mauler's (non-verse) translation
Although he had no helmet nor hauberk
Nor breast plate or any other plate related to combat
Nor spear, nor shield with which to shove and smite,
In his hand he held a sprig of holly,
That is still the greenest of greens, when other trees are leafless.
And an axe in his other, huge and unmatched,
An axe too awesome to explain in words, not matter who might try.
Its massive head was an ell in length,
Made of green steel inlaid with gold.
Its blade brightly burnished, with a broad cutting edge,
And well shaped to shear like the sharpest of razors.
The strong steel of the shaft the fierce man gripped,
Was wound with iron bands to the handle’s end,
And engraved with green in graceful patterns;
A leather lacing lashed it to the head,
And then wrapped several times around the haft,
With many silken tassels thereto attached,
Richly braided with bright green beads.
Leading his horse, the knight strode into the hall,
Directly to the high dais, fearing no danger,
Looking at no one, staring straight ahead.
The first words that he uttered: “Where is,” he asked,
“The leader of this rabble? Gladly would I
Have that fellow in my sight, and with himself have
To the knights he cast his eye,
Surveyed them up and down,
Paused, and attempted to devine,
Which was most renowned.
11 of even the high.
There were many long stares at that strange man,
For each man wondered what it might mean
That a man and a horse might share such a hue.
As green as grass and even greener they seemed,
Than green enameled gold, which glows so bright.
All studied he that stood there and sidled closer,
With all the wonder in the world at what he would do,
For strange sights had they seen, but such as this never.
Therefore a fairy or phantom they deemed him,
And thus unable to speak was many a noble lord,
So stunned by his stridence, they all stood stone-still,
In a swooning silence throughout the hall,
As if all were asleep, so silent were the throats
I deem it not because of fear,
But some, from courtesy,
To let he whom all revered
Speak first to that man.
12 By right.
When Arthur beheld that wonder before his high dais,
He greeted him politely, for afraid he was never,
And said, “Greetings Sir, I wish you welcome to this place.
I am head of this house; Arthur is my name.
Alight from your horse and linger, I pray you.
And whatever your will is we shall find out later.”
“Nay, so help me,” quoth the knight, “God on high,
To while any time here is not my mission.
The legends of you, lord, are so lofty and high,
And your realm and your knights are reckoned the finest.
The most steadfast in armor and on horseback,
The manliest and the most noble in the world,
Always ready to compete in the purity of sporting.
Here chivalry resides, or so I have heard,
And that has brought me here, I declare, at this time.
You may be sure by this branch that I bear,
That I pass in peace and no quarrel seek,
For if I had feared that fighting would be necessary,
I have both a helmet and hauberk at home,
A shield and a sharp spear, that brightly shines,
And other weapons also, that I know well how to wield.
But because I wish not for warfare, my clothes are softer.
And now if you are really as bold as all men say,
You will be so good as to grant me the game I request,
Arthur, in answer,
Said, “Sir courteous knight,
If you crave unarmed combat
Here you won’t fail to fight.”
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