Wolfram von Eschenbach


Book VII: Gawain at Bearosche

Parzival - Book VII

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

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