Wolfram von Eschenbach
Book XV: The Infidel
‘Key of Spring’
From The Flower Book, Sir Edward Burne-Jones (English, 1833 – 1898)
Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved
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- Parzival encounters the Infidel, his half-brother Feirefiz.
- The half-brothers fight each other.
- They declare themselves and a friendship is established.
- Parzival and the Infidel are greeted by Gawain.
- They dine with him and the fair company.
- Feirefiz, the Infidel, is received by King Arthur.
- Feirefiz names the leaders of his army.
- Parzival names the knights he has defeated.
- King Arthur lays out a Round Table, by moonlight.
- The Company of the Round Table gather.
- Cundrie La Surziere again appears before the Round Table.
- She declares that Parzival is to be Lord of the Grail.
- Parzival is allowed one companion on his journey.
- Parzival and Feirefiz set out, with Cundrie, for Munsalvaesche.
Parzival encounters the Infidel, his half-brother Feirefiz
FROM those impatient that the end
Of the story lay hid from them,
Who failed however hard they tried,
To unlock it, I’ll now take pride
In not withholding it, needlessly,
Since in my mouth I bear the key.
I shall make known, in plain speech,
The tale of how (the truth I teach)
The fair and gentle Anfortas came
To be made sound and whole again.
And how the Queen, furthermore,
Of Belrepeire, Condwiramurs,
Remained a woman chaste in thought,
Till she won what many have sought,
And entered into a realm of bliss.
Tis Parzival shall enable this,
If I’ve the skill to tell the tale,
For I’ll recount for you, without fail,
Such toils as our knight, ne’er before
Undertook, for his deeds in war,
Or jousting, were gentler any day
Than such; indeed, were mere child’s play.
Could I but waive my obligation
To tell the tale, on this occasion,
Then I’d not risk his life this day;
I’m loth to risk my own that way.
But now I shall commend his state,
Whatever bliss may prove his fate,
To his own heart, where bravery
Dwelt there beside true modesty.
His heart knew naught of cowardice,
And may he be assured by this,
That he shall keep his life intact.
Since tis his destiny to act,
A champion of every battle
Will soon his helm and shield rattle,
Jousting with him, at a venture.
That same man of courtly nature,
An Infidel, born to chivalry,
Was yet blind to Christianity.
Parzival rode, brisk as he could,
O’er open space towards a wood,
To meet with that valiant stranger.
Being so poor, it seems a wonder
That this knight can tell you aught
Of how splendidly was wrought
That Infidel’s attire; were I
To speak of it till, by and by,
You grew weary of his wealth,
I’d be forced to try your health,
Sing on and on, in true report,
Were I to seek to tell you aught,
Of its magnificence. The sum
Of riches in Arthur’s kingdom,
England, all Britain, would not buy,
The pure and noble gems the eye
Could gaze upon, on his tabard,
Enough to challenge any bard;
The coat was rarer, more costly,
Than ruby or chalcedony;
Pairs of salamanders within
The fires of Mount Agremuntin
Had woven it; twas set moreover
With gemstones of the first water,
And others opaque or lustrous,
Their virtues all unknown to us.
The Infidel sought for renown,
And love, and thus it might be found
That it was women in the main
Who, of admiration, had been fain
To grant him every last adornment
That upon his form was present.
Love brought spirit and true vigour
To his heart, as with every suitor,
Who might his lady’s gifts display,
And quite as much as in our day.
To crown his fame, he wore upon
His helm, a creature, ‘ecidemon’;
Once a venomous snake scents it,
And meets the powers within it,
Its life is lost, due to the nature
Of this small but potent creature.
No such brocades might there be
In Thasme or in Araby,
Or in Thopedissimonte,
Or in Assigarzionte,
As his brave charger wore that day,
No trappings were as fine as they.
That handsome man, unbaptized,
Sought by all women to be prized,
And thus, he dressed with elegance.
His heart towards love must advance,
The highest and the noblest found.
The youth had anchored in the sound
By a cove, where stood many a tree,
Dense woods descending to the sea.
In keeping with his wealth and power,
Twenty-five armies, at that hour,
Had he, all well-equipped, yet none
Could understand another’s tongue,
For he ruled as many territories.
Of varying aspects were all these,
Moors, and Saracens, and such like;
And in that host, that vast warlike
Gathering, drawn from far and wide,
Where unheard-of warriors did ride,
Many strange arms and armaments
Were seen amidst the princely tents.
For his part, he had left his army
There encamped, and alone had he
Ridden forth amongst the trees
Seeking adventure and to ease
His limbs. Since kings deem it right
To ride about in all their might
On their own, in search of glory,
I must let him ride, yet as surely
Parzival rode not so, for one;
Courage was his companion,
Who always fights so manfully,
That despite their mad frivolity
Women must praise him also.
Here two, gentle as lambs, do go,
Yet lions in valour, who do seek
Harm upon each other to wreak.
Alas that, though the Earth is wide,
They must meet, as on they ride,
This pair who’ll fight, for no cause!
The matter would yet give me pause,
Given that I this man have brought
So far, were it not for the thought
That the Grail’s powers will prove
His salvation, and also Love
Must protect him, for he has served
Both, faithfully, and never swerved.
The half-brothers fight each other
MY wit seems scarce fit to portray
The battle complete, yet I may say
Their eyes lit, as each saw the other;
Their hearts felt joy, yet a deeper
Woe lurked there, unseen; each man
Bore the other’s heart, you understand,
Within him, thus each was closer
Than it seemed, although a stranger.
How shall I keep these two apart,
Christian and Infidel? My art
Is too weak to prevent the fall
Of a blow; it should sadden all
Good women, for each of this pair
Exposed himself to danger there,
For his mistress’ sake. May fate
Avoid sad death, ere tis too late.
