Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Gawain 928 - 969, One hot, one not.



When the dinner was done and the dukes full,
Time nosed at the night like a carnivore snout,
Chaplains to the chapel chose the bell,
Rung them full richly, right as they should,
For the dreaming evensong of that high time.
The lord leaves his table, the lady as well;
To a private pew she prudently goes.
Gawain glides full gay and goes the same way;
The lord latches him by the lap and leads him to sit,
And kindly he knows him and calls him by name,
And said he was the welcomest one of the world;
And he him thanked heartily, and each held the other,
And sat soberly the same the service while.
Then likes the lady to look on her knight,
She comes out from her closet with many clear girls.
She was the fairest in form, of flesh and of eye,
And of carriage and colour and cast, above all
And gleamed brighter than Guenevere, as Gawain thought.
She crosses the chancel to converse with that knight;
Another lady lead her by the left hand,
That was older than her, an ancient it seemed,
And highly honoured in the hall about.
But unlike to look on the two ladies were,
for if the first was fresh, the next was freeze-dried;
Rich red on that ripe one, her ruffled clothes,
Rough rankled cheeks on other one rolled;
Kerchiefs on that one, with many clear pearls,
Her breast and her bright throat bare displayed,
Shone more spotless than snow freshly shed on the hills;
That other with a gorger was geared over her, which
Climbed over her grim chin with chalk-white veils,
Her front folded in silk, en-doubled everywhere,
Turreted and trelated with trifles about,
That naught was bare of that bag but the black brows,
Between eyes and nose, the naked lips,
And those were sour to see and sadly bleared;
An eminent lady on earth we easily claim,
          by God!
Her body was short and thick,
Her buttocks bulged and broad;
More lovely on to look
Was that one she lead forward.

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