Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
(Selections)

Edited by Jack Lynch

Note on the text: TK.


3

Þis kyng lay at Camylot vpon Krystmasse
With mony luflych lorde, ledez of þe best,
Rekenly of þe Rounde Table alle þo rich breþer,
With rych reuel oryȝt & rechles merþes. [40]
Þer tournayed tulkes by tymez ful mony,
Justed ful jolilé þise gentyle kniȝtes,
Syþen kayred to þe court caroles to make.
For þer þe fest watz ilyche ful fiften dayes,
With alle þe mete & þe mirþe þat men couþe avyse; [45]
Such glaum ande gle glorious to here,
Dere dyn vpon day, daunsyng on nyȝtes,
Al watz hap vpon heȝe in hallez & chambrez
With lordez & ladies, as leuest him þoȝt.
With all þe wele of þe worlde þay woned þer samen, [50]
Þe most kyd knyȝtez vnder Krystes seluen,
& þe louelokkest ladies þat euer lif haden,
& he þe comlokest kyng þat þe court haldes;
For al watz þis fayre folk in her first age,
        on sille, [55]
    Þe hapnest vnder heuen,
    Kyng hyȝest mon of wylle;
    Hit were now gret nye to neuen
    So hardy a here on hille.

[During the Christmas revelry at Camelot, a stranger arrives.]

7

Now wyl I of hor seruise say yow no more,
For vch wyȝe may wel wit no wont þat þer were.
An oþer noyse ful newe neȝed biliue,
Þat þe lude myȝt haf leue liflode to cach;
For vneþe watz þe noyce not a whyle sesed,
& þe fyrst cource in þe court kyndely serued,
Þer hales in at þe halle dor an aghlich mayster,
On þe most on þe molde on mesure hyghe;
Fro þe swyre to þe swange so sware & so þik,
& his lyndes & his lymes so longe & so grete,
Half etayn in erde I hope þat he were,
Bot mon most I algate mynn hym to bene,
& þat þe myriest in his muckel þat myȝt ride;
For of bak & of brest al were his bodi sturne,
Both his wombe & his wast were worthily smale,
& alle his fetures folȝande, in forme þat he hade,
        ful clene;
    For wonder of his hwe men hade,
    Set in his semblaunt sene;
    He ferde as freke were fade,
    & oueral enker-grene.

8

Ande al grayþed in grene þis gome & his wedes:
A strayte cote ful streȝt, þat stek on his sides,
A meré mantile abof, mensked withinne
With pelure pured apert, þe pane ful clene
With blyþe blaunner ful bryȝt, & his hod boþe,
Þat watz laȝt fro his lokkez & layde on his schulderes;
Heme wel-haled hose of þat same,
Þat spenet on his sparlyr, & clene spures vnder
Of bryȝt golde, vpon silk bordes barred ful ryche,
& scholes vnder schankes þere þe schalk rides;
& alle his vesture uerayly watz clene verdure,
Boþe þe barres of his belt & oþer blyþe stones,
Þat were richely rayled in his aray clene
Aboutte hymself & his sadel, vpon silk werkez.
Þat were to tor for to telle of tryfles þe halue
Þat were enbrauded abof, wyth bryddes & flyȝes,
With gay gaudi of grene, þe golde ay inmyddes.
Þe pendauntes of his payttrure, þe proude cropure,
His molaynes, & alle þe metail anamayld was þenne,
Þe steropes þat he stod on stayned of þe same,
& his arsounz al after & his aþel skyrtes,
Þat euer glemered & glent al of grene stones;
Þe fole þat he ferkkes on fyn of þat ilke,
        sertayn,
    A grene hors gret & þikke,
    A stede ful stif to strayne,
    In brawden brydel quik
To þe gome he watz ful gayn.

9

Wel gay watz þis gome gered in grene,
& þe here of his hed of his hors swete.
Fayre fannand fax vmbefoldes his schulderes;
A much berd as a busk ouer his brest henges,
Þat wyth his hiȝlich here þat of his hed reches
Watz euesed al vmbetorne abof his elbowes,
Þat half his armes þer-vnder were halched in þe wyse
Of a kyngez capados þat closes his swyre;
Þe mane of þat mayn hors much to hit lyke,
Wel cresped & cemmed, wyth knottes ful mony
Folden in wyth fildore aboute þe fayre grene,
Ay a herle of þe here, an oþer of golde;
Þe tayl & his toppyng twynnen of a sute,
& bounden boþe wyth a bande of a bryȝt grene,
Dubbed wyth ful dere stonez, as þe dok lasteda,
Syþen þrawen wyth a þwong a þwarle knot alofte,
Þer mony bellez ful bryȝt of brende golde rungen.
Such a fole vpon folde, ne freke þat hym rydes,
Watz neuer sene in þat sale wyth syȝt er þat tyme,
        with yȝe.
    He loked as layt so lyȝt,
    So sayd al þat hym syȝe;
    Hit semed as no mon myȝt
    Vnder his dynttez dryȝe.

[???]

13

“Nay, frayst I no fyȝt, in fayth I þe telle,
Hit arn aboute on þis bench bot berdlez chylder.
If I were hasped in armes on a heȝe stede,
Here is no mon me to mach, for myȝtez so wayke.
Forþy I craue in þis court a Crystemas gomen,
For hit is ȝol & Nwe ȝer, & here ar ȝep mony:
If any so hardy in þis hous holdez hymseluen,
Be so bolde in his blod, brayn in hys hede,
Þat dar stifly strike a strok for an oþer,
I schal gif hym of my gyft þys giserne ryche,
Þis ax, þat is heué innogh, to hondele as hym lykes,
& I schal bide þe fyrst bur as bare as I sitte.
If any freke be so felle to fonde þat I telle,
Lepe lyȝtly me to, & lach þis weppen,
I quitclayme hit for euer, kepe hit as his auen,
& I schal stonde hym a strok, stif on þis flet,
Ellez þou wyl diȝt me þe dom to dele hym an oþer
        barlay,
    & ȝet gif hym respite,
    A twelmonyth & a day;
    Now hyȝe, & let se tite
    Dar any herinne oȝt say.”

[Sir Gawain agrees to take up the offer.]

19

Þe grene knyȝt vpon grounde grayþely hym dresses,
A littel lut with þe hede, þe lere he discouerez,
His longe louelych lokkez he layd ouer his croun,
Let þe naked nec to þe note schewe.
Gauan gripped to his ax, & gederes hit on hyȝt,
Þe kay fot on þe folde he before sette,
Let him doun lyȝtly lyȝt on þe naked,
Þat þe scharp of þe schalk schyndered þe bones,
& schrank þurȝ þe schyire grece, & schade hit in twynne,
Þat þe bit of þe broun stel bot on þe grounde.
Þe fayre hede fro þe halce hit to þe erþe,
Þat fele hit foyned wyth her fete, þere hit forth roled;
Þe blod brayd fro þe body, þat blykked on þe grene;
& nawþer faltered ne fel þe freke neuer þe helder,
Bot styþly he start forth vpon styf schonkes,
& runyschly he raȝt out, þere as renkkez stoden,
Laȝt to his lufly hed, & lyft hit vp sone;
& syþen boȝez to his blonk, þe brydel he cachchez,
Steppez into stelbawe & strydez alofte,
& his hede by þe here in his honde haldez;
& as sadly þe segge hym in his sadel sette
As non vnhap had hym ayled, þaȝ hedlez he were
        in stedde.
    He brayde his bulk aboute,
    Þat vgly bodi þat bledde;
    Moni on of hym had doute,
    Bi þat his resounz were redde.