Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Fitt II


[A] This hanselle hat3 Arthur of auenturus on fyrst,

492 In 3onge 3er, for he 3erned 3elpyng to here,

Tha3 hym worde3 were wane, when þay to sete wenten;

Now ar þay stoken of sturne werk staf-ful her hond.

Gawan wat3 glad to be-gynne þose gomne3 in halle,

496 Bot þa3 þe ende be heuy, haf 3e no wonder;

For þa3 men ben mery in mynde, quen þay han mayn drynk,

[B] A 3ere 3ernes ful 3erne, & 3elde3 neuer lyke,

Þe forme to þe fynisment folde3 ful selden.

500 For-þi þis 3ol ouer-3ede, & þe 3ere after,

& vche sesoun serlepes sued after oþer;

[C] After crysten-masse com þe crabbed lentoun,

Þat frayste3 flesch wyth þe fysche & fode more symple

504 Bot þenne þe weder of þe worlde wyth wynter hit þrepe3,

[D] Colde clenge3 adoun, cloude3 vp-lyften,

Schyre schede3 þe rayn in schowre3 ful warme,

Falle3 vpon fayre flat, flowre3 þere schewen,

508 [E] Boþe grounde3 & þe greue3 grene ar her wede3,

[F] Brydde3 busken to bylde, & bremlych syngen,

[G] For solace of þe softe somer þat sues þer after,

bi bonk;

512 [H] & blossume3 bolne to blowe,

Bi rawe3 rych & ronk,

[I] Þen note3 noble in-no3e,

Ar herde in wod so wlonk.[Fol. 98]

[Sidenote A: This marvel serves to keep up a brisk conversation in Court.]

[Sidenote B: The year passes full quickly and never returns.]

[Sidenote C: After Christmas comes the "crabbed Lenten."]

[Sidenote D: Spring sets in and warm showers descend;]

[Sidenote E: the groves become green,]

[Sidenote F: birds build and sing,]

[Sidenote G: for joy of the summer that follows;]

[Sidenote H: blossoms begin to bloom,]

[Sidenote I: and noble notes are heard in the woods]


516 [A] After þe sesoun of somer wyth þe soft wynde3,

Quen 3eferus syfle3 hym-self on sede3 & erbe3,

[B] Wela-wynne is þe wort þat woxes þer-oute.

When þe donkande dewe drope3 of þe leue3,

520 To bide a blysful blusch of þe bry3t sunne.

[C] Bot þen hy3es heruest, & hardenes hym sone.

Warne3 hym for þe wynter to wax ful rype;

[D] He dryues wyth dro3t þe dust for to ryse.

524 Fro þe face of þe folde to fly3e ful hy3e;

Wroþe wynde of þe welkyn wrastele3 with þe sunne,

[E] Þe leue3 lancen fro þe lynde, & ly3ten on þe grounde,

[F] & al grayes þe gres, þat grene wat3 ere;

528 Þenne al rype3 & rote3 þat ros vpon fyrst,

& þus 3irne3 þe 3ere in 3isterdaye3 mony,

[G] & wynter wynde3 a3ayn, as þe worlde aske3

no sage.

532 Til me3el-mas mone,

Wat3 cumen wyth wynter wage;

[H] Þen þenkke3 Gawan ful sone,

Of his anious uyage.

[Sidenote A: Then the soft winds of summer,]

[Sidenote B: beautiful are the flowers wet with dew-drops.]

[Sidenote C: But harvest approaches soon,]

[Sidenote D: and drives the dust about.]

[Sidenote E: The leaves drop off the trees,]

[Sidenote F: the grass becomes gray, and all ripens and rots.]

[Sidenote G: Winter winds round again,]

[Sidenote H: and then Sir Gawayne thinks of his dread journey.]


536 [A] 3et quyl al-hal-day with Arþer he lenges,

& he made a fare on þat fest, for þe freke3 sake,

With much reuel & ryche of þe rounde table;

Kny3te3 ful cortays & comlych ladies,

540 Al for luf of þat lede in longynge þay were,

Bot neuer-þe-lece ne þe later þay neuened bot merþe,

Mony ioyle3 for þat ientyle iape3 þer maden.

[B] For aftter mete, with mournyng he mele3 to his eme,

544 & speke3 of his passage, & pertly he sayde,

[C] "Now, lege lorde of my lyf, leue I yow ask;

3e knowe þe cost of þis cace, kepe I no more

To telle yow tene3 þer-of neuer bot trifel;

548 [D] Bot I am boun to þe bur barely to morne,

To sech þe gome of þe grene, as god wyl me wysse."

Þenne þe best of þe bur3 bo3ed to-geder,

Aywan, & Errik, & oþer ful mony,

552 Sir Doddinaual de Sauage, þe duk of Clarence,[Fol. 98b.]

Launcelot, & Lyonel, & Lucan þe gode,

Sir Boos, & sir Byduer, big men boþe,

[E] & mony oþer menskful, with Mador de la Port.

556 Alle þis compayny of court com þe kyng nerre,

For to counseyl þe kny3t, with care at her hert;

[F] Þere wat3 much derue[1] doel driuen in þe sale,

Þat so worthe as Wawan schulde wende on þat ernde,

560 To dry3e a delful dynt, & dele no more

wyth bronde.

Þe kny3t mad ay god chere,

& sayde, "quat schuld I wonde,

564 [G] Of destines derf & dere,

What may mon do bot fonde?"

[Sidenote A: On All-hallows day Arthur makes a feast for his nephew's


[Sidenote B: After meat, Sir Gawayne thus speaks to his uncle:]

[Sidenote C: "Now, liege lord, I ask leave of you,]

[Sidenote D: for I am bound on the morn to seek the Green Knight."]

[Sidenote E: Many nobles, the best of the court, counsel and comfort him.]

[Sidenote F: Much sorrow prevails in the hall.]

[Sidenote G: Gawayne declares that he has nothing to fear.]

[Footnote 1: derne (?).]


