Wolfram von Eschenbach
Book XIII: King Arthur’s Expedition
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.
- Gawain frees Duke Lischois and the Turkoyt.
- He speaks with his sister Itonje and offers his aid.
- Feasting and entertainment at the palace.
- Orgeluse tends to Gawain’s comfort.
- Gawain’s squire hands his letter to Queen Guinevere.
- Guinevere sends the squire to seek King Arthur.
- Arthur agrees to attend the duel at Joflanze.
- The squire returns to Schastel Marveile.
- Arnive speaks of Clinschor and his magic arts.
- King Arthur comes to Schastel Marveile.
- Gawain’s troops ride to Joflanze.
- He meets with Arthur.
- Arthur sends envoys to King Gramoflanz.
- Gawain rides forth and encounters Parzival.
Gawain frees Duke Lischois and the Turkoyt
ARNIVE found this fellow annoying;
And sought to know where he was going.
‘See, when that squire returns,’ said she
To the guard, ‘that he waits on me;
I’ll question him; deploy your skill.’
Vexed that the squire thwarted her will,
From the duchess she sought the same,
Who yet made sure that Gawain’s name
Ne’er passed her lips, as he had sought.
Of him, and his lineage, she said naught.
Now the sound of trumpets rang out
Within the palace, and all about,
And other instruments were played,
And many tapestries, finely made,
Were hung as seat-backs on the walls;
Fine carpets too now floored the halls.
A miser might have been dismayed.
Throughout, the couches were o’er laid
With soft cushions, and all be-spread
With rich quilts, like some royal bed.
After his labours, Gawain lay
Still fast asleep beyond midday.
His wounds had been so expertly
Bandaged, indeed, that if he
Had lain beside a loving friend
It might well have helped him mend,
Though he was more disposed to rest
Than dream again of the Duchess.
He woke as evensong drew near,
And yet in sleep, once more, I fear,
In the lists of Love, had he fought
With Orgeluse, whom he yet sought.
Now, so I’m told, a chamberlain
Brought fine clothes to Lord Gawain,
Gleaming brocades, in greens and reds,
Weighted down with golden threads.
‘Let me have more of these!’ he cried
‘And as fine as these, and provide
The same to the Duke of Gowerzin
And fair Florant who doth ever win
Great renown in many a land.’
He sent a message, in his hand,
By his page, to Plippalinot,
Begging that Lischois be not forgot,
But led to him; and thereafter,
Came with him the lovely daughter,
Bene, because good will she bore
Gawain, and also, what is more,
When Gawain had left that day,
(She did weep, as he rode away),
He had, then, promised her father,
A handsome gift, and his favour.
Next, the Turkoyt arrived, and lo,
He was welcomed warmly also,
After which all gathered near,
Waiting for the clothes to appear.
These were of wondrous quality,
Richly tailored to suit all three.
A master-weaver named Sarant,
(Whose origin was far Triande)
From whom Seres took its name,
A man most eager to win fame,
Fine cloth of gold, ‘saranthasme’,
Had devised there, in fair Thasme,
(A place in Secundille’s fair land,
Larger than Nineveh, and planned
On a vaster scale than Acraton)
With great skill he worked thereon.
Now, ask me not if it looked fine,
For twas far costlier than mine!
Gawain and the others then dressed,
And went forth to join the rest,
The crowd of knights thronging the hall,
And the ladies; among them all,
A good judge might have said,
The Duchess seemed far ahead
Of the other ladies there. The host
And his male guests, dazzled almost,
Stood before Orgeluse, and he,
Gawain, set those two princes free,
Florant the Turkoyt, and also
The fair Lischois, and did show
His favour to them; for her sake,
This noble gesture he did make,
For which she, as free of deceit
As wise in all that doth complete
A woman’s glory, thanked Gawain.
He speaks with his sister Itonje and offers his aid
MEANWHILE, close by, he was fain
To notice beauty; there he had seen
The lovely trio, with the aged Queen
Arnive, and asked the princes then
To step forward, and then, again,
The three younger queens, to show
Them welcome, and a kiss bestow.
Bene was in his company,
And she too was greeted warmly.
Much disinclined to standing there,
He asked the two princes to share
Themselves among the ladies who
Were seated, as they chose to do,
For the men seemed quite content
To pursue his most courtly intent.
‘Where is Itonje?’ my Lord Gawain
Whispered to Bene, ‘I must gain
Her leave to sit down beside her,
If I may.’ The lovely daughter
Pointed her out, since twas his wish.
‘There! The lady with crimson lips,
And dark hair, and shining eyes.
If you’d speak with her, be wise,
Private, discreet, in that affair,’
Said decorous Bene, well aware
Of Itonje’s love and languishing;
For Gramoflanz, the noble king,
Was paying homage to her heart
With all of fond devotion’s art.
Gawain sat done beside the maid,
(According to the tale relayed)
Addressing her with that discretion,
That he had e’er in his possession.
For her part too, the fair Itonje
Owned to decorous ways, fully
In accord with her youthful years.
The question Gawain, it appears,
Would ask the girl, was whether she
Was in the throes of love, already.
‘Whom should I love?’ was her reply,
‘My lord, for since the day that I
Oped my eyes I ne’er said a word
To any knight, but this you’ve heard.’
‘Nonetheless,’ said my lord Gawain,
‘From fair report, you yet might gain
Knowledge of great honour achieved,
Bravely, through some chivalrous deed,
And of some knight, of valiant heart,
Ready to serve love, on his part.’
‘No word of serving me for love,’
Said the fair maid, ‘did any move;
Only, I know, brave knights desire
To serve the Duchess for their hire,
No doubt from love; no few such men
Have jousted here, yet none of them
Came so near, as you have, to us,
Your venture proving glorious.’
‘Against whom do her company
Of chosen men campaign?’ said he,
‘Who is he that’s lost her favour?’
‘King Gramoflanz, to whom honour
All accord, for he wears the very
Garland of worth and chivalry.
That is the most that I have heard.’
