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

This hanselle hatz Arthur of aventurus on fyrst
In yonge yer, for he yerned yelpyng to here.
Thagh hym wordez were wane when thay to sete wenten,
Now ar thay stoken of sturne werk, stafful her hond.
Gawan watz glad to begynne those gomnez in halle,
Bot thagh the ende be hevy haf ye no wonder;
For thagh men ben mery quen thay han mayn drynk,
A yere yernes ful yerne, and yeldez never lyke,
The forme to the fynisment foldez ful selden.
Forthi this Yol overyede, and the yere after,
And uche sesoun serlepes sued after other:
After Crystenmasse com the crabbed lentoun
That fraystez flesch wyth the fysche and fode more symple;
Bot thenne the weder of the worlde wyth wynter hit threpez,
Colde clengez adoun, cloudez upliften,
Schyre schedez the rayn in schowrez ful warme,
Fallez upon fayre flat, flowrez there schewen,
Bothe groundez and the grevez grene ar her wendez,
Bryddez busken to bylde, and bremlych syngen
For solace of the softe somer that sues therafter
bi bonk;
And blossumez bolne to blowe
Bi rawez rych and ronk,
Then notez noble innoghe
Ar herde in wod so wlonk -

After the sesoun of somer wyth the soft wyndez,
Quen Zeferus syflez hymself on sedez and erbez,
Wela wynne is the wort that waxes theroute,
When the donkande dewe dropez of the levez,
To bide a blysful blusch of the bryght sunne.
Bot then hyghes hervest, and hardenes hym sone,
Warnez hym for the wynter to wax ful rype.
He dryves wyth droght the dust for to ryse
Fro the face of the folde to flyghe ful hyghe;
Wrothe wynde of the welkyn wrastelez with the sunne,
The levez lancen fro the lynde and lyghten on the grounde,
And al grayes the gres that grene watz ere.
Thenne al rypez and rotez that ros upon fyrst,
And thus yirnez the yere in yisterdayez mony,
And wynter wyndez agayn, as the worlde askez,
no fage;
Til Meghelmas mone
Watz cumen wyth wynter wage;
Then thenkkez Gawan ful sone
Of his anions vyage.

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II

This marvel was Arthur's first New Year's gift
When the year was new born; he loved to hear challenges.
Though they did not speak much as they sat down at table,
Grim business confronts them; their hands are cram-full.
Glad had Gawain been to start those games at court,
But don't be surprised if the outcome is grim.
Though men are light-hearted when they have strong drink,
A year passes quickly, never bringing the same;
Beginning and ending are seldom alike.
So Yuletide passed by, and then the year after,
Each season following the other in turn.
After Christmas came mean, sullen Lent
Trying the flesh with fish and plain food.
But then the world's weather does battle with winter.
Cold shrinks to the ground; the clouds rise up high
And shed sparkling rain in ever-warm showers,
Falling down on fair plains where flowers appear.
Both the fields and the woodlands are clothed in green.
The birds build busily, and rapturously sing
For joy of gentle summer that soon follows
on the slopes.
The blossoms swell to bloom
In hedgerows rich with growth,
And many splendid songs
In glorious woods resound.

Then comes the summer season with its gentle winds,
When Zephirus blows soft on seeds and grass,
How lovely is the plant that springs from them
When moistening dew drips from the leaves
And waits for joyous gleamings from the shining sun.
But then the autumn comes to urge it on,
Warns it to ripen before the winter comes.
Dry winds of autumn force the dust to rise
And fly up high above the face of earth.
Fierce winds of heaven wrestle with the sun,
Leaves fly from trees, and fall upon the ground,
And withered is the grass that once was green.
All things that first sprung up ripen, then rot,
And so the year goes by in many yesterdays,
And winter comes again, as is the way of the world,
to be sure;
Until the moon of Michaelmas
Has come with winter's pledge.
Then soon in Gawain's mind
Rise thoughts of his grim quest.

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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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