Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Fitt I


[A] Siþen þe sege & þe assaut wat3 sesed at Troye, [Fol. 91a.]

Þe bor3 brittened & brent to bronde3 & aske3,

Þe tulk þat þe trammes of tresoun þer wro3t,

4 Wat3 tried for his tricherie, þe trewest on erthe;

Hit wat3 Ennias þe athel, & his highe kynde,

Þat siþen depreced prouinces, & patrounes bicome

Welne3e of al þe wele in þe west iles,

8 [B] Fro riche Romulus to Rome ricchis hym swyþe,

With gret bobbaunce þat bur3e he biges vpon fyrst,

& neuenes hit his aune nome, as hit now hat;

Ticius to Tuskan [turnes,] & teldes bigynnes;

12 Langaberde in Lumbardie lyftes vp homes;

[C] & fer ouer þe French flod Felix Brutus

On mony bonkkes ful brode Bretayn he sette3,

wyth wynne;

16 [D] Where werre, & wrake, & wonder,

Bi syþe3 hat3 wont þer-inne,

[E] & oft boþe blysse & blunder

Ful skete hat3 skyfted synne.

[Sidenote A: After the siege of Troy]

[Sidenote B: Romulus built Rome,]

[Sidenote C: and Felix Brutus founded Britain,]

[Sidenote D: a land of war and wonder,]

[Sidenote E: and oft of bliss and blunder.]


20 Ande quen þis Bretayn wat3 bigged bi þis burn rych,

[A] Bolde bredden þer-inne, baret þat lofden,

In mony turned tyme tene þat wro3ten;

Mo ferlyes on þis folde han fallen here oft

24 [B] Þen in any oþer þat I wot, syn þat ilk tyme.

[C] Bot of alle þat here bult of Bretaygne kynges

Ay wat3 Arthur þe hendest; as I haf herde telle;

For-þi an aunter in erde I attle to schawe,[Fol. 91b.]

28 Þat a selly in si3t summe men hit holden,

& an outtrage awenture of Arthure3 wondere3;

[D] If 3e wyl lysten þis laye bot on littel quile,

I schal telle hit, as-tit, as I in toun herde,

32 with tonge;

As hit is stad & stoken,

In stori stif & stronge,

With lel letteres loken,

36 In londe so hat3 ben longe.

[Sidenote A: Bold men increased in the Land,]

[Sidenote B: and many marvels happened.]

[Sidenote C: Of all Britain's kings Arthur was the noblest.]

[Sidenote D: Listen a while and ye shall hear the story of an "outrageous



[A] Þis kyng lay at Camylot vpon kryst-masse,

With mony luflych lorde, lede3 of þe best,

[B] Rekenly of þe rounde table alle þo rich breþer,

40 With rych reuel ory3t, & rechles merþes;

Þer tournayed tulkes bi-tyme3 ful mony,

Iusted ful Iolile þise gentyle kni3tes,

Syþen kayred to þe court, caroles to make.

44 [C] For þer þe fest wat3 ilyche ful fiften dayes,

With alle þe mete & þe mirþe þat men couþe a-vyse;

Such glaumande gle glorious to here,

Dere dyn vp-on day, daunsyng on ny3tes,

48 [D] Al wat3 hap vpon he3e in halle3 & chambre3,

With lorde3 & ladies, as leuest him þo3t;

With all þe wele of þe worlde þay woned þer samen,

[E] Þe most kyd kny3te3 vnder kryste seluen,

52 & þe louelokkest ladies þat euer lif haden,

& he þe comlokest kyng þat þe court haldes;

For al wat3 þis fayre folk in her first age,

on sille;

56 [F] Þe hapnest vnder heuen,

Kyng hy3est mon of wylle,

Hit were[1] now gret nye to neuen

So hardy a here on hille.

[Sidenote A: Arthur held at Camelot his Christmas feast,]

[Sidenote B: with all the knights of the Round Table,]

[Sidenote C: full fifteen days.]

[Sidenote D: All was joy in hall and chamber,]

[Sidenote E: among brave knights and lovely ladies,]

[Sidenote F: the happiest under heaven.]

[Footnote 1: MS. werere.]


60 [A] Wyle nw 3er wat3 so 3ep þat hit wat3 nwe cummen,

Þat day doubble on þe dece wat3 þe douth serued,

Fro þe kyng wat3 cummen with kny3tes in to þe halle,

Þe chauntre of þe chapel cheued to an ende;

64 Loude crye wat3 þer kest of clerke3 & oþer,

Nowel nayted o-newe, neuened ful ofte; [Fol. 92]

& syþen riche forth runnen to reche honde-selle,

[B] 3e3ed 3eres 3iftes on hi3, 3elde hem bi hond,

68 Debated busyly aboute þo giftes;

Ladies la3ed ful loude, þo3 þay lost haden,

& he þat wan wat3 not wrothe, þat may 3e wel trawe.

