Sir Gawain and the Green Knight


46
Ful erly bifore þe day þe folk vprysen,
Gestes þat go wolde hor gromez þay calden,
And þay busken vp bilyue blonkkez to sadel,
Tyffen her takles, trussen her males,
Richen hem þe rychest, to ryde alle arayde,
Lepen vp ly3tly, lachen her brydeles,
Vche wy3e on his way þer hym wel lyked.
Þe leue lorde of þe londe watz not þe last
Arayed for þe rydyng, with renkkez ful mony;
Ete a sop hastyly, when he hade herde masse,
With bugle to bent-felde he buskez bylyue.
By þat any dayly3t lemed vpon erþe
He with his haþeles on hy3e horsses weren.
Þenne þise cacheres þat couþe cowpled hor houndez,
Vnclosed þe kenel dore and calde hem þeroute,
Blwe bygly in buglez þre bare mote;
Braches bayed þerfore and breme noyse maked;
And þay chastysed and charred on chasyng þat went,
A hundreth of hunteres, as I haf herde telle,

of þe best.
To trystors vewters 3od,
Couples huntes of kest;
Þer ros for blastez gode
Gret rurd in þat forest.

47
At þe fyrst quethe of þe quest quaked þe wylde;
Der drof in þe dale, doted for drede,
Hi3ed to þe hy3e, bot heterly þay were
Restayed with þe stablye, þat stoutly ascryed.
Þay let þe herttez haf þe gate, with þe hy3e hedes,
Þe breme bukkez also with hor brode paumez;
For þe fre lorde hade defende in fermysoun tyme
Þat þer schulde no mon meue to þe male dere.
Þe hindez were halden in with hay! and war!
Þe does dryuen with gret dyn to þe depe sladez;
Þer my3t mon se, as þay slypte, slentyng of arwes--
At vche wende vnder wande wapped a flone--
Þat bigly bote on þe broun with ful brode hedez.
What! þay brayen, and bleden, bi bonkkez þay de3en,
And ay rachches in a res radly hem fol3es,
Hunterez wyth hy3e horne hasted hem after
Wyth such a crakkande kry as klyffes haden brusten.
What wylde so atwaped wy3es þat schotten
Watz al toraced and rent at þe resayt,
Bi þay were tened at þe hy3e and taysed to þe wattrez;
Þe ledez were so lerned at þe lo3e trysteres,
And þe grehoundez so grete, þat geten hem bylyue
And hem tofylched, as fast as frekez my3t loke,

þer-ry3t.
Þe lorde for blys abloy
Ful oft con launce and ly3t,
And drof þat day wyth joy
Thus to þe derk ny3t.

48
Þus laykez þis lorde by lynde-wodez euez,
And Gawayn þe god mon in gay bed lygez,
Lurkkez quyl þe dayly3t lemed on þe wowes,
Vnder couertour ful clere, cortyned aboute;
And as in slomeryng he slode, sle3ly he herde
A littel dyn at his dor, and dernly vpon;
And he heuez vp his hed out of þe cloþes,
A corner of þe cortyn he ca3t vp a lyttel,
And waytez warly þiderwarde quat hit be my3t.
Hit watz þe ladi, loflyest to beholde,
Þat dro3 þe dor after hir ful dernly and stylle,
And bo3ed towarde þe bed; and þe burne schamed,
And layde hym doun lystyly, and let as he slepte;
And ho stepped stilly and stel to his bedde,
Kest vp þe cortyn and creped withinne,
And set hir ful softly on þe bed-syde,
And lenged þere selly longe to loke quen he wakened.
Þe lede lay lurked a ful longe quyle,
Compast in his concience to quat þat cace my3t
Meue oþer amount--to meruayle hym þo3t,
Bot 3et he sayde in hymself, 'More semly hit were
To aspye wyth my spelle in space quat ho wolde.'
Þen he wakenede, and wroth, and to hir warde torned,
And vnlouked his y3e-lyddez, and let as hym wondered,
And sayned hym, as bi his sa3e þe sauer to worthe,

with hande.
Wyth chynne and cheke ful swete,
Boþe quit and red in blande,
Ful lufly con ho lete
Wyth lyppez smal la3ande.


mauler's (non-verse) translation:

46
Early before dawn the household arose,
Guests that were going sent for their grooms,
Who bustled briskly about to saddle their horses.
Prepare their possessions and pack their bags.
The nobles dressed themselves to ride in rich array,
Mounted up swiftly and seized hold of the reins,
Each man taking the path that appealed to him most.
The beloved lord of that land was not the last
To be ready to ride with the numerous knights;
He had a quick bite to eat after hearing the Mass,
And then blowing his horn, to the hunting-fields he hurried.
By the first hint of daylight in the sky,
He and the others were already on their horses.
Then the handlers capably coupled the hounds,
Unclasped the kennels, and called them out,
By blowing three loud notes on their bugles,
At which the dogs bayed and raised a ruckus,
And they whipped and wheeled any hounds that strayed,
A hundred huntsmen, I heard there were,

the finest around.
To their stations the houndsmen went,
And the hunters unleashed the hounds.
From mighty blasts of the horns,
A great din arose in the forest.

47
At the first sound of the hunt, nature trembled.
The deer in the dale, dazed with dread,
Made for the high ground, but fiercely they were
Turned back by the line of beaters, who shouted at them bravely.
They let the harts have the gate, with their tall antlers,
As well as the beautiful young bucks with their broad horns,
For the noble lord had declared it forbidden during that season
For any man to lay hand on a male deer.
The hounds were restrained with cries of ‘hey’ and ‘whoa’!
The does driven with great din to the deeps of the valley.
There one could see, as they were loosed, arrows flying
Through each turn in the trees twanged a shaft
And deeply bit into the hide with their barbed heads.
Lo! How they brayed and bled and died on the banks,
And always, the hounds rushed forward to follow them closely,
With the hunters, blowing horns, hastening thereafter,
With such a crackling cry like as if cliffs were collapsing.
Those beasts that escaped the men shooting arrows,
Were pulled down and killed by men waiting below,
As they were harassed at the high ground and driven down to the waters.
The men at the lower stations were so well-trained,
And the greyhounds so large, that they seized them quickly
And dragged them down, as fast as the eye could see

Them appear,
The lord, carried away with delight,
Both on horseback and on foot,
Passed the day in great cheer
Until the dark of night.

48
Thus the lord played under the boughs of the linden-woods,
While Gawain lay in his fine bed,
Snuggled up while the daylight shone on the walls,
Under a splendid coverlet, and surrounded by curtains.
As he lazily dozed, he heard a sly noise,
A small creak at his door, as it stealthily opened.
So he lifted his head from his pillow,
Lifted up a corner of the curtain a little,
And gazed warily to see what it could be.
It was the lady, loveliest to behold,
That drew the door shut behind her, stealthily and silently,
And moved toward the bed. The knight pretended,
And lay down carefully, as if he still slept,
And she tiptoed silently and stole up to his bed,
Lifted up the curtain and crept inside,
And seating herself softly on the bedside,
Lingered there an amazingly long time to see when he would awaken.
The knight lay still for a very long while,
Mulling in his mind what this matter could possibly
Mean or amount to. "How amazing!" he thought,
Yet he said to himself, "It would be more seemly,
To discover her intentions by asking her directly."
So he sat up and stretched and turned toward her,
Opened his eyes, and as if surprised,
Crossed himself, as if by his prayer, to save himself

With this sign.
With lovely chin and cheeks,
The flush of red on white,
Alluringly she spoke,
With her small laughing lips.


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