While young Mister Year was so fresh he was sweet,
That day double on the decks were the diners served.
For the king was come with knights into the hall,
The chant of the chapel chimed to an end,
Loud cry was there caused by clerks and the rest,
'Noel' named anew, enobled full ofte.
So then, gifts ran forth richly from that right house,
Said "years-gifts!" on high, gamed gifts for kisses.
Debated busily about those gifts,
Ladies laughed full-loud, though they had lost,
And he that won was not wroth, that may you well know.
All this mirth they made till the meat-time.
When they had washed worthily, they went to their seats
The best bourne over others, as it best seemed.
When Guenevere, full gay, glowed in the midst
Dressed on the bare dias, dubbed all about,
Small sandals besides, a selure her over,
Of tried Tolouse, and the tapestries of Tars,
That were embroidered and beset with the best gems,
That might be proved of price with pennies to buy
The comliest to descry
She gleamed with eyes grey,
A sweeter, that ever he sees,
So must no man say.
But Arthur would not eat till all were served,
He was so jolly of his joys, and somewhat childish:
He likes his life light, he loves the least
Either to long lie or to long sit,
So busied him with his young blood and his brain wild.
And also another manner moved him, one
That he thought noble to name; he would not eat
Upon such a dear day 'ere him devised were
Of some adventurous thing an uncouth tale,
Or some main marvel, that he might think True,
Of aldermen, or arms, or other adventures,
Or that some sire him bequested, or some likely knights
To join with him in jousting, in jeopardy to lay,
Lightly, life for life, each upon other,
As fortune would favor the fairer to have.
This was the kings countenance when he in court was,
At each fair and feast among his free many
Therefore of face so fierce,
He stands stiff in stall,
Full sapped in that new year,
Much mirth he has with all.
Thus there stands in stall the stiff king himself,
Talking before the high table of trifles full-piled.
There good Gawain was gathered, Guenevere beside,
And Agravain of the Hard Hand on that other side sits,
Both the kings sister-sons and full super-knights;
Bishop Bawdewyn above biggens the table,
And Ywain, Uriens son, eats there beside him.
They were dressed on the dais and worthily served.
And with them many sweet squires at the sideboards.
Then the first course came with cracking of trumpets,
With many banner full bright that therby hanged;
Now Nakryn noise with the noble pipes,
Wild warbles and winds wake the echoes,
That many heart full-high-held at their tunes.
Platters paraded in of the dear meats,
Finest of the fresh, and on so many dishes
That piled, that to find a place the people bent
For to set the servers, yet no spaces held
Each ladled as he loved himself
They laughed without lothe;
Every two had dishes twelve,
Good beer and bright wine both.
Now will I of their service say you no more,
For those wise will work out that no want there was.
Another noise full-new announced and blew,
That the lord might have leave lastly to feast.
But scarce was the noise not a while ceased,
And the first course in court kindly served,
There hales in at the hall door one awesome motherfucker,
So big, they broke the mold, his measure high;
From his sight to his seat so square and so thick,
And his loins and limbs so long and so great,
Half-Eoten in earth I think that he was,
But more, I must admit him to be,
Maybe the handsomest and hottest to sit on a horse.
For of back and of breast was his body built-up,
Yet his womb and his waist were worthily small,
And all his features fine-graven in form that he had
For wonder of his hue men had,
Set in his semblance serene;
He fierce as a freak stood forth,
And over-all brightest green.