Now grete glorious God through grace of Himselven
And the precious prayer of his pris Moder
Sheld us fro shamesdeede and sinful workes
And give us grace to guie and govern us here
In this wretched world through virtuous living,
That we may kaire til his court, the kingdom of heven
When our soules shall part and sunder fro the body
Ever to beld and to bide in bliss with Himselven;
And wisse me to warp out some word at this time
That nother void be ne vain but worship til Himselven
Plesand and profitable to the pople that them heres.
Ye that lust has to lithe or loves for to here
Of elders of olde time and of their awke deedes,
How they were lele in their law and loved God Almighty
Herkenes me hendely and holdes you stille,
And I shall tell you a tale that trew is and noble
Of the real renkes of the Round Table
That chef were of chivalry and cheftains noble
Both wary in their workes and wise men of armes,
Doughty in their doings and dredde ay shame,
Kind men and courtais and couth of court thewes,
How they won with war worshippes many,
Slogh Lucius the lithere that lord was of Rome,
And conquered that kingrik through craftes of armes;
Herkenes now hiderward and heres this story!
When that the king Arthur by conquest had wonnen
Casteles and kingdomes and countrees many,
And he had covered the crown of that kith riche
Of all that Uter in erthe ought in his time:
Argayle and Orkney and all these oute-iles,
Ireland utterly, as Ocean runnes,
Scathel Scotland by skill he skiftes as him likes,
And Wales of war he won at his will,
Bothe Flaunders and Fraunce free til himselven
Holland and Hainault they held of him bothen,
Burgoigne and Brabaunt and Bretain the less
Guienne and Gothland and Grace the rich,
Bayonne and Bourdeaux he belded full fair,
Touraine and Toulouse with towres full high,
Of Poitiers and Provence he was prince holden;
Of Valence and Vienne, of value so noble,
Of Overgne and Anjou, those erldoms rich,
By conquest full cruel they knew him for lord
Of Navarre and Norway and Normandy eek
Of Almaine, of Estriche, and other ynow;
Denmark he dressed all by drede of himselven
Fro Swynne unto Swetherwike, with his sword keen!
When he these deedes had done, he dubbed his knightes,
Devised ducheries and delt in diverse rewmes,
Made of his cosins kinges annointed
In kithes there they covet crownes to bere.
When he these rewmes had ridden and rewled the pople,
Then rested that real and held the Round Table;
Sujourns that seson to solace himselven
In Bretain the brodder, as him best likes;
Sithen went into Wales with his wyes all,
Sways into Swaldie with his snell houndes
For to hunt at the hartes in those high landes,
In Glamorgan with glee there gladship was ever,
And there a citee he set, by assent of his lordes
That Caerlion was called, with curious walles,
On the rich river that runnes so fair,
There he might semble his sorte to see when him liked.
Then after at Carlisle a Christenmass he holdes,
This ilk kidd conquerour and held him for lord
With dukes and douspeeres of diverse rewmes,
Erles and erchevesques and other ynow,
Bishoppes and bachelers and bannerettes noble
That bowes to his banner, busk when him likes.
But on the Christenmass-day when they were all sembled,
That comlich conquerour commaundes himselven
That ilk a lord sholde lenge and no leve take
To the tende day fully were taken to the end.
Thus on real array he held his Round Table
With semblaunt and solace and selcouthe metes;
Was never such noblay in no mannes time
Made in mid-winter in tho West Marches!
But on the New-Yere day, at the noon even,
As the bold at the borde was of bred served,
So come in sodenly a senatour of Rome,
With sixteen knightes in a suite, sewand him one;
He salued the soveraign and the sale after
Ilk a king after king, and made his inclines;
Gaynor in her degree he grette as him liked
And sinn again to the gome he gave up his needes:
"Sir Lucius Iberius, the Emperour of Rome,
Salues thee as subjet, under his sele rich;
It is credan, Sir King, with cruel wordes;
Trow it for no troufles, his targe is to shew!
Now in this New-Yeres Day, with notaries sign,
I make thee summons in sale to sew for thy landes,
That on Lamass Day there be no let founden
That thou be redy at Rome with all thy Round Table
Appere in his presence with thy pris knightes
At prime of the day, in pain of your lives,
In the kidd Capitoil before the king selven
When he and his senatours bes set as them likes,
To answer only why thou occupies the landes
That owe homage of old til him and his elders,
Why thou has ridden and raimed and ransound the pople
And killed down his cosins, kinges annointed;
There shall thou give reckoning for all thy Round Table,
Why thou art rebel to Rome and rentes them with-holdes!
Yif thou these summons withsit, he sendes thee these wordes:
He shall thee seek over the se, with sixteen kinges,
Brin Bretain the brode and britten thy knightes
And bring thee buxomly as a beste with brethe where him likes,
That thou ne shall route ne rest under the heven rich
Though thou for reddour of Rome run to the erthe!
For if thou flee into Fraunce or Frisland other,
Thou shall be fetched with force and overset forever!
Thy fader made fewtee we find in our rolles,
In the regestré of Rome, who-so right lookes;
Withouten more troufling the tribute we ask
That Julius Cesar won with his gentle knightes!"
The king blushed on the berne with his brode eyen,
That full bremly for brethe brent as the gledes,
Cast colours as the king with cruel lates
Looked as a lion and on his lip bites.
The Romanes for radness rusht to the erthe,
For ferdness of his face as they fey were;
Couched as kennetes before the king selven;
Because of his countenaunce confused them seemed!
Then covered up a knight and cried full loud:
"King, crowned of kind, courtais and noble,
Misdo no messanger for mensk of thyselven,
Senn we are in thy manrede and mercy thee beseekes;
We lenge with Sir Lucius, that lord is of Rome,
That is the marveloustest man than on molde lenges;
It is lelful til us his liking til work;
We come at his commaundment; have us excused."
Then carpes the conquerour cruel wordes:
"Ha! cravand knight, a coward thee seemes!
There is some segge in this sale, and he were sore greved
Thou durst not for all Lumbardy look on him ones!"
"Sir," says the senatour, "so Crist mot me help,
The vout of thy visage has wounded us all!
Thou art the lordliest lede that ever I on looked.
By looking, withouten lees, a lion thee seemes!"
"Thou has me summoned," quod the king, "and said what thee likes.
For sake of thy soveraign I suffer thee the more;
Senn I crowned was in kith with crisom annointed,
Was never creature to me that carped so large!
But I shall take counsel at kinges annointed
Of dukes and douspeeres and doctours noble,
Of peeres of the parlement, prelates and other
Of the richest renkes of the Round Table;
Thus shall I take avisement of valiant bernes,
Work after the wit of my wise knightes.
To warp wordes in waste no worship it were,
Ne wilfully in this wrath to wreken myselven.
Forthy shall thou lenge here and lodge with these lordes
This seven-night in solace to sujourn your horses,
To see what life that we lede in these low landes."
For by the realtee of Rome, that richest was ever,
He commaundes Sir Kayous, "Take keep to those lordes
To stightel tho stern men as their state askes,
That they be herbered in haste in those high chambres,
Sithen sittandly in sale served thereafter,
That they find no faute of food to their horses,
Nother wine ne wax ne welth in this erthe;
Spare for no spicery, but spend what thee likes
That there be largess on loft and no lack founden;
If thou my worship wait, wye, by my trewth,
Thou shall have gersoms full grete that gain shall thee ever!"
Now are they herbered in high and in host holden,
Hastily with hende men within these high walles.
In chambers with chimpnees they changen their weedes,
And sithen the chaunceller them fetched with chevalry noble;
Soon the senatour was set as him well seemed,
At the kinges own borde; two knightes him served,
Singulere, soothly, as Arthur himselven,
Richly on the right hand at the Round Table.
By resoun that the Romans were so rich holden,
As of the realest blood that regned in erthe.
There come in at the first course, before the king selven,
Borehevedes that were bright, burnisht with silver
All with taught men and towen in togges full rich,
Of sank real in suite, sixty at ones;
Flesh flourisht of fermison, with frumentee noble,
There-to wild to wale, and winlich briddes,
Pacockes and plovers in platters of gold
Pigges of pork despine that pastured never;
Sithen herons in hedoyne heled full fair,
Grete swannes full swithe in silveren chargeours,
Tartes of Turky, taste whom them likes;
Gumbaldes graithly, full gracious to taste;
Senn bowes of wild bores with the brawn leched,
Bernakes and botoures in batterd dishes,
Thereby braunchers in bred, better was never,
With brestes of barrowes that bright were to shew;
Senn come there sewes sere with solace thereafter,
Ownde of azure all over and ardaunt them seemed;
Of ilk a leche the lowe launched full high,
That all ledes might like that looked them upon;
Then cranes and curlewes craftily rosted,
Connies in cretoyne coloured full fair,
Fesauntes enflourished in flamand silver,
With darielles endorded and dainties ynow;
Then Claret and Crete clergially rennen
With condethes full curious all of clene silver,
Osay and Algarde and other ynow
Rhenish wine and Rochelle, richer was never,
Vernage of Venice, virtuous, and Crete,
In faucetes of fine gold, fonde who-so likes;
The kinges cup-bord was closed in silver,
In grete gobletes overgilt, glorious of hew;
There was a chef butler, a chevaler noble
Sir Kayous the courtais, that of the cup served;
Sixty cuppes of suite for the king selven,
Crafty and curious, corven full fair,
In ever-ilk a party pight with precious stones,
That none enpoison sholde go privily there-under
But the bright gold for brethe sholde brist all to peces,
Or else the venom sholde void through virtue of the stones;
And the conquerour himselven, so clenly arrayed,
In colours of clene gold cledde, with his knightes,
Dressed with his diadem on his dese rich,
For he was deemed the doughtiest that dwelled in erthe.
Then the conquerour kindly carped to those lordes,
Reheted the Romans with real speche:
"Sirs, bes knightly of countenaunce and comfortes yourselven;
We know nought in this countree of curious metes;
In these barrain landes breedes none other;
Forthy, withouten feining, enforce you the more
To feed you with such feeble as ye before find."
"Sir," says the senatour, "so Crist mot me help,
There regned never such realtee within Rome walles!
There ne is prelate ne pope ne prince in this erthe
That he ne might be well payed of these pris metes!"
After their welth they wesh and went unto chamber,
This ilk kidd conquerour with knightes ynow;
Sir Gawain the worthy Dame Waynor he ledes,
Sir Owghtreth on tother side, of Turry was lord.
Then spices unsparely they spended thereafter,
Malvesy and Muskadell, those marvelous drinkes,
Raiked full rathely in rosset cuppes
Til all the rich on row, Romans and other.
But the soveraign soothly, for solace of himselven,
Assigned to the senatour certain lordes
To lede to his levere, when he his leve askes,
With mirth and with melody of minstralsy noble.
Then the conquerour to counsel kaires thereafter
With lordes of his legeaunce that to himself longes
To the Giauntes Towr jollily he wendes
With justices and judges and gentle knightes.
Sir Cador of Cornwall to the king carpes,
Laugh on him lovely with likand lates;
"I thank God of that thro that thus us thretes!
You must be trailed, I trow, but yif ye tret better!
The lettres of Sir Lucius lightes mine herte.
We have as losels lived many long day
With delites in this land with lordshippes many
And forlitened the los that we are laited.
I was abashed, by our Lord, of our best bernes,
For grete dole of deffuse of deedes of armes.
Now wakenes the war! Worshipped be Crist!
And we shall win it again by wightness and strength!"
"Sir Cador," quod the king, "thy counsel is noble;
But thou art a marvelous man with thy merry wordes!
For thou countes no case ne castes no further,
But hurles forth upon heved, as thy herte thinkes;
I moste trete of a trews touchand these needes,
Talk of these tithandes that teenes mine herte.
Thou sees that the emperour is angerd a little;
It seemes by his sandesman that he is sore greved;
His senatour has summond me and said what him liked,
Hethely in my hall, with heinous wordes,
In speche despised me and spared me little;
I might not speke for spite, so my herte trembled!
He asked me tyrauntly tribute of Rome,
That teenfully tint was in time of mine elders,
There alienes, in absence of all men of armes,
Coverd it of commouns, as cronicles telles.
I have title to take tribute of Rome;
Mine auncestres were emperours and ought it themselven,
Belin and Bremin and Bawdewyne the third;
They occupied the empire eight score winters,
Ilkon eier after other, as old men telles;
They covered the Capitol and cast down the walles,
Hanged of their hedesmen by hundrethes at ones;
Senn Constantine, our kinsman, conquered it after,
That eier was of Yngland and emperour of Rome,
He that conquered the cross by craftes of armes,
That Crist was on crucified, that King is of heven.
Thus have we evidence to ask the emperour the same,
That thus regnes at Rome, what right that he claimes."
Then answerd King Aungers to Arthur himself:
"Thou ought to be overling over to all other kinges,
For wisest and worthyest and wightest of handes,
The knightlyest of counsel that ever crown bore.
I dare say for Scotland that we them scathe limped;
When the Romans regned they ransound our elders
And rode in their riot and ravished our wives,
Withouten resoun or right reft us our goodes;
And I shall make my avow devotly to Crist
And to the holy vernacle, virtuous and noble,
Of this grete vilany I shall be venged ones,
On yon venomous men with valiant knightes!
I shall thee further of defence fostred ynow
Twenty thousand men within two eldes
Of my wage to wend where-so thee likes,
To fight with thy fomen that us unfair ledes!"
Then the burlich berne of Bretain the Little
Counsels Sir Arthur and of him beseekes
To answer the alienes with austeren wordes,
To entice the emperour to take over the mountes.
He said: "I make mine avow verily to Crist,
And to the holy vernacle, that void shall I never
For radness of no Roman that regnes in erthe,
But ay be redy in array and at erest founden;
No more dout the dintes of their derf wepens
Than the dew that is dank when that it down falles;
Ne no more shoun for the swap of their sharp swordes
Than for the fairest flowr that on the folde growes!
I shall to batail thee bring of brenyed knightes
Thirty thousand by tale, thrifty in armes,
Within a month-day, into what march
That thou will soothly assign, when thyself likes."
"A! A!" says the Welsh king; "worshipped be Crist!
Now shall we wreke full well the wrath of our elders!
In West Wales, iwis, such wonders they wrought
That all for wandreth may weep that on that war thinkes.
I shall have the avauntward witterly myselven,
Til that I have vanquisht the Viscount of Rome,
That wrought me at Viterbo a vilany ones,
As I past in pilgrimage by the Pount Tremble.
He was in Tuskane that time and took of our knightes,
Arrest them unrightwisly and ransound them after.
I shall him surely ensure that saghtel shall we never
Ere we sadly assemble by ourselven ones
And dele dintes of deth with our derf wepens!
And I shall wage to that war of worshipful knightes,
Of Wyghte and of Welshland and of the West Marches,
Two thousand in tale, horsed on steedes,
Of the wightest wyes in all yon West Landes!"
Sir Ewain fitz Urien then egerly fraines,
Was cosin to the conquerour, corageous himselven:
"Sir, and we wiste your will we wolde work thereafter;
Yif this journee sholde hold or be ajourned further,
To ride on yon Romans and riot their landes,
We wolde shape us therefore, to ship when you likes."
"Cosin," quod the conquerour, "kindly thou askes
Yif my counsel accord to conquer yon landes.
By the kalendes of Juny we shall encounter ones
With full cruel knightes, so Crist mot me help!
Thereto I make mine avow devotly to Crist
And to the holy vernacle, virtuous and noble;
I shall at Lamass take leve to lenge at my large
In Lorraine or Lumbardy, whether me leve thinkes;
Merk unto Meloine and mine down the walles
Both of Petersand and of Pis and of the Pount Tremble;
In the Vale of Viterbo vitail my knights,
Sujourn there six weekes and solace myselven,
Send prikers to the pris town and plant there my sege
But if they proffer me the pees by process of time."
"Certes," says Sir Ewain, "and I avow after,
And I that hathel may see ever with mine eyen
That occupies thine heritage, the empire of Rome,
I shall aunter me ones his egle to touch
That borne is in his banner of bright gold rich,
And rase it from his rich men and rive it in sonder,
But he be redily rescued with riotous knightes.
I shall enforce you in the feld with fresh men of armes,
Fifty thousand folk upon fair steedes,
On thy fomen to founde there thee fair thinkes,
In Fraunce or in Frisland, fight when thee likes!"
"By our Lord," quod Sir Launcelot, "now lightes mine herte!
I lowe God of this love these lordes has avowed!
Now may less men have leve to say what them likes,
And have no letting by law; but listenes these wordes:
I shall be at journee with gentle knightes
On a jamby steed full jollily graithed,
Ere any journee begin to joust with himselven
Among all his giauntes, Genivers and other,
Strike him stiffly fro his steed with strenghe of mine handes,
For all the steren in stour that in his stale hoves!
Be my retinue arrayed, I reck it but a little
To make route into Rome with riotous knightes.
Within a seven-night day, with six score helmes,
I shall be seen on the se, sail when thee likes."
Then laughes Sir Lot and all on loud meles:
"Me likes that Sir Lucius longes after sorrow;
Now he wilnes the war his wandreth beginnes;
It is our werdes to wreke the wrath of our elders!
I make mine avow to God and to the holy vernacle:
And I may see the Romans that are so rich holden,
Arrayed in their riotes on a round feld,
I shall at the reverence of the Round Table
Ride through all the rout, rereward and other,
Redy wayes to make and renkes full rowm,
Runnand on red blood, as my steed rushes!
He that followes my fare and first comes after
Shall find in my fare-way many fey leved!"
Then the conquerour kindly comfortes these knightes,
Alowes them gretly their lordly avowes;
"Allweldand God worship you all!
