A cheyer byfore þe chemné, þer charcole brenned,
Watz grayþed for Sir Gawan grayþely with cloþez,
Whyssynes vpon queldepoyntes þat koynt wer boþe;
And þenne a meré mantyle watz on þat mon cast
Of a broun bleeaunt, enbrauded ful ryche
And fayre furred wythinne with fellez of þe best,
Alle of ermyn in erde, his hode of þe same;
And he sete in þat settel semlych ryche,
And achaufed hym chefly, and þenne his cher mended.
Sone watz telded vp a tabil on trestez ful fayre,
Clad wyth a clene cloþe þat cler quyt schewed,
Sanap, and salure, and syluerin sponez.
Þe wy3e wesche at his wylle, and went to his mete.
Seggez hym serued semly inno3e
Wyth sere sewes and sete, sesounde of þe best,
Double-felde, as hit fallez, and fele kyn fischez,
Summe baken in bred, summe brad on þe gledez,
Summe soþen, summe in sewe sauered with spyces,
And ay sawes so sle3e þat þe segge lyked.
Þe freke calde hit a fest ful frely and ofte
Ful hendely, quen alle þe haþeles rehayted hym at onez,
“Þis penaunce now 3e take,
And eft hit schal amende.”
Þat mon much merþe con make,
For wyn in his hed þat wende.
38 and synge.
Þenne watz spyed and spured vpon spare wyse
Bi preué poyntez of þat prynce, put to hymseluen,
Þat he beknew cortaysly of þe court þat he were
Þat aþel Arthure þe hende haldez hym one,
Þat is þe ryche ryal kyng of þe Rounde Table,
And hit watz Wawen hymself þat in þat won syttez,
Comen to þat Krystmasse, as case hym þen lymped.
When þe lorde hade lerned þat he þe leude hade,
Loude la3ed he þerat, so lef hit hym þo3t,
And alle þe men in þat mote maden much joye
To apere in his presense prestly þat tyme,
Þat alle prys and prowes and pured þewes
Apendes to hys persoun, and praysed is euer;
Byfore alle men vpon molde his mensk is þe most.
Vch segge ful softly sayde to his fere:
“Now schal we semlych se sle3tez of þewez
And þe teccheles termes of talkyng noble,
Wich spede is in speche vnspurd may we lerne,
Syn we haf fonged þat fyne fader of nurture.
God hatz geuen vus his grace godly for soþe,
Þat such a gest as Gawan grauntez vus to haue,
When burnez blyþe of his burþe schal sitte
In menyng of manerez mere
Þis burne now schal vus bryng,
I hope þat may hym here
Schal lerne of luf-talkyng.”
39 for Gode!
Bi þat þe diner watz done and þe dere vp
Hit watz ne3 at þe niy3t ne3ed þe tyme.
Chaplaynez to þe chapeles chosen þe gate,
Rungen ful rychely, ry3t as þay schulden,
To þe hersum euensong of þe hy3e tyde.
Þe lorde loutes þerto, and þe lady als,
Into a cumly closet coyntly ho entrez.
Gawan glydez ful gay and gos þeder sone;
Þe lorde laches hym by þe lappe and ledez hym to sytte,
And couþly hym knowez and callez hym his nome,
And sayde he watz þe welcomest wy3e of þe worlde;
And he hym þonkked þroly, and ayþer halched oþer,
And seten soberly samen þe seruise quyle.
Þenne lyst þe lady to loke on þe kny3t,
Þenne com ho of hir closet with mony cler burdez.
Ho watz þe fayrest in felle, of flesche and of lyre,
And of compas and colour and costes, of alle oþer,
And wener þen Wenore, as þe wy3e þo3t.
Ho ches þur3 þe chaunsel to cheryche þat hende.
An oþer lady hir lad bi þe lyft honde,
Þat watz alder þen ho, an auncian hit semed,
And he3ly honowred with haþelez aboute.
