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Item 24, Sir Cleges


Abbreviations: A: Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland MS Advocates 19.1.11; OED: The Oxford English Dictionary;

Title No title or incipit. The title, based on the spelling of the hero’s name in A, the only other surviving manuscript copy, has been used by most previous editions of the poem. The item begins halfway down the page of fol. 67v.

4 Uter and Pendragon. The following line makes it clear that this is one person, Uther Pendragon, the legendary father of Arthur. The and inserted between the two names is very likely Rate’s error.

7 Clegys. This is not a common English name, though minor characters by that name appear in Malory’s Morte D’Arthur and the Middle English Awntyrs of Arthur. The titular hero of Chrétien de Troyes’s romance, Cligés, bears little resemblance to the Clegys here. Sims-Williams argues that both Chrétien’s Cligés and Sir Clegys ultimately trace back to the Welsh King Glywys (“Turkish-Celtic Problem,” pp. 217–30).

9 Ronde Tabull. In most Arthurian texts, the Round Table is founded by Arthur himself, not his father.

16 squyres that traveyled in lond of werre. War was an extremely expensive under­taking, as knights had to provide their own armor, weapons, horses, and pro­visions. This phrase may also suggest those who were unlucky enough to be captured and ran­somed, a process that could be financially crippling. See note to The Erle of Tolous (item 19), line 171.

20 buske ne bete. The sense here seems to be that Cleges never hurried guests, even poor ones, out of his hall, a hospitality that compares favorably to the at­tendants of Uther’s court later on in the text.

28 Dame Clarys. Various characters named Clarice appear in French romances; the name seems to be chosen here for its associations with light, clarity, and beauty. Her almsgiving exemplifies her pity and tenderness of heart, qualities much valued in medieval heroines.

39 dey. Three lines are missing here, present in A: “As ryall in all thynge, / As he hade ben a kynge. / For soth, as I you saye.”

70 Hys ryalty. Describing Cleges’s magnanimity as his ryalty makes more sense in A, where Cleges’s generosity has already been called ryall (see note to line 39).

71 maners. The wealthier gentry lived on several estates, sometimes dispersed over a wide area, and traveled between them throughout the year.

84 Cardyff. A city in southern Wales, often mentioned in Arthurian literature.

96 dyverse mynstralsy. Minstrelsy (music) is commonly associated with the super­natural and otherwordly. See the final combat of Lybeaus Desconus (item 20) and Sir Orfeo (item 39). In “The Second Shepherds’ Play” of the Towneley Plays, angelic music plays a similar role on the night of the Nativity; in line 1036, the play also features a “bob of cherys,” given by one of the shepherds to the infant Jesus. See “The Second Shepard’s Play,” in Stevens and Cawley, Towneley Plays (1:126–57).

126 stynte. Three lines are missing here, present in A: “Let your sorow awaye gon / And thanke God of hys lone / Of all that he hath sent.”

165 Be chesyn of hys wyfe. Eve Salisbury, in her notes to the Middle English Breton Lays edition of Sir Cleges, points out the various possible senses here (p. 400). Cleges may be praying because of his wife’s exhortation to avoid sorrow or because of her resolute optimism; alternatively (or simultaneously), Cleges may be thank­ing Christ for his wife’s intelligence and good nature.

198 this tyme of yere. Cherries were a symbol of transience, being available in abundance for a very short time in the year. See item 3, How the Wise Man Taught His Son, line 68, where the world’s joys are described as passing as quickly as a cherry festival.

205 relesyd. This is an early form of the word relish. See OED, “reles.”

249 On Crystenmes dey. Salisbury notes what seems to be a problem in chronology here, namely that the journey to King Uther’s court should take place the day after Christmas, i.e., Boxing Day, since the miracle of the cherries occurs after the Mass on Christmas Day (Laskaya and Salisbury, Middle English Breton Lays, p. 403). But Ad Putter has argued for an ingenious solution: Sir Cleges and his family eat a midday meal on Christ­mas Eve, go to sleep after evensong, and awake to attend Mass at mid­night on Christ­mas Eve (a common practice). The miracle of the cherries then takes place in the very early hours of December 25, when it would still be proper to speak of taking a journey “tomorrow” (in the morning) on Christmas Day. Christ, as Putter points out, was thought to have been born at midnight, making the Midnight Mass a crucial service (“In Search of Lost Time,” pp. 125–31). This also suggests that the appearance of the cherries has been “carefully synchronized . . . with the liturgical time of Christ’s birth” (p. 130).

