Child's Ballads/31

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Child's Collected Ballads by Francis James Child
The Marriage of Sir Gawain, no. 31
For more information, see Wikipedia: The Marriage of Sir Gawain.

The Marriage of Sir Gawain[edit]

KINGE ARTHUR liues in merry Carleile,
And seemely is to see,
And there he hath with him Queene Genever,
That bride soe bright of blee.
And there he hath with [him] Queene Genever,
That bride soe bright in bower,
And all his barons about him stoode,
That were both stiffe and stowre.
The king kept a royall Christmasse,
Of mirth and great honor,
And when . . . . . . .
. . . . .
* * * * *
‘And bring me word what thing it is
That a woman [will] most desire;
This shalbe thy ransome, Arthur,’ he sayes,
‘For Ile haue noe other hier.’
King Arthur then held vp his hand,
According thene as was the law;
He tooke his leaue of the baron there,
And homward can he draw.
And when he came to merry Carlile,
To his chamber he is gone,
And ther came to him his cozen Sir Gawaine,
As he did make his mone.
And there came to him his cozen Sir Gawaine,
That was a curteous knight;
‘Why sigh you soe sore, vnckle Arthur,’ he said,
‘Or who hath done thee vnright?’
‘O peace, O peace, thou gentle Gawaine,
That faire may thee beffall!
For if thou knew my sighing soe deepe,
Thou wold not meruaile att all.
‘Ffor when I came to Tearne Wadling,
A bold barron there I fand,
With a great club vpon his backe,
Standing stiffe and strong.
‘And he asked me wether I wold fight
Or from him I shold begone,
O[r] else I must him a ransome pay,
And soe depart him from.
‘To fight with him I saw noe cause;
Methought it was not meet;
For he was stiffe and strong with-all,
His strokes were nothing sweete.
‘Therefor this is my ransome, Gawaine,
I ought to him to pay;
I must come againe, as I am sworne,
Vpon the New Yeers day;
‘And I must bring him word what thing it is
. . . . .
. . . . .
. . . . .
* * * * *
Then king Arthur drest him for to ryde,
In one soe rich array,
Toward the fore-said Tearne Wadling,
That he might keepe his day.
And as he rode over a more,
Hee see a lady where shee sate
Betwixt an oke and a greene hollen;
She was cladd in red scarlett.
Then there as shold haue stood her mouth,
Then there was sett her eye;
The other was in her forhead fast,
The way that she might see.
Her nose was crooked and turnd outward,
Her mouth stood foule a-wry;
A worse formed lady than shee was,
Neuer man saw with his eye.
To halch vpon him, King Arthur,
This lady was full faine,
But King Arthur had forgott his lesson,
What he shold say againe.
‘What knight art thou,’ the lady sayd,
‘That will not speak to me?
Of me be thou nothing dismayd,
Tho I be vgly to see.
‘For I haue halched you curteouslye,
And you will not me againe;
Yett I may happen Sir Knight,’ shee said,
‘To ease thee of thy paine.’
‘Giue thou ease me, lady,’ he said,
‘Or helpe me any thing,
Thou shalt have gentle Gawaine, my cozen,
And marry him with a ring.’
‘Why, if I help thee not, thou noble King Arthur,
Of thy owne hearts desiringe,
Of gentle Gawaine . . . . .
. . . . .
* * * * *
And when he came to the Tearne Wadling,
The baron there cold he finde,
With a great weapon on his backe,
Standing stiffe and stronge.
And then he tooke King Arthurs letters in his hands,
And away he cold them fling,
And then he puld out a good browne sword,
And cryd himselfe a king.
And he sayd, I have thee and thy land, Arthur,
To doe as it pleaseth me,
For this is not thy ransome sure,
Therfore yeeld thee to me.
And then bespoke him noble Arthur,
And bad him hold his hand:
‘And giue me leaue to speake my mind
In defence of all my land.’
He said, As I came over a more,
I see a lady where shee sate
Betweene an oke and a green hollen;
Shee was clad in red scarlett.
And she says a woman will haue her will,
And this is all her cheef desire:
