Wolfram von Eschenbach
Book VII: Gawain at Bearosche
‘Comes he not?’
From The Flower Book, Sir Edward Burne-Jones (English, 1833 – 1898)
Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved
This work may be freely reproduced, stored and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose. Conditions and Exceptions apply.
- Gawain meets with an army, and then a squire.
- The squire tells Gawain of King Meljanz and Duke Lyppaut.
- Gawain rides to the siege of Bearosche.
- The siege is preceded by a ‘tourney’.
- Obie, Duke Lyppaut’s elder daughter, acts maliciously towards Gawain.
- The Burgrave Scherules grants Gawain his protection.
- Gawain indulges the child Obilot and pledges to be ‘her knight’.
- The child Obilot sends Gawain her love-token.
- Duke Lyppaut’s forces unite with those of his brother Duke Marangliez.
- Gawain joins the fight, at which Parzival, unbeknown to him, is present.
- Gawain defeats Prince Meljahkanz.
- Parzival, the Red Knight, leaves the field to continue his quest for the Grail.
- Meljanz and Obie are reconciled, and will marry.
- Gawain departs Bearosche.
Gawain meets with an army, and then a squire
THIS tale will follow for a while
Gawain, that knight devoid of guile,
Who never did a shameful deed;
For it takes friendly note, indeed,
Of many besides Parzival,
Though he’s its hero, amidst all.
Deficient are such folk as praise
Their favourite yet scorn a phrase
That honours some deserving other.
A poet who the truth would utter
Whene’er his hero he commends,
On approbation he depends
To inspire him, for otherwise
His house is open to the skies.
Who but the wise can thus ensure
That words of sense forth do pour?
Deceitful tales, made but for show,
Are best left sprawling in the snow,
Without a patron, with none to care.
Then if they claim that truth is there,
Those lying tongues would surely freeze,
And God would worthy poets please,
Whose honesty sees them take pains.
For when a noble patron maintains
An audience for those who desire
Base works, he but honours the liar,
And shows a lack of discernment.
Had he a sense of shame, his intent
Would be to choose a better course.
Gawain was ever an honest force
In battle; valour clothed his name,
Cowardice ne’er touched his fame.
In war, he was a tower of strength
Looming above the fray, immense,
Apparent midst the worst melee;
And friend and foe, in such affray,
Declared his shout was ever clear;
As honour to him was ever dear,
Howe’er Kingrimursel had sought
To challenge him before the court.
How many days it was since he
Had of King Arthur taken leave,
I know not, but now, departing
A wide forest, he was crossing
A valley, with all his retinue,
When a large army came in view,
On the march, with many a banner,
A daunting sight that served however
Only to make his courage swell.
‘Far too late to retreat, as well,’
He thought, and so he told his squire
That his charger he did desire,
The steed a gift from Orilus,
Unsought for, and most generous,
Named Gringuljete of the Red Ears,
From Munsalvaesche, as it appears,
Being that mount Lahelin did gain
Beside the shore of Lake Brumbane,
Thrusting a brave knight to the earth
Such that he died, that man of worth,
As Trevrizent would later relate.
‘When a man is in such a state
He turns tail ere he is assailed,
Losing heart, his courage failed,
It adds but little to his good name.’
‘I shall advance,’ said Lord Gawain,
‘Whate’er occurs; in any case,
They have seen us nearing apace;
There is ever some means of flight.’
He dismounted did that brave knight,
As though to make a halt; there rode
In company, on that valley road,
Countless squadrons, the riders wore
Well-cut tunics, and shields they bore
With emblems strange to him, he knew
Not these pennants that came in view.
‘I’m as strange to them, as they to me,
I’ve ne’er before seen these I see,’
He said, ‘yet, if they seek a fight,
Then I will joust with them outright
Ere ever I seek to turn away.’
Now Gringuljete was in full array,
A steed who’d met many another
Swift attack in some tight corner,
Such as was destined for him here.
For many a bright helm did appear,
Adorned with crests, and the pages,
In toilsome sport for little wages,
Bore many a new painted lance,
Their lords’ emblems to advance.
King Lot’s son, my Lord Gawain,
Saw lines of mules, a mighty train,
Bearing equipment, and then a host
Of deep-laden wagons it did boast;
Camp-followers, in usual manner
All confusion and ne’er a banner;
And ‘ladies’ with many a cincture
Given as pledge to win their favour;
No queens were they but those we call
Soldiers’ sweethearts; bless ’em all;
And there too many a vagabond
Dragging his weary limbs along,
Young or old, though some had better
Graced the gallows than dishonour
Worthy folk by swelling the ranks.
Now, as to this, Gawain gave thanks
That, as he waited, it passed him by,
This army, pennants against the sky,
For any that saw him halted there
Thought him a part of their affair.
No prouder company might you see,
On this, or the other side of the sea,
All in high spirits, as they passed on.
Hard on their tracks, and they scarce gone,
Came a noble squire, at his saddle-bow
A riderless horse, while he bore also
A bran new shield and spurred away
At his mount, in haste to join the fray.
His clothes they were of the finest cut.
Gawain rode up to him, then put
A question to him, after greeting
Him most courteously on meeting,
As to whose retinue had gone by.
‘Sir you mock me,’ was his reply,
‘Had I incurred your wrath before,
I could not be dishonoured more.
You and the others better know
Each other than I; why ask me so?
You are a thousand times better
Informed than I of all this matter.’
Gawain denied that he knew any
Of those who had passed, and many
An oath he swore that this was so.
‘My travels are wide, and yet I know
None of these knights, to my disgrace,
None have I seen in any place
Where my services were needed.’
The squire tells Gawain of King Meljanz and Duke Lyppaut
‘SIR, I was wrong,’ the squire conceded,
‘I should have answered you at first.
My judgement failed me; do your worst,
Deal with my error as you wish,
And I will tell you gladly of this.
First, I am sorry for my manner.’
‘All credit to your sense of honour;
Come, tell me who they are, young man.’
‘His bold advance none can withstand,
The one who marched by you, but now,
And a fine warrior, I avow,
His name is King Poydiconjunz,
With him Duke Astor of Lanverunz,
And with him rides a wretch who never
Freely won a woman’s favour;
He wears the crown of true dishonour,
And his name is King Meljahkanz,
Any pleasure that, by mischance,
He had of woman was had by force.
Death he’s earned, such the course
Of evil he’s embarked upon,
He is King Poydiconjunz’ son
And set on doing many a deed
Of arms, and so he does indeed,
Shows his courage and resolution.
What merit though, in such action?
Even a sow shows bravery
Defending her farrow, savagely,
Yet I ne’er heard any man praised
Whose courage was not appraised
Alongside his sense of decency,
And many here will agree with me.
‘Sir, listen to a wondrous thing;
I’ll tell you the tale, start to ending.
Meljanz of Liz, comes behind you,
A great army that king brings too,
Spurred on by his pride and anger,
Being but a thwarted lover.
I’ll tell it as it did befall,
My lord, for I witnessed it all.
King Meljanz’ father did summon
His greatest nobles, every one,
To his bedside, the pledge it seemed
For his brave life was not redeemed
And so, he must surrender to death.
He commended, with his last breath,
Young Meljanz to all men present.
