Monday, 21 November 2016

Gawain 875 - 927, The speed of speech un-spurred*.



A chair before the chimney, where charcoal burned,
Was gathered for Sir Gawain, garlanded with cloth,
With coverings and cushions all skill-quilted both.
And an autumnal mantle was on that man cast,
Of a brown burnet, embroidered full rich,
And fair furred within with fantastic skins,
All of ermine his edging, his hood of the same.
He sat in that settee-supreme and stared at the fire
And calmed his chest, and his cheer mended.
Soon was tended up a table on trestles full fair,
Clad with a clean cloth that clear white showed,
Set up with salt-cellar and silver spoons.
The wanderer washed at his will, and went to his meat.
Servants him served seemly enough
With several starter-stews, seasoned of the best,
Double-filled, as it fell, and fathomless fish,
Some baked in bread, some braised on the grill,
Some seared, some in stew savored with spices,
And all sauce so synthesized as that Sire liked.
Arthurs fighter called it a feast full freely and oft
With grace, when all there gathered replied him as one
          and said:
"This penance now you take,
And after this we amend."
That man much mirth can make,
For wine round his head wound.




Then were pryings and pokings politely engaged,
Questions of that quester made, he quickly replied
And courteously named, claimed the court he was part of:
Arthurs, the autarch, of his known knights one,
That is the right royal king of the Round Table,
And it was Gawain himself that from winter had walked,
Come here at Christmas, as chance had arranged.
When the lord had learned that here a lord lay,
Loud laughed he thereat, so lucky he thought,
And all men in that mansion made much joy
To appear in his presence to priestly see one
That all prize and prowess and pure thought
Appends to his person, and praised is ever;
Of all men molded, his eminence most.
Each servant full softly said to their friend:
"Now shall we see the seemly words
And the tactful terms of noble talk;
What speed is in speech-unspurred may we learn
Since we have found that fine father of verbs.
God has given us his grace in goodly truth,
That such a guest as Gawain he grants us to have,
When bands blithe at His birth shall sit
          and sing.
The meaning of matters dear
This brother shall us bring;
I hope any that him hear
Shall learn of love-talking."

*Possibly not a perfectly accurate translation.

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