And let me never want you, whiles I in world regn;
My mensk and my manhed ye maintain in erthe,
Mine honour all utterly in other kinges landes;
My wele and my worship of all this world rich,
Ye have knightly conquered that to my crown longes.
Him thar be ferd for no foes that swilk a folk ledes,
But ever fresh for to fight in feld when him likes.
I account no king that under Crist lives;
Whiles I see you all sound, I set by no more."
When they trustily had treted they trumped up after,
Descended down with a daunce of dukes and erles.
Then they sembled to sale and souped als swithe,
All this seemly sorte, with semblaunt full noble.
Then the roy real rehetes these knightes
With reverence and riot of all his Round Table
Til seven dayes was gone. The senatour askes
Answer to the Emperour with austeren wordes.
After the Epiphany, when the purpose was taken
Of peeres of the parlement, prelates and other,
The king in his counsel, courtais and noble,
Uters the alienes and answers himselven:
"Greet well Lucius, thy lord, and laine not these wordes;
If thou be legemen lele, let him wite soon
I shall at Lamass take leve and lodge at my large
In delite in his landes with lordes ynow,
Regne in my realtee and rest when me likes;
By the river of Rhone hold my Round Table,
Fang the fermes in faith of all tho fair rewmes
For all the menace of his might and maugree his eyen!
And merk sithen over the mountes into his main landes,
To Miloine the marvelous and mine down the walles;
In Lorraine ne in Lumbardy leve shall I nother
Nokine lede upon life that there his lawes yemes;
And turn into Tuskane when me time thinkes,
Ride all those rowm landes with riotous knightes.
Bid him make rescues for mensk of himselven,
And meet me for his manhed in those main landes!
I shall be founden in Fraunce, fraist when him likes!
The first day of Feveryer in those fair marches!
Ere I be fetched with force or forfeit my landes,
The flowr of his fair folk full fey shall be leved!
I shall him sekerly ensure under my sele rich
To sege the citee of Rome within seven winter
And that so sekerly ensege upon sere halves
That many a senatour shall sigh for sake of me one!
My summons are certified and thou art full served
Of cundit and credens; kaire where thee likes.
I shall thy journee engist, enjoin them myselven,
Fro this place to the port there thou shall pass over:
Seven days to Sandwich I set at the large;
Sixty mile on a day, the sum is but little!
Thou moste speed at the spurs and spare not thy fole;
Thou wendes by Watling Street and by no way elles;
There thou nyghes on night needes moste thou lenge;
Be it forest or feld, found thou no further;
Bind thy blonk by a busk with thy bridle even,
Lodge thyselven under linde as thee lefe thinkes;
There owes none alienes to ayer upon nightes,
With such a ribawdous rout to riot thyselven.
Thy license is limit in presence of lordes,
Be now loth or lette, right as thee thinkes,
For both thy life and thy limm ligges thereupon,
Though Sir Lucius had laid thee the lordship of Rome,
For be thou founden a foot withoute the flood marches
After the aughtende day when undern is rungen,
Thou shall be heveded in hie and with horse drawen,
And senn hiely be hanged, houndes to gnawen!
The rent ne red gold that unto Rome longes
Shall not redily, renk, ransoun thine one!"
"Sir," says the senatour, "so Crist mot me help,
Might I with worship win away ones
I sholde never for Emperour that on erthe lenges
Eft unto Arthur ayer on such needes;
But I am singely here with sixteen knightes;
I beseek you, sir, that we may sound pass.
If any unlawful lede let us by the way,
Within thy license, lord, thy los is inpaired."
"Care not," quod the king; "thy cundit is knowen
Fro Carlisle to the coste there thy cogge lenges;
Though thy coffers were full, crammed with silver,
Thou might be seker of my sele sixty mile further."
They enclined to the king and congee they asked,
Kaires out of Carlisle, catches on their horses;
Sir Cador the courtais kend them the wayes,
To Catrik them conveyed and to Crist them bekenned.
So they sped at the spurres they sprangen their horses,
Hires them hackenayes hastily thereafter.
So for reddour they ridden and rested them never,
But yif they lodged under linde whiles them the light failed;
But ever the senatour forsooth sought at the gainest.
By the sevende day was gone the citee they reched.
Of all the glee under God so glad were they never
As of the sound of the se and Sandwich belles.
Withouten more stunting they shipped their horses;
Wery to the wan se they went all at ones.
With the men of the wale they weighted up their ankers
And fled at the fore flood; in Flaunders they rowed
And through Flaunders they found, as them fair thought,
Til Aachen in Almaine, in Arthur landes;
Gos by Mount Goddard full grevous wayes,
And so into Lumbardy, likand to shew.
They turn through Tuskane with towres full high;
In pris appairelles them in precious weedes.
The Sononday in Sutere they sujourn their horses
And seekes the saintes of Rome by assent of knightes;
Sithen prikes to the palais with portes so rich,
There Sir Lucius lenges with lordes ynow;
Loutes to him lovely and lettres him bedes
Of credens enclosed with knightlich wordes.
Then the Emperour was eger and enkerly fraines;
The answer of Arthur he askes him soon,
How he arrayes the rewm and rewles the pople,
Yif he be rebel to Rome, what right that he claimes;
"Thou sholde his sceptre have sesed and sitten aboven
For reverence and realtee of Rome the noble;
By certes thou was my sandes and senatour of Rome,
He sholde for solempnitee have served thee himselven."
"That will he never for no wye of all this world rich
But who may win him of war, by wightness of handes;
Many fey shall be first upon the feld leved,
Ere he appere in this place, proffer when thee likes.
I say thee, sir, Arthur is thine enmy forever,
And ettles to be overling of the empire of Rome,
That all his auncestres ought but Uter himselven.
Thy needes in this New Yere I notified myselven
Before that noble of name and nine sum of kinges;
In the most real place of the Round Table
I summond him solemnly on-seeand his knightes;
Senn I was formed, in faith, so ferd was I never,
In all the places there I passed of princes on erthe.
I wolde forsake all my suite of seignoury of Rome
Ere I eft to that soveraign were sent on such needes!
He may be chosen cheftain, chef of all other
Both by chaunces of armes and chevalry noble,
For wisest and worthyest and wightest of handes.
Of all the wyes that I wot in this world rich -
The knighliest creature in Cristdendom holden
Of king or of conquerour crowned in erthe,
Of countenaunce, of corage, of cruel lates,
The comlyest of knighthood that under Crist lives!
He may be spoken in dispens despiser of silver,
That no more of gold gives than of grete stones,
No more of wine than of water that of the well runnes,
Ne of welth of this world but worship alone.
Such countenance was never knowen in no kith riche
As was with this conquerour in his court holden;
I counted at this Cristenmass of kinges annointed,
Hole ten at his table that time with himselven.
He will warray, iwis, be ware yif thee likes;
Wage many wight men and watch thy marches,
That they be redy in array and at erest founden,
For yif he reche unto Rome, he ransouns it forever.
I rede thou dress thee therefore and draw no let longer;
Be seker of thy soudeours and send to the mountes;
By the quarter of this yere, and him quert stand,
He will wightly in a while on his wayes hie."
"By Ester," says the Emperour, "I ettle myselven
To hostay in Almaine with armed knightes;
Send frekly into Fraunce, that flowr is of rewmes;
Fonde to fette that freke and forfeit his landes,
For I shall set keepers, full cunnand and noble,
Many giaunt of Gene, jousters full good.
To meet him in the mountes and martyr his knightes,
Strike them down in straites and stroy them forever.
There shall upon Goddard a garret be rered
That shall be garnisht and keeped with good men of armes,
And a becon aboven to brin when them likes,
That none enmy with host shall enter the mountes.
There shall on Mount Bernard be belded another,
Busked with bannerettes and bachelers noble.
In at the portes of Pavia shall no prince pass
Through the perilous places for my pris knightes."
Then Sir Lucius lordlich lettres he sendes
Anon into the Orient with austeren knightes
Til Ambyganye and Orcage and Alisaundere eek
To Inde and to Ermonye, as Eufrates runnes,
To Asia and to Afrike, and Europe the large,
To Irritaine and Elamet, and all those oute iles,
To Arraby and Egypt, til erles and other
That any erthe occupies in those este marches
Of Damaske and Damiet, and dukes and erles.
For drede of his daunger they dressed them soon;
Of Crete and of Capados the honourable kinges
Come at his commaundement clenly at ones;
To Tartary and Turkey when tithinges is comen
They turn in by Thebay, tyrauntes full huge,
The flowr of the fair folk of Amazonnes landes;
All that failes on the feld be forfeit forever.
Of Babylon and Baldake the burlich knightes
Bayous with their baronage bides no longer;
Of Perse and of Pamphile and Preter John landes
Ech prince with his power appertlich graithed;
The Sowdan of Surry assembles his knightes
Fro Nilus to Nazareth, numbers full huge;
To Garyere and to Galilee they gader all at ones,
The sowdanes that were seker soudeours to Rome;
They gadered over the Greekes Se with grevous wepens,
In their grete galleys, with glitterande sheldes;
The King of Cyprus on the se the Sowdan abides,
With all the reales of Rhodes arrayed with him one;
They sailed with a side wind over the salt strandes,
Sodenly the Sarazenes, as themselve liked;
Craftyly at Cornett the kinges are arrived,
Fro the citee of Rome sixty mile large.
By that the Greekes were graithed, a full grete number,
The mightiest of Macedone, with men of tho marches,
Pulle and Prussland, presses with other,
The lege-men of Lettow with legions ynow.
Thus they semble in sortes, summes full huge;
The sowdanes and Sarazenes out of sere landes
The Sowdan of Surry and sixteen kinges
At the citee of Rome assembled at ones.
Then ishews the Emperour, armed at rightes
Arrayed with his Romans upon rich steedes;
Sixty giauntes before, engendered with fendes,
With witches and warlaws, to watchen his tentes
Aywere where he wendes wintres and yeres.
Might no blonkes them bere, those bustous churles,
But coverd cameles of towrs, enclosed in mailes;
He ayeres out with alienes, hostes full huge
Even into Almaine, that Arthur had wonnen,
Rides in by the river and riotes himselve,
And ayeres with a huge will all those high landes;
All Westfale by war he winnes as him likes,
Drawes in by Danuby and dubbes his knightes,
In the countree of Coloine castelles enseges
And sujourns that sesoun with Sarazenes ynow.
At the utas of Hillary Sir Arthur himselven
In his kidd counsel commaunde the lordes:
"Kaire to your countrees and semble your knightes,
And keepes me at Constantine, clenlich arrayed,
Bides me at Barflete upon the blithe stremes
Boldly within borde, with your best bernes;
I shall menskfully you meet in those fair marches."
He sendes forth sodenly sergeauntes of armes
To all his mariners in row to arrest him shippes;
Within sixteen dayes his fleet was assembled,
At Sandwich on the se, sail when him likes.
In the palais of York a parlement he holdes
With all the peeres of the rewm, prelates and other;
And after the preching, in presence of lordes,
The king in his counsel carpes these wordes:
"I am in purpose to pass perilous wayes,
To kaire with my keen men to conquer yon landes,
To outraye mine enmy, yif aventure it shew,
That occupies mine heritage, the empire of Rome.
I set you here a soveraign, assent yif you likes,
That is my sib, my sister son; Sir Mordred himselven
Shall be my leutenant, with lordshippes ynow
Of all my lele lege-men that my landes yemes."
He carpes to his cosin then, in counsel himselven:
"I make thee keeper, Sir Knight, of kingrikes many,
Warden worshipful to weld all my landes,
That I have wonnen of war in this world rich.
I will that Waynor, my wife, in worship be holden.
That her want no wele ne welth that her likes;
Look my kidd casteles be clenlich arrayed,
There sho may sujourn herselve with seemlich bernes;
Fonde my forestes be frithed, of frendship for ever,
That none warray my wild but Waynor herselven,
And that in the sesoun when grees is assigned,
That sho take her solace in certain times.
Chaunceller and chamberlain change as thee likes,
Auditours and officers, ordain them thyselven,
Both jurees and judges, and justices of landes;
Look thou justify them well that injury workes.
If me be destained to die at Drightens will,
I charge thee my sektour, chef of all other,
To minister my mobles for meed of my soul
To mendinauntes and misese in mischef fallen.
Take here my testament of tresure full huge;
As I traist upon thee, betray thou me never!
As thou will answer before the austeren Judge
That all this world winly wisse as Him likes,
Look that my last will be lely perfourned!
Thou has clenly the cure that to my crown longes
Of all my wordles wele and my wife eek;
Look thou keep thee so clere there be no cause founden
When I to countree come, if Crist will it thole;
And thou have grace goodly to govern thyselven,
I shall crown thee, knight, king with my handes."
Then Sir Mordred full mildly meles himselven,
Kneeled to the conquerour and carpes these wordes:
"I beseek you, sir, as my sib lord,
That ye will for charitee chese you another,
For if ye put me in this plitt, your pople is deceived;
To present a prince estate my power is simple;
When other of war-wisse are worshipped hereafter,
Then may I, forsooth, be set but at little.
To pass in your presence my purpose is taken
And all my perveance appert for my pris knightes."
"Thou art my nevew full ner, my nurree of old,
That I have chastied and chosen, a child of my chamber;
For the sibreden of me, forsake not this office;
That thou ne work my will, thou wot what it menes."
Now he takes his leve and lenges no longer
At lordes, at lege-men that leves him behinden;
And senn that worthiliche wye went unto chamber
For to comfort the queen that in care lenges.
Waynor waikly weepand him kisses,
Talkes to him tenderly with teres ynow;
"I may werye the wye that this war moved,
That warnes me worship of my wedde lord;
All my liking of life out of land wendes,
And I in langour am left, leve ye, forever!
Why ne might I, dere love, die in your armes,
Ere I this destainy of dole sholde drie by mine one!"
"Greve thee not, Gaynor, for Goddes love of heven,
Ne grouch not my ganging; it shall to good turn!
Thy wandrethes and thy weeping woundes mine herte;
I may not wite of this wo for all this world rich;
I have made a keeper, a knight of thine owen,
Overling of Yngland, under thyselven,
And that is Sir Mordred, that thou has mikel praised,
Shall be thy dictour, my dere, to do what thee likes."
Then he takes his leve at ladies in chamber,
Kissed them kindlich and to Crist beteches;
And then sho swoones full swithe when he his sword asked,
Sways in swooning, swelte as sho wolde!
He pressed to his palfrey, in presence of lordes,
Prikes of the palais with his pris knightes
With a real rout of the Round Table,
Sought toward Sandwich; sho sees him no more.
There the grete were gadered with galiard knightes,
Garnished on the green feld and graitheliche arrayed;
Dukes and douspeeres daintely rides,
Erles of Yngland with archers ynow.
Shirreves sharply shiftes the commouns,
Rewles before the rich of the Round Table,
Assignes ilk a countree to certain lordes,
In the south on the se bank sail when them likes.
Then barges them buskes and to the bank rowes,
Bringes blonkes on borde and burlich helmes
Trusses in tristly trapped steedes,
Tentes and other tooles, and targes full rich,
Cabanes and cloth-sackes and cofferes full noble,
Hackes and hackeneys and horses of armes;
Thus they stow in the stuff of full steren knightes.
When all was shipped that sholde, they shunt no lenger,
But unteld them tite, as the tide runnes;
Cogges and crayers then crosses their mastes,
At the commaundement of the king uncovered at ones;
Wightly on the wale they wie up their ankers,
By wit of the watermen of the wale ythes.
Frekes on the forestaine faken their cables
In floynes and fercostes and Flemish shippes,
Titt sailes to the top and turnes the luff,
Standes upon steerbord, sterenly they songen.
The pris shippes of the port proven their deepness,
And foundes with full sail over the fawe ythes;
Holly withouten harm they hale in botes,
Shipmen sharply shutten their portes,
Launches lede upon luff latchen their deepes,
Lookes to the lode-stern when the light failes,
Castes courses by craft when the cloud rises
With the needle and the stone on the night tides.
For drede of the dark night they dreched a little
And all the steren of the streme steken at ones.
The king was in a grete cogge with knightes full many,
In a cabane enclosed, clenlich arrayed;
Within on a rich bed restes a little,
And with the swogh of the se in swefning he fell.
Him dremed of a dragon, dredful to behold,
Come drivand over the deep to drenchen his pople,
Even walkand out the West landes,
Wanderand unworthyly over the wale ythes;
Both his hed and his hals were holly all over
Ounded of azure, enamelled full fair;
His shoulders were shaled all in clene silver
Shredde over all the shrimp with shrinkand pointes;
His womb and his winges of wonderful hewes,
In marvelous mailes he mounted full high.
Whom that he touched he was tint forever!
His feet were flourished all in fine sable
And such a venomous flaire flow from his lippes
The flood of the flawes all on fire seemed!
Then come out of the Orient, even him againes,
A black bustous bere aboven in the cloudes,
With ech a paw as a post and paumes full huge
With pikes full perilous, all pliand them seemed;
Lothen and lothly, lockes and other,
All with lutterd legges, lokkerd unfair,
Filtered unfreely, with fomand lippes -
The foulest of figure that formed was ever!
He baltered, he blered, he braundished thereafter;
To batail he bounes him with bustous clawes;
He romed, he rored, that rogged all the erthe,
So rudely he rapped at to riot himselven!
Then the dragon on dregh dressed him againes
And with his duttes him drove on dregh by the welken;
He fares as a faucon, frekly he strikes;
Both with feet and with fire he fightes at ones.
The bere in the batail the bigger him seemed,
And bites him boldly with baleful tuskes;
Such buffetes he him reches with his brode klokes,
His breste and his brayell was bloody all over.
He ramped so rudely that all the erthe rives,
Runnand on red blood as rain of the heven!
He had weried the worm by wightness of strenghe
Ne were it not for the wild fire that he him with defendes.
