Sidor som bilder


"What though her chin stand all awrye,

And shee be foule to see;

I'll marry her, unkle, for thy sake,

And I'll thy ransome bee.'

"Nowe thankes, nowe thankes, good Sir Gawàine, And a blessing thee betyde!

To-morrow wee'll have knights and squires,

And wee'll goe fetch thy bride.

"And wee'll have hawkes and wee'll have houndes

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Sir Lancelot, Sir Stephen bolde,
They rode with them that daye;
And foremoste of the companye
There rode the stewarde Kaye:

Soe did Sir Banier and Sir Bore,
And eke Sir Garratte keene;

Sir Tristram too, that gentle knight,
To the forest freshe and greene.

And when they came to the greene forrèst,

Beneathe a faire holley tree,

There sate that ladye in red scarlètte,

That unseemelye was to see.


Sir Kay beheld that lady's face,
And looked upon her sweere;

"Whoever kisses that ladye," he sayes, "Of his kisse he stands in feare."


Sir Kay beheld that ladye againe,
And looked upon her snout;
"Whoever kisses that ladye," he sayes,
"Of his kisse he stands in doubt."

"Peace, brother Kay," sayde Sir Gawàine, "And amend thee of thy life:


For there is a knight amongst us all

Must marry her to his wife."

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"What, marry this foule queane ? " quoth Kay,

"I' the devil's name anone;


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For cities, nor for townes.

Then bespake him King Arthùre,
And sware there "by this daye,

For a little foule sighte and mislikinge,

Yee shall not say her naye."



'Peace, lordings, peace," Sir Gawaine sayd,

"Nor make debate and strife;

This lothlye ladye I will take,

And marry her to my wife."

"Nowe thankes, nowe thankes, good Sir Gawàine,


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And all were done awaye :

"Come turne to mee, mine owne wed-lord, Come turne to mee, I praye."


Sir Gawaine scant could lift his head,

For sorrowe and for care;

When lo! instead of that lothelye dame,
Hee sawe a young ladye faire.


Sweet blushes stayn'd her rud-red cheeke,
Her eyen were blacke as sloe :

The ripening cherrye swellde her lippe,

And all her necke was snowe.

Sir Gawaine kiss'd that lady faire,

Lying upon the sheete,

And swore, as he was a true knighte,
The spice was never so sweete.

Sir Gawaine kiss'd that lady brighte,
Lying there by his side:



"The fairest flower is not soe faire : Thou never canst bee my bride."

I am thy bride, mine owne deare lorde;
The same whiche thou didst knowe,

That was soe lothlye, and was wont


Upon the wild more to goe.

"Nowe, gentle Gawaine, chuse," quoth shee, "And make thy choice with care;

Whether by night, or else by daye,

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"What! when gaye ladyes goe with their lordles


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"Shee witch'd mee, being a faire

yonge maide,

In the greene forèst to dwelle,

And there to abide in lothlye shape,

Most like a fiend of helle;

"Midst mores and mosses, woods and wilds,
To lead a lonesome life,


Till some yong, faire and courtlye knighte

Wolde marrye me to his wife:

"Nor fully to gaine mine owne trewe shape,
Such was her devilish skille,


Until he wolde yielde to be rul'd by mee,

And let mee have all

my wille.

"She witchd my brother to a carlish boore,
And made him stiffe and stronge;

And built him a bowre on magic ke grounde,
To live by rapine and wronge.


'But now the spelle is broken throughe,

And wronge is turnde to righte;

Henceforth I shall bee a faire ladyè,
And hee be a gentle knighte."



King Ryence's Challenge.

This song is more modern than many of those which follow it, but is placed here for the sake of the subject. It was sung before Queen Elizabeth at the grand entertainment at Kenilworth Castle in 1575, and was probably composed for that occasion. In a letter describing those festivities it is thus mentioned "A Minstral came forth with a sollem song, warranted for story out of K. Arthur's acts, whereof I gat a copy and is this:

"So it fell out on a Pentecost,'" &c.

After the song the narrative proceeds: "At this the Minstrell made a pause and a curtezy for Primus Passus. More of the song is thear, but I gatt it not."

The story in Morte Arthur whence it is taken runs as follows: "Came

a messenger hastely from king Ryence of North Wales,-saying, that king Ryence had discomfited and overcomen eleaven kings, and everiche of them did him homage, and that was this: they gave him their beards cleane flayne off,-wherefore the messenger came for king Arthur's beard, for king Ryence had purfeled a mantell with kings beards, and there lacked for one a place of the mantell, wherefore he sent for his beard, or else he would enter into his lands, and brenn and slay, and never leave till he have thy head and thy beard. Well, said king Arthur, thou hast said thy message, which is the most villainous and lewdest message that ever man heard sent to a king. Also thou mayest see my beard is full young yet for to make a purfell of, but tell thou the king that—or it be long he shall do to me homage on both his knees, or else he shall leese his head." [B. i. c. 24. See also the same Romance, b. i. c. 92.]

The thought seems to be originally taken from Jeff. Monmouth's Hist. b. x. c. 3, which is alluded to by Drayton in his Poly-Olb., Song iv. and by Spenser in Faer. Queene, vi. 1, 13, 15.-See Warton's Observations on Spenser, vol. ii. page 223.

The following text is composed of the best readings selected from three different copies. The first in Enderbie's Cambria Triumphans, p. 197. The second in the Letter above mentioned. And the third inserted in MS. in a copy of Morte Arthur, 1632, in the Bodl. library.

Stow tells us that king Arthur kept his round table at "diverse places, but especially at Carlion, Winchester, and Camalet in Somersetshire." This Camalet, "sometimes a famous towne or castle, is situate on a very high tor or hill," &c. [See an exact description in Stow's Annals, ed. 1631, p. 55.]

As it fell out on a Pentecost day,

King Arthur at Camelot kept his court royall,

With his faire queene dame Guenever the gay,
And many bold barons sitting in hall,

With ladies attired in purple and pall,

And heraults in hewkes, hooting on high,

Cryed, Largesse, Largesse, Chevaliers tres-hardie.1


A doughty dwarfe to the uppermost deas
Right pertlye gan pricke, kneeling on knee;

With steven fulle stoute amids all the preas,


Say'd, “Nowe Sir King Arthur, God save thee and see!

Sir Ryence of North-Gales greeteth well thee,
And bids thee thy beard anon to him send,

Or else from thy jaws he will it off rend.

1 Largesse, Largesse. The heralds resounded these words as oft as they received the bounty of the knights. See Mémoires de la Chevalerie, tom. i. p. 99. The expression is still used in the form of installing knights of the garter.

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