‘Then you shall have, in a word,
Better acquaintance of that same;
He is hard on the tracks of fame,
And pursues the matter manfully.
I have heard (this he said to me),
That driven by a passion of his,
He seeks to offer you his service,
If you’d deign to accept the same.
I seek your help, now, in his name,
To solace him, through love of you.
That love’s sweet pain should stir anew
In a king, through a king’s daughter,
Is as it should be. If your father,
Madame, was indeed King Lot,
Then it is to you he doth allot
A place in his heart; it is for you
That his sad heart goes weeping, too.
If you’re named Itonje, e’en so
Are you the cause of all his woe.
Let me now play the go-between.
Take up this ring, tis his; I mean,
The handsome lord; he sends it you.
I shall, in all, be good and true;
Take heart, and leave the thing to me.’
The girl changed colour, suddenly;
Red as her lips her cheeks did blush,
She turned quite pale, and in a rush
Spoke, as she stretched out her hand
To take the ring, at his command,
In fine confusion; she knew it well:
‘Tis clear, sir, if tis right to tell
Of such matters, that you are here
To speak for the man who is dear
To my heart. If with courtesy,
You’d act, be sworn to secrecy.
This gift was sent me once before;
For the noble king’s hand, it bore
This true token, you understand;
He received it from my own hand.
I am innocent of his suffering;
Whate’er he asked I’ve granted him
In my thoughts, and this he’d learn
If I could pass these walls in turn.
I kissed the Duchess Orgeluse,
Who seeks his death (it is not news
To you, I think) and so, that kiss
Was what they call a Judas kiss.
And twas faithless of me to grant
A kiss to the Turkoyt, Florant,
And to the Duke of Gowerzin!
Those who hate the noble king,
Gramoflanz, with unending hate,
I can scarce countenance of late.
Yet say naught to my dear mother,
Nor to Condrie, my sweet sister,’
Itonje pleaded with Lord Gawain.
‘My lord, you made me, once again,
Receive the Duchess’ kiss, and I
Was wounded to the heart, thereby.
If the King and I are e’er to be
Happy, to that you hold the key.
He loves me, above all the rest,
And I would see that he is blessed
With fair reward. He has my favour,
And that beyond any other.
May God inspire you with counsel
And aid, that, so, all may be well.’
Gawain said: ‘Tell me how, my lady.
You may possess him here, while he
Possesses you out there, and yet
You dwell apart. If such may be met
With any true service I were fain
To give, from which you both might gain,
I’d undertake it most faithfully.’
‘You shall dispose of us both’, said she,
‘May your help, and God’s blessing,
So aid our love, that I might bring
All the king’s sorrows to an end.
On me his happiness doth depend.
Since I a loyal woman would prove,
My heart would grant him my love.’
Feasting and entertainment at the palace
NOW the time had come to bring
The table-cloths and many a thing,
Into the ladies’ presence there.
The linen was both white and fair,
And, upon it, good bread was laid.
A simple decree had been made,
Whereby the knights had one side
All to themselves, the distance wide
Between them and the ladies there.
Gawain saw to the whole affair,
Seating the Turkoyt at his table.
Lischois shared a platter, as well,
With Gawain’s mother, fair Sangive;
The Duchess too with Queen Arnive;
And his two sisters did Lord Gawain
Ask to join him, if they would deign.
No student of the culinary art,
I lack the knowledge, for my part,
Of all the various dishes brought,
With due ceremony, for the court.
Fair maids served the host, and then
The guests and ladies, while the men
Served the knights, and each restrained
Himself from jostling, and retained
A proper distance from each maid,
As food, and wine, they each conveyed.
The meal might well be called a feast,
For such a sumptuous spread, at least,
Had not been theirs since Clinschor
Had bound them with his magic lore.
The knights and ladies seldom met
Despite their dwelling there; as yet
Many had not exchanged a word.
Now Gawain, by this feast, conferred
The power on all that company
To converse, each knight and lady,
And of his grace granted pleasure,
To them all, and in full measure.
He lacked no small contentment too,
For the fair Duchess he could view,
Glancing at her, amidst them all,
The one who held his heart in thrall.
Not the light had weakened so,
The sun’s radiance burnt so low,
That those clear harbingers of Night,
The twilight stars, gleaming bright,
Hastened, midst the clouds, to claim
Lodgement on earth, in her fair name.
Till, pursuing her banners, came
Night herself, to endorse that same.
Many a splendid chandelier
Hung midst the halls, far and near,
And soon their candles were all lit,
With others that were left to sit
Upon the tables, and burned away,
Although the tale goes on to say,
That Orgeluse shed such brightness
That even had the lights been less
In number, night would not have been
About her, for twas said her sheen
Was such that she shed daylight there.
From envy you should now forbear,
And grant that you ne’er saw a host
So pleasant; joy that feast did boast.
Glances fraught with longing passed
Both to and fro, and thick and fast,
Between the knights and ladies now,
And if any there did nod or bow
Who’d been less intimate before,
I’ll not cavil; I’ll say no more.
Gluttons excepted, they all ate
Till their appetites they did sate.
Gawain asked if there were to hand
Any fiddle-players; up did stand
Many a squire well-versed in such,
And yet, however skilled their touch,
Twas but old tunes they could play,
None that were new (as in our day
Come here to us, from Thuringia).
Now, thank the host, he was never
A one to thwart their enjoyment,
Fair ladies skipped past, their employment
Dancing in some woven pattern,
‘Knights amongst the ladies’ often;
Their aim to fend off pain and woe.
You could see the brave knights go,
With a lady there on either hand.
And you could see, amidst that band,
The joy won by knights who thought
To offer their service there, and sought,
(It being allowed to serve for love)
Poor in care rich in joy, to prove
The fact, by passing the time in talk
With sweet lips that did not balk
At such advances; and no small few;
Many the speech both good and true.
Gawain watched quietly, near Sangive,
Viewing the dance with Queen Arnive,
And there the lovely Duchess came,
And sat her down, by Lord Gawain.