Now, privately, the king had sent
For a prince of the high nobility,
The faithful Duke Lyppaut, one free
Of guile, and asked him to raise
His son, “Teach him virtuous ways,
Prove your love; let him show honour
To kith and kin, and to the stranger,
And should any needy man
Desire him let him take his hand
And have him share in what he has.”
Commending the boy, he died alas.
Now all was done by Duke Lyppaut
As was requested by King Schaut
On his death-bed, naught was ignored,
All was discharged well by this lord.
Duke Lyppaut raised the lad at home,
Where he had children of his own,
Whom he loved, and still does so,
An elder, the source of all this woe,
Obie, a daughter fit for a wooer,
And Obilot, her younger sister.
One day it seems this young king
Asked her to reward his wooing.
She cursed his addled wits and said
Too full of fancies was his head,
Of his senses he’d taken leave.
‘If you were of age, then, I believe,
If you fought and proved your worth
Where events to honour give birth,
Amidst the fray, behind a shield,
Helm on head, and did not yield,
For five full years, and then did stand
Before me, all at my command,
And I said yes to your desire,
Twere still too soon; oh, I admire
You, as Annore did Galoes, he
Found death, and later so did she,
After losing him, in that fight!’
‘I would not have you love a knight
So greatly madam, that you vent
Your anger on him, at all event.
If love is but to receive its due,
Then mercy must play its role too.
If you disdain my wooing so,
You go too far; all turns to woe.
You’ll outrun yourself; I thought
Twas in my favour that at court
Your father stands my loyal man,
From me he holds his towns and land.’
‘May any who do so, so deserve!’
She said, ‘I am not meant to serve;
The mark I set myself is higher,
To hold a fief is not my desire.
My freedom doth fit me instead
For any crown on a mortal head!’
‘Your father has put you up to this!
Your pride is swollen, as is his,
And amends now he shall make
For wronging me; make no mistake,
I shall wield arms to such effect
I’ll guarantee greater respect;
Hacking, thrusting there will be,
Lances shattered, in war or tourney!’
Full of wrath he took leave of her,
The retainers regretting his anger,
As did she. Faced with disgrace,
Blameless Lyppaut asked for grace,
Declaring he’d stand trial, though
Offering other amends; and so,
Whate’er the rights and wrongs might be,
He sought justice, and made his plea,
At a council of the princes and peers,
Claiming innocence, as it appears,
And seeking his sovereign’s favour,
But Meljanz, consumed by anger,
Showing not an ounce of pity,
Withheld from him all hope of mercy.
Now it was not Duke Lyppaut’s way
To harm his lord, indeed, to this day,
Loyal men ne’er mistreat their guest.
Misled by faulty judgement, at best,
The king departed without due leave.
Lyppaut’s squires did sorely grieve,
Each being some great prince’s son;
Lyppaut had tutored them, every one,
Denying them naught they might need.
Concerning them, he has indeed
Fear of none, except Lisavander,
Burgrave of Beauvais, commander
In France, whom he’d treated well.
These squires the affair did compel
To break with the Duke, formally,
Bowing to him on bended knee,
On assuming the shield as knights,
For the king, asserting his rights,
Invested many a prince this day
And other squires, in full array.
The army then that marches ahead,
Has a martial warrior at its head,
This King Poydiconjunz of Gors;
Many a knight in his concourse.
Meljanz is his paternal nephew,
The young man and his uncle too
Are both given to arrogant ways;
Ever the proud the proud do raise!
The anger’s so great in this affair
That those two kings marching there
Will besiege Bearosche, and so,
There, ladies’ favours will, we know,
Cause many a lance to be broken,
Harsh blows exchanged for a token.
Bearosche’s defences are such
That had we twenty armies, much
Greater still than those met here,
We would not take it still, I fear.
I slipped away from my fellow squires
With this shield, for my lord desires
To be the first to joust, this shield
Is the first he’s borne in any field.’
The squire glanced back and saw his lord,
Approaching with three mounts, aboard
Were twelve fair lances gleaming white,
All could see his intent to fight,
Racing ahead of the vanguard there
To lay a claim to the first affair.
‘Now sir, I’d best ride back again,’
Said the squire to my Lord Gawain,
And turned to join his lord anew.
Gawain rides to the siege of Bearosche
WHAT would you have that brave knight do,
But gaze more closely at it all?
Yet he was unsure what might befall.
‘If I look on while others fight,
Avoiding battle,’ mused the knight,
‘What then for my renown and fame?
Yet if I fight and fall, my name
Must be tarnished, as one who sought
To shun the fight he should have fought.
That shall not happen, I must still
Seek that promised duel, and will.’
Here was a painful quandary,
Were he to stay, what of his journey
To Ascalun? Yet he could not
Simply ride by, the siege forgot.
‘God preserve my life,’ he cried,
‘My skill, and strength, and all beside!’
Then he rode on, in the direction
Of Bearosche, seeking action.
Soon, before him, lay the town,
Its keep so fine that none around
Was housed as well, in every way,
As was this Duke Lyppaut, I’d say.
The castle decked with towers a-plenty
Seemed to him of striking beauty.
The enemy were all camped below
Where many a rich tent did show,
Pride displayed, banners on high;
A host of followers met the eye.
His decision still troubling him,
And pricking at his heart within,
Gawain rode straight through the foe,
Whose pavilions filled the field below.
Gawain noted all that was there,
And how each group of men did fare.
The calls of ‘bien sey venuz!’ did he
Answer with one word ‘Gramerzi!’
In numbers, there, on the one side
Men from Semblidac did abide,
Nearby, set apart, he could see
Mounted archers, from Kaheti.
Who loves a stranger? Lord Gawain,
King Lot’s son, rode on again,
Since none invited him to stay,
And to the castle made his way.
‘If I’m to keep myself intact,’
He thought, ‘tis far better, in fact,
To be up at the castle than down
Here, and so besieging the town,
For I seek naught in all the ruck
But not to forfeit my good luck.’
Gawain rode on towards the gate,
Though many an obstacle of late
Had been placed across the way,
And all the towers were armed that day,
And every battlement was manned,
By marksmen, crossbow in hand,
Leaning forward, prepared to fire;
The work of war was their desire.
Lord Gawain rode on, up the hill,
Though all was strange to him, until
He reached the palace where he saw
A crowd of ladies, a balcony bore;
For the Duchess with her daughters
Had gone there, from her quarters,
To watch the happenings outside.
And, indeed, twas Gawain they spied,
Who soon heard all they chose to say:
‘Who’s this stranger upon the way?’
‘And with servants too,’ said the mother.
‘A merchant!’ cried the elder daughter.
‘And yet they carry his shields, I vow.’
‘Well so do lots of merchants now.’
‘Tis never so,’ declared the younger,
‘You ought to be ashamed, my sister,
He was never a merchant; right
Handsome he is; he’ll be my knight,
And serve me well, and seek reward,
Which I shall give, since he’s a lord!’
Now Gawain’s squires could clearly see
A linden, and many an olive-tree,
Set there below the palace wall,
Thinking good fortune did befall;
Imagine now what they did do?
And King Lot’s son alighted too,
Where he found the coolest shade,
As his chamberlain decked the glade
With a mattress and quilt; on these
The valiant knight reclined at ease,
While, above, a host of women met.