[A] He dowelle3 þer al þat day, and dresse3 on þe morn,

Aske3 erly hys arme3, & alle were þay bro3t

568 [B] Fyrst a tule tapit, ty3t ouer þe flet,

& miche wat3 þe gyld gere þat glent þer alofte;

[C] Þe stif mon steppe3 þeron, & þe stel hondole3,

[D] Dubbed in a dublet of a dere tars,

572 & syþen a crafty capados, closed aloft,

Þat wyth a bry3t blaunner was bounden with-inne;

[E] Þenne set þay þe sabatoun3 vpon þe segge fote3,

His lege3 lapped in stel with luflych greue3,

576 With polayne3 piched þer-to, policed ful clene,

Aboute his kne3 knaged wyth knote3 of golde;

[F] Queme quyssewes þen, þat coyntlych closed

His thik þrawen þy3e3 with þwonges to-tachched;

580 [G] & syþen þe brawden bryne of bry3t stel rynge3,

Vmbe-weued þat wy3, vpon wlonk stuffe;

[H] & wel bornyst brace vpon his boþe armes,

With gode cowters & gay, & gloue3 of plate,

584 & alle þe godlych gere þat hym gayn schulde

Þat tyde;

[I] Wyth ryche cote armure,

[J] His gold spore3 spend with pryde,

588 [K] Gurde wyth a bront ful sure,

With silk sayn vmbe his syde.

[Sidenote A: On the morn he asks for his arms.]

[Sidenote B: A carpet is spread on the floor,]

[Sidenote C: and he steps thereon.]

[Sidenote D: He is dubbed in a doublet of Tarsic silk, and a well-made


[Sidenote E: They set steel slices on his feet, and lap his legs in steel


[Sidenote F: Fair cuisses enclose his thighs,]

[Sidenote G: and afterwards they put on the steel habergeon,]

[Sidenote H: well-burnished braces, elbow pieces, and gloves of plate.]

[Sidenote I: Over all this is placed the coat armour.]

[Sidenote J: His spurs are then fixed,]

[Sidenote K: and his sword is attached to his side by a silken girdle.]


[A] When he wat3 hasped in armes, his harnays wat3 ryche,[Fol. 99a.]

Þe lest lachet ou[þ]er loupe lemed of golde;

592 So harnayst as he wat3 he herkne3 his masse,

Offred & honoured at þe he3e auter;

[B] Syþen he come3 to þe kyng & to his cort fere3,

Lache3 lufly his leue at lorde3 & ladye3;

596 & þay hym kyst & conueyed, bikende hym to kryst.

[C] Bi þat wat3 Gryngolet grayth, & gurde with a sadel,

Þat glemed ful gayly with mony golde frenges,

Ay quere naylet ful nwe for þat note ryched;

600 Þe brydel barred aboute, with bry3t golde bounden;

[D] Þe apparayl of þe payttrure, & of þe proude skyrte3,

Þe cropore, & þe couertor, acorded wyth þe arsoune3;

& al wat3 rayled on red ryche golde nayle3,

604 Þat al glytered & glent as glem of þe sunne.

[E] Þenne hentes he þe holme, & hastily hit kysses,

Þat wat3 stapled stifly, & stoffed wyth-inne:

Hit wat3 hy3e on his hede, hasped bihynde,

608 [F] Wyth a ly3tli vrysoun ouer þe auentayle,

[G] Enbrawden & bounden wyth þe best gemme3,

On brode sylkyn borde, & brydde3 on seme3,

As papiaye3 paynted pernyng bitwene,

612 Tortors & trulofe3 entayled so þyk,

As mony burde þer aboute had ben seuen wynter

in toune;

[H] Þe cercle wat3 more o prys,

616 Þat vmbe-clypped hys croun,

Of diamaunte3 a deuys,

Þat boþe were bry3t & broun.

[Sidenote A: Thus arrayed the knight hears mass,]

[Sidenote B: and afterwards takes leave of Arthur and his court.]

[Sidenote C: By that time his horse Gringolet was ready,]

[Sidenote D: the harness of which glittered like the "gleam of the sun."]

[Sidenote E: Then Sir Gawayne sets his helmet upon his head,]

[Sidenote F: fastened behind with a "urisoun,"]

[Sidenote G: richly embroidered with gems.]

[Sidenote H: The circle around the helmet was decked with diamonds.]


[A] Then þay schewed hym þe schelde, þat was of schyr goule3,

620 Wyth þe pentangel de-paynt of pure golde hwe3;

He brayde3 hit by þe baude-ryk, aboute þe hals kestes,

Þat bisemed þe segge semlyly fayre.

[B] & quy þe pentangel apende3 to þat prynce noble,

624 I am in tent yow to telle, þof tary hyt me schulde;

Hit is a syngne þat Salamon set sum-quyle,

In bytoknyng of trawþe, bi tytle þat hit habbe3,

For hit is a figure þat halde3 fyue poynte3,[Fol. 99b]

628 & vche lyne vmbe-lappe3 & louke3 in oþer,

[C] & ay quere hit is endele3,[1] & Englych hit callen

Ouer-al, as I here, þe endeles knot.

For-þy hit acorde3 to þis kny3t, & to his cler arme3,

632 For ay faythful in fyue & sere fyue syþe3,

[D] Gawan wat3 for gode knawen, & as golde pured,

Voyded of vche vylany, wyth vertue3[2] ennourned

in mote;

636 For-þy þe pen-tangel nwe

He ber in schelde & cote,

[E] As tulk of tale most trwe,

& gentylest kny3t of lote.

[Sidenote A: Then they show him his shield with the "pentangle" of pure


[Sidenote B: The "pentangle" was devised by Solomon as a token of truth.]

[Sidenote C: It is called the endless knot]

[Sidenote D: It well becomes the good Sir Gawayne,]

[Sidenote E: a knight the truest of speech and the fairest of form.]

[Footnote 1: MS emdele3.]

[Footnote 2: MS verertue3]


640 [A] Fyrst he wat3 funden fautle3 in his fyue wytte3,

& efte fayled neuer þe freke in his fyue fyngres,

[B] & alle his afyaunce vpon folde wat3 in þe fyue wounde3

Þat Cryst ka3t on þe croys, as þe crede telle3;

644 & quere-so-euer þys mon in melly wat3 stad,

His þro þo3t wat3 in þat, þur3 alle oþer þynge3,

Þat alle his forsnes he fong at þe fyue ioye3,

Þat þe hende heuen quene had of hir chylde;

648 At þis cause þe kny3t comlyche hade

[C] In þe more half of his schelde hir ymage depaynted,

Þat quen he blusched þerto, his belde neuer payred.