He took her hand in his, moreover,
Speaking of one thing and another,
And he was glad that she was there.
He had forgot all sorrow and care,
For his happiness flowed, in full spate,
Gone, all that had plagued him of late.
Whatever joy might the dancers fill,
My Lord Gawain’s was greater still.
‘Have a thought to your comfort sire,’
Said Queen Arnive, ‘you may desire
To rest your wounds. If the Duchess
Has chosen now to be your mistress
Of healing, and bear you company,
This night, she owns many a remedy.’
‘Pray ask her,’ he replied, ‘For here
I’m in your hands, so it would appear.’
‘I shall have him in my own care,
‘Said the Duchess, ‘so, let all there
Go to their beds, and I’ll attend
Him better than a lover. Now, send
Brave knights to the Turkoyt, and to
The brave Duke of Gowerzin, too,
To entertain them.’ And, presently,
The dancing ceased; many a lady
Was seated next a knight; if any
Of those knights sought and received
A sweet response, then they believed
Happiness had avenged their woe.
The host called for the wine-cup though,
Which was the signal for dismissal,
Much to their sorrow, yet, in all,
He was a suitor as much as they,
And stirred by love, in the same way.
They, he thought, sat there too long.
Noble love spurred his heart along.
Orgeluse tends to Gawain’s comfort
SQUIRES led the knights to their rests,
Lighting them on, while his guests,
Lischois and Florant, he commended
To all, and thus the feasting ended,
That pair retired, while the Duchess
Graciously wished them of the best.
And now the ladies, in company,
With courtly gestures, left quietly;
Sangive departed, with Itonje,
To seek repose, as did fair Condrie.
Bene and Arnive made sure Gawain
Was settled at ease, and there again
Was the Duchess, to assist him.
These three brought comfort to him.
Two couches stood in his chamber,
I shall tell you naught however
Of how they were adorned, the tale
With other matters shall you regale.
‘Look to his comfort,’ said Arnive,
‘Should he need help to stay alive,
All that you give will do you honour,
Duchess; now I’ll stay no longer,
Except to say that his bandages
Are so bound well that passages
Of action, bearing arms, would not
Harm him, and yet, such is his lot,
That you must show him sympathy.
If you can soothe his pain twould be
Beneficial. And were you to raise
His spirits, you would gain our praise.
Now all the help you may, afford.’
After taking leave of her lord
Arnive departed; Bene did light
Her going, with a candle bright.
Lord Gawain then barred the door.
Now, I’m equipped to tell you more,
For if they knew how to steal love,
And thus, a pair of thieves did prove,
I might soon tell how it was done,
Except tis deplored by everyone,
Such intrusion on other’s privacy.
There’s a charge of impropriety,
If secret matters are disclosed,
And whoe’er does so is disposed
To damn himself. Let decorum be,
As regards Love, the lock and key
To guard Love’s rites. Now, the woe
That is love, and Orgeluse, had so
Worked to erode past happiness,
That had it not been for that Duchess
He would yet have perished, withal.
If all the philosophers, and all
Who ever tried to comprehend
The abstruse arts, and did lend
Their minds to such; as wise Thabit
Ibn Qurra, and then that smith,
Trebuchet (he who engraved
The fine sword, King Frimutel’s blade,
That of itself worked a marvel)
And all the physicians as well,
Had sought to ease his distress
With potent herbs, nonetheless,
Death had cured all his misery,
But for this woman’s company.
In short, he found the true hart’s-eye,
The wild dittany, and that, say I,
Helped to heal him, such that all
That was baneful ebbed withal;
(That herb shows purple on white).
Gawain, Lot’s son, that noble knight,
(A Briton on his mother’s side,
Though Lot in Norway did abide),
Sought soothing balm for his pain,
With gracious help, and did attain
It, by a means which he sought
To keep hidden from the court.
And, once well, he set to rights
All the ladies and the knights,
And all their sadness did dispel.
Gawain’s squire hands his letter to Queen Guinevere
NOW of Gawain’s young squire hear tell.
To Bems, on the Korcha, he’d been sent,
In the land of Löver, and there he went,
And found King Arthur, and the Queen,
Who midst a great host might be seen,
Many a lady and courtier.
Now hark to what the squire did here.
At early morning, he made his way
To the chapel where she did pray,
And there the fair Queen he did see,
Reading her psalter on bended knee.
The squire he knelt there before her,
And then his joyful gift did offer.
She took the letter from his hand
And, by the writing, did understand
Who had penned it, ere the squire
Could name his lord and his sire.
‘A blessing on the hand that writ
You,’ said the Queen, addressing it.
‘For I have been so full of care
Since I last saw the hand that there
Has placed the letters,’ and her eyes
Showed bright tears, though I surmise
That she was glad to see it too.
‘My Lord Gawain’s squire, are you?’
‘Yes, Ma’am, he sends all that is his,
True loyalty, and yet with this
Small joy, unless you make it great;
His honour is in a wretched state.
Then, further, he would have me say,
If I should meet with you this day,
That he would feel naught but pleasure
Should you console him in full measure.
Within the letter you may see,
Far more than you may learn from me.’
‘The purpose of this,’ said the Queen,
‘Is more than clear. As you have been
Good and true, likewise good service
I’ll perform; I’ll gather to this
Encounter all my ladies, fair,
Of this age’s fairest, for there
Are few to equal them; but for
Orgeluse, and Condwiramurs,
Parzival’s wife, I know none
So lovely in all Christendom.
When Lord Gawain did up and go
From Arthur, I felt naught but woe,
Fearful of what might lie in store.
Meljanz of Liz told me he saw
Gawain later, at Barbigoel.
Alas, that upon the Plimizoel
My gaze did ever light; sorrow
Befell me there; since that morrow,
My companion I’ve ne’er seen;
Sweet Cunneware de Lalant, I mean.
Many a thing was spoken before
The King there, that breached the law
Of the Round Table. Tis now four
And a half years and six weeks (sure
Is my count!) since brave Parzival
Rode forth to seek the Grail, withal.