His clothes and armour all were set
Upon the grass, and then the squires
As this cool glade met their desires,
Neath the other trees took their place.
‘Yet no merchant doth show such grace,’
Said the Duchess, to the elder,
‘So, vilify him not, my daughter.’
‘She doth allow her ill manner,
Ever to get the better of her,’
Cried Obilot, the younger maid,
‘She was too haughty, I’m afraid,
With King Meljanz of Liz when he
Sued for her favour; cursed be
Such sentiments, I do avow!’
‘I care not a fig where or how
He appears, that wretched man
Is but a merchant!’ Obie began
To quiver, consumed by anger,
‘He’ll do a good trade, however,
Your valiant knight’s goods are so well
Guarded that, best as I can tell,
He’ll guard himself right closely too.’
Gawain suffered all this, for you
Should know their words had reached his ear.
The siege is preceded by a ‘tourney’
BUT let us leave the matter here,
And listen to events in town.
A navigable stream ran down
Beside it, neath a bridge of stone.
On its far side, the field alone
Was free of the enemy as yet.
A marshal now arrived, and set
Over the wide space of meadow
Placements for his lord, to show
He held the bridgehead, and his lord
Duly appeared. Help he’d afford
The town, for he had come in force,
And if you have not heard perforce,
Who came riding to Lyppaut’s aid,
I’ll tell you: Duke Marangliez,
His brother, from Brevigariez
Had marched his men, and there
For love of him, a valiant pair
Of knights came too; King Schirniel,
And Schirniel’s brother Mirabel,
He wore the crown of Avendroyn,
The former that of Lirivoyn.
When those within the fortress saw
This aid approaching, they deplored
The measures they had undertaken;
The obstructions seemed mistaken.
‘Alas, that Bearosche bars the gate!’
Duke Lyppaut grieved now at his fate,
‘Now I must challenge my liege lord
My good manners go by the board;
Yet his favour would serve better
Than his enmity; shall I gather
Some lance-thrust through my shield,
Or worse still wound him in the field?
If any lady in her right mind
Were to praise that, she would find
Herself condemned as but a fool.
If my lord in a cell were to cool
Himself, then I’d have to free him,
And be obliged to pursue him,
And place myself in one of his.
Yet I give thanks to God for this:
I am not yet his prisoner,
Seeing that, such is his anger,
He lays siege to this fair place.
Give me counsel, of your grace,’
‘He said to those around him, ‘how
Shall we deal with this matter now?’
‘If he’d but known your innocence
We’d not have needed this defence,’
All those of good judgement agreed.
They counselled, in his hour of need,
That the great gate be opened wide,
And then the best of those inside
Should ride forth and offer combat.
‘Tis better the King replies to that,
Than from the walls, with difficulty,
We seek to fight with Meljanz’ army.
Many a noble squire did he bring,
We’ll win a hostage from the King,
Such as may serve to quell his anger;
And then knightly deeds may offer
A means to temper wrath, and so
Suggest that you are friend not foe.
Single combat would suit us more
Than that they, in true act of war,
Prise us from the walls. Were it not
That Poydiconjunz his back has got,
With the pick of their fighting men,
We’d drive them off; but then again,
There are Duke Astor’s captive Britons,
And King Poydiconjunz’ son,
Brave Meljahkanz, is also there.
Had Prince Gurnemanz had the care
Of that fellow, he would have stood
In high repute, tis all to the good
That we have reinforcements now.’
Twas sound advice, you will allow,
So, Duke Lyppaut oped the gate,
And his men marched to their fate.
Here was a joust, there another,
The enemy too had drawn together,
And with good spirit did progress.
The ‘tourney’ now met with success.
On both sides, countless companies
Sought to engage their enemies;
Many a great lord’s page cried out.
(Some in Scots or Welsh did shout!)
The noble knights fought hard indeed,
Yet with no rules of ransom agreed.
Squires who came forth, from within
The ranks of the besiegers, did win
Many a joust, yet those who lost
Found they were treated, to their cost,
As countrymen deal with trespassers
At harvest-time, for the defenders
Bound them forfeit. None wore finer
Clothes than these squires moreover,
Except those old enough to be
Gifted clothes by some fine lady.
Meljanz rode a tall Castilian
Decked in a fine caparison;
His high spirits much admired.
His mount Meljahkanz had acquired,
When he thrust Kay into the air,
To such a height, in some affair,
He left him hanging from a tree,
And dangling there for all to see.
Since he had won it in fair fight,
Meljanz rode it here, as of right.
And, indeed, he gave of his best,
His deeds praised above the rest,
All viewed by Obie, the elder sister,
From the Palace where, together,
The two girls gazed upon the scene.
‘Look sister,’ she said, ‘there, I mean,
Where our two brave knights, I fear,
Seem scarcely equal; it doth appear
That yours is of the strong opinion
That we must fail in our mission,
And lose both the palace and town;
A bolder champion must be found!’
Such taunts the younger had to bear
From her sister, in this affair.
‘He can retrieve all, I believe;
He is sound enough to receive
Your sharp arrows and yet survive.
He must address himself, alive,
To me; I’ll grant him happiness.
Since he is a ‘merchant’ no less,
He can bargain for his reward!’
Gawain listened to their discord,
But, as was seemly, never stirred,
Nor gave a sign, nor said a word.
Tis death alone commits robbery,
And steals a true heart’s modesty.
Poydiconjunz’ army stood by.
Only one noble caught the eye,
The Duke of Lanverunz, Astor,
In action there, till the King of Gors,
Poydiconjunz, the tried campaigner,
Rode to him, and gathered together
Various knights to be led away.
For the ‘tourney’, he’d come to say,
Was over, with its sundry blows,
Bravely fought for love of those
Lovely ladies who reigned elsewhere;
Of wounds these knights had their share.
‘Had you no thought,’ Poydiconjunz
Now asked the Duke of Lanverunz,
‘Of waiting for me ere you fought?
Twas but vainglory that you sought.
Is that your idea of a valiant deed?
Should Count Laheduman, indeed,
He of Muntane, and Meljahkanz
My son, who doth bravely prance,
And I myself, in arms, ride out
You’d see something to shout about,
Could you but a true judgement yield.
I’ll not depart this battlefield
Till every man has had his fill
Of fighting the foe, or until
All the folk that there may be
In that great fortress yield to me!’
‘Your royal nephew went before
With his army of Liz,’ cried Astor,
And is your army then to sleep?
Are these the hours that your men keep?
Well, if that is what you teach us,
I’ll sleep too when war’s upon us.
For I sleep well while others fight!
And yet I think, if some brave knight
Had not appeared, the end of it
Was they’d have had all the credit,
And advantage, before your face;
Tis I have saved you from disgrace.
In God’s name put aside your anger!
More was won by risking danger,
Than was lost by your folk; only
The cause, it seems, was Lady Obie!’
Poydiconjunz’ anger he now turned
Upon Meljanz, though he had earned
New-fledged fame, as was but just,
His shield pierced by many a thrust.
But tis Obie we’ll consider.
Obie, Duke Lyppaut’s elder daughter, acts maliciously towards Gawain
HER ire was aimed altogether
At Gawain, though naught had he
Done to rouse it; maliciously,
Seeking to humble him, at that,
She sent a page to where he sat.