256 The porter. The porter’s office involved admitting those guests welcome in the household and refusing the unwanted.

287 The offycer at the dore. Specified in line 304 as an usher, this officer was in charge of seating guests according to rank.

319 The stewerd. The chief officer of the household, responsible for financial over­sight and discipline on the lord’s estate.

383 awne Quen. Uther’s queen was Igraine, Arthur’s mother.

424 With my staff to pay them all. Naturally, Sir Cleges does not receive the “gifts” himself but pays them directly to the three officers.

428 I repent my grantyng. This is an example of “The Rash Boon,” a common motif in medieval literature. In the usual versions of this motif, a character asks a favor without specifying what it will be. The grantor agrees, also without inquiring what the favor will be, and the favor then turns out to place the grantor in a difficult (or at least undesirable) position. See note to Lybeaus Desconus (item 20), line 98, and see also Sir Orfeo (item 39), lines 435–49.

475 parlere. A smaller private room off of the hall, where the lord and lady might seclude themselves with a select group after a meal.

478 An harper had a geyst iseyd. In A, the reading suggests that the song sung by the harper is about Sir Cleges (lines 484–89 in French and Hale’s edition: “An harpor sange a gest be mowth / Of a knyght there be sowth, / Hymselffe, werament. / Than seyd the kynge to the harpor, / ‘Were ys knyght Cleges, tell me here; / For thou hast wyde iwent’”).

541 he made hym hys stuerd. A steward’s office came with considerable rewards of both honor and wealth. See The Erle of Tolous (item 19), line 1191, and note.

548 a coler. Granting collars, often with a personal insignia, was a common late medieval way of designating retainers; collars were also given to newly-designated squires.

570a AMEN. This colophon is separated from the following text by a drawing of a grinning fish.


Abbreviations: see Explanatory Notes

1 Lystyns. MS: ystyns (with space for large initial L left blank).

55 slake. MS: schake.

58 MS: Initial T is larger than usual.

59 to. MS: te.

89 he had. MS: he he had.

99 sytall. MS: sycall.

139 tho. MS: the.

142 fell. MS: sell.

157 Thei. MS: The.

169 MS: Initial T is larger than usual.

173 Thei. MS: The.

179 hys. MS: hy.

229–30 MS: line 231 is added in the right margin between these two lines.

230 That we. MS: That a we.

235 MS: Initial T is larger than usual.

246 a man. MS: maner.

287 offycer. MS: offycers.

326 thi. MS: the.

331 MS: Initial T is larger than usual.

364 MS: Initial V is larger than usual.

378 Without. MS: With.

403 MS: Initial I is larger than usual.

427 MS: Initial T is larger than usual.

460 Syr Cleges seyd. MS: Syr seyd.

478 An harper. MS: And harp.

490 thinke. MS: thnke.

506 thyrd. MS: thryd parte.

509 them. MS: theyn.

520 lokyd. MS: lukyd.

526 My. MS: Me.

548 for to. MS: forte.

560 old. MS: hold.






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Lystyns, lordyngys, and ye schall here
Of ansytoures that befor us were,
     Bothe herdy and wyght,
In tyme of Uter and Pendragon,
Kyng Artour fader of grete renoune,
     A sembly man of syght.
He had a knyght hyght Sir Clegys;
A doughtyer man was non at nedys
     Of the Ronde Tabull ryght.
He was man of hy statour,
And therto feyre of all fetour,
     A man of mekyll myght.

More curtas knyght than he was one
In all this werld was ther non;
     He was so gentyll and fre.
To squyres that traveyled in lond of werre
And were fallyn in poverté bare,
     He gaff them gold and fe.
Hys tenantys feyr he wold rehete;
No man he wold buske ne bete;
     Meke as meyd was he.
Hys mete was redy to every man
That wold com and vyset hym than;
     He was full of plenté.

The knyght had a gentyll wyff,
A better myght non be of lyfe,
     Ne none semblyer in syght.
Dame Clarys hyght that lady;
Of all godnes, sche had treuly
     Glad chere bothe dey and nyght.
Grete almysfolke bothe thei were,
Both to pore man and to frere;
     They cheryd many a wyght.
For them had no man ought lore:
Whether thei were ryche or pore,
     Of hym thei schuld have ryght.