It was then that Gawain, Lot’s son,
Set out, to ride to Ascalun.
There too Jeschute, and Ekuba,
Said their farewells; full many are
The regrets I feel, all which I find
So troubling to my peace of mind.’
To many a woe did she confess.
Guinevere sends the squire to seek King Arthur
‘NOW go from me, with swift address,’
She told the squire, ‘go hide away,
Till the sun is high, and all is day,
And all the folk, knights and squires,
All the household, dames and sires,
Are moving in and about the court.
Then trot to the courtyard, in short,
And, leaving your mount, go further,
To where the noble knights gather.
They will ask what news you bring.
Elbow your way, then, to the King,
Who’ll not forbear to welcome you,
Finding your errand good and true.
Hand him the letter, and from it he
Will soon learn your news, and see
Your master’s wishes, which he’ll grant,
As will all the nobles in the land,
For all will consent, and I’ll say more:
Speak openly, where three or four
Of the noble ladies, and I, can see,
That we may be seen to agree,
If you would save your master pain.
Now tell me, where is Lord Gawain?’
‘That I may not say,’ the squire replied,
‘Yet joy and pleasure are at his side.’
He was content with her instructions,
And hid, according to her directions,
Appearing when he was told to do.
At mid-morn he rode, fresh and new,
To the court, as openly as he could.
The courtiers thought his clothes quite good,
And judged him to be some lord’s squire.
His mount, they saw, had earned its hire,
Twas scarred on both flanks by the spur.
He leapt from his horse and made a stir,
As he’d been told, amidst the crowd,
And if his cloak was lost, he vowed,
(Or sword, or spurs, or e’en his horse),
To leave it so, and take his course
To where the brave knights did stand,
And give his news, at their command.
They say twas a custom, at that court,
No guest could dine unless they brought,
Fresh news of some strange adventure,
And thus, the courtly rule did honour.
‘I may tell you naught, ‘said the squire,
‘My business presses, tis my desire
To see the King; of a courtesy,
Tell me, now, where your lord might be.
I would have spoken with him sooner,
For I must, now, my mission further;
And you shall learn what I may tell,
Then God may inspire you, as well,
To grant him your aid, and sympathy.’
Arthur agrees to attend the duel at Joflanze
THE squire’s mission was such that he
Cared not who jostled him, till he
Forging a way, persistently,
Reached the King, and was welcomed there.
He handed him the letter, with care,
Which, as Arthur read, brought no less
Sorrow than it did happiness.
‘A blessing on this day!’ he cried,
‘For its brave light doth here provide
News of my nephew. If it lies
Within my power, as I surmise,
To do him service; if loyalty
To our friendship, and equally
Our ties of blood, mean aught at all,
I’ll answer his plea, whate’er befall.
Tell me,’ he said, ‘doth he maintain
Good heart and spirit, my Lord Gawain?’
‘Yes, Sire, joy’s his true companion,’
Replied the squire,’ yet if you abandon
Him to his fate, he’ll lose all honour.
Who could be happy thus? However,
Your help will lift him to the height
Of happiness and, there, delight
Will chase the cares from his heart,
Beyond sorrow’s gate! For his part,
He sends his devotion to the queen,
And hopes the company, I mean
All the knights of the Round Table,
Recall his loyalty, and feel able
To seal his happiness, and advise
You to attend, and they likewise.’
His lords begged the King to agree.
‘Take this letter, now, faithfully,
To the Queen, let her read the same,
And see of what we must complain,
And what gives reason for delight.
To think that this arrogant knight,
King Gramoflanz, should work so,
Bringing my own blood such woe!
He thinks Gawain but a Cidegast
Whom he conquered, at the last,
Though it brought him trouble enow.
Well, I’ll add to his trouble, now,
And teach him better manners too!’
The squire obeyed, without more ado,
And went where he was well received.
He gave the Queen the letter, which grieved
Many a maid, who shed a tear,
As twas read aloud, or so I fear,
As her sweet lips told of the wrong
That circumstance did now prolong,
Of which my Lord Gawain complained,
And the plea that his words contained.
The squire spared no effort to woo
Them all to the cause he did pursue,
Nor were all his efforts in vain.
King Arthur, being kin to Gawain,
Sought the approval of his men,
For an expedition, the Queen again
Lost not a moment in persuading
All her ladies, as to their going.
‘Came there ever a man,’ said Kay,
Like this brave lad, from far Norway?
Seize him! After him! Yet he’ll be
Skipping somewhere else entirely!
Like a squirrel, gone round a tree,
You’ll but lose him, it seems to me!’
‘I must hasten back to my lord,’
Said the squire, ‘Madame, afford
Him aid, pursue his interest,
With all the powers you possess.’
‘For this squire’s comfort now, obtain,’
The Queen said to her chamberlain.
‘Whatever he may require in dress,
Or ready money, his wants address,
Inspect his mount, and if the steed
Is unfit for riding, meet his need
With the best the castle here sires,
And supply what else he requires.’
Then she spoke to the squire again.
‘Give my respects to Lord Gawain,
I’ll make your farewells to the King.
Relay to your master everything
Spoken here, and the King’s intent,
And pass on his every compliment.’
The squire returns to Schastel Marveile
The King mounted his expedition,
Such that the formal constitution
Of the Round Table was honoured.
The news they had learnt, moreover,
That noble Gawain was living yet
Raised their spirits whene’er they met.
All the Round Table’s solemn rites
Were observed by the band of knights,
The King presiding, amidst those men
Who’d garnered fame, time and again,
As the prize for their endeavour;
And, to all, the news gave pleasure.
Now the squire who had conveyed
Gawain’s message, and had obeyed
Every instruction of the Queen,
Prepared to leave; and he had been
Supplied with money, and a mount,
And a change of clothes, on account.
He set out cheerfully since Arthur
Had sworn Gawain’s fears were over.
Though he went by the swiftest way,
How long he took, who can say.