[C] Alle þis mirþe þay maden to þe mete tyme;

72 When þay had waschen, worþyly þay wenten to sete,

Þe best burne ay abof, as hit best semed;

[D] Whene Guenore ful gay, grayþed in þe myddes.

Dressed on þe dere des, dubbed al aboute,

76 Smal sendal bisides, a selure hir ouer

Of tryed Tolouse, of Tars tapites in-noghe,

Þat were enbrawded & beten wyth þe best gemmes,

Þat my3t be preued of prys wyth penyes to bye,

80 in daye;

[E] Þe comlokest to discrye,

Þer glent with y3en gray,

A semloker þat euer he sy3e,

84 Soth mo3t no mon say.

[Sidenote A: They celebrate the New Year with great joy.]

[Sidenote B: Gifts are demanded and bestowed.]

[Sidenote C: Lords and ladies take their seats at the table.]

[Sidenote D: Queen Guenever appears gaily dressed.]

[Sidenote E: A lady fairer of form might no one say he had ever before



[A] Bot Arthure wolde not ete til al were serued,

He wat3 so Ioly of his Ioyfnes, & sum-quat child gered,

His lif liked hym ly3t, he louied þe lasse

88 [B] Auþer to lenge lye, or to longe sitte,

So bi-sied him his 3onge blod & his brayn wylde;

& also anoþer maner meued him eke,

Þat he þur3 nobelay had nomen, ho wolde neuer ete

92 Vpon such a dere day, er hym deuised were

[C] Of sum auenturus þyng an vncouþe tale,

Of sum mayn meruayle, þat he my3t trawe,

Of[1] alderes, of armes, of oþer auenturus,

96 Oþer sum segg hym bi-so3t of sum siker kny3t,

To Ioyne wyth hym in iustyng in Ioparde to lay,

Lede lif for lyf, leue vchon oþer,

As fortune wolde fulsun hom þe fayrer to haue.

100 Þis wat3 [þe] kynges countenaunce where he in court were,

At vch farand fest among his fre meny,

in halle;[Fol. 92b.]

[D] Þer-fore of face so fere.

104 He sti3tle3 stif in stalle,

Ful 3ep in þat nw 3ere,

Much mirthe he mas with alle.

[Sidenote A: Arthur would not eat,]

[Sidenote B: nor would he long sit]

[Sidenote C: until he had witnessed a "wondrous adventure" of some kind.]

[Sidenote D: He of face so bold makes much mirth with all.]

[Footnote 1: Of of, in MS.]


[A] Thus þer stondes in stale þe stif kyng his-seluen,

108 Talkkande bifore þe hy3e table of trifles ful hende

[B] There gode Gawan wat3 grayþed, Gwenore bisyde

[C] & Agrauayn a la dure mayn on þat oþer syde sittes

Boþe þe kynges sister sunes, & ful siker kni3tes;

112 [D] Bischop Bawdewyn abof bi-gine3 þe table,

[E] & Ywan, Vryn son, ette wit hym-seluen;

Þise were di3t on þe des, & derworþly serued,

& siþen mony siker segge at þe sidborde3.

116 [F] Þen þe first cors come with crakkyng of trumpes,

Wyth mony baner ful bry3t, þat þer-bi henged,

Nwe nakryn noyse with þe noble pipes,

Wylde werbles & wy3t wakned lote,

120 Þat mony hert ful hi3e hef at her towches;

[G] Dayntes dryuen þer-wyth of ful dere metes,

Foysoun of þe fresche, & on so fele disches,

Þat pine to fynde þe place þe peple bi-forne

124 For to sette þe syluener,[1] þat sere sewes halden,

on clothe;

Iche lede as he loued hym-selue

Þer laght with-outen loþe,

128 [H] Ay two had disches twelue,

[I] Good ber, & bry3t wyn boþe.

[Sidenote A: The king talks with his knights.]

[Sidenote B: Gawayne,]

[Sidenote C: Agravayn,]

[Sidenote D: Bishop Bawdewyn,]

[Sidenote E: and Ywain sit on the dais.]

[Sidenote F: The first course is served with cracking of trumpets.]

[Sidenote G: It consisted of all dainties in season.]

[Sidenote H: Each two had dishes twelve,]

[Sidenote I: good beer and bright wine both.]