A lioness’ cubs appear stillborn,
Yet are roused, ere she doth mourn,
Brought to life by their father’s roar.
These were scions of joust and war,
Of lances shattered in the field,
And both had pierced many a shield
To the cost of the lances they bore,
Both had fought on many a shore.
From a canter they shortened rein,
And charging fiercely, took aim.
All points of the art they did meet,
Each man had adopted a firm seat,
Shaped himself for the encounter,
Closed his knees into the shoulder
Sinews of his mount, and then
Galloped to meet the other, when,
Those solid lances striking there,
Splinters went flying through the air.
Yet neither of the riders fell.
This fact incensed the Infidel,
For his opponent, Parzival,
Was the very first knight, of all
With whom he’d ever chanced to meet,
Who took the blow yet kept his seat.
Had they swords, when at high speed
They clashed together? Yes, indeed,
Broad blades and keen; their bravery
Was soon displayed, and skilfully
They fought, while the ‘ecidemon’
Sorely wounded, and woebegone,
Gave the helmet there, beneath it,
Good cause to grieve at every hit.
Their chargers were soon worn out,
As their bold riders wheeled about,
Seeking advantage, till they leapt
From their saddles and, standing, swept
Their swords on high, till they sang,
Then on the gleaming armour rang.
The Infidel did harm thereby
To the Christian. His war-cry
Was ‘Thasme!’ and at each shout
Of ‘Thabronit!’ the knight stepped out
A single pace, and thus advanced.
The Christian (in and out he danced)
Was formidable in the charge,
Rushing near, striking at large.
The battle now reached such a pitch,
That it achieved a point at which
I must deplore their need to fight,
For tis the same blood in each knight,
The same life in each man’s veins,
Their merciless attack maintains.
When all is said and done, that pair,
But the one father they did share,
Which grants the deepest loyalty.
The Infidel, known for bravery,
Had ever been disposed to love.
He had aspired his worth to prove
For the sake of Queen Secundille,
Who acted as a shield in peril,
At Tribalibot, granting him land.
Twas he now gained the upper hand:
What to do with this Christian?
Unless he turns to love, that man
Will slay him; let him not prevail!
Protect him now, O mighty Grail,
And you, the fair Condwiramurs!
The man who serves you both, is sure
To die, for here he stands, alone,
In the greatest danger he has known.
The Infidel raised his sword on high;
A rain of blows fell from the sky,
Upon the head of Parzival,
Forcing him to his knees, withal.
Whoe’er would say two fought there
Is thus allowed, in this affair,
To say ‘they’ fought, and yet but one
Were they, when all is said and done,
My brother and I share but one life,
As do a true man and his true wife.
The Infidel did harm thereby,
Raising his sword up on high.
Of tough asbestos was his shield,
That will not burn, or rot, or yield.
Surely, she loved, who gave it him!
And all its boss was lined, within
Its flanges, with precious stones,
Of many kinds, in varied zones,
Each of the finest water, too,
Emeralds, rubies, with the blue
Of turquoise, and green chrysoprase,
And, at its summit, you might gaze
Upon a gem, whose name I’ll now
Reveal: for that stone, I avow,
In the East as ‘anthrax’ doth appear,
The red ‘carbuncle’ we name it here.
Queen Secundille in whose favour
He sought to live, had, moreover,
Granted him the ‘ecidemon’,
As his emblem, to place thereon,
And be companion to her love;
It was her wish that it should prove
His guardian, and shield his way,
So, twas set there, in bold display.
Pure loyalty to this they brought,
Great loyalty with loyalty fought,
Both, of their lives, trial did make,
In single combat, for Love’s sake.
Each had so pledged; the Christian
Had faith in God, since that man
Of God, Trevrizent, had taught
That in Him aid should be sought,
Who holds the power to address
Our troubles, and so end distress.
The Infidel, tis true, possessed
Powerful limbs; as for the rest,
Whenever ‘Thabronit!’ he cried,
(Where Queen Secundille did abide,
At the feet of the Caucasus)
It rendered him more valorous;
He gained new courage to attack
This man who had seen no lack
Of encounters, who to all defeat
Had been a stranger, born to meet
Such challenge readily till now,
Unbowed; others to him did bow.
They plied their craft now skilfully,
Sparks, from their helms, flew fierily,
Their swords raised a bitter breeze,
One that many a heart would freeze.
God save Gahmuret’s scions there!
For both of them I make that prayer,
The Christian and the Infidel;
I called them ‘one’, and both might well
Have themselves considered that so,
If they’d had space to come to know
Each other better, and not played
For such high stakes, the price paid
For that, perchance, being happiness,
Good fortune, honour, and success.
Should either conquer in this strife
Then he’ll forego all joy in life,
If he cherishes the sacred bond
Of kinship, for the true and fond
There find heartless, endless woe.
Parzival, why thus prove so slow
To fix all your firm thoughts upon
That fair, and chaste, and loyal one,
Your wife I mean? Surely, you wish
To live and thrive in her service?
The Infidel possessed two things
Upon which his strength did hinge,
The first, enshrined there in his heart,
A constant love, set him apart
From other men, and another
The precious stones which did ever
Grant him vigour and add more
Power to his spirit, with their pure
And noble virtues. It vexes me
That the Christian grows weary,
And the Infidel must prevail.
If Condwiramurs and the Grail
Fail to come to your aid now
Then, valiant Parzival, allow
This one thought to hearten you,
That those sweet lads, those two,
Conceived of your last embrace,
Those two, fair in form and face,
Kardeiz and Loherangrin,
Whom your wife held there within
Her womb, and then granted you,
Must not live fatherless; tis true
That sweet children chastely got,
Are e’er a blessing on man’s lot.