At Schastel Marveile, Queen Arnive,
Was pleased to see him yet alive;
The guard had told her he’d returned
In good time, for his steed had earned
A goodly rest, he’d so spurred him.
Arnive went secretly to meet him,
When he entered, so she might ask
Where he had been, and of his task.
‘I must be silent,’ replied the squire,
‘I dare not tell, may not conspire
To say aught being bound by oath.
And to break that I am full loth,
For my lord would be displeased,
And think all loyalty had ceased.
Pray ask him yourself, my lady.’
She tried to corner him, but he
Replied, ‘No point detaining me,
My duty doth not leave me free;
Madame, I shall fulfil my oath.’
He found Gawain seated with both
His guests, and the ladies, within;
For, beside the Duke of Gowerzin,
Florant the Turkoyt sat with them,
The Duchess of Logroys, and then
That host of ladies. The squire came,
To present himself to Lord Gawain,
Who rose to his feet and took the lad
Aside and welcomed him, and bade
Him say what reply he had brought
To his message, from Arthur’s court.
‘Did you hand the letter to the King?
Is’t good news or bad that you bring?’
‘Yes, my Lord, both the King and Queen
I found there, and they both have seen
The missive, greet you, and consent,
To assisting you in your intent.
I said you were alive and well,
And of your loyalty I did tell,
And a noble gathering I did see;
The Round Table, and its company
Were there, and if ever a name
Had force among those men, if fame
And noble qualities were to count
Among them, your fame must mount
To the heights, and there preside
Over all others’ both far and wide.’
Then he said how he saw the Queen,
And heard her counsel, and had seen
The many knights and ladies who
He would see, when the time fell due,
At Joflanze. And so, Lord Gawain
Banished care and did thus attain
In his brave heart true happiness;
For joy had ended all his distress.
He forbade the squire to say a word,
And, silent regarding all he’d heard,
Sat down once more. Thus, he stayed,
At ease in his palace, till timely aid
Arrived. Now hear of joy and woe.
Arnive speaks of Clinschor and his magic arts
GAWAIN seemed quite contented, so.
One morning, when many a knight
And lady was there, out of sight,
Gawain and Arnive sat together,
In an alcove, above the river;
And she knew many a strange tale.
‘My dear lady, I must not fail
To ask about matters hidden
From me, if that may be forgiven.
Through your aid I’ve lived awhile
Amid rare pleasures, in fine style,
And benefited from your kindness
Such that my suffering grew less,
And was assuaged in due course;
For the Duchess captured, by force,
My manly heart, if twas ever such.
Had not your aid brought me much
Easement, and so delivered me
From my bandages, assuredly,
I should have died of my love,
And my wounds. Yet you did prove
My salvation, for now I thrive,
Tis thanks to you, I am alive.
Now, most blessed lady, I’d hear
About the magic that was here
And is here yet, and why Clinschor
Has wrought those spells and more;
Spells that nigh cost me my life.’
Now, no young woman, no fair wife
E’er grew old and brought such glory
To her sex as this wise lady:
‘My lord, the rare enchantment
He weaves here (tis ever-present)
Is naught beside the mighty spells
He casts elsewhere. He who tells
Tales of us, and casts the blame
Upon us, sin clings to that same.
Clinschor has vented his spleen
On many a land and race, I ween,
Now, sir (I’ll speak more openly)
Terre de Labur was his country;
From Virgil of Naples his descent,
Who, in his time, was ever intent
On devising enchantments rare.
Clinschor wrought as follows there.
His capital city was Capua.
The paths he trod seeking honour,
Were so high that honour he won.
Thus, this Duke Clinschor was one
To whom men and women did bow;
Till disaster struck, and this is how.
There was a King of Sicily,
Called Ibert, and his fair lady
Was Iblis, the loveliest wife
That ever graced this mortal life.
The Duke fought as her servitor,
And she rewarded Duke Clinschor
With her love. Twas for this the king
Wrought on him a shameful thing.
If I am to tell his secret now,
Your good leave must such allow,
For tis improper of me to name
The circumstance that brought him shame,
Through which he became a sorcerer.
A cut made a capon of Clinschor.’
He could not refrain from laughter,
But she continued, ‘He did suffer
This blow at Caltabellota,
Near Sciacca, known for its strength.
It seems the king had, at length,
Discovered Clinschor with his wife
Asleep in her embrace, his life
Was forfeit but, for that warm bed,
He left a down payment instead,
Clipped twixt his legs by a royal hand,
The sovereign’s due, you understand.
The king had trimmed his body so
That he was no longer fit to go
With any woman for her sport.
And many have suffered, in short,
For this. Twas in far Persida,
(The place, not the land of Persia)
That true magic was first derived.
Clinschor sought it, and contrived
The means, by rare enchantment,
Of mastering his every intent.
Because of all his bodily shame
He no longer, through that same,
Bears to man or woman goodwill.
Since it gratifies his heart, still,
To deny those who are worthy
All such happiness entirely.
Of Rosche Sabins there was a king,
Irot, who feared just such a thing.
So, he offered to grant Clinschor
All that he possessed and more,
And so escape his persecution,
Thus, Clinschor gained, by his action,
This place, famed for its great strength,
And land around, eight miles in length.
Upon the rock, as you can see,
Clinschor wrought ingeniously,
To found this castle, and did bring,
To it, many a precious thing.
Should any wish to besiege it,
Provisions are stored within it,
Sufficient to last thirty years,
Allaying the defenders’ fears.
Over all that haunts the aether,
Clinschor displays great power;
All of those beings, between
Earth’s boundary and the unseen
Firmament; all things malign;
And even those which are benign,
Except the ones God doth protect.
Yet since, failing of dire effect,
The danger to you was averted,
His gift from Irot has reverted,
To yourself, and never again,
Shall Clinschor, my Lord Gawain,
Concern himself with this place,
Nor this land will he now grace
With his presence. We had heard,
And Clinschor’s a man of his word,
That whoever strove with honour
And succeeded in that venture
Would be free of persecution,
And the gift rest with that person.