Every yere Sir Clegys wold
In Crystynmes a fest hold
     In the worschype of that dey.
Ryche and pore in that contré
At that fest thei schuld be;
     Ther wold no man sey nay.
Mynstrellus wold not be behynd;
Myrthys were thei may fynd,
     That is most to ther pay.

Mynstrellus, when the fest was don,
Schuld not withoutyn gyftys gon
     That were both rych and gode:
Hors and robys and rych thyngys,
Gold and sylver and other thyngys
     To mend with ther mode.
Ten yere or twelve sych festys thei held
In worschype of hym that all weld
     And for us dyghed upon the rode.
Be than his gode began to slake,
Sych festys he gan make,
     The knyght of jentyll blode.

To hold hys feste he wold not lete.
Hys rych maners to wede he sete;
     He thought hymselve oute to quyte.
Thus he festyd many a yere
Both gentyllmen and comener
     In the name of God allmyght.
So at the last, soth to sey,
All hys gode was spendyd away;
     Than he had bot a lyte.
Thoff hys god were ne hond leste,
In the wyrschyp he made a feste;
     He hopyd God wold hym quyte.

Hys ryalty he forderyd ay
To hys maners were sold awey,
     That hym was left bot one.
And that was of lytell valew,
That he and hys wyfe so trew
     Oneth myght lyfe therone.
Hys men, that were so mych of pride,
Wente awey onne every syde;
     With hym ther left not one.
To duell with hym ther left no mo
Bot hys wyfe and his chylder two.
     Than made he mekyll mone.

It fell on a Crystenmes Eve
Syr Clegys and his wyfe
     They duellyd by Cardyff syde.
When it drew toward the none,
Syr Clegys fell in suownyng sone.
     Wo bethought hym that tyde:
What myrth he was wonte to hold,
And he had hys maners solde,
     Tenandrys and landys wyde.
Mekyll sorow made he ther;
He wrong hys hondys and wepyd sore,
     For fallyd was hys pride.

And as he walkyd uppe and done,
Sore sygheng, he herd a sowne
     Of dyverse mynstralsy,
Of trumpers, pypers, and nakerners
Of herpers notys and gytherners,
     Of sytall and of sautrey.
Many carrals and grete dansyng
In every syde herd he syng,
     In every place, treuly.
He wrong hys hondys and wepyd sore;
Mekyll mon he made ther,
     Sygheng full pytewysly.

“A, Jhesu, heven kyng,
Of nought thou madyst all thyng;
     I thanke thee of thy sonde.
The myrth that I was won to make
In this tyme for thi sake!
     I fede both fre and bond,
And all that ever com in thi name;
They wantyd nother wylde ne tame
     That was in any lond.
Of rych metys and drynkys gode,
That longys for any manus fode,
     Of cost I wold not wonde.”

Als he stode in mournyng so,
Anon hys wyfe com hym to;
     In armys sche hym hente.
Sche kyssed hym with glad cher,
And seyd, “My trew wedyd fere,
     I herd wele what ye ment.
Ye se wele, syr, it helpys nought
To take sorow in your thought;
     Therfor I rede ye stynte.

“Be Crystys sake, I rede ye lyne
Of all the sorow that ye be ine
     Agene this holy dey.
Now every man schuld be mery and glad
With sych godys as thei had;
     Be ye so, I you pray.
Go we to our mete belyve,
And make us both merry and blythe,
     Als wele as ever we may.
I hold it for the best, trewly.
I have made owre mete, treuly,
     I hope, unto your pay.”

“Now I assent,” quod Clegys tho.
In with hyr he gan go,
     Somwhat with better cher.
When he fell in thought and care
Sche comforth hym ever more,
     Hys sorow for to stere.
After he gan to wex blyth
And wyped hys terys blyve
     That hang on hys lyre.
Than thei wesch and went to mete,
With sych god as thei myght gete,
     And made merry chere.

When thei had ete, the soth to sey,
With myrth thei drofe the dey awey,
     The best wey that they myght.
With ther chylder pley thei dyde,
And after evensonge went to bede
     At serteyn of the nyght.
Thei sclepyd to it rong at the chyrche
Godys servys for to wyrche,
     As it was skyll and ryght.
Up thei ros and went thether,
They and ther chylder together,
     When thei were redy dyght.

