Chrétien de Troyes
Érec and Énide
Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved.
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- Lines 5173-5366 Érec recovers at Guivret’s castle of Penevric
- Lines 5367-5446 The island stronghold of Brandigant
- Lines 5447-5492 The adventure called ‘The Joy of the Court’
- Lines 5493-5668 Érec asks permission to undertake the venture
- Lines 5669-5738 Érec proceeds to his task
- Lines 5739-5826 The Garden
- Lines 5827-6410 The knight Mabonagrain and his lady
- Lines 6411-6509 Érec, Énide and Guivret reach King Arthur’s court
- Lines 6510-6712 Érec succeeds his father as king
- Lines 6713-6809 The great display at Érec’s coronation
- Lines 6810-6946 Érec is crowned
- Lines 6947-6958 The conclusion
Lines 5173-5366 Érec recovers at Guivret’s castle of Penevric
AT daybreak they are both awake,
Soon dressed, and ready to take
To the road on their mounts again.
Érec’s horse was so dear to him
That he cared for no other steed,
While they gave a mule to Énide,
As she had lost her dappled grey.
Yet she showed no care that day,
Seemed to give it never a thought;
Her fine mule, at an easy trot,
Carrying her along quite easily.
And she was comforted you see
In that Érec was not dismayed,
But would soon be fine, he said.
Before tierce they had reached
The stronghold of Penevric,
A fair and a well-placed site,
Where on a pleasant height,
Dwelt the sisters of Guivret,
For it was a delightful place.
Guivret led Érec to a fine room,
Well-aired, and distant from
Any noise, and at his request
His two sisters did their best
To cure Érec of all his hurt.
Placed in their hands, as it were,
He felt great confidence therein.
First they removed the dead skin,
Then applied salves and plasters,
Devoting their care to him after,
Women confident of their skill;
Many times bathed him still,
And reapplied the plasters, then
Four times a day or more, again,
They would have him eat and drink,
Yet no garlic or pepper I think;
And whoever went in or out
Énide was always there about,
Beside him, for she cared the most.
Guivret proved an attentive host,
Often visiting there to enquire
If there was aught Érec might desire.
He was cared for, and well-served,
Nothing omitted, as was deserved,
That he expressed a wish to see,
But all done freely and willingly.
The sisters indeed took such pains
That he, in a fortnight, well again,
Felt no illness nor soreness either.
Then so as to revive his colour,
They bathed him, and frequently,
For no instruction did they need,
Knowing the treatment full well.
When to walk freely he was able,
Guivret had two loose gowns made,
Of two silks of differing grade,
One with ermine trim, one en vair,
The former a purple dyed affair,
The latter striped in dappled grey,
The silk the gift of another day,
Sent to him by a Scottish cousin.
Énide had the purple and ermine,
The most valuable, Érec the vair,
The dappled grey stripe, less rare,
And therefore not worth as much.
Now was Érec rested, and such,
Now was he fit, recovered fully.
Now was Énide more than happy,
Now she had all that she desired,
Now was her beauty fresh admired;
For she had seemed faint and pale,
So fiercely her troubles did assail.
Now she is embraced and kissed,
Now with all good things blessed,
Now has her joy and her delight;
Naked to naked, in bed at night,
Embracing, kissing one another,
Naught more pleasing to these lovers.
Theirs such pain, mind and limb,
He for her, and she for him,
That now they find a recompense.
Each seeks to please every sense,
Vying the more where they do seek;
Of aught further I must not speak.
They have so reaffirmed belief,
And have so erased their grief,
They can scarce recall it more.
Now they must journey as before.
Of Guivret they take their leave,
In whom they found a friend indeed.
He had served them, in every manner,
And had treated them with honour.
Érec said, in ending their stay:
‘Sir, I no longer wish to delay
My departure for my own land.
Order all things to be on hand,
So that I have all that I need.
In the morning we proceed,
Tomorrow, at the break of day.
So long has it been this stay,
I feel strong and am recovered.
May it please God, moreover,
That I live to meet you again,
When I have the power regained
To serve you, and show you honour!
I have no wish though to linger,
If I am not delayed by aught,
Until I have reached the court
Of King Arthur, whom I may
Seek now at Carduel or Robais.’
Guivret replied, in a brisk tone:
‘Sire, you shall not go alone!
For I myself will go with you,
And bring some company too,
If that should be your pleasure.’
Érec, acceding to this measure,
In accord with his wishes, says
Would that they were on their way.
That night they make all ready,
Not wanting to delay the journey;
With all ready, their road to take,
In the morning, when they awake,
They promptly saddle their steeds,
Then Érec goes, before he leaves,
To say farewell to the two sisters,
In their rooms, and Énide after,
Who was full of joy and delight.
When all had been readied quite,
Of the sisters they took leave:
Érec did so most courteously,
Offering the sisters a wealth,
Of thanks for his life and health,
Pledging his service ever after.
The hand of the nearest sister
He took in his, while Énide
Took the other’s hand to lead
Her from that inner chamber,
And all, hand in hand together,
They proceed to the castle hall.
Guivret then bids them all
Mount at once without delay.
Énide thinks that, in this way,
Perhaps, they may never depart.
Yet at last, that they might start,
A fine palfrey, of gentle temper,
Well-made, they now bring her,
A handsome horse, fine boned,
Of no less worth than her own,
The bay, she had left at Limors.
This instead was a sorrel horse;
Though the head was not so,
But marked it was as follows,
One cheek was of raven black,
The other white, front to back.
Between the two there ran a line,
Greener than is the grape-vine,
Separating the black and white.
Of saddle and bridle one might
Say, the work was rich and fine,
The leather straps too, I’d opine.
The breast-strap and the bridle
Were set with gold and emerald.
The saddle was of another form,
With fine purple cloth adorned,
Saddle-bows wrought in ivory,
On which were carved the story
Of how Aeneas came from Troy,
And at Carthage, with great joy,
Was welcomed to Dido’s bed;
How by him she was misled,
How she killed herself for him,
How Aeneas then came to win
Laurentum, and all Lombardy,
Of which through all his life he
Was king. All cunningly told,
Well-carved, adorned with gold.
The craftsman who made the piece
Spent seven years on it, at least,
And on naught else till it was done.
I know not if he sold it anon,
But it made a gift most worthy.
Now Énide’s loss of her palfrey,
Was fully repaid, in this manner;
And was well-received by her.
So the well-apparelled palfrey
Was gifted to her, which she
Mounted, filled with delight.
Soon every squire and knight
On their steeds were mounted.
Many a falcon, young or moulted,
Many a female-hawk and tiercel,
Many a setter and hound, as well,
Guivret took with him from court,
For their pleasure and their sport.