Your many subjects, here, have come
From every part of Christendom
Men and women, and maids too,
Whoe’er came within his view.
Here too dwells many an infidel
Constrained to live in this castle.
Let us return, all this company,
To the distant places where we
Are mourned. Exile chills my heart.
May He, who, with eternal art,
Framed the stars, guide you now
In aiding us; and may you allow
All here to find true happiness.
What mother is it bears no less
A child than its own grandmother?
From water ice, from ice forever
Comes pure water. Of happiness
I was born, and should I confess
To joy again, then, of this mother,
One progeny would bear another.
And you may bring all this about.
Tis long since happiness was out.
A ship moves swiftly under sail,
Walk aft to fore you cannot fail
To progress yet more swiftly still.
If you understand this parable,
Your fame will prosper. Now you
Have the power to move us too,
And make us shout for joy, and so
Take joy with us, whene’er we go,
To many friends who fear for us.
Once my life was full glorious
I wore a crown, my daughter too,
Regally crowned, princes did view,
As she passed with due solemnity
Before their eyes, both I and she
Enjoyed high station. Sir, I never
Have plotted harm to any man
Respect for all was e’er my plan.
Thanks to God, I was ever seen,
Rightfully as my country’s queen,
For I ne’er did wrong to anyone.
Let every decent woman be one
Who treats honest people kindly,
For she can be rendered, easily,
So wretched e’en a serving-lad
Might aid her escape from the sad
Circumstances that shut her in.
I have watched and waited herein
For many a day, and none, my lord,
Came to this place that knew me, or
Looked to free my heart from care,
Or my true counsel sought to share.’
‘If I live, madam,’ said Lord Gawain,
‘You shall know happiness again.’
King Arthur comes to Schastel Marveile
THAT very day, good King Arthur,
Of whom Arnive was the mother,
She who was lamenting but now,
Arrived there, to honour his vow,
And the bonds of kinship. Gawain
Saw banners moving o’er the plain,
While mounted squadrons did cover
The fields, from Logroys to the river,
Their pennants bright against the sky.
He was right joyful then, say I,
For when a man waits thus, delay
Makes him afraid that, on the day
That reinforcements come, he’ll find
Them far from enough. Yet his mind
Was clear now, all doubts were gone;
How bravely he saw them coming on!
He shrank from being gazed at then,
Lest he was seen by his own men
To shed a tear; his eyes shone bright,
Nor would they serve as watertight
Cisterns, for they shed drops of joy!
Arthur had reared him since a boy,
And such was their mutual loyalty
Twas never threatened by perfidy,
But ran strong and true evermore.
Nevertheless, Queen Arnive saw
His tears. ‘Come, raise a shout of joy,
My lord,’ she said, you must employ
Some means to cheer all who are here.
Guard against sorrow, for now appear
The Duchess’ men; twill console you.’
Pavilions and banners came in view,
Borne to the meadow, yet only one
Of their insignia did this Queen
Recognise, for there she had seen
That of Uther Pendragon’s Marshal,
Isajes, though twas borne withal
By Maurin of the Handsome Thighs,
The Queen’s Marshal, to her surprise,
For this Queen Arnive could not know
Uther, and Isajes, were dead, and so
Maurin now held a place, of right,
Like to his father, that true knight.
Towards the quay, o’er the meadow,
The Great Household now did flow.
The Queen’s men-at-arms set down
Tents and pavilions on the ground,
Beside a clear swift-running stream
Well-suited for the ladies, I’d deem.
Many a fine tent rose on high.
Arthur, and his knights, would lie,
Not far distant; they’d leave many
A wide track behind on this sortie.
Gawain sent Bene down to his host,
Plippalinot, to order the ferryboats,
And other vessels, to be made fast,
So that the army might not pass
The river, that day, and Bene won
A first gift from King Lot’s son,
For Gawain, from his goodly store,
To her, with his own hands, he bore
Swallow; that rare harp she’d play,
Famed yet, in England, in our day.
Bene went happily to her father
While Gawain gave out the order
That the outer gates be barred.
Now young and old he did regard,
And uttered a courteous plea:
‘Across the river, as you can see,
A mighty army seeks to gather,
Nor have I e’er seen a greater
Massing, whether on land or sea.
If they attack, I shall be ready
To offer them battle, with your aid.’
Signs of agreement they relayed,
Then asked the fair Duchess if she
Knew whose was this great army.
‘I recognise nor banners nor men,’
She replied, ‘perchance once again
King Gramoflanz invades my land
And seeks to harm me as he planned
Before; perchance beneath the wall
At Logroys, his men fight and fall,
For, I fancy, the defenders their
Will fight well in such an affair,
And match the foe there, man for man,
At each redoubt and barbican.
If King Gramoflanz there did stand
He seeks revenge for the fair garland.
Whoe’er it might be, he would face
Raised lances, poised, in that place.’
Her last words were true, indeed;
Arthur’s men worked many a deed
Of chivalry ere his army passed,
The high walls of Logroys, at last.
His knights had incurred much harm
And repaid it, many a strong arm
Had wielded weapons, in their reply,
And many were hard pressed thereby.
Now here there gathered those, tis said,
Who’ll fight for their shirts, if well led.
Weary from the fighting they came,
Tough warriors, their place to claim.
Some losses had both sides suffered,
Garel and Gaherjet were captured,
And King Meljanz of Barbigoel,
And brave Jofreit, son of Idoel,
All four were taken into that place,
And did the halls of Logroys grace.
The Britons had won from Logroys,
The Duke Friam of Vermendoys,
And Count Ritschart of Navers,
Who broke but one lance in such affairs,
For no matter whom he opposed
Those men fell to his skilful blows.
Arthur felled him with his own hand,
That warrior known in many a land.
Thereupon without thought of danger,
Such charges they’d sought to deliver
On each side that, were lances trees,
A forest had been cleared with ease.
