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Sir Tristrem, Part III


1 Unless he cause my torment to cease

2 Among the people it was not hidden (i.e., it was no secret; it was well known).

3 Through coats of mail the blood spewed

4 He did not know whom to blame for it

5 It [his heart] would have burst through blood and bone

6 To learn the ins and outs of [his] story

7 He did not stop [searching] because of that

8 He [Rohand] asked him [Tristrem] directly

9 As soon as he looked at it

10 He commended them to God and [said] good day

11 They advised the King to rid [himself of a problem]

12 You say I prevent my uncle from taking a wife

13 They didn't care who the man might be / In all the world / Who might slay him [the dragon] or who knew how to; / He would have Ysonde as a reward.

14 She asked for the drink from Ireland

15 Do not forsake for any payment / Doing that deed

16 And asked advice about those two [alternatives]

17 Tristrem came just / As Isolt had [gone] away

18 To go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem

19 [It would have been] good if you had commanded me

20 If [only] I dared, [but I don't] because of the King

21 But though I thought [myself] to die [as a result]

22 Except for the one [who] carried me to the ship

23 Neither of them might be sated with the other

24 They do not care about such sexual play

25 He [the Duke] offered him [Tristrem], in truth

26 Her hope [of receiving Tristrem's love] lasted so long [without fulfillment]

27 Without his [the giant's] waiting for him [for combat]

28 It seemed as if they were not images / Standing there

29 One of us shall lose his life-blood

30 For what action do you blame her

31 He was sorry, that noble young man

32 As a man who may do much (i.e., who is rich or powerful)


1 In the manuscript, a large capital I begins the romance. Large capitals also appear at the beginning of lines 34, 276, 452, 529, 573, 771, 1211, 1255, 1442, 1541, 1629, 1805, 1926, 2014, 2047, 2267, 2751, 2850, 3235, and 3290.

Because of damage to the manuscript, probably due, as Scott suggests, to the cutting out of an illumination, the end of the first line is missing. However, the entire line appears as a catchphrase on the preceding page.

Ertheldoun is Erceldoune, a village in Berwickshire, Scotland.

2 The Tomas referred to here (and again in lines 10, 397, 412 and 2787) as the purported source of the story of Sir Tristrem is Thomas of Erceldoune (fl. ?1220-?1297), a poet and prophet who is said to have predicted the death of the King of Scotland, Alexander III. Another work attributed to him but written long after his death is The Romance and Prophecies of Thomas of Erceldoune, edited by James A. H. Murray for the Early English Text Society (o.s. no. 61) in 1875.

3 The MED cites this line as an example of the use of the phrase in roune meaning "secretly" or "mysteriously." These meanings seem not to fit the context. The word probably has the meaning of "poem" or "song" in this context, and the author is here merely using the convention of citing an authority for his work.

20 McNeill notes that to abide is used here as "a mere expletive, which cannot be adequately translated."

23 McNeill notes that "Rouland" should be read for the manuscript reading of "Morgan," though he does not make the emendation in his text. I have followed Kölbing in making the emendation.

24 On Morgan, see the note to line 74.

39 Earlier editors agree on reading pouer as "the poor"; but it might also mean "the military force" or "the army."

44 On Rouland Rise (and also Rouland Riis on line 49), W. W. Skeat ("The Romance of Sir Tristrem," Scottish Historical Review 6 [1909], 59) says the "Rise" or "Riis" "is obviously the Welsh name Rhys, which has been Englished both as Reece and Rice."

74 Ermonie (which appears again in lines 762, 807, and 906, and as "Hermonie" in lines 532 and 849) as Tristrem's heritage is discussed at length by Ernst Brugger ("Almain and Ermonie as Tristan's Home," MP 25 [1927-28], 269-290). He suggests that in the Norse version of Thomas's story,
Ermenia, Tristram's home, was a town and port in Brittany. Tristram was therefore a Breton as well as his enemy, Duke Morgan. . . . The English translation [i.e., Sir Tristrem] does not go so much into details as the Saga, is more vague in its geographical indications, but generally confirms, or does not contradict, those about Tristram's home in the Saga. Ermenie is not yet a town. Navigation is necessary for passing from King Mark's court in England to Ermenie or vice versa. . . . Brittany . . . may have been thought of as adjacent to Ermonie and to the country of Duke Morgan, though this is not expressly stated . . . (pp. 272-273).
Brugger also suggests, however, that if Ermonie is original to the Tristan story, which he considers to have a Pictish origin, "Ermenie" should be identified with "Manann-Manau in Scotland" and goes on to say that a "confusion of Ermenie=Manann with Ermenie=Brittany . . . may have been the reason why Thomas transplanted Tristan's home from Scotland to the Continent; but I am inclined to think that this shifting was rather caused by the ambiguity of the name Bretaigne" (p. 289).

In another article ("Loenois as Tristan's Home," MP 22 [1924-25], 159-191), Brugger discusses the location of Tristan's home given in the Beroul (as opposed to the Thomas) tradition and identifies this place, Loenois or Lyonas, as Lothian, which he considers "far more important than Ermenie" (p. 190) because closer to what he sees as the Pictish origin of the legend.

80-81 The verse form and the sense suggest that there has been an omission by the scribe of two lines at this point.

95 Here and elsewhere throughout the manuscript, gan is an auxiliary verb indicating the past tense. Thus "gan he wende" means "he went."

146 The goinfainoun or "gonfalon" is a small pennon, here raised on the mast, or, as in line 173, suspended beneath the steel head of a knight's lance.

176-77 The paragraph mark used by the scribe to indicate new stanzas is erroneously placed before line 176, rather than before line 177, where the new stanza actually begins.

189 I follow Kölbing in emending the manuscript reading "Of" to "On."

247-49 The meaning of these lines is that Rohand, the steward of Tristrem's father Rouland, goes to his own wife's childbed and claims that his wife had two children, one of whom is Tristrem. Perhaps wiif is best taken as a dative form: he went "to his own wife" in her childbed. Rohand pretends the child is his own to protect Tristrem from his father's enemy Morgan. As part of the deception, he adopts the strategy referred to in lines 252-53 of disguising his name by reversing the syllables. In other versions of the legend, this strategy is adopted by Tristrem himself when he goes to Ireland in order that his identity as the slayer of the brother of the Queen of Ireland will not be revealed.

272 McNeill glosses held his hert in an as "kept his heart in one (i.e., in equanimity, repressing his sorrow)." Kölbing glosses "hielt sein herz in gleicher stummung, d.h. unterdrükte seinem kummer" (held his heart in constant temper, that is, suppressed his grief). The sense is clearly that Rohand did not wear his heart on his sleeve.

291 McNeill's note summarizes the opinions of the previous editors on this line:
This line defies interpretation as it stands. Scott in his glossary gives "Thede, apparently a contraction for they gede." But, as Kölbing points out, such a conjecture is untenable. Kölbing suggests that thede may be equivalent to the Old English theód, and proposes to read -

And everich play in thede,

which would have the same sense as in lede in verse 64, so that the line would mean every game known to the people - every game in the country.
The sense of the line is surely something like: he taught him "the manner of playing of every nation" of the old law and the new. Such a reading might be achieved without emendation if "thede" is taken as a genitive form. The Old English "theód," from which the Middle English word derives, is a feminine noun which would have a genitive in -e, so it is possible to read "thede" as a genitive form in this line.

297 W. W. Skeat ("The Romance of Sir Tristrem," Scottish Historical Review 6 [1909]: 61) says of Manerious: "the great puzzle is the wonderful name Manerious, which no one (says the note [i.e., McNeill's note]) can explain. However, I explained it once somewhere some years ago. It should rather be Manerius; and it is nothing but the Old Norman and Middle English word Manére, touched up with a Latin suffix to imitate its original. For what is its original? It is merely a French translation, meaning 'manner,' of the Latin name Modus. But what is meant by Modus? It is to be feared that its fame has departed; yet it was at that time one of the most famous of all works, as well known as the Roman de la Rose, or as the name of Newton is now to the students of science. Le Livre du Roi Modus et de la Reine Reson (The Book of King Manner and Queen Reason) was the chief authority on this very subject of 'venery' or hunting, containing all the precious terms of the chase and all the directions for the cutting up of the deer which, as the Romance informs us, Sir Tristrem knew so well. If he really knew more of hunting terms than even King Manner, he had great reason to be proud."

Skeat's explanation seems preferable to that of A. E. H. Swaen (Anglia 41 [1917], 182), who suggests reading "the puzzling name as Manuredus, i.e. Manfredus. Manfred, king of Sicily, wrote additional chapters to the Emperor Frederick the Second's famous treatise on falconry."

313 The OED notes that "aire" (of which air in this line is a variant) is "the earlier equivalent of aerie."

322The MED entry on the word "assise" (of which asise in this line is a variant spelling) refers to H. J. R. Murray's A History of Chess (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913) p. 455, for an explanation of the term in this context. Murray writes: "In the Middle Ages there was no tribunal whose word on the game of chess could be final. All attempts at the improvement of the game were from the necessity of the case individual at the outset, and each had to win its way to universal or national acceptance. Hence the first result of such attempts was a loss of uniformity, and the rise of local rules which differentiated the game of one locality from that of another. It took time for a happy improvement discovered perhaps in Spain to reach Germany, England, or Iceland, and all the modifications did not commend themselves to players in other countries. This led to the growth of what were called Assizes, the different codes of rules by which chess was played in different places or at different times. Thus we hear of the Lombard assize - the rules of the game as played by the famous players of Lombardy. We also hear in England of the long and short assizes, of which the former would appear to have been the ordinary mediaeval game, and the latter a game commencing from a different and more advanced arrangement of the pieces. We have a reference to the former in the Scotch version of the Tristram romance, Sir Tristrem . . . ."