Lines 5367-5446 The island stronghold of Brandigant
FROM morn to vespers they rode on,
The straightest of roads along,
Thirty Welsh leagues or more,
Until they came to the tower
Of a stronghold, fine and tall,
Circled by a new-made wall;
And below that wall, around,
A deep stream did it surround,
Roaring, flowing in a torrent.
Érec halting, gazed, his intent
To ask, so that he might know,
If any could tell, truly though,
Who was the lord of this castle.
‘Friend, to me would you tell,’
He said to his good companion,
‘By what name this is known,
And whose it is. Does everything
Belong to some count or king?
You have brought me here, so
Now tell me of it, if you know.’
‘Sire,’ he said, ‘I know it well,
And to you the truth I’ll tell:
Brandigant is the castle called,
So fine, and strongly walled,
It fears not king or emperor.
If France and England, in force,
With those from here to Liege,
Laid siege to its walls, I pledge,
Never in their lives would they
Take it; the isle stretches away
A good four leagues or more,
On which it stands, therefore
Within is all a rich town needs,
Orchards, vines, fields of wheat,
Nor does it lack wood or water,
So can’t be reduced by hunger;
Nor is it open to fierce assault.
King Evrain did build the wall,
Who has dwelt there all his life,
And will do so, without strife,
Until his days are ended.
Yet it is not so well-defended,
Through fear of any man, no,
But because it is pleasing so.
Had it neither wall nor tower
But only the stream, its power
Would keep the castle so secure
The whole world it might ignore.’
‘By God,’ said Érec, ‘such riches!
Let us go, then, see this fortress,
And, if we can, take lodgings here,
I wish to stay, and view it near.’
‘Sire,’ he said, in much dismay,
‘Though displease you I may,
I would not seek to linger here,
For evil is its passage, I fear.’
‘Evil?’ said Érec, ‘how so?
Tell me then what you know.
For I would hear all, gladly.’
‘Sire,’ he replied, ‘I foresee
There you must suffer much.
I know your courage is such,
And you so noble at heart,
That if I relate, for my part,
What I know of that venture,
So harsh and perilous, I fear
You would seek to enter in.
I’ve heard the tale oft again:
Seven years are past, I confess,
Since any who sought the quest
Have returned from that island;
Yet from many a distant land
Came knights proud and bold;
Sire, no jest is this, I hold!
You will learn nothing more
Of its danger, till you’ve sworn,
By the love you promised me,
You’ll not adventure, foolishly,
In this, from which none return
And but shameful death do earn.’
Lines 5447-5492 The adventure called ‘The Joy of the Court’
NOW was Érec well pleased,
Praying Guivret to be at ease,
Saying: ‘Ah, fair sweet friend,
Let us lodge there; to it wend
Our way, and be troubled not;
It is high time a bed we sought
For the night, so be glad of it,
For if any honour comes of it,
You should be joyful this day,
Of the adventure, I only pray
You will tell me of its name,
And then no more of the same.’
‘Sire,’ he said, ‘I will tell you,
So as not to displease you.
The name is a fair one to say,
But the task grievous to assay;
None escape alive from there.
The adventure, so I do swear,
Is called: The Joy of the Court.’
‘By God, joy is a fine thought!’
Cried Érec: ‘tis what I go to find.
From this do not divert my mind,
Fair sweet friend, toward aught else.
Let us find lodgings for ourselves,
For great good may come of this.
Naught could turn me from my wish
That I should go and seek this Joy.’
He said: ‘Sire, may God employ
His grace to bring joy to you,
And return you unscathed too.
We must enter in, I surmise,
Since it cannot be otherwise,
Let us go! Our lodging is secure,
For no high and puissant lord
(So I hear, for so they tell me)
Can enter in this castle we see,
With intent to find safe shelter,
But King Evrain must it offer.
So gentle and courteous, the king
Has declared, in all men’s hearing,
To his people who hold him dear,
That any knight from far or near,
Should not be lodged with them,
So that he might offer the same,
And do those knights full honour,
Who in truth there wish to linger.’
Lines 5493-5668 Érec asks permission to undertake the venture
THUS towards the castle they go,
Past the lists and the bridge also.
When the lists they had passed,
The crowds who had amassed
Along the streets to view them,
Finding Érec was so handsome,
Seemed to judge and consider,
The others to be his followers.
Wonderingly they gazed at him;
The whole town talked of him,
Stirred and moved, took counsel;
Even the maidens at their carols,
Left their songs, ceased as one,
Then gazed at him in unison,
Crossing themselves at his beauty,
And pitying him most wondrously,
Whispering to each other: ‘Alas!
This knight who here doth pass,
Seeks for the Joy of the Court.
Sorrow is his if it be sought;
None comes from a far country
The Joy of the Court to seek,
But has shame and hurt of it,
And leaves his head as a forfeit.’
Then so he might hear, they say:
‘God protect thee, chevalier,
From harm and misadventure!
For handsome is thy measure,
And thy beauty to be pitied;
Tomorrow will see it wasted.
Tomorrow thy death will come,
Death, surely, strike you dumb,
If God doth not your life defend.’
Érec hears them foretell his end,
As he rides on through the town;
Two thousand pity him, I own;
But nothing doth him dismay.
He rides steadily on his way,
Saluting, most debonairly,
Men and women equally.
While they, saluting him also,
Anticipate, in fear and sorrow,
More than he does, the sum
Of hurt and shame to come.
The mere sight of his countenance,
His bearing and fair semblance,
Have won the hearts of all so,
That knights, ladies, maidens go
In fear, lest his death ensues.
King Evrain had heard the news,
Of those arriving at his court
Who a large company brought,
And it seemed from his trappings
The leader was some count or king.
King Evrain rides down the street,
This company to know and greet,
‘Welcome,’ he cries, ‘fair and true,
To your leader as to all of you!
Welcome gentlemen, dismount!’
They do so; the squires account
For the horses, stabled swiftly.
Neither was King Evrain tardy,
Who, seeing Énide approaching,
Salutes her and gives her greeting.
And hastens to help her descend,
To her soft white hand extends
His own, leads her to the palace,
Since courtesy demands no less,
Honouring her in every way
For he knew just what to say,
Nothing foolish or ill-bred.
He ordered the hall scented,
With incense, aloes and myrrh.
On entering all of them refer
To the beauty of that hall.
Hand in hand they enter, all
Escorted therein by the king,
Who delights in everything.
How to describe to you, fully,
The paintings, the silk drapery,
With which the hall was adorned?
A foolish waste, I am warned,
Of time that I would not waste.
Rather I would proceed in haste;
For he who goes the direct way
Overtakes him who doth delay;
And thus I do not wish to linger.
When the time came for supper,
The king ordered it to be served,
Though I would equally prefer
To pass over all of that, directly.
That night they partook of every
Single thing the heart might wish.
Fowl and venison, fruit and fish,
And wines in all their variety.
