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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

(Lines 928-994)




Bi that the diner wat3 done and the dere vp

Hit wat3 ne3 at the niyyght neyghed the tyme.

Chaplayne3 to the chapeles chosen the gate,

Rungen ful rychely, ry3t as thay schulden,

To the hersum euensong of the hy3e tyde.

The lorde loutes therto, and the lady als,

Into a cumly closet coyntly ho entre3.

Gawan glyde3 ful gay and gos theder sone;

The lorde laches hym by the lappe and lede3 hym to sytte,

And couthly hym knowe3 and callez hym his nome,

And sayde he wat3 the welcomest wy3e of the worlde;

And he hym thonkked throly, and ayther halched other,

And seten soberly samen the seruise quyle.

Thenne lyst the lady to loke on the kny3t,

Thenne com ho of hir closet with mony cler burde3.

Ho wat3 the fayrest in felle, of flesche and of lyre,

And of compas and colour and costes, of alle other,

And wener then Wenore, as the wy3e thoyght.

Ho ches thur3 the chaunsel to cheryche that hende.

An other lady hir lad bi the lyft honde,

That wat3 alder then ho, an auncian hit semed,

And he3ly honowred with hathele3 aboute.

Bot vnlyke on to loke tho ladyes were,

For if the 3onge wat3 yghep, ygholyghe watz that other;

Riche red on that on rayled ayquere,

Rugh ronkled cheke3 that other on rolled;

Kerchofes of that on, wyth mony cler perle3,

Hir brest and hir bry3t throte bare displayed,

Schon schyrer then snawe that schede3 on hillez;

That other wyth a gorger wat3 gered ouer the swyre,

Chymbled ouer hir blake chyn with chalkquyte vayles,

Hir frount folden in sylk, enfoubled ayquere,

Toreted and treleted with tryfle3 aboute,

That no3t wat3 bare of that burde bot the blake broyghes,

The tweyne y3en and the nase, the naked lyppe3,

And those were soure to se and sellyly blered;

A mensk lady on molde mon may hir calle,

for Gode!

Hir body wat3 schort and thik,

Hir buttoke3 bal3 and brode,

More lykkerwys on to lyk

Wat3 that scho hade on lode.


When Gawayn gly3t on that gay, that graciously loked,

Wyth leue la3t of the lorde he lent hem ayghaynes;

The alder he haylses, heldande ful lowe,

The loueloker he lappe3 a lyttel in armez,

He kysses hir comlyly, and kny3tly he mele3.

Thay kallen hym of aquoyntaunce, and he hit quyk aske3

To be her seruaunt sothly, if hemself lyked.

Thay tan hym bytwene hem, wyth talkyng hym leden

To chambre, to chemne, and chefly thay asken

Spyce3, that vnsparely men speded hom to bryng,

And the wynnelych wyne therwith vche tyme.

The lorde luflych aloft lepe3 ful ofte,

Mynned merthe to be made vpon mony sythe3,

Hent he3ly of his hode, and on a spere henged,

And wayned hom to wynne the worchip therof,

That most myrthe my3t meue that Crystenmas whyle--

"And I schal fonde, bi my fayth, to fylter wyth the best

Er me wont the wede, with help of my frende3."

Thus wyth la3ande lote3 the lorde hit tayt makez,

For to glade Sir Gawayn with gomne3 in halle

that ny3t,

Til that hit wat3 tyme

The lord comaundet ly3t;

Sir Gawen his leue con nyme

And to his bed hym di3t.



When the Knight had done dining and duly arose,

The dark was drawing on; the day nigh ended.

Chaplains in chapels and churches about

Rang the bells aright, reminding all men

Of the holy evensong of the high feast.

the lord attends alone: his fair lady sits

In a comely closet, secluded from sight.

Gawain in gay attire goes thither soon;

The lord catches his coat, and calls him by name,

And has him sit beside him, and says in good faith

No guest on God's earth would he gladier greet.

For that Gawain thanked him; the two then embraced

And sat together soberly the service through.

Then the lady, that longed to look on the knight,

Came forth from her closet with her comely maids.

The fair hues of her bearing were beyond praise,

And excelled the queen herself, as Sir Gawain thought.

He goes forth to greet her gracious intent;

Another lady led her by the left hand

That was older than she--an ancient, it seemed,

And held in high honor by all men about.

But unlike to look upon, those ladies were,

For if one was fresh, the other was faded:

Bedecked in bright red was the body of one;

Flesh hung in folds on the face of the other;

On one a high headdress, hung all with pearls;

Her bright throat and bosom fair to behold,

Fresh as the first snow fallen upon hills;

A wimple the other one wore round her throat;

Her swart chin well swaddled, swathed all in white;

Her forehead enfolded in flounces of silk

That framed a fair fillet, of fashion ornate,

And nothing bare beneath save the black brows,

The two eyes and the nose, the naked lips,

And they unsightly to see, and sorrily bleared.

A beldame, by God, she may well be deemed,


Of pride!

She was short and thick of waist

Her buttocks round and wide;

More toothsome, to his taste

Was the beauty of her side.


When Gawain had gazed on that gay lady,

With leave of her lord, he politely approached;

To the elder in homage he humbly bows;

The lovelier he salutes with a light embrace.

He claims a comely kiss, and courteously he speaks;

They welcome him warmly, and straightway he asks

To be received as their servant, if they so desire.

They take him between them; with talking they bring him

Beside a bright fire; bade then that spices

Be freely fetched forth, to refresh them the better,

And the good win therewith, to warm their hearts.

The lord leaps about in light-hearted mood;

Contrives entertainments and timely sports;

Takes his hood from his head and hangs it on a spear,

And offers him openly the honor thereof

Who should promote the most mirth at that Christmas feast;

"And I shall try for it, trust me--contend with the best,

Ere I go without my headgear by grace of my friends!"

Thus with light talk and laughter the lord makes merry

To gladden the guest he had greeted in hall


that day.

At the last he called for light

The company to convey;

Gawain says goodnight

And retires to bed straightway.



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Works Cited

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