Bot vnlyke on to loke þo ladyes were,
For if þe 3onge watz 3ep, 3ol3e watz þat oþer;
Riche red on þat on rayled ayquere,
Rugh ronkled chekez þat oþer on rolled;
Kerchofes of þat on, wyth mony cler perlez,
Hir brest and hir bry3t þrote bare displayed,
Schon schyrer þen snawe þat schedez on hillez;
Þat oþer wyth a gorger watz gered ouer þe swyre,
Chymbled ouer hir blake chyn with chalkquyte vayles,
Hir frount folden in sylk, enfoubled ayquere,
Toreted and treleted with tryflez aboute,
Þat no3t watz bare of þat burde bot þe blake bro3es,
Þe tweyne y3en and þe nase, þe naked lyppez,
And þose were soure to se and sellyly blered;
A mensk lady on molde mon may hir calle,
Hir body watz schort and þik,
Hir buttokez bal3 and brode,
More lykkerwys on to lyk
Watz þat scho hade on lode.
mauler's (non-verse) translation:
37 and said,
A chair before the fireplace, where charcoal burned,
Was promptly arranged for Gawain, with coverings,
Cusions set on quilted spreads, both skillfully made,
And finally, a fine cloak was thrown over his shoulders,
Of a fine brown fabric, fabulously embroidered.
And beautifully furred on the inside with the finest pelts
Of ermine in fact, and the same was his hood.
He sat in that seat, suitably majestic,
And warmed himself straight away, which cheered him further.
Next they set up a table on ornate trusses,
Complete with a fine tablecloth of pure white,
A surcloth, a salt-celler, and silver spoons.
Gawain leisurely washed and sat down to eat.
Waiters with due deference served him
With many stews and platers, deliciously seasoned,
Double portions, as was fitting, and all kinds of fish:
Some breaded and baked, some broiled over coals,
Some boiled, some in stews flavored with spices,
And every sauce was so skillful that the knight loved them all.
Gawain gratefully declared it a feast over and over
Graciously, which all the servants politely denied
“Accept this pittance now,
And later you’ll be better fed.”
And Gawain made a merry row,
For the wine had gone to his head.
38 in song.
They asked him questions in a cautious manner
About personal matters relating to his life,
And he graciously revealed the court he was from
Was the one ruled by noble Arthur by his grace
Who was the regal and royal king of the Round Table
And it was great Gawain himself that sat before them,
Come there on that Christmas, as fortune befell.
When the lord had learned who his guest was,
Loud did he laugh, so delightful he found it.
And all the people in that place were overjoyed,
And all were eager to meet as soon as they could,
He who excellence and prowess and purest manners
Were ascribed, and always earned the highest praises;
Before all men on earth, he was the most honorable.
Each knight whispered softly to his fellow:
“Now we will get to see a display of good manners
And the lofty words of noble speech,
What profit lies in eloquence we may learn without asking
Now that we have taken in this font of good breeding.
We are truly in God’s good graces
That he grants us such a guest as the great Gawain,
Whose birth men everywhere joyously celebrate
In knowledge of fine manners
This man will now educate us
I think that any who hear him
Will learn the language of love.”
39 Before God.
By then the dinner was done and Gawain had risen
The hour was drawing very near to nighttime.
Chaplains made their way to the chapels,
Rang their bells loudly, as was their duty,
In the devotional evensong of that holy occasion.
The lord went there too, and his lady as well,
Who gracefully seats herself in a finely appointed pew.
Gawain dressed in fine clothes and hastened there himself,
And the lord took him by the sleeve and led him to a seat,
Greeting him familiarly and calling him by name,
And said he was the welcomest guest in the world,
And thanked him profusely, and the two men embraced,
Then sat solemnly together until the end of the service.
Then the lady desired to look upon Gawain,
And came forth from her pew along with many fair women.
She was the fairest on earth, in both features and complexion
In figure, and skin tone, and in personal character,
And more gorgeous than Guinevere, to Gawain’s eyes.
She came forward through the chancel to show him her favor,
Another lady leading her by the left hand,
That was older than she, quite ancient in fact,
And regarded with deference by everyone present.
Very unlike in appearance those two ladies were,
The younger was youthful, the other yellowed with age.
The one was so rosy and pink everywhere,
While rough wrinkled cheeks on the other one hung.
One wore a kerchief, with many perfect pearls;
The tops of her breasts and her throat displayed bare,
Shone whiter than new-fallen snow on the hills.
The other wore a gorget that covered her neck,
And her chin was concealed behind chalk-white veils
Her forehead enfolded in silk, completely covered,
Laced and embroidered with intricate patterns,
So that nothing was exposed but her black brows,
Her two eyes and her nose, and her uncolored lips:
They were a sore sight to see and exceedingly blotchy.
But a noble woman indeed men must call her
Her body was short and thick
Her buttocks bulging and broad.
Much more lovely to taste
Was the the lady that she led.
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