Sunday, 6 November 2016

Gawain 366 - 389, Gawain requests the game.

(I am translating the old-english poem 'Gawain and the Green Knight. The poem itself runs from one Yuletide, through the other, ending twelve months and a day after it began  so I am doing one or two stanzas every day, ending on Christmas day.)

"Would you, worthy lord," said Gawain to the king,
"Bid me break from this bench and stand by you there,
That I without villainy might void this table,
(And if my liege lady liked it not ill,)
I would come to your counsel before your court rich.
For I think it not seemly, as it is so known,
When such challenge is chanted so high in your hall,
That the king, that is: you lord, commands his own hand,
While many so bold sit on benches about,
That under heaven, I hope, are none harder of will,
No better bodies in battle when bad shit goes down,
I am weakest, I know it, and of feeblest wit,
And the loss of my life means the least, it is true.
But for as much as you're my uncle I am only so-praised;
No bounty but your blood I in my body know.
This is such noodling nonsense, beneath you it falls,
And since I asked it of you first, field it to me;
And if I speak not sweetly, let all here assembled
pour blame."
The knights gathered round,
And quickly all chose the same
To deny the king and crown,
And give Gawain the game.


Then commanded the king the knight for to rise;
And gently and knightly he nobly came forth.
Kneeled down before the king and caught that weapon.
Who lightly gave leave of it, then lifted his hand,
And gave him Gods blessing, and gladly him bids
That his heart and his hand should hardy be both.
"Take care, cousin," quoth the king, "that you one cut set,
And if you deal with him duly, directly I think
You will survive that strike he after shall give."
Gawain goes up to this guy with guisarme in hand,
And baldly bides by him with blithe-featured face.
Then talks to Gawain the knight in the green:
"Before we move forwards, before the first pass.
First I beg you, knight, the name that you have,
Tell me that truly, as trust you I may."
"In good faith," quoth the good knight, "Gawain I am named,
That swings this strike, what-so befalls after,
And at this time twelvemonth take from thee another
With what weapon you so wish, and with no-one else
alive."
That knight swears on his knees:
"Sir Gawain, as I live
I am perfectly pleased
This gash you will give.

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