[Footnote 1: svlueren (?) (dishes).]


[A] Now wyl I of hor seruise say yow no more,

For veh wy3e may wel wit no wont þat þer were;

132 [B] An oþer noyse ful newe ne3ed biliue,

Þat þe lude my3t haf leue lif-lode to cach.

For vneþe wat3 þe noyce not a whyle sesed,

& þe fyrst cource in þe court kyndely serued,

136 [C] Þer hales in at þe halle dor an aghlich mayster,

On þe most on þe molde on mesure hyghe;

Fro þe swyre to þe swange so sware & so þik,

[D] & his lyndes & his lymes so longe & so grete,

140 Half etayn in erde I hope þat he were.[Fol. 93.]

[E] Bot mon most I algate mynn hym to bene,

& þat þe myriest in his muckel þat my3t ride;

[F] For of bak & of brest al were his bodi sturne,

144 [G] Bot his wombe & his wast were worthily smale,

& alle his fetures fol3ande, in forme þat he hade,

ful clene;

For wonder of his hwe men hade,

148 Set in his semblaunt sene;

He ferde as freke were fade,

& ouer-al enker grene.

[Sidenote A: There was no want of anything.]

[Sidenote B: Scarcely had the first course commenced,]

[Sidenote C: when there rushes in at the hall-door a knight;]

[Sidenote D: the tallest on earth]

[Sidenote E: he must have been.]

[Sidenote F: His back and breast were great,]

[Sidenote G: but his belly and waist were small.]


[A] Ande al grayþed in grene þis gome & his wedes,

152 A strayt cote ful stre3t, þat stek on his sides,

A mere mantile abof, mensked with-inne,

With pelure pured apert þe pane ful clene,

With blyþe blaunner ful bry3t, & his hod boþe,

156 Þat wat3 la3t fro his lokke3, & layde on his schulderes

Heme wel haled, hose of þat same grene,

[B] Þat spenet on his sparlyr, & clene spures vnder,

Of bry3t golde, vpon silk bordes, barred ful ryche

160 & scholes vnder schankes, þere þe schalk rides;

& alle his vesture uerayly wat3 clene verdure,

Boþe þe barres of his belt & oþer blyþe stones,

Þat were richely rayled in his aray clene,

164 [C] Aboutte hym-self & his sadel, vpon silk werke3,

Þat were to tor for to telle of tryfles þe halue,

Þat were enbrauded abof, wyth bryddes & fly3es,

With gay gaudi of grene, þe golde ay in myddes;

168 Þe pendauntes of his payttrure, þe proude cropure

His molaynes, & alle þe metail anamayld was þenne

Þe steropes þat he stod on, stayned of þe same,

& his arsoun3 al after, & his aþel sturtes,

172 Þat euer glemered[1] & glent al of grene stones.

[D] Þe fole þat he ferkkes on, fyn of þat ilke,


A grene hors gret & þikke,

176 [E] A stede ful stif to strayne,

In brawden brydel quik,

To þe gome he wat3 ful gayn. [Fol. 93b.]

[Sidenote A: He was clothed entirely in green.]

[Sidenote B: His spurs were of bright gold.]

[Sidenote C: His saddle was embroidered with birds and flies.]

[Sidenote D: The foal that he rode upon was green;]

[Sidenote E: it was a steed full stiff to guide.]

[Footnote 1: glemed (?).]


[A] Wel gay wat3 þis gome gered in grene,

180 & þe here of his hed of his hors swete;

Fayre fannand fax vmbe-foldes his schulderes;

[B] A much berd as[1] a busk ouer his brest henges,

Þat wyth his hi3lich here, þat of his hed reches,

184 Wat3 euesed al vmbe-torne, a-bof his elbowes,

Þat half his armes þer vnder were halched in þe wyse

Of a kynge3 capados, þat closes his swyre.

[C] Þe mane of þat mayn hors much to hit lyke,

188 Wel cresped & cemmed wyth knottes ful mony,

Folden in wyth fildore aboute þe fayre grene,

Ay a herle of þe here, an oþer of golde;

[D] Þe tayl & his toppyng twynnen of a sute,

192 & bounden boþe wyth a bande of a bry3t grene,

Dubbed wyth ful dere stone3, as þe dok lasted,

Syþen þrawen wyth a þwong a þwarle knot alofte,

Þer mony belle3 ful bry3t of brende golde rungen.

196 [E] Such a fole vpon folde, ne freke þat hym rydes,

Wat3 neuer sene in þat sale wyth sy3t er þat tyme,

with y3e;

He loked as layt so ly3t,

200 So sayd al þat hym sy3e,

[F] Hit semed as no mon my3t,

Vnder his dyntte3 dry3e.