‘Go ask if his horses are for sale,
And whether or not he has a bale
Or two of cloth in his panniers he
Would wish to trade; say that we
Women will buy them, everything,
And without a moment’s haggling.’
When the lad approached Gawain
He met with anger, that was plain.
The glittering in Gawain’s eyes
Terrified him, and his surprise
Was such he failed to speak a word
Of the message that he had heard
From his mistress’ lips; Gawain,
Made no great effort to restrain
His ire: ‘Wretch, begone!’ he said,
‘Come a step nearer, and your head
Will be ringing ere I am done.’
Off went the page then, at a run.
Now hear what this Obie did seek.
She sent a gentleman to speak
To the Burgrave of the town,
Scherules, a man of fair renown.
‘You are to ask him for a favour;
Say I’d have him act with vigour.
By the moat, neath the olive trees,
Are seven chargers he must seize.
Those horses, and what else is there
He must take. Make him aware
That the merchant would cheat us,
And a Burgrave should protect us.
I rely on his powers to arraign
The merchant, and his goods obtain
All without payment, and then he
May keep them, as a gift from me.’
Off to this lord the young man sped,
And spoke all his mistress had said.
‘I’m here to keep us from knavery,
Replied Scherules, I’ll go and see.’
He rode to where our brave Gawain
Was seated and could see, twas plain,
The man was a most handsome knight,
Broad chested, strong, a goodly sight,
Naught lacking, a fine countenance,
So circumspectly he did advance.
‘My lord,’ said he, ‘as a stranger here,
A lack of judgement, it doth appear,
Has left you without a lodging,
And, to me, tis most concerning,
So, I myself shall be your groom,
All my folk, and a pleasant room
I shall place at your command;
No guest could e’er find, at hand,
A more willing host to serve you.’
‘Thank you, my lord, I see tis true,
Though little as yet I have done,
I’m grateful for your invitation.’
The Burgrave Scherules grants Gawain his protection
NOW, Scherules by all was known
For the kindliness he’d e’er shown,
And his good heart led him to say
‘Since it falls upon me, this day,
Here I shall be your guarantor
Against all loss; if, in this war,
These besiegers seek to rob you,
I shall be there, alongside you,
Fighting at your side.’ He turned
To the pages, a smile they earned:
‘Load up your gear, let naught remain!’
Off, with his host, went Lord Gawain.
Obie had sent a minstrel, her name
Known to her father, to that same,
To tell him that a counterfeiter
Was on his way: ‘His goods are better
Than most, and since my father
Pays his mercenaries in silver,
Horses and clothes, ask him outright,
As he is a true and worthy knight,
To use this man’s wealth so to do,
Tis enough for seven men, say you.’
The woman repeated what she’d heard
To Duke Lyppaut, and word for word.
A knight engaged in war, a lord,
Was oft at a loss how to afford
To pay his mercenaries and so
The honest Duke once he did know
Of this matter thought: ‘Tis wise,
To acquire the goods, and realise
All peaceably, or if not so won,
Then otherwise it must be done.
He met Scherules as he rode out,
Who asked him what he was about.
‘A swindler have I in my sights,
A coiner, a cheater of knights.’
Scherules laughed; he knew Gawain
Was innocent, and it seemed plain
The spare mounts and equipment
Had led to this strange indictment.
‘Whoever told you this, my lord,
Man, woman or maid, be assured
You are mistaken; he’s my guest,
And innocent, as I here attest.
He’s no merchant, let him speak,
And if tis a true knight you seek
You shall agree this man is one.
He’s no trickster, and anyone
Be it my own child, or father,
A kinsman, e’en my dear brother,
Who harms him must deal with me.
For I’ll defend him, willingly,
If it loses me not your favour.
I’d rather join some holy order,
Dress in sackcloth, leave this life
Of chivalry, and flee from strife
To some place where none know me,
Nor aught of my nobility,
Than that you harm him, and bring shame,
By doing so, on your good name.
Better to give fair welcome to
Those who are seeking to aid you,
Having heard of your woes, than steal
From them; so you ought to deal
With such a man.’ ‘Then show him me,’
Replied the Duke, ‘no harm I see
In that.’ He rode to seek Gawain.
As soon as his honest eyes did gain
A sight of the man, the Duke knew
He was noble, and handsome too,
And replete with manly qualities.
Now, when another doth so please
That affection makes us suffer
The pangs of love (the heart ever
Forfeit to true Love is, of old,
Mortgaged up to the hilt, and sold)
No lips can e’er recount them all,
All Love’s wonders, that may befall.
Whether in man or woman, Love
A bar to self-knowledge may prove.
Obie and Meljanz loved so deeply,
They should earn your sympathy.
His anger, and then the hurt she felt
By his riding away, the blow it dealt
To her pride, roused her wrath too.
This she had turned upon Gawain,
Who of all was the least to blame,
And showed him her fierce displeasure,
While her companions shared a measure.
Obie proved less than ladylike;
The sight of a handsome man would strike
To her heart, like a thorn, and deeper,
Such that modesty vied with anger,
Since her heart said Meljanz must be
The finest of all! ‘Well,’ thought she,
‘If he brings me woe, for his sake
I must suffer, and no mistake.
I love that dear and noble man
More than the world, and so my plan
Is forced upon me by deep feeling!’
Such the love she was concealing;
Even now Love occasions anger,
So be kind to Obie, dear stranger!
Gawain indulges the child Obilot and pledges to be ‘her knight’
WHAT Duke Lyppaut said, hear now
When face to face with him, and how
He welcomed the knight to his domain.
‘My lord,’ he said to my Lord Gawain,
‘Good fortune you bring, for my eye
Has never been so charmed (though I
Have travelled widely) by any man.
This day of your coming, see, it can
Console us in our woes, for tis true
You possess the power so to do.’
And he asked Gawain to join the fight.
‘If you should lack aught that a knight
May need, let us provide the rest,
Join my detachment, as my guest.’
‘I would be willing,’ said Gawain,
‘Since I’m prepared, but then again,
I am banned from all such action,
Till a certain term is past and done.
I would make common cause with you,
E’en with the odds clean against you,
But must not fight, though it be sought,
Until that private duel is fought,
In which my honour is at stake,
Such that, if I make no mistake,
Pledged to maintain my name,
I must defend that very same
In combat, or die in the attempt;
And I journey now, with that intent.’
To Lyppaut this news brought woe.
‘Sir,’ said he, ‘I would beg you though
To hear my tale of innocence,
As regards the charge and dire offence
That caused this war; your nobility
And gracious breeding owe it me.
I have two daughters, whom I love,
And so, whate’er the Lord above
Has blessed me with in this pair,
I am content; though woe be there,
Yet I am fortunate to have them.
One shares a sorrow in common
With me though working differently,
For my lord doth treat her hurtfully
With his love for her, yet doth prove
As regards myself, void of love.
Because she’ll not have him, he
Wishes to wreak revenge on me.
Yet I, indeed, love my daughter
What matter then if I must suffer?
I count it a blessing, such sorrow.
And as to my lack of sons, though
A daughter may not wield a blade,
She is as useful, when she’s made
A marriage with some spirited match,
One that her modest ways may catch.
Providing her father helps her choose,
A son-in-law would prove good news.’
