Thursday, 3 November 2016

Gawain 232 - 300, Arthurs reply


(If I keep going on at the same speed I should finish on Christmas Day, which is too pleasing for me not to do it, so get ready for two months of straight translation.)

Herbert Cole (1867-1930) - The Green Knight Entered the Hall



There was looking at length, this lord to behold,
For each man had marveled what it might mean
That chevalier and courser might such colour turn
As grown green as the grass and greener it seemed,
Then green enamel on bright glowing gold.
All studied him standing there, and slowly stepped near
With all the wonder of the world as to what he would do.
For fell sights had they seen, but none such as this;
Of the phantoms and faeries the folk there it deemed.
Therefore answer-wary were many fine lords,
And all stunned at his statement and stock-still stood
In a swooning silence through the rich citadel.
As all were slipped into sleep, so stopped their tongues
in truth -
I deem it not all for doubt,
But some for courtesy;
Not their kings rank to flout
But to hear his decree.


Then Arthur before his high dais that adventure beholds,
And royally him reverenced (for he was never terrified),
And said, "Welcome, wanderer to this place,
The head of this host, Arthurs name I claim.
Step lightly a-down and stay, I thee pray,
and whatever your will is, we shall after learn."
"Nay, so help me" quoth the horseman, "he that on-high-sits,
To waste any while in this realm, it was not my intent.
But that the legend of thee, lord, is lift up so high,
And thy fort and thy fighters fearsome are held,
Stiffest under steel-gear on steeds to ride,
The wisest and the worthiest of of the worlds kind,
Proved for to play with in other pure sports,
And here is kind courtesy as I have constantly heard -
And that has brought me hither at this bitter time.
So may you see by this branch I bear here
That I pass in peace, and no plight seek.
For I had come forth in force, in fighting wise,
I had a hauberk at home and a helm both,
A shield and a sharp spear, shining bright,
And other weapons to wield, a wardrobe full, yet:
But for I would not war, I wrap myself soft.
And if you are so bold as all the bravos tell,
You will grant me goodly the game that I ask
by right."
Arthur matched his stare,
And said, "Sir, courteous knight,
If you crave battle bare,
Here fails you no fight."


"No, I don't feel like fighting, in faith I thee tell.
There are on this bench about but beardless children;
If I were hasped in arms on a high steed,
Here is no man to match me, their muscles so weak.
Truly I crave in this court, a Christmas game,
It is yule-tide and New year, and here are fresh youths.
If any so hard in this house holds himself,
Be so bold in his blood, brain in his head,
That dares stiffly strike a stroke for another,
I shall give him as my gift this guisarme rich,
This axe, that is high enough, to handle as he likes,
And I shall bide the first blow as bare as I sit.
If any motherfucker is fell enough to test me,
Leap lightly to me, and learn this weapon;
I quit-claim it for ever, keep it as his own,
And I shall stand him a stroke, stiff on this spot,
If thou will deem me decent to deal him another
when-claimed;
I shall give him respite
A twelvemonth and a day.
Now quiet, let us see what
Any herein dare to say."

1 comment:

  1. Most excellent! I did a spit-take on my coffee near the end, but it is a good translation.

    ReplyDelete

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