Poem in Middle English (Lines 1-59)
1. Since the
siege and the assault was ceased at Troy,
2. The walls breached and burnt down to brands and ashes,
3. The knight that had knotted the nets of deceit
4. Was impeached for his perfidy
, proven most true,
5. It was high-born Aeneas and his haughty
6. That since prevailed over provinces, and proudly reigned
7. Over well-nigh all the wealth of the West Isles.
8. Great Romulus to Rome repairs
9. With boast and with bravery builds he that city
10. And names it with his own name, that it now bears.
11. Ticius to Tuscany, and towers raises,
12. Langobard in Lombardy lays out homes,
13. And far over the French Sea, Felix Brutus
14. On many broad hills and high Britain he sets,
Where war and wrack and wonder
By shifts have sojourned
And bliss by turns with
In that land's lot had share.
20. And since this Britain was built by this
21. Bold boys bred there, in broils delighting,
22. That did in their day many a deed most dire.
23. More marvels have happened in this merry land
24. Than in any other I know, since that olden time,
25. But of those that here built, of British kings,
26. King Arthur was counted most courteous of all,
27. Wherefore an adventure I aim to unfold,
28. That a marvel of might some men think it,
29. And one unmatched among Arthur's wonders.
30. If you will listen to my lay but a little while,
31. As I heard it in hall, I shall hasten to tell
As it was fashioned featly
In tale of derring-do,
And linked in measures meetly
By letters tried and true.
37. This king lay at Camelot at Christmastide;
38. Many good knights and gay his guests were there,
39. Arrayed of the Round Table rightful brothers,
40. With feasting and fellowship and carefree mirth.
41. There true men contended in tournaments many,
42. Joined there in jousting these gentle knights,
43. Then came to the court for carol-dancing,
44. For the feast was in force full fifteen days,
45. With all the meat and the mirth that men could devise,
46. Such gaiety and glee, glorious to
47. Brave din by day, dancing by night.
48. High were their hearts in halls and chambers,
49. These lords and these ladies, for life was sweet.
50. In peerless pleasures passed they their days,
51. The most noble knights known under Christ,
52. And the loveliest ladies that lived on earth ever,
53. And he the comeliest king, that
that court holds,
54. For all this fair folk in their first age
Happiest of mortal kind,
King noblest famed of will;
You would now go far to find
So hardy a host on hill.