Then wanders the worm away to his heightes,
Comes glidand fro the cloudes and coupes full even,
Touches him with his talones and teres his rigge,
Betwix the taile and the top ten foot large!
Thus he brittened the bere and brought him o live,
Let him fall in the flood, fleet where him likes.
So they thring the bold king binne the ship-borde,
That ner he bristes for bale on bed where he ligges.
Then waknes the wise king, wery fortravailed,
Takes him two philosophers that followed him ever,
In the seven science the sutelest founden,
The cunningest of clergy under Crist knowen;
He told them of his torment that time that he sleeped:
"Dreched with a dragon and such a derf beste,
Has made me full wery, as wisse me Our Lord;
Ere I mon swelt as swithe, ye tell me my swefen!"
"Sir," said they soon then, these sage philosophers,
"The dragon that thou dremed of, so dredful to shew,
That come drivand over the deep to drenchen thy pople,
Soothly and certain thyselven it is,
That thus sailes over the se with thy seker knightes.
The coloures that were casten upon his clere winges
May be thy kingrikes all, that thou has right wonnen,
And the tattered tail, with tonges so huge,
Betokens this fair folk that in thy fleet wendes.
The bere that brittened was aboven in the cloudes
Betokenes the tyrauntes that tormentes thy pople
Or elles with some giaunt some journee shall happen,
In singular batail by yourselve one;
And thou shall have the victory, through help of Our Lord,
As thou in thy vision was openly shewed.
Of this dredful dreme ne drede thee no more,
Ne care not, sir conquerour, but comfort thyselven
And these that sailes over the se with thy seker knightes."
With trumpes then tristly they trussen up their sailes
And rowes over the rich se, this rout all at ones;
The comly coste of Normandy they catchen full even
And blithely at Barflete these bold are arrived,
And findes a fleet there of frendes ynow,
The flowr and the fair folk of fifteen rewmes,
For kinges and capitaines keeped him fair,
As he at Carlisle commaunded at Cristenmass himselven.
By they had taken the land and tentes up rered,
Comes a Templar tite and touched to the king;
"Here is a tyraunt beside that tormentes thy pople,
A grete giaunt of Gene, engendered of fendes;
He has freten of folk mo than five hundreth,
And als fele fauntekins of free-born childer.
This has been his sustenaunce all this seven winteres,
And yet is that sot not sad, so well him it likes!
In the countree of Constantine no kind has he leved
Withouten kidd casteles, enclosed with walles,
That he ne has clenly distroyed all the knave childer,
And them carried to the crag and clenly devoured.
The duchess of Bretain today has he taken,
Beside Reines as sho rode with her rich knightes,
Led her to the mountain there that lede lenges
To lie by that lady ay whiles her life lastes.
We followed o ferrome mo than five hundreth
Of bernes and of burges and bachelers noble,
But he covered the crag; sho cried so loud
The care of that creature cover shall I never
Sho was the flowr of all Fraunce or of five rewmes,
And one of the fairest that formed was ever,
The gentilest jowell ajudged with lordes
Fro Gene unto Gerone by Jesu of heven!
Sho was thy wifes cosin, know it if thee likes,
Comen of the richest that regnes in erthe;
As thou art rightwise king, rew on thy pople
And fonde for to venge them that thus are rebuked!"
"Alas," says Sir Arthur, "so long have I lived!
Had I witten of this, well had me cheved.
Me is not fallen fair but me is foul happened
That thus this fair lady this fend has destroyed!
I had lever than all Fraunce this fifteen winter
I had been before that freke a furlong of way
When he that lady had laght and led to the mountes;
I had left my life ere sho had harm limped.
But wolde thou ken me to that crag there that keen lenges,
I wolde kaire to that coste and carp with himselven,
To trete with that tyraunt for tresoun of landes
And take trews for a time til it may tide better."
"Sir, see ye yon forland with yon two fires?
There filsnes that fend, fraist when thee likes,
Upon the crest of the crag by a cold well
That encloses the cliff with the clere strandes;
There may thou find folk fey withouten number,
Mo florines, in faith, than Fraunce is in after,
And more tresure untrewly that traitour has getten
Than in Troy was, as I trow, that time that it was wonnen."
Then romes the rich king for rewth of the pople,
Raikes right to a tent and restes no lenger;
He welteres, he wresteles, he wringes his handes;
There was no wye of this world that wiste what he mened.
He calles Sir Kayous that of the cup served
And Sir Bedvere the bold that bore his brand rich:
"Look ye after even-song be armed at rightes
On blonkes by yon buscaile, by yon blithe stremes,
For I will pass in pilgrimage privily hereafter,
In the time of souper, when lordes are served,
For to seeken a saint by yon salt stremes,
In Saint Michel mount, there miracles are shewed."
After even-song Sir Arthur himselven
Went to his wardrope and warp off his weedes
Armed him in a aketoun with orfrayes full rich;
Aboven, on that, a jerin of Acres out over;
Aboven that a gesseraunt of gentle mailes,
A jupon of Jerodine jagged in shredes;
He braides on a bacenett burnisht of silver
The best that was in Basel, with bordours rich;
The crest and the coronal enclosed so fair
With claspes of clere gold, couched with stones;
The vesar, the aventail, enarmed so fair,
Void withouten vice, with windowes of silver;
His gloves gaylich gilt and graven at the hemmes
With graines and gobelets, glorious of hew.
He braces a brode sheld and his brand askes,
Bouned him a brown steed and on the bente hoves;
He stert til his stirrup and strides on loft,
Straines him stoutly and stirres him fair,
Broches the bay steed and to the busk rides,
And there his knightes him keeped full clenlich arrayed.
Then they rode by that river that runned so swithe,
There the rindes over-reches with real boughes;
The roe and the reindeer reckless there runnen,
In ranes and in rosers to riot themselven;
The frithes were flourisht with flowres full many,
With faucons and fesauntes of ferlich hewes;
All the fowles there flashes that flies with winges,
For there galed the gouk on greves full loud;
With alkine gladship they gladden themselven;
Of the nightingale notes the noises was sweet;
They threped with the throstels three hundreth at ones!
That whate swowing of water and singing of birds,
It might salve him of sore that sound was never!
Then ferkes this folk and on foot lightes,
Fastenes their fair steedes o ferrom between;
And then the king keenly commaunded his knightes
For to bide with their blonkes and boun no further;
"For I will seek this saint by myselve one
And mele with this master man that this mount yemes,
And senn shall ye offer, either after other
Menskfully at Saint Michel, full mighty with Crist."
The king covers the crag with cloughes full high,
To the crest of the cliff he climbes on loft,
Cast up his umbrere and keenly he lookes,
Caught of the cold wind to comfort himselven.
Two fires he findes flamand full high;
The fourtedele a furlong between them he walkes;
The way by the well-strandes he wanderd him one
To wite of the warlaw, where that he lenges.
He ferkes to the first fire and even there he findes
A wery woful widow wringand her handes,
And gretand on a grave grisly teres,
New merked on molde, senn mid-day it seemed.
He salued that sorrowful with sittand wordes
And fraines after the fend fairly thereafter.
Then this woful wife unwinly him greetes,
Coverd up on her knees and clapped her handes,
Said: "Careful, careman, thou carpes too loud!
May yon warlaw wite, he warrays us all!
Weryd worth the wight ay that thee thy wit reved,
That mas thee to waife here in these wild lakes!
I warn thee, for worship, thou wilnes after sorrow!
Whider buskes thou, berne? unblessed thou seemes!
Weenes thou to britten him with thy brand rich?
Were thou wighter than Wade or Wawain either,
Thou winnes no worship, I warn thee before.
Thou sained thee unsekerly to seek to these mountes;
Such six were too simple to semble with him one,
For, and thou see him with sight, thee serves no herte
To saine thee sekerly, so seemes him huge.
Thou art freely and fair and in thy first flowres,
But thou art fey, by my faith, and that me forthinkes!
Were such fifty on a feld or on a fair erthe,
The freke wolde with his fist fell you at ones.
Lo! Here the duchess dere - today was sho taken -
Deep dolven and dede, diked in moldes.
He had murthered this mild by mid-day were rungen,
Withouten mercy on molde, I not what it ment;
He has forced her and filed and sho is fey leved;
He slew her unslely and slit her to the navel.
And here have I baumed her and buried thereafter.
For bale of the bootless, blithe be I never!
Of all the frendes sho had there followed none after
But I, her foster moder, of fifteen winter.
To ferk off this forland fonde shall I never,
But here be founden on feld til I be fey leved."
Then answers Sir Arthur to that old wife:
"I am comen fro the conquerour, courtais and gentle,
As one of the hathelest of Arthure knightes,
Messenger to this mix, for mendement of the pople
To mele with this master man that here this mount yemes,
To trete with this tyraunt for tresure of landes
And take trew for a time, to better may worthe."
"Ya, thir wordes are but waste," quod this wife then,
"For both landes and lythes full little by he settes;
Of rentes ne of red gold reckes he never,
For he will lenge out of law, as himself thinkes,
Withouten license of lede, as lord in his owen.
But he has a kirtle on, keeped for himselven,
That was spunnen in Spain with special birdes
And sithen garnisht in Greece full graithely togeders;
It is hided all with here, holly all over
And borderd with the berdes of burlich kinges,
Crisped and combed that kempes may know
Ich king by his colour, in kith there he lenges.
Here the fermes he fanges of fifteen rewmes,
For ilke Estern even, however that it fall,
They send it him soothly for saught of the pople,
Sekerly at that sesoun with certain knightes.
And he has asked Arthure all this seven winter;
Forthy hurdes he here to outraye his pople
Til the Britones king have burnisht his lippes
And sent his berde to that bold with his best bernes;
But thou have brought that berde boun thee no further,
For it is a bootless bale thou biddes ought elles,
For he has more tresure to take when him likes
Than ever ought Arthur or any of his elders.
If thou have brought the berde he bes more blithe
Than thou gave him Borgoine or Britain the More;
But look now, for charitee, thou chasty thy lippes
That thee no wordes escape, whatso betides.
Look thy present be preste and press him but little,
For he is at his souper; he will be soon greved.
And thou my counsel do, thou dos off thy clothes
And kneel in thy kirtle and call him thy lord.
He soupes all this sesoun with seven knave childer,
Chopped in a chargeur of chalk-white silver,
With pickle and powder of precious spices,
And piment full plenteous of Portingale wines;
Three balefull birdes his broches they turn,
That bides his bedgatt, his bidding to work;
Such four sholde be fey within four houres
Ere his filth were filled that his flesh yernes."
"Ya, I have brought the berde," quod he, "the better me likes;
Forthy will I boun me and bere it myselven
But, lefe, wolde thou lere me where that lede lenges?
I shall alowe thee, and I live, Our Lord so me help!"
"Ferk fast to the fire," quod sho, "that flames so high;
There filles that fend him, fraist when thee likes.
But thou moste seek more south, sidlings a little,
For he will have scent himselve six mile large."
To the source of the reek he sought at the gainest,
Sained him sekerly with certain wordes,
And sidlings of the segge the sight had he reched
How unseemly that sot sat soupand him one!
He lay lenand on long, lodgand unfair,
The thee of a mans limm lift up by the haunch;
His back and his beuschers and his brode lendes
He bakes at the bale-fire and breekless him seemed;
There were rostes full rude and rewful bredes,
Bernes and bestail broched togeders,
Cowle full crammed of crismed childer,
Some as bred broched and birdes them turned.
And then this comlich king, because of his pople,
His herte bleedes for bale on bente where he standes;
Then he dressed on his sheld, shuntes no lenger,
Braundisht his brode sword by the bright hiltes,
Raikes toward that renk right with a rude will
And hiely hailses that hulk with hautain wordes:
"Now, All-weldand God that worshippes us all
Give thee sorrow and site, sot, there thou ligges,
For the foulsomest freke that formed was ever!
Foully thou feedes thee! The Fend have thy soul!
Here is cury unclene, carl, by my trewth,
Caff of creatures all, thou cursed wretch!
Because that thou killed has these crismed childer,
Thou has martyrs made and brought out of life
That here are broched on bente and brittened with thy handes,
I shall merk thee thy meed as thou has much served,
Through might of Saint Michel that this mount yemes!
And for this fair lady that thou has fey leved
And thus forced on folde for filth of thyselven,
Dress thee now, dog-son, the devil have thy soul!
For thou shall die this day through dint of my handes!"
Then glopined the glutton and glored unfair;
He grenned as a grayhound with grisly tuskes;
He gaped, he groned fast with grouchand lates
For gref of the good king that him with grame greetes.
His fax and his foretop was filtered togeders
And out of his face fom an half foot large;
His front and his forheved, all was it over
As the fell of a frosk and frakned it seemed;
Hook-nebbed as a hawk, and a hore berde,
And hered to the eyen-holes with hangand browes;
Harsk as a hound-fish, hardly who-so lookes,
So was the hide of that hulk holly all over;
Erne had he full huge and ugly to shew
With eyen full horrible and ardaunt for sooth;
Flat-mouthed as a fluke with fleriand lippes,
And the flesh in his fore-teeth fouly as a bere;
His berde was brothy and blak that til his breste reched;
Grassed as a mere-swine with carkes full huge
And all faltered the flesh in his foul lippes,
Ilke wrethe as a wolf-heved it wrath out at ones!
Bull-necked was that berne and brode in the shoulders,
Brok-brested as a brawn with bristeles full large,
Rude armes as an oke with ruskled sides,
Limm and leskes full lothen, leve ye for sooth;
Shovel-footed was that shalk and shaland him seemed,
With shankes unshapely shovand togeders;
Thick thees as a thurse and thicker in the haunch,
Grees-growen as a galt, full grillich he lookes!
Who the lenghe of the lede lely accountes,
Fro the face to the foot was five fadom long!
Then stertes he up sturdily on two stiff shankes,
And soon he caught him a club all of clene iron;
He wolde have killed the king with his keen wepen,
But through the craft of Crist yet the carl failed;
The crest and the coronal, the claspes of silver,
Clenly with his club he crashed down at ones!
The king castes up his sheld and covers him fair,
And with his burlich brand a box he him reches;
Full butt in the front the fromand he hittes
That the burnisht blade to the brain runnes;
He feyed his fysnamie with his foul handes
And frappes fast at his face fersly there-after!
The king changes his foot, eschewes a little;
Ne had he eschaped that chop, cheved had evil;
He follows in fersly and fastenes a dint
High up on the haunch with his hard wepen
That he heled the sword half a foot large;
The hot blood of the hulk unto the hilt runnes;
Even into the in-mete the giaunt he hittes
Just to the genitals and jagged them in sonder!
Then he romed and rored and rudely he strikes
Full egerly at Arthur and on the erthe hittes;
A sword-lenghe within the swarth he swappes at ones
That ner swoones the king for swough of his dintes!
But yet the king sweperly full swithe he beswenkes,
Swappes in with the sword that it the swang bristed;
Both the guttes and the gore gushes out at ones.
That all englaimes the grass on ground there he standes!
Then he castes the club and the king hentes;
On the crest of the crag he caught him in armes,
And encloses him clenly to crushen his ribbes;
So hard holdes he that hende that ner his herte bristes!
Then the baleful birdes bounes to the erthe,
Kneeland and cryand and clapped their handes;
"Crist comfort yon knight and keep him fro sorrow,
And let never yon fend fell him o life!"
Yet is that warlaw so wight he welters him under;
Wrothly they writhen and wrestle togeders,
Welters and wallows over within those buskes,
Tumbelles and turnes fast and teres their weedes,
Untenderly fro the top they tilten togeders,
Whilom Arthur over and other while under,
Fro the heghe of the hill unto the hard rock,
They feyne never ere they fall at the flood marches;
But Arthur with an anlace egerly smites
And hittes ever in the hulk up to the hiltes.
The thef at the ded-throwes so throly him thringes
That three ribbes in his side he thrustes in sonder!
Then Sir Kayous the keen unto the king stertes,
Said: "Alas! We are lorn! My lord is confounded,
Over-fallen with a fend! Us is foul happned!
We mon be forfeited, in faith, and flemed forever!"
They heve up his hawberk then and handelles there-under
His hide and his haunch eek on height to the shoulders,
His flank and his felettes and his fair sides,
Both his back and his breste and his bright armes.
They were fain that they fande no flesh entamed
And for that journee made joy, thir gentle knightes.
"Now certes," says Sir Bedvere, "it seemes, by my Lord,
He seekes saintes but selden, the sorer he grippes,
That thus clekes this corsaint out of thir high cliffes,
To carry forth such a carl at close him in silver;
By Michel, of such a mak I have much wonder
That ever our soveraign Lord suffers him in heven!
And all saintes be such that serves our Lord
I shall never no saint be, by my fader soul!"
Then bourdes the bold king at Bedvere wordes:
"This saint have I sought, so help me our Lord!
Forthy braid out thy brand and broche him to the herte;
Be seker of this sergeaunt; he has me sore greved!
I fought not with such a freke this fifteen winter;
But in the mountes of Araby I met such another;
He was forcier by fer that had I nere founden;
Ne had my fortune been fair, fey had I leved!
Anon strike off his heved and stake it thereafter;
Give it to thy squier, for he is well horsed,
Bere it to Sir Howell that is in hard bondes
And bid him herte him well; his enmy is destroyed!
Senn bere it to Barflete and brace it in iron
And set it on the barbican bernes to shew.
My brand and my brode sheld upon the bente ligges,
On the crest of the crag there first we encountered,
And the club there-by, all of clene iron,
That many Cristen has killed in Constantine landes;
Ferk to the fore-land and fetch me that wepen
And let found to our fleet in flood there it lenges.
If thou will any tresure, take what thee likes;
Have I the kirtle and the club, I covet nought elles."