325 The manuscript reads "Tristem." I have emended to "Tristrem." McNeill observes that "the sense of this and the following lines is very obscure. They seem to mean that Tristrem, doing as the wise do, looks upon the hawks on the one part, and the money on the other, as two separate parts, and lets the captain of the ship win as much money as he himself wins hawks." The problem with this interpretation is that in lines 340-41 we learn that Tristrem won 100 pounds. The MED, citing this line, glosses "delen a twinne" as "?act in two ways, work toward a double goal." However, in other instances cited by the MED the phrase means merely "to separate"; and it is possible that all that is meant is that Tristrem sets himself apart from Rohand in the process of playing the game. Lines 326-28, however, do seem to suggest that Tristrem plays wisely by allowing his opponent to win sometimes.

384 Kölbing glosses weder as "wetter" ("storm" or "bad weather" and McNeill glosses it as "weather"; but it seems to make as much or more sense to read it as "whither" or "wherever."

397 McNeill reads tho as "they, in the indefinite sense of people in general." It seems, however, that assigning it its more normal meaning of "then" yields better sense.

403-07 McNeill says that the sense of these difficult lines seems to be: "Whoever can say anything better (tell the story in a better manner), may say what he has to say (his owhen) here like a courteous man. But let each man praise what is pleasant to him at the end - i.e., when I have finished my version of the story." (See the introduction for another reading of "As hende").

410 Blihand or "bleaunt" is a costly silk fabric.

412 Toun might mean "a town," but it might also mean an enclosed space, a garden or a courtyard, where a reading might occur.

420 A peni can be a coin of small value or, if used more exactly, an "English silver coin, weighing approximately 22 grains, decreasing in weight and value from about 1300 A.D., equal to 1/12 of a shilling or 1/240 of a pound" (MED).

431 The OED, citing this line, considers temed to be a form of teem (v. 1, definition 8) "to betake oneself, to repair, go, proceed to." McNeill glosses as "appealed"; Kölbing as "berief sich" (relied on); and Scott as "tamed." The last meaning makes little sense; however, the verb "teme" is defined by the OED as "subjugate," and the sense could be that Tristrem subjugated himself to (that is, put himself under the protection of) the king.

446 A les or "leash" is here a set of three hounds.

454 The MED and OED both take Martirs as an erroneous form of the plural of "mart," a slaughtered animal (originally "a cow or ox slaughtered at Martinmas and prepared for provision for the winter," MED). But, despite the fact that line 455 makes this the most plausible reading, it is likely that the poet also was suggesting (or that the scribe was thinking of) images of martyrs quartered for their faith.

464 The manuscript reads "Tristem." I have emended to "Tristrem."

472 The phrase In lede is nought to lain, which literally means "Among the people it not to lie" is basically a metrical filler. The best translation is an emphatic "truly."

476 McNeill defines the "heminges" as "a piece of the hide cut out to make brogues for the huntsmen."

485 Scott, McNeill and Kölbing all read "spande"; but, as the MED suggests, this is an error for spaude ("shoulder"). The two minims were read as n rather than u. McNeill and Kölbing also read brede as "breadth"; but it seems possible that the meaning intended is something like a "cut of meat" (from "brede" = "roasted or grilled meat; also a roast" [MED]).

486 The erber is the first stomach, as opposed to the "rede" (line 489), which is the fourth stomach. On the process of dressing or "dighting" the erber, see J. Douglas Bruce, "The Breaking of the Deer in Sir Gawayne and the Green Knight," Englische Studien 32 (1903), 23-36; the note to line 1774 in English Hawking and Hunting in The Boke of St. Albans: A Facsimile Edition of Sigs. a2-f8 of The Boke of St. Albans (1486), ed. Rachel Hands (London: Oxford University Press, 1975) 141. The process is also referred to in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, line 1330.

487 The stifles are the joints "at the junction of the hind leg and the body (between the femur and the tibia) in a horse or other quadruped" (OED).

491 The noubles or "numbles" are inner parts of an animal used for food. The word is also found in the form "umble" and the parts so designated are used in making "umble pie." The phrase "to eat humble pie" is from the word "humble," according to the OED, but perhaps with jocular reference to "umble pie."

499 The word quirré, which comes from the Old French "cuirée," meaning "skin," refers to "certain parts of a deer placed on the hide and given to the hounds as a reward" (OED).

502 M. Y. Offord, in her note to The Parlement of the Thre Ages, line 80 (EETS, o.s. 246, [London: Oxford University Press, 1959] 41), notes that "a small piece of gristle at the end of the sternum . . . was thrown up into a tree to crows or ravens, as a kind of luck-offering."

518 Hunting calls were used as a form of communication during and after the hunt. Presumably the tokening or signal referred to here is the "retraite," the signal used to announce the return of the hunters. On hunting calls, see John Cummins, The Hound and the Hawk: The Art of Medieval Hunting (New York: St. Martin's, 1998), pp. 160-71.

531 The MED, citing this line, glosses the phrase spac biforn as "spoke first," but the meaning here must be something like "spoke right up."

537 McNeill glosses the tag For thought as "that can be imagined."

564-65 These lines, which earlier editors do not explain, present a problem of interpretation. A possible reading of the lines might be: "They took leave [of Tristrem] in the hall, whoever might reach the young man." The suggestion would be that those in the hall honored Tristrem by taking their leave of him if they could get to him, which was difficult because of the throng of people wishing to reach him after the display of his talent.

615 The manuscript reads "Tristram," but, as McNeill notes, this is obviously an error for "Rohand," to which I have emended the text.

687 The MED defines scarlet as "a robe, an article of clothing, etc.: of fine quality, perh. of scarlet color."

736 Kölbing suggests emending "skete" to "swete."

743 McNeill glosses with sight as "with a glance." The MED, citing this line, glosses "with a sigh."

754 Kölbing suggests that the word "he" (referring to Tristrem) is needed to complete the line: Rohand tells how Tristrem was begotten by his parents.

823 Unsought seems to suggest that one could find ten sons of kings at Morgan's table without even looking for them, that is, that kings' sons were plentiful there.

851-58 Kölbing and McNeill both ascribe all of these lines to Morgan, but it seems as if they are an exchange: Morgan admits killing Tristrem's father; Tristrem replies that since he has admitted it, reparations are due; Morgan asks if it is for his rights (the reparations) that Tristrem has come from Mark.

874-75 Here, as in lines 80-81, the verse form and the sense suggest that there has been an omission by the scribe of two lines.

906 Almain is discussed by Ernst Brugger in his article on "Almain and Ermonie as Tristan's Home" (cited above in the note to line 74) and at greater length in the second part of that article (MP 26 [1928-29], 1-12). Brugger asserts in the former article that "Almain was not Morgan's duchy, but was, like Ermonie, occupied by Tristan as his heritage" (p. 269). Though in the English poem Almain must be adjacent to Ermonie, Brugger suggests in the latter article that if Almain is to be traced back to the original form of the legend, which he regards as Pictish, it must be a corruption of "Albaine," a "northern neighbor" of Lothian (10).

921 In the phrase mi nem, there is a transference of n from "min" to the following noun. It is not unusual for a similar transference to occur with articles and with other possessive pronouns. See, for example, "A neten" (for "An eten," ["A giant"]) in line 950; "thi nore" (for "thin ore" [your mercy]) in line 2004; "thi nem" (for "thin em" [your uncle]) in line 2150; and "thi nare" (for "thin are" [your mercy]) in line 2135.

943 Latoun ("latten") is an alloy of copper, tin, and other metals.

948 Moraunt is the character who, in the French versions of the Tristan legend, is generally called le Morholt or le Morhot and, in Malory, Marhaus or Marhalt. In these versions, he is the Queen of Ireland's brother, whom Tristrem kills in combat to end the demand for tribute to the King of Ireland. In Sir Tristrem, Moraunt is presented as the brother of Ysonde (see line 1324) rather than her uncle.

955 The MED, citing this line, defines rade as "a protected place near shore where ships could lie at anchor."

968 As McNeill suggested, the word "tha" (after "thing" in the manuscript) seems to be crossed out.

1040 It seems fitting that Tristrem has a lion as the heraldic emblem on his shield, since the lion was the "Kyng and prince of alle bestes . . . . and some leouns . . . haven scharpe and fers hertes," as John of Trevisa writes in On the Properties of Things: John of Trevisa's Translation of Bartholomæus Anglicus De Proprietatibus Rerum (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975) II, 1214.

1093 McNeill reads "Zour," but the letter he reads as a "Z" seems to be comparable to the initial capital yogh as it appears elsewhere in the manuscript Thus I have transcribed it as "Y."

1132 McNeill suggests that following Kölbing's emendation of "thai" for "he" would improve the sense. It is possible to maintain the manuscript reading and to translate as: "Each of them had done what he might"; but perhaps a more suitable approach would be to emend "he" to "hie," an alternate form of "they," or to leave the manuscript reading and consider "he" as the third person plural pronoun. This form appears frequently enough in Middle English. See, e.g., Havelok the Dane, line 152 ("He [They] wrungen hondes, and wepen sore").