But better still was the company!
For the very sweetest dish of all
Is good cheer and a merry hall.
They were served most richly,
When Érec turned, suddenly,
From the fine food and wine,
And began to speak his mind,
On what was dear to his heart:
Namely the Joy of the Court,
And he a conversation coined
In which King Evrain joined.
‘Sire, ’tis time to tell you now,’
He said, ‘of my intent, I trow,
And the reason that I came.
Too long have I refrained,
Now I cannot hide my task.
The Joy of the Court, I ask,
I covet naught so greatly.
Grant me this, whate’er it be,
If the thing be in your power.’
‘In truth, fair friend, this hour
You speak vain foolishness,
Perilous it is, and to excess,’
Said the king, ‘sorrow to many,
And you yourself, eventually,
Will find death, in your folly,
If you take not counsel of me.
But if of me you counsel take,
I should advise you to forsake
All thought of aught so grievous,
In which you would be lost to us.
Speak not of it! But silent be!
It would be most unwise of thee
To disregard my counsel here.
Tis no great surprise or wonder,
That you seek fame and honour,
But if I should see you suffer,
Or see you injured in any part,
It would trouble me at heart.
Know full well that I have seen
Many a man fall, who has been
Desirous of this Joy, yet none
Has benefited by it, no, not one;
So do they all fall and perish,
So tomorrow, if you so wish,
You may expect a like reward.
If the Joy you would strive for,
You shall do so, though I grieve.
Yet it is something, I believe,
From which you may withdraw,
And in your safety feel secure.
For it would show treachery,
And I would wrong you utterly,
If the truth I chose to hide.’
Érec hears, and cannot deny
The king gives him good counsel,
But the greater seems the peril,
The more menacing the danger,
The more he covets the adventure;
‘Sire, ‘he says, ‘say this I can,
You prove a true and worthy man.
And you shall carry no blame.
I wish to undertake this same,
Whatever it may bring to me.
The die is cast, none shall see
Me withdraw from anything
I undertake without exerting
All my strength ere I yield
And retreat from the field.’
‘That I know,’ said the king,
‘Against my will you do this thing.
You may try the Joy you wish,
Though I much despair of this,
I fear it brings great harm to you.
Yet your wish, I grant it too,
Of my permission be assured.
If you have joy of your venture,
You will achieve such honour,
Never did any man win more;
And may God, as is my wish,
Grant that in joy you may end this.’
Lines 5669-5738 Érec proceeds to his task
ALL that eve, of it they gladly
Spoke, till the beds were ready
And they parted for the night.
In the morn, when it was light,
Érec who’d not closed his eyes
Saw at dawn, a bright sun rise,
And swiftly rose and dressed.
Again Énide was much distressed.
Sad at heart and ill at ease;
All night she had grieved,
Full of care and fear also
For her lord who must go
And encounter great peril.
Yet he equips himself still,
For none can say him nay.
The king to arm him that day
Had sent him when he arose,
All that you might suppose
Which Érec did not refuse;
His own arms were ill-used,
Badly damaged, and worn.
His thanks indeed were warm,
As he donned them in the hall.
Once he is thus armed withal,
He descends the steps swiftly
Finds his mount saddled ready,
And the king already mounted,
And every subject he counted,
In the castle and in the town;
None remains to be found,
Man or woman, true or awry,
Great or small, feeble or spry,
Who is able, and doth not go.
Great noise and clamour, though,
Through all the streets doth flow,
For everyone, both high and low,
Cries out, alike: ‘Alas! Alas!
Chevalier! That Joy thou hast
Sought to win betrays you now,
Tis death you seek, we do avow.’
Not a soul there doth not shout:
‘This Joy, let God curse it now,
That brings death to many a man;
Today twill work the worst it can,
The worst that ever was wrought.
Érec listens and takes thought,
Hearing them say, far and near:
‘Alas! Alas! Ill-starred, we fear,
Fair, fine and gentle knight,
Are you, for it cannot be right
Your life should end so soon,
Or that any ill should wound
You, harm you, and do injury.’
He hears what they say indeed,
Yet nevertheless he rides on,
Not lowering his gaze, is gone,
With never a hint of cowardice.
He hears, and his dearest wish
Is to see, know, and understand,
Why they grieve, on either hand,
Why such woe weighs them down.
The king leads him from the town,
To a garden that lies close by,
And all the crowd gather nigh,
Praying that of this trial of his,
God grant him joy at the finish;
But tis not meet that I pass on,
Despite a dry and weary tongue,
Without the whole truth as well,
Of this garden, as stories tell.
Lines 5739-5826 The Garden
THE garden all unfenced there,
Lacked any wall save that of air:
Yet, by a spell, on every side,
With air all access was denied
To it, so naught might go there,
Unless all winged it flew there,
No more than if by iron barred.
In icy winters, however hard,
It bore ripe fruit and flowers;
This fruit possessed the power
That it might be eaten inside
The garden, yet never outside
Could it be taken, for the gate
Was then lost and any inmate
Could not exit from the place
Until he did that fruit replace.
There is no bird beneath the sky
Pleasing to man that did not vie
To sing within, and give delight,
Such that one might hear aright
Many a chorus of every kind;
And whatever on earth we find
Of root or spice that doth avail
In healing, grows within its pale,
And is in numbers planted there,
All that is needed, and to spare.
Through a narrow entrance now,
Into the garden, goes the crowd.
As King Evrain had intended;
Érec riding, his lance extended,
Into the garden’s very centre,
Greatly delights as he doth enter
At the song of the birds within;
Of his Joy they make him think,
That for which he most yearns;
But a wondrous thing he discerns,
Which might strike with fear
Even the greatest warrior here,
The finest amongst all men,
Be it Tiebaut the Saracen,
Or Opinel or Fernagu;
For, exposed to their view,
Sharp stakes held each a bright
Helm, that revealed the sight
Of a severed head inside.
Yet, at the row’s end, one beside
Upon which there was borne
Naught as yet, except a horn.
He knew not what it signified,
But for that drew not aside,
Rather he questioned the King,
Who on his right side was riding.
The king answered his demand:
‘Friend, do you not understand
The meaning of what you see?
Most fearful you should be,
If for your own self you care,
For the stake you see there,
On which is hung that horn,
Has long awaited this morn,
Waiting for whom we knew
Not, for another or for you.
Take care your head is not
Set there, such end is what
It was made for; I told you
Great danger might ensue.
I think no man can escape,
His head severed at the nape;
For the stake awaits we know
A head, whether yours or no.
And if yours is placed there
As it must be, should you dare,
Then as soon as yours is here
Another stake will appear,
By its side, and there await,
The next one to pass the gate.
Of the horn I will say no more,
But none has sounded it before.
Yet he who sounds it, know,
His honour and fame will grow
Above all those in his country,
And such honour he’ll receive
All to honour him will come,
Holding him the best, in sum.