Syr Clegys knelyd on hys kne;
To Jhesu Cryst prayd he,
     Be chesyn of hys wyfe.
“Grasyos Lord,” he seyd tho,
“My wyfe and my chylder two,
     Kepe us out of stryffe.”
The lady prayd hym ageyn:
Sche seyd, “God, kepe my lord fro peyn,
     Into ever lastyng lyffe.”
Servys was don and hom thei wente;
Thei thankyd God omnipotent.
     They went home so ryfe.

When he to hys palys com,
He thought his sorow was overgon;
     Hys sorow he gan stynt.
He made hys wyfe befor hym gon,
And hys chylder everychon.
     Hymselve alone he wente
Into a garthyn ther besyde.
He knelyd a-don in that tyde
     And prayd to God verament.
He thankyd God with all hys hert
Of all desesyd in poverté
     That ever to hym he sent.

As he knelyd onne hys kne
Underneth a chery tre
     Makyng hys praere,
He rawght a bowghe in hys hond
To ryse therby and upstond;
     No lenger knelyd he ther.
When the bowghe was in hys hond,
Gren levys theron he fond
     And ronde beryes in fere.
He seyd, “Dere God in Trinyté!
What maner beryes may this be
     That grow this tyme of yere?

“I have not se this tyme of yere
That treys any fruyt schuld bere,
     Als ferre as I have sought.”
He thought to tayst it yff he couthe:
One of them he put in hys mouthe;
     Spare wold he nought.
After a chery it relesyd clene,
The best that ever he had sene
     Seth he was man wrought.
A lytell bow he gan of slyfe,
And thought he wold schew it hys wyfe;
     In hys hond he it brought.

“Lo, dame, here is a newylté:
In our garthyn upon a tre
     I found it, sykerly.
I ame aferd it is tokenyng,
Because of our grete plenyng,
     That more grevans is ny.”
His wyfe seyd, “It is tokenyng
Of more godnes that is comyng:
     We schall have more plenté.
Have we les or have we more,
Allwey thanke we God therfore;
     It is the best, treulye.”

The lady seyd with gode cher,
“Late us fyll a panyer
     Of the frute that God hath sente.
Tomorow when the dey do spryng
Ye schall to Cardyff to the Kyng,
     Full feyre hym to presente.
Sych a gyft ye may hafe ther
That we schall the beter fare,
     I tell you, verament.”
Syre Clegys grantyd sone therto:
“Tomorow to Cardyff I wyll go,
     After your entent.”

The morne, when it was dey lyght,
The lady had the panyer dyght.
     To hyr eldyst son seyd sche,
“Take up this panyer gladly
And bere it at thy bake esyly,
     After thi fader so fre.”
Syre Clegys than a staff he toke —
He had no hors, so seyth the boke,
     To ryde hys jorneye.
Nether sted ne palferey,
Bot a staff was his hakney,
     As a man in poverté.

Syr Cleges and hys son gent
The ryght wey to Cardyfe went
     On Crystenmes dey.
To the castell gate thei com full ryght,
As thei were to mete dyght
     At none, the soth to sey.
As Syr Cleges wold in go,
In pore clothyng was he tho,
     In a symple aray.
The porter seyd full spytously,
“Thow schall withdraw thee smertly,
     I rede, withoute deley.

“Els, be God and Seynt Mary,
I schall breke thi hede smertly.
     Go stond in begers route.
If thou draw any more inwerd,
Thow schall rew it afterwerd,
     I schall thee so cloute.”
“Gode syr,” seyd Syr Cleges tho,
“I pray you late me in go.
     Thys is withouten doute:
The Kyng I have a present browght
Fro hym that made all thinge of nought.
     Behold and loke aboute.”

The porter to the pannyer wente.
Sone the lyde up he hente;
     The cherys he gan behold.
Wele he wyst for his comyng,
For hys presente to the Kyng,
     Grete gyftys have he schuld.
He seyd, “Be hym that me dere bought,
In at this gate comys thou nought,
     Be hym that made this mold,
The thryd parte bot thou grante me
Of that the Kyng wyll gyff thee,
     Whether it be sylver or gold.”