[Sidenote A: Gaily was the knight attired.]

[Sidenote B: His great beard, like a bush, hung on his breast.]

[Sidenote C: The horse's mane was decked with golden threads.]

[Sidenote D: Its tail was bound with a green band.]

[Sidenote E: Such a foal nor a knight were never before seen.]

[Sidenote F: It seemed that no man might endure his dints.]

[Footnote 1: as as, in MS.]


[A] Wheþer hade he no helme ne hawb[e]rgh nauþer,

204 Ne no pysan, ne no plate þat pented to armes,

Ne no schafte, ne no schelde, to schwne ne to smyte,

[B] Bot in his on honde he hade a holyn bobbe,

Þat is grattest in grene, when greue3 ar bare,

208 [C] & an ax in his oþer, a hoge & vn-mete,

A spetos sparþe to expoun in spelle quo-so my3t;

Þe hede of an eln3erde þe large lenkþe hade,

Þe grayn al of grene stele & of golde hewen,

212 [D] Þe bit burnyst bry3t, with a brod egge,

As wel schapen to schere as scharp rasores;

Þe stele of a stif staf þe sturne hit bi-grypte,

Þat wat3 wounden wyth yrn to þe wande3 ende,[Fol. 94.]

216 [E] & al bigrauen with grene, in gracios[1] werkes;

A lace lapped aboute, þat louked at þe hede,

& so after þe halme halched ful ofte,

Wyth tryed tassele3 þerto tacched in-noghe,

220 [F] On botoun3 of þe bry3t grene brayden ful ryche.

Þis haþel helde3 hym in, & þe halle entres,

Driuande to þe he3e dece, dut he no woþe,

[G] Haylsed he neuer one, bot he3e he ouer loked.

224 Þe fyrst word þat he warp, "wher is," he sayd,

[H] "Þe gouernour of þis gyng? gladly I wolde

Se þat segg in sy3t, & with hym self speke


228 To kny3te3 he kest his y3e,

& reled hym vp & doun,

[I] He stemmed & con studie,

Quo walt þer most renoun.

[Sidenote A: The knight carried neither spear nor shield,]

[Sidenote B: In one hand was a holly bough,]

[Sidenote C: in the other an axe,]

[Sidenote D: the edge of which was as keen as a sharp razor,]

[Sidenote E: and the handle was encased in iron, curiously "graven with

green, in gracious works."]

[Sidenote F: Thus arrayed the Green Knight enters the hall,]

[Sidenote G: without saluting any one.]

[Sidenote H: He asks for the "governor" of the company,]

[Sidenote I: and looks for the most renowned.]

[Footnote 1: looks like gracons in MS.]


232 [A] Ther wat3 lokyng on lenþe, þe lude to be-holde,

For vch mon had meruayle quat hit mene my3t,

Þat a haþel & a horse my3t such a hwe lach,

[B] As growe grene as þe gres & grener hit semed,

236 Þen grene aumayl on golde lowande bry3ter;

Al studied þat þer stod, & stalked hym nerre,

[C] Wyth al þe wonder of þe worlde, what he worch schulde.

For fele sellye3 had þay sen, bot such neuer are,

240 For-þi for fantoum & fayry3e þe folk þere hit demed;

[D] Þer-fore to answare wat3 ar3e mony aþel freke,

& al stouned at his steuen, & stonstil seten,

[E] In a swoghe sylence þur3 þe sale riche

244 As al were slypped vpon slepe so slaked hor lote3

in hy3e;

I deme hit not al for doute,

[F] Bot sum for cortaysye,

248 Bot let hym þat al schulde loute,

Cast vnto þat wy3e.

[Sidenote A: Much they marvel to see a man and a horse]

[Sidenote B: as green as grass.]

[Sidenote C: Never before had they seen such a sight as this.]

[Sidenote D: They were afraid to answer,]

[Sidenote E: and were as silent as if sleep had taken possession of them;]

[Sidenote F: some from fear and others from courtesy.]


[A] Þenn Arþour bifore þe hi3 dece þat auenture byholde3,

& rekenly hym reuerenced, for rad was he neuer,

252 & sayde, "wy3e, welcum iwys to þis place,

[B] Þe hede of þis ostel Arthour I hat,[Fol. 94b.]

Li3t luflych adoun, & lenge, I þe praye,

& quat so þy wylle is, we schal wyt after."