Now no more of this affair:
Have your men retire there;
For the Joy will soon be here,
And bring you sorrow, I fear.’
Lines 5827-6410 The knight Mabonagrain and his lady
NOW King Evrain leaves his side,
Érec bows toward Énide with pride,
Who is herself in great distress
Yet keeps silence nonetheless;
Grief that to the lips doth start,
Means naught if it touch not the heart.
And he, who knew her heart complete,
Said to her: ‘Dear sister sweet,
Gentle lady, true and wise,
Your heart’s truth I surmise.
Your fear is great, I well see,
Yet you know not what may be.
All for naught is your dismay,
Unless you are to see, this day,
My shield all shattered,
My flesh all wounded,
Red my bright hauberk here,
Drenched in blood all my gear,
And my helm broke in two,
And I tired and broken, who
Can himself no more defend,
But begs for mercy to attend
Him, much against his will:
Then you may lament my ill,
Who now too soon begin.
For, sweet lady, you know nothing
Of what shall be, no more do I.
Nothing – gives you grief, say I!
But know this to be true,
If I had only the courage you
And your love inspire in me,
I would fear, of a surety,
No man alive, as my foe.
Folly it is to boast so,
But not from pride do I speak,
It is to comfort you I seek.
So comfort take! Let it be!
Here no longer can I tarry,
Nor can you accompany me.
So the king commanded me,
I can take you no further.’
He kisses and to God commends her,
And she commends him in turn.
But troubled is she now to learn
She cannot ride on at his side,
To see and know what will betide,
What this adventure may bring,
How he will master everything;
But since she must remain,
And cannot go, as is plain,
She is left sadly to lament.
He along the path now went,
Alone, without companion:
A silver bed he came upon,
With a cover of gold brocade,
Beneath a sycamore’s shade,
And on the bed was a maid;
All beauty, richly displayed,
Her face and form did own;
And she sat there all alone.
I had wished to say no more,
But whoever of her saw
Her attire and her beauty
Would say, in all verity,
Who was so wondrous fair,
Had not a quarter of her beauty.
Érec drew near, to more closely
View her face. Meanwhile the king,
And all, viewed the scene, sitting,
In an orchard, beneath the trees.
Then, behold, a knight they see,
All clad in vermilion armour,
Possessed of wondrous stature,
And, but for his tallness, nigh
The finest knight under the sky;
For he was fully a foot taller
As all the world might aver,
Than any other that they knew.
Before Érec had him in view,
‘Vassal, Vassal,’ the other cried,
‘You are mad, upon my life,
To approach my lady there.
You are unworthy to dare,
I judge, to draw nigh her.
Dearly now you will suffer
For your folly, by my head!
Draw back!’ Érec stops dead
And gazes, so does the other.
Neither man advances further,
Till Érec has to him replied,
With all he wishes to confide:
‘Friend, one can speak nonsense
He says, ‘as well as talking sense.
Threaten as much as you desire,
I am a man who holds his fire;
Those who threaten are unwise.
Do you know why? The prize
He oft loses who thinks he’s won;
So he’s a fool who threatens one
Too much, and too much presumes.
Some may flee, others spell doom.
I feel too little fear since we met,
To be quite ready to flee as yet;
I am full ready with my defence;
If any would show me offence,
He will have to force the issue,
Escape is what no man shall do.’
‘Nay,’ he cried, ‘God help me!
Battle you’ll have, and swiftly,
You I challenge now, and defy.’
You must know, for truth say I,
Neither then reined himself in,
The lances neither light nor thin,
But square-sectioned, and heavy,
Nor planed smooth were they
But both were rough and strong.
Both the shields they glanced along,
With their sharp tips they smote,
So that more than a good foot
Of their lance passed through
Each bright shield, yet the two
Received no hurt, neither man,
Nor did either break a lance;
But each withdrew his weapon
Swiftly, and again they set on;
Each knight returns to his post,
And then once more they joust,
Striking home with such power,
That both their lances shatter,
And both their horses stumble.
Both men survive the tumble
Neither suffering any harm,
And immediately they re-arm,
Each proving strong and lithe.
Amidst the garden they scythe
At each other, with their blades
Of fresh steel, German made,
Striking blows of great might
On each other’s helmet bright,
Their gleaming helms shattering,
While their eyes shoot lightning;
No greater effort could they make
No greater blows could they take,
Striving, toiling with each other,
To wound and harm one another,
With cold edge, or gilded pommel.
So hard did the fighters pummel,
Face and teeth and noses test,
Hands and arms, and all the rest,
Necks, throats and temples rake,
That their very bones did ache.
Much wearied and sore are they;
Nevertheless will not give way,
But only toil and strive the more,
Eyes dimmed by sweat and gore,
That flow down so, together,
They can barely see each other;
Thus their blows are often lost,
Like men blinded who accost
The foe with swords uselessly;
They cannot see, can scarcely
Harm each other, none the less,
They do not fail to do their best,
Putting forth all their strength.
Their eyes dimmed, at length,
They lose their sight completely,
And, seizing each other angrily,
Let their shields fall to the ground,
Pull and drag each other around,
Until they fall to their knees.
So they fight on without cease
Until the hour of noon is past,
The tall knight so tired at last
That, his breath failing wholly,
Érec has him at his mercy,
And drags and pulls him so
The lacing of his helm below
Breaks, and he leans his breast,
Head bowed, on Érec’s chest,
The power lost to rise again.
And though it gives him pain,
He has to speak and confess:
‘I cannot hide my sore distress,
You conquer, against my will.
Nevertheless, you may be still
A knight of such rank and fame,
Credit will accrue to my name;
And I would ask, in earnest, pray,
If I might be honoured this day,
And thus your true name know,
So that I might be solaced so.
If a better man has defeated me,
I will be glad, I promise thee;
But if it has happened to occur
That I’ve lost to an inferior,
Then I shall feel great sorrow.’
‘Friend, my name you would know?’
Said Érec: ‘I shall tell you plain
Before I leave this place again,
But it will be on one condition,
That you say why in this garden
You reside, and say so swiftly.
I wish you to reveal completely,
What is your name, what the Joy;
I am anxious that you employ
Truth entire, from start to end.’
‘Sire,’ said he, ‘God forfend,
I will tell you all you wish.’
Érec reveals his name, at this:
‘Have you heard from any man,
Of King Lac, and Érec his son?’
‘Yes Sire, I know of Érec all,
For I was in his father’s hall,
Ere as a knight I was hailed,
And if his wish had prevailed,
I’d not have left him for aught.’
‘Then if you were at the court,
You will know of me indeed,
I, being of my father’s breed.’
‘By my faith, then all is well;
Now hear by whom it befell,
That I so long am held here;
For I’ll tell all, true and clear,
As you ask, whate’er the pain.