Now they kaire to the crag, these comlich knightes,
And brought him the brode sheld and his bright wepen,
The club and the cote als, Sir Kayous himselven,
And kaires with the conquerour the kinges to shew.
That in covert the king held close to himselven
While clene day fro the cloud climbed on loft.
By that to court was comen clamour full huge,
And before the comlich king they kneeled all at ones:
"Welcome, our lege lord, to long has thou dwelled!
Governour under God, graithest and noble,
To whom grace is graunted and given at His will
Now thy comly come has comforted us all!
Thou has in thy realtee revenged thy pople!
Through help of thy hand thine enmies are stroyed,
That has thy renkes over-run and reft them their childer;
Was never rewm out of array so redyly releved!"
Then the conquerour Cristenly carpes to his pople:
"Thankes God," quod he, "of this grace and no gome elles,
For it was never mans deed, but might of Himselven
Or miracle of his Moder, that mild is til all!"
He summond then the shipmen sharply thereafter,
To shake forth with the shire-men to shift the goodes:
"All the much tresure that traitour had wonnen
To commouns of the countree, clergy and other,
Look it be done and delt to my dere pople
That none plain of their part o pain of your lives."
He commaunde his cosin, with knightlich wordes,
To make a kirk on that crag, there the corse ligges
And a covent there-in, Crist for to serve,
In mind of that martyr that in the mount restes.
When Sir Arthur the king had killed the giaunt,
Then blithely fro Barflete he buskes on the morn,
With his batail on brede by tho blithe stremes;
Toward Castel Blank he cheses him the way,
Through a fair champain under chalk hilles;
The king fraistes a furth over the fresh strandes,
Foundes with his fair folk over as him likes;
Forth steppes that steren and strekes his tents
On a strenghe by a streme, in those strait landes.
Anon after mid-day, in the mene-while,
There comes two messengers of tho fer marches,
Fro the Marshal of Fraunce, and menskfully him greetes,
Besought him of succour and said him these wordes:
"Sir, thy Marshal, thy minister, thy mercy beseekes,
Of thy mikel magistee, for mendment of thy pople,
Of these marches-men that thus are miscarried
And thus marred among maugree their eyen;
I witter thee the Emperour is enterd into Fraunce
With hostes of enmies, horrible and huge;
Brinnes in Burgoine thy burges so rich,
And brittenes thy baronage that beldes there-in;
He encroches keenly by craftes of armes
Countrees and casteles that to thy crown longes,
Confoundes thy commouns, clergy and other;
But thou comfort them, Sir King, cover shall they never!
He felles forestes fele, forrays thy landes,
Frithes no fraunches, but frayes the pople;
Thus he felles thy folk and fanges their goodes;
Fremedly the French tonge fey is beleved.
He drawes into douce Fraunce, as Dutch-men telles,
Dressed with his dragons, dredful to shew;
All to dede they dight with dintes of swordes,
Dukes and douspeeres that dreches there-in;
Forthy the lordes of the land, ladies and other,
Prayes thee for Petere love, the apostle of Rome,
Senn thou art present in place, that thou will proffer make
To that perilous prince by process of time.
He ayers by yon hilles, yon high holtes under,
Hoves there with hole strenghe of hethen knightes;
Help now for His love that high in heven sittes
And talk tristly to them that thus us destroyes!"
The king biddes Sir Bois: "Busk thee belive!
Take with thee Sir Berille and Bedvere the rich,
Sir Gawain and Sir Grime, these galiard knightes,
And graith you to yon green woodes and gos on thir needes;
Says to Sir Lucius too unlordly he workes
Thus litherly againes law to lede my pople;
I let him ere ought long, yif me the life happen,
Or many light shall low that him over land followes;
Commaund him keenly with cruel wordes
Kaire out of my kingrik with his kidd knightes;
In case that he will not, that cursed wretch,
Come for his courtaisy and counter me ones;
Then shall we reckon full rathe what right that he claimes,
Thus to riot this rewm and ransoun the pople!
There shall it derely be delt with dintes of handes;
The Drighten at Doomesday dele as Him likes!"
Now they graith them to go, these galiard knightes,
All glitterand in gold, upon grete steedes
Toward the green wood, with grounden wepen,
To greet well the grete lord that wolde be greved soon.
These hende hoves on a hill by the holt eves
Beheld the housing full high of hethen kinges;
They herde in their herberage hundrethes full many
Hornes of olyfantes full highlich blowen;
Palaises proudly pight, that paled were rich
Of pall and of purpure, with precious stones;
Pensels and pomells of rich princes armes
Pight in the plain mede the pople to shew.
And then the Romans so rich had arrayed their tentes
On row by the river under the round hilles,
The Emperour for honour even in the middes,
With egles all over ennelled so fair;
And saw him and the Sowdan and senatours many
Seek toward a sale with sixteen kinges
Syland softly in, sweetly by themselven,
To soupe with that soverain full selcouthe metes.
Now they wend over the water, these worshipful knightes,
Through the wood to the wonne there the wyes restes;
Right as they had weshen and went to the table,
Sir Wawain the worthy unwinly he spekes:
"The might and the majestee that menskes us all,
That was merked and made through the might of Himselven,
Give you site in your sete, Sowdan and other,
That here are sembled in sale; unsaught mot ye worthe!
And the false heretik that Emperour him calles,
That occupies in errour the Empire of Rome,
Sir Arthure heritage, that honourable king
That all his auncestres ought but Uter him one,
That ilke cursing that Caim caught for his brother
Cleve on thee, cuckewald, with crown there thou lenges,
For the unlordliest lede that I on looked ever!
My lord marveles him mikel, man, by my trewth,
Why thou murtheres his men that no misse serves,
Commouns of the countree, clergy and other,
That are nought coupable there-in, ne knowes nought in armes,
Forthy the comlich king, courtais and noble,
Commaundes thee keenly to kaire of his landes
Or elles for thy knighthede encounter him ones.
Senn thou covetes the crown, let it be declared!
I have discharged me here, challenge who likes,
Before all thy chevalry, cheftaines and other.
Shape us an answer, and shunt thou no lenger,
That we may shift at the short and shew to my lord."
The Emperour answerd with austeren wordes:
"Ye are with mine enmy, Sir Arthur himselven;
It is none honour to me to outraye his knightes,
Though ye be irous men that ayers on his needes;
Ne were it not for reverence of my rich table,
Thou sholde repent full rathe of thy rude wordes!
Such a rebawd as thou rebuke any lordes
With their retinues arrayed, full real and noble!
But say to thy soveraign I send him these wordes:
Here will I sujourn, whiles me lefe thinkes,
And sithen seek in by Seine with solace thereafter,
Ensege all the citees by the salt strandes,
And senn ride in by Rhone that runnes so fair,
And of his rich casteles rush down the walles;
I shall nought leve in Paris, by process of time,
His part of a pecheline, prove when him likes!"
"Now certes," says Sir Wawain, "much wonder have I
That such a alfin as thou dare speke such wordes!
I had lever than all Fraunce, that heved is of rewmes,
Fight with thee faithfully on feld by our one!"
Then answers Sir Gayous full gabbed wordes -
Was eme to the Emperour and erl himselven:
"Ever were these Bretons braggers of old!
Lo, how he brawles him for his bright weedes,
As he might britten us all with his brand rich!
Yet he barkes much boste, yon boy there he standes!"
Then greved Sir Gawain at his grete wordes,
Graithes toward the gome with grouchand herte;
With his steelen brand he strikes off his heved,
And stertes out to his steed, and with his stale wendes.
Through the watches they went, these worshipful knightes,
And findes in their fare-way wonderlich many;
Over the water they went by wightness of horses,
And took wind as they wolde by the wood hemmes.
Then follows frekly on foot frekes ynow,
And of the Romans arrayed upon rich steedes
Chased through a champain our chevalrous knightes
Til a chef forest on chalk-white horses.
But a freke all in fine gold and fretted in sable
Come furthermost on a Freson in flamand weedes;
A fair flourisht spere in fewter he castes,
And followes fast on our folk and freshly ascries.
Then Sir Gawain the good upon a gray steed
He grippes him a grete spere and graithly him hittes;
Through the guttes into the gore he girdes him even,
That the grounden steel glides to his herte!
The gome and the grete horse at the ground ligges,
Full grislich gronand for gref of his woundes.
Then presses a priker in, full proudly arrayed,
That beres all of purpure, paled with silver
Bigly on a brown steed he proffers full large.
He was a paynim of Perse that thus him persewed;
Sir Boys, unabaist all, he buskes him againes;
With a bustous launce he beres him through,
That the breme and the brode sheld upon the bente ligges!
And he bringes forth the blade and bounes to his fellowes.
Then Sir Feltemour, of might a man mikel praised,
Was moved on his manner and menaced full fast;
He graithes to Sir Gawain graithly to work,
For gref of Sir Gayous that is on ground leved.
Then Sir Gawain was glad; again him he rides;
With Galuth, his good sword, graithly him hittes;
The knight on the courser he cleved in sonder,
Clenlich fro the crown his corse he devised,
And thus he killes the knight with his kidd wepen.
Then a rich man of Rome relied to his bernes:
"It shall repent us full sore and we ride further!
Yon are bold bosters that such bale workes;
It befell him full foul that them so first named!"
Then the rich Romans returnes their bridles,
To their tentes in teen, telles their lordes
How Sir Marshall de Mowne is on the molde leved,
Forjousted at that journee for his grete japes.
But there chases on our men chevalrous knightes,
Five thousand folk upon fair steedes,
Fast to a forest over a fell water
That filles fro the fallow se fifty mile large.
There were Bretons enbushed and banerettes noble,
Of chevalry chef of the kinges chamber;
Sees them chase our men and changen their horses
And chop down cheftaines that they most charged.
Then the enbushment of Bretons broke out at ones,
Brothly at banner all Bedvere knightes
Arrested of the Romans that by the firth rides,
All the realest renkes that to Rome longes;
They ishe on the enmies and egerly strikes,
Erles of England, and "Arthur!" ascries;
Through brenyes and bright sheldes brestes they thirle,
Bretons of the boldest, with their bright swordes.
There was Romans over-ridden and rudely wounded,
Arrested as rebawdes with riotous knightes!
The Romans out of array removed at ones
And rides away in a rout - for reddour it seemes!
To the Senatour Peter a sandesman is comen
And said: "Sir, sekerly, your segges are surprised!"
Then ten thousand men he sembled at ones
And set sodenly on our segges by the salt strandes.
Then were Bretons abaist and greved a little,
But yet the bannerettes bold and bachelers noble
Brekes that batail with brestes of steedes;
Sir Bois and his bold men much bale workes!
The Romanes redies them, arrayes them better,
And all to-rushes our men with their reste horses,
Arrested of the richest of the Round Table,
Over-rides our rere-ward and grete rewth workes!
Then the Bretons on the bente abides no lenger,
But fled to the forest and the feld leved;
Sir Berille is borne down and Sir Bois taken,
The best of our bold men unblithely wounded;
But yet our stale on a strenghe stotais a little,
All to-stonayed with the stokes of tho steren knightes,
Made sorrow for their soveraign that so there was nomen,
Besought God of succour, send when him liked!
Then comes Sir Idrus, armed up at all rightes,
With five hundreth men upon fair steedes,
Fraines fast at our folk freshly thereafter
Yif their frendes were fer that on the feld founded.
Then says Sir Gawain, "So me God help,
We have been chased today and chulled as hares,
Rebuked with Romanes upon their rich steedes,
And we lurked under lee as lowrand wretches!
I look never on my lord the dayes of my life
And we so litherly him help that him so well liked!"
Then the Bretons brothely broches their steedes
And boldly in batail upon the bente rides;
All the fers men before frekly ascries,
Ferkand in the forest to freshen themselven.
The Romanes then redyly arrayes them better,
On row on a rowm feld rightes their wepens,
By the rich river and rewles the pople;
And with reddour Sir Bois is in arrest holden.
Now they sembled unsaught by the salt stremes;
Sadly these seker men settes their dintes,
With lovely launces on loft they lushen togederes,
In Lorraine so lordly on lepand steedes.
There were gomes through-gird with grounden wepens
Grisly gaspand with grouchand lates.
Grete lordes of Greece greved so high.
Swiftly with swordes they swappen thereafter,
Swappes down full sweperly sweltande knightes,
That all sweltes on swarth that they over-swingen.
So many sways in swogh, swoonand at ones -
Sir Gawain the gracious full graithly he workes;
The gretest he greetes with grisly woundes;
With Galuth he girdes down full galiard knightes,
For gref of the grete lord so grimly he strikes!
He rides forth really and redyly thereafter
There this real renk was in arrest holden;
He rives the rank steel, he rittes their brenyes,
And reft them the rich man and rode to his strenghes.
The Senatour Peter then persewed him after,
Through the press of the pople with his pris knightes,
Appertly for the prisoner proves his strenghes,
With prikers the proudest that to the press longes;
Wrothly on the wrong hand Sir Wawain he strikes,
With a wepen of war unwinly him hittes;
The breny on the back half he bristes in sonder;
And yet he brought forth Sir Bois for all their bale bernes!
Then the Bretons boldly braggen their trumpes,
And for bliss of Sir Bois was brought out of bondes,
Boldly in batail they bere down knightes;
With brandes of brown steel they brittened mailes;
They steked steedes in stour with steelen wepens
And all stewede with strenghe that stood them againes!
Sir Idrus fitz Ewain then "Arthur!" ascries,
Assembles on the senatour with sixteen knightes
Of the sekerest men that to our side longed.
Sodenly in a soppe they set in at ones,
Foines fast at the fore-breste with flamand swordes
And fightes fast at the front freshly thereafter,
Felles fele on the feld upon the ferrer side,
Fey on the fair feld by tho fresh strandes.
But Sir Idrus fitz Ewain aunters himselven
And enters in only and egerly strikes,
Seekes to the senatour and seses his bridle;
Unsaughtly he said him these sittand wordes:
"Yelde thee, sir, yapely, yif thou thy life yernes;
For giftes that thou give may thou yeme not thyselven,
For, dredles, drech thou or drop any wiles,
Thou shall die this day through dint of my handes!"
"I assent," quod the senatour, "so me Crist help.
So that I be safe brought before the king selven;
Ransoun me reasonabely, as I may over-reche,
After my rentes in Rome may redyly further."
Then answers Sir Idrus with austeren wordes:
"Thou shall have condicioun as the king likes,
When thou comes to the kith there the court holdes,
In case his counsel be to keep thee no longer,
To be killed at his commaundement his knightes before."
They led him forth in the rout and latched off his weedes,
Left him with Lionel and Lowell his brother.
O-low in the land then, by the lithe strandes,
Sir Lucius lege-men lost are forever!
The Senatour Peter is prisoner taken!
Of Perse and Port Jaffe full many pris knightes
And much pople withal perished themselven!
For press of the passage they plunged at ones!
There might men see Romans rewfully wounded,
Over-ridden with renkes of the Round Table.
In the raike of the furth they righten their brenyes
That ran all on red blood redyly all over;
They raght in the rere-ward full riotous knightes
For ransoun of red gold and real steedes;
Redyly relayes and restes their horses,
In route to the rich king they rode all at ones.
A knight kaires before, and to the king telles:
"Sir, here comes thy messengeres with mirthes fro the mountes;
They have been matched today with men of the marches,
Foremagled in the morass with marvelous knightes!
We have foughten, in faith, by yon fresh strandes,
With the frekest folk that to thy fo longes;
Fifty thousand on feld of fers men of armes
Within a furlong of way fey are beleved!
We have eschewed this check through chaunce of Our Lord
Of tho chevalrous men that charged thy pople.
The chef chaunceller of Rome, a cheftain full noble,
Will ask the charter of pees, for charitee himselven;
And the Senatour Peter to prisoner is taken.
Of Perse and Port Jaffe paynimes ynow
Comes prikand in the press with thy pris knightes,
With povertee in thy prisoun their paines to drie.
I beseek you, sir, say what you likes,
Whether ye suffer them saught or soon delivered.
Ye may have for the senatour sixty horse charged
Of silver by Saterday full sekerly payed,
And for the chef chaunceller, the chevaler noble,
Charottes chockful charged with gold.
The remenaunt of the Romanes be in arrest holden,
Til their rentes in Rome be rightwisly knowen.
I beseek you, sir, certify yon lordes,
Yif ye will send them over the se or keep them yourselven.
All your seker men, for sooth, sound are beleved,
Save Sir Ewain fitz Henry is in the side wounded."
"Crist be thanked," quod the king, "and his clere Moder,
That you comforted and helped by craft of Himselven.
Skillfully skomfiture He skiftes as Him likes.
Is none so skathly may scape ne skew fro His handes;
Destainy and doughtiness of deedes of armes,
All is deemed and delt at Drightenes will!
I can thee thank for thy come; it comfortes us all!
Sir knight," says the conquerour, "so me Crist help,
I give thee for thy tithandes Toulouse the rich,
The toll and the tachementes, tavernes and other,
The town and the tenementes with towres so high,
That touches to the temporaltee, whiles my time lastes.
But say to the senatour I send him these wordes:
There shall no silver him save but Ewain recover.
I had lever see him sink on the salt strandes
Than the segge were seke that is so sore wounded.
I shall dissever that sorte, so me Crist help,
And set them full solitary in sere kinges landes.
Shall he never sound see his seinoures in Rome,
Ne sit in the assemblee in sight with his feres,
For it comes to no king that conquerour is holden
To comone with his captives for covetis of silver.
It come never of knighthed, know it if him like,
To carp of cosery when captives are taken;
It ought to no prisoners to press no lordes
Ne come in presence of princes when parties are moved.
Commaund yon constable, the castle that yemes,
That he be clenlich keeped and in close holden;
He shall have maundement to-morn ere mid-day be rungen
To what march they shall merk with maugree to lengen."