256 [C] "Nay, as help me," quod þe haþel, "he þat on hy3e syttes,

To wone any quyle in þis won, hit wat3 not myn ernde;

Bot for þe los of þe lede is lyft vp so hy3e,

& þy bur3 & þy burnes best ar holden,

260 Stifest vnder stel-gere on stedes to ryde,

[D] Þe wy3test & þe worþyest of þe worldes kynde,

Preue for to play wyth in oþer pure layke3;

& here is kydde cortaysye, as I haf herd carp,

264 & þat hat3 wayned me hider, I-wyis, at þis tyme.

3e may be seker bi þis braunch þat I bere here,

[E] Þat I passe as in pes, & no ply3t seche;

For had I founded in fere, in fe3tyng wyse,

268 [F] I haue a hauberghe at home & a helme boþe,

A schelde, & a scharp spere, schinande bry3t,

Ande oþer weppenes to welde, I wene wel als,

Bot for I wolde no were, my wede3 ar softer.

272 Bot if þou be so bold as alle burne3 tellen,

Þou wyl grant me godly þe gomen þat I ask,

bi ry3t."

[G] Arthour con onsware,

276 & sayd, "sir cortays kny3t,

If þou craue batayl bare,

Here fayle3 þou not to fy3t."

[Sidenote A: Arthur salutes the Green Knight.]

[Sidenote B: bids him welcome, and invites him to stay awhile.]

[Sidenote C: The knight says that he will not tarry.]

[Sidenote D: He seeks the most valiant that he may prove him.]

[Sidenote E: He comes in peace.]

[Sidenote F: At home, however, he has both shield and spear.]

[Sidenote G: Arthur assures him that he shall not fail to find an opponent

worthy of him.]


[A] "Nay, frayst I no fy3t, in fayth I þe telle,

280 [B] Hit arn aboute on þis bench bot berdle3 chylder;

If I were hasped in armes on a he3e stede,

[C] Here is no mon me to mach, for my3te3 so[1] wayke.

For-þy I craue in þis court a crystmas gomen,

284 [D] For hit is 3ol & nwe 3er, & here ar 3ep mony;

If any so hardy in þis hous holde3 hym-seluen,

[E] Be so bolde in his blod, brayn in hys hede,

Þat dar stifly strike a strok for an oþer,

288 I schal gif hym of my gyft þys giserne ryche,

[F] Þis ax, þat is heue in-nogh, to hondele as hym lykes,

& I schal bide þe fyrst bur, as bare as I sitte.[Fol. 95.]

If any freke be so felle to fonde þat I telle,

292 Lepe ly3tly me to, & lach þis weppen,

I quit clayme hit for euer, kepe hit as his auen,

[G] & I schal stonde hym a strok, stif on þis flet,

Elle3 þou wyl di3t me þe dom to dele hym an oþer,

296 barlay;

& 3et gif hym respite,

[H] A twelmonyth & a day;--

Now hy3e, & let se tite

300 Dar any her-inne o3t say."

[Sidenote A: "I seek no fight," says the knight.]

[Sidenote B: "'Here are only beardless children.']

[Sidenote C: Here is no man to match me.]

[Sidenote D: Here are brave ones many,]

[Sidenote E: if any be bold enough to 'strike a stroke for another,']

[Sidenote F: this axe shall be his;]

[Sidenote G: but I shall give him a 'stroke' in return]

[Sidenote H: within a twelvemonth and a day."]

[Footnote 1: MS. fo.]


[A] If he hem stowned vpon fyrst, stiller were þanne

Alle þe hered-men in halle, þe hy3 & þe lo3e;

[B] Þe renk on his rounce hym ruched in his sadel,

304 & runisch-ly his rede y3en he reled aboute,

[C] Bende his bresed bro3e3, bly-cande grene,

[D] Wayued his berde for to wayte quo-so wolde ryse.

When non wolde kepe hym with carp he co3ed ful hy3e,

308 Ande rimed hym ful richley, & ry3t hym to speke:

[E] "What, is þis Arþures hous," quod þe haþel þenne,

"Þat al þe rous rennes of, þur3 ryalmes so mony?

Where is now your sourquydrye & your conquestes,

312 Your gry[n]del-layk, & your greme, & your grete wordes?

[F] Now is þe reuel & þe renoun of þe rounde table

Ouer-walt wyth a worde of on wy3es speche;

For al dares for drede, with-oute dynt schewed!"

316 Wyth þis he la3es so loude, þat þe lorde greued;

[G] Þe blod schot for scham in-to his schyre face

& lere;

[H] He wex as wroth as wynde,

320 So did alle þat þer were

Þe kyng as kene bi kynde,

Þen stod þat stif mon nere.

[Sidenote A: Fear kept all silent.]