Syr Cleges seyd, “Therto I sente.”
He gave hym leve, and in he wente
     Withouten more lettyng.
In he went a grete pas;
The offycer at the dore was
     With a staff standyng.
In com Sir Cleges so wyght.
He seyd, “Go, chorle, out of my syght
     Without any more lettyng.
I schall thee bete every lythe,
Hede and body, withoutyn grythe,
     And thou make more presyng.”

“Gode syr,” seyd Sir Cleges than,
“For hys love that made man,
     Sese your angry mode.
For I have a presante brought
Fro hym that made all thyng of nowght
     And dyed upon the rode.
Thys nyght this fruyt grew.
Behold whether I be fals or trew:
     They be gentyll and gode.”
The usscher lyfte up the syde smertly.
The feyrest cherys that ever he sey
     He mervyllyd in his mode.

The usscher seyd, “Be Mary suete,
Thou comyst not in the halle on fete,
     I tell thee, sykerly,
Bot thou grante me, without wernyng,
The thyrd parte of thi wyneng
     When thou comyst ageyn to me.”
Syr Cleges sey non other wone,
Bot ther he grantyd hym anon;
     It wold non other weys be.
Than Syr Cleges with hevy chere
Toke his son and his panyer;
     Into the hall went he.

The stewerd stert fast in the hall,
Among the lordys in the halle
     That weryd ryche wede.
He went to Syr Cleges boldly
And seyd, “Who made thee so herdy
     To come hether or thou were bede?
Cherle,” he seyd, “thou arte to bolde:
Withdraw thee with thi clothes olde
     Smertly, I thee rede.”
He seyd, “Syr, I have a presant brought
Fro that Lord that us dere bought
     And on the rode gan bled.”

The stewerd stert forth wele sone,
And plukyd up the lyde anon
     Als smertly as he mought.
The stewerd seyd, “Be Mary dere,
Thys saw I never this tyme of yere
     Seth I was man iwrought!
Thow schall cum no nere the Kyng,
Bot if thou grante me myn askyng,
     Be hym that me dere bought.
The thyrd parte of the Kyngys gyfte
I wyll have, be my thryfte,
     Or els go truse thee oute.”

Syr Cleges stode and bethought hym than:
“And I schuld parte betwyx thre men,
     Myselve schuld have nothyng.
For my traveyll schall I not gete,
Bot if it be a melys mete?”
     Thus thought hym sore sygheng.
He seyd, “Herlot, has thou no tong?
Speke to me and tary not long!
     And grante me myn askyng
Or with a staff I schall thee twake
And bete thi raggys to thi bake
     And schofe thee out hedlyng.”

Syr Cleges saw non other bote.
Hys askyng grante hym he mote,
     And seyd with syghyng sore,
“What that ever the Kyng rewerd,
Ye schall have the thyrd parte,
     Whether it be lesse or more.”
When Syr Cleges had seyd that word,
The stewerd and he were acorde,
     And seyd to hym no more.
Up to the Kyng sone he went;
Full feyr he proferd hys presente
     Knelyng onne hys kne hym befor.

Syr Cleges uncoveryd the panyer
And schewyd the Kyng the cherys clere,
     Upon the ground knelyng.
He seyd, “Jhesu, our Savyoure,
Sente you this fruyt with grete honour,
     Thys dey onne erth growyng.”
The Kyng saw the cherys fressch and new
And seyd, “I thanke thee, suete Jhesu!
     Here is a feyre newyng!”
He comandyd Syr Cleges to mete,
A word after with hym to speke
     Without any feylyng.

The Kyng therfor made a presente
And send unto a lady gente
     Was borne in Corneweyle.
Sche was a lady bryght and schen,
After sche was hys awne Quen,
     Withouten any feyle.
The cherys were served throughe the hall;
Than seyd the Kyng, a lord ryall,
     “Be mery, be my conseyle!
And he that brought me this present,
I schall make hym so content,
     It schall hym wele avayle.”

When all men were merye and glad,
Anon the Kyng a squyre bade:
     “Bryng hym me beforne,
The pore man that the cherys brought.”
Anon he went and taryd nought;
     Withouten any scorne
He brought Cleges befor the Kyng.
Anon he fell in knelyng;
     He wend hys gyft had be lorn.
He spake to the Kyng with wordys felle:
He seyd, “Lege lord, what is your wylle?
     I ame your man fre borne.”

