Return to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight V (idea)

mauler's (non-verse) translation:

13
I fear no fight, in good faith I declare.
All about on these benches are but beardless children.
If I were hasped in armor on a sturdy steed,
There is no man here that can match me for they lack the strength.
Therefore I request from this court a Christmas contest,
For it is Yule and New Years and many youths are here:
If any in this house holds himself hardy,
Is so bold in his blood and the brain in his head,
As to dare strongly to strike one stroke for another,
I shall give him as my gift, this splendid guisarme
An axe so perfectly balanced that he can hold it with two hands or with one—
And I shall even bear the first blow, unarmored as I am.
If any fellow be so fearless as to do what I ask,
Let him leap forward quickly and take up this weapon—
I quitclaim it forever, he may keep it as his own—
And I shall stand still for his stroke on this floor,
As long as you will allow me to give him another

Thereafter.
I will even give him a respite
Of twelve months and a day.
Now come, let’s see right away,
What anyone herein dares say.”

14
If he had stunned them at first, even more stunned were they now,
All the host in that hall, both the high and the low.
The knight on his horse now, ensconced in his saddle,
Rudely reeled his red eyes round the room
From beneath his bristled brows so green,
Shook his beard and waited to see who would rise.
When none would stall him with speech, he coughed very loudly,
Raised up regally and prepared to speak:
“What? Is this Arthur’s house,” quoth the knight then,
“Whose fame flows forth through so many realms?
Where now is your chivalry and your conquests,
Your bluster and your banter and your boastful words?
Now is the revel and renown of the Round Table,
Overwhelmed by the words that a single man speaks?
For all cower with fear before a single blow has been landed!”
With this he laughed so loudly that their lord was aggrieved,
And the blood rushed, from the shame, to his handsome face

and cheeks.
He waxed as wroth as wind,
And so did everyone else,
The king, who was naturally bold,
Approached very near to the man,

15
And said, “Sir Knight, by heaven, what you ask is madness,
And what you foolishly have sought, to find it you deserve.
I know no man who is afraid of your blustering words.
Give me now your guisarme, and I swear to God,
I shall give you the gift you have asked.”
He quickly leapt forward and grabbed the axe,
And fearsomely the other man dismounted to face him.
Now Arthur had the axe and gripped the haft,
And grimly waved it about, while planning his strike.
The other man stood tall and still before him,
Higher than any in that house by a head or more.
With a fierce stare he stood there and stroked his beard,
And with a calm countenance, he unclasped his cloak,
No more moved or dismayed by Arthur’s mighty strokes,
Than had any man there left his bench to served him

some wine.
Gawain, who sat by the Queen,
Toward the king inclined,
“I beseech now with simple words:
Let this fight be mine!”


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