[Sidenote B: The knight rolled his red eyes about,]

[Sidenote C: and bent his bristly green brows.]

[Sidenote D: Waving his beard awhile, he exclaimed:]

[Sidenote E: "What! is this Arthur's court?]

[Sidenote F: Forsooth the renown of the Round Table is overturned 'with a

word of one man's speech.'"]

[Sidenote G: Arthur blushes for shame.]

[Sidenote H: He waxes as wroth as the wind.]


[A] Ande sayde, "haþel, by heuen þyn askyng is nys,

324 & as þou foly hat3 frayst, fynde þe be-houes;

I know no gome þat is gast of þy grete wordes.

Gif me now þy geserne, vpon gode3 halue,

& I schal bayþen þy bone, þat þou boden habbes."

328 Ly3tly lepe3 he hym to, & la3t at his honde; [Fol. 95b.]

Þen feersly þat oþer freke vpon fote ly3tis.

[B] Now hat3 Arthure his axe, & þe halme grype3,

& sturnely sture3 hit aboute, þat stryke wyth hit þo3t.

332 Þe stif mon hym bifore stod vpon hy3t,

Herre þen ani in þe hous by þe hede & more;

[C] Wyth sturne schere[1] þer he stod, he stroked his berde,

& wyth a countenaunce dry3e he dro3 doun his cote,

336 No more mate ne dismayd for hys mayn dinte3,

Þen any burne vpon bench hade bro3t hym to drynk

of wyne,

[D] Gawan, þat sate bi þe quene,

340 To þe kyng he can enclyne,

"I be-seche now with sa3e3 sene,

Þis melly mot be myne."

[Sidenote A: He assures the knight that no one is afraid of his great


[Sidenote B: Arthur seizes his axe.]

[Sidenote C: The knight, stroking his beard, awaits the blow, and with a

"dry countenance" draws down his coat.]

[Sidenote D: Sir Gawayne beseeches the king to let him undertake the blow.]

[Footnote 1: chere (?).]


"Wolde 3e, worþilych lorde," quod Gawan to þe kyng,

344 [A] "Bid me bo3e fro þis benche, & stonde by yow þere,

Þat I wyth-oute vylanye my3t voyde þis table,

& þat my legge lady lyked not ille,

I wolde com to your counseyl, bifore your cort ryche.

348 [B] For me þink hit not semly, as hit is soþ knawen,

Þer such an askyng is heuened so hy3e in your sale,

Þa33e 3our-self be talenttyf to take hit to your-seluen,

[C] Whil mony so bolde yow aboute vpon bench sytten,

352 Þat vnder heuen, I hope, non ha3er er of wylle,

Ne better bodyes on bent, þer baret is rered;

[D] I am þe wakkest, I wot, and of wyt feblest,

& lest lur of my lyf, quo laytes þe soþe,

356 Bot for as much as 3e ar myn em, I am only to prayse,

No bounte bot your blod I in my bode knowe;

& syþen þis note is so nys, þat no3t hit yow falles,

& I haue frayned hit at yow fyrst, folde3 hit to me,

360 & if I carp not comlyly, let alle þis cort rych,

bout blame."

[E]Ryche to-geder con roun,

& syþen þay redden alle same,

364To ryd þe kyng wyth croun,

& gif Gawan þe game.

[Sidenote A: He asks permission to leave the table; he says,]

[Sidenote B: it is not meet that Arthur should be active in the matter,]

[Sidenote C: while so many bold ones sit upon bench.]

[Sidenote D: Although the weakest, he is quite ready to meet the Green


[Sidenote E: The nobles entreat Arthur to "give Gawayne the game."]


Þen comaunded þe kyng þe kny3t for to ryse; [Fol. 96.]

& he ful radly vp ros, & ruchched hym fayre,

368 [A] Kneled doun bifore þe kyng, & cache3 þat weppen;

& he luflyly hit hym laft, & lyfte vp his honde,

& gef hym godde3 blessyng, & gladly hym biddes

[B] Þat his hert & his honde schulde hardi be boþe.

372 "Kepe þe cosyn," quod þe kyng, "þat þou on kyrf sette,

& if þou rede3 hym ry3t, redly I trowe,

Þat þou schal byden þe bur þat he schal bede after.

Gawan got3 to þe gome, with giserne in honde,

376 & he baldly hym byde3, he bayst neuer þe helder

[C] Þen carppe3 to sir Gawan þe kny3t in þe grene,

"Refourme we oure for-wardes, er we fyrre passe.

Fyrst I eþe þe, haþel, how þat þou hattes,

380 Þat þou me telle truly, as I tryst may?"