1150 McNeill says that for the manuscript reading of "son," "send must be read." The emendation is not necessary, however, if we read "yare" as a verb (meaning "to prepare").

1157 His is ambiguous in this line. It might refer to Tristrem: that is, Tristrem asked for a blessing for himself. It might also refer to Mark: Tristrem asked for his (Mark's) blessing. In either case, the subject (he=Tristrem) is understood.

1173 McNeill and the MED are probably correct in considering the manuscript reading "ride" an error for "rive," which is required by the rhyme. Thus I have emended to "rive."

1202 The phrase under line is used in Middle English, as the OED observes, as a mere expletive. Its literal meaning in something like "clothed in linen" or "in [one's] clothes."

1204 The manuscript reads "medicie." I have emended to "medicine," which is required by the rhyme.

1220 According to the MED, fowe is "a kind of particolored fur" and griis is a kind of gray fur, probably "fur from the back of the Russian gray squirrel in winter."

1226 Croude or "crowd" is "a name applied to various forms of the early fiddle: any of a class of stringed instruments with two to six strings, with bow, and later a fingerboard, in the shape of a rectangle, ellipse, or double ellipsoid, and played, depending on size, at the shoulder or across the knees" (A Dictionary of Middle English Musical Terms, compiled by Henry Holland Carter [Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1961]).

1228 It is appropriate for the Irishmen to swear by St. Patrick, their patron saint.

1234 The first two letters of "sche" are not clearly legible in the manuscript; thus McNeill's text reads ". . he," though he does suggest that the word must be "sche."

1248 The phrase maken aloft means "to start or begin" something. In this line the word play means "music."

1290 Fet could be the third person singular of "feden" ("to feed" or "to nourish") or of "fetten" ("to rescue"). McNeill says the "sense" is "whoever cherishes an unknown man (is doomed to disappointment, for) he always goes away."

1308-9 Kölbing translates these lines: "Sie ahnten rache, weil sie ihn allein hatten fahren lassen" (They had a premonition about vengeance because they had let him travel alone).

1317 Gain is an alternate spelling of "gan." It gives a past sense to the word "frain" ("ask"). See the note to line 95.

1356 The MED, citing this line, glosses reles as "taste" and "? also beauty." McNeill glosses it as "description." Something like "beauty" is probably the sense intended, but it is possible that another sense of "reles" is intended either as the primary meaning or as a pun. The word can also mean "relief" or "abatement of distress" (MED). For the King and for the barons, a wife could relieve them of the problem of not having a direct heir to the throne.

1366 The point of this line is not immediately obvious. Perhaps the sense is something like "A little bird told me" that you are accusing me of preventing my uncle from marrying.

1381 According to the OED, vair is "a fur obtained from a variety of squirrel with grey back and white belly, much used in the 13th and 14th centuries as a trimming or lining for garments." On griis, see note to line 1220.

1390 The MED, citing this line, glosses fare as "rigging." However, the term might also refer to the "merchandise" of the ship.

1445 John of Trevisa (in On the Properties of Things: John of Trevisa's Translation of Bartholomæus Anglicus De Proprietatibus Rerum [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975] II, 1214) notes that when lions are pursued by hounds and hunters, "they lotyeth [lie concealed] nought nouther behuydeth [hide] hemself but sitteth in feldes where he may be seye [seen] and arrayeth himself to defens and renneth out of woode and covert with swift rennynge and cours, as though he wolde acounte vile schame to loty [lie concealed] and to huyde [hide] hymself. . . . Whanne he is ywounded he taketh wonderliche heede and knoweth hem that him furst smyteth, and reseth on [charges] the smytere though he nevere be in so gret multitude."

1520 Skeat, in his note to Piers Plowman C.II.147 (The Vision of William Concerning Piers the Plowman in Three Parallel Texts . . . [London: Oxford University Press] 1961, II, 27) defines "treacle" (tryacle in his text) as "a sovereign remedy" and says that "the chief point to be observed is that it was considered to be an antidote against poisons, because it contained the flesh of vipers."

1584 The manuscript reads "mi brother." I have emended to thi brother. McNeill notes the error, and observes that "it was the queen's brother, not Ysonde's, who was slain by Tristrem"; but he does not emend his text.

1586 McNeill reads "be," where the manuscript has "he."

1608 The manuscript reading of "lerld" is, as the MED suggests, apparently an error for "lerde," to which I have emended the text.

1633 The sense of this line seems to be that the steward claims he will not fight because "a wrong is being perpetrated there."

1645 See Sir Walter Scott's note on love potions in his edition of Sir Tristrem (313-315). Scott writes that "the noted hippomanes [a growth found at the forehead of a newborn foal and considered in antiquity to be an aphrodisiac] was the principal ingredient in these love-potions; but the bones of a green frog (provided the flesh had been eaten by ants), the head of a kite, the marrow of a wolf's left foot, mixed with ambergris, a pigeon's liver, stewed in the blood of the person to be beloved, and many other recipes, more or less nauseous, are confidently averred to be of equal virtue."

1655-59 McNeill gives the "sense" of these lines as: "Thus the true knights rowed, and Tristrem also rowed, and continued to row, all the time that they came fresh (having been relieved while Tristrem was still at the oar), though he was only one man to three of them - a great labour."

1663 The pin here refers to a pin or peg "inserted in a drinking vessel marking equal portions of the contents" (MED).

1677 In lide = "in lede," means literally "among the people" or "on earth;" but here it is a virtually meaningless tag.

1681 For thought is difficult to gloss in this context. In her translation of Sir Tristrem, Jessie Weston translates "Long as man's thought" (160). This seems too loose a gloss. The phrase may be seen as a nearly meaningless tag. Or the sense may be something like "when we think about it" (similar to McNeill's gloss "that can be imagined" for the phrase as it appears in line 537). It is also conceivable that what is intended is "for-thought," a participle from "forthinken" (regret). The sense would then be that Tristrem and Ysonde were together in joy and also in pain, which was to be regretted. This reading is supported by the "to sain" in the following line. The phrase suggests that the comment that the drink was made in an evil time explains what came before.

1720 ff. In these lines Ysonde sneaks into bed to make Mark think he has slept with her rather than Brengwain. She asks for the drink from Ireland to make it seem to him that they have shared the love potion, but she lets the cup fall because she does not want to share it with Mark and she no longer needs it to strengthen her love of Tristrem, since their love is already sealed by the earlier drinking of the potion.

1734 ff. The fact that Ysonde would laugh when Tristrem is in grief seems strange. Kölbing translates these lines: "Ysonde lachte, wen Tristrem in leid war, absichtlich" (Ysonde laughed when Tristrem was in sorrow, intentionally) and explains that her laughter was intentional so that no one would suspect the relationship between them. It might also be a sign that Ysonde's mind is affected by the love-sickness caused by their forced separation, the laughter being a kind of mad laughter. She does, after all, in the next line, plan to kill Brengwain. Susan Crane sees these and the surrounding lines as a "dramatization of feelings alternating between joy and sorrow, hope and disappointment" which "nearly captures Thomas's idea that love's contrary movements are reciprocal and inseparable" (p. 191).

1853 A rote is "a medieval stringed-instrument of the harp family consisting of a solid, triangular wooden frame with seven strings and played like a guitar with the hand." The harp of the Irish minstrel is, if the term is used technically (and not loosely to indicate a stringed instrument, as is sometimes the case), "a triangular-shaped diatonic instrument consisting of a small tripartite frame (body, front pillar, and arched neck with metal tuning pins) on which from eight to eighteen strings of twisted hair, gut, or wire were strung" (A Dictionary of Middle English Musical Terms, compiled by Henry Holland Carter [Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1961], p. 414 and p. 185).

1854 The ring refers to a "metal ring attached to an object for fastening, lifting, etc." (MED).

1875 On dathet, John Edwards (Scottish Historical Review 1 [1904], 56) says, "This old imprecation is not Anglo-Saxon; it came over with the Conqueror, but early found an abiding place here. It is explained as coming from the Merovingian French, `Deu hat,' meaning `God's hate.'" Perhaps the best gloss on the word would be "damn" or "curses [on him]!"

1876 McNeill says that this line is "so corrupt as to be unintelligible." Perhaps some sense can be made of it by taking stound as a verb (as in "stound," OED v. 1) which means "to be painful" or "to cause great pain." Lines 1875 and 1876 then mean: "A curse on him always, / If this [his playing] cause [you] great pain concerning [that is, because it reminds you of] Tristrem." The earliest use of such a meaning recorded in the OED is 1500, but the parallel meaning of the noun "stound" dates back to 1300. There remains, however, an abrupt shift in the earl's thought, from cursing the minstrel for reminding Ysonde of Tristrem to rewarding him for traveling with them because his music pleases her.

1930 The manuscript reads "Tristren," which I have emended to "Tristrem," the form in which the name most frequently appears throughout the manuscript.

1940 I follow the suggestion of the MED in emending by adding "and" between the words "sorwe" and "site," which are contiguous in the manuscript.

1993 Say seems to govern both what comes before it and what follows. The sense is: "Ask to go with him, and say to him if he still loves you, `send Tristrem away.'" The shift from indirect to direct discourse occurs frequently in Middle English romances.

2002 I follow Kölbing's suggestion in emending the manuscript reading of "thi nemes" to "his emes" ("his uncle's," i.e., Mark's).

2004 On thi nore, see the note to line 921.

2019 Meridok's plan is to trap Tristrem by separating him from Ysonde thus causing him to arrange a meeting with her which Mark can observe.