Þe fyrst[1] fyue þat I finde þat þe frek vsed,

652 Wat3 fraunchyse, & fela3schyp for-be[2] al þyng;

[D] His clannes & his cortaysye croked were neuer,

& pite, þat passe3 alle poynte3, þyse pure fyue

Were harder happed on þat haþel þen on any oþer.

656 Now alle þese fyue syþe3, forsoþe, were fetled on þis kny3t,

& vchone halched in oþer, þat non ende hade,

& fyched vpon fyue poynte3, þat fayld neuer,

Ne samned neuer in no syde, ne sundred nouþ[er],

660 With-outen ende at any noke [a]i quere fynde,

Where-euer þe gomen bygan, or glod to an ende.

[E] Þer-fore on his schene schelde schapen wat3 þe knot,

Þus alle wyth red golde vpon rede gowle3,

664 Þat is þe pure pentaungel wyth þe peple called, [Fol. 100]

with lore.

Now grayþed is Gawan gay,

[F] & la3t his launce ry3t þore,

668 & gef hem alle goud day,

He wende for euer more.

[Sidenote A: He was found faultless in his five wits.]

[Sidenote B: His trust was in the five wounds.]

[Sidenote C: The image of the Virgin was depicted upon his shield.]

[Sidenote D: In cleanness and courtesy he was never found wanting,]

[Sidenote E: therefore was the endless knot fastened on his shield.]

[Sidenote F: Sir Gawayne seizes his lance and bids all "good day."]

[Footnote 1: MS fyft.]

[Footnote 2: for-bi (?).]


[A] He sperred þe sted with þe spure3, & sprong on his way,

So stif þat þe ston fyr stroke out þer-after;

672 [B] Al þat se3 þat semly syked in hert,

& sayde soþly al same segges til oþer,

Carande for þat comly, "bi Kryst, hit is scaþe,

Þat þou, leude, schal be lost, þat art of lyf noble!

676 [C] To fynde hys fere vpon folde, in fayth is not eþe;

Warloker to haf wro3t had more wyt bene,

& haf dy3t 3onder dere a duk to haue worþed;

[D] A lowande leder of lede3 in londe hym wel seme3,

680 & so had better haf ben þen britned to no3t,

[E] Hadet wyth an aluisch mon, for angarde3 pryde.

Who knew euer any kyng such counsel to take,

As kny3te3 in caueloun3 on cryst-masse gomne3!"

684 [F] Wel much wat3 þe warme water þat waltered of y3en,

When þat semly syre so3t fro þo wone3

þat[1] daye;

He made non abode,

688 Bot wy3tly went hys way,

[G] Mony wylsum way he rode,

Þe bok as I herde say.

[Sidenote A: He spurs his horse and goes on his way.]

[Sidenote B: All that saw that seemly one mourned in their hearts.]

[Sidenote C: They declared that his equal was not to be found upon earth.]

[Sidenote D: It would have been better for him to have been a leader of


[Sidenote E: than to die by the hands of "an elvish man."]

[Sidenote F: Much was the warm water that poured from eyes that day.]

[Sidenote G: Meanwhile many a weary way goes Sir Gawayne.]

[Footnote 1: MS. þad.]


[A] Now ride3 þis renk þur3 þe ryalme of Logres,

692 Sir Gauan on Gode3 halue, þa3 hym no gomen þo3t;

Oft, leudle3 alone, he lenge3 on ny3te3,

Þer he fonde no3t hym byfore þe fare þat he lyked;

[B] Hade he no fere bot his fole, bi frythe3 & doune3,

696 Ne no gome bot God, bi gate wyth to karp,

[C] Til þat he ne3ed ful noghe[1] in to þe Norþe Wale3;

Alle þe iles of Anglesay on lyft half he halde3,

& fare3 ouer þe forde3 by þe for-londe3,

700 [D] Ouer at þe Holy-Hede, til he hade eft bonk

In þe wyldrenesse of Wyrale; wonde þer bot lyte

[E] Þat auþer God oþer gome wyth goud hert louied. [Fol. 100b]

& ay he frayned, as he ferde, at freke3 þat he met,

704 [F] If þay hade herde any karp of a kny3t grene,

In any grounde þer-aboute, of þe grene chapel;[2]

& al nykked hym wyth nay, þat neuer in her lyue

[G] Þay se3e neuer no segge þat wat3 of suche hwe3

708 of grene.

Þe kny3t tok gates straunge,

In mony a bonk vnbene,

[H] His cher ful oft con chaunge,

712 Þat chapel er he my3t sene.

[Sidenote A: Now rides the knight through the realms of England.]

[Sidenote B: He has no companion but his horse.]

[Sidenote C: No men does he see till he approaches North Wales.]

[Sidenote D: From Holyhead he passes into Wirral.]

[Sidenote E: There he finds but few that loved God or man.]

[Sidenote F: He enquires after the Green Knight of the Green Chapel,]

[Sidenote G: but can gain no tidings of him.]

[Sidenote H: His cheer oft changed before he found the Chapel.]

[Footnote 1: nyghe (?).]

[Footnote 2: MS. clapel.]


[A] Mony klyf he ouer-clambe in contraye3 straunge,

Fer floten fro his frende3 fremedly he ryde3;

[B] At vche warþe oþer water þer þe wy3e passed,

716 He fonde a foo hym byfore, bot ferly hit were,

& þat so foule & so felle, þat fe3t hym by-hode;

[C] So mony meruayl hi mount þer þe mon fynde3,

Hit were to tore for to telle of þe tenþe dole.

720 [D] Sumwhyle wyth worme3 he werre3, & with wolues als,

Sumwhyle wyth wodwos, þat woned in þe knarre3,

[E] Boþe wyth bulle3 & bere3, & bore3 oþer-quyle,

& etayne3, þat hym a-nelede, of þe he3e felle;

724 [F] Nade he ben du3ty & dry3e, & dry3tyn had serued,

Douteles he hade ben ded, & dreped ful ofte.

[G] For werre wrathed hym not so much, þat wynter was wors,

When þe colde cler water fro þe cloude3 schadden,

728 & fres er hit falle my3t to þe fale erþe;

Ner slayn wyth þe slete he sleped in his yrnes,

Mo ny3te3 þen in-noghe in naked rokke3,

Þer as claterande fro þe crest þe colde borne renne3,

732 & henged he3e ouer his hede in hard ysse-ikkles.