Doe me right, as thou art a baron of sckill,
This is thy ransome and all thy hyer.
He sayes, An early vengeance light on her!
She walkes on yonder more;
It was my sister that told thee this,
And she is a misshappen hore.
But heer Ile make mine avow to God
To doe her an euill turne,
For an euer I may thate fowle theefe get,
In a fyer I will her burne.
* * * * *
Sir Lancelott and Sir Steven bold,
They rode with them that day,
And the formost of the company
There rode the steward Kay.
Soe did Sir Banier and Sir Bore,
Sir Garrett with them soe gay,
Soe did Sir Tristeram that gentle knight,
To the forrest fresh and gay.
And when he came to the greene forrest,
Vnderneath a greene holly tree,
Their sate that lady in red scarlet
That vnseemly was to see.
Sir Kay beheld this ladys face,
And looked vppon her swire;
‘Whosoeuer kisses this lady,’ he sayes,
‘Of his kisse he stands in feare.’
Sir Kay beheld the lady againe,
And looked vpon her snout;
‘Whosoeuer kisses this lady,’ he saies,
‘Of his kisse he stands in doubt.’
‘Peace, cozen Kay,’ then said Sir Gawaine,
‘Amend thee of thy life;
For there is a knight amongst vs all
That must marry her to his wife.’
‘What! wedd her to wiffe!’ then said Sir Kay,
‘In the diuells name anon!
Gett me a wiffe where-ere I may,
For I had rather be slaine!’
Then some tooke vp their hawkes in hast,
And some tooke vp their hounds,
And some sware thy wold not marry her
For citty nor for towne.
And then be-spake him noble King Arthur,
And sware there by this day,
‘For a litle foule sight and misliking
. . . . .
* * * * *
Then shee said, Choose thee, gentle Gawaine,
Truth as I doe say,
Wether thou wilt haue me in this liknesse
In the night or else in the day.
And then bespake him gentle Gawaine,
Was one soe mild of moode,
Sayes, Well I know what I wold say,
God grant it may be good!
To haue thee fowle in the night
When I with thee shold play-+-
Yet I had rather, if I might,
Haue thee fowle in the day.
‘What! when lords goe with ther feires,’ shee said,
‘Both to the ale and wine,
Alas! then I must hyde my selfe,
I must not goe withinne.’
And then bespake him gentle Gawaine,
Said, Lady, that’s but skill;
And because thou art my owne lady,
Thou shalt haue all thy will.
Then she said, Blesed be thou, gentle Gawain,
This day that I thee see,
For as thou seest me att this time,
From hencforth I wilbe.
My father was an old knight,
And yett it chanced soe
That he marryed a younge lady
That brought me to this woe.
Shee witched me, being a faire young lady,
To the greene forrest to dwell,
And there I must walke in womans liknesse,
Most like a feend of hell.
She witched my brother to a carlish b. . .
. . . . .
. . . . . .
. . . . .
* * * * *
. . . . . .
. . . . . .
‘That looked soe foule, and that was wont
On the wild more to goe.’
‘Come kisse her, brother Kay,’ then said Sir Gawaine,
‘And amend th of thy liffe;
I sweare this is the same lady
That I marryed to my wiffe.’
Sir Kay kissed that lady bright,
Standing vpon his feete;
He swore as he was trew knight,
The spice was neuer soe sweete.
‘Well, cozen Gawaine,’ sayes Sir Kay,
‘Thy chance is fallen arright,
For thou hast gotten one of the fairest maids
I euer saw with my sight.’
‘It is my fortune,’ said Sir Gawaine;
‘For my vnckle Arthurs sake
I am glad as grasse wold be of raine,
Great ioy that I may take.’
Sir Gawaine tooke the lady by the one arme,
Sir Kay tooke her by the tother,
They led her straight to King Arthur,
As they were brother and brother.
King Arthur welcomed them there all,
And soe did Lady Geneuer his queene,
With all the knights of the Round Table,
Most seemly to be seene.
King Arthur beheld that lady faire
That was soe faire and bright,
He thanked Christ in Trinity
For Sir Gawaine that gentle knight.
Soe did the knights, both more and lesse,
Reioyced all that day
For the good chance that hapened was
To Sir Gawaine and his lady gay.