“I thanke thee hertely,” seyd the Kyng,
“Of thi grete presentyng
     That thou hast to me do.
Thow hast honouryd all my feste
With thi deyntys, moste and leste,
     And worschyped me allso.
What that ever thou wyll have,
I wyll thee grante, so God me save,
     That thin hert stondys to,
Whether it be lond or lede,
Or other gode, so God me spede,
     How that ever it go.”

He seyd, “Garemersy, lege Kyng,
Thys is to me a hye thing,
     For sych one as I be,
For to grante me lond or lede,
Or any gode, so God me spede.
     Thys is to myche for me.
Bot seth that I schall ches myselve,
I aske no thyng bot strokys twelve.
     Frely now, grante ye me
With my staff to pay them all,
Myn adversarys in this hall,
     For Seynt Charyté.”

Than ansuerd Uter the Kyng:
He seyd, “I repent my grantyng,
     The covenand that I made.”
He seyd, “Be hym that made me and thee,
Thou had be better take gold or fe;
     More nede therto thou hade.”
Syr Cleges seyd withouten warryng,
“Lord, it is your awne grante;
     It may not be deleyd.”
The Kyng was angary and grevyd sore.
Nevertheles, he grante hym thore
     The dyntys schuld be payd.

Syr Cleges went into the hall
Among the grete lordys all,
     Withouten any more.
He sought after the stewerd:
He thought to pay hym his rewerd,
     For he had grevyd hym sore.
He gafe the stewerd sych a stroke
That he fell doune lyke a bloke
     Among all that ther were.
And after he gaff hym strokys thre,
He seyd, “Syr, for thi curtassie,
     Stryke thou me no more.”

Out of the hall Sir Cleges wente;
To pay mo strokys he had mente,
     Withowtyn any lette.
To the usscher he gan go:
Sore strokys gaffe he tho
     When thei togeder mette,
That afterwerd many a dey
He wold wern no man the wey,
     So grymly he hym grete.
Syr Cleges seyd, “Be my thryfte,
Thou hast the thyrd parte of my gyfte,
     Ryght evyn as I thee hyght.”

To the porter com he yare.
Foure strokys payd he thare;
     His parte had he tho.
Aftyrwerd many a dey
He wold wern no man the wey,
     Nether to ryde ne go.
The fyrst stroke he leyd hym onne
He brake a-two hys schulder bone
     And hys ryght arme also.
Syr Cleges seyd, “Be my thryfte,
Thow hast the thyrd parte of my gyfte;
     Covenant made we so.”

The Kyng was sett in hys parlere
Myrth and revell for to here;
     Syr Cleges theder wente.
An harper had a geyst iseyd
That made the Kyng full wele a-payd
     As to hys entente.
Than seyd the Kyng to this herper,
“Mykyll thou may ofte tyme here,
     For thou hast ferre wente.
Tell me trew, if thou can,
Knowyst thou thys pore man
     That this dey me presente?”

He seyd, “My lege, withouten les,
Som tyme men callyd hym Cleges;
     He was a knyght of youre.
I may thinke when that he was
Full of fortone and of grace,
     A man of hye stature.”
The Kyng seyd, “This is not he, indede.
It is long gon that he was dede
     That I lovyd par amour.
Wold God that he were wyth me!
I had hym lever than knyghtys thre —
     That knyght was styff in stoure.”

Syr Cleges knelyd befor the Kyng,
For he had grantyd hym hys askyng;
     He thankyd hym curtasly.
Spesyally the Kyng hym prayd,
The thre men that he strokys payd
     Wherfor it was and why.
He seyd, “I myght not com inwerd
To I grantyd iche of them the thyrd
     Of that ye wold gyff me;
Be that I schuld have noght myselve.
To dele among them strokys twelve,
     Me thought it best, trewly.”

The lordys lewghe, both old and yenge,
And all that ther were wyth the Kyng,
     They made solas inowghe.
They lewghe so thei myght not sytte.
They seyd, “It was a nobull wytte,
     Be Cryst we make a vow!”
The Kyng send after hys stewerd
And seyd, “And he grante thee any reward,
     Askyth it be the law.”
The stewerd seyd and lokyd grym,
“I thynke never to have a-do with hym.
     I wold I had never hym knaw.”