[H] Þus in peryl, & payne, & plytes ful harde,

Bi contray carye3 þis kny3t, tyl kryst-masse euen,

al one;

736 Þe kny3t wel þat tyde,

[I] To Mary made his mone.

Þat ho hym red to ryde,

& wysse hym to sum wone. [Fol. 101.]

[Sidenote A: Many a cliff he climbed over;]

[Sidenote B: many a ford and stream he crossed, and everywhere he found a


[Sidenote C: It were too tedious to tell the tenth part of his adventures]

[Sidenote D: with serpents, wolves, and wild men;]

[Sidenote E: with bulls, bears, and boars.]

[Sidenote F: Had he not been both brave and good, doubtless he had been


[Sidenote G: The sharp winter was far worse than any war that ever troubled


[Sidenote H: Thus in peril he travels till Christmas-eve.]

[Sidenote I: To the Virgin Mary he prays to guide him to some abode.]


740 [A] Bi a mounte on þe morne meryly he rydes,

Into a forest ful dep, þat ferly wat3 wylde,

Hi3e hille3 on vche a halue, & holt wode3 vnder,

[B] Of hore oke3 fill hoge a hundreth to-geder;

744 Þe hasel & þe ha3-þorne were harled al samen,

With ro3e raged mosse rayled ay-where,

[C] With mony brydde3 vnblyþe vpon bare twyges,

Þat pitosly þer piped for pyne of þe colde.

748 Þe gome vpon Gryngolet glyde3 hem vnder,

[D] Þur3 mony misy & myre, mon al hym one,

Carande for his costes, lest he ne keuer schulde,

To se þe seruy[1] of þat syre, þat on þat self ny3t

752 Of a burde wat3 borne, oure baret to quelle;

[E] & þerfore sykyng he sayde, "I be-seche þe, lorde,

& Mary, þat is myldest moder so dere.

Of sum herber, þer he3ly I my3t here masse.

756 Ande þy matyne3 to-morne, mekely I ask,

& þer-to prestly I pray my pater & aue,

& crede."

He rode in his prayere,

760 & cryed for his mysdede,

[F] He sayned hym in syþes sere,

& sayde "cros Kryst me spede!"

[Sidenote A: On the morn Sir Gawayne finds himself in a deep forest,]

[Sidenote B: where were old oaks many a hundred.]

[Sidenote C: Many sad birds upon bare twigs piped piteously for the cold.]

[Sidenote D: Through many a mire he goes, that he may celebrate the birth

of Christ.]

[Sidenote E: He beseeches the Virgin Mary to direct him to some lodging

where he may hear mass.]

[Sidenote F: Blessing himself, he says, "Cross of Christ, speed me!"]

[Footnote 1: seruyce (?).]


[A] Nade he sayned hym-self, segge, bot þrye,

764 Er he wat3 war in þe wod of a won in a mote.

[B] Abof a launde, on a lawe, loken vnder bo3e3,

Of mony borelych bole, aboute bi þe diches;

[C] A castel þe comlokest þat euer kny3t a3te,

768 Pyched on a prayere, a park al aboute,

With a pyked palays, pyned ful þik,

Þat vmbe-te3e mony tre mo þen two myle.

Þat holde on þat on syde þe haþel auysed,

772 [D] As hit schemered & schon þur3 þe schyre oke3;

Þenne hat3 he hendly of his helme, & he3ly he þonke3

Iesus & say[nt] Gilyan, þat gentyle ar boþe,

Þat cortaysly hade hym kydde, & his cry herkened. [Fol. 101b.]

776 "Now bone hostel," coþe þe burne, "I be-seche yow 3ette!"

Þenne gedere3 he to Gryngolet with þe gilt hele3,

[E] & he ful chauncely hat3 chosen to þe chef gate,

Þat bro3t bremly þe burne to þe bryge ende,

780 in haste;

[F] Þe bryge wat3 breme vp-brayde,

Þe 3ate3 wer stoken faste,

Þe walle3 were wel arayed,

784 Hit dut no wynde3 blaste.

[Sidenote A: Scarcely had he blessed himself thrice]

[Sidenote B: when he saw a dwelling in the wood, set on a hill,]

[Sidenote C: the comeliest castle that knight ever owned.]

[Sidenote D: It shone as the sun through the bright oaks.]

[Sidenote E: Sir Gawayne goes to the chief gate,]

[Sidenote F: and finds the draw-bridge raised, and the gates shut fast.]


[A] Þe burne bode on bonk, þat on blonk houed,

Of þe depe double dich þat drof to þe place,

Þe walle wod in þe water wonderly depe,

788 [B] Ande eft a ful huge he3t hit haled vpon lofte,

Of harde hewen ston vp to þe table3,

[C] Enbaned vnder þe abataylment, in þe best lawe;

& syþen garyte3 ful gaye gered bi-twene,

792 Wyth mony luflych loupe, þat louked ful clene;

A better barbican þat burne blusched vpon neuer;

& innermore he be-helde þat halle ful hy3e,

[D] Towre telded bytwene trochet ful þik,

796 Fayre fylyole3 þat fy3ed, & ferlyly long,

[E] With coruon coprounes, craftyly sle3e;

Chalk whyt chymnees þer ches he in-no3e,

Vpon bastel roue3, þat blenked ful quyte;

800 So mony pynakle payntet wat3 poudred ay quere,

Among þe castel carnele3, clambred so þik,

Þat pared out of papure purely hit semed.

[F] Þe fre freke on þe fole hit fayr in-n[o]ghe þo3t,

804 If he my3t keuer to com þe cloyster wyth-inne,

To herber in þat hostel, whyl halyday lested


[G] He calde, & sone þer com

808 A porter pure plesaunt,

On þe wal his ernd he nome,

& haylsed þe kny3t erraunt.

[Sidenote A: The knight abides on the bank,]

[Sidenote B: and observes the "huge height,"]

[Sidenote C: with its battlements and watch towers.]

[Sidenote D: Bright and long were its round towers,]

[Sidenote E: with their well-made capitals.]

[Sidenote F: He thinks it fair enough if he might only come within the


[Sidenote G: He calls, and soon there comes a porter to know the knight's



[A] "Gode sir," quod Gawan, "wolde3 þou go myn ernde,

812 To þe he3 lorde of þis hous, herber to craue?"

"3e, Peter," quod þe porter, "& purely I trowe,[1] [Fol. 102.]