[D] "In god fayth," quod þe goode kny3t, "Gawan I hatte,

Þat bede þe þis buffet, quat-so bi-falle3 after,

& at þis tyme twelmonyth take at þe anoþer,

384 Wyth what weppen so[1] þou wylt, & wyth no wy3 elle3,

on lyue."

Þat oþer on-sware3 agayn,

"Sir Gawan, so mot I þryue,

388 [E] As I am ferly fayn.

Þis dint þat þou schal dryue."

[Sidenote A: The king gives his nephew his weapon,]

[Sidenote B: and tells him to keep heart and hand steady.]

[Sidenote C: The Green Knight enquires the name of his opponent.]

[Sidenote D: Sir Gawayne tells him his name, and declares that he is

willing to give and receive a blow.]

[Sidenote E: The other thereof is glad.]

[Footnote 1: MS. fo.]


[A] "Bigog," quod þe grene kny3t, "sir Gawan, melykes,

Þat I schal fange at þy fust þat I haf frayst here;

392 & þou hat3 redily rehersed, bi resoun ful trwe,

Clanly al þe couenaunt þat I þe kynge asked,

Saf þat þou schal siker me, segge, bi þi trawþe,

Þat þou schal seche me þi-self, where-so þou hopes

396 I may be funde vpon folde, & foch þe such wages

[B] As þou deles me to day, bifore þis douþe ryche."

[C] "Where schulde I wale þe," quod Gauan, "where is þy place?

I wot neuer where þou wonyes, bi hym þat me wro3t,

400 Ne I know not þe, kny3t, þy cort, ne þi name.

[D] Bot teche me truly þer-to, & telle me howe þou hattes,

& I schal ware alle my wyt to wynne me þeder,

& þat I swere þe for soþe, & by my seker traweþ."[Fol. 96b.]

404 "Þat is in-nogh in nwe 3er, hit nedes no more,"

Quod þe gome in þe grene to Gawan þe hende,

[E] "3if I þe telle trwly, quen I þe tape haue,

& þou me smoþely hat3 smyten, smartly I þe teche

408 Of my hous, & my home, & myn owen nome,

Þen may þou frayst my fare, & forwarde3 holde,

[F] & if I spende no speche, þenne spede3 þou þe better,

For þou may leng in þy londe, & layt no fyrre,

412 bot slokes;

[G] Ta now þy grymme tole to þe,

& let se how þou cnoke3."

"Gladly sir, for soþe,"

416 Quod Gawan; his ax he strokes.

[Sidenote A: "It pleases me well, Sir Gawayne," says the Green Knight,

"that I shall receive a blow from thy fist; but thou must swear that thou

wilt seek me,]

[Sidenote B: to receive the blow in return."]

[Sidenote C: "Where shall I seek thee?" says Sir Gawayne;]

[Sidenote D: "tell me thy name and abode and I will find thee."]

[Sidenote E: "When thou hast smitten me," says the knight, "then tell I

thee of my home and name;]

[Sidenote F: if I speak not at all, so much the better for thee.]

[Sidenote G: Take now thy grim tool, and let us see how thou knockest."]


[A] The grene kny3t vpon grounde grayþely hym dresses,

A littel lut with þe hede, þe lere he discouere3,

[B] His longe louelych lokke3 he layd ouer his croun.

420 Let þe naked nec to þe note schewe.

Gauan gripped to his ax, & gederes hit on hy3t,

Þe kay fot on þe folde he be-fore sette,

[C] Let hit doun ly3tly ly3t on þe naked,

424 Þat þe scharp of þe schalk schyndered þe bones,

[D] & schrank þur3 þe schyire grece, & scade hit in twynne,

Þat þe bit of þe broun stel bot on þe grounde.

[E] Þe fayre hede fro þe halce hit [felle] to þe erþe,

428 [F] Þat fele hit foyned wyth her fete, þere hit forth roled;

Þe blod brayd fro þe body, þat blykked on þe grene;

[G] & nawþer faltered ne fel þe freke neuer þe helder,

Bot styþly he start forth vpon styf schonkes,

432 [H] & ru[n]yschly he ra3t out, þere as renkke3 stoden,

La3t to his lufly hed, & lyft hit vp sone;

& syþen bo3e3 to his blonk, þe brydel he cachche3,

[I] Steppe3 in to stel bawe & stryde3 alofte,

436 [J] & his hede by þe here in his honde halde3;

& as sadly þe segge hym in his sadel sette,

As non vnhap had hym ayled, þa3 hedle3 he[1] we[re],

in stedde;

440 [K] He brayde his bluk[2] aboute,

Þat vgly bodi þat bledde, [Fol. 97.]