The Kyng seyd, withouten blame,
“Tell me, gode man, what is thi name,
     Befor me anon ryght.”
“My lege,” he seyd, “This man you tellys,
Som tyme men callyd me Syr Cleges;
     I was your awne knyght.”
“Arte thou my knyght that servyd me,
That was so gentyll and so fre,
     Both strong, herdy and wyght?”
“Ye, lord,” he seyd, “so mote I thé,
Tyll God allmyght hath vyset me;
     Thus poverté hath me dyght.”

The Kyng gaffe hym anon ryght
All that longys to a knyght
     To aray hys body with,
The castell of Cardyff also,
With all the pourtenas therto,
     To hold with pes and grythe.
Than he made hym hys stuerd
Of all hys londys, afterwerd,
     Of water, lond and frythe.
A cowpe of gold he gafe hym blythe,
To bere to Dam Clarys hys wyfe,
     Tokenyng of joy and myrthe.

The Kyng made hys son squyre,
And gafe hym a coler for to were,
     With a hundryth pownd of rente.
When thei com home in this maner,
Dame Clarys, that lady clere,
     Sche thankyd God verament.
Sche thankyd God of all maner,
For sche had both knyght and squyre
     Somwhat to ther entente.
Upon the dettys that they hyght,
They payd als fast as thei myght,
     To every man were content.

A gentyll stewerd he was hold;
All men hym knew, yong and old,
     In lond were that he wente.
Ther fell to hym so grete ryches
He vansyd hys lyne, more and les,
     The knyght curtas and hend.
Hys lady and he lyved many yere
With joy and mery chere,
     Tyll God dyde for them send.
For ther godnes that thei dyd here,
Ther saulys went to heven clere,
     Ther is joy withouten ende.
gentlemen; (see note); (t-note)
Of ancestors
Uther Pendragon; (see note)
Arthur’s father
named; (see note)
in [times of] need
(see note)

war-torn lands; (see note)

encourage (support)
harry nor beat; (see note)


more attractive
was named; (see note)

givers of alms
cheered; person
any harm

(see note)

Where they may find mirth
to their liking

restore; spirits

By then his goods; diminish; (t-note)

cease; (t-note)
      offered his rich manors as collateral; (t-note)
get himself out of debt

Though his goods; nearly lost


royal estate; spent continually; (see note)
Until; (see note)
[So] that only one was left to him

Scarcely; live upon it

all around him

remained no more

It happened [that] on

(see note)
drew towards noon
he thought to himself; time

(see note)
trumpeters; drummers
harpers’ and gitterns’ (guitars’) notes
citole and psaltrey; (t-note)



bondsmen (serfs)

wild nor domestic game

Whatever belongs to any man’s meal


expressed (contemplated)

stop; (see note)

advise you to cease

Against (on)

without delay


then; (t-note)





At an appropriate time
slept until it rang; (t-note)



For his wife’s sake; (see note)
Gracious; then

prayed to Him; (t-note)


gone forever
did cease



For all those who wretched in poverty
That He had ever sent to him

grabbed a bough

round berries in abundance

(see note)

i.e., As far as I have seen

Like a cherry it tasted exactly; (see note)

began to split off


an omen




According to your will


steed nor riding horse
hackney (horse, i.e., transport)

gentle (noble)

(see note)

ready to eat a meal

scornfully; (see note)

the beggars’ crowd



      he [the porter] knew for his [Cleges’] arrival

Unless you promise me a third

I agree

(see note); (t-note)


If; advance further



admired in his mind

during the feast

Unless; without refusal

saw no other choice

jumped up; (see note)

wore rich clothing

before you were asked



quickly as he might

by my fortune
throw you out


get nothing
Except for a meal’s food

He [the steward]; Harlot (Churl)


shove; headlong

demand; must

[he] said nothing more to him


Without fail; (t-note)


Later; (see note)

royal (excellent)



though; lost



your heart desires

Grant mercy
high honor

too much

(see note)

regret my gift; (see note)

without hesitation


more (delay)


[So] that



(see note)

to there
story told; (see note); (t-note)
well pleased
to his liking

You may often hear much [news]

presented [a gift to] me

Some time [ago] men
I can recall; (t-note)


staunch in battle


Until; (t-note)




If he granted



may I prosper
Until; afflicted


appurtenances (other properties and rights)
(see note)


(see note); (t-note)

to their liking

Until everyone was satisfied


advanced his line (lineage)

(see note)

Go To Item 25, The Feasts of All Saints and All Souls, introduction
Go To Item 25, The Feasts of All Saints and All Souls, text