from SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHTfrom SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT
Anon.tr. Tim Chilcott (from Middle English)
I

Sithen the sege and the assaut watz sesed at Troye,
The borgh brittened and brent to brondez and askez,
The tulk that the trammes of tresoun ther wroght
Watz tried for his tricherie, the trewest on erthe.
Hit watz Ennias the athel and his highe kynde
That sithen depreced provinces, and patrounes bicome
Welneghe of al the wele in the west iles.
Fro riche Romulus to Rome ricchis hym swythe,
With gret bobbaunce that burghe he biges upon fyrst,
And nevenes hit his aune nome, as hit now hat;
Tirius to Tuskan and teldes bigynnes,
Langaberde in Lumbardie lyftes up homes,
And fer over the French flod Felix Brutus
On mony bonkkes ful brode Bretayn he settez
with wynne;
Where werre and wrake and wonder
Bi sythez hatz wont therinne,
And oft both blysse and blunder
Ful skete hatz skyfted synne.

Ande quen this Bretayn watz bigged bi this burn rych,
Bolde bredden therinne, baret that lofden,
In mony turned tyme tene that wroghten.
Mo ferlyes on this folde han fallen here oft
Then in any other that I wot, syn that ilk tyme.
Bot of alle that here bult, of Bretaygne kynges,
Ay watz Arthur the hedest, as I haf herde telle.
Forthi an aunter in erde I attle to schawe,
That a selly in syght summe men hit holden,
And an outtrage awenture of Arthurez wonderez.
If ye wyl lysten this laye bot on little quile
I schal telle hit as-tit, as I in toun herde,
with tonge,
As hit is stad and stoken
In stori stif and stronge,
With lel letteres loken,
In londe so hatz ben longe.

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I

After the siege and assault were ended at Troy,
The city laid waste and burned down to ash,
The man who had plotted the treacherous scheme
Was tried for his treason, the plainest on earth.
It was princely Aeneas and his noble kin
Who then conquered kingdoms, and came to be lords
Of well nigh all riches in the lands of the west.
Noble Romulus goes towards Rome with all speed,
Where he builds a new city with great pomp and pride
And gives it his own name, a name it still has.
In Tuscany, Tirius sets up new houses,
In Lombardy, Langobard establishes homes,
And far across the French sea Felix Brutus
On many broad hillsides settles Britain
in joy.
There war and grief and miracle
Have visited in turns,
And often joy and turmoil
Have alternated since.

When Britain had been founded by this prince of men,
Bold men were bred there, who loved to do battle,
Who caused strife and trouble in many times past.
More wondrous things have happened in this land
Than any that I know of, since that time.
But of all who lived there, of the British kings,
Arthur was noblest, as I have heard tell.
And so an actual adventure I want to relate
That some men have thought a miraculous thing
And the strangest of happenings in tales about him.
If you'll listen to this story just a short while,
I'll tell it at once, as I heard it told
in court.
As it's been written down
In story brave and strong,
With letters linking fittingly,
That has survived through time.

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Click here 2 for another translation of this poem.

To read the whole translation click http://www.tclt.org.uk

Transl. copyright © Tim Chilcott 2003


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