Fresh strength the Christian now sought,
Not a moment too soon, he thought
Of his wife the Queen, and her love,
That he had won when he did prove
The temper of his blade, below
The walls of Belrepeire, and so
Defeated King Clamide, while now
The sparks leapt as helms did bow,
To many a blow. Yet ‘Thabronit!’,
And ‘Thasme!’, both must now admit
A counter-cry, for Parzival, there,
Has raised his cry of ‘Belrepeire!’
From full four kingdoms away,
Fair Condwiramurs, one might say,
Came to his aid, with the power,
Of her great love, in that same hour
Of need, thus the Infidel’s shield
A host of rich splinters must yield.
And yet the blade broke, that day,
(Twas Ither’s, of Gaheviez,
That which Parzival had taken)
By a fierce blow that had shaken
The Infidel’s strong helm, and brought
The stranger, bravely though he fought,
To his knees. It no longer pleased
The Lord, that Parzival, who’d seized
The weapon from a corpse, should fight
With that blade, as if his of right,
As if to rob the dead were proper,
That fine sword he’d had of Ither,
In his foolish ignorance, knowing
No better, all youth’s crassness showing.
They declare themselves and a friendship is established
THE Infidel, who had ne’er before
Fallen to such a blow, once more
Leapt to his feet, and so the matter,
Undecided, continued further;
The struggle must again begin,
The verdict, as to which might win,
Lies in the hands of God, on high,
May He ensure that none shall die.
The Infidel proved magnanimous.
‘Tis clear to me,’ for he spoke thus,
Politely, and in good French too,
‘Brave warrior as you are, that you
Would seek to fight without a sword!
What honour then were my reward?
Cease, warlike man; say who you are;
Had your sword not snapped, by far
The better of us you’d have proved,
And all the jousts that I have moved,
All my renown, the deeds I’ve done
O’er many years; that fame had won.
Now, let there be peace between us
Till we are rested, seek honour thus.’
They both sat down upon the grass,
Musing on what had come to pass,
That well-bred pair, at rest again,
Not young or old, both fighting men.
‘Now,’ said the Infidel, ‘brave knight,
Believe me, not once, in any fight,
Have I met a man more deserving
Of the fame won by our calling.
Deign, sir, to tell your name and birth,
So that my voyage proves one of worth
My journey here full prosperous.’
‘If I’m to speak from fear, because
Duress rules here,’ replied the son
Of Herzeloyde, ‘and speak it, none
Need trouble to ask that same of me.’
‘Then I’ll speak,’ said he of Thasme,
‘Name myself first, and undertake
To bear the reproaches any make.
I am Feirefiz Angevin,
And, with the power invested in
My rank, in lands beyond the sea,
Many pay tribute there, to me.’
Hearing these words, brave Parzival
Made this request of the Infidel:
‘What right have you to “Angevin”?
Anjou, and all that lies within,
Its lands and towns and fortresses,
Is mine, by inheritance no less.
Sir, pray choose another title,
If I must lose the noble castle
Of Bealzenan, you will have done
Violence on me; if anyone
May claim to be an Angevin
I am he, with my closest kin,
By true descent. Nonetheless,
I was told a true and fearless
Warrior, in some heathen land,
Both love and fame doth there command,
Through chivalrous deeds, and that he
Is said to be brother to me.
Those dwelling there grant him the palm.
Now, sir, and you shall take no harm,
Bare your head, for if I might see
Your features twould be clear to me
If you are the man they speak of so.
And if that far you’ll deign to go,
Then take my word for it, why then
I’ll do naught, till its clad again.’
‘I fear no harm,’ said the Infidel,
‘Had I no armour all were well,
I would win, yet not be flattered,
Since your sad blade is shattered.
All your skill in war were naught,
Unless I spared you, ere we fought.
Ere you e’en sought, thus, to begin,
My blade would pass through mail and skin.’
And then, with courteous intent,
The mighty Infidel swiftly sent
His sword flying through the air
Among the trees, crying: ‘There!
It shall aid neither; should we fight,
Let all prove equal for each knight,
If we must war with one another.
Now, since it seems you have a brother,
Of your fine breeding, say how he is,
In appearance,’ said Feirefiz,
‘Describe his complexion, his face.’
‘Tis like parchment a man doth grace
With writing, tis both black and white,
Such is the nature of that knight,
Such is his face,’ replied the son
Of Herzeloyde, ‘such is the one
Whom Ekuba described to me.’
The Infidel answered: ‘I am he.’
Without delay each chose to doff
His dented helmet, and his coif.
Parzival found great treasure there,
Much the most precious anywhere,
For at once the Infidel was known,
Marked like a magpie, for his own.
They ceased their strife, with a kiss;
Much more fitting to end like this
As friends not bitter foes, the action
Resolved in closeness and affection.
‘Happy am I now, and well met
Brave son of noble Gahmuret!’
Cried the Infidel, joyfully.
‘My gods have looked kindly on me.
May my goddess Juno glory in this;
Great Jupiter has granted such bliss;
Gods, and goddesses, I adore you.
And may the planet be praised too
Beneath which I sought adventure,
And in that quest found a brother!
Praise be the dew, the breeze this morn
Which descended on me at dawn.
Fortunate are those women who
Are destined to see and greet you,
Gentle holder of Love’s fair key.
How great shall be their felicity.’
He of Kanvoleiz said: ‘How well
You speak; for I’d seek to excel
In such if I could, and so convey
My affection in some small way,
But, alas, am not so well versed
In oratory as to have rehearsed
Aught that might in fair words express
Your reputation, I thus confess.
God knows, I do not lack the wish.
Whatever arts I command in this,
Of heart and eye, they must proclaim
Naught else but that your noble fame
Is the choirmaster and they the choir,
I know that none else stands higher,
Nor was I ever, in honest fight,
Harder pressed by any knight.’
