Sir Gawain and the Green Knight V in Middle English

Nay frayst I no fy3t in fayth I þe telle
hit arn aboute on þis bench bot berdle3 chylder
if I were hasped in armes on a he3e stede
here is no mon me to mach for my3te3 fo wayke
forþy I craue in þis court a crystemas gomen
for hit is 3ol and nwe 3er and here ar 3ep mony
if any so hardy in þis hous holdez hymseluen
be so bolde in his blod brayn in hys hede
þat dar stifly strike a strok for an oþer
I schal gif hym of my gyft þys giserne ryche
þis ax þat is heue innogh to hondele as hym lykes
and I schal bide þe fyrst bur as bare as I sitte
if any freke be so felle to fonde þat I telle
lepe ly3tly me to and lach þis weppen
I quit clayme hit for euer kepe hit as his auen
and I schal stonde hym a strok stif on þis flet
elle3 þou wyl di3t me þe dom to dele hym an oþer


    and 3et gif hym respite
    a twelmonyth and a day
    now hy3e and let se tite
    dar any herinne o3t say

If he hem stowned vpon fyrst stiller were þanne
alle þe heredmen in halle þe hy3 and þe lo3e
þe renk on his rounce hym ruched in his sadel
and runischly his rede y3en he reled aboute
bende his bresed bro3ez blycande grene
wayued his berde for to wayte quo so wolde ryse
when non wolde kepe hym with carp he co3ed ful hy3e
ande rimed hym ful richly and ry3t hym to speke
what is þis arthures hous quoþ þe haþel þenne
þat al þe rous rennes of þur3 ryalmes so mony
where is now your sourquydrye and your conquestes
your gry dellayk and your greme and your grete wordes
now is þe reuel and þe renoun of þe rounde table
ouerwalt wyth a worde of on wy3es speche
for al dares for drede withoute dynt schewed
wyth þis he la3es so loude þat þe lorde greued
þe blod schot for scham into his schyre face

    and lere

    he wex as wroth as wynde
    so did alle þat þer were
    þe kyng as kene bi kynde
    þen stod þat stif mon nere

Ande sayde haþel by heuen þyn askyng is nys
and as þou foly hatz frayst fynde þe behoues
I know no gome þat is gast of þy grete wordes
gif me now þy geserne vpon godez halue
and I schal bayþen þy bone þat þou boden habbes
ly3tly lepez he hym to and la3t at his honde
þen feersly þat oþer freke vpon fote ly3tis
now hatz arthure his axe and þe halme grypez
and sturnely sturez hit aboute þat stryke wyth hit þo3t
þe stif mon hym bifore stod vpon hy3t
herre þen ani in þe hous by þe hede and more
wyth sturne schere þer he stod he stroked his berde
and wyth a countenaunce dry3e he dro3 doun his cote
no more mate ne dismayd for hyns mayn dintez
þen any burne vpon bench hade bro3t hym to drynk

    of wyne

    Gawan þat sate bi þe quene
    to þe kyng he can enclyne
    I beseche now with sa3ez sene
    þis melly mot be myne

Back to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight IV On to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight VI
mauler's (non-verse) translation:

I fear no fight, in good faith I declare.
All about on these benches are but beardless children.
If I were hasped in armor on a sturdy steed,
There is no man here that can match me for they lack the strength.
Therefore I request from this court a Christmas contest,
For it is Yule and New Years and many youths are here:
If any in this house holds himself hardy,
Is so bold in his blood and the brain in his head,
As to dare strongly to strike one stroke for another,
I shall give him as my gift, this splendid guisarme
An axe so perfectly balanced that he can hold it with two hands or with one—
And I shall even bear the first blow, unarmored as I am.
If any fellow be so fearless as to do what I ask,
Let him leap forward quickly and take up this weapon—
I quitclaim it forever, he may keep it as his own—
And I shall stand still for his stroke on this floor,
As long as you will allow me to give him another

I will even give him a respite
Of twelve months and a day.
Now come, let’s see right away,
What anyone herein dares say.”

If he had stunned them at first, even more stunned were they now,
All the host in that hall, both the high and the low.
The knight on his horse now, ensconced in his saddle,
Rudely reeled his red eyes round the room
From beneath his bristled brows so green,
Shook his beard and waited to see who would rise.
When none would stall him with speech, he coughed very loudly,
Raised up regally and prepared to speak:
“What? Is this Arthur’s house,” quoth the knight then,
“Whose fame flows forth through so many realms?
Where now is your chivalry and your conquests,
Your bluster and your banter and your boastful words?
Now is the revel and renown of the Round Table,
Overwhelmed by the words that a single man speaks?
For all cower with fear before a single blow has been landed!”
With this he laughed so loudly that their lord was aggrieved,
And the blood rushed, from the shame, to his handsome face

and cheeks.
He waxed as wroth as wind,
And so did everyone else,
The king, who was naturally bold,
Approached very near to the man,

And said, “Sir Knight, by heaven, what you ask is madness,
And what you foolishly have sought, to find it you deserve.
I know no man who is afraid of your blustering words.
Give me now your guisarme, and I swear to God,
I shall give you the gift you have asked.”
He quickly leapt forward and grabbed the axe,
And fearsomely the other man dismounted to face him.
Now Arthur had the axe and gripped the haft,
And grimly waved it about, while planning his strike.
The other man stood tall and still before him,
Higher than any in that house by a head or more.
With a fierce stare he stood there and stroked his beard,
And with a calm countenance, he unclasped his cloak,
No more moved or dismayed by Arthur’s mighty strokes,
Than had any man there left his bench to served him

some wine.
Gawain, who sat by the Queen,
Toward the king inclined,
“I beseech now with simple words:
Let this fight be mine!”

Back to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight IV | On to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight VI

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.