2051 McNeill says that "the line is unintelligible." Kölbing suggests emending to "Tristrem go with hem bede" ("Bid Tristrem to go with them"). This seems to be the sense of the line. Perhaps the emendation is not necessary, since it is not unusual for the verb "to go" to be understood.

2080-90 This stanza is typical of the compressed style of the poet. Tristrem sees through the dwarf's deception and immediately adopts the strategy of accusing Ysonde of harming him by slandering him to Mark. Tristrem's words are addressed to the dwarf, whom he calls "Maister," which may be used as a term of respect when addressing someone of a higher station or merely as a polite (or occasionally ironic) way of addressing someone of a lower station.

2135 On thi nare, see the note to line 921.

2138 The word make is repeated in this line of the manuscript.

2144 Kölbing notes that Ungiltles must be read as either "ungilti" or "giltles;" the sense is surely that Mark now believes Tristrem is not guilty of the accusations that have been made against him.

2169 A constable is "the chief officer of a ruler's household or court" (MED).

2184 In the Middle Ages, blood-letting was routine preventive medicine, a way of ridding the body of evil humors, as well as a cure for specific diseases. On this subject, see Stanley Rubin, Medieval English Medicine (Newton Abbot: David and Charles, 1974) 140 ff.

2199 Tristrem's leap of thirty feet is quite an accomplishment. The current record for the long jump, held by Carl Lewis, is twenty-eight feet, ten and a quarter inches.

2201 Willes is a genitive singular of "will" and is used here as a predicate adjective.

2229 ff. On the ordeal with the hot iron, see Ernest C. York, "Isolt's Ordeal: English Legal Customs in the Medieval Tristan Legend," SP 68 (Jan. 1971), 1-9. York notes that the ordeal "had gone out of use in England almost a century before" Sir Tristrem was written. For a more general literary context, see Ralph J. Hexter, Equivocal Oaths and Ordeals in Medieval Literature (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1975). For historical information about ordeals, see Robert Bartlett, Trial by Fire and Water: The Medieval Judicial Ordeal (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988), and Henry Charles Lea, The Ordeal, with additional original documents in translation by Arthur E. Howland, ed. Edward Peters (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1973).

2234 The merkes are the "posts by which the path of the accused is designated in a trial by ordeal" (MED).

2235 York (see note to lines 2229 ff.) notes that "Westminster was not a bishopric [the usual site of a trial by ordeal] until the sixteenth century and then only for a short time. But here an earlier Anglo-Saxon custom may be pertinent. According to the laws of Ethelred, `every ordeal shall take place in a royal manor.' Westminster Abbey, from the time of the Confessor on, held numerous manors, many of which were royal ones" (8).

2280 Ycorn is the past participle of "chesan," "to choose."

2286 F. Holthausen (in "Zur Erklärung und Textkritik der ME. Romanze `Sir Tristrem,'" Anglia, 39 [1915], 381) suggests reading "Hir" instead of "And." However, given the poet's tendency to use nearly meaningless tags, the manuscript reading should remain. The line then becomes a redundant (or perhaps emphatic) phrase meaning "and he did," but perhaps best translated by something like "indeed."

2290 Maugré is a preposition governing the genitive case. Thus maugré his means "in spite of him."

2296 McNeill translates "And he quickly gains intelligence of this (i.e., of the reconciliation between Mark and Ysonde) . . ." But it seems more likely that fraines this refers to seeking battle. The poet uses "frainen" again in this sense in line 2626.

2327 Scott, McNeill and Kölbing all take mete as "meal," probably because Tristrem is said to have come upon Morgan as he began to cut his bread (see line 820). It is also possible that "mete" is related to the verb "meten" in the sense of encounter.

2329 Bist is from the verb "bien," which means "to buy" or, as here, "to pay for" or "to atone for."

2371 An is the third singular present of "unnen" ("to grant").

2393 Deste is the past tense of "dashen" ("to fall precipitously" or "to collapse").

2474 The OED, citing this line, defines fede as "Great, large" and notes that the etymology is unknown and that "the senses assigned are somewhat uncertain, and perh. the examples do not all contain the same word." The MED, also citing this line, suggests that the word may be related to the Old Icelandic "feyja" ("to rot, decay") and defines the term as "Decayed, withered; ?hoary (forest)."

2496 It seems possible to translate this line in two ways. It might mean: "On account of the love each had for the other." But it might also mean: "On account of love, each gazed on the other." The latter meaning would require the line to be punctuated: "For love, ich other bihalt;" rather than as it appears in the text.

2508 The line means "A year minus three weeks."

2548 McNeill reads "liue" (live), but the minims that he reads as u may also be read as an n. Reading "line" (as a form of "lien," "to lie,") makes much better sense in the context.

2557 This line appears at the bottom of the first column on folio 295 v. There is a sign after the fourth line of the column to indicate that this line should be inserted at that point.

2590 McNeill glosses this line: "In spite of the plans we are able to devise."

2628 McNeill glosses thurchsayn as "explored." Kölbing glosses it as "durchsuchen" ("search through").

2663-73 Of these lines, Susan Crane says, "The whole of Tristan's debate on whether or not to marry Isolt of Brittany . . . is distilled into one stanza" (190).

2666 McNeill omits the word "ous," which appears in the manuscript between "hath" and "wrought."

2674 That refers to the intention to marry Ysonde of the White Hands.

2725 Brether is a plural form. Thus "brethern" (as in line 3310, for example) is a double plural (as is also the word "children"). The n-plural also appears in the word "fon" ("foes") in line 3245.

2730 The word fre as used in this line seems to have a legal connotation as it does, for example, in The English Register of Godstow Nunnery, near Oxford; ed. Andrew Clark; EETS o.s. 129 (London: Kölbing emends to "blac."

2742 The MED, citing this line, glosses merkes as "tracks (of an animal)"; but it seems preferable to read it as a variant of "markes" (which appears in line 2710), meaning "boundary markers." The point is that Tristrem's hounds run beyond the boundary markers into the giant's territory. The chance thus arising (see line 2739), Tristrem enters into the forbidden territory.

2744 I have emended the manuscript reading "blalc" to "blac." McNeill reads "blalc" but says in his glossary that it is erroneously written for "blac." Kölbing emends to "blac."

2746 McNeill suggests that Kölbing's emendation of "was fade" to "forbade" "would certainly make the sense more intelligible than it at present is." However, if "douke" is read in a general sense (meaning "knightly warrior") and taken as referring not to Duke Rohande but to the giant Beliagog, the line makes perfect sense. "Fade" would mean "eager for battle" in this context.

2749 Priis is the signal on the hunting horn that indicates that the quarry has been taken.

2779 Bleynt is the past tense of "blenchen" ("to move suddenly or sharply; jerk, twist; flinch, wince, dodge," MED). This line explains how Tristrem evaded the spear. By turning quickly aside, the spear passed between his hauberk and his body.

2786 The line, which translates literally as "Tristrem's life he nearly sold," means "He nearly killed Tristrem."

2801 ff. McNeill translates this line: "Tristrem acknowledged him as a free man - i.e., accorded him his freedom." Skeat ("The Romance of Sir Tristrem," Scottish Historical Review 6 [1909], 61) says, "This is a very harsh construction of knewe. I take fre in its usual sense of `liberal' or `bounteous.' Further, I alter the semi-colon after fre to a comma, and place another comma after Beliagog. The sense is `Tristrem knew him, Beliagog, (to be) liberal in his promise, (namely), if I am to conceal nothing, that he would make a bright hall for him.' Here is nothing forced or obscure. For hight, a promise, see the Cursor Mundi, l. 785. The semi-colon after fre deprives the rest of the passage of its verb." Another possible explanation is to read 2801 either as McNeill does or as meaning "Tristrem knew him to be generous." In the next line, "hight" could be read as the past of "hien" ("to hasten or hurry"). The sense would then be: "Beliagog rushed right in, truly, to make him a bright hall for Ysonde and Brengwein."

2814 Kölbing glosses this line: "Sein werk zu ende zu führen" ("to carry through his work to the end").

2841 McNeill says that to calle is "an expletive with no more definite meaning than `so to say,' `so to speak"'; it is possible, however, that the phrase means something like "[ready] to be summoned" and is emphasizing the life-like quality of the statues of the dogs.

2851 York Powell ("A Few Notes on Sir Tristrem," Englische Studien 6 [1883], 464) says: "Sein Matheus toun is S. Mahé in Brittany on the coast, I fancy. This spot was well known to Englishmen and Scots at the date of the original poem. He is in Bretein l. 2641, and S. Mahé by Ushant i[s] [article reads "in"] not so far from S. Pol de Leon, the Lyoun of l. 2855. So we get an indication of travel or of knowledge of the Brittany coast such as a knight or bachiler serving in the wars or as ambassador might show. S. Mahé was well known from the Brittany wars of Ed. III and Rich. II to Englishmen."

2880 The MED, citing this line, notes that Withouten oth is used "as a tag or emphatic" to mean "assuredly, unquestionably, truly, indeed."

2936-37 McNeill seems to capture the sense when he glosses these lines: "Kölbing is probably correct in reading let as a form of "leten" meaning "speak of" or "judge." This line makes best sense when seen as a continuation of the description of the beloved: "My beloved fair and sweet . . . who knows well how to speak of love." Line 3306 might be translated as "May Christ send her to you" (i.e., "May you save her"); or, if "hir" is taken to refer to Ysonde (named in line 3308), the line might mean: "May Christ send her [Ysonde] to you / [If] you undertake to make better my sorrow / For love of the noble Ysonde." If the latter reading is preferred, the period at the end of line 3306 should be changed to a comma.