‘Jupiter has neglected naught
In your making, and in short
Be not formal, my dear brother,
For after all we share one father.’
And with brotherly affection he
Asked that they speak familiarly.
This was not to Parzival’s taste.
‘Brother,’ said he, ‘you are placed,
In both power and wealth, alongside
The Baruc, and setting that aside,
You are the senior, and if I
Possess courtly manners, then my
Youth and poverty should keep me
From taking such a liberty
As to speak familiarly with you.’
Then this lord of Tribalibot,
Praised his god Jupiter, but not
More fulsomely than his Juno,
Who had arranged the weather so
That he and his army had made land,
Just where Parzival was at hand.
They sat down on the grass again,
Yet all due courtesy did maintain.
‘Now I shall grant you two rich lands,’
Said the Infidel, ‘your commands
They shall obey; my own they flank,
Fair Azagouc and Zazamanc;
Your father, and mine, both did gain
When young King Isenhart was slain.
Our sire abandoned none, unless
You’ll accept he left me fatherless,
Nor have I forgiven that wrong;
And his wife that bore me pined long
For the love she’d lost, and so died.
I’d like to meet him; tis denied
There e’er was a more perfect knight.
I’d hoped my eyes might have sight
Of him, and so have voyaged far
To find him.’ ‘In that, my eyes are
None the wiser,’ said Parzival.
‘I have been told, for men recall
His deeds in many a place still,
Of all he achieved, for his will
Was to garner fame and glory.
No sad misdeed marred his story.
He served fair ladies and, if they
Were sincere, none rued the day,
And so, requited it honestly.
He practised that firm loyalty
For which the Christian faith is praised,
The faith in which I too was raised,
And which is honoured yet. Aided
By his clear heart, ever unshaded,
He wrought true, in his every deed.
With that portrait all are agreed
All those, that is, who knew the man,
The sight of whom is all your plan.
You would commend him, I am sure,
Twas commendation he lived for,
If he lived still; but this servitor
Of ladies, was impelled to fight,
While serving as a loyal knight,
Brave King Ipomidon, neath the wall
Of Baghdad, where a host did fall.
There, in Love’s name, his last breath
Was nobly rendered up to death,
Thus, was lost that most valorous
Knight, he who sired the two of us.’
‘Woe, for harm past reparation,
Sorrow beyond all consolation!’
Cried the Infidel, ‘Then is he dead?
I grieve; in truth, of bitter bread
I now must eat; all happiness
Is lost, and yet there is no less
A proof of it before my eyes!
At the self-same hour, I realise
My happiness, and lose it too.
Truly, I, my father, and you,
Were one; though ever seen as three,
No wise man deems them so. In me,
You fought yourself on this field;
I came to battle, not to yield
Myself, indeed, rather to slay;
By fighting fiercely, in that way,
You defended my life from me.
Jupiter, you worked wondrously;
Your power, aiding us, came between
Death and ourselves, as we have seen.’
He joyed yet wept too, inwardly,
Then showed his pain outwardly;
His infidel eyes began to scatter
Water-drops, in no small manner,
(As if sprinkled to the glory
Of the Baptism, whose story
Teaches love and loyalty.
Christ is love and loyalty;
And our Rule takes its name
From Christ, in whom that same
Was witnessed) The Infidel spoke.
I’ll tell you what words he spoke:
‘Let us tarry here no longer.
Ride me with a little further,
And I’ll order the finest army
That Juno e’er sped o’er the sea,
To quit the waves, and encamp here,
So that you might view them near.
Truly, and tis no empty boast,
I’ll show you a most noble host,
That pays me homage; ride with me.’
‘Have you such rule of your army
That they will wait on you today,
And for as long as you’re away?’
Asked Parzival. ‘Assuredly,
And tis a thing that you shall see.’
He replied, ‘Were it half a year
I should find them all fast here,
Without exception, high or low.
The ships are provisioned also;
No man or horse need be ashore,
Except to fetch fresh water or
Take the air awhile on land.’
‘Then, in return you understand,
I shall show you lovely ladies,
Amidst them radiant beauties,’
Parzival advised his brother,
‘Who shall, the one or another,
Occasion you courtly delight,
And with them many a knight
To our own noble lineage peer,
For Arthur of Britain lies here,
Encamped with all his following.
So, I left them, but this morning;
And all that charming company,
Many a fair lady you shall see.’
When the Infidel heard the name
Of woman (for that very same
Was to him his true life and soul)
He said: ‘With you I shall enrol,
Yet answer me this question too,
Shall I meet kinfolk when I do?
I have heard that this famed Arthur
Lives magnificently, moreover.’
‘We’ll see glittering ladies there,’
Said Parzival, ‘therefore prepare;
Our ride will not have proved in vain,
And we’ll find our true race again,
The very folk whose blood we share,
And royal crowns amidst them there.’
They rose; Parzival did remember
To fetch the sword for his brother
And sheathed it firmly, once more.
So, twixt them, their sorry war,
All hostility, at an end,
They rode together, friend with friend.
Parzival and the Infidel are greeted by Gawain
THE news was known at Arthur’s court
Before ever his camp they sought.
That day the army knew great sorrow,
For Parzival had left that morrow,
And, after taking counsel, Arthur
Had resolved to ride no further,
But wait, that week, for Parzival.
Gramoflanz too was there with all
His army, and many a wide ring
Of bright tents was set for the King,
And there the proud nobles stayed.
The four brides could not have made
A sweeter or pleasanter journey,
Nor dwelt there more comfortably.
At this time a messenger came
From Schastel Marveile, that same
Reported a contest they had seen
In the Pillar, the which had been
‘Greater than any sword-fight ever!’
As Gawain was seated by Arthur,
The man arrived, and this did say.
Then the knights ’gan right away
To question who had fought the fight.
