Of destinés derf and dere
What may mon do bot fonde?"
mauler's (nonverse) translation:
22 In the hills.
This adventure was Arthur’s first gift
Of the New Year, for he longed to hear challenges
Though their words were few when they first sat down to dine,
Now they are faced with a grim task, indeed quite a handful.
Gawain was glad to begin those games in that hall,
But do not be surprised if the outcome prove unhappy,
For though men were quite merry when they had much to drink,
A year passes swiftly, and each new one is different;
The beginning and the end only rarely resemble each other.
Thus this Yule passed away, and the year thereafter,
And each season in turn ensued after the other.
After Christmas came crabby Lent,
That tests the body with fish and other plain foods,
But then the weather of the world wages war upon winter:
Coldness cowers deep, and clouds rise up,
Shedding shining rain in warm showers,
Which falls upon the fair plain, where flowers bloom.
Both the ground and the groves are clothed in green,
Birds hasten to build nests, and briskly sing,
Taking solace that soft summer will ensue thereafter
And blossoms bud and bloom,
In rich and luxuriant rows,
And splendid birdsong
Is heard in glorious groves.
Then comes the summer season with its soft winds,
When Zephyrus blows gently on the seedlings and grasses.
Cheerful are the plants that grow from them,
As the moistening dew drips from the leaves,
To wait for the blissful first blush of the sun.
But then the harvest-time comes and soon hardens them,
Warning them to become ripe before winter,
And brings dryness, so that the dust rises
From the face of the earth, flying up high;
Wrathful winds of the sky wrestle with the sun,
Leaves loosed from the linden alight on the ground,
And the grass that was once green becomes gray.
Then all ripens and rots that once was alive,
And thus passes the year, in yesterdays many,
And winter comes again, as the world demands,
Until the Michaelmas Moon
Arrives with winter’s frost;
Then Gawain begins to think
Upon his fearful quest.
24 a blade.
Yet on All-Hallows Day he lingered with Arthur,
Who held a feast on that day in Gawain’s honor.
Courtly knights and comely ladies,
For love of Gawain were all grieving,
But nevertheless they made nothing but mirth,
Though joyless, they made jests for Gawain’s sake.
After the meal, he sadly turned to his uncle,
And spoke of his journey, and openly said,
“Now, my liege lord, I ask your leave;
You know the terms of this matter, I care not
To trouble you by retelling the trifles of the case,
But tomorrow, without fail, I set out for the blow,
And seek the Man of Green, as God is my guide.
Then the finest of his fellows came forward to see him off:
Ywain and Erec, and many many others,
Sir Dodinel the Savage, the Duke of Clarence,
Lancelot, and Lionel, and Lucan the Good,
Sir Bors and Sir Bedevere, big men both,
And many others of worth, such as Mador de la Port.
All this courtly company came toward the king,
To counsel Gawain, with care in their hearts.
Much mournful lament was made in that Hall,
That one so worthy as Gawain should go on that quest
To bear a baleful blow and nevermore brandish
But Gawain made only good cheer,
And said, “What should I fear?
Whether fate be grievous or pleasant,
What can a man do but strive?
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