Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

This hanselle hatz Arthur of auenturus on fyrst
In 3onge 3er, for he 3erned 3elpyng to here.
Tha3 hym wordez were wane when þay to sete wenten,
Now ar þay stoken of sturne werk, stafful her hond.
Gawan watz glad to begynne þose gomnez in halle,
Bot þa3 þe ende be heuy haf 3e no wonder;
For þa3 men ben mery in mynde quen þay han mayn drynk,
A 3ere 3ernes ful 3erne, and 3eldez neuer lyke,
Þe forme to þe fynisment foldez ful selden.
Forþi þis 3ol ouer3ede, and þe 3ere after,
And vche sesoun serlepes sued after oþer:
After Crystenmasse com þe crabbed lentoun,
Þat fraystez flesch wyth þe fysche and fode more symple;
Bot þenne þe weder of þe worlde wyth wynter hit þrepez,
Colde clengez adoun, cloudez vplyften,
Schyre schedez þe rayn in schowrez ful warme,
Fallez vpon fayre flat, flowrez þere schewen,
Boþe groundez and þe greuez grene ar her wedez,
Bryddez busken to bylde, and bremlych syngen
For solace of þe softe somer þat sues þerafter

bi bonk;
And blossumez bolne to blowe
Bi rawez rych and ronk,
Þen notez noble inno3e
Ar herde in wod so wlonk.

After þe sesoun of somer wyth þe soft wyndez
Quen Zeferus syflez hymself on sedez and erbez,
Wela wynne is þe wort þat waxes þeroute,
When þe donkande dewe dropez of þe leuez,
To bide a blysful blusch of þe bry3t sunne.
Bot þen hy3es heruest, and hardenes hym sone,
Warnez hym for þe wynter to wax ful rype;
He dryues wyth dro3t þe dust for to ryse,
Fro þe face of þe folde to fly3e ful hy3e;
Wroþe wynde of þe welkyn wrastelez with þe sunne,
Þe leuez lancen fro þe lynde and ly3ten on þe grounde,
And al grayes þe gres þat grene watz ere;
Þenne al rypez and rotez þat ros vpon fyrst,
And þus 3irnez þe 3ere in 3isterdayez mony,
And wynter wyndez a3ayn, as þe worlde askez,

no fage,
Til Me3elmas mone
Watz cumen wyth wynter wage;
Þen þenkkez Gawan ful sone
Of his anious uyage.

3et quyl Al-hal-day with Arþer he lenges;
And he made a fare on þat fest for þe frekez sake,
With much reuel and ryche of þe Rounde Table.
Kny3tez ful cortays and comlych ladies
Al for luf of þat lede in longynge þay were,
Bot neuer þe lece ne þe later þay neuened bot merþe:
Mony ioylez for þat ientyle iapez þer maden.
For aftter mete with mournyng he melez to his eme,
And spekez of his passage, and pertly he sayde,
"Now, lege lorde of my lyf, leue I yow ask;
3e knowe þe cost of þis cace, kepe I no more
To telle yow tenez þerof neuer bot trifel;
Bot I am boun to þe bur barely to-morne
To sech þe gome of þe grene, as God wyl me wysse."
Þenne þe best of þe bur3 bo3ed togeder,
Aywan, and Errik, and oþer ful mony,
Sir Doddinaual de Sauage, þe duk of Clarence,
Launcelot, and Lyonel, and Lucan þe gode,
Sir Boos, and Sir Byduer, big men boþe,
And mony oþer menskful, with Mador de la Port.
Alle þis compayny of court com þe kyng nerre
For to counseyl þe kny3t, with care at her hert.
Þere watz much derue doel driuen in þe sale
Þat so worthé as Wawan schulde wende on þat ernde,
To dry3e a delful dynt, and dele no more

wyth bronde.
Þe kny3t mad ay god chere,
And sayde, "Quat schuld I wonde?
Of destinés derf and dere
What may mon do bot fonde?"

mauler's (nonverse) translation:

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

In the hills.
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.

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

a blade.
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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