‘I’ll suggest that one brave knight
Must be my kinsman,’ said Arthur,
‘He of Kanvoleiz who rode further
This fair morn,’ as the pair rode in.
Their helms and shields both had seen
Many a blow struck in a manner
That war and chivalry did honour;
Both their right hands were versed
In tracing the lines of war, rehearsed
On many a field for, in war,
Art is needed, and knightly lore.
They rode about King Arthur’s ring,
And many an eye went following,
Seeing the Infidel richly dressed,
For many a tent for many a guest
Was set there, as that pair turned
Past the high pavilion, concerned
To reach Gawain’s lodging there.
Did any show their weight of care
Was lifted, and how they felt joy?
I imagine so! Gawain’s employ
Was to go swiftly from the court
For he had seen that they now sought
His own pavilion, and there did he
Receive them both most joyfully.
The two were still in their armour,
And in due, and courtly, manner,
That courteous man Lord Gawain
Soon had the pair disarmed again.
That creature the ‘ecidemon’
Had witnessed its share of action,
And the surcoat the Infidel
Was wearing had suffered as well.
Twas of saranthasme, arrayed
With many a gem, and displayed
A tabard beneath it, snow-white,
Its pile embroidered, and the knight
Had costly jewels set there also.
Pairs of salamanders work so,
Weaving such fabrics in the fire.
The lady who dressed him entire,
Risked her love, lands and person;
Queen Secundille was such a one,
While he in turn was nothing loth
In happiness or in danger, both,
To serve her wish, for her desire
Was to bestow such rich attire
On the man, for his great fame
Had won the love of that same.
Gawain to his servants appealed,
To see that surcoat, helm and shield,
Were not taken far, nor marred,
For any fair lady twould be hard
To afford that tabard (the gems
Were costly, on all four items)
If she were not just as wealthy.
But a love both rich and lofty
Can well adorn such a knight,
If the wish and heart be right,
Coupled to the means that is,
And craftmanship such as this.
Feirefiz, the proud, took care
To woo the ladies everywhere,
So none denied him his reward;
All did him their favour afford.
His armour was removed, all there
At this mottled man must stare,
And all those who liked to speak
Of wonders had not far to seek,
They’d proof of such before them,
His skin was of a strange pattern!
‘Kinsman,’ said my Lord Gawain,
To Parzival, ‘now, I am fain
To seek acquaintance with your friend.
He looks so elegant, one might send
Far and wide to meet with the same,
I’d know his lineage and his name.’
‘If I am your kinsman,’ he replied,
‘His kinship may not be denied.
And tis Gahmuret you may thank.
This is the King of Zazamanc,
That land where my father came,
And nobly won Queen Belacane,
She who bore this same noble knight.’
Feirefiz’ skin shone black and white,
Though half his mouth was red as well.
Gawain now kissed the Infidel.
Splendid attire the servants brought,
For all three knights to wear at court,
Of Lord Gawain’s wardrobe, and now
Fair ladies were come there, I avow.
The Duchess had Condrie and Sangive
Kiss him first, and then Queen Arnive.
Feirefiz was much pleased to behold
Such lovely women, so I’m told,
I fancy he was more than pleased
With kisses so pleasantly seized.
‘Kinsman,’ said my Lord Gawain
To Parzival, ‘to the eye tis plain
Your helm and shield have undergone
New trials, once your armour was on.
You have fought, you and your brother,
Who then was the hostile other?’
‘You never heard of a harder fight!
My brother was that other knight,
Who forced me,’ replied Parzival,
‘To defend myself fiercely withal.
Self-defence is a wall ’gainst death,
My sword, it shattered in a breath,
As I dealt this stranger a sharp blow,
But scant fear did my brother show,
Hurling his own sword beyond reach.
He would not my defence so breach,
Fearing to work a wrong upon me,
Even before my brother knew me.
Now I enjoy his love and goodwill,
And would deserve that of him still.’
‘I heard of this battle, said Gawain,
‘From Schastel Marveile it was plain
To see, in the Pillar that reflects
People, and things, and their effects,
Within a six miles distance from
My watchtower. Twas known, in sum.
Arthur, my uncle, claimed he knew
One of the knights seen must be you,
My kinsman of Kingrivals. Here
You confirm it, although tis clear
Twas already set to your account.
Believe me, when I now recount
We chose to wait a week for you
In this place, and to hold a feast.
Come, rest yourselves now at least
Tis troubling that you should fight
Yet if I read the thing aright,
Having fought you’ll surely know
The other better for doing so.
Be friends where you were enemies.’
They dine with him and the fair company
GAWAIN supped earlier to please
Those two who’d not yet dined at all,
Namely his kinsmen, Parzival
And his brother Feirefiz Angevin.
A circle of mattresses, not thin
But deep and long, was covered o’er;
The various quilts that it bore
Were made of thick palmat silk,
Over them brocades of that ilk,
Of ample length, made fine array,
(Twas Clinschor’s wealth on display!)
And many a soft downy cushion
Spread with quilts, in rich fashion.
Four great backcloths were made
To form a square, of fine brocade,
Against these the cushions were set,
And in a square those backrests met.
The whole circle took in a space
That six large pavilions might grace,
Without crowding; but I shall fail
In my task here, if I regale
You with every wondrous thing.
My Lord Gawain sent to the King,
With news of his guests’ arrival,
Proud Feirefiz, and Parzival,
The former the mighty Infidel
Whom, beside the Plimizoel,
The heathen Ekuba had praised.
Jofreit son of Idoel liaised,
Asking the king to dine early,
And to gather lords and ladies,
Famed knights and fair beauties,
And go there with due ceremony,
And arrange all, of his courtesy,
Such that they might receive, as one,
And honour, brave Gahmuret’s son.
‘I shall bring all of distinction
I have here,’ replied the Briton.
