Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Þe grene kny3t vpon grounde grayþely hym dresses,
A littel lut with þe hede, þe lere he discouerez,
His longe louelych lokkez he layd ouer his croun,
Let þe naked nec to þe note schewe.
Gauan gripped to his ax, and gederes hit on hy3t,
Þe kay fot on þe folde he before sette,
Let him doun ly3tly ly3t on þe naked,
Þat þe scharp of þe schalk schyndered þe bones,
And schrank þur3 þe schyire grece, and schade hit in twynne,
Þat þe bit of þe broun stel bot on þe grounde.
Þe fayre hede fro þe halce hit to þe erþe,
Þat fele hit foyned wyth her fete, þere hit forth roled;
Þe blod brayd fro þe body, þat blykked on þe grene;
And nawþer faltered ne fel þe freke neuer þe helder,
Bot styþly he start forth vpon styf schonkes,
And runyschly he ra3t out, þere as renkkez stoden,
La3t to his lufly hed, and lyft hit vp sone;
And syþen bo3ez to his blonk, þe brydel he cachchez,
Steppez into stelbawe and strydez alofte,
And his hede by þe here in his honde haldez;
And as sadly þe segge hym in his sadel sette
As non vnhap had hym ayled, þa3 hedlez he were

in stedde.
He brayde his bulk aboute,
Þat vgly bodi þat bledde;
Moni on of hym had doute,
Bi þat his resounz were redde.

For þe hede in his honde he haldez vp euen,
Toward þe derrest on þe dece he dressez þe face,
And hit lyfte vp þe y3e-lyddez and loked ful brode,
And meled þus much with his muthe, as 3e may now here:
"Loke, Gawan, þou be grayþe to go as þou hettez,
And layte as lelly til þou me, lude, fynde,
As þou hatz hette in þis halle, herande þise kny3tes;
To þe grene chapel þou chose, I charge þe, to fotte
Such a dunt as þou hatz dalt--disserued þou habbez
To be 3ederly 3olden on Nw 3eres morn.
Þe knyt of þe grene chapel men knowen me mony;
Forþi me for to fynde if þou fraystez, faylez þou neuer.
Þerfore com, oþer recreaunt be calde þe behoues."
With a runisch rout þe raynez he tornez,
Halled out at þe hal dor, his hed in his hande,
Þat þe fyr of þe flynt fla3e fro fole houes.
To quat kyth he becom knwe non þere,
Neuer more þen þay wyste from queþen he watz wonnen.

What þenne?
Þe kyng and Gawen þare
At þat grene þay la3e and grenne,
3et breued watz hit ful bare
A meruayl among þo menne.

Þa3 Arþer þe hende kyng at hert hade wonder,
He let no semblaunt be sene, bot sayde ful hy3e
To þe comlych quene wyth cortays speche,
"Dere dame, to-day demay yow neuer;
Wel bycommes such craft vpon Cristmasse,
Laykyng of enterludez, to la3e and to syng,
Among þise kynde caroles of kny3tez and ladyez.
Neuer þe lece to my mete I may me wel dres,
For I haf sen a selly, I may not forsake."
He glent vpon Sir Gawen, and gaynly he sayde,
"Now, sir, heng vp þyn ax, þat hatz innogh hewen";
And hit watz don abof þe dece on doser to henge,
Þer alle men for meruayl my3t on hit loke,
And bi trwe tytel þerof to telle þe wonder.
Þenne þay bo3ed to a borde þise burnes togeder,
Þe kyng and þe gode kny3t, and kene men hem serued
Of alle dayntyez double, as derrest my3t falle;
Wyth alle maner of mete and mynstralcie boþe,
Wyth wele walt þay þat day, til worþed an ende

in londe.
Now þenk wel, Sir Gawan,
For woþe þat þou ne wonde
Þis auenture for to frayn
Þat þou hatz tan on honde.

mauler's (nonverse) translation:

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 was headless.
He heaved his torso about,
A hideous stump that bled,
And many were filled with fear,
When he began to speak.

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.

What then?
The King and Gawain
Laughed and grinned,
And declared that clearly it was
A marvel that they had seen.

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

Over the land.
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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