Joust after joust made splinters fly,
As the Britons had sought thereby
To press and counter the Duchess’ men.
Arthur’s rear-guard had charged again
This foe, that harassed them all day,
To where the mass of their army lay.
Now, truly, Gawain should have told
Orgeluse that her own stronghold
Might face his ally on her own land!
Then none had fought at her command.
But he had said naught of this affair,
Till he knew that Arthur was there;
For he acted, now, as it suited him.
His tents and baggage, he did begin
To prepare for his march to meet
King Arthur. Now he did greet
His knights and squires and men,
Handing out lavish gifts to them,
And the ladies, with such a will,
Their every need sought to fulfil,
On such a liberal scale that he
Seemed rid of this world; all did agree
True aid had come to them at last,
And they were free of sorrows past.
He ordered baggage-mules, armour
For the knights, and sought to honour
The ladies with palfreys. He took care
To encase the men-at-arms in steel;
He clad them, fully, head to heel.
And then he took four knights aside,
Made one his Marshal there to ride,
Another his faithful Chamberlain,
A third his Butler, a fourth, again,
His Steward, such that all these four
His coat of arms and emblems bore,
And would perform his every wish;
Thoughts of the duel he did relish.
Gawain’s troops ride to Joflanze
NOW, let Arthur unmoving lie;
Gawain all greeting did deny,
Though he found it hard to refrain;
So, trumpets blaring, once again
Arthur rode forth, at early morn,
To Joflanze, the rear-guard sworn
To defend the army from attack,
Yet they soon followed in his track
On seeing no sign of an enemy.
Gawain observed them, eagerly,
Then he drew his officers aside,
And ordered his Marshal to ride
To Joflanze and the meadow there,
Seeking to hasten the whole affair.
‘I seek my own camping-ground,
And there that army will be found;
Now I must name their lord to you,
Tis Arthur, my uncle, whom I view
As a second father, for at his court
I was raised; and his aid I’ve sought.
Equip our march to Joflanze field
With noble armour, lance and shield,
So that its splendour will be plain
To all eyes, and, for now, refrain
From letting the fact be known here
That tis for my sake, he doth appear.’
They did as he asked. Plippalinot
Gathered his vessels to the spot,
Every boat, and barge, and galley,
And with the Marshal he did ferry
All that brave company across,
Horse and foot; without a loss,
The Marshal marched them away,
Upon King Arthur’s tracks, I say.
A great pavilion too they bore,
(Which Iblis had sent to Clinschor,
As a love-gift, thus was it known
That they were lovers) and, I own,
Naught was spared in its creation,
Never a better, without question,
Was e’er wrought, with cunning art,
But for that owned by Isenhart.
Now the pavilion was raised high,
With many another pitched nearby
To form a wide and spacious ring,
This was to be Gawain’s lodging;
Arthur’s tent stood not far away.
All gleamed in magnificent array,
While the King, in his inner court,
Of the Marshal received report,
Of who was pitching camp beside
Them in the field, nor did he hide
That Lord Gawain was on his way,
And would arrive ere close of day.
This was the common talk of all.
Gawain had now set out, withal,
Marching with his grand company,
As fine as sight as one might see,
So noble that it seemed a wonder.
There went many a burdened sumpter,
Bearing field-chapels, and dress,
Piles of weapons, of shields no less,
And brave helmets topping the load,
While beside them, along their road,
Paced many a fine Castilian horse;
Knights and ladies held their course
Riding behind them; in full strength
The army stretched a league in length.
Gawain ensured each lovely lady
Had a brave knight for company,
And foolish they’d have been if no
Talk of love accompanied them so.
Florant the Turkoyt rode that day
With the fair Sangive of Norway,
Lischois rode beside sweet Condrie,
While Gawain’s sister Itonje
Was asked to ride next that lord,
As Arnive the Duchess did afford
Her companionship on the way.
He meets with Arthur
Matters transpired thus that day:
Gawain’s encampment was placed
Such that to reach it his steed paced
Through that of King Arthur’s army.
And all must gaze at this company
Passing there amidst them, slowly.
Gawain asked that the first lady
Halt at King Arthur’s ring, her ‘knight’
At her side, and yet not alight,
While the Marshal saw that another
Pair rode up, and halted beside her,
And on round in the same manner,
Young or old, lady and ‘lover’,
And so on till all of Arthur’s ring
Was circled by ladies’ glittering
In the light. Only now Gawain,
Thrice-fortunate, by Arthur was fain
To be received, and, if you ask me,
He greeted him most affectionately.
Arnive dismounted, and her daughter
With the fair children of the latter;
Gawain, and Orgeluse, and Florant,
Lischois too; as Arthur advanced
Towards these illustrious persons
Welcoming them in friendly fashion.
As did his Queen, who met Gawain
With affection, while now, and again,
The ladies exchanged many a kiss.
‘Who are your companions in this?’
Asked King Arthur of his nephew,
As they all passed before his view.
‘I must see my lady kiss each man
For their lineage urges such a plan.’
Florant was kissed by Guinevere,
As was Lischois who waited near.
They first retired to his pavilion,
Then Arthur mounted his Castilian
And rode around the splendid ring
Of ladies, and the knights attending
On them, and gave them welcome,
Every man, and every woman
For it seemed, where’er he did go,
That fair ladies filled the meadow,
Since it had been Gawain’s desire
That all should keep the ring entire
Till he himself has ridden away;
Such was courtliness in that day.
Arthur dismounted and went within,
Sat with his nephew, asking him
About the ladies, and his adventure,
So, Gawain these words did venture,
Courteously addressing the Briton:
‘You, sire, come of Uther Pendragon
Born of his wife here, Queen Arnive,
And here now is my mother Sangive,
And these two are my lovely sisters
Are they not fairer now than others?’