‘He’s full courtly, sire,’ Jofreit said,
‘Have no concerns upon that head,
Indeed, you’ll find much to admire,
As many wonders as you desire,
For he comes from a wealthy land
And none could readily command
The wealth to buy his fair armour,
None such a vast debt could honour,
For one might not easily gain it,
E’en if one were to set against it,
Löver, and Britain, with England,
And all from Paris to Wissant.’
Jofreit returned, and meanwhile
All had been seated, in this style:
Gawain had placed many a knight,
Bound to the Duchess, on the right;
On the left dined Clinschor’s men,
While opposite him, at the far end,
Were the seats set for the ladies
Of Clinschor’s party, fair beauties,
And there too Feirefiz and Parzival,
Sitting, dazzled, amongst them all;
Noble brother shared with brother.
These sat opposite one another,
Amongst that splendid company,
The Duke of Gowerzin and Condrie,
Florant the Turkoyt and Sangive.
The Duchess shared with Queen Arnive
Who sat at my Lord Gawain’ side,
With Orgeluse on her other side;
The Duchess and his grandmother,
Might thus entertain each other.
Nor were Jofreit and Lord Gawain
Neglectful, for they did maintain
Their old friendship, close together,
Dining there from the same platter.
All was elegance in that fair ring,
The many platters they did bring
Were served with due propriety.
Feirefiz observed: ‘That I now see
My noble kinsmen, must be all
Jupiter’s doing, and my landfall
He contrived to this certain end.
I have every cause to commend
The father I lost, since he came
Of noble lineage, great their fame.’
‘You shall see more men of worth,
Who deserve your notice, no dearth
Of brave knights ranged about Arthur,
Who is their patron, moreover,’
Said Parzival, ‘when the meal is o’er
You will see him, and many more,
Fit to be praised, and notable.
As to those of the Round Table
Now present, there are only three,
Our host, Jofreit, and there fell to me
That honour of being asked to sit
Amongst them, and I agreed to it.’
The places set for my Lord Gawain,
All having dined, were cleared again.
Gawain now rose, and most earnestly
Asked the Duchess, full courteously,
And his grandmother, Queen Arnive,
To take sweet Condrie and Sangive,
And to go and seek to entertain
The Infidel, Feirefiz, who was fain
On seeing the ladies approaching
To receive them, swiftly rising
To greet them, as did Parzival.
The lovely Duchess then did call
On all the knights and ladies who
Did also rise, to be seated anew,
As she took Feirefiz by the hand.
Yet, as she gave this fair command,
Arthur arrived with his company,
To a wondrous cacophony,
Trumpets, shawms, flutes, tabors, all
Blaring, piping, crashing, a wall
Of sound, for Arnive’s son was there!
Feirefiz thought this a grand affair!
Feirefiz, the Infidel, is received by King Arthur
IN this fine manner rode the King
Towards Gawain’s splendid ring,
Accompanied by Queen Guinevere
And many a knight did there appear
And many a glittering lady.
The Infidel could witness clearly
Their freshness of youth, and zest.
King Gramoflanz was still a guest
Of Arthur’s, and his fair Itonje
Was also there, sweet and lovely.
The company of the Round Table
Alighted, with, as if in fable,
A host of beauties. Guinevere
Gave precedence to Itonje here,
In kissing their kin, the Infidel;
Then she approached him as well,
And greeted Feirefiz with a kiss.
Arthur and Gramoflanz, at this,
Received the heathen sincerely,
Offering him their humble duty,
While more of his kinsmen still,
Gave him marks of their goodwill.
Feirefiz was quick to realise
Many a friend, that met his eyes.
Knights, ladies, each took their seat,
With many a sweet girl to complete
The picture, and its splendour prove.
Now bold knights, keen to sue for love,
From sweet lips, could seek sweet speech,
For many a fine lady might reach
To greeting praise without offence.
No good woman ere sought defence
From a man who claimed her aid,
Nor such a man should she upbraid,
For tis the woman’s right to say,
At such a moment, ‘no’ or ‘yea’.
If happiness yields wealth, tis true
Love, that affords such revenue.
In this style did such nobles live;
Service its due reward did give,
Both were seated, there, side by side.
A mistress’ voice can oft provide
The help that rescues her friend,
That he might his address amend.
Arthur sat beside Feirefiz, there,
Neither was reluctant to share
Question and answer, pleasantly,
And in full detail, and cogently.
‘God be praised for the honour
Of greeting you,’ said King Arthur,
‘None out of Infidel lands, sir knight,
Come to those of the Christian rite,
Would I now serve more willingly;
Ask then what you would of me.’
‘All my misfortune ended where
The Goddess Juno stirred the air,
Filling the sails so I might come
Here, to your fair western kingdom,
Feirefiz said. ‘Arthur’s a man
Much renowned in many a land;
In many a far-flung country,
Are you known, if you are he.’
‘Whoe’er it was praised me to you,
And others, honoured himself too,’
Said Arthur, ‘his good breeding
Prompted it, more than anything
I may have done; twas courtesy
To utter such fair things of me.
Arthur am I, and would gladly
Learn how you came to this country.
If for some lady you did venture,
That sent you in quest of adventure,
She must be fair for whom you sailed
Such distances. If you’ve prevailed
And she cheats you not of reward,
To such ladies’ service twill afford
Fresh glory. But if you sailed in vain
All the sex shall hear us complain
We, their vast host of servitors.’
‘I venture in a most worthy cause,
Tis the reverse,’ cried the Infidel,
‘Of how I came here let me tell.
So powerful an army I employ
That all those defenders of Troy,
And those who, in a distant age,
After a great and warlike voyage,
Fought them, would simply allow
Me free passage, if they lived now,
They all must go down to defeat
If they sought to attack my fleet.
And I have achieved much honour
Winning Queen Secundille’s favour,
By deeds of arms, in many a test.