2943 The phrase in lede (literally "in the [his] country" or "among the people" is here a rhyming tag with little real meaning.

2966 The word are in this line modifies "duelled" in the following line.

2968 The MED, citing this line and also line 3177, says that the phrase to lithe (literally "to hear" or "to listen") is "a more or less empty metrical tag."

2976 The word blo, meaning dark and thus virtually synonymous with "black," survives in the phrase "black and blue" where "blue" is "a corruption arising when blo became obsolete after 1550" (OED).

3050 The MED, citing this line, defines hayte as "?to fight, do battle"; but the more normal meaning of "to show hatred" seems more appropriate to the context.

3068 Catherine of Alexandria was a saint supposed to have lived in the fourth century who was "a noble girl persecuted for her Christianity, who despised marriage with the Emperor because she was a `bride of Christ' . . . . Her protests were against the persecution of Christians by Maxentius; her tortures consisted of being broken on a wheel (later called Catherine wheel), but the machine broke down injuring bystanders; Catherine was beheaded." She was a patron of nurses ("because milk instead of blood flowed from her severed head") and of young girls (Oxford Dictionary of Saints).

3128 Clerk and knight is one of the contrasting pairs commonly used in Middle English to represent completeness. The sense of the phrase is "one and all."

3139 McNeill takes to-kest (his reading is "tokest" as meaning "destroyed." I prefer to read "to-kest," which I take as related to the verb "casten," which can mean "to cast one's eyes at" or "to look at something." Though the examples of this sense cited by the MED generally have a word meaning "look" or "eye" in conjunction with "cast," the sense of looking is suggested by the notion of spying. Thus "to-kest" would mean something like "looked over" or "surveyed."

3153 Bond and fre is another example of a contrasting pair used in Middle English to suggest completeness (see the note to line 3128). Thus the sense of the phrase is "everyone."

3173 The claper is the "lid or clapper of a beggar's clapdish" (MED). Scott (362) notes that lepers "usually carried the cup and clapper mentioned in the text. The former served to receive alms, and the noise of the latter warned the passenger to keep aloof, even while bestowing his charity."

3183 This line only makes sense if hem is taken as referring to Canados and Ysonde. Apparently her threats to catch them in the act are a way of preventing Canados from having his way with Ysonde. Although the antecedent is far removed from hem in this reading, the interpretation is supported by the following lines in which Brengwain complains about Canados to Mark.

3248 The sense of yeld in this line is something like "paid them back for." Tristrem and Ganhardin are paying back the bold knights (like Meriadok) for their old deeds, i. e., the harm done to Tristrem and Ysonde.

3261 In the manuscript the last letter of stirops is an "o." The word thus reads "stiropo," but the MED considers this an error for "stirops," to which I have emended the word.

3296 About the phrase A knight that werd no schone (wore no shoes), Scott says: "The knights often made whimsical vows, to forbear a certain part of their dress, armour, or habits of life, until they had executed a particular adventure . . . ." However, the line probably refers to the fact that the second Tristrem is a young and untested knight. To "win one's shoes" meant to prove oneself in combat. (See, e.g., Rauf the Collier, line 765: "It war my will, worthy, thy schone that thow wan . . . ."

3305-6 Kölbing is probably correct in reading let as a form of "leten" meaning "speak of" or "judge." This line makes best sense when seen as a continuation of the description of the beloved: "My beloved fair and sweet . . . who knows well how to speak of love." Line 3306 might be translated as "May Christ send her to you" (i.e., "May you save her"); or, if "hir" is taken to refer to Ysonde (named in line 3308), the line might mean: "May Christ send her [Ysonde] to you / [If] you undertake to make better my sorrow / For love of the noble Ysonde." If the latter reading is preferred, the period at the end of line 3306 should be changed to a comma.

3398 Scott defines haggards as "wild hawks, metaphorically, loose women." A stale is "a lover or mistress whose devotion is turned into ridicule for the amusement of a rival" but may also have the meaning of a "decoy-bird" (OED).