[B] Þat 3e be, wy3e, welcum to won quyle yow lyke3."

Þen 3ede þat wy3e a3ayn awyþe,

816 & folke frely hym wyth, to fonge þe kny3t;

[C] Þay let doun þe grete dra3t, & derely out 3eden,

& kneled doun on her knes vpon þe colde erþe,

To welcum þis ilk wy3, as worþy hom þo3t;

820 [D] Þay 3olden hym þe brode 3ate, 3arked vp wyde,

& he hem raysed rekenly, & rod ouer þe brygge;

Sere segge3 hym sesed by sadel, quel[2] he ly3t,

[E] & syþen stabeled his stede stif men in-no3e.

824 [F] Kny3te3 & swyere3 comen doun þenne,

For to bryng þis burne[3] wyth blys in-to halle;

[G] Quen he hef vp his helme, þer hi3ed in-noghe

For to hent hit at his honde, þe hende to seruen,

828 His bronde & his blasoun boþe þay token.

Þen haylsed he ful hendly þo haþele3 vch one,

& mony proud mon þer presed, þat prynce to honour;

Alle hasped in his he3 wede to halle þay hym wonnen,

832 Þer fayre fyre vpon flet fersly brenned.

[H] Þenne þe lorde of þe lede loute3 fro his chambre,

For to mete wyth menske þe mon on þe flor;

He sayde, "3e ar welcum to welde as yow lyke3,

836 Þat here is, al is yowre awen, to haue at yowre wylle

& welde."

"Graunt mercy," quod Gawayn,

"Þer Kryst hit yow for-3elde,"

840 [I] As freke3 þat semed fayn,

Ayþer oþer in arme3 con felde.

[Sidenote A: "Good sir," says Gawayne, "ask the high lord of this house to

grant me a lodging."]

[Sidenote B: "You are welcome to dwell here as long as you like," replied

the porter.]

[Sidenote C: The draw-bridge is let down,]

[Sidenote D: and the gate is opened wide to receive him.]

[Sidenote E: His horse is well stabled.]

[Sidenote F: Knights and squires bring Gawayne into the hall.]

[Sidenote G: Many a one hastens to take his helmet and sword.]

[Sidenote H: The lord of the country bids him welcome,]

[Sidenote I: and they embrace each other.]

[Footnote 1: trowoe, MS.]

[Footnote 2: quyle (?) or quen (?).]

[Footnote 3: buurne, MS.]


[A] Gawayn gly3t on þe gome þat godly hym gret,

[B] & þu3t hit a bolde burne þat þe bur3 a3te,

844 A hoge haþel for þe none3, & of hyghe elde;[1]

[C] Brode bry3t wat3 his berde, & al beuer hwed,

Sturne stif on þe stryþþe on stal-worth schonke3,

[D] Felle face as þe fyre, & fre of hys speche;

848 & wel hym semed for soþe, as þe segge þu3t,

To lede a lortschyp in lee of leude3 ful gode.

[E] Þe lorde hym charred to a chambre, & chefly cumaunde3[2] [Fol.]

To delyuer hym a leude, hym lo3ly to serue;[102b.]

852 & þere were boun at his bode burne3 in-no3e,

[F] Þat bro3t hym to a bry3t boure, þer beddyng wat3 noble,

Of cortynes of clene sylk, wyth cler golde hemme3,

[G] & couertore3 ful curious, with comlych pane3,

856 Of bry3t blaunnier a-boue enbrawded bisyde3,

Rudele3 rennande on rope3, red golde rynge3,

[H] Tapyte3 ty3t to þe wo3e, of tuly & tars,

& vnder fete, on þe flet, of fol3ande sute.

860 [I] Þer he wat3 dispoyled, wyth speche3 of myerþe,

Þe burn of his bruny, & of his bry3t wede3;

[J] Ryche robes ful rad renkke3 hem[3] bro3ten,

For to charge, & to chaunge, & chose of þe best.

864 Sone as he on hent, & happed þer-inne,

Þat sete on hym[4] semly, wyth saylande skyrte3,

[K] Þe ver by his uisage verayly hit semed

Wel ne3 to vche haþel alle on hwes,

868 Lowande & lufly, alle his lymme3 vnder,

[L] Þat a comloker kny3t neuer Kryst made,

hem þo3t;

Wheþen in worlde he were,

872 Hit semed as he my3t

Be prynce with-outen pere,

In felde þer felle men fy3t.

[Sidenote A: Gawayne looks on his host;]

[Sidenote B: a big bold one he seemed.]

[Sidenote C: Beaver-hued was his broad beard,]

[Sidenote D: and his face as "fell as the fire."]

[Sidenote E: The lord leads Gawayne to a chamber, and assigns him a page to

wait upon him.]

[Sidenote F: In this bright bower was noble bedding;]

[Sidenote G: the curtains were of pure silk with golden hems;]

[Sidenote H: Tarsic tapestries covered the walls and the floor.]

[Sidenote I: Here the knight doffed his armour,]

[Sidenote J: and put on rich robes,]

[Sidenote K: which well became him.]

[Sidenote L: A more comely knight Christ never made.]

[Footnote 1: eldee, MS.]

[Footnote 2: clesly, MS.]

[Footnote 3: hym (?).]

[Footnote 4: MS. hyn.]


[A] A cheyer by-fore þe chemne, þer charcole brenned,

876 Wat3 grayþed for sir Gawan, grayþely with cloþe3,

Whyssynes vpon queldepoyntes, þa[t] koynt wer boþe;

[B] & þenne a mere mantyle wat3 on þat mon cast,

Of a broun bleeaunt, enbrauded ful ryche,

880 & fayre furred wyth-inne with felle3 of þe best,

Alle of ermyn in erde, his hode of þe same;

& he sete in þat settel semlych ryche,

& achaufed hym chefly,[1] & þenne his cher mended.

884 [C] Sone wat3 telded vp a tapit, on treste3 ful fayre,

[D] Clad wyth a clene cloþe, þat cler quyt schewed,

Sanap, & salure, & syluer-in spone3;

Þe wy3e wesche at his wylle, & went to his mete[Fol. 103.]