Whate’er she may wish, I attest,
Tis my wish too, she grants to me
An aim in life, great and worthy.
Tis she commanded me to give
Generously, while I may live,
And so be pleased, for her sake,
To find good knights, an army make,
And so have I done; men of renown,
In my vast following, may be found.
For all my toil with lance and sword,
In return, love is my reward.
As she commands, when in the field
I show the ‘ecidemon’ on my shield.
Whenever I meet with any danger,
As soon as my thoughts fly to her,
Her love has come to my aid ever,
And inspired me, more than Jupiter,
My god, has done.’ ‘It is your nature,
And is inherited from your father,
And my kinsman, brave Gahmuret,
That, in far lands, you journey yet,
In a lady’s service,’ said Arthur,
‘And I will tell you of another
Chivalrous service (than which none
Greater has ever yet been done,
For a woman of noble birth
Born to charm us on this earth,
I mean the Duchess sitting here.
Many a forest did brave men clear,
For fresh lances, to win her love.
And many a fine knight did prove
Traitor to his own happiness
And fame, in failing of success.’
Arthur told him of her army,
And of Clinschor’s company,
Who were sitting to either side,
And of her war, and much beside,
Of the one and the other battle
That Feirefiz’ brother, Parzival,
Had fought there on the meadow
At Joflanze: ‘And, whene’er he so
Fights, he spares himself not at all.
He seeks a high prize, Parzival,
For he aspires to win the Grail!
But on your good-will I’ll prevail,
For I would seek to know of every
Lord you enlisted, and his country.’
Feirefiz names the leaders of his army
‘I shall name those, in command,’
Said the Infidel, ‘and their land:
King Papiris of Trogodjente,
Count Behantins of Kalomidente,
Duke Farjelastis of Affricke,
And King Liddamus of Agrippe;
King Tridanz of Tinodonte,
King Amaspartins of Schipelpjonte,
Duke Lippidins of Agremuntin,
King Milon of Nomadjentisin;
From Assigarzionte, Count Gabarins,
From Rivigitas, King Translapins,
From Hiberborticon, Count Filones,
From Centrion, King Kyllicrates;
Count Lysander of Ipopotiycon,
And Duke Tiride of Elixodjon;
From Orastegentesin, King Thoaris,
From Satarchjonte, Duke Alamis;
King Amincas of Sotofeititon,
And the Duke of Duscontemedon,
From Arabia, King Zoroaster,
And Count Possizonjus of Thiler;
Duke Sennes of Narjoclin
Count Edisson of Lanzesardin;
From Janfuse, the Count Fristines,
From Atropfagente, Duke Meiones;
From Nourient, Duke Archeinor,
From Panfatis, the Count Astor;
The lords of Azagouc, Zazamanc;
From Gampfassache, King Jetakranc;
The Count Jurans of Blemunzin,
And Duke Affinamus of Amantisin.
One thing alone disgraces me.
People claimed, in my country,
Gahmuret Angevin, my father,
Was e’er the best astride a charger,
And that no finer knight e’er rode.
It was my wish, my knightly code,
To journey till I found the man;
To hone my skills, went hand in hand,
So I embarked a mighty army
Drawn from my kingdoms, ready
To seek out deeds of arms; where’er
I met with martial conflict, there
I, nonetheless, subdued the foe;
Through distant regions, I did go.
Two queens showed their love for me,
And those I served, accordingly,
And now a third, Queen Secundille,
Tis my place to obey her will.
For love of women, much I’ve done,
Yet he, of whom I am the son,
My father, Gahmuret, I learn, here,
Is slain, and I must shed a tear.
Come, let my brother tell his tale.’
Parzival names the knights he has defeated
‘SINCE I departed from the Grail,’
Said noble Parzival, ‘I have seen
Much in battle, and I have been
In many a hard fight in the field,
In close encounter knights did yield
To me, and I have dented the fame
Of men unaccustomed to that same,
Many a warrior, brave and true,
And I will name them here for you:
From Lirivoyn, King Schirniel,
His brother, of Avendroyn, Mirabel;
King Serabil of Rozokarz,
King Piblesun of Lorneparz;
King Senilgorz of Sirnegunz,
Lord Strangedorz of Villegarunz;
Of Mirnetalle, Count Rodegal,
Of Pleyedunze, Lord Laudunal;
King Onipriz of Itolac,
King Zyrolan of Semblidac;
Of Jeroplis, Duke Jerneganz,
Of Zambron, Count Plineschanz;
Of Tuteleunz, Count Longefiez,
Of Privegarz, Duke Marangliez;
Of Pictacon, Duke Strennolas,
Of Lampregun, Count Parfoyas;
Of Ascalun, King Vergulaht,
Of Pranzile, Count Bogudaht;
Lord Postefar of Laudundrehte,
Duke Leidebron of Redunzehte;
Of Leterbe, Lord Colleval,
Jovedast of Arles, the Provençal,
Of Tripparun, Count Karfodyas;
Thus, did I where’er I did pass,
Of honest tourneys, I did avail
Myself, while searching for the Grail.
Yet, if asked to name each last one,
I’d fail; when all is said and done,
Of those forgotten there are many,
Neglected from pure necessity;
And yet I think that I’ve named all,
Known to me, and whom I recall.’
The Infidel was so greatly pleased
With his brother’s deeds, when he ceased
He yielded him thanks for the favour,
Since, from those, he too gained honour.
King Arthur lays out a Round Table, by moonlight
MEANWHILE Gawain, secretly,
Ordered the Infidel’s panoply
To be brought within the ring,
The tabard, surcoat, everything,
Helm and shield also. All thought
Gazing at what craft had wrought,
The work fine; knights and ladies,
Reflecting on its various beauties.