‘May God grant your wish’, replied
Gawain, while Lyppaut still tried
To tempt the knight to join the war.
‘Pursue it not,’ said he, as before;
‘As a gentleman, nobly born,
Seek not for me to be foresworn.
Yet I shall see what I might do,
And, ere nightfall, I’ll tell it you.’
Lyppaut thanked him, and made to go,
Yet in the courtyard, there below,
Found Obilot, his little daughter,
With Clauditte, Scherules’ daughter,
Playing a game. ‘Whence come you?’
He said, embracing the child anew,
‘Father,’ she said, ‘I’m here to ask
This stranger to undertake a task;
Tis to be my knight-servitor,
For he will do so, I feel sure.’
‘My daughter, he said nor no nor yes,
Now, to my most heart-felt request
That he should fight for us; yet pursue
The matter, for he may fight for you.’
So, off she sped to seek the stranger.
As Obilot entered his chamber,
Gawain leapt to his feet, and after
Greeting her, sat down beside her,
And thanked her for being kind,
When he was wrongly maligned.
‘If e’er a knight was affected by
So charming a little lady, I
Confess myself charmed by you!’
‘Heaven knows, sir, it is true,’
The sweet child said, ‘I vow,
That this is but the first time now,
I was e’er alone with a man so.
If I may do so without a show
Of immodesty or indiscretion,
I should enjoy a conversation,
For my governess says I’ll find
That fair speech adorns the mind.
My lord, tis for love’s own sake
A request of you I would make,
And I will name it by your leave,
For though you think the worse of me,
I’ll have spoken fittingly, too,
For I ask myself in asking you;
Though we are two, maid and man,
We are but one, if hand in hand.
Now have I asked both you and me,
If you dismiss me, shamefully,
With a refusal, your good name
Will have to answer to this same
Courtesy that I find in you,
Since I am a maid who seeks, tis true,
Your sympathy. Love I offer,
With all my heart, if tis your pleasure;
And then if yours be knightly ways,
I know you will serve me always,
I who am worthy to be served.
If my father has not deserved
Your aid as a kinsman or friend,
That is no reason not to lend
Your assistance for love alone.’
‘Madam, the music,’ he replied
Of your lips (and here he sighed)
Would part me thus from my honour,
Be not a friend now to dishonour,
For mine is pawned and must be
Redeemed or twill be death to me.
Granted I was to show devotion,
And gift you my every attention,
You must be five years older yet
Before your true love could be met
With true response, for only then
Can you be mistress among men.’
Yet he recalled how Parzival
Had placed good women above all,
Trusting less in God than them,
And his counsel echoed again
In my Lord Gawain’s heart, as though
It was some angelic voice, and so
He gave his promise to this child,
For he and honour were reconciled;
‘Let my sword be in your fair hand,
And if any would joust, understand,
You must attack them, forge ahead,
And fight them bravely in my stead.
The folk will see me fighting there,
But tis you who’ll order the affair.’
‘That will trouble me not at all,’
She said, ‘I’ll be your shield, and call
Myself your heart, and faith, and be
Your protection, most loyally,
Now you have freed me from doubt.
When misfortune seeks you out,
I shall be your friend and guide,
A shelter from the storm provide
And sweet repose. My love shall fence
You round with peace, be your defence,
And good luck charm, when you must face
Danger, in some hazardous place,
And then shall rouse your courage
To inspire you, and encourage
You to strive for your lord, anew;
For I am your lord and lady too,
And shall be ever at your side;
If your faith but in that reside,
Neither courage nor fortune will
Forsake you; you’ll possess them still.’
‘Madam,’ Gawain replied, ‘since I
Am at your command, then shall I
Receive your love, and the benefit
That you confer upon me with it.’
And all this time her little hand
Lay between his, you understand.
‘Now my lord, let me go,’ she said,
‘For I to my duty must be wed.
How would you fare without my token?
I must provide one, now I’ve spoken,
I shall not be found wanting here,
For you to me prove far too dear.
When you wear it no man’s fame
Shall mar the glory of your name.’
The child Obilot sends Gawain her love-token
AFTER making their devotion plain,
The girl and her playmate left Gawain,
Who thanked them, with many a bow.
‘When you are grown, I do avow,
Twould be but a meagre yield for you
If the forest bore such lances true
As it has trees now in full number.
If young though you are, you render
Some man your servant and retain
Your charm till then,’ said Gawain,
‘Many a knight to you will yield
Obedience, and break many a shield!’
And away the girls went happily.
‘Tell me, my lady,’ said Clauditte,
What token do you think is meet?
Seeing tis naught but dolls we share,
If mine should have the prettier hair
Let him have her, I’ll not argue;
No quarrels betwixt me and you.’
Now Duke Lyppaut was but half-way
Up the hill, while making his way
To the castle, when he saw the pair,
Obilot and Clauditte, walking there,
And called on them to stop. ‘Father,’
Cried Obilot, ‘your help I’ve never
Needed as much as now. Tell me,
What should I gift a knight, for, see!
The stranger’s granted my request.
‘You shall have of the very best,
Daughter; it eases a weight of care
That your love such fruit doth bear!
Your birth day was a happy one!’
‘I’ll whisper to you, when tis done,
You must counsel me what to do,
For indeed I now depend on you.’
Lyppaut had her lifted on high,
And set her on the saddle nigh,
‘What will become of my playmate?’
She whispered. There were a great
Number of knights, attendant there,
And they all vied in this affair
As to who would take Clauditte
As their ‘lady’; she was a sweet
And pretty child as well, and would
Adorn any brave man who should.
As they rode on, her good father
Sought to unburden his daughter:
‘Obilot, tell me of your concern.’
‘I did promise the knight, in turn,
A love-token; how mad that was!
What shall I do, now that he has
Offered to serve me in the field
If I can find no gift to yield?
If there’s no gift, then, as I live,
I’ll blush for shame; what should I give?
For no girl has so loved a man.’
‘Rest easy, daughter, I’ve a plan,’
Answered Lyppaut, ‘I will provide
What you need, twill be supplied.
You will have such from your father
If tis not conjured by your mother.
Heaven grant I see some benefit,
And gain the stranger’s aid by it.
Proud and noble he is, and I
Have great hopes of him, by and by.
Though I knew it not, it would seem
Twas him I saw last night in dream.’
Lyppaut and his daughter went
To the Duchess to gain consent.
‘My lady, he said, ‘grant what we need;
My whole being feels joy, indeed,
That God has given us this child
So, I to fate might be reconciled.’
‘What would you have,’ she replied,
‘Of all I possess?’ ‘You shall decide,
Madam, but new clothes she will need,
Thus, the matter should now proceed;
With so illustrious a knight,
Aspiring to her love, tis right;
For he requires a love-token,
And of serving her has spoken.’
‘That fine fellow!’ said the mother,
‘I take it you mean the stranger,
Whose glance is like the sun in May!’
And off she bustled, straight away,
Called for her samite to be brought,
Twas from Ethnise, and also sought
Uncut rolls of brocade that came
From Tabronit, of golden name,
In the far land of Tribalibot;
The infidel weave, in that spot,
Many such silks, adorned with gold
From the Caucasus, fine to behold.