888 Segge3 hym serued semly in-no3e,

[E] Wyth sere sewes & sete,[2] sesounde of þe best,

Double felde, as hit falle3, & fele kyn fische3;

[F] Summe baken in bred, summe brad on þe glede3,

892 [G] Summe soþen, summe in sewe, sauered with spyces,

& ay sawes[3] so sle3e3, þat þe segge lyked.

Þe freke calde hit a fest ful frely & ofte,

[H] Ful hendely, quen alle þe haþeles re-hayted hym at one3

896 as hende;

"Þis penaunce now 3e take,

& eft hit schal amende;"

[I] Þat mon much merþe con make.

900 For wyn in his hed þat wende.

[Sidenote A: A chair is placed for Sir Gawayne before the fireplace.]

[Sidenote B: A mantle of fine linen, richly embroidered, is thrown over


[Sidenote C: A table is soon raised,]

[Sidenote D: and the knight, having washed, proceeded to meat.]

[Sidenote E: He is served with numerous dishes;]

[Sidenote F: with fish baked and broiled,]

[Sidenote G: or boiled and seasoned with spices.]

[Sidenote H: He calls it a full noble feast,]

[Sidenote I: and much mirth he makes, for the wine is in his head.]

[Footnote 1: MS. cefly.]

[Footnote 2: swete (?).]

[Footnote 3: sewes (?).]


[A] Þenne wat3 spyed & spured vpon spare wyse.

Bi preue poynte3 of þat prynce, put to hym-seluen,

Þat he be-knew cortaysly of þe court þat he were,

904 [B] Þat aþel Arthure þe hende halde3 hym one,

Þat is þe ryche ryal kyng of þe rounde table;

& hit wat3 Wawen hym-self þat in þat won sytte3,

Comen to þat krystmasse, as case hym þen lymped.

908 [C] When þe lorde hade lerned þat he þe leude hade,

Loude la3ed he þerat, so lef hit hym þo3t,

[D] & alle þe men in þat mote maden much joye,

To apere in his presense prestly þat tyme,

912 Þat alle prys, & prowes, & pured þewes

Apendes to hys persoun, & praysed is euer,

By-fore alle men vpon molde, his mensk is þe most.

[E] Vch segge ful softly sayde to his fere,

916 [F] "Now schal we semlych se sle3te3 of þewe3,

& þe teccheles termes of talkyng noble,

Wich spede is in speche, vnspurd may we lerne,

[G] Syn we haf fonged þat fyne fader of nurture;

920 God hat3 geuen vus his grace godly for soþe,

Þat such a gest as Gawan graunte3 vus to haue,

When burne3 blyþe of his burþe schal sitte

& synge.

924 In menyng of manere3 mere,

Þis burne now schal vus bryng,[Fol. 103b.]

[H] I hope þat may hym here,

Schal lerne of luf-talkyng."

[Sidenote A: Sir Gawayne, in answer to questions put to him,]

[Sidenote B: tells the prince that he is of Arthur's court.]

[Sidenote C: When this was made known,]

[Sidenote D: great was the joy in the hall.]

[Sidenote E: Each one said softly to his mate,]

[Sidenote F: "Now we shall see courteous manners and hear noble speech,]

[Sidenote G: for we have amongst us the 'father of nurture.']

[Sidenote H: He that may him hear shall learn of love-talking."]


928 [A] Bi þat þe diner wat3 done, & þe dere vp,

Hit wat3 ne3 at þe niy3t ne3ed þe tyme;

Chaplayne3[1] to þe chapeles chosen þe gate,

Rungen ful rychely, ry3t as þay schulden,

932 [B] To þe hersum euensong of þe hy3e tyde.

Þe lorde loutes þerto, & þe lady als,

In-to a comly closet coyntly ho entre3;

Gawan glyde3 ful gay, & gos þeder sone;

936 Þe lorde laches hym by þe lappe, & lede3 hym to sytte,

& couþly hym knowe3, & calle3 hym his nome,

& sayde he wat3 þe welcomest wy3e of þe worlde;

[C] & he hym þonkked þroly, & ayþer halched oþer.

940 & seten soberly samen þe seruise-quyle;

Þenne lyst þe lady to loke on þe kny3t.

[D] Þenne com ho of hir closet, with mony cler burde3,

Ho wat3 þe fayrest in felle, of flesche & of lyre,

944 & of compas, & colour, & costes of alle oþer,

[E] & wener þen Wenore, as þe wy3e þo3t.

He ches þur3 þe chaunsel, to cheryche þat hende;

[F] An oþer lady hir lad bi þe lyft honde,

948 Þat wat3 alder þen ho, an auncian hit semed,

& he3ly honowred with haþele3 aboute.

[G] Bot yn-lyke on to loke þo ladyes were,

[H] For if þe 3onge wat3 3ep, 3ol3e wat3 þat oþer;

952 Riche red on þat on rayled ay quere,

[I] Rugh ronkled cheke3 þat oþer on rolled;

Kerchofes of þat on wyth mony cler perle3

[J] Hir brest & hir bry3t þrote bare displayed,

956 Schon schyrer þen snawe, þat scheder[2] on hille3;

Þat oþer wyth a gorger wat3 gered ouer þe swyre,

Chymbled ouer hir blake chyn with mylk-quyte vayles,

[K] Hir frount folden in sylk, enfoubled ay quere,

960 Toret & treieted with tryfle3 aboute,

[L] Þat no3t wat3 bare of þat burde bot þe blake bro3es. [Fol. 104.]

Þe tweyne y3en, & þe nase, þe naked lyppe3,

& þose were soure to se, & sellyly blered;

964 A mensk lady on molde mon may hir calle,

for gode;

[M] Hir body wat3 schort & þik.

[N] Hir buttoke3 bay & brode,

968 More lykker-wys on to lyk,

Wat3 þat scho hade on lode.

[Sidenote A: After dinner the company go to the chapel,]

[Sidenote B: to hear the evensong of the great season.]

[Sidenote C: The lord of the castle and Sir Gawayne sit together during


[Sidenote D: His wife, accompanied by her maids, leaves her seat.]

[Sidenote E: She appeared even fairer than Guenever.]

[Sidenote F: An older lady (an ancient one she seemed) led her by the


[Sidenote G: Very unlike were these two.]

[Sidenote H: if the young one was fair the other was yellow,]

[Sidenote I: and had rough and wrinkled cheeks.]

