Anonymous Fourteenth-Century Poet
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Anonymous Fourteenth-Century Poet 21  Anonymous Fourteenth-Century Poet From Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Part IV: The Meeting Now as the New Year was drawing nigh, and the night before it passed, Daylight was driving the dark away, as the Lord above commands. But a wild weather was working up in the world outside their doors: The clouds emptied their cold contents keenly down on the earth, With cruelty enough from the north to torment the naked flesh. The snow fell snittering sharply, nipping the wild creatures; The whistling wind whipped down upon them shrilly from the heights, And filled the hollows of every dale up full with heavy drifts. The knight was listening closely to this as he lay awake in his bed, And though he locked his eyelids shut, he got very little sleep: From each cock crow throughout the night he could tell what hour it was. Hurriedly he got out of bed before the break of day, For there was light enough from a lamp that was glowing in his room. He called out to his chamberlain, who promptly answered him; He bade him bring his chain-mail shirt, and saddle up his horse. The man obediently got up, and fetched the garments for him, And began to get Sir Gawain dressed, in most resplendent style. First he put on his warmest clothes, which would ward off the cold, And next he brought the armor out that had been carefully stored: Both the belly piece and all the plate polished bright and clean, The rust on the rings of his costly chain-mail shirt had been rubbed off, And all gleamed fresh as when first forged, for which he was keen to thank Them all. When he had donned each piece— All had been polished well; Unmatched from here to Greece, He said, “Bring my steed from his stall.” 22 Middle English While the noble knight was being arrayed in his most handsome clothes— The surcoat draping over his armor adorned with the pentangle badge Stitched onto velvet, framed around with precious, potent stones Inlaid along the embroidered seams, setting it off so well; And on the inside the coat was beautifully lined with the finest fur— Yet he did not leave the lace behind that had been the lady’s gift; That present Gawain did not forget, for the good of his own self. After he had belted the sword above his powerful hips, He wrapped the love-token carefully two times around his waist; Quickly that knight, and delightedly, wound it about his middle. The girdle woven of green silk well suited that splendid man, Against the royal red of the cloth, which looked so rich in itself. But he wasn’t putting this girdle on because of its costliness, Nor out of pride in its shiny pendants, however polished they were, Nor even for the glittering gold that glinted upon the fringe, But in order that he might save his life when he was obliged to submit, To face, without dispute, what he would take from the sword’s or knife’s Sharp stroke. Once the brave man was set, He hurried out and spoke His thanks to all he met, To all the noble folk. Then Gringolet was made ready to ride, that was an enormous horse That had been stabled comfortably and in a secure fashion: That proud horse, due to his fit condition, wanted to gallop now. The knight walked out to where he stood, and gazed on his glistening coat, And soberly he said to himself, swearing it on his oath, “Here inside this moat is a company setting their minds on honor: May joy come to the lord who maintains and manages them all; And as for the delightful lady, may she have love in her life! If out of charity they can receive and cherish a guest so kindly, And offer such hospitality, may the Good Lord reward them Who holds the heavens up on high—and also all of you! Anonymous Fourteenth-Century Poet 23  And if I should stay alive on earth, for any length of time, I would quickly pay you some recompense, if I were able to.” Then the knight stepped into the stirrup, and swung astride the horse; His servant offered him his shield, which he settled on his shoulder, And he dug his spurs into Gringolet, kicking his gilded heels, And the horse started forward over the stones, no...