That lady, seated, you see plain,
Loved me from childhood, and I her;
It delighted both of us, I aver,
And our love thus increased,
Until a boon she was pleased
To ask: of its nature saying naught.
Who can deny his lover aught?
Never a lover who would deny
Aught to his sweetheart, say I,
Without fail and without deceit,
Whenever he can and it is meet.
I then agreed to her dear wish,
But, once I had agreed to this,
She would have me swear it so.
I’d have done far more, I know,
At her will; my vow now stood,
To perform whatever she would.
In time, then, I became a knight,
King Evrain’s nephew I am hight;
Many saw me dubbed before them
Here where we are, in this garden.
My lady, seated there, I heard
At once recall me to my word,
Saying that I had sworn to her
That I would not go from there,
Until there came some knight
Who could defeat me by might.
It was right that I should remain,
If I my word I did not maintain,
It should never have been given.
Since I knew all the good within
Her, I could not to my treasure
Show any sign of displeasure,
Which if she had perceived
And in my reluctance believed,
She would have denied her heart,
Which I’d not desire for aught
That might ever come to me.
Thus was I brought by my lady
To sojourn here for many a day,
No man would make his way,
She thought, here to this garden,
Who might challenge me and win.
So she thought to render me
All the days of my life, you see,
A captive with her in this prison;
And it would be seen as treason,
If I by cunning seemed to retreat,
And did not those vassals defeat
Over whom I’d power to prevail;
To evade it would shame entail.
And, indeed, I tell you, here,
That I hold no friend so dear
I would merely feign to fight.
I fought with all my might,
Never a combat did I refuse.
The helmets you may view,
Of those I defeated and killed;
But mine is not the guilt still,
When one thinks of it aright:
I had no choice but to fight,
Unless I would prove untrue,
And base, and disloyal too.
Now the truth I have told;
No small honour, behold,
Is this you here have won.
Great joy have you given,
To my uncle and my friends;
With you my task here ends,
And, since joy it must give
To all who at the court live,
Joy of the Court is it named,
By all who await the same.
Long have they waited too;
Now it is rendered by you,
Defeating, as if by sorcery,
My prowess and my chivalry,
Since you have won the fight.
Now I must tell, for it is right,
What you desired: my name.
I am called, then, Mabonagrain;
Yet none by that name hold me
In remembrance, in any country
Where I may have been known,
Except it be in this sole region;
For never, when I was a squire,
Did I speak or declare it. Sire,
The truth you have from me,
That you did request of me;
But I must remind you yet,
In this garden a horn is set,
Which, I think, you have seen,
I cannot issue forth, I ween,
Until that horn is sounded;
Then Joy will be unbounded,
And I’ll be released by you.
Whoever hears and heeds it too,
No obstacle can them impede
From heading here, at speed,
As soon as its note they hear.
Rise up, Sire! Swiftly, appear!
Seize the horn right joyfully.
You have no reason to tarry.
So do what you must today.’
Now Érec rises and is away,
And so, in a moment, is the other,
Both approach the horn together.
Érec takes it, and blows a note,
Issuing strongly from his throat,
So it is heard both far and wide.
Her delight Énide cannot hide,
At the sound of the horn’s note,
And Guivret too, at that mote.
The king is glad, and his people,
There is not one who is not well
Suited, and pleased, by all of this.
No one rests, none can desist,
From song and joyful display.
Érec could vaunt himself that day,
For never was there such joy.
No words could I employ
Nothing made by human tongue,
To describe it, yet here is the sum,
In a few choice words, and briefly.
The news flew about the country,
As to how the affair had ended.
Then there was none but wended
Their way, unrestrained, to court.
All the people the palace sought,
Some on foot, on horseback others,
Without waiting for one another.
Those who are in the garden,
Érec now of his arms unburden,
And all vie themselves among
To sing of all the joy in song.
For the ladies composed a lay,
Named the Lay of Joy, that day:
Though that lay is little known.
Érec was full indeed of his own
Joy, as happy as he’d desired;
Yet displeased by what transpired
Was she who sat on the silver bed,
The joy she witnessed, instead,
Gave her not a moment’s pleasure;
Yet many must in silence measure
The depth of what gives them pain.
Énide proved courteous again:
For seeing the lady seated there
Alone and pensive, full of care,
She felt moved to sit with her
And talk, and so speak to her
Of herself, and of her affairs,
Enquiring of the other’s cares,
And situation, if she might,
If it did not distress her quite.
Énide thought to go alone,
Leaving the rest on their own,
But the noblest and most lovely
Of the maidens, and the ladies,
Followed her, from loyalty,
And to bear her company,
And to comfort the other
Whom the joy had made to suffer,
Since that lady must expect
That her lover would see her less
Than when bound by his vow,
Eager to leave the garden now.
However painful it might prove
None could prevent his remove,
For that certain hour had come.
So it was that her tears did run
Down her face, from her eyes.
More than I could e’er surmise,
Was her sorrow and her distress,
Yet she sat proudly, nonetheless,
Not known enough to those who
Sought to bring her comfort to
Ease all her sorrow and care.
Yet Énide with her kindly air,
Greeted her, though the other
Could not awhile reply to her,
Since by sobs and sighs she
Was distressed most cruelly.
It was a long while before
The lady could reply at all,
But when she viewed Énide
And gazed at her, then indeed
She felt that she had seen her
Long before, and so knew her.
Being uncertain of her name,
She was not slow to ascertain
Who she was, of what country
And who her knight might be;
Asking of both their identity;
Énide then responded briefly,
Replying, with utmost verity:
‘I am,’ she said,’ a Count’s niece;
He holds Lalut, there keeps order,
And I am his sister’s daughter,
At Lalut both born and raised.’
The lady smiled, half-amazed,
Ere Énide spoke another word,
So delighted at what she heard,
That all her sorrow she forgot.
Her heart leapt at the thought;
To her grief she gave no heed:
She ran to kiss and hug Énide:
‘Your own cousin then am I,
It is the very truth,’ she cried:
‘You are niece to my father;
For he is your father’s brother.
But I doubt you have heard,
None perhaps has said a word
Oh how I came to this country:
Well, the Count, your uncle, he
Made war, and many a knight
Came from afar, for pay, to fight.
Thus, fair cousin, one of these,
Among the many mercenaries,
Nephew to Brandigant’s king,
Spent a year with him warring.
That was but twelve years ago:
And I was still a child almost,
He was handsome and elegant,
And we had forged a covenant,
Between us, that pleased us both.
Naught I wished if he was loth,
Until he began to love me too,
Promised me, and swore it true,
He would be my lover always,
And, with me, here would stay;
Which pleased me, and him also.
He was ready, and I longed so
To dwell here with my lover;
So we came here both together,
And only the two of us knew.