Moni on of hym had doute,

Bi þat his resoun3 were redde.

[Sidenote A: The Green Knight]

[Sidenote B: puts his long lovely locks aside and lays bare his neck.]

[Sidenote C: Sir Gawayne lets fall his axe]

[Sidenote D: and severs the head from the body.]

[Sidenote E: The head falls to the earth.]

[Sidenote F: Many kick it aside with their feet.]

[Sidenote G: The knight never falters;]

[Sidenote H: he rushes forth, seizes his head,]

[Sidenote I: steps into the saddle,]

[Sidenote J: holding the while the head in his hand by the hair,]

[Sidenote K: and turns his horse about.]

[Footnote 1: MS. ho.]

[Footnote 2: blunk (?).]


444 For þe hede in his honde he halde3 vp euen,

[A] To-ward þe derrest on þe dece he dresse3 þe face,

& hit lyfte vp þe y3e-lydde3, & loked ful brode,

[B] & meled þus much with his muthe, as 3e may now here.

448 "Loke, Gawan, þou be grayþe to go as þou hette3,

& layte as lelly til þou me, lude, fynde,

[C] As þou hat3 hette in þis halle, herande þise kny3tes;

[D] To þe grene chapel þou chose, I charge þe to fotte,

452 Such a dunt as þou hat3 dalt disserued þou habbe3,

[E] To be 3ederly 3olden on nw 3eres morn;

Þe kny3t of þe grene chapel men knowen me mony;

[F] For-þi me forto fynde if þou frayste3, fayle3 þou neuer,

456 [G] Þer-fore com, oþer recreaunt be calde þe be-houeus."

With a runisch rout þe rayne3 he torne3,

[H] Halled out at þe hal-dor, his hed in his hande,

Þat þe fyr of þe flynt fla3e fro fole houes.

460 To quat kyth he be-com, knwe non þere,

Neuermore þen þay wyste fram queþen. he wat3 wonnen;

what þenne?

Þe kyng & Gawen þare,

464 [I] At þat grene þay la3e & grenne,

3et breued wat3 hit ful bare,

A meruayl among þo menne.

[Sidenote A: The head lifts up its eyelids,]

[Sidenote B: and addresses Sir Gawayne; "Look thou, be ready to go as thou

hast promised,]

[Sidenote C: and seek till thou findest me.]

[Sidenote D: Get thee to the Green Chapel,]

[Sidenote E: there to receive a blow on New Year's morn.]

[Sidenote F: Fail thou never;]

[Sidenote G: come, or recreant be called."]

[Sidenote H: The Green Knight then rushes out of the hall, his head in his


[Sidenote I: At that green one Arthur and Gawayne "laugh and grin."]


[A] Þa3 Arþer þe hende kyng at hert hade wonder,

468 He let no semblaunt be sene, bot sayde ful hy3e

To þe comlych quene, wyth cortays speche,

[B] "Dere dame, to day demay yow neuer;

Wel by-commes such craft vpon cristmasse,

472 Laykyng of enterlude3, to la3e & to syng.

Among þise, kynde caroles of kny3te3 & ladye3;

[C] Neuer-þe-lece to my mete I may me wel dres,

For I haf sen a selly, I may not for-sake."

476 He glent vpon sir Gawen, & gaynly he sayde,

[D] "Now sir, heng vp þyn ax, þat hat3 in-nogh hewen."

& hit wat3 don abof þe dece, on doser to henge,[Fol. 97b.]

Þer alle men for meruayl my3t on hit loke,

480 & bi trwe tytel þer-of to telle þe wonder.

[E] Þenne þay bo3ed to a borde þise burnes to-geder,

Þe kyng & þe gode kny3t, & kene men hem serued

Of alle dayntye3 double, as derrest my3t falle,

484 Wyth alle maner of mete & mynstralcie boþe;

Wyth wele walt þay þat day, til worþed an ende,

in londe.

[F] Now þenk wel, sir Gawan,

488 For woþe þat þou ne wonde,

Þis auenture forto frayn,

Þat þou hat3 tan on honde.

[Sidenote A: Arthur addresses the queen:]

[Sidenote B: "Dear dame, be not dismayed; such marvels well become the

Christmas festival;]

[Sidenote C: I may now go to meat.]

[Sidenote D: Sir Gawayne, hang up thine axe.]

[Sidenote E: The king and his knights sit feasting at the board till day is


[Sidenote F: Now beware, Sir Gawayne, lest thou fail to seek the adventure

that thou hast taken in hand.]

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