(Here was a new round of kissing,
Laughter and tears were in their meeting,
For great joy affected them so,
Lips conveyed laughter and woe,
With the presence, in equal measure,
Of past grief, and present pleasure)
‘Nephew,’ the king asked again,
‘Who is this lovely fifth?’ Gawain,
Said, courteously: ‘the fair Duchess
Of Logroys is she, and I no less
Than her liege lord. Now I am told
Against her your men made bold
Incursion; tell me then the cost
Of what you or she have lost.
And be not silent, like a widow,
Come tell this lady all you know!’
‘The Duchess has your maternal
Kinsman Gaherjet, and Garel,
Tireless in attack, her prisoner;
Snatched from my side, was the latter,
As we drove close to their barbican.
And then the feats of that bold man
Meljanz of Liz, in sorry manner,
Captured beneath his white banner,
Where the black, sable-cut arrow,
Stained with heart’s blood, did show,
His emblem denoting suffering.
All the company round him riding
Shouted ‘Lirivoyn!’ right fiercely!
Yet all that they won, so gloriously,
They took with them to the keep.
Jofreit, my nephew, he doth sleep
A captive behind those four walls.
I led the rear-guard, thus it befalls,
While our attack met with disaster.’
He’d much to say about the matter.
‘There was no dishonour in the act,’
Said Orgeluse, with a woman’s tact,
‘You’ve never sought favour of me;
If you’ve harmed me in some degree,
For you, indeed, captured my friends,
May God help you to make amends.
You have ridden to assist Gawain
Who had he fought me, I maintain,
Had found me without all defence,
And thrust at me in like innocence.
If he would renew the contest so,
Never a sword need strike a blow.’
‘How then if we,’ said Lord Gawain,
‘With yet more knights did fill the plain,
For we may achieve that readily.
I am sure the Duchess will free
Her prisoners, and order her men
To join us, strengthening us again.’
‘Agreed!’ cried Arthur. The Duchess
Did both matters swiftly address,
And never, in all imagining,
Was there a more splendid gathering.
Gawain asked leave to go his way
To his pavilion, and would not stay.
The King so granted; the company,
My Lord Gawain’s, went cheerfully;
All, indeed, who’d ridden with him,
To his quarters now accompanied him.
His camp was luxurious, poverty
Marred not the splendour of chivalry.
Many knights came to greet him then,
Who had regretted his leaving them.
As to Kay, recovered of the pain
That he by the Plimizoel did gain,
In that painful joust, he gazed long
At the riches of this pavilion.
‘We feared no rivalry then,’ he cried,
When his father was at our side,
Brave Lot, the King’s brother-in-law;
No separate rings of tents we saw!’
Kay was still brooding on the fact
Gawain had seen fit not to act,
And avenge him, when he met harm
And Parzival shattered his right arm.
‘It seems God’s wonders never cease!
Who has granted Gawain all these
Ladies?’ said Kay, whose mockery
Of his friends was scarcely seemly.
A loyal friend should rest content,
And joy at a friend’s advancement.
Tis the disloyal one that cries woe
When his friend doth Fortune know,
And he’s there to witness her favour.
Gawain met with Fortune and honour.
Who is the man has need of more?
Though some will envy him, tis sure,
Yet it should gladden a man of spirit
If a friend’s actions do him credit,
And he scorns dishonour. Gawain
Who every treachery did disdain,
Was mindful of manly faithfulness,
And no man should have felt distress,
If he was granted Fortune’s favour,
Winning fame on the paths of honour.
You’ll ask how that man of Norway
Cared for all of his guests that day.
Arthur and all his retinue
Had the opportunity to view
All the wealth and hospitality
Of Lot’s noble son, and his courtesy.
But they are entitled to their sleep,
After that supper, nor would I keep
Those lovely ladies from their rest!
Thus, they departed, every guest.
Arthur sends envoys to King Gramoflanz
NEXT morn, ere the sun rose, came there
A force of the Duchess’ knights, and fair
Gleamed their crests by the moon’s light
As from the camp men viewed the sight;
All through that camp they went riding,
To the far side, and Gawain’s tent ring.
A man who such forces can command
Through the strength of his right hand,
He deserves full credit indeed.
Gawain asked his Marshal to proceed
With the task of leading them to where
They might pitch their tents, and there
The men of Logroys set many a ring
Of fine pavilions; by mid-morning,
They were all lodged. But now new
Cares approach, and more than a few.
Arthur sent envoys on their way
To Rosche Sabins, who were to say
To King Gramoflanz that since he
Would not waive the duel set to be
Fought with his nephew, that same
Would grant it him, if he but came
To meet them soon, for it appeared,
Or so King Arthur greatly feared,
He’d not forego it, where another
Would yet have foreseen dishonour.
Gawain rides forth and encounters Parzival
NOW Gawain asked Lischois and Florant
To show him the knights of many lands
Who were Love’s servitors, that army
Of Love, who had, devotedly,
Served Orgeluse, in hopes that they
Might garner high reward someday.
He rode to them and spoke so well
They acclaimed him; for all could tell,
The noble nature of the man.
This done, he carried out the plan
In his mind and, in secrecy,
He made his way, all privately,
To his great wardrobe chamber,
And cased his body in armour,
To find if his wounds had healed
Sufficiently to address the field,
Now wishing to test every limb,
As knights and ladies, watching him
In the duel, would seek to judge
Whether he suffered overmuch.
He asked, then, for Gringuljete,
And gave the steed rein, for, as yet,
He knew not if they both were fit
For battle, and would thus acquit
Themselves well in the coming fight.
No excursion of the gallant knight
Troubles me as much as does this.
For from the camp he did vanish
And rode far off over the plain.
May Fortune guard my Lord Gawain.
Beside the Sabins ran his course.
A knight, motionless on his horse,
He saw there, whom we might call
A touchstone of manliness, a fall
Of sharp hail descending fiercely
On many a brave knight. Perfidy
Was never an entrant to his heart,
Nor was he tainted in any part;
He bore no burden of dishonour.
Never a span, not half a finger
Of baseness touched the man. A word
Or two, of him, you may have heard
Already, for now the tale returns
To its true stem, and new glory earns.
End of Book XIII of Parzival