They convey this captive with clene men of armes
And kend him to the constable, als the king biddes
And senn to Arthur they ayer and egerly him touches
The answer of the Emperour, irous of deedes.
Then Sir Arthur, on erthe athelest of other
At even, at his own borde avaunted his lordes:
"Me ought to honour them in erthe over all other thinges,
That thus in mine absence aunters themselven!
I shall them love whiles I live, so me Our Lord help
And give them landes full large where them best likes;
They shall not lose on this laik, yif me life happen,
That thus are lamed for my love by these lithe strandes."
But in the clere dawing the dere king himselven
Commaunded Sir Cador, with his dere knightes,
Sir Cleremus, Sir Cleremond, with clene men of armes,
Sir Clowdmur, Sir Cleges, to convey these lordes;
Sir Bois and Sir Berille, with banners displayed,
Sir Bawdwin, Sir Brian, and Sir Bedvere the rich,
Sir Raynald and Sir Richer, Rowlaunde childer,
To ride with the Romanes in route with their feres:
"Prikes now privily to Paris the rich
With Peter the prisoner and his pris knightes;
Beteche them the provost in presence of lordes
O pain and o peril that pendes there-to
That they be wisely watched and in ward holden,
Warded of warantises with worshipful knightes;
Wage him wight men and wonde for no silver;
I have warned that wye; beware yif him likes!"
Now bounes the Britons als the king biddes,
Buskes their batailes, their banners displayes,
Toward Chartres they chese, these chevalrous knightes,
And in the Champain land full fair they escheved,
For the Emperour of might had ordained himselven
Sir Utolf and Sir Evander, two honourable kinges,
Erles of the Orient with austeren knightes,
Of the auntrousest men that to his host longed
Sir Sextynour of Lyby and senatours many,
The king of Surry himself with Sarazens ynow;
The senatour of Sutere with summes full huge
Was assigned to that court by sente of his peeres,
Trays toward Troys the tresoun to work,
To have betrapped with a trayn our traveland knightes,
That had perceived that Peter at Paris sholde leng
In prisoun with the provost his paines to drie.
Forthy they busked them boun with banners displayed,
In the buscaile of his way, on blonkes full huge,
Plantes them in the path with power arrayed
To pick up the prisoners fro our pris knightes.
Sir Cador of Cornwall commaundes his peeres,
Sir Clegis, Sir Cleremus, Sir Cleremond the noble:
"Here is the Close of Clime with cleves so high;
Lookes the countree be clere; the corners are large;
Discoveres now sekerly skrogges and other,
That no scathel in the skrogges scorn us hereafter;
Look ye skift it so that us no scathe limpe,
For no scomfiture in skulkery is scomfit ever."
Now they hie to the holt, these harageous knightes,
To herken of the high men to helpen these lordes,
Findes them helmed hole and horsed on steedes,
Hovand on the high way by the holt hemmes.
With knightly countenaunce Sir Clegis himselven
Cries to the company and carpes these wordes:
"Is there any kidd knight, kaiser or other,
Will kithe for his kinges love craftes of armes?
We are comen fro the king of this kith rich
That knowen is for conquerour, crownd in erthe;
His rich retinues here, all of the Round Table,
To ride with that real in rout when him likes.
We seek jousting of war, yif any will happen,
Of the jolliest men ajudged by lordes;
If here be any hathel man, erl or other,
That for the Emperour love wil aunter himselven."
And an erl then in anger answeres him soon:
"Me angers at Arthur and at his hathel bernes
That thus in his errour occupies these rewmes,
And outrayes the Emperour, his erthly lord!
The array and the realtees of the Round Table
Is with rancour rehersed in rewmes full many,
Of our rentes of Rome such revel he holdes;
He shall give resoun full rathe, if us right happen,
That many shall repent that in his rout rides,
For the reckless roy so rewles himselven!"
"A!" says Sir Clegis then, "so me Crist help!
I know by thy carping a counter thee seemes!
But be thou auditour or erl or Emperour thyselven,
Upon Arthures behalf I answer thee soon,
The renk so real that rewles us all,
The riotous men and the rich of the Round Table:
He has araised his account and redde all his rolles,
For he will give a reckoning that rew shall after,
That all the rich shall repent that to Rome longes
Ere the rerage be requite of rentes that he claimes.
We crave of your courtaisy three courses of war,
And claimes of knighthood, take keep to yourselven!
Ye do but trayn us today with troufeland wordes;
Of such traveland men trechery me thinkes.
Send out sadly certain knightes
Or say me sekerly sooth; forsake yif you likes."
Then says the King of Surry, "Als save me Our Lord,
Yif thou hufe all the day thou bes not delivered!
But thou sekerly ensure with certain knightes
That thy cote and thy crest be knowen with lordes,
Of armes of auncestry enterd with landes."
"Sir King," says Sir Clegis, "full knightly thou askes;
I trow it be for cowardis thou carpes these wordes;
Mine armes are of auncestry envered with lordes,
And has in banner been borne senn Sir Brut time;
At the citee of Troy that time was enseged,
Oft seen in assaut with certain kinghtes;
Forthy Brut brought us and all our bold elders
To Bretain the Brodder within ship-bordes."
"Sir," says Sir Sextynour, "say what thee likes,
And we shall suffer thee, als us best seemes;
Look thy trumpes be trussed and troufle no lenger,
For though thou tarry all the day, thee tides no better,
For there shall never Roman that in my rout rides
Be with rebawdes rebuked, whiles I in world regne!"
Then Sir Clegis to the king a little enclined,
Kaires to Sir Cador and knightly him telles:
"We have founden in yon firth, flourished with leves,
The flowr of the fairest folk that to thy fo longes,
Fifty thousand of folk of fers men of armes,
That fair are fewtered on front under yon free bowes;
They are enbushed on blonkes, with banners displayed,
In yon beechen wood, upon the way sides.
They have the furth for-set all of the fair water,
That fayfully of force fight us behooves,
For thus us shapes today, shortly to tell;
Whether we shoun or shew, shift as thee likes."
"Nay," quod Cador, "so me Crist help,
It were shame that we sholde shoun for so little!
Sir Launcelot shall never laugh, that with the king lenges,
That I sholde let my way for lede upon erthe;
I shall be dede and undone ere I here dreche
For drede of any dogges-son in yon dim shawes!"
Sir Cador then knightly comfortes his pople,
And with corage keen he carpes these wordes:
"Think on the valiant prince that vesettes us ever
With landes and lordshippes where us best likes.
That has us ducherys delt and dubbed us knightes,
Given us gersoms and gold and guerdons many,
Grayhoundes and grete horse and alkine games,
That gaines til any gome that under God lives;
Think on rich renown of the Round Table,
And let it never be reft us for Roman in erthe;
Foyne you not faintly, ne frithes no wepens,
But look ye fight faithfully, frekes yourselven;
I wolde be welled all quick and quartered in sonder,
But I work my deed, whiles I in wrath lenge."
Then this doughty duke dubbed his knightes:
Ioneke and Askanere, Aladuke and other,
That eieres were of Essex and all those este marches,
Howell and Hardolf, happy in armes,
Sir Heryll and Sir Herygall, these harageous knightes.
Then the soveraign assigned certain lordes,
Sir Wawayne, Sir Uryelle, Sir Bedvere the rich,
Raynald and Richere, Rowlandes childer:
"Takes keep on this prince with your pris knightes,
And yif we in the stour withstanden the better,
Standes here in this stede and stirres no further;
And yif the chaunce fall that we be over-charged,
Eschewes to some castle and cheves yourselven,
Or ride to the rich king, if you roo happen,
And bid him come redyly to rescue his bernes."
And then the Bretons brothely enbraces their sheldes,
Braides on bacenettes and buskes their launces;
Thus he fittes his folk and to the feld rides,
Five hundreth on a front fewtered at ones!
With trumpes they trine and trapped steedes,
With cornettes and clariouns and clergial notes;
Shockes in with a shake and shuntes no longer,
There shawes were sheen under the shire eves.
And then the Romanes rout removes a little,
Raikes with a rere-ward those real knightes;
So raply they ride there that all the rout ringes
Of rives and rank steel and rich gold mailes.
Then shot out of the shaw sheltrones many,
With sharp wepens of war shootand at ones.
The King of Lyby before the avauntward he ledes,
And all his lele lege-men all on loud ascries.
Then this cruel king castes in fewter,
Caught him a coverd horse, and his course holdes,
Beres to Sir Berille and brothely him hittes,
Through the golet and the gorger he hurtes him even.
The gome and the grete horse at the ground ligges,
And gretes graithely to God and gives Him the soul.
Thus is Berille the bold brought out of life,
And bides after the burial that him best likes.
And then Sir Cador of Cornwall is careful in herte,
Because of his kinsman that thus is miscarried;
Umbeclappes the corse, and kisses him oft,
Gart keep him covert with his clere knightes.
Then laughs the Lyby king, and all on loud meles:
"Yon lord is lighted! Me likes the better!
He shall not dere us today; the devil have his bones!"
"Yon king," says Sir Cador, "carpes full large,
Because he killed this keen - Crist have thy soul! -
He shall have corn-bote, so me Crist help!
Ere I kaire of this coste, we shall encounter ones:
So may the wind wheel turn, I quite him ere even,
Soothly himselven or some of his feres!"
Then Sir Cador the keen knightly he workes,
Cries, "A Cornwall!" and castes in fewter,
Girdes streke through the stour on a steed rich;
Many steren men he stirred by strenghe of him one;
When his spere was sprongen, he sped him full yerne,
Swapped out with a sword that swiked him never,
Wrought wayes full wide, and wounded knightes,
Workes in his wayfare full workand sides,
And hewes of the hardiest halses in sonder,
That all blendes with blood there his blonk runnes!
So many bernes the bold brought out of life,
Tittes tyrauntes down and temes their saddles,
And turnes out of the toil when him time thinkes!
Then the Lyby king cries full loud
On Sir Cador the keen with cruel wordes:
"Thou has worship won and wounded knightes!
Thou weenes for thy wightness the world is thine own!
I shall wait at thine hand, wye, by my trewth;
I have warned thee well, beware yif thee likes!"
With cornus and clariouns these new-made knightes
Lithes unto the cry and castes in fewter,
Ferkes in on a front on feraunt steedes,
Felled at the first come fifty at ones;
Shot through the sheltrons and shivered launces,
Laid down in the lump lordly bernes.
And thus nobly our new men notes their strenghes!
But new note is anon that noyes me sore:
The King of Lyby has laght a steed that him liked,
And comes in lordly in liones of silver,
Umbelappes the lump and lettes in sonder;
Many lede with his launce the life has he reved!
Thus he chases the childer of the kinges chamber,
And killes in the champaines chevalrous knightes;
With a chasing spere he choppes down many!
There was Sir Aladuke slain and Achinour wounded,
Sir Origge and Sir Ermyngall hewen all to peces!
And there was Lewlin laght and Lewlins brother
With lordes of Lyby and led to their strenghes;
Ne had Sir Clegis comen and Clement the noble,
Our new men had gone to nought and many mo other.
Then Sir Cador the keen castes in fewter
A cruel launce and a keen and to the king rides,
Hittes him high on the helm with his hard wepen,
That all the hot blood of him to his hand runnes!
The hethen harageous king upon the hethe ligges,
And of his hertly hurt heled he never.
Then Sir Cador the keen cries full loud:
"Thou has corn-bote, sir king, there God give thee sorrow;
Thou killed my cosin; my care is the less!
Kele thee now in the clay and comfort thyselven;
Thou scorned us long ere, with thy scornful wordes,
And now thou has cheved so, it is thine own scathe;
Hold at thou hent has; it harmes but little,
For hething is home-hold, use it who-so will!"
The King of Surry then is sorrowful in herte,
For sake of his soveraign that thus was surprised;
Sembled his Sarazens and senatours many;
Unsaughtly they set then upon our sere knightes.
Sir Cador of Cornwall he counters them soon
With his kidd company clenlich arrayed;
In the front of the firth, as the way forthes,
Fifty thousand of folk was felled at ones.
There was at the assemblee certain knightes
Sore wounded soon upon sere halves.
The sekerest Sarazenes that to that sorte longed
Behind the saddles were set six foot large;
They sheerd in the sheltron shelded knightes;
Shalkes they shot through shrinkand mailes;
Through brenyes browden brestes they thirled;
Bracers burnisht bristes in sonder;
Blasons bloody and blonkes they hewen,
With brandes of brown steel, brankand steedes!
The Bretons brothely brittenes so many
The bente and the brode feld all on blood runnes!
By then Sir Kayous the keen a capitain has wonnen;
Sir Clegis clinges in and clekes another;
The Capitain of Cordewa, under the king selven,
That was key of the kith of all that coste rich
Utolf and Evander Ioneke had nommen
With the Erl of Afrike and other grete lordes.
The King of Surry the keen to Sir Cador is yelden,
The Seneschal of Sutere to Sagramour himselven.
When the chevalry saw their cheftaines were nomen,
To a chef forest they chosen their wayes,
And feeled them so faint they fell in the greves,
In the feren of the firth for ferd of our pople.
There might men see the rich ride in the shawes
To rip up the Romanes rudlich wounded,
Shoutes after men harageous knightes,
By hundrethes they hewed down by the holt eves!
Thus our chevalrous men chases the pople;
To a castel they escheved the few that eschaped.
Then relies the renkes of the Round Table
For to riot the wood there the duke restes;
Ransackes the rindes all, raght up their feres,
That in the fighting before fey were beleved.
Sir Cador gart charre them and cover them fair,
Carried them to the king with his best knightes,
And passes unto Paris with prisoners himselven,
Betook them the provost, princes and other,
Tas a sope in the towr and tarries no longer
But turnes tite to the king and him with tonge telles:
"Sir," says Sir Cador, "a case is befallen;
We have countered today in yon coste rich
With kinges and kaiseres cruel and noble,
And knightes and keen men clenlich arrayed!
They had at yon forest for-set us the wayes,
At the furth in the firth with fers men of armes;
There fought we in faith and foined with speres
On feld with thy fomen and felled them on live;
The King of Lyby is laid and in the feld leved,
And many of his lege-men that yore to him longed;
Other lordes are laght of uncouthe ledes;
We have led them at lenge, to live whiles thee likes.
Sir Utolf and Sir Evander, these honourable knightes,
By an aunter of armes Ioneke has nomen,
With erles of Orient and austeren knightes,
Of auncestry the best men that to the host longed;
The Senatour Carous is caught with a knight,
The Capitain of Cornette that cruel is holden,
The Seneschal of Sutere, unsaught with these other,
The King of Surry himselven and Sarazenes ynow.
But fey of ours in the feld are fourteen knightes.
I will not feyne ne forbere but faithfully tellen:
Sir Berille is one, a bannerette noble,
Was killed at the first come with a king rich;
Sir Aladuke of Towell with his tender knightes,
Among the Turkes was tint and in time founden;
Good Sir Mawrelle of Mawnces and Mawrene his brother,
Sir Meneduke of Mentoche with marvelous knightes."
Then the worthy king writhes and weeped with his eyen,
Carpes to his cosin Sir Cador these wordes:
"Sir Cador, thy corage confoundes us all!
Cowardly thou castes out all my best knightes!
To put men in peril, it is no pris holden,
But the parties were purveyed and power arrayed;
When thou were stedde on a strenghe thou sholde have with-stonden,
But yif ye wolde all my steren stroy for the nones!"
"Sir," says Sir Cador, "ye know well yourselven;
Ye are king in this kith; carp what you likes!
Shall never berne upbraid me that to thy borde longes,
That I sholde blinn for their boste thy bidding to work!
When any stertes to stale, stuff them the better,
Or they will be stonayed and stroyed in yon strait landes.
I did my deligence today - I do me on lordes -
And in daunger of dede for diverse knightes,
I have no grace to thy gree but such grete wordes;
Yif I heven my herte, my hap is no better."
Though Sir Arthur was angered, he answers fair:
"Thou has doughtily done, Sir Duke, with thy handes,
And has done thy dever with my dere knightes;
Forthy thou art deemed with dukes and erles
For one of the doughtiest that dubbed was ever!
There is none ischew of us on this erthe sprongen;
Thou art apparent to be eier, or one of thy childer;
Thou art my sister son; forsake shall I never!
Then gart he in his owen tent a table be set,
And tryed in with trumpes traveled bernes,
Served them solemnly with selcouthe metes,
Swithe seemly in sight with silveren dishes.
When the senatours herde say that it so happened,
They said to the Emperour: "Thy segges are surprised!
Sir Arthur, thine enmy, has outrayed thy lordes
That rode for the rescue of yon rich knightes!
Thou dos but tinnes thy time and tourmentes thy pople;
Thou art betrayed of thy men that most thou on traisted.
That shall turn thee to teen and torfer forever!"
Then the Emperour irous was, angerd at his herte
For our valiant bernes such prowesh had wonnen.
With king and with kaiser to counsel they wend,
Soveraignes of Sarazens and senatours many.
Thus he sembles full soon certain lordes,
And in the assemblee then he says them these wordes:
"My herte soothly is set, assent if you likes,
To seek into Sessoine with my seker knightes,
To fight with my fomen, if fortune me happen,
Yif I may find the freke within the four halves;
Or enter into Auguste aunters to seek,
And bide with my bold men within the burg rich,
Rest us and revel and riot ourselven,
Lende there in delite in lordshippes ynow,
To Sir Leo be comen with all his lele knightes,
With lordes of Lumbardy to let him the wayes."
But our wise king is wary to waiten his renkes,
And wisely by the woodes voides his host;
Gart felshen his fires flamand full high,
Trussen full traistely and treunt there-after.
Sithen into Sessoine he sought at the gainest,
And at the sours of the sun disseveres his knightes,
For-set them the citee upon sere halves,
Sodenly on eche halfe, with seven grete stales,
Only in the vale a vaweward enbushes.