[Sidenote J: The younger had breast and throat "bare displayed."]

[Sidenote K: The ancient one exposed only her "black brows," her two eyes,]

[Sidenote L: nose, and naked lips, all sour and bleared.]

[Sidenote M: Her body was short and thick;]

[Sidenote N: her buttocks broad and round.]

[Footnote 1: MS. [claplayne3.]]

[Footnote 2: schedes (?).]


[A] When Gawayn gly3t on þat gay, þat graciously loked,

Wyth leue la3t of þe lorde he went hem a3aynes;

972 [B] Þe alder he haylses, heldande ful lowe,

Þe loueloker he lappe3 a lyttel in arme3,

[C] He kysses hir comlyly, & kny3tly he mele3;

Þay kallen hym of a quoyntaunce, & he hit quyk aske3

976 [D] To be her seruaunt sothly, if hem-self lyked.

Þay tan hym bytwene hem, wyth talkyng hym leden

[E] To chambre, to chemne, & chefly þay asken

[F] Spyce3, þat vn-sparely men speded hom to bryng,

980 & þe wynne-lych wyne þer-with vche tyme.

Þe lorde luflych aloft lepe3 ful ofte,

Mynned merthe to be made vpon mony syþe3.

[G] Hent he3ly of his hode, & on a spere henged,

984 & wayned hom to wynne þe worchip þer-of,

[H] Þat most myrþe my3t mene[1] þat crystenmas whyle;

"& i schal fonde, bi my fayth, to fylter wyth þe best,

Er me wont þe wede3, with help of my frende3."

988 Þus wyth la3ande lote3 þe lorde hit tayt[2] make3,

[I] For to glade sir Gawayn with gomne3 in halle

þat ny3t;

Til þat hit wat3 tyme,

992 Þe kyng comaundet ly3t,

[J] Sir Gawen his leue con nyme,

& to his bed hym di3t.

[Sidenote A: With permission of the lord,]

[Sidenote B: Sir Gawayne salutes the elder,]

[Sidenote C: but the younger he kisses,]

[Sidenote D: and begs to be her servant.]

[Sidenote E: To chamber all go,]

[Sidenote F: where spices and wine are served.]

[Sidenote G: The lord takes off his hood and places it on a spear.]

[Sidenote H: He who makes most mirth is to win it.]

[Sidenote I: Night approaches, and then]

[Sidenote J: Sir Gawayne takes his leave and retires to rest.]

[Footnote 1: meue (?).]

[Footnote 2: layt (?).]


[A] On þe morne, as vch mon myne3 þat tyme,

996 [B] [Þ]at dry3tyn for oure destyne to de3e wat3 borne,

Wele waxe3 in vche a won in worlde, for his sake;

[C] So did hit þere on þat day, þur3 dayntes mony;

Boþe at mes & at mele, messes ful quaynt[Fol. 104b.]

1000 Derf men vpon dece drest of þe best.

[D] Þe olde auncian wyf he3est ho sytte3;

Þe lorde lufly her by lent, as I trowe;

[E] Gawan & þe gay burde to-geder þay seten,

1004 Euen in-mydde3, as þe messe metely come;

& syþen þur3 al þe sale, as hem best semed,

[F] Bi vche grome at his degre grayþely wat3 serued.

Þer wat3 mete, þer wat3 myrþe, þer wat3 much ioye,

1008 Þat for to telle þerof hit me tene were,

& to poynte hit 3et I pyned me parauenture;

[G] Bot 3et I wot þat Wawen & þe wale burde

Such comfort of her compaynye ca3ten to-geder,

1012 Þur3 her dere dalyaunce of her derne worde3,

Wyth clene cortays carp, closed fro fylþe;

& hor play wat3 passande vche prynce gomen,

in vayres;

1016 [H] Trumpe3 & nakerys,

Much pypyng þer repayres,

Vche mon tented hys,

& þay two tented þayres.

[Sidenote A: On Christmas morn,]

[Sidenote B: joy reigns in every dwelling in the world.]

[Sidenote C: So did it in the castle where our knight abode.]

[Sidenote D: The lord and "the old ancient wife" sit together.]

[Sidenote E: Gawayne sits by the wife of his host.]

[Sidenote F: It were too tedious to tell of the meat, the mirth, and the

joy that abounded everywhere.]

[Sidenote G: Gawayne and his beautiful companion derive much comfort from

each other's conversation.]

[Sidenote H: Trumpets and nakers give forth their sounds.]


1020 [A] Much dut wat3 þer dryuen þat day & þat oþer,

& þe þryd as þro þronge in þerafter;

[B] Þe ioye of sayn Ione3 day wat3 gentyle to here,

& wat3 þe last of þe layk, leude3 þer þo3ten.

1024 Þer wer gestes to go vpon þe gray morne,

For-þy wonderly þay woke, & þe wyn dronken,

Daunsed ful dre3ly wyth dere carole3;

[C] At þe last, when hit wat3 late, þay lachen her leue,

1028 Vchon to wende on his way, þat wat3 wy3e stronge.

Gawan gef hym god-day, þe god mon hym lachche3,

Ledes hym to his awen chambre, þ[e] chymne bysyde,

[D] & þere he dra3e3 hym on-dry3e, & derely hym þonkke3,

1032 Of þe wynne worschip &[1] he hym wayned hade,

As to honour his hous on þat hy3e tyde,

& enbelyse his bur3 with his bele chere.

"I-wysse sir, quyl I leue, me worþe3 þe better,

1036 Þat Gawayn hat3 ben my gest, at Godde3 awen fest." [Fol. 105.]

"Grant merci[2] sir," quod Gawayn, "in god fayth hit is yowre3,

Al þe honour is your awen, þe he3e kyng yow 3elde;

& I am wy3e at your wylle, to worch youre hest,

1040 As I am halden þer-to, in hy3e & in lo3e,

bi ri3t."

[E] Þe lorde fast can hym payne,

To holde lenger þe kny3t,

1044 To hym answre3 Gawayn,

Bi non way þat he my3t.

[Sidenote A: Great was the joy for three days.]

[Sidenote B: St. John's-day was the last of the Christmas festival.]

[Sidenote C: On the morrow many of the guests took their departure from the


[Sidenote D: Sir Gawayne is thanked by his host for the honour and pleasure

of his visit.]