A forest fled thai tille,
Tristrem and Ysonde the schene.
No hadde thai no won to wille
Bot the wode so grene.
Bi holtes and bi hille
Fore Tristrem and the Quene.
Ysonde of joie hath her fille
And Tristrem, withouten wene,
As thare.
So blithe al bidene
Nar thai never are.
Tristrem and that may
Wer flemed for her dede.
Hodain, soth to say,
And Peticrowe with hem yede.
In on erthe hous thai lay;
Tho raches with hem thai lede.
Tristrem hem taught o day
Bestes to take at nede
An hast.
In that forest fede
Tristrem Hodain gan chast.
Tristrem with Hodain
A wilde best he slough.
In on erthe house thai layn
Ther hadde thai joie ynough.
Etenes bi old dayn
Had wrought it, withouten wough.
Ich night, soth to sain,
Thertil thai bothe drough
With might.
Under wode bough
Thai knewen day and night.
In winter it was hate;
In somer it was cold.
Thai hadden a dern gat
That thai no man told.
No hadde thai no wines wat,
No ale that was old;
No no gode mete thai at.
Thai hadden al that thai wold
With wille.
For love ich other bihalt,
Her non might of other fille. 23
Tristrem on an hille stode
As he biforn hadde mett.
He fond a wele ful gode;
Al white it was, the grete.
Therto Tristrem yode
And hende Ysonde the swete.
That was al her fode
And wilde flesche thai ete
And gras.
Swiche joie hadde thai never yete
Tuelmoneth thre woukes las.
Tristrem on a day
Tok Hodain wel erly;
A best he tok to pray
Bi a dern sty.
He dight it, withouten nay,
And hom it brought an heighe.
Aslepe Ysonde lay;
Tristrem him layd hir bi,
The Quen.
His swerd he drough titly
And laid it hem bituene.
An hert Mark at ran
Opon that ilke day;
His hunters after wan;
A path tho founden thai.
Tristrem seighen hye than
And Ysonde, sothe to say.
Seighe thai never swiche man
No non so fair a may
With sight.
Bituen hem ther lay
A drawen swerd wel bright.
The huntes wenten right
And teld Mark bidene.
The levedi and the knight
Bothe Mark hath sene.
He knewe hem wele bi sight.
The swerd lay hem bituene.
A sonnebem ful bright
Schon opon the Quen
At a bore
On her face so schene.
And Mark rewed therfore.
His glove he put therinne,
The sonne to were oway.
Wrethe Mark gan winne;
Than seyd he, "Wel ay,
Yif thai weren in sinne,
Nought so thai no lay.
Lo hou thai line atuinne!
Thai no hede nought of swiche play 24
The knightes seyden, "Ay,
For trewe love it is."
Tho waked Tristrem the trewe
And swete Ysonde the schene,
The glove oway thai drewe
And seyden hem bituene
For Markes thai it knewe.
Thai wist he had ther bene.
Tho was her joie al newe,
That he hem hadde ysene
With sight.
With that com knightes kene
To feche tho to ful right.
To court were comen tho to
That in the forest were;
Mark kist Ysonde tho
And Tristrem trewe fere.
Forgeven hem was her wo;
No were thai never so dere.
Tristrem the bailif gan to
Swiftly for to stere
A stounde.
Of love who wil lere,
Listen now the grounde.
So bifel bidene
Opon a somers day
Tristrem and the Quen
Stalked to her play.
The duerve hem hath sene;
To Mark gan he say,
"Sir King, withouten wene,
Thi wiif is now oway
And thi knight.
Wende fast as thou may,
Oftake hem, yif thou might."
Mark King after ran;
That thai bothe ysé.
Tristrem seyd than,
"Ysonde, schent er we
For thoughtes that we can,
For hole no may it be."
Nas never so sori man,
Tristrem than was he,
That hende.
"For dout of deth Y fle,
In sorwe and wo Y wende.
"Y fle for dout of deth;
Y dar no leng abide
In wo mi liif to lede
Bi this forestes side."
A ring Ysonde him bede
To tokening at that tide.
He fleighe forth in gret drede
In wode him for to hide
To seken him fast thai ride;
Thai founden bot the Quene.
Tristrem is went oway
As it nought hadde ybene.
Forthi the knightes gan say
That wrong Markes had sen.
For her than prayd thai
That Mark forgaf the Quene.
Tristrem with Ysonde lay
That night, withouten wene,
And wok
And plaiden ay bituene.
His leve of hir he tok.
Tristrem is went oway
Withouten coming ogain
And siketh, for sothe to sain,
With sorwe and michel pain.
Tristrem fareth ay
As man that wald be slain,
Bothe night and day,
Fightes for to frain,
That fre.
Spaine he hath thurchsayn;
Geauntes he slough thre.
Out of Spaine he rade,
Rohande sones to se.
Gamen and joie thai made;
Welcom to hem was he.
As lord he ther abade,
As gode skil wald be.
Thai boden him landes brade
That he wan hem fre.
He thought;
He seyd, "Thank have ye.
Your londes kepe Y nought."
Into Bretein he ches,
Bicome the Doukes knight.
He set his lond in pes
That arst was ful of fight.
Al that the Doukes wes
He wan ogain with right.
He bede him, withouten les, 25
His douhter that was bright
In land.
That maiden Ysonde hight
With the White Hand.
Tristremes love was strong
On swete Ysonde the Quene.
Of Ysonde he made a song
That song Ysonde bidene.
The maiden wende al wrong
Of hir it hadde ybene.
Hir wening was so long, 26
To hir fader hye gan mene
For nede.
Ysonde with hand schene
Tristrem to wive thai bede.
Tristrem a wil is inne,
Has founden in his thought:
"Mark, mi nem, hath sinne;
Wrong he hath ous wrought.
Icham in sorwe and pine;
Therto hye hath me brought.
Hir love, Y say, is mine;
The Boke seyt it is nought
With right."
The maiden more he sought
For sche Ysonde hight.
That in his hert he fand
And trewely thought he ay.
The forward fast he band
With Ysonde; that may
With the white hand
He spoused that day.
O night, ich understand,
To boure wenten thai
On bedde.
Tristrem ring fel oway
As men to chaumber him ledde.
Tristrem biheld that ring;
Tho was his hert ful wo.
"Ogain me swiche a thing
Dede never Ysonde so.
Mark, her lord, the King,
With tresoun may hir to.
Mine hert may no man bring
For no thing hir fro,
That fre.
Ich have tuinned ous to;
The wrong is al in me."
Tristrem to bedde yede
With hert ful of care.
He seyd, "The dern dede,
Do it Y no dare."
The maiden he forbede
Yif it hir wille ware.
The maide answerd in lede,
"Therof have thou no care
Al stille.
Y nil desiri na mare
Bot at thine owen wille."
Her fader on a day
Gaf hem londes wide
Fer in that cuntray -
Markes were set biside.
Bituene the Douke thai had ben ay
And a geaunt unride.
No most ther no man play 27
That he no dede him abide
And fight.
Lesen he schuld his pride,
Were he king or knight.
"Tristrem, Y the forbede,
For the love of me,
No hunte thou for no nede
Biyond the arm of the se.
Beliagog is unrede;
A stern geaunt is he.
Of him thou owest to drede;
Thou slough his brether thre
In fight:
Urgan and Morgan unfre
And Moraunt the noble knight.
"Yif thine houndes an hare wele hayre
And comen ogain to the fre,
Al so be thou bonaire
When his houndes comen to the."
The forest was wel faire
With mani a selly tre.
Tristrem thought repaire,
Houso it ever be,
To bide.
"That cuntré will Y se
What aventour so bitide."
Tristrem on huntinge rade;
An hert chaci bigan.
Ther the merkes were made
His houndes, over thai ran.
The water was blac and brade.
Tristrem com as a man
Ther the douke was fade;
Fast he folwed than
Right thare.
He blewe priis as he can
Thre mot other mare.
Beliagog com that tide
And asked wat he is.
"An hunting ther Y ride,
Tristrem ich hat, ywis."
"O! thou slough Moraunt with pride -
Tristrem artow this? -
And seththen Urgan unride;
Unkinde were ous to kis
As kenne.
Mendi thou most that mis,
Now thou mi lond art inne."
"Y slough Urgan, Y the telle.
So hope Y the to sla.
This forest wil Y felle
And castel wil Y ma.
Her is miri to duelle;
Forthi this lond Y ta."
The geaunt herd that spelle;
Forthi him was ful wa
So bituen hem tua
The cuntek gan arise.
Dartes wel unride
Beliagog set gan.
Tristremes liif that tide
Ferly neighe he wan.
Bituene the hauberk and side
The dart thurch out ran.
Tristrem bleynt biside;
God he thonked than
Tristrem, as a man,
Fast he gan to fight.
Beliagog the bold,
As a fende he faught.
Tristrem liif neighe he sold,
As Tomas hath ous taught.
Tristrem smot, as God wold,
His fot of at a draught.
Adoun he fel yfold,
That man of michel maught,
And cride,
"Tristrem, be we saught,
And have min londes wide.
"Overcomen hastow me
In bataile and in fight.
Helden ogaines the
No wil Y never with right."
His tresour lete he se
Tristrem the noble knight.
Tristrem knewe him fre.
Beliagog in hight,
Nought lain,
An halle to maken him bright
To Ysonde and Bringwain.
The geaunt him gan lede
Til he fond an hald
The water about yede;
It was his eldren hald.
The geaunt bad Tristrem belde
With masouns that were bald.
Beliagog in that nede
Fond him riche wald
To fine.
Ysonde have there he wald,
Luffsum under line.
The geaunt him taught that tide
A ford ther it was yare
There he might wele ride
When his wille ware.
In the hold he gan him hide,
Seyd he nought he was thare.
Nold he nought long abide;
Ogain tho gan he fare,
That fre.
At the castel forthermare
His werkmen wald he se.
Ogain went Tristrem than;
Beliagog had masouns sought.
Tristrem, that michel can,
A werk hem hath ybrought.
Nas ther never yete man
That wist what other wrought.
Arere when thai bigan
Swiche a werk nas nought
At nede.
Thei al men hadde it thought,
It nas to large no gnede.
At his des in the halle
Swete Ysonde was wrought;
Hodain and Pencru, to calle;
The drink hou Brengwain brought;
Mark yclad in palle;
And Meriadok ful of thought;
(So liifliche weren thai alle
Ymages semed it nought
To abide); 28
And Tristrem, hou he faught
With Beliagog unride.
So it bifel a cas
In Seyn Matheus toun
That a fair fest was
Of lordes of renoun.
A baroun that hight Bonifas
Spoused a levedi of Lyoun.
Ther was miche solas
Of alle maner soun
And gle
Of minestrals up and doun
Bifor the folk so fre.
The riche Douke Florentin
To that fest gan fare
And his sone Ganhardin;
With hem rode Ysonde thare.
Her hors a polk stap in;
The water her wat aywhare.
It was a ferly gin,
So heye under hir gare
It fleighe.
The levedi lough ful smare,
And Ganhardin it seighe.
Ganhardin unblithe
His soster tho cald he,
"Abide now, dame, and lithe.
What is ther tidde to the?
Do now telle me swithe,
Astow lovest me,
Whi lough thou that sithe.
For what thing may it be?
Withouten oth,
Thi frendschip schal Y fle
Til Y wite that soth."
