and the fame
who have enough
all the while
make your way
indeed; return from
as deeply in the earth buried
Except for; lives on
who shall after you
vice; is magnified
who; are known to be
after you may boast
one name [for you]
thinks to be
Though; surpass moderation
prospers is always on guard
who conquered the world
conquers gives generously
cares; but for
which hears the report
Although; were; war
to his honor all their effort
devote; desert [him]
to [say] more
choose must necessarily
these three [things]
To whom he gives
into poverty draws
commits such an offense
few who escape
make justice in
time of need
their reputation; love
distinguish between; these
is called; mother
flattery; is native
who know; indeed
prevent; from understanding
And mainly are there
one [i.e., the first]
commits such an offense
such a fate
Evil; loves indeed
have to do with vices
is appropriate to
it were; (see note)
Without; as is appropriate
punishment is necessary
Except only for [granting]
by the same token
home; make his way
was as he should be
fixed on virtue
it is dependent on
Except; about your position
virtuous; at all times
it seems to me
inner recess received
in a heartfelt way
watery lion; then
signify; reveal to you
watery lion; true God
comparable in many ways
own moral weakness
beast; (see note)
by the divine power
(see note); cures
fare; on the road
death; chooses to test
healed and cured
then healed; very same
flower; to you explain
wretches always in
many a one
would be consigned
Were it not for her heartfelt
After her Son
it pleases you heartily
such advice give
to your misfortune
as I have asserted
were in despair
moral control; glory
it pleases you
shall come about
opposed to you
for; litter made
called; in; (see note)
royal feasting; author
healed healthy and well
unknown and foreign
as if in anger
thinking; who lives
leave; (see note)
reasonably the truth
journey most commendable
travail in arms to practice
saw in; sad
intend to make me deprived
not for my comfort
each; go; different
no more than you like
on this expedition
then Gawain chose
relics; then; (see note)
who go on this quest
It seems to me; effort
say; (see note)
To keep it
before the King
proof of validity
was upset with
There were too many names
quest go diligently
must necessarily; dwell
Despite my steward; therefore
as far as I am able
Who you are; grant
in no way
Not otherwise for now
as far as I am concerned
pretended to be angry
she prepared for the fourth
called; female relative
reveal; is called
heartily I request
befriend and entertain him
Saving his honor
leave has taken
on her journey
chanced; (see note)
in a heartfelt manner
Received; many times
chamber have they gone
news from her
in the opposition
of noble birth
the faith I owe the Queen
who he was
who he is or where
since; news hear
too soon; would be
since I lack
begged in such a way
go on her way home
the people; the circumstances
But that they; were
esteemed; (see note)
if you would vouchsafe
by any means
tolerate your fate
in the chain
if you may say
much honor to attain
In one day
incur blame on me
boast about; (see note)
you wish [to go]
but that you
that you need
you shall not miss it
as it pleases you
in the same condition
Freed; in a secret way
I have made
Whatever is needed
followed the instruction
feasting and generosity
generously; gave and dispensed
spread his reputation
cared only for
the greatest pleasure
cares not for
Except to dispense for
utterly offer themselves
make disposition of
because of honor commended
Go to Lancelot of the Laik, Book III