Lyppaut ordered for his daughter
A rare gown, in splendid measure;
He would have seen the richest yet
Fashioned for her, without regret.
They cut to the little lady’s form
A stiff brocade, and did this perform
While removing one sleeve, the same
That was destined for Lord Gawain.
Such was Obilot’s formal present,
Brocade obtained from Nourient;
For out of far-off heathendom,
That rich material had come.
Obilot’s right arm it touched,
But naught was sewn there as such,
For not one thread was cut for it;
And this sleeve her friend Clauditte
Bore to handsome Lord Gawain,
And pleased indeed was that same.
Choosing, from his three, a shield,
He pinned it to that weapon’s field.
Gladly, his thanks he now expressed
And, bowing, profoundly blessed
The path this young girl would take
Who’d shown kindness, for his sake,
And brought to him such happiness
With her sweet charm, and courtliness.
Duke Lyppaut’s forces unite with those of his brother Duke Marangliez
DAY had ended, and it was night.
On both sides, gathered for the fight,
Were a host of valiant men; in fact,
Those within might have sought to act,
If the force without had not been
So great; as it was, they were seen
Bravely marking out the ground
In the moonlight, and twas found
That, by dawn, a dozen or more
Large redoubts they’d built, before
The town, walled and ditched, each
With three gates, the only breach,
For mounted sorties to ride out.
Now in the night a force without,
Duke Kardefablet’s from Jamor,
He Lyppaut’s brave brother-in-law,
Had entered Bearosche, and so
At morn he did his banners show,
His men prepared, and full of fight.
Thus, like a true and warlike knight
He joined the action, one who fought
When other men a refuge sought,
And, indisposed ever to yield,
Was oft in trouble on the field.
A long march his men had made,
Never the man was he to evade
A fierce fight; now his marshal held
Four of the gates, as did he himself.
Many with armour on their backs
Rode the streets scarred by tracks,
Many a pennant in clear moonlight
Could be glimpsed, many a bright
Helm, all marvellously adorned,
Whose wearer longed, ere the morn,
To ride to battle, and many a lance
Gaily painted; there to advance
A Regensburger-silk tabard,
Would have gained but slight reward,
There before Bearosche, if found
Parading o’er that level ground,
For many a tabard was seen there,
Many a more wondrous affair.
At Duke Lyppaut’s request the men
On the far side of the bridge, had then,
Before the day broke, marched across,
To reach the town, with nary a loss,
Once those of Jamor were safe inside.
By dawn each gate was well-supplied,
Held by those who’d command its fate.
Scherules, the Burgrave, chose a gate
Which he’d defend with Lord Gawain.
Some voices rose now to complain,
(Among the allies, the best I deem)
That they had missed, it did seem,
A pleasant skirmish and a tourney,
Yet there were still jousts a plenty
To be had, out beyond the wall,
For any who on such might call.
The night was done, and a new day
Marched behind, though in this affray
Twas not the lark carolled the dawn,
But noises far less kind were born,
From many a loudly-shattered lance,
As the knights made their advance.
As if on high, the thunder crashed.
Here the army of Liz had clashed
With the warriors from Lirivoyn,
And those of the King of Avendroyn,
While the charges they received,
Popped, and cracked, and so achieved
A sound like chestnuts on the fire.
Oh, how the besiegers did aspire
To victory, and were repulsed,
As the lines and ranks convulsed!
Gawain joins the fight, at which Parzival, unbeknown to him, is present
A priest read a Mass for Gawain
And Scherules; that they might gain
Mercy upon their souls twas done,
And in hopes of their salvation.
He chanted it to God’s true glory,
So says the author of this story,
And their own, for soon their honour
Would be enhanced, such the nature
Of the rite, and when this was done
They rode off to their proper station,
Where was many a worthy knight
Showing his bravery in the fight,
Manning the redoubt. What more
Shall I tell? A proud king they saw,
Poydiconjunz, arrive in strength.
Such that if you’d gazed at length
At his battalions you’d have seen
A forest of spears, denser, I mean,
Than if all the Black Forest’s trees
Made lance-shafts formed like these.
He marched up, six pennants flying;
So, battle was joined in the morning.
The trumpet sounded and the blare,
Sharp thunder-cracks breaking there,
Was matched by the roll of the drum;
For so doth every battlefield hum.
(And if the grass is trampled down
Blame me not, though in that town
Of Erfurt the vineyard tells a tale
Of such a trampling, neath the hail
Of countless hoof-prints, I may say,
That doubtless ruined it on a day.)
Now Duke Astor was making war
Against the forces of Jamor.
And as lance was whetted on lance
Many a noble lost his stance,
And was swept onto the ground
As fiercely did the battle sound,
With many a shout and war-cry.
No few steeds went trotting by,
Empty-saddled without a rider,
Oft with no sign of the latter,
Who no doubt had taken a fall.
Gawain saw the field was all
A woven tapestry, with friend
And foe threaded from end to end.
Into the melee sped our knight,
Twas hard to keep the man in sight.
Scherules and his men spared not
Their mounts and yet twice as hot
His steed’s flanks, oh the force
With which he struck all in his course!
We would seek glory for Gawain
If God did not his strength sustain,
This knight of the Round Table, here
Revealing not a trace of fear,
Amidst all the clanging of swords,
Of the men of Liz, nor those of Gors,
Against whom he’d set his hand.
Many a horse, from either band,
He captured, and then galloped them
To his host’s banner, offering them
To all who wished; many cried yes,
All enriched by their valiant guest.
Twas at this point a knight appeared
One who spared not lances, nor feared
The foe any more than did Gawain,
A courtly battle did they maintain
Lisavander of Beauvais and he,
Until the young Burgrave, flung free,
Over his charger’s quarters fell,
Among the flowers, and I must tell
You of the woe I feel, at this
For the sake of that squire of his
Who’d ridden in such courtly style
Explaining to Gawain the while
The reasons for the war, the day
Before, who now made his way,
To his poor master and bent low.
Gawain had recognised him, so
He returned the horse he’d seized,
And saw the squire bow, much pleased.
Yet see how Kardefablet stands
Amidst the field, with empty hands,
After a joust with Meljahkanz.
But now his followers advance,
With cries of ‘Jamor’ and fierce blows,
And snatch him up; the business grows
More savage, and with little room
For manoeuvre, a shock like doom
Each shock succeeds, and helmets ring
In the wearers’ ears, as the swords sing.
Gathering his company, Gawain
Delivered a mighty charge again,
And, bearing the colour, in a trice,
A ring of metal, much like a vice,
They threw about the Lord of Jamor,
Felling knights, to aft and fore.
Believe it so, no more nor less
Doth the tale I honour profess.
Laheduman, Count of Muntane,
Advanced against my Lord Gawain,
And so, a splendid joust was fought,
Such that Laheduman was brought
To earth there, and despite his fame
As a fine knight, and his proud name,
Clasped hands with Gawain to render
His pledge to him, and his surrender.
Duke Astor too was there to the fore,
Next the redoubts, and Gawain bore
Charge upon charge; beneath the sky,
‘Nantes! Nantes!’ rose King Arthur’s cry,
For many a Briton was fighting there,
An unwilling exile; while, bound to share
Their efforts, men from Erec’s land
Of Destrigales, a mercenary band
Of hardy warriors skilled in war,
Showed their prowess, as all men saw.