"Brother, no wrathe the nought;
The sothe Y wil the say.
Mine hors the water up brought
Of o polk in the way.
So heighe it fleighe, me thought,
That in mi sadel it lay.
Ther never man no sought
So neighe, for sothe to say,
In lede.
Brother, wite thou ay
That Y lough for that dede."
Quath Ganhardin, "Y finde
That schamely schent ar we;
To wive on our kinde
Hetheliche holdeth he.
Ther he gan treuthe binde
Fain Y wald it se,
For alle the gold of Ynde,
Ybroken no schal it be.
To bete,
His frendeschip wil Y fle.
Our on schal tine swete." 29
Wroth is Ganhardin
And that Tristrem yses.
What thought he is in
Fast he asketh, ywis.
"Thou hast bi Ysonde lin
While thi wille is.
Whi nas hye never thine?
Tristrem, tel me this
In lede.
What hath hye don amis?
What wites thou hir of dede?" 30
"Yif it hir wille ware
Forhole it might have be;
Sche hath ytold it you yare:
Quite sche is of me.
Of hir kepe Y namare;
A gift Y geve the.
To a levedi wil Y fare
Is fairer than swiche thre
To frain."
Ganhardin longeth to se
That levedi, naught to lain.
Ganhardin the fest fles.
He bicom Tristremes frende;
He seyd his liif he les
Bot he with Tristrem wende.
Quath Tristrem, "Yif it so bes
In Inglond that we lende,
No say nought what thou ses
Bot hold, astow art hende,
And hele.
Lay it al under hende,
To steven yif thai it stele."
Ganhardin his treuthe plight;
To ben his brother he bede,
To ben a trewe knight
In al Tristremes nede.
Bothe busked that night
To Beliagog in lede.
Ganhardin seighe that sight
And sore him gan adrede.
"To brink
To sle thou wilt me lede
To Beliagog, me think."
"Ganhardin, wrong have thou alle.
Wel, whi seistow so?
Maugré on me falle
Yif Y the wold slo!
The geaunt is mi thralle,
His liif thei Y wil to."
Tristrem tho gan him calle;
On a stilt he com tho
Ful swithe.
"Lord, thi wille to do,
Tharto ar we blithe."
"Beliagog, go thare
And loke it boun be;
Ganhardin and Y wil fare
The levedi for to se."
Swiche castel fond he thare
Was maked of ston and tre.
Ganhardin wist nou are
Ther duelled Tristrem and he,
To lithe,
Ysonde for to se
In halle, bright and blithe.
To Ysonde bright so day
To halle gun thai go.
Ysonde tho seighe thai
And Bringwain, bothe to,
Tristrem, for sothe to say,
And Beliagog al blo.
As Ganhardin stert oway,
His heved he brac tho
As he fleighe.
Ganhardin was ful wo
That he com Ysonde so neighe.
Ganhardin schamed sore;
His heved ran on blod.
Ysonde he seighe thore
And Brengwain fair and gode.
Brengwain the coupe bore.
Him rewe, that frely fode, 31
He swore bi Godes ore.
In her hond fast it stode
Al stille.
"Tristrem, we ar wode
To speken ogain thi wille.
"Nis it bot hertbreke,
That swithe wele finde we,
And foly ous to speke
Ani worde ogaines the.
Mi wille yif Y might gete,
That levedi wold Y se.
Mine hert hye hath ysteke,
Brengwain bright and fre,
That frende.
Blithe no may ich be
Til Y se that hende."
Tristrem and Ganhardin,
Treuthe plighten thay
In wining and in tin,
Trewe to ben ay,
In joie and in pin,
In al thing, to say,
Til he with Brengwain have lin,
Yif that Tristrem may,
In lede.
To Inglond thai toke the way,
Tho knightes stithe on stede.
Sir Canados was than
Constable, the Quen ful neighe.
For Tristrem Ysonde wan,
So weneth he be ful sleighe,
To make hir his leman
With broche and riche beighe.
For nought that he do can
Hir hert was ever heighe
To hold;
That man hye never seighe
That bifor Tristrem wold.
Tristrem made a song
That song Ysonde the sleighe
And harped ever among.
Sir Canados was neighe.
He seyd, "Dame, thou hast wrong,
For sothe, who it seighe.
As oule and stormes strong
So criestow on heye
In herd.
Thou lovest Tristrem dreighe;
To wrong thou art ylerd.
"Tristrem, for thi sake,
For sothe, wived hath he.
This wil the torn to wrake.
Of Breteyne douke schal he be.
Other semblaunt thou make,
Thiselven yif thou hir se.
Thi love hir dede him take
For hye hight as do ye
In land.
`Ysonde' men calleth that fre
`With the White Hand."'
"Sir Canados, the waite!
Ever thou art mi fo.
Febli thou canst hayte
There man schuld menske do.
Who wil lesinges layt
Tharf him no ferther go.
Falsly canestow fayt
That ever worth the wo.
Malisoun have thou also
Of God and Our Levedy.
"A gift ich give the:
Thi thrift mot thou tine!
That thou asked me,
No schal it never be thine.
Yhated also thou be
Of alle that drink wine.
Hennes yern thou fle
Out of sight mine
In lede.
Y pray to Seyn Katerine
That ivel mot thou spede."
The Quen was wratthed sore;
Wroth to chaumber sche yede.
"Who may trowe man more,
Than he hath don this dede?"
A palfray asked sche there
That wele was loved in lede.
Dight sche was ful yare;
Hir pavilouns with hir thai lede
Ful fine.
Bifore was stef on stede
Tristrem and Ganhardine.
Ful ner the gat thai abade
Under a figer tre.
Thai seighe where Ysonde rade
And Bringwain, bothe seighe he
With tuo houndes mirie made;
Fairer might non be.
Her blis was ful brade;
A tale told Ysonde fre;
Thai duelle.
Tristrem that herd he
And seyd thus in his spelle:
"Ganhardin, ride thou ay.
Mi ring of finger thou drawe;
Thou wende forth in thi way
And gret hem al on rawe.
Her houndes praise thou ay;
Thi finger forth thou schawe.
The Quen, for sothe to say,
The ring wil sone knawe,
That fre.
Aski sche wil in plawe
And say thou comest fro me."
Tho rode Ganhardin kene
And overtaketh hem now.
First he greteth the Quen
And after Bringwain, Y trowe.
The knight himself bidene
Stroked the hounde Pencru.
The Quen the ring hath sene
And knewe it wele ynough,
That fre.
Hye seyd, "Say me, hou
Com this ring to the?"
"He that aught this ring
To token sent it to the."
Tho seyd that swete thing,
"Tristrem, that is he!"
"Dame, withouten lesing,
He sent it you bi me."
Sche sayd, "Bi heven King,
In longing have we be,
Naught lain.
Al night duelle we,"
Seyd Ysonde to Bringwain.
Thai wende the Quen wald dye,
So sike sche was bi sight.
Thai sett pavilouns an heye
And duelled, clerk and knight.
Ysonde biheld that lye
Under leves light.
Tristrem hye ther seyghe,
So dede Brengwain that night
In feld.
Ganhardine treuthe plight
Brengwain to wive weld.
Tuo night ther thai lye
In that fair forest.
Canados hadde a spie;
Her pavilouns he to-kest.
Ther come to Canados crie
The cuntré est and west.
Governayl was forthi
Therout, as it was best
To abide.
He seyd Tristrem prest,
"Now it were time to ride."
Governayl, his man was he,
And Ganhardine his knight.
Armed knightes thai se
To felle hem doun in fight.
Governaile gan to fle;
He ran oway ful right.
Tho folwed bond and fre
And lete the loge unlight
That tide.
Oway rode Tristrem that night
And Ganhardine biside.
Sir Canados the heighe,
He ladde the Quen oway.
Tristrem, of love so sleighe,
No abade him nought that day.
Brengwain bright so beighe,
Wo was hir tho ay.
On Canados sche gan crie
And made gret deray
And sede,
"This lond nis worth an ay
When thou darst do swiche a dede."
Ganhardine gan fare
Into Bretaine oway;
And Tristrem duelled thare
To wite what men wald say.
Coppe and claper he bare
Til the fiftenday
As he a mesel ware;
Under walles he lay,
To lithe.
So was Ysonde, that may,
That alle sche wald to-writhe.
Tristrem in sorwe lay;
Forthi wald Ysonde awede.
And Brengwain thretned ay
To take hem in her dede.
Brengwain went oway;
To Marke the King sche yede
And redily gan to say
Hou thai faren in lede:
"Nought lain,
Swiche knight hastow to fede
Thi schame he wald ful fain.
"Sir King, take hede therto:
Sir Canados wil have thi Quen;
Bot thou depart hem to,
A schame ther worth ysene.
Hye dredeth of him so
That wonder is to wene.
His wille for to do
Hye werneth him bituene
Ful sone.
Yete thai ben al clene;
Have thai no dede ydone."
Marke, in al thing,
Brengwain thanked he.
After him he sent an heigheing;
Fram court he dede him be.
"Thou deservest for to hing;
Miselven wele ich it se."
So couthe Brengwain bring
Canados for to fle,
That heighe.
Glad was Ysonde the fre
That Bringwain couthe so lighe
Than to hir seyd the Quen,
"Leve Brengwain the bright
That art fair to sene,
Thou wost our wille bi sight.
Whare hath Tristrem bene?
Nis he no douhti knight?"
"Thai leighen al bidene
That sain he dar nought fight
With his fo."
Brengwain biheld that right,
Tristrem to bour lete go.
Tristrem in bour is blithe;
With Ysonde playd he thare.
Brengwain badde he lithe,
"Who ther armes bare,
Ganhardin and thou that sithe
Wightly oway gun fare."
Quath Tristrem, "Crieth swithe
A turnament ful yare
With might.
Noither of ous nil spare
Erl, baroun no knight."
A turnament thai lete crie.
The parti Canados tok he;
And Meriadok, sikerly,
In his help gan he be.
Tristrem ful hastilye
Ofsent Ganhardin the fre.
Ganhardin com titly
That turnament to se
With sight.
Fro the turnament nold thai fle
Til her fon were feld dounright.
Thai com into the feld
And founde ther knightes kene;
Her old dedes thai yeld
With batayle al bidene.
Tristrem gan biheld
To Meriadok bituene.
For the tales he teld
On him he wrake his tene
That tide.
He gaf him a wounde kene
Thurchout bothe side.
Bituene Canados and Ganhardin
The fight was ferly strong.
Tristrem thought it pin
That it last so long.
His stirops he made him tine;
To grounde he him wrong.
Sir Canados ther gan lyn;
The blod thurch brini throng
With care.
On him he wrake his wrong
That he no ros na mare.
Her fon fast thai feld,
And mani of hem thai slough.
The cuntré with hem meld;
Thai wrought hem wo ynough.
Tristrem hath hem teld
That him to schame drough.
Thai token the heighe held
And passed wele anough
And bade.
Under wode bough
After her fomen thai rade.
Ther Tristrem turned ogain
And Ganhardin stithe and stille.
Mani thai han yslain
And mani overcomen with wille.
The folk fleighe unfain
And socour criden schille.
In lede, nought to layn,
Thai hadde woundes ille
At the nende.
The wraiers that weren in halle,
Schamly were thai schende.
Than that turnament was don,
Mani on slain ther lay.
Ganhardin went sone
Into Bretaine oway.
Brengwain hath her bone;
Ful wele wreken er thay.
A knight that werd no schon
Hete Tristrem, sothe to say.
Ful wide
Tristrem sought he ay,
And he fond him that tide.
