Þis auenture for to frayn
Þat þou hatz tan on honde.
mauler's (nonverse) translation:
19 he was headless.
The Green Knight readily takes his position,
Bowed his head a little, bearing the skin,
And lifted his lovely locks over his crown,
To let his naked neck show in readiness.
Gawain gripped his axe and heaved it up high,
Set his left foot on the floor in front of him,
And let it fall swiftly upon the naked flesh,
So that the sharp shining blade sundered his spine,
And sheared through his fair flesh, severing it in twain,
Until the bright steel blade bit into the ground.
The fair head fell from the neck to the earth,
And many people kicked it with their feet as it rolled forward.
Blood gushed from the body, shining bright red on green,
But the knight never faltered or fell, in spite of it all!
Instead he stoutly strode forward on steady legs,
And fiercely reached out toward the knights feet,
Snatched his handsome head, and lifted it up swiftly.
Then he strode to his steed and seizing the bridle,
Stepped into the stirrup and swung himself up,
And holding his head by his hair in his hand,
Sat steady and straight in his saddle like a man
Who was not troubled at all, though in fact
He heaved his torso about,
A hideous stump that bled,
And many were filled with fear,
When he began to speak.
20 What then?
For truly, he held his head in his hand,
And turned the face toward the nobles on the dais,
And it opened its eyelids and stared at them sternly,
And spoke thusly with its mouth as you may now hear:
“See to it Gawain, that you are ready to go as you promised,
And loyally search for me, until you may find me,
As you have promised in this hall in the hearing of these knights
To the Green Chapel you must go, I charge thee, to receive
Such a blow as you have dealt—you deserve
To be promptly repaid on New Years morn.
As ‘The Knight of the Green Chapel’ I am known by many,
So if you seek to find me you shall certainly not fail.
Therefore come for me, or you deserve to be called a coward.”
With a fierce tug, he turned the reins,
And raced from the hall with his head in his hand,
Such that sparks flew from his horse’s hooves.
To what land he returned, no one knew,
No more than they knew from where he had come.
The King and Gawain
Laughed and grinned,
And declared that clearly it was
A marvel that they had seen.
21 Over the land.
Although Arthur, the noble king, in his heart was astonished,
He let no sign of it be seen, but instead said loudly
To his comely queen with courtly words,
“My lovely lady, today do not dismay,
for it is fitting to have such fun on Christmas,
performing plays, laughing and singing,
along with courtly dances of knights and ladies,
And not least, I may at last turn to my food,
For I have truly seen a wonder, it cannot be denied.”
He looked to Gawain, and rightfully said,
“Now then, hang up your ax, it has hewn enough!”
And it was hung as he asked on hooks above the dais,
Where all men could look on it and marvel,
And point to it as proof when telling the tale.
Then they returned together to the table,
Arthur and the good knight, and eager men served them
Double portions of every delicacy, as was due to their station.
With all manner of foods and revelry both,
With joy they passed the day until darkness fell
Now take care, Sir Gawain
That you do not shirk out of fear
This dangerous adventure
You have sworn to undertake.
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