Astor of Lanverunz was their leader,
His Britons captured from King Arthur
On Mount Cluse, in a grand campaign,
Fighting well enough here to gain
From Poydiconjunz their freedom,
And so, return to their true kingdom.
The beards of some were all but grey,
And ‘Nantes!’ was their cry that day,
While each man showed a dragon too
On helm or shield, to show anew
An emblem of Ilinot, Arthur’s son.
At the sight of this escutcheon,
How could Gawain not feel woe?
Now must his tears of sadness show
For his cousin’s death (Ilinot, he
Had loved Kanadic’s Queen Florie),
So, he left those Britons to fight on
In the mead, and rode swiftly on,
Not seeking their hurt, in any way,
From friendship, as men do today.
Gawain headed for Meljanz’ men.
Here the defenders, once again,
Were deserving of high praise,
But the opposition, at this phase,
Was such that pure courage alone
Was insufficient; they were thrown
Back towards the moat. One knight,
Clad in red armour, used his might
To launch attacks, continually;
‘Sir Nameless’ they dubbed him, he
Being unknown to all that army.
I shall tell it, as twas told to me.
The Red Knight had, three days past,
Joined Meljanz; and they had fast
Come to rue it, those in the castle.
Meljanz granted him, for the battle,
Twelve squires from Semblidac,
To bear fresh lances in each attack,
Yet however many they did haul,
He sought more, and broke them all.
His mount too would charge each steed
With a mighty clang of steel; indeed,
King Schirniel to him did render
His sword; and next the surrender
Of the brother, Mirabel, he took,
And then Duke Marangliez’s luck
Expired; those three the spear-head
Were of the defence, yet, well-led,
Their men fought on, stubbornly.
King Meljanz was there, and he,
Whether their friend or their foe,
Was admitted by all, high or low,
To have acquitted himself better
Than any such youth had ever.
The shields he pierced; the lances
He shattered in his fierce advances,
As squadron battled with squadron!
His spirit was such he ploughed on,
Ever seeking honour to maintain,
All unsated, till he met Gawain.
The latter seized, from his nearest man,
One of the twelve spears of Angram,
He’d acquired at the Plimizoel.
Meljanz’ war-cry was ‘Barbigoel!’
From the capital of Liz, his land;
Gawain thrust fiercely at the man,
And the tough cane-shaft sank in,
That lance from Oraste Gentesin,
Through his shield, into the arm,
Teaching him the meaning of harm;
A wondrous blow that brought great pain,
Sending him flying, though Gawain
Found his own saddle strap severed,
So that both the knights, untethered,
Were obliged to regain their feet.
And battle on, to escape defeat.
With their blades they threshed away,
Like farmer’s lads at sheaves of hay,
Flailing them to pieces, Meljanz
Dragging around the length of lance
Still in his arm, while blood and sweat
Baked and boiled him, at each onset.
Of a sudden, Gawain hauled the man
Into the depths of a barbican,
And there he forced him to surrender
Though he’d have fought on longer.
Had the wound not troubled him so,
He’d have brought Gawain more woe.
Prince Lyppaut was not found lacking,
As the King of Gors, in attacking
Him now, had found, though men and steeds,
Both suffered sorely from the deeds
Of those mounted archers of Kaheti,
Who charged, then retreated swiftly,
While the soldiers from Semblidac,
Forced those brave defenders back
Towards their outpost; they deployed
Their archers who were well employed
At the redoubts, and wrought as well
As any today that the ranks do swell.
What had he done this Duke Lyppaut,
To deserve it? For old King Schaut,
His lord, would ne’er have acted so.
Now brave men were led to know
The outcome of Obie’s petulance,
That brought about this cruel defence.
Gawain defeats Prince Meljahkanz
THE squadrons were growing weary,
Yet Meljahkanz fought on, bravely.
You ask me if his shield was whole?
Joust on joust had taken its toll,
Barely a hand’s breath did remain.
Duke Kardefablet sought to maintain
Pressure on him, and chased him far
Over the battlefield, seeking to bar
Him from the fight, while the men
On either side now breathed again,
For the two forces had come to rest,
On that flowery meadow, I attest.
And now Gawain reached the scene,
So that, if Meljahkanz had been
In trouble before, this son of Lot
Brought him more than Lancelot,
Who, angered that Queen Guinevere
Was held captive, whom he held dear,
Had fought Prince Meljahkanz, after
Crossing the Bridge of Swords for her,
And, thus, had set her free again.
He wheeled about, my Lord Gawain.
What now could Prince Meljahkanz do
But spur his brave mount on anew?
Th joust was watched by all around.
You ask who lies there on the ground?
Tis he whom Gawain of Norway,
Has lowered to the grass this day.
Many a lady, and many a knight
Sang Gawain’s praises at the sight.
For the ladies had a clear view
From the Palace. And it seems, too,
That this Meljahkanz did so drench
The grass with blood, that the stench
Drove many a horse to the water,
Where some pestilence did slaughter
All of them, to the vultures’ gain.
The victor there was my Lord Gawain.
Then Meljahkanz did Duke Astor
Recover from the men of Jamor.
Parzival, the Red Knight, leaves the field to continue his quest for the Grail
WHO there won a badge of honour,
And deserved their ladies’ favour,
With their skill? I could not tell you.
Were I to name them all for you,
I’d be well-occupied indeed!
Obilot’s knight wrought many a deed,
To be praised, for the defenders.
The Red Knight, of the besiegers,
Fared the best, amidst the fight.
These two won the palms outright.
Once the Red Knight had understood
That no thanks from his captain would
Be forthcoming, since he had been
Now led, a prisoner, from the scene,
He rode to his squires and addressed
His own prisoners, each his guest,
King Schirniel of Lirivoyn,
And Mirabel of Avendroyn,
And Duke Marangliez as well.
‘My noble lords, now sad to tell,
The King of Liz himself did render;
And since you also did surrender
To me, please seek to set him free,
If all’s to end, here, profitably.’
Then a well-framed oath they swore
To redeem that king, Meljanz, or
Show our knight the way to the Grail,
Ere to the town he’d let them ride.
But no news could any provide
Of where the Grail dwelt, except
That by King Anfortas twas kept.
In answer to this, the knight said:
‘If you know nothing on that head,
Ride to Belrepeire, surrender
Yourselves to the Queen; say to her
That he who battled with Kingrun,
And fought Clamide, as he has done,
Is filled with longing for the Grail,
And for her love, which doth prevail;
That he pines for both endlessly,
And tell her that you come from me.
May God preserve you, gentlemen!’
So, they took their leave of him, then.
‘You need not fear for a reward,’
He said to his squires, ‘but afford
Me one horse of all that were won,
For my own is wounded and done,
And all of you may share the rest.’
‘My lord,’ they cried, ‘may you be blest,
For we are wealthy young men now.’
He chose, according to his vow,
But the one creature, it appears,
Twas Ingliart of the Short Ears.
The horse had strayed from Gawain
While he was fighting, on the plain,
With Meljanz; he’d seized the charger,
And many a shield suffered later.
Then he took leave, and rode away
And fifteen splendid mounts that day
Those squires inherited, and more.