He fel to Tristremes fet
And merci crid he:
"Mi leman fair and swete
A knight hath reved me,
Of love that can wele let.
So Crist hir sende the.
Mi bale thou fond to bet
For love of Ysonde fre.
Nought lain,
Seven brethern hath he
That fighteth me ogain.
"This ich day thai fare
And passeth fast biside.
Y gete hir nevermare
Yif Y tine hir this tide.
Fiftene knightes thai are
And we bot to, to abide."
"Dathet who hem spare,"
Seyd Tristrem that tide.
"This night
Thai han ytint her pride
Thurch grace of God Almight."
Thai gun hem bothe armi
In iren and stiel that tide.
Thai metten hem in a sty
Bi o forestes side.
Ther wex a kene crie
Togider tho thai gun ride.
The yong Tristrem forthi
Sone was feld his pride
Right thore.
He hadde woundes wide
That he no ros no more.
Thus the yong knight
Forsothe yslawe was thare.
Tristrem, that trewe hight,
Awrake him al with care.
Ther he slough in fight
Fiftene knightes and mare.
Wel louwe he dede hem light
With diolful dintes sare,
Ac an aruwe oway he bare
In his eld wounde.
[The leaf containing the ending of the poem
is missing from the manuscript. In his edition,
Sir Walter Scott wrote as a conclusion the
following stanzas.]
The companyons fiftene,
To death did thai thringe;
And sterveth bidene,
Tho Tristrem the yinge;
Ac Tristrem hath tene,
His wounde gan him wring,
To hostel he hath gene,
On bedde gan him flinge
In ure;
Fele salven thai bringe,
His paine to recure.
But never thai no might,
With coste, nor with payn,
Bring Tristrem the wight,
To heildom ogayn:
His wounde brast aplight,
And blake was the bane;
Non help may that knight,
The sothe for to sayne,
Save Ysonde the bright,
Of Cornwal was quene.
Tristrem clepeth aye,
On Ganhardin trewe fere;
"Holp me, brother, thou may,
And bring me out of care;
To Ysonde the gaye,
Of Cornwail do thou fare;
In tokening I say,
Mi ring with the thou bare,
In dern;
Bot help me sche dare,
Sterven wol ich gern.
"Mi schip do thou take,
With godes that bethe new;
Tuo seyles do thou make,
Beth different in hew;
That tone schall be blake,
That tother white so snewe;
And tho thou comest bake,
That tokening schal schew
The end,
Gif Ysonde me forsake,
The blake schalt thou bende."
Ysonde of Britanye,
With the white honde,
In dern can sche be,
And wele understonde,
That Ysonde the fre,
Was sent for from Inglonde;
"Y-wroken wol Y be
Of mi fals husbonde
Bringeth he haggards to honde,
And maketh me his stale?"
Ganhardin to Inglonde fares,
Als merchaunt, Y you saye;
He bringeth riche wares
And garmentes were gaye;
Mark he giftes bares,
Als man that miche maye, 32
A cup he prepares,
The ring tharein can laye,
Brengwain the gaye,
Y-raught it the quene.
Ysonde the ring knewe,
That riche was of gold,
As tokening trewe,
That Tristrem her yold;
Ganhardin gan schewe,
And priviliche hir told,
That Tristrem hurt was newe,
In his wounde that was old,
Al right:
Holp him gif sche nold,
Sterven most that knight.
Wo was Ysonde than,
The tale tho sche hard thare;
Sche schope hir as a man,
With Ganhardin to fare;
O bord are thai gan,
A wind at wil thame bare;
Ysonde was sad woman,
And wepeth bitter tare,
With eighe:
The seyls that white ware,
Ganhardin lete fleighe.
Ysonde of Britanye,
With the white honde,
The schip sche can se,
Seyling to londe;
The white seyl tho marked sche,
"Yonder cometh Ysonde,
For to reve fro me,
Miin fals husbonde;
Ich sware,
For il tho it schal be,
That sche hir hider bare."
To Tristrem sche gan hye,
O bed thare he layne,
"Tristrem, so mot ich thye,
Heled schalt thou bene,
Thi schippe I can espye
The sothe for to sain,
Ganhardin is comen neighe,
To curen thi paine,
"What seyl doth thare flain,
Dame, for God almight?"
Sche weneth to ben awrake,
Of Tristrem the trewe,
Sche seyth, "Thai ben blake,
As piche is thare hewe."
Tristrem threw hym bake,
Trewd Ysonde untrewe,
His kind hert it brake,
And sindrid in tuo;
Cristes merci him take!
He dyed for true love.
Murneth olde and yinge,
Murneth lowe and heighe;
For Tristrem, swete thinge,
Was mani wate eighe;
Maidens thare hondes wringe,
Wives iammeren and crii;
The belles con thai ring,
And masses con thai seye,
For dole;
Prestes praied aye,
For Tristremes sole.
Ysonde to land wan,
With seyl and with ore;
Sche mete an old man,
Of berd that was hore:
Fast the teres ran,
And siked he sore,
"Gone is he than,
Of Inglond the flore,
In lede;
We se him no more:
Schir Tristrem is dede!"
When Ysonde herd that,
Fast sche gan to gonne,
At the castel gate
Stop hir might none:
Sche passed in thereat,
The chaumbre sche won;
Tristrem in cloth of stat
Lay stretched thare as ston
So cold.
Ysonde loked him on,
And faste gan bihold.
Fairer ladye ere
Did Britannye never spye,
Swiche murning chere,
Making on heighe:
On Tristremes bere,
Doun con sche lye;
Rise ogayn did sche nere,
But thare con sche dye
For woe:
Swiche lovers als thei
Never schal be moe.
dwelling at their disposal
Were not; before
a cave
Those hunting dogs
(see note)
a cave
Where; enough
Giants in the old days
Each; say
Thereto; approached
In the woods
secret entrance
(see note)
chanced upon
their sustenance
(see note)
as prey
secluded path
dressed; truly
in haste
drew quickly
hart; pursued
very day
they saw
hunters; directly
had pity
ward off
Mark overcame [his] wrath
They would not lie thus
lie apart; (see note)
(see note)
Then was their joy totally changed
those two
those two
had been
them; their
office of bailiff; take
For a time
substance of the tale
Walked cautiously; sexual play
(see note)
noble man
As a token
look for
made love
conducts himself
wanted to be
searched through; (see note)
Giants; slew
They were pleased and joyful
As was reasonable
promised; spacious
That he freed for them by fighting
in the past
All that belonged to the Duke
was called
celebrated; indeed
thought entirely erroneously
she complained
Tristrem has formed an opinion; (see note)
[Which he] has arrived at in his sorrow
my uncle
us; (see note)
was called
(see note)
agreement; made
At night
separated the two of us
private act
If she should wish it
Don't worry about that
will not
Boundary markers
might; enjoy himself
ought to fear
slew; brothers; (see note)
come back to you; (see note)
set out
Whatever the outcome
the chance arises
hart to hunt
boundary markers (see note)
dark; (see note)
(see note)
(see note); knows how
who he is
A-hunting where
am called
Are you that Tristrem
It would be unnatural for us
As [if we were] relatives
You must atone for that offense
to kill you
pleasant to live
the two of them
He very nearly took
coat of mail
turned quickly aside
(see note)
off with one blow
great strength
Oppose you
(see note)
shelter of his ancestors
Tristrem told the giant to build [the hall]
finish [his work]; (see note)
Beautiful in her clothing
ready for use
When he wanted to
who knew much
was not too large or too small
(see note)
dressed in fine clothing
by chance
(see note)
was called
celebration; go
puddle stepped
wet everywhere
strange happening
high; dress
splashed up
laughed; contemptuously
has happened to you
As you
laughed; time
(see note)
do not be angry
From a puddle in the road
splashed it seemed to me
shamefully disgraced
take a wife in our family
He holds in derision
Where he pledged his troth
To remedy [this]
state of mind
Kept secret
About her I care no more
To seek [a lady's] favor
leaves the celebration
would lose
Unless; went
desist; noble
(see note)
gave his word
(see note)
be afraid
it seems to me
Even if I wanted to take his life
peg leg
formerly; (see note)
(see note)
dark-skinned; (see note)
drew back
was ashamed
was covered with blood
saw there
[for] us
against you
getting; loss
might [bring it about]
made their way
bold on horseback
Because; won
he expects to be very clever
jewelry; gem
Despite all his efforts
To remain faithful
Who would [be] before Tristrem
celebrated; wise
whoever might consider it
owl; fierce
At court
turn you to vengeance
is named as you are
watch out for yourself
Weakly; show hatred; (see note)
do honor
lies look for
It is necessary for him
may grief come to you
good luck may you lose
From here quickly
(see note)
you may have bad luck
riding horse
Prepared; quickly
fig tree
saw; rode
greet them all in turn
stretch out
As a token
remain [here]
sick; in appearance
set up; in haste
remained [there]; (see note)
that [one]
she; saw
pledged [his] word
as [his] wife to have
Two; lay
surveyed (see note)
Canados' summons
people of the region
strike them
followed; (see note)
left the shelter unhappily
as a jewel
Against; complain
(see note)
Until the fifteenth day
(see note to l. 2968)
In such a state
writhe about
Therefore; grow insane
threatened constantly
(see note)
do you have as an enemy
Unless; separate the two of them
will become apparent
She is so afraid of him
denies him
Still; pure
sexual act
in a hurry
caused him to be
knew how
asked that he listen
Whoever [it was who] bore arms there
Neither of us
had announced
On his side
Sent for
foes; overthrown
(see note)
avenged; anger
marvelously fierce
was displeased
lose; (see note)
through [his] mail burst out
Their foes; overcame
people of the region; fought
reckoned with
Who dragged him into shame
enemies; rode
valiant and unwavering
fled unhappily
aid; loudly
Shamefully; disgraced
When; finished
Many a one
has what she wanted
avenged are
(see note)
Was [also] called
deprived me of
(see note)
sorrow; undertake; make better
very near
If; lose
only two
(see note to line 1875)
to arm [themselves]
encountered each other on a road
arose a loud tumult
was called
brought them to the ground
painful blows
But; arrow

throw down
But; anger
pain sharply
At that time
Many salves
burst open quickly
black; bone
[Who] was queen of Cornwall
trusty companion
As a sign
Die; soon
which are
Two sails
[Which] are; color
one; black
other; as snow
Was in hiding
Without fail
(see note)
As a merchant
Help; if; would not
Die must
disguised herself
according to their will; carried
where he lay
as I might thrive
At once
split; two
Mourn; young
low-born and noble
wet eyes
sail; oar
Sir; dead
sorrowful display (of emotion)
she died