At that time, you and I were two
Young girls, mere children only.
Now I have spoken true, tell me
As I have told you, all the story
Of you and your lover, in verity,
By what adventure he won you.’
‘Fair cousin! He wed me, in truth
With my father’s clear consent;
My mother had joy of the event.
My kin knew, and were happy,
As all ones family ought to be.
Even the Count felt delight.
For my love is so fine a knight,
That none better is living now,
With no need to prove, I trow,
His honour or his knighthood;
And his lineage proves good:
I think there is none his peer.
He loves me, I hold him dear;
Our love could not be greater.
I’ve never denied my love ever,
To him, nor should, for anything.
Is not my lord the son of a king?
Did he not take me, poor and lowly?
Such honour now has come to me,
As never so freely has been given,
In that way, to a helpless maiden.
And, if it please, I shall tell to you,
And every word of it prove true,
How I came to acquire such merit.
For I will never be slow to tell it.’
Then she told the history true,
Of how Érec had come to Lalut;
Not caring a single thing to hide,
All the adventure, naught denied,
Word for word, without omission;
Yet I’ll not, with your permission,
For he his story doth render stale,
Who twice over relates his tale.
While they were speaking together,
One lady stole away to the others,
And went and told the gentlemen,
So as to heighten the joy again.
All those who heard the thing,
Were filled with fresh rejoicing.
When Mabonagrain heard her,
He felt great joy for his lover,
In that she had comfort found.
She who sent the news around,
Though she delivered it hastily,
Brought pleasure to all swiftly.
Even the king delighted more,
Though he felt great joy before,
Yet now he was still happier,
Showing Érec much honour.
Énide leads her cousin away,
Lovelier than Helen, this day,
More graceful and more charming.
Now to them come hastening,
Érec and Mabonagrain,
Guivret and King Evrain,
And the others come to them,
To salute and honour them,
For none of the lords retreat.
Mabonagrain, his joy complete,
Makes much of Énide, she of him.
Érec and Guivret, honour him,
Taking fresh delight in the lady,
Great joy they have of he and she,
Kissing and clasping one another.
To the castle now they’d wander,
In the garden they’d stayed too long.
Ready to leave, that whole throng
Issues forth together, joyfully,
Kissing each other tenderly.
All follow the king together;
But long before they all enter
The castle, the lords they see,
Gathered from the whole country;
For all who of the Joy had heard
Set out, upon hearing that word;
Great the assembly and the crowd,
All wished to see Érec if allowed,
Both high and low, rich and poor,
One after another, on they pour,
To acclaim him, bow full low,
While uttering, in endless flow:
‘God save him who hath brought
Joy and delight to all our court!
God save the noblest man living,
To whom God e’er granted being!’
On to the court they lead him so,
All their joy they strive to show;
As their hearts dictate, they sound
Lyres and harps, the viols abound,
Fiddles, psalteries, hurdy-gurdies,
Whatever makes fine melodies,
That anyone could say or name.
But I would wish to end the same
Briefly, and brook no more delay.
The king fetes Érec in every way,
As do the others, unstintingly.
None there is but most willingly
Offers to do him good service.
Three days of the Joy there is,
Before Érec can depart again.
On the fourth, he will not remain,
For any reason they can suggest.
A vast crowd accompany their guest,
Surround him as he takes his leave.
More than half a day, I believe,
It would have taken, one by one,
To say farewell to everyone.
The nobles he salutes as friends,
The others to God he commends
And in a word salutes them all.
Nor is Énide silent as, in the hall,
She bids the noblemen farewell,
Saluting them by name as well,
And they salute her, mutually.
Before leaving, she most tenderly
Clasps her cousin, so to kiss her.
They are gone, the Joy is over.
Lines 6411-6509 Érec, Énide and Guivret reach King Arthur’s court
THE crowd returns, they ride away.
Thus Érec, Énide, and Guivret,
For nine days, pass on joyfully,
Till once more Robais they see,
Where they are told lies the king,
Who had, on the day preceding,
Been bled in his room, privately.
And gathered there he had only
Five hundred nobles of his court.
Never before had he, in short,
Been found so unaccompanied,
Such that he was most displeased,
To have so few companions there.
Of a messenger he became aware,
Whom Érec had sent, in advance,
To announce all the circumstance
Of their approach: he came before
The gathering, the king to the fore,
Saluted the king most correctly,
Saying: ‘Sire! I am sent to thee
By Érec and Guivret le Petit.’
Then he said the king would see
Them shortly arrive at the court.
‘Welcome are they,’ was his retort,
‘Both valiant knights, gallant men!
I know not two finer gentlemen.
My court will be enhanced by both.’
Then he sent for the queen, not loth
To tell her all the welcome news.
The nobles their mounts go choose,
To advance and greet the gentlemen,
And all without their spurs they went,
Being in such great haste to mount.
Briefly I should, for you, recount
That already to the town had come,
A train of people, of whom some,
Squires, cooks, butlers, were there
Their masters’ lodgings to prepare.
The main party, they came later,
But had already, drawing nearer,
Nigh on made entry to the town.
Now, the nobles all gather round,
And mutually salute and embrace,
They come to their lodgings apace;
At ease can change their clothes,
Before they don their rich robes.
When they were finely attired,
To the court they then retired.
By the king there were seen;
All impatient was the queen,
To meet with Érec and Énide.
To their seats the king doth lead
Them, kisses Érec and Guivret;
Énide’s neck his arms embay,
He kisses her with great joy;
Nor is the queen slow to deploy
Her kisses too; Érec and Énide
She embraces; a joy indeed,
To see her so filled with joy.
All do such delights enjoy.
The king quiet doth command,
Enquires of Érec, and demands
News of all his late adventure.
When all ceased their murmur,
Érec thus commenced his tale,
Recounting now, in fine detail,
Every aspect of his adventures.
Do you think I’d dare venture
To repeat again each in and out?
Nay! For you know all about
Érec’s design and actions too,
As I’ve disclosed them to you.
To retell it would burden me,
For the tale’s not told so briefly
Any would wish to re-create,
What Érec chose now to relate,
In the very words he uttered:
Of the three knights he conquered,
Then the five, and the Count too,
Who had tried great harm to do
Him, then the two giants later.
In due order, one after another,
His adventures he recounted
To the point where he encountered
The Count Oringle of Limors.
‘Many a peril has been yours,
My noble friend’ the king said,
‘Now tarry in this land instead,
At my court, as you used to do.’
‘Sire, if you would wish me to,
I will remain most willingly,
Three years in their entirety,
Or four, but ask Guivret also,
And I’ll join you in doing so.’
The king asks Guivret to stay,
And he agrees and doth obey.
So they remain, nothing loth,
The king thus retaining both,
Honoured by him and held dear.
