Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Gawain 151 - 231, The strange appearance of the knight

And all graphed in green this guy and his clothes:
A straight coat full-streched, that streaked down his sides,
A merry mantle above, masked within
With fur furled apart, the facing full clean
Was full-bright blanche-white, and his hood both,
That was lashed from his locks and laid on his shoulders;
His well-haled hose of that same green,
that clung on his calves, and gleaming cleats under,
Of bright gold, upon silk bands barred full rich,
And shoeless under shanks rides the chevalier.
And all his vestiture truly was clean-viridian,
Both the bars of his belt and other blithe stones
That were richly arranged in his array clean,
About himself and his saddle, upon silk works.
It near tires me to tell of the trifles he had
That were embroidered about, with birds and butterflies,
With gay gaudies of green, the gold laid in-midst.
The pendants of his pony, the proud crupper,
Its mouth-bit, and all the metal annealed was, then
The stirrups that he stood in stained of the same,
And his pommel and panel, his knee-roll and skirts,
That ever glimmered and gleamed of all green stones.
The foal he flies in on fine of that ilk,
A green horse great and thick,
A steed full bold to boil,
In brawny bridle quick -
To the knight he was full loyal.

Well gay was this guy geared in green,
And the hair of his and head of his horse matched:
Fair fanned fur his shoulders enfolds;
As much beard as a bush over his breast hangs,
And his heavenly hair that from his head streams
Was trimmed and teased just under his elbows,
That half of his arms therunder were hidden, in the way
Of a kings cape that closes his features.
The mane of that Main horse much to it like,
Well curled and combed, with knots full many
Folded with gold about the fair green,
One hanging of hair, another of gold.
The tail and his topping twinned of a suite,
And bounded both with a band of bright green,
Dubbed with full-dear stones, as the dock lasted,
Then stopped with a strip, a strange knot below,
There many bells full bright of burning gold rang.
Such a foal upon field, and folk that so rides,
Was not till that time in that citadel seen,
with eyes.
His gaze so fiery-bright,
Said all that saw him so;
It seemed as no man might
Survive beneath his blow.

Yet he had no helm, nor hauberk neither,
Nor breastplate or guardbrace, no gauntlets or greaves,
Not no shaft nor no shield to swing or to smite,
But in his hand he had a holly branch,
That is greatest in green when groves are bare,
And an axe in his other, one huge and uncouth,
A wicked weapon to expound in words, who so might.
The length of a forearm the large head had,
The grain all of green steel and of gold hewn,
The bite burnished bright with a broad edge
as well shaped to shear as sharp razors.
The steel of a stiff staff the stern man by it gripped,
That was wounden with iron to the wands end,
And all begraven with green in gracious works;
A lace lapped about that linked at the head,
And so along the shaft hatched full oft,
With tried tassels thereto attached to it,
By buttons of the bright green burnished full rich.
This Heavy halls himself in and the hall enters,
Driving to the high deck, no danger fears;
Hails he never one, but heads he over-looks.
The first word that he works - "Where is," he said,
"The Governor of this gang? Gladly I would
See that sire in sight and with himself speak
To knights he cast his eye,
And reeled him up and down;
He stooped so to study
Who was there of most renown.


  1. How have you been doing these? Do you mostly look at existing translations and adjust the wording so it feels more natural to you? Do you mostly work off the original?

  2. I have a facing-side translation by W.R.J Barron with the original on one side and modern prose on the other. I also occasionally Google other translations and specific words.