Sir Valiant of Wales with valiant knightes
Before the kinges visage made such avowes
To vanquish by victory the Viscount of Rome;
Forthy the king charges him, what chaunce so befall,
Cheftain of the check with chevalrous knightes,
And sithen meles with mouth that he most traistes;
Demenes the middilward menskfully himselven,
Fittes his footmen als him fair thinkes;
On front in the fore-breste the flowr of his knightes;
His archers on either half he ordained there-after
To shake in a sheltron to shoot when them likes;
He arrayed in the rereward full real knightes
With renkes renowned of the Round Table,
Sir Raynald, Sir Richere that rade was never,
The rich Duke of Rouen with riders ynow;
Sir Kayous, Sir Clegis, and clene men of armes,
The king castes to keep by tho clere strandes;
Sir Lot and Sir Launcelot, these lordly knightes
Shall lenge on his left hand with legiones ynow,
To move in the morn-while, if the mist happen;
Sir Cador of Cornwall, and his keen knightes,
To keep at the karfuke, to close in thir other;
He plantes in such places princes and erles
That no power sholde pass by no privee wayes.
But the Emperour anon with honourable knightes
And erles enters the vale, aunters to seek,
And findes Sir Arthur with hostes arrayed,
And at his in-come, to eeken his sorrow,
Our burlich bold king upon the bente hoves,
With his batail on-brode and banners displayed.
He had the citee for-set upon sere halves,
Both the cleves and the cliffes with clene men of armes,
The moss and the morass with mountes so high
With grete multitude of men to mar him in the wayes.
When Sir Lucius sees, he says to his lordes:
"This traitour has treunt this tresoun to work!
He has the citee for-set upon sere halves,
All the cleves and the cliffes with clene men of armes!
Here is no way, iwis, ne no wit else,
But fight with our fomen, for flee may we never!"
Then this rich man rathe arrayes his bernes,
Rewled his Romans and real knightes;
Buskes in the avauntward the Viscount of Rome;
Fro Viterbo to Venice these valiant knightes
Dresses up dredfully the dragon of gold,
With egles all over enamelled of sable;
Drawen dreghly the wine and drinken there-after,
Dukes and douspeeres, dubbed knightes;
For dauncesing of Dutch-men and dinning of pipes,
All dinned for din that in the dale hoved.
And then Sir Lucius on loud said lordlich wordes:
"Think on the much renown of your rich faders,
And the riotours of Rome that regned with lordes,
And the renkes over-ran, all that regned in erthe,
Ecroched all Cristendom by craftes of armes;
In everich a viage the victory was holden
Inset all the Sarazenes within seven winter,
The part from Port Jaffe to Paradise gates!
Though a rewm be rebel, we reck it but little;
It is resoun and right the renk be restrained!
Do dress we therefore, and bide we no longer,
For dredles, withouten doubt, the day shall be oures!"
When these wordes was said, the Welsh king himselven
Was ware of this widerwin that warrayed his knightes;
Brothely in the vale with voice he ascries:
"Viscount of Valence, envious of deedes,
The vassalage of Viterbo today shall be revenged!
Unvanquisht fro this place void shall I never."
Then the viscount, valiant, with a voice noble
Avoided the avauntward, enveround his horse;
He dressed in a derf sheld, endented with sable,
With a dragon engoushed, dredful to shew,
Devourand a dolphin with doleful lates,
In sign that our soveraign sholde be destroyed,
And all done of dayes, with dintes of swordes,
For there is nought but dede there the dragon is raised!
Then the comlich king castes in fewter,
With a cruel launce coupes full even
Aboven the spayre a span, among the short ribbes,
That the splent and the spleen on the spere lenges!
The blood sprent out and spredde as the horse springes,
And he sproules full spakely, but spekes he no more!
And thus has Sir Valiant holden his avowes,
And vanquisht the Viscount that victor was holden!
Then Sir Ewain fitz Urien full enkerly rides
Anon to the Emperour his egle to touch;
Through his brode batail he buskes belive,
Braides out his brand with a blithe cheer,
Reversed it redily and away rides,
Ferkes in with the fowl in his fair handes,
And fittes in freely on front with his feres.
Now buskes Sir Launcelot and braides full even
To Sir Lucius the lord and lothly him hittes;
Through paunce and plates he perced the mailes
That the proud pensel in his paunch lenges!
The hed hailed out behind an half foot large,
Through hawberk and haunch with the hard wepen;
The steed and the steren man strikes to the ground,
Strak down a standard and to his stale wendes!
"Me likes well," says Sir Lot, "yon lordes are delivered!
The lot lenges now on me, with leve of my lord;
Today shall my name be laid, and my life after,
But some lepe fro the life that on yon land hoves!"
Then strekes the steren and straines his bridle,
Strikes into the stour on a steed rich,
Enjoined with a giaunt and jagged him through!
Jollily this gentle knight for-jousted another,
Wrought wayes full wide, warrayand knightes,
And woundes all wathely that in the way standes!
Fightes with all the frap a furlong of way,
Felled fele upon feld with his fair wepen,
Vanquisht and has the victory of valiant knightes,
And all enverouned the vale and void when him liked.
Then bowmen of Bretain brothely there-after
Bekered with brigandes of fer in tho landes;
With flones fletterd they flit full freshly thir frekes,
Fichen with fetheres through the fine mailes;
Such flytting is foul that so the flesh deres,
That flow a ferrom in flankes of steedes.
Dartes the Dutch-men delten againes,
With derf dintes of dede dagges through sheldes;
Quarrels quaintly quappes through knightes
With iron so wekerly that wink they never.
So they shrinken for shot of the sharp arrows,
That all the sheltron shunt and shuddered at ones;
The rich steedes rependes and rashes on armes,
The hole hundreth on hie upon hethe ligges;
But yet the hatheliest on hie, hethen and other,
All hourshes over hede, harmes to work.
And all these giauntes before, engendered with fendes,
Joines on Sir Jonathal and gentle knightes,
With clubbes of clene steel clanked in helmes,
Crashed down crestes and crashed braines,
Killed coursers and coverd steedes,
Chopped through chevalers on chalk-white steedes;
Was never steel ne steed might stand them againes,
But stonays and strikes down that in the stale hoves,
Til the conquerour come with his keen knightes.
With cruel countenaunce he cried full loud:
"I wend no Bretons wolde be bashed for so little,
And for bare-legged boyes that on the bente hoves!"
He clekes out Caliburn, full clenlich burnisht,
Graithes him to Golopas, that greved him most,
Cuttes him even by the knees clenly in sonder;
"Come down," quod the king, "and carp to thy feres!
Thou art too high by the half, I hete thee in trewth!
Thou shall be handsomer in hie, with the help of my Lord!"
With that steelen brand he stroke off his hed.
Sterenly in that stour he strikes another.
Thus he settes on seven with his seker knightes;
Whiles sixty were served so ne sesed they never;
And thus at this joining the giauntes are destroyed,
And at that journee for-jousted with gentle knightes.
Then the Romanes and the renkes of the Round Table
Rewles them in array, rereward and other,
With wight wepenes of war they wroughten on helmes,
Rittes with rank steel full real mailes
But they fit them fair, these frek bernes,
Fewters in freely on feraunt steedes
Foines full felly with flishand speres,
Fretten off orfrayes fast upon sheldes;
So fele fey is in fight upon the feld leved
That ech a furth in the firth of red blood runnes.
By that swiftely on swarth the swet is beleved,
Swordes swangen in two, sweltand knightes
Lies wide open welterand on walopand steedes;
Woundes of wale men workand sides,
Faces fetteled unfair in feltered lockes,
All craysed, for-trodden with trapped steedes,
The fairest on folde that figured was ever,
As fer as a furlong, a thousand at ones!
By then the Romanes were rebuked at little,
Withdrawes them drerily and dreches no lenger;
Our prince with his power persewes them after,
Prikes on the proudest with his pris knightes,
Sir Kayous, Sir Clegis, Sir Cleremond the noble,
Encounters them at the cliff with clene men of armes;
Fightes fast in the firth, frithes no wepen,
Felled at the first come five hundreth at ones!
And when they fande them for-set with our fers knightes,
Few men again fele mot fich them better,
Fightes with all the frap, foines with speres,
And fought with the frekkest that to Fraunce longes.
But Sir Kayous the keen castes in fewter,
Chases on a courser and to a king rides;
With a launce of Lettow he thirles his sides
That the liver and the lunges on the launce lenges;
The shaft shuddered and shot in the shire berne,
And sought throughout the sheld and in the shalk restes.
But Kayous at the in-come was keeped unfair
With a coward knight of the kith rich;
At the turning that time the traitour him hit
In through the felettes and in the flank after
That the bustous launce the bewelles entamed,
That braste at the brawling and broke in the middes.
Sir Kayous knew well by that kidd wound
That he was dede of the dint and done out of life;
Then he raikes in array and on row rides,
On this real renk his dede to revenge:
"Keep thee, coward!" he calles him soon,
Cleves him with his clere brand clenlich in sonder:
"Had thou well delt thy dint with thy handes,
I had forgiven thee my dede, by Crist now of heven!"
He wendes to the wise king and winly him greetes:
"I am wathely wounded, waresh mon I never;
Work now thy worship, as the world askes,
And bring me to burial; bid I no more.
Greet well my lady the queen, yif thee world happen,
And all the burlich birdes that to her bowr longes;
And my worthily wife, that wrathed me never,
Bid her for her worship work for my soul!"
The kinges confessour come with Crist in his handes,
For to comfort the knight, kend him the wordes;
The knight covered on his knees with a kaunt herte,
And caught his Creatour that comfortes us all.
Then romes the rich king for rewth at his herte,
Rides into rout his dede to revenge,
Pressed into the plump and with a prince meetes
That was eier of Egypt in those este marches,
Cleves him with Caliburn clenlich in sonder!
He broches even through the berne and the saddle bristes,
And at the back of the blonk the bewelles entamed!
Manly in his malencoly he meetes another;
The middle of that mighty that him much greved
He merkes through the mailes the middes in sonder,
That the middes of the man on the mount falles,
The tother half of the haunch on the horse leved;
Of that hurt, as I hope, heles he never!
He shot through the sheltrons with his sharp wepen,
Shalkes he shrede through and shrinked mailes;
Banners he bore down, brittened sheldes;
Brothely with brown steel his brethe he there wrekes;
Wrothely he writhes by wightness of strenghe,
Woundes these widerwinnes, warrayed knightes
Threped through the thickes thriteen sithes,
Thringes throly in the throng and chis even after!
Then Sir Gawain the good with worshipful knightes
Wendes in the avauntward by tho wood hemmes,
Was ware of Sir Lucius on land there he hoves
With lordes and lege-men that to himself longed.
Then the Emperour enkerly askes him soon:
"What will thou, Wawain? Work for thy wepen?
I wot by thy wavering thou wilnes after sorrow;
I shall be wroken on thee, wretch for all thy grete wordes!"
He laght out a long sword and lushed on fast,
And Sir Lionel in the land lordly him strikes,
Hittes him on the hed that the helm bristes,
Hurtes his herne-pan an hand-bred large!
Thus he layes on the lump and lordly them served,
Wounded worthily worshipful knightes,
Fightes with Florent, that best is of swordes,
Til the fomand blood til his fist runnes!
Then the Romans releved that ere were rebuked,
And all torattes our men with their reste horses;
For they see their cheftain be chauffed so sore,
They chase and chop down our chevalrous knightes!
Sir Bedvere was borne through and his breste thirled
With a burlich brand, brode at the hiltes;
The real rank steel to his herte runnes,
And he rushes to the erthe; rewth is the more!
Then the conquerour took keep and come with his strenghes
To rescue the rich men of the Round Table,
To outraye the Emperour, yif aunter it shew,
Even to the egle, and "Arthur!" ascries.
The Emperour then egerly at Arthur he strikes,
Awkward on the umbrere, and egerly him hittes;
The naked sword at the nose noyes him sore;
The blood of the bold king over the breste runnes,
Bebledde at the brode sheld and the bright mailes!
Our bold king bowes the blonk by the bright bridle,
With his burlich brand a buffet him reches
Through the breny and breste with his bright wepen;
O slant down fro the slot he slittes him at ones!
Thus endes the Emperour of Arthure handes,
And all his austeren host there-of were affrayed.
Now they ferk to the firth, a few that are leved,
For ferdness of our folk, by the fresh strandes;
The flowr of our fers men on feraunt steedes
Followes frekly on the frekes that frayed was never.
Then the kidd conquerour cries full loud:
"Cosin of Cornwall, take keep to thyselven
That no capitain be keeped for none silver,
Ere Sir Kayous dede be cruelly venged!"
"Nay," says Sir Cador, "so me Crist help!
There ne is kaiser ne king that under Crist regnes
That I ne shall kill cold-dede by craft of my handes!"
There might men see cheftains on chalk-white steedes
Chop down in the chase chevalry noble,
Romanes the richest and real kinges,
Braste with rank steel their ribbes in sonder,
Braines forbrusten through burnisht helmes,
With brandes forbrittened on brode in the landes;
They hewed down hethen men with hilted swordes,
By hole hundrethes on hie by the holt eves;
There might no silver them save ne succour their lives,
Sowdan, ne Sarazen, ne senatour of Rome.
Then releves the renkes of the Round Table,
By the rich river that runnes so fair;
Lodges them lovely by tho lighte strandes,
All on lowe in the land, those lordlich bernes.
They kaire to the carriage and took what them likes,
Camels and cokadrisses and coffers full rich,
Hackes and hackenays and horses of armes,
Housing and herberage of hethen kinges;
They drew out dromedaries of diverse lordes,
Moilles milk-white and marvelous bestes,
Olfendes and arrabys and olyfauntes noble
That are of the Orient with honourable kinges.
But Sir Arthur anon ayeres thereafter
Even to the emperour with honourable kinges,
Laght him up full lovelyly with lordlich knightes,
And led him to the layer there the king ligges.
Then harawdes hiely at hest of the lordes,
Huntes up the haythemen that on height ligges,
The Sowdan of Surry and certain kinges,
Sixty of the chef senatours of Rome.
Then they buskes and bawmed thir burlich kinges,
Sewed them in sendell sixty-fold after,
Lapped them in lede, less that they sholde
Change or chauffe yif they might escheve
Closed in kestes clene unto Rome,
With their banners aboven, their badges there-under,
In what countree they kaire, that knightes might know
Ech king by his colours, in kith where he lenged.
Anon on the second day, soon by the morn,
Two senatours there come and certain knightes,
Hoodless fro the hethe, ovre the holt-eves,
Bare-foot over the bente with brandes so rich,
Bowes to the bold king and biddes him the hiltes.
Whether he will hang them or hedde or hold them on life,
Kneeled before the conquerour in kirtels alone,
With careful countenaunce they carped these wordes:
"Two senatours we are, thy subjettes of Rome,
That has saved our life by these salt strandes,
Hid us in the high wood through the helping of Crist,
Beseekes thee of succour, as soveraign and lord;
Graunt us life and limm with liberal herte,
For His love that thee lente this lordship in erthe!"
"I graunt," quod the good king, "through grace of myselven;
I give you life and limm and leve for to pass,
So ye do my message menskfully at Rome,
That ilke charge that I you give here before my chef knightes."
"Yes," says the senatours, "that shall we ensure,
Sekerly by our trewthes, thy sayinges to fulfill;
We shall let for no lede that lives in erthe,
For pope ne for potestate ne prince so noble,
That ne shall lely in land thy letteres pronounce,
For duke ne for douspeer, to die in the pain!"
Then the bannerettes of Bretain brought them to tents
There barbours were boun with basins on loft;
With warm water, iwis, they wet them full soon;
They shoven these shalkes shapely thereafter
To reckon these Romanes recreant and yelden
Forthy shove they them to shew for skomfit of Rome.
They coupled the kestes on camelles belive,
On asses and arrabyes, these honourable kinges;
The Emperour for honour all by him one,
Even upon an olyfaunt, his egle out over;
Bekend them the captives, the king did himselven,
And all before his keen men carped these wordes:
"Here are the kestes," quod the king, "kaire over the mountes,
Mette full monee that ye have mikel yerned,
The tax and the tribute of ten score winteres
That was teenfully tint in time of our elders;
Say to the senatour the citee that yemes
That I send him the sum; assay how him likes!
But bid them never be so bold, whiles my blood regnes
Eft for to brawl them for my brode landes,
Ne to ask tribute ne tax by nokin title,
But such tresure as this, whiles my time lastes."
Now they raik to Rome the rediest wayes
Knelles in the Capitol and commouns assembles,
Soveraignes and senatours the citee that yemes,
Bekend them the carriage, kestes and other,
Als the conquerour commaunde with cruel wordes:
"We have trustily travailed this tribute to fetch,
The tax and the trewage of foure score winteres,
Of England, of Ireland and all thir out-iles,
That Arthur in the Occident occupies at ones.
He biddes you never be so bold whiles his blood regnes
To brawl you for Bretain ne his brode landes,
Ne ask him tribute ne tax by nokins title
But such tresure as this, whiles his time lastes.
We have foughten in Fraunce and us is foul happened,
And all our much fair folk fey are beleved;
Eschaped there ne chevalry ne cheftaines nother,
But chopped down in the chase, such chaunce is befallen!
We rede ye store you of stone and stuffen your walles;
You wakens wandreth and war; be ware if you likes!"
In the kalendes of May this case is befallen;
The roy real renowned with his Round Table
On the coste of Constantine by the clere strandes
Has the Romanes rich rebuked for ever!
When he had foughten in Fraunce and the feld wonnen
And fersely his fomen felld out of life,
He bides for the burying of his bold knightes,
That in batail with brandes were brought out of life.