Lines 6510-6712 Érec succeeds his father as king
EREC did thus at court appear
With Guivret, Énide at his side,
Until the king, his father, died,
An old man, advanced in years:
And now the messengers appear,
Those lords who Érec would see,
The greatest men of his country,
Who enquire and search for him,
Until, at Tintagel, they find him,
Three weeks ere Christmas Day.
And all the true facts they relay,
Of what had chanced to occur,
Anent his white-haired father,
Who they said had passed away.
Érec grieved much more that day
Than he showed, but in a king
A show of grief is unbecoming,
Nor is it meet he should mourn.
There at Tintagel, eve and morn,
He had masses sung, vigils kept,
Promised, and his promises kept,
As he had vowed a host of vows
To many a church and godly house;
He did all he ought to have done;
Clothing the poverty-stricken one;
A hundred and sixty nine he chose
Cladding them all in new clothes;
The poor clerks and the priors
He in new black cloaks attires,
All with warm linings beneath;
For God’s sake he grants relief,
A barrel of copper coin indeed,
To all those in greatest need.
After granting them their share,
He did a wise thing, seeking there
The title to his lands, of the king,
And then spoke again, requesting
That Arthur crown him at court.
The king told him: prepare, in short,
For both should be crowned together,
He and his wife, one with the other,
On Christmas day, which was nigh,
And said: ‘You must go, by and by,
From here to Nantes in Brittany;
There you shall bear, as royalty,
Crown on head, sceptre in hand,
This I grant to honour your land.’
Érec thanked the king once more,
Calling the gift a noble favour.
At Christmas the King gathers
All of his noblemen together.
Making of each man the demand
To come to Nantes, at his command;
All will obey him, and none remain,
Of his own men Érec asks the same.
Many journey at his right hand,
And more than he doth demand,
To serve and show him honour.
I could not tell you who was there,
What each man was and his name;
But whoever or not it was who came,
Énide’s father, and her mother,
Were not forgotten, for her father
Indeed was asked, among the first,
And on his way his role rehearsed,
Of the great lord and chatelaine.
Here was no crowd of mere chaplains,
Nor a gaping crowd of commoners,
But of fine knights, his noble peers
A host, dressed all in their finery.
Each day saw a lengthy journey,
For they rode all day, every day,
With great delight and grand display,
Till, on the Eve of the Nativity,
They came to Nantes’ fair city.
They make no halt but canter
On to the great hall, and enter,
Where the king and courtiers are,
Érec and Énide see them afar:
Know now what joy they share.
They run to greet them there,
To salute them and embrace,
Meeting tenderly, face to face,
Showing their joy as they ought.
Now Énide’s parents are at court,
They take each other by the hand,
All four before the king now stand,
Saluting him right joyfully,
And the queen, likewise, for she
Was seated there at his left hand.
Taking Énide’s father by the hand,
Érec said: ‘Sire, here you see
Her father, a dear friend to me,
He who showed me such honour,
Of his house he made me master.
Before he knew aught about me,
He lodged me right comfortably,
Whatever he had he gave to me,
Bestowing his daughter freely.
Without others’ advice and counsel.’
‘And friend, who is she, now tell,’
Said the king, ‘the lady at his side?’
Érec speaks, and naught doth hide.
‘Sire,’ said he, ‘of that lady there
I may say she is my wife’s mother.’
‘Her mother is she?’ – ‘Truly, Sire!’
‘I might say then, and prove no liar,
That fair and lovely ought to be
The flower born of such beauty,
And sweeter the fruit we choose,
For sweetness comes of our virtues.
Fair is Énide as fair she must be,
By right and reason, as we see,
For a lovely lady is her mother,
And a noble knight has she for father.
Nor does she fail them in anything.
For she comes of them, inheriting
Full many a virtue from these two.’
Then the king falls silent anew.
They all sit, at a wave of his hand,
All quick to obey his command.
Once all are seated, immediately
Énide looks about her joyfully,
Delighted to see her parents there,
Much time has passed, she is aware,
Since of them she has had sight;
Greatly increased is her delight,
Greatly her joy and happiness,
Which she is at pains to express
All she can, though ever shows
Less than the joy that she knows.
Yet I will speak of that no more,
My heart turns towards the court,
Assembled there, all the nobility.
Here, of many a diverse country,
Counts, dukes and kings we see;
Normans, Bretons, Scots, Irishry.
From England and Cornwall too
A wealthy gathering is on view,
For from Far Wales to Anjou,
And from Maine and Poitou,
Not a knight of substance there,
Nor gentle lady with fine airs,
But the best and most elegant
Were at that court in Nantes,
At King Arthur’s command.
Now give ear, and understand,
The grandeur and joy that day,
The great wealth and display,
That at that court was shown.
For, before the hour of nones,
King Arthur dubbed, as it saw,
Four hundred knights or more,
All sons of counts and kings.
He gave each three yearlings,
Fine bred, of new robes four,
So they might not seem poor:
Great and lavish was the king,
The robes, not of rabbit-skin,
Nor of serge, nor brown fur,
But of samite and ermine were;
Of vair, of flowered silk made,
Trimmed with stiff and heavy braid.
Alexander who so conquered
That a whole world he mastered,
Who was so wealthy and lavish,
Showed poor and mean next to this.
Caesar, the master of all Rome,
And every king who is known
From tales and chansons de geste,
Never shared among his guests
As much as Arthur handed round
When Érec as king was crowned;
Nor dared Caesar or Alexander
Spend the wealth he squandered
On his court, midst that event.
Robes from his chests were sent
To be scattered through the halls
All can take them, naught befalls;
And wear them without restriction.
And thirty bushels of silver coin,
In their midst, on a carpet, set,
Good currency in all Britain yet,
As from the very time of Merlin,
The bright silver penny sterling.
From it, all took what they might,
Carrying it away, all that night,
To their lodgings, till the dawn.
At tierce on Christmas Morn,
All at the court assembled, where
The great joy that awaited there
Filled Érec’s heart, completely.
The tongue of no man could fully,
However skilful might be his art,
Describe the third or fourth part,
Or even the fifth, of the display
Marking his coronation day.
So I am subject to great folly,
In seeking to describe it truly;
Yet since the effort I must make,
Come what may, I’ll undertake
To render some part of it all,
As best I can, what e’er befall.
Lines 6713-6809 The great display at Érec’s coronation
THE king had two thrones on view,
Of white ivory, fine and new,
Of like pattern and like size.
He who made them, I surmise
Was subtle and ingenious too;
He so precisely matched the two,
In height, width and decoration,
You could not, in any fashion,
Distinguish between the pair,
Or find a single feature there
In the one, and not the other.
Naught was of wood either,
But all was gold and ivory;
And all was carved skilfully,
For each on one limb did yield
The form of a leopard revealed,
On the other a winged dragon.