[Sidenote E: He endeavours to keep the knight at his court.]

[Footnote 1: þat (?).]

[Footnote 2: nerci, in MS.]


[A] Then frayned þe freke ful fayre at him-seluen,

Quat derne[1] dede had hym dryuen, at þat dere tyme,

1048 So kenly fro þe kynge3 kourt to kayre al his one,

Er þe halidaye3 holly were halet out of toun?

[B] "For soþe sir," quod þe segge, "3e sayn bot þe trawþe

A he3e ernde & a hasty me hade fro þo wone3,

1052 For I am sumned my selfe to sech to a place,

I wot[2] in worlde wheder warde to wende, hit to fynde;

I nolde, bot if I hit negh my3t on nw3eres morne,

For alle þe londe in-wyth Logres, so me oure lorde help!

1056 For-þy, sir, þis enquest I require yow here,

[C] Þat 3e me telle with trawþe, if euer 3e tale herde

Of þe grene chapel, quere hit on grounde stonde3,

& of þe kny3t þat hit kepes, of colour of grene?

1060 Þer wat3 stabled bi statut a steuen vus by-twene,

[D] To mete þat mon at þat mere, 3if I my3t last;

& of þat ilk nw3ere hot neked now wonte3,

& I wolde loke on þat lede, if God me let wolde,

1064 Gladloker, bi Godde3 sun, þen any god welde!

For-þi, I-wysse, bi 3owre wylle, wende me bi-houes,

[E] Naf I now to busy bot bare þre daye3,

& me als fayn to falle feye as fayly of myyn ernde."

1068 [F] Þenne la3ande quod þe lorde, "now leng þe by-houes,

For I schal teche yow to þa[t] terme bi þe tyme3 ende,

Þe grene chapayle vpon grounde, greue yow no more;

Bot 3e schal be in yowre bed, burne, at þyn ese,

1072 Quyle forth dayej, & ferk on pe fyrst of pe 3ere,

& cum to þat merk at mydmorn, to make quat yow like3 [Fol. 105b]

in spenne;

Dowelle3 whyle new 3eres daye,

1076 & rys, & rayke3 þenne,

[G] Mon schal yow sette in waye,

Hit is not two myle henne."

[Sidenote A: He desires to know what had driven Sir Gawayne from Arthur's

court before the end of the Christmas holidays.]

[Sidenote B: The knight replies that "a high errand and a hasty one" had

forced him to leave the court.]

[Sidenote C: He asks his host whether he has ever heard of the Green


[Sidenote D: for he has to be there on New Year's-day.]

[Sidenote E: He wonld as lief die as fail in his errand.]

[Sidenote F: The prince tells Sir Gawayne that he will teach him the way.]

[Sidenote G: The Green chapel is not more than two miles from the castle.]

[Footnote 1: derue (?).]

[Footnote 2: not (?).]


[A] Þenne wat3 Gawan ful glad, & gomenly he la3ed,--

1080 "Now I þonk yow þryuandely þur3 alle oþer þynge,

[B] Now acheued is my chaunce, I schal at your wylle

Dowelle, & elle3 do quat 3e demen."

Þenne sesed hym þe syre, & set hym bysyde,

1084 [C] Let þe ladie3 be fette, to lyke hem þe better;

Þer wat3 seme solace by hem-self stille;

Þe lorde let for luf lote3 so myry,

As wy3 þat wolde of his wyte, ne wyst quat he my3t.

1088 Þenne he carped to þe kny3t, criande loude,

[D] "3e han demed to do þe dede þat I bidde;

Wyl 3e halde þis hes here at þys one3?"

"3e sir, for-soþe," sayd þe segge trwe,

1092 "Whyl I byde in yowre bor3e, be bayn to 3ow[r]e hest."

"For 3e haf trauayled," quod þe tulk, "towen fro ferre,

& syþen waked me wyth, 3e arn not wel waryst,

[E] Nauþer of sostnaunce ne of slepe, soþly I knowe;

1096 3e schal lenge in your lofte, & ly3e in your ese,

[F] To morn quyle þe messe-quyle, & to mete wende,

When 3e wyl, wyth my wyf, þat wyth yow schal sitte,

& comfort yow with compayny, til I to cort torne,

1100 3e lende;

& I schal erly ryse,

On huntyng wyl I wende."

[G] Gauayn grante3 alle þyse,

1104 Hym heldande, as þe hende.

[Sidenote A: Then was Gawayne glad,]

[Sidenote B: and consents to tarry awhile at the castle.]

[Sidenote C: The ladies are brought in to solace him.]

[Sidenote D: The lord of the castle asks the knight to grant him one


[Sidenote E: That he will stay in his chamber during mass time,]

[Sidenote F: and then go to meat with his hostess.]

[Sidenote G: Gawayne accedes to his request.]


[A] "3et firre," quod þe freke, "a forwarde we make;

Quat-so-euer I wynne in þe wod, hit worþe3 to youre3,

[B] & quat chek so 3e acheue, chaunge me þer-forne;

1108 Swete, swap we so, sware with trawþe,

Queþer, leude, so lymp lere oþer better."

"Bi God," quod Gawayn þe gode, "I grant þer-tylle,

& þat yow lyst forto layke, lef hit me þynkes. [Fol. 106.]

1112 [C] "Who bringe3 vus þis beuerage, þis bargayn is maked:"

So sayde þe lorde of þat lede; þay la3ed vchone,

Þay dronken, & daylyeden, & dalten vnty3tel,[1]

Þise lorde3 & ladye3, quyle þat hem lyked;

1116 & syþen with frenkysch fare & fele fayre lote3

Þay stoden, & stemed, & stylly speken,

Kysten ful comlyly, & ka3ten her leue.

[D] With mony leude ful ly3t, & lemande torches,

1120 Vche burne to his bed wat3 bro3t at þe laste,

ful softe;

To bed 3et er þay 3ede,

Recorded couenaunte3 ofte;

1124 Þe olde lorde of þat leude,[2]

Cowþe wel halde layk a-lofte.

[Sidenote A: "Whatsoever," says the host, "I win in the wood shall be


[Sidenote B: and what check you achieve shall be mine."]

[Sidenote C: A bargain is made between them.]

[Sidenote D: Night approaches and each "to his bed was brought at the


[Footnote 1: vntyl ny3te (?).]

[Footnote 2: lede (?).]