He buries at Bayonne Sir Bedwere the rich;
The corse of Kayous the keen at Came is beleved,
Covered with a crystal clenly all over;
His fader conquered that kith knightly with handes.
Senn in Burgoine he badde to bury mo knightes,
Sir Berade and Bawdwyne, Sir Bedwar the rich,
Good Sir Cador at Came, as his kind askes.
Then Sir Arthur anon in the Auguste thereafter,
Enteres to Almaine with hostes arrayed,
Lenges at Lusheburgh to lechen his knightes,
With his lele lege-men as lord in his owen;
And on Cristofer day a counsel he holdes
With kinges and kaisers, clerkes and other,
Commaundes them keenly to cast all their wittes
How he may conquer by craft the kith that he claimes;
But the conquerour keen, courtais and noble,
Carpes in the counsel these knightly wordes:
"Here is a knight in these cleves, enclosed with hilles,
That I have covet to know because of his wordes,
That is Lorraine the lele, I keep not to laine.
The lordship is lovely, as ledes me telles;
I will that duchy devise and dele as me likes,
And senn dress with the duke, if destainy suffer;
The renk rebel has been unto my Round Table,
Redy ay with Romanes to riot my landes.
We shall reckon full rathe, if resoun so happen,
Who has right to that rent, by rich God of heven!
Then will I by Lumbardy, likand to shew,
Set law in the land that last shall ever,
The tyrauntes of Tuskan tempest a little,
Talk with the temporal, whiles my time lastes;
I give my protection to all the pope landes,
My rich pensel of pees my pople to shew.
It is a folly to offend our fader under God
Other Peter or Paul, tho postles of Rome;
If we spare the spiritual we speed but the better;
Whiles we have for to speke, spill shall it never!"
Now they speed at the spurres withouten speche more,
To the march of Meyes, these manlich knightes,
That is in Lorraine alosed as London is here,
Citee of that seinour that soveraign is holden.
The king ferkes forth on a fair steed
With Ferrer and Ferawnte and other four knightes;
About the citee tho seven they sought at the next,
To seek them a seker place to set with engines.
Then they bended in burgh bowes of vise,
Bekers at the bold king with bustous lates,
Allblawsters at Arthur egerly shootes
For to hurt him or his horse with that hard wepen.
The king shunt for no shot ne no sheld askes,
But shews him sharply in his sheen weedes,
Lenges all at leisere and lookes on the walles
Where they were lowest the ledes to assail.
"Sir," said Sir Ferrer, "a folly thou workes,
Thus naked in thy noblay to nighe to the walles,
Singly in thy surcote this citee to reche
And shew thee within there to shend us all;
Hie us hastily henne or we mon foul happen,
For hit they thee or thy horse, it harmes for ever!"
"If thou be ferde," quod the king, "I rede thee ride utter,
Less that they rew thee with their round wepen.
Thou art but a fauntekein, no ferly me thinkes!
Thou will be flayed for a fly that on thy flesh lightes!
I am nothing aghast, so me God help!
Though such gadlinges be greved, it greves me but little;
They win no worship of me, but wastes their tackle;
They shall want ere I wend, I wagen mine heved!
Shall never harlot have happe, through help of my Lord,
To kill a crownd king with crisom annointed!"
Then come the herbariours, harageous knightes,
The hole batailes on hie harraunt thereafter,
And our forreours fers upon fele halfes
Come flyand before on feraunt steedes,
Ferkand in array, thir real knightes,
The renkes renowned of the Round Table!
All the frek men of Fraunce followed thereafter,
Fair fitted on front and on the feld hoves.
Then the shalkes sharply shiftes their horses,
To shewen them seemly in their sheen weedes;
Buskes in batail with banners displayed,
With brode sheldes enbraced and burlich helmes,
With penouns and pensells of ilke prince armes,
Apparelled with perry and precious stones;
The launces with loraines and lemand sheldes,
Lightenand as the levening and lemand all ove
Then the pris men prikes and proves their horses,
Satilles to the citee upon sere halves;
Enserches the suburbes sadly thereafter,
Discoveres of shot-men and skirmish a little,
Scares their skotifers and their scout-watches
Brittenes their barrers with their bright wepens,
Bette down a barbican and the bridge winnes;
Ne had the garnison been good at the grete gates,
They had won that wonne by their owen strenghe!
Then with-drawes our men and dresses them better,
For drede of the draw-bridge dashed in-sonder;
Hies to the herberage there the king hoves
With his batail on high, horsed on steedes.
Then was the prince purveyed and their places nomen,
Pight paviliouns of pall and plattes in sege.
Then lenge they lordly as them lef thought,
Watches in ilke ward, as to the war falles,
Settes up sodenly certain engines.
On Sononday by the sun has a flethe yolden,
The king calles on Florent, that flowr was of knightes:
"The Fraunchmen enfeebleshes; ne ferly me thinkes!
They are unfonded folk in tho fair marches,
For them wantes the flesh and food that them likes.
Here are forestes fair upon fele halves,
And thider fomen are fled with freelich bestes.
Thou shall founde to the felle and forray the mountes:
Sir Ferawnte and Sir Floridas shall follow thy bridle.
Us moste with some fresh mete refresh our pople
That are fed in the firth with the fruit of the erthe.
There shall wend to this viage Sir Gawain himselven,
Warden full worshipful, and so him well seemes;
Sir Wecharde, Sir Walter, these worshipful knightes,
With all the wisest men of the west marches,
Sir Clegis, Sir Claribald, Sir Cleremond the noble,
The Capitain of Cardiff, clenlich arrayed.
Go now, warn all the watch, Gawain and other,
And wendes forth on your way withouten mo wordes."
Now ferkes to the firth these fresh men of armes,
To the felle so fawe, these freshlich bernes,
Through hoppes and hemland, hilles and other,
Holtes and hore woodes with heslin shawes,
Through morass and moss and mountes so high,
And in the misty morning on a mede falles,
Mowen and unmade, mainovred but little,
In swathes sweppen down, full of sweet flowres;
There unbridels these bold and baites their horses.
To the gryging of the day that birdes gan sing
Whiles the sours of the sun, that sande is of Crist,
That solaces all sinful that sight has in erthe.
Then wendes out the warden, Sir Gawain himselven,
Als he that wise was and wight, wonders to seek;
Then was he ware of a wye, wonder well armed,
Baitand on a water bank by the wood eves,
Busked in breny bright to behold,
Enbraced a brode sheld on a blonk rich,
Withouten any berne, but a boy one
Hoves by him on a blonk and his spere holdes.
He bore gessenande in gold three grayhoundes of sable,
With chappes and chaines of chalk-white silver,
A charbocle in the chef, changand of hewes,
And a chef aunterous, challenge who likes.
Sir Gawain gliftes on the gome with a glad will;
A grete spere from his groom he grippes in handes,
Girdes even over the streme on a steed rich
To that steren in stour on strenghe there he hoves,
Egerly on English "Arthur!" he ascries.
The tother irously answers him soon
On the lange of Lorraine with a loud steven
That ledes might listen the lenghe of a mile:
"Whider prikes thou, pilour, that proffers so large?
Here pickes thou no prey, proffer when thee likes,
But thou in this peril put of the better,
Thou shall be my prisoner for all thy proud lates!"
"Sir," says Sir Gawain, "so me God help,
Such glaverand gomes greves me but little!
But if thou graithe thy gere thee will gref happen
Ere thou go of this greve, for all thy grete wordes!"
Then their launces they latchen, these lordlich bernes,
Laggen with long speres on liard steedes,
Coupen at aunter by craftes of armes
Til both the cruel speres brusten at ones;
Through sheldes they shot and sheered through mailes,
Both sheer through sholders a shaft-monde large.
Thus worthily these wyes wounded are bothen;
Ere they wreke them of wrath away will they never.
Then they raght in the rein and again rides,
Redily these rathe men rushes out swordes,
Hittes on helmes full hertilich dintes,
Hewes on hawberkes with full hard wepens!
Full stoutly they strike, thir steren knightes,
Stokes at the stomach with steelen pointes,
Fighten and flourish with flamand swordes,
Til the flawes of fire flames on their helmes.
Then Sir Gawain was greved and grouched full sore;
With Galuth his good sword grimly he strikes,
Clef the knightes sheld clenlich in sonder.
Who lookes to the left side, when his horse launches,
With the light of the sun men might see his liver.
Then grones the gome for gref of his woundes,
And girdes at Sir Gawain as he by glentes,
And awkward egerly sore he him smites;
An alet enameld he oches in sonder,
Bristes the rerebrace with the brand rich,
Carves off at the coutere with the clene edge
Anentis the avawmbrace vailed with silver;
Through a double vesture of velvet rich
With the venomous sword a vein has he touched
That voides so violently that all his wit changed;
The vesar, the aventail, his vestures rich
With a valiant blood was verred all over.
Then this tyraunt tite turnes the bridle,
Talkes untenderly and says: "Thou art touched!
Us bus have a blood-band ere thy blee change!
For all the barbours of Bretain shall not thy blood staunch,
For he that is blemist with this brode brande blinne shall he never!
"Ya," quod Sir Gawain, "thou greves me but little.
Thou weenes to glopin me with thy grete wordes;
Thou trowes with thy talking that my herte talmes;
Thou betides torfer ere thou henne turn
But thou tell me tite and tarry no lenger
What may staunch this blood that thus fast runnes."
"Yis, I say thee soothly and seker thee my trewth,
No surgeon in Salerne shall save thee the better,
With-thy that thou suffer me for sake of thy Crist
To shew shortly my shrift and shape me for mine end."
"Yis," quod Sir Gawain, "so me God help,
I give thee grace and graunt, though thou have gref served,
With-thy thou say me sooth what thou here seekes,
Thus singly and sulain all thyself one,
And what lay thou leves on - laine not the sooth -
And what legeaunce and land and where thou art lord."
"My name is Sir Priamus, a prince is my fader,
Praised in his partyes with proved kinges;
In Rome there he regnes he is rich holden;
He has been rebel to Rome and ridden their landes,
Warrayand wisely winters and yeres
By wit and by wisdom and by wight strenghe
And by worshipful war his owen has he won.
He is of Alexander blood, overling of kinges;
The uncle of his aiele, Sir Ector of Troy.
And here is the kinreden that I am of come,
Of Judas and Josue, these gentle knightes;
I am apparent his eier, and eldes of other;
Of Alexandere and Afrike and all tho out-landes
I am in possession and plenerly sesed.
In all the pris citees that to the port longes
I shall have trewly the tresure and the landes
And both tribute and tax whiles my time lastes.
I was so hautain of herte whiles I at home lenged
I held none my hip-height under heven rich;
For-thy was I sent hider with seven score knightes
To assay of this war by sente of my fader;
And I am for surquidrie shamely surprised
And by aunter of armes outrayed for ever!
Now have I told thee the kin that I of come,
Will thou for knighthede ken me thy name?"
"By Crist," quod Sir Gawain, "knight was I never!
With the kidd conquerour a knave of his chamber
Has wrought in his wardrope winters and yeres
On his long armour that him best liked;
I poine all his paviliouns that to himselve pendes,
Dightes his doublettes for dukes and erles,
Aketouns avenaunt for Arthur himselven
That he has used in war all these eight winter!
He made me yomen at Yole and gave me grete giftes,
An hundreth pound, and a horse, and harness full rich."
"Yif I hap to my hele that hende for to serve
I be holpen in haste, I hete thee for-sooth!
If his knaves be such, his knightes are noble!
There is no king under Crist may kempe with him one!
He will be Alexander eier that all the world louted,
Abler than ever was Sir Ector of Troy!
Now for the crisom that thou caught that day thou was cristened,
Whether thou be knight or knave knowe now the sooth."
"My name is Sir Gawain, I graunt thee for-sooth
Cosin to the conquerour, he knowes it himselven,
Kidd in his kalender a knight of his chamber,
And rolled the richest of all the Round Table!
I am the douspeer and duke he dubbed with his handes
Daintily on a day before his dere knightes;
Grouch not, good sir, though me this grace happen;
It is the gift of God; the gree is his owen!"
"Peter!" says Priamus, "now payes me better
Than I of Provence were prince and of Paris rich!
For me were lever privily be priked to the herte
Than ever any priker had such a prise wonnen.
But here is herberd at hand in yon huge holtes,
Hole batailes on high, take heed if thee like!
The Duke of Lorraine the derf and his dere knightes,
The doughtiest of Dolfinede and Dutch-men many,
The lordes of Lumbardy that leders are holden,
The garnison of Goddard gaylich arrayed,
The wyes of the Westfale, worshipful bernes,
Of Sessoine and Suryland Sarazenes ynow;
They are numbered full nigh and named in rolles
Sixty thousand and ten, for sooth, of seker men of armes;
But if thou hie fro this hethe, it harmes us bothe,
And but my hurtes be soon holpen, hole be I never!
Take heed to this hansemen, that he no horn blow,
Or thou hiely in haste bes hewen all to peces,
For they are my retinues to ride where I will;
Is none redier renkes regnand in erthe;
Be thou raght with that rout, thou rides no further,
Ne thou bes never ransouned for riches in erthe!"
Sir Gawain went ere the wathe come where him best liked,
With this worthilich wye that wounded was sore,
Merkes to the mountain there our men lenges
Baitand their blonkes there on the brode mede,
Lordes lenand low on lemand sheldes,
With loud laughters on loft for liking of birdes,
Or larkes, of linkwhites, that lovelich songen;
And some was sleght on sleep with slight of the pople
That sang in the sesoun in the sheen shawes,
So low in the laundes so likand notes.
Then Sir Wicher was ware their warden was wounded
And went to him weepand and wringand his handes;
Sir Wecharde, Sir Walter, these wise men of armes
Had wonder of Sir Wawain and went him againes,
Met him in the mid-way and marvel them thought
How he mastered that man, so mighty of strenghes.
By all the welth of the world so wo was them never:
"For all our worship, iwis, away is in erthe!"
"Greve you not," quod Gawain, "for Goddes love of heven,
For this is but gosesomer and given on erles;
Though my shoulder be shrede and my sheld thirled,
And the weld of mine arm workes a little,
This prisoner, Sir Priamus, that has perilous woundes,
Says that he has salves shall soften us bothen."
Then stertes to his stirrup sterenfull knightes,
And he lordly alightes and laght off his bridle,
And let his burlich blonk baite on the flowres,
Braides off his bacenett and his rich weedes,
Bounes to his brode sheld and bowes to the erthe;
In all the body of that bold is no blood leved!
Then presses to Sir Priamus precious knightes,
Avisely of his horse hentes him in armes
His helm and his hawberk they taken off after,
And hastely for his hurt all his herte changed;
They laid him down in the laundes and laght off his weedes,
And he lened him on long or how him best liked.
A foil of fine gold they fande at his girdle,
That is full of the flowr of the four welle
That flowes out of Paradise when the flood rises,
That much fruit of falles that feed shall us all;
Be it frette on his flesh there sinews are entamed,
The freke shall be fish-hole within four houres.
They uncover that corse with full clene handes,
With clere water a knight clenses their woundes,
Keled them kindly and comforted their hertes;
And when the carves were clene they cledde them again.
Barrel-ferrers they broched and brought them the wine,
Both brede and brawn and bredes full rich;
When they had eten anon they armed after.
Then tho auntrend men " As armes!" ascries,
With a clarioun clere thir knightes togeder
Calles to counsel and of this case telles:
"Yonder is a company of clene men of armes,
The keenest in contek that under Crist lenges;
In yon oken wood an host are arrayed,
Under-takand men of these oute-landes,
As says Sir Priamus, so help Saint Peter!
Go men," quod Gawain, "and grope in your hertes
Who shall graithe to yon greve to yon grete lordes;
If we get-less go home, the king will be greved
And say we are gadlinges, aghast for a little.
We are with Sir Florent, as to-day falles,
That is flowr of Fraunce, for he fled never;
He was chosen and charged in chamber of the king
Cheftain of this journee, with chevalry noble;
Whether he fight or he flee we shall follow after;
For all the fere of yon folk forsake shall I never!"
"Fader," says Sir Florent, "full fair ye it tell!
But I am but a fauntekin, unfraisted in armes;
If any folly befall the faut shall be ours
And fremedly o Fraunce be flemed for ever!
Woundes not your worship, my wit is but simple,
Ye are our warden, iwis; work as you likes."
"Ye are at the ferrest not passand five hundreth
And that is fully too few to fight with them all,
For harlottes and hansemen shall help but little;
They will hie them henn for all their grete wordes!
I rede ye work after wit, as wise men of armes,
And warpes wilily away, as worshipful knightes."
"I graunt," quod Sir Gawain, "so me God help!
But here are some galiard gomes that of the gree serves,
The cruelest knightes of the kinges chamber,
That can carp with the cup knightly wordes;
We shall prove today who shall the prise win!"
Now forreours fers unto the firth rides
And fanges a fair feld and on foot lightes,
Prikes after the prey, as pris men of armes,
Florent and Floridas, with five score knightes,
Followed in the forest and on the way foundes,
Flingand a fast trot and on the folk drives.
Then followes fast to our folk well a five hundreth
Of frek men to the firth upon fresh horses;
One Sir Feraunt before, upon a fair steed,
Was fostered in Famacoste; the fend was his fader;
He flinges to Sir Florent and prestly he cries:
"Why flees thou, false knight? The Fend have thy soul!"
Then Sir Florent was fain and in fewter castes,
On Fawnell of Frisland to Feraunt he rides,
And raght in the rein on the steed rich,
And rides toward the rout, restes he no lenger!
Full butt in the front he flishes him even,
And all disfigures his face with his fell wepen!
Through his bright bacenett his brain has he touched,
And brusten his neck-bone that all his breth stopped!
Then his cosin ascried and cried full loud:
"Thou has killed cold-dede the king of all knightes!