Bruiant of the Isles had given
Them to Arthur, he a knight,
To his and his queen’s delight.
King Arthur occupying the one,
Made Érec take the other one.
Érec was clothed in watered silk;
Reading, we find such of that ilk
In the histories, as reported by
Macrobius, lest any claim I lie,
Who treats of it most carefully,
And who is here my authority.
Macrobius it is who teaches me
How to describe it, just as I see
It in his book, cloth and imagery.
For is was made by four faeries,
With perfect skill and mastery.
One faery depicted Geometry,
How it measures earth and sky,
Their extent and where they lie,
Such that naught is lost to sight,
And the depth and the height,
The width and length, and then,
How it, by measuring again,
How deep the sea is and wide,
To the whole world is applied.
Such was the first faerie’s design,
While the second spent her time
In portraying Arithmetic there
Taking pains to show with care
How it cleverly could number
The days and hours of slumber,
And drop by drop the seawater,
And the sand grains tell over,
And the stars, one by one,
(Knowing how truth is won)
And the leaves on the trees:
Treating number with such ease,
It can never be deceived,
Nor by error e’er be grieved,
Such the skill of Arithmetic;
The third’s work was of Music,
Which with all delight accords,
Melody, descant, and chords,
Harp, viol, and bowed lyre;
Work as fine as men desire,
For upon it were portrayed,
All the instruments e’er played.
The fourth, who worked it last,
Well she performed her task,
For the greatest art was seen,
Astronomy that is, I mean,
Which doth many a wonder show,
And from the stars doth know,
And from the moon and sun,
For it seeks counsel of none
But them, all it ought to do.
They give counsel good and true.
Regarding all that will be seen,
And what is now, and has been,
They give sure information,
Without falsehood or deception.
On the fabric was this portrayed,
Of which Érec’s robe was made.
Worked, woven in gold thread.
But the lining revealed, instead,
Strange creatures there applied,
With white heads, on its inside,
With necks black as mulberries,
Vermilion backs, green bellies,
And tails of dark blue, as well.
In India these creatures dwell,
They are named ‘barbiolets’,
Naught but spices eat all day,
Cloves and fresh cinnamon.
What of the mantle he had on?
It was rich and fine as well:
Four gems the tassels held,
Two chrysolites on one side,
Two amethysts the other ride,
And mounted in gold all four.
Lines 6810-6946 Érec is crowned
ENIDE they now are waiting for,
For she has not yet made her way
To the palace. Arthur at this delay,
At once requests Gawain to go
And bring her, and the queen also.
Gawain went swiftly at his command,
And with him went King Cadoalant
And the generous King of Galloway,
And, accompanying them, Guivret,
Along with Yder the son of Nut.
So many other knights went, on foot,
To escort the two ladies though,
They made a very warlike show;
There were a thousand or more.
The queen had sought to ensure
That Énide was richly arrayed.
Into the palace they now parade,
Gawain the courteous on her right,
On her left, that generous knight
The King of Galloway, and he too
Held her dear, for his own nephew
Was Érec; and when they all enter
There to meet them is King Arthur,
And swiftly and courteously,
Beside Érec he seats Énide;
Wishing to show her great honour.
Then, from amongst his treasure,
Two crowns he orders brought,
Weighty, of fine gold wrought.
As soon as he did so command,
The crowns were there on hand,
Both carried in, without delay,
Their garnets made a fine display;
Four, adorning each, shone bright.
Naught appears the moon’s light
Compared to the brightness then
Of even the least of those gems.
And through their radiance, also
All in the palace are dazzled, so
Completely, so intense they find
The light, a while they are blind.
Even King Arthur was surprised,
Yet overjoyed, with his own eyes
To view them, so clear and bright.
One was raised by two knights,
The other held by two maidens.
He commands the bishops then
And the priors to advance slow,
The abbots of the church also,
To anoint the new king, which is
In accord with Christian practice.
And there step forward, all told
Many a prelate, young and old;
For a great number had come,
Of abbots and bishops, a sum.
The Bishop of Nantes, indeed,
Worthy and saintly, did lead;
Anointed the new-made king,
In a manner holy, and fitting,
And set a crown on Érec’s head.
King Arthur himself added
A sceptre which was very fine.
Hear me tell of it, line by line:
For it is clearer than glass,
Solid emerald green as grass,
Fully as large as is your fist.
I tell you truly, some artist
Has traced and carved there,
Of our world, every manner
Of fish or wild beast he can;
Every bird, and form of man,
And each there figured truly.
And so the sceptre is duly
Carried to King Arthur who,
Wondering at the thing anew,
Places it in Érec’s right hand:
Now rightful king of his land.
Then Arthur crowns Énide,
And the bells sound indeed.
To the main church they go,
For mass, and a service also
At the cathedral go to hear.
Weeping with joy, appear
The father of Queen Énide,
And her mother, Carsenafide,
The true name of her mother,
And Liconal that of her father;
Most joyful were those two.
At the cathedral, came in view,
A procession, for their pleasure,
Of the holy relics and treasure,
Brought forth for them to see;
Crosses, texts, and reliquaries,
Holding the sacred remains,
A quantity of which it claims.
All were brought to greet them,
With many a chant to meet them.
Never were so many lords praying,
So many counts, dukes and kings,
Seen at mass, all those noblemen:
The crowd was so great that when
All were in the church was filled.
Outside, the lowly people milled,
All barred, but knights and ladies;
Even of them there were many
Who remained outside the door
So great a crowd to it did pour,
Who still could not gain entry.
When the mass ends, quietly
They all return to the palace.
Where everything is in place,
Cloths spread and tables set;
Five hundred tables; and yet,
I’d not have you credit a word
Of anything that seems absurd.
It might seem far too great a lie
To claim five hundred tables vie
To feed a gathering, these days;
And in one place, so I’ll rephrase,
Thus; they were set in five halls,
So one could navigate them all,
Only with difficulty, and at
Every table, in truth, there sat
A king, or duke perhaps, or count.
A hundred knights, by all account,
At each table there, head by head.
A thousand knights serve the bread,
A thousand meat, a thousand wine,
In ermine robes, all fresh and fine.
Of dishes, were served a variety,
And though I was not there to see
I could well describe each plate;
Yet, instead of whatever they ate,
I must attend to something other:
They had plenty, not wanting other,
For joyfully, generously were they
Served with all they wished that day.
Lines 6947-6958 The conclusion
WHEN all the feasting was done,
The king dismissed everyone,
All the kings and dukes and counts,
A mighty number, by all accounts,
And the humble commoners, all
Who had come to that festival.
He gave out presents lavishly,
Horses, silver, and weaponry,
Robes, brocades of many a kind,
Because he was of generous mind,
And for love of Érec his friend.
Here, at last, the tale doth end.
The End of the Tale of Érec and Énide