Quoþ Gawan; his ax he strokes.
mauler's (nonverse) translation:
16 bear any blame.
“Would you, my worthy lord,” said Gawain to the King,
Bid me rise from this bench and stand by your side,
That I might leave this table without discourtesy,
So that my liege lady were not displeased,
That I might come to your counsel before your royal court.
For I find it unseemly, if truth be told,
When so arrogant a request is put forth in your hall,
Even if you are willing, for you to undertake it yourself
While so many bold men sit around you on these benches
Who under heaven there are none who are stronger in will,
Nor are there better men to battle with on the bloody field.
I am the weakest, I know, and in wits, the feeblest,
And I am the least loss, should I lose my life.
Only as you are my uncle do I earn any praise,
And know of nothing virtuous in my body but your blood.
This affair is so foolish it should fall not to you,
And since I asked you for it first, let it fall upon me.
If I my request is offensive, let not this royal court
The nobles whispered together,
And all of them felt the same:
That the king should acquiesce,
And give Gawain the game.
So the king commanded Gawain to rise,
And he promptly arose and stepped forward with grace,
Knelt down before the king and took hold of the of the weapon,
And Arthur gave it up graciously, and lifting his hand,
Gave Gawain God’s blessing and cheerfully bid
That his heart and his hand should both be hardy.
Take care cousin,” said the King, “that one cut is enough,
And if you strike him strongly, I firmly believe,
You will withstand any blow he may deal you thereafter.”
So Gawain went up to the man with the axe in his hand,
And awaits his word, with no worry on his face.
Then the knight in green said to Gawain,
“Let us repeat our agreement before we go any further.
But first I must ask you, Sir Knight, what your name is,
And that you tell me the truth, so I may trust your word.”
“In good faith,” said the good knight, “Sir Gawain I am called,
who shall deal you this blow, and whatever happens thereafter,
At this same time in twelve months, shall accept from you another,
With whatever weapon you wish, and from no other man
The other answered in turn,
“Sir Gawain, as I live,
I am most satisfied,
That you this blow shall give.”
18 But enough!
“By God!” said the Green Knight, “Sir Gawain, I am pleased
That I shall receive from your hands the request I have asked for here,
And that you have readily repeated, in truthful terms,
Clearly the whole covenant that I asked of the king.
But you must assure me, Sir, on your sacred word,
That you shall seek me yourself, wheresoever you believe
I may be found on this Earth, and accept repayment
On the blow you deal me today before this court.
“Where can I find you?” said Gawain. “Where is your home?
By the Lord that made me, I know not where you live.
Nor do I know you, Sir, your court, nor your name.
But tell me them truly, and tell me what they call you,
And I shall wield all my wits to win my way to you.
This I swear to you faithfully on my sacred honor.”
“That is enough for me, you need say no more,”
Said the knight in green to noble Gawain.
“If I judge you correctly, when I take your blow
And you have struck me stoutly, I will tell you at once,
Of my house and my home and my own true name
And you may then pay me visit and keep your promise.
And if I say not a word, than all the better for you!
For you may remain in your land and seek me no further.
Take up your grim tool now,
And let’s see how well you hack.”
“Gladly, Sir, I agree,”
Said Gawain, twirling the axe.
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