He has been fraisted on feld in fifteen rewmes;
He fand never no freke might fight with him one!
Thou shall die for his dede, with my derf wepen,
And all the doughty for dole that in yon dale hoves!"
"Fy," says Sir Floridas, "thou fleryand wretch!
Thou weenes for to flay us, floke-mouthed shrew!"
But Floridas with a sword, as he by glentes,
All the flesh of the flank he flappes in sonder
That all the filth of the freke and fele of his guttes
Followes his fole foot when he forth rides!
Then rides a renk to rescue that berne;
That was Raynald of the Rodes, and rebel to Crist,
Perverted with paynims that Cristen persewes,
Presses in proudly as the prey wendes,
For he had in Prussland much prise wonnen;
For-thy in presence there he proffers so large.
But then a renk, Sir Richere of the Round Table,
On a real steed rides him againes;
Through a round red sheld he rushed him soon
That the rosseld spere to his herte runnes!
The renk reeles about and rushes to the erthe,
Rores full rudly but rode he no more!
Now all that is fere and unfey of these five hundreth
Falles on Sir Florent and five score knightes,
Betwix a plash and a flood, upon a flat land;
Our folk fangen their feld and fought them againes;
Then was loud upon loft "Lorraine!" ascried,
When ledes with long speres lashen togeders,
And "Arthur!" on our side when them ought ailed.
Then Sir Florent and Floridas in fewter they cast,
Frushen on all the frap and bernes affrayed,
Felles five at the front there they first entered
And, ere they ferk further, fele of these other;
Brenyes brouden they briste, brittened sheldes,
Betes and beres down the best that them bides;
All that rewled in the rout they riden away,
So rudly they rere, these real knightes!
When Sir Priamus, that prince, perceived their gamen,
He had pitee in herte that he ne durste proffer;
He went to Sir Gawain and says him these wordes:
"Thy pris men for thy prey put are all under;
They are with Sarazenes over-set, mo than seven hundreth
Of the Sowdanes knightes, out of sere landes;
Wolde thou suffer me, sir, for sake of thy Crist
With a sop of thy men suppowel them ones."
"I grouch not," quod Gawain, "the gree is their owen;
They mon have guerdons full grete graunt of my lord;
But the frek men of Fraunce fraist themselven;
Frekes fought not their fill this fifteen winter!
I will not stir with my stale half a steed lenghe,
But they be stedde with more stuff than on yon stede hoves!"
Then Sir Gawain was ware, withouten the wood-hemmes,
Wyes of the Westfale, upon wight horses,
Walopand wodely as the way forthes,
With all the wepens, iwis, that to the war longes;
The erl Antele the old the avauntward he buskes,
Ayerand on either hand eight thousand knightes;
His pelours and pavisers passed all in number
That ever any prince lede purveyed in erthe!
Then the Duke of Lorraine dresses thereafter
With double of the Dutch-men that doughty were holden,
Paynims of Prussland, prikers full noble,
Come prikand before with Priamus knightes.
Then said the erl Antele to Algere his brother:
"Me angers ernestly at Arthures knightes,
Thus enkerly on an host aunters themselven!
They will be outrayed anon, ere undron ring,
Thus foolily on a feld to fight with us all!
But they be fesed, in fey, ferly me thinkes;
Wolde they purpose take and pass on their wayes,
Prik home to their prince and their prey leve,
They might lenghen their life and losen but little,
It wolde lighten my herte, so help me our Lord!"
"Sir," says Sir Algere, "they have little used
To be outrayed with host; me angers the more!
The fairest shall be full fey that in our flock rides,
Als few as they ben, ere they the feld leve!"
Then good Gawain, gracious and noble,
All with glorious glee he gladdes his knightes:
"Glopins not, good men, for glitterand sheldes,
Though yon gadlinges be gay on yon grete horses!
Bannerettes of Bretain, buskes up your hertes!
Bes not baist of yon boyes ne of their bright weedes!
We shall blenke their boste, for all their bold proffer,
Als buxom as bird is in bed to her lord!
Yif we fight today, the feld shall be ours,
The fekil fey shall fail and falssede be destroyed!
Yon folk is on frontere, unfraisted them seemes;
They make faith and faye to the Fend selven!
We shall in this viage victores be holden
And avaunted with voices of valiant bernes,
Priased with princes in presence of lordes
And loved with ladies in diverse landes!
Ought never such honour none of our elders,
Unwine ne Absolon ne none of these other!
When we are most in distress Marie we mene
That is our master's saine that he much traistes,
Meles of that milde queen that menskes us all;
Who-so meles of that maid, miscarries he never!"
By these wordes were said they were not fer behind,
But the lenghe of a land and "Lorraine!" ascries;
Was never such a jousting at journee in erthe
In the vale of Josephate, as gestes us telles,
When Julius and Joatelle were judged to die,
As was when the rich men of the Round Table
Rushed into the rout on real steedes,
For so rathely they rush with rosseld speres
That the rascal was rade and ran to the greves,
And kaired to that court as cowardes for ever!
"Peter!" says Sir Gawain, "this gladdes mine herte,
That yon gadlinges are gone that made grete number!
I hope that these harlottes shall harm us but little,
For they will hide them in haste in yon holt eves;
They are fewer on feld than they were first numbered
By fourty thousand, in faith, for all their fair hostes."
But one Jolyan of Gene, a giaunt full huge,
Has joined on Sir Gerard, a justice of Wales;
Through a jerownde sheld he jagges him through,
And a fine gesseraunt of gentle mailes;
Jointer and gemous he jagges in sonder!
On a jambe steed this journee he makes;
Thus is the giaunt for-jouste, that erraunt Jew,
And Gerard is jocound and joyes him the more.
Then the genatours of Gene enjoines at ones
And ferkes on the frontere well a five hundreth;
A freke hight Sir Frederik with full fele other
Ferkes on a frush and freshlich ascries
To fight with our forreours that on feld hoves;
And then the real renkes of the Round Table
Rode forth full ernestly and rides them againes,
Melles with the middle-ward, but they were ill-matched;
Of such a grete multitude was marvel to here.
Senn at the assemblee the Sarazenes discoveres
The soveraign of Sessoine that salved was never;
Giauntes for-jousted with gentle knightes
Through gesserauntes of Gene jagged to the herte!
They hew through helmes hautain bernes,
That the hilted swordes to their hertes runnes!
Then the renkes renowned of the Round Table
Rives and rushes down renayed wretches;
And thus they driven to the dede dukes and erles
All the dregh of the day, with dredful workes!
Then Sir Priamus the prince, in presence of lordes,
Presses to his penoun and pertly it hentes,
Reverted it redily and away rides
To the real rout of the Round Table;
And hiely his retinue raikes him after,
For they his resoun had redde on his sheld rich.
Out of the sheltron they shed as sheep of a fold,
And steeres forth to the stour and stood by their lord.
Senn they sent to the duke and said him these wordes:
"We have been thy soudeours these six yere and more;
We forsake thee today by sert of our lord.
We sew to our soveraign in sere kinges landes;
Us defautes our fee of this four winteres.
Thou art feeble and false and nought but fair wordes;
Our wages are wered out and thy war ended;
We may with worship wend whither us likes!
I rede thou trete of a trewe and troufle no lenger,
Or thou shall tinne of thy tale ten thousand ere even."
" Fy a diables!" said the duke, "the Devil have your bones!"
The daunger of yon dogges drede shall I never!
We shall dele this day, by deedes of armes,
My dede and my duchery and my dere knightes;
Such soudeours as ye I set but at little,
That sodenly in defaut forsakes their lord!"
The duke dresses in his sheld and dreches no lenger,
Drawes him a dromedary with dredful knightes;
Graithes to Sir Gawain with full grete number
Of gomes of Gernaide that grevous are holden.
Those fresh horsed men to the front rides,
Felles of our forreours by fourty at ones!
They had foughten before with a five hundreth;
It was no ferly, in faith, though they faint waxen.
Then Sir Gawain was greved and grippes his spere,
And girdes in again with galiard knightes,
Meetes the Marches of Meyes and melles him through,
As man of this middle-erthe that most had greved!
But one Chastelayne, a child of the kinges chamber,
Was ward to Sir Wawain of the west marches,
Chases to Sir Cheldrik, a cheftain noble;
With a chasing-spere he shockes him through!
This check him escheved by chaunces of armes.
So they chase that child eschape may he never;
But one Swyan of Swecy, with a sword edge,
The swyers swire-bone he swappes in sonder!
He swoonand died and on the swarth lenged,
Sweltes even swiftly and swank he no more!
Then Sir Gawain gretes with his gray eyen;
The guite was a good man, beginnand of armes.
For the chery child so his cheer changed
That the chilland water on his cheekes runned!
"Wo is me," quod Gawain, "that I ne witten had!
I shall wage for that wye all that I weld,
But I be wroken on that wye that thus has him wounded!"
He dresses him drerily and to the duke rides,
But one Sir Dolphin the derf dight him againes,
And Sir Gawain him gird with a grim launce
That the grounden spere glode to his herte!
And egerly he hent out and hurt another,
An hethen knight, Hardolf, happy in armes;
Slyly in at the slot slittes him through
That the slidand spere of his hand slippes!
There is slain in that slope by sleghte of his handes
Sixty slongen in a slade of sleghe men of armes!
Though Sir Gawain were wo, he waites him by
And was ware of that wye that the child wounded,
And with a sword swiftly he swappes him through,
That he swiftly swelt and on the erthe swoones!
And then he raikes to the rout and rushes on helmes,
Rich hawberkes he rent and rased sheldes;
Rides on a randoun and his raik holdes;
Throughout the rereward he holdes wayes,
And there raght in the rein, this real the rich,
And rides into the rout of the Round Table.
Then our chevalrous men changen their horses,
Chases and choppes down cheftaines noble,
Hittes full hertely on helmes and sheldes,
Hurtes and hewes down hethen knightes!
Kettle-hattes they cleve even to the shoulders;
Was never such a clamour of capitaines in erthe!
There was kinges sonnes caught, courtais and noble,
And knightes of the countree that knowen was rich;
Lordes of Lorraine and Lumbardy bothen
Laght was and led in with our lele knightes.
Those that chased that day their chaunce was better;
Such a check at a chase escheved them never!
When Sir Florent by fight had the feld wonnen
He ferkes in before with five score knightes;
Their preyes and their prisoneres passes on after,
With pelours and pavisers and pris men of armes;
Then goodly Sir Gawain guides his knightes,
Gos in at the gainest, as guides him telles,
For gref of a garnison of full grete lordes
Sholde not grip up his gere ne such gram work;
For-thy they stood at the straightes and with his stale hoved,
Til his preyes were past the path that he dredes.
When they the citee might see that the king seged
(Soothly the same day was with assaut wonnen),
An heraud hies before at heste of the lordes,
Home at the herberage, out of the high landes,
Turnes tite to the tent and to the king telles
All the tale soothly and how they had sped:
"All thy forreours are fere that forrayed withouten,
Sir Florent and Sir Floridas and all thy fers knightes;
They have forrayed and foughten with full grete number
And fele of thy fo-men has brought out of life!
Our worshipful warden is well escheved,
For he has won today worship for ever;
He has Dolphin slain and the duke taken!
Many doughty is dede by dint of his handes!
He has prisoners pris, princes and erles,
Of the richest blood that regnes in erthe;
All thy chevalrous men fair are escheved,
But a child, Chastelain, mischaunce has befallen."
"Hautain," says the king, "heraud, by Crist,
Thou has heled mine herte, I hete thee for-sooth!
I give thee in Hampton a hundreth pound large!"
The king then to assaut he sembles his knightes
With somercastel and sowe upon sere halves,
Shiftes his skotiferes and scales the walles,
And ech watch has his ward with wise men of armes.
Then boldly they busk and bendes engines
Paises in pillotes and proves their castes.
Ministeres and masondewes they mall to the erthe,
Churches and chapels chalk-white blaunched,
Stone steeples full stiff in the street ligges,
Chambers with chimnees and many chef inns,
Paised and pelled down plastered walles;
The pine of the pople was pitee for to here!
Then the duchess her dight with damesels rich,
The countess of Crasine with her clere maidens,
Kneeles down in the kirnelles there the king hoved,
On a covered horse comlyly arrayed.
They knew him by countenaunce and cried full loud:
"King crowned of kind, take keep to these wordes!
We beseek you, sir, as soveraign and lord,
That ye save us today, for sake of your Crist!
Send us some succour and saughte with the pople,
Ere the citee be sodenly with assaut wonnen!"
He veres his vesar with a vout noble,
With visage virtuous, this valiant berne,
Meles to her mildly with full meek wordes:
"Shall none misdo you, madame, that to me longes;
I give you charter of pees, and your chef maidens,
The childer and the chaste men, the chevalrous knightes;
The duke is in daunger; dredes it but little!
He shall be deemed full well, dout you nought elles."
Then sent he on ech a side to certain lordes
For to leve the assaut; the citee was yolden
(With the erle eldest son he sent him the keyes)
And sesed the same night, by sent of the lordes.
The duke to Dover is dight and all his dere knightes,
To dwell in daunger and dole the dayes of his life.
There fled at the ferrer gate folk withouten number,
For ferd of Sir Florent and his fers knightes;
Voides the citee and to the wood runnes
With vitail and vessel, and vesture so rich;
They busk up a banner aboven the brode gates.
Of Sir Florent, in fay, so fain was he never!
The knighte hoves on a hill, beheld the walles,
And said: "I see by yon sign the citee is oures!"
Sir Arthur enters anon with hostes arrayed,
Even at the undron ettles to lenge.
In eche levere on loud the king did cry
On pain of life and limm and lesing of landes
That no lele lege-man that to him longed,
Sholde lie by no ladies, ne by no lele maidens,
Ne by no burgess wife, better ne worse
Ne no bernes misbid that to the burgh longed.
When the king Arthur had lely conquered
And the castel covered of the kith rich,
All the cruel and keen, by craftes of armes,
Capitains and constables, knew him for lord.
He devised and delt to diverse lordes
A dower for the duchess and her dere childer;
Wrought wardenes by wit to weld all the landes
That he had wonnen of war through his wise knightes.
Thus in Lorraine he lenges as lord in his owen,
Settes lawes in the land as him lef thought,
And on Lammas day to Lucerne he wendes,
Lenges there at leisere with liking ynow.
There his galleys were graithed, a full grete number,
All glitterand as glass, under green hilles,
With cabanes covered for kinges annointed
With clothes of clere gold for knightes and other;
Soon stowed their stuff and stabled their horses,
Strekes streke over the streme into the strait landes.
Now he moves his might with mirthes of herte
Over mountes so high, those marvelous wayes,
Gos in by Goddard, the garret he winnes,
Graithes the garnison grisly woundes!
When he was passed the height, then the king hoves
With his hole batail beholdand about,
Lookand on Lumbardy and on loud meles:
"In yon likand land lord be I think!"
Then they kaire to Combe with kinges annointed,
That was kidd of the coste, key of all other.
Sir Florent and Sir Floridas then foundes before
With freke men of Fraunce well a five hundreth;
To the citee unseen they sought at the gainest,
And set an enbushment, als themselve likes,
Then ishewes out of that citee, full soon by the morn;
Sleyly discoverers skiftes their horses;
Then skiftes these scowerers and skippes on hilles,
Discoverers for skulkers that they no scathe limpen.
Poverall and pastorelles passed on after
With porkes to pasture at the pris gates;
Boyes in the suburbes bourden full high
At a bore singlere that to the bente runnes.
Then brekes our bushment and the bridge winnes,
Braides into the burgh with banners displayed,
Stekes and stabbes through that them again-standes;
Four streetes, ere they stint, they stroyed forever!
Now is the conquerour in Combe and his court holdes
Within the kidd castel with kinges annointed,
Recounseles the commouns that to the kith longes,
Comfortes the care-full with knightly wordes,
Made a capitain keen a knight of his owen;
But all the countree and he full soon were accorded.
The Sire of Milan herde say the citee was wonnen,
And send to Arthur certain lordes,
Grete summes of gold, sixty horses charged,
Besought him as soveraign to succour the pople,
And said he wolde soothly be subjet forever,
And make him service and suite for his sere landes;
For Plesaunce, for Pawnce, and for Pownte Tremble,
For Pise and for Pavy he proffers full large
Both purpure and pall and precious stones,
Palfreyes for any prince and proved steedes
And ilk a yere for Milan a melion of gold,
Meekly at Martinmas to menske with his hordes,
And ever, withouten asking, he and his eiers
Be hommagers to Arthur whiles his life lastes.
The king by his counsel a condeth him sendes,
And he is comen to Combe and knew him as lord.
Into Tuskane he turnes when thus wel timed,
Takes townes full tite with towres full high;
Walles he welt down, wounded knightes,
Towres he turnes, and tourmentes the pople,
Wrought widowes full wlonk wrotherayle singen,
Oft werye and weep and wringen their handes;
And all he wastes with war there he away rides;
Their welthes and their wonninges wandreth he wrought!
Thus they springen and sprede and spares but little,
Spoiles dispiteously and spilles their vines,
Spendes unsparely that spared was long,
Speedes them to Spolett with speres ynow!
Fro Spain into Spruysland the word of him springes
And spekings of his spenses; despite is full huge.
Toward Viterbo this valiant aveeres the reines;
Avisely in that vale he vitailes his bernes,
With Vernage and other wine and venison baken
And on the Viscounte landes he vises to lenge.
Vertely the avauntward voides their horses
In the Vertenonne vale the vines i-monges;
There sujournes this soveraign with solace in herte,
To see when the Senatours sent any wordes,
Revel with rich wine, riotes himselven,
This roy with his real men of the Round Table,
With mirthes and melody and manykin gamnes;
Was never merrier men made on this erthe!