They thanked him and did implore
Their lord, begging him to remain;
At a distant goal, though, he did aim,
He went where small ease was won,
And little comfort for anyone,
For battle was then his sole desire,
While none in his day did so aspire.
Meljanz and Obie are reconciled, and will marry
WHEN Duke Lyppaut, within the town,
Heard that Meljanz was honour bound
To be his prisoner, he quickly sought
To know the cause; twas news that brought
Him some concern, yet joy would yield.
Gawain took the sleeve from his shield,
Most carefully, lest he tear the thing
(Although at other glory aiming).
He gave it to Clauditte, all holed
And hacked, a fine sight to behold,
Pierced in the midst and at the end.
And to Obilot, his pretty friend,
He bade her take it, which was done.
When the girl saw it there was none
As happy as she; she’d left bare
Her white arm, and now, with care,
Swiftly joined the sleeve and dress.
Her sister she would oft address,
As she ran by: ‘Oh, who did this?’
While offering the sleeve a kiss,
Stinging her sister to anger.
The brave knights could toil no longer,
Wearied all; Scherules led Gawain,
With Count Laheduman, from the plain;
And there were other great lords there
Gawain had captured in the affair,
Single-handedly, on that field
That so many fair jousts did yield.
The Burgrave seated them, then he
Stood by, with all his company,
While the wounded Meljanz dined,
That true respect the king might find.
Gawain jibbed at this and, quietly,
Urged on by his sense of decency,
Said: ‘My Lord, if the King please
You should sit here at your ease,’
Intervening, thus, between the two,
But his host declined so to do:
‘The Duke Lyppaut is the King’s man;
If the King wished it, he would stand
Here in my stead, yet, tactfully,
He absents himself, as you see,
Being out of favour, and should they
Mend their friendship, we’d obey
All his commands, as we do now.’
Meljanz replied: ‘I must allow
Your courtesy has never failed;
Would that your counsel had prevailed,
I should be happier today.
So now be free to have your say,
Yet aid me, Count Scherules, for I
Know upon you I may rely,
Regarding this lord who’s prisoner
I am, and Duke Lyppaut, who ever
I pray will show his kindness to me,
And a second father seek to be,
For both will respect your counsel.
Had his daughter not made a fool
Of me, I’d ne’er have lost his love.
For a harsh lady, she did prove.’
‘A bond shall there be,’ said Gawain,
‘That unto death all shall maintain.’
The prisoners whom the Red Knight
Had captured, in the recent fight,
Entered now the royal presence,
And of their tale gave the essence.
When Gawain heard of the armour,
Of him whom taken their surrender,
And the words as regards the Grail,
He knew twas Parzival, without fail,
And rendered thanks to God that they
Had fought while far apart that day.
Each one’s silence as to his name,
Meant that none had heard the same,
Though each was known of elsewhere,
Thus, they went nameless that pair.
‘Sire,’ said Scherules, ‘it if please you,
Deign to see Lord Lyppaut, and true
Counsel hear from many a friend,
On both sides; thus, let anger end.’
This was approved and all came
To the Palace, where Lord Gawain,
Asked Laheduman and the others
Who had arrived, all his prisoners,
To transfer the paroles he’d won,
From them to Scherules; and twas done.
There too the Burgrave’s wife,
Sought to smooth over the strife,
Gifting new clothes to King Meljanz,
And fastening, with her own fair hands
A veil, as a fresh sling for that arm
To which Gawain had caused such harm.
Through Scherules, Gawain sent word
To Obilot, which all there heard,
Saying he would like to see her,
Assuring her that he would be her
Knight-servitor ever, requesting
That she dispose, now, of the king,
Whom he thus placed in her hand,
Such that all might praise her, and
Took leave of her. King Meljanz said:
‘Obilot will, when she is wed,
Prove the flower of womanly virtue.
Though I’m still captive, yet, tis true,
It will solace my poor heart to be
Under her protection; kind is she.’
‘Well’, replied the noble Gawain,
‘She, and no other, I’ll maintain,
It was that wrought your surrender,
And so, she should reap the honour!’
Now Scherules rode to the court,
Where the assent of all he sought;
And men and women, all retired
To seek fresh clothes and, attired
In their best, now waited to meet
All who had met with their defeat
In the field, and not least their King,
Meljanz. Lyppaut was found, sitting
With his wife and daughters, all fain
To greet the King and Lord Gawain.
Lyppaut ran to welcome his lord,
While all there, as with one accord,
Pressed forward, eagerly, as he
Received him, once his enemy.
‘If it is not too much to seek,
A welcoming kiss on the cheek
My wife would ask, as a friend,’
He said, ‘strife being at an end.
‘I should like a welcoming kiss,’
Said Meljanz, ‘although, in this,
Two ladies I would gladly greet,
While peace is not yet quite complete
With the third.’ The elder two wept,
While Obilot her sweet silence kept.
With a kiss, each received the King,
And the two young kings with him,
And Duke Marangliez; Gawain
Too, must, in turn, accept a kiss,
And then must take this lady of his
In his arms, while clasping the child
Like a pretty doll, though reconciled
To her display of loving affection.
Turning in King Meljanz’ direction,
He said: ‘You, who to me did render,
Your pledge, I must, on your parole,
Surrender you, entire and whole,
For here you find, one next to me,
Who is the giver of joy; you see.
And you are now her prisoner!’
Meljanz who his fate must suffer,
Stepped forward now, as was sought.
She drew Gawain to her, as the court,
Strange though it seemed, all bowed
To Obilot; then she said, out loud:
‘It seems to me, my lord the King,
That you did wrong, surrendering
To a man, whom my elder sister
Calls but a merchant adventurer!’
Then she ordered him to transfer
His homage to Obie, and to her
Pay his attentions as his mistress,
To the glory of chivalry, no less:
‘While you, dear Obie, as his lover,
Must take him as your lord forever,
And no excuses on either side!’
God himself (can it be denied?)
Spoke through the child’s lips, and so
It was done; and neither said no!
Now Love, with her great artistry,
Fashioned from depths of loyalty
Their affection as if twere new;
For Obie’s hand appeared to view,
Slipped from out her cloak, and she
Took Meljanz’ arm and, lovingly,
Kissed it, where the lance had passed,
As from her eyes the tears flowed fast.
What was it made her thus so bold,
Before the crowd? Love, ever old
Yet ever young, was there on view.
All Lyppaut’s wishes had come true,
Ne’er had he known such happiness;
For God did him with honour bless,
He called his child his Sovereign Queen.
Gawain departs Bearosche
Now, of the future wedding scene,
Ask those who were there, not I;
Nor where they rode to, by and by,
To peace or warfare, I know not,
Yet I heard Gawain chose his lot,
And of Duke Lyppaut took his leave,
Though Obilot did naught but grieve:
‘Take me with you, my lord!’ she cried.
But her fond wish Gawain denied.
Her mother barely tore her away.
He said farewell, and went his way.
Lyppaut assured him of his outright
Devotion, grown fond of the knight,
While Scherules, his host, did ride
With Gawain, brave knights at his side.
Gawain’s road led amidst the trees,
And Scherules for his greater ease,
Sent huntsmen to accompany him
For a good distance ere leaving him,
Bearing provisions; yet even so,
Gawain would be delivered to woe.
End of Book VII of Parzival