16
"Wolde 3e, worþilych lorde," quoþ Wawan to þe kyng,
"Bid me bo3e fro þis benche, and stonde by yow þere,
Þat I wythoute vylanye my3t voyde þis table,
And þat my legge lady lyked not ille,
I wolde com to your counseyl bifore your cort ryche.
For me þink hit not semly, as hit is soþ knawen,
Þer such an askyng is heuened so hy3e in your sale,
Þa33e ourself be talenttyf, to take hit to yourseluen,
Whil mony so bolde yow aboute vpon bench sytten,
Þat vnder heuen I hope non ha3erer of wylle,
Ne better bodyes on bent þer baret is rered.
I am þe wakkest, I wot, and of wyt feblest,
And lest lur of my lyf, quo laytes þe soþe-
Bot for as much as 3e ar myn em I am only to prayse,
No bounté bot your blod I in my bodé knowe;
And syþen þis note is so nys þat no3t hit yow falles,
And I haue frayned hit at yow fyrst, foldez hit to me;
And if I carp not comlyly, let alle þis cort rych

bout blame."
Ryche togeder con roun,
And syþen þay redden alle same
To ryd þe kyng wyth croun,
And gif Gawan þe game.

17
Þen comaunded þe kyng þe kny3t for to ryse;
And he ful radly vpros, and ruchched hym fayre,
Kneled doun bifore þe kyng, and cachez þat weppen;
And he luflyly hit hym laft, and lyfte vp his honde,
And gef hym Goddez blessyng, and gladly hym biddes
Þat his hert and his honde schulde hardi be boþe.
"Kepe þe, cosyn," quoþ þe kyng, "þat þou on kyrf sette,
And if þou redez hym ry3t, redly I trowe
Þat þou schal byden þe bur þat he schal bede after."
Gawan gotz to þe gome with giserne in honde,
And he baldly hym bydez, he bayst neuer þe helder.
Þen carppez to Sir Gawan þe kny3t in þe grene,
"Refourme we oure forwardes, er we fyrre passe.
Fyrst I eþe þe, haþel, how þat þou hattes
Þat þou me telle truly, as I tryst may."
"In god fayth," quoþ þe goode kny3t, "Gawan I hatte,
Þat bede þe þis buffet, quat-so bifallez after,
And at þis tyme twelmonyth take at þe an oþer
Wyth what weppen so þou wylt, and wyth no wy ellez

on lyue."
Þat oþer onswarez agayn,
"Sir Gawan, so mot I þryue
As I am ferly fayn
Þis dint þat þou schal dryue."

18
"Bigog," quoþ þe grene kny3t, "Sir Gawan, me lykes
Þat I schal fange at þy fust þat I haf frayst here.
And þou hatz redily rehersed, bi resoun ful trwe,
Clanly al þe couenaunt þat I þe kynge asked,
Saf þat þou schal siker me, segge, bi þi trawþe,
Þat þou schal seche me þiself, where-so þou hopes
I may be funde vpon folde, and foch þe such wages
As þou deles me to-day bifore þis douþe ryche."
"Where schulde I wale þe," quoþ Gauan, "where is þy place?
I wot neuer where þou wonyes, bi hym þat me wro3t,
Ne I know not þe, kny3t, by cort ne þi name.
Bot teche me truly þerto, and telle me how þou hattes,
And I schal ware alle my wyt to wynne me þeder,
And þat I swere þe for soþe, and by my seker traweþ."
"Þat is innogh in Nwe 3er, hit nedes no more,"
Quoþ þe gome in þe grene to Gawan þe hende;
"3if I þe telle trwly, quen I þe tape haue
And þou me smoþely hatz smyten, smartly I þe teche
Of my hous and my home and myn owen nome,
Þen may þou frayst my fare and forwardez holde;
And if I spende no speche, þenne spedez þou þe better,
For þou may leng in þy londe and layt no fyrre-

bot slokes!
Ta now þy grymme tole to þe,
And let se how þou cnokez."
"Gladly, sir, for soþe,"
Quoþ Gawan; his ax he strokes.


mauler's (nonverse) translation:

16
“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

bear any blame.
The nobles whispered together,
And all of them felt the same:
That the king should acquiesce,
And give Gawain the game.

17
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

alive.”
The other answered in turn,
“Sir Gawain, as I live,
I am most satisfied,
That you this blow shall give.”

18
“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.

But enough!
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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