The helm was moulded perfectly
While all admired the majesty
And splendour of the gems set there.
Let none ask what kinds they were:
Heraclius, Hercules, Alexander
The Greek, they could all better
Inform you, or wise Pythagoras,
Who observed the stars, and was,
Beyond doubt, so knowing none
Since Adam’s time, no, not a one,
Equalled him in understanding;
For he could to such matters bring
Great knowledge of precious stones.
The ladies said, in whispered tones,
That should Feirefiz, however,
Prove false to that woman, ever,
Who had adorned him, his fame
Must be tarnished by that same.
It seems to me, that many a one,
Swayed by his rare complexion,
Were so disposed to him that they
Had wished his service any day.
Gramoflanz, Arthur, Parzival,
And their host Gawain, now all
Withdrew, leaving the Infidel
Amidst the young and beautiful.
King Arthur now prepared to hold
A feast, ere the morrow was old,
In the meadow there, without fail,
And on his followers did prevail
To give their energy and thought
To bringing Feirefiz, as he sought,
Within the Round Table’s company,
As his kinsman, with due courtesy.
They swore to do so, one and all,
Unless Feirefiz refused the call;
But the Infidel asked to be one
Of that band, as their companion,
Agreeing to accept that same
Tribute to his honour and fame.
After their parting cup they went
To their rest, full of good intent.
(Many would be pleased next morn
By ‘the sweet and shining dawn’
If I may so express myself)
Uther Pendragon’s son himself
Could now be seen readying
A Round Table, made by laying
Lengths of fabric, drianthasme,
On the grass, most carefully,
Just as they had formed the Table
In the meadow by the Plimizoel.
This was cut in the same manner,
In a circle, marked by splendour.
They set a ring of seats around,
On the turf, the length of ground
Enough to joust, between the ring
And the Round Table, now sitting
There at the centre, not for any
Use that it might give, twas simply
An emblem to denote that same.
There, many a man without a name,
Would have been ashamed to sit
Beside the famous; a sin would it
Have been, to partake of their fare
And dine with the glorious there.
In the moonlight they marked it out,
And placed the seating all about,
And by mid-morn, when all could see
The ring was ready, its majesty
Was such as might have laid empty
Some lesser king’s whole treasury.
Gramoflanz and my Lord Gawain
Bore the cost of it, in the main,
Yet with some help from King Arthur,
Though there he was but a stranger.
The Company of the Round Table gather
NE’ER do we see the fall of night,
Without the sun brings back the light
As is its wont, and that precisely
Is what happened there, for shortly
Day shone sweet, and clear, and bright.
Smoothing his hair, many a knight
Set a garland there; you might see
The fair white skin of many a lady,
Unpainted, just as nature made it,
(If Kyot speaks the truth about it!)
Their clothes were not of just one land,
The women wore head-dress or band,
Placed high or low upon the brow,
According to their nation, as now
They gathered, from many a country,
In which customs will ever vary.
No fair lady dared take her seat
At the Table unless complete
With her knight, on any pretext.
But if, like to others of her sex,
She received service that aspired
To its reward, and was required
To bestow it, she rode to the ring
Of that Table; the rest, forgoing
Any glory, each scarce content,
Left to remain there in their tent.
Once King Arthur had heard Mass,
Gramoflanz rode o’er the grass,
Beside him the Duke of Gowerzin,
And brave Florant along with him.
Each asked to join the Company
Of the Round Table, and readily
Did Arthur agree to their request.
And if you’re asked which fine guest
Was the richest and most powerful
That ever sat at the Round Table,
You could not do better than say
Twas Feirefiz Angevin that day;
And so, we’ll let the matter rest.
They rode to the ring, many a guest,
In fine style, and many a lady
Jostled, would, if her palfrey
Had not been well-girthed, gone down.
Splendid banners showed all around.
The guests rode together, sweeping
About the Table, outside the ring,
And that was a matter of courtesy
None rode within it, carelessly;
The meadow outside was full large,
Enough to gallop, and to charge
Each other, the fair knights I mean,
And delight the ladies, on the green,
With varied feats of horsemanship,
And bring sweet cries to many a lip.
Yet, at length, their frolics ceased,
They took their seats there at the feast.
Chamberlains, butlers, stewards brought
Food and drink, just as they ought
With all due pomp and ceremony,
And granted all they wished I fancy.
Each lady there beside her knight
Found her fame enhanced outright.
Many had been honoured by deeds
Inspired by hearts in which the seeds
Of love therein had roused desire.
Feirefiz and Parzival, like their sire,
Found a fair choice of lovely ladies,
And among them several beauties,
For their judgement, midst that band,
Some distant, others near to hand.
In field or meadow, faces fairer
Or sweeter lips, fresher, redder,
Were ne’er seen in such profusion,
(A source of pleasure and confusion
To the Infidel) in ring or tent.
Cundrie La Surziere again appears before the Round Table
HAIL to this day of fair advent!
And blessed, indeed, the sweet word
That now from virgin lips they heard!
For one they saw fast approaching.
Full richly dressed, she neared the ring,
Her costly clothes well cut, and done
With elegance, in the French fashion.
Her hood was of rich samite, darker
Than a genet’s markings; all over
Were woven doves, in every fold,
Portrayed in Arabian gold;
They were the emblem of the Grail.
Towards the scene now let her sail;
And let all gaze as she doth ride,
Those curious folk on every side.
She rode over the field smoothly;
Despite its ambling gait, her palfrey
Bridle, saddle, were of great worth,
As costly as any upon this Earth.
Her wimple was high and white
And her whole face was hid from sight
Shrouded with many a thick fold,
Beneath that hood, and its rich gold.
They let her ride within the ring.
No fool of a girl, but full knowing,
She rode right around that ring,
As they all pointed out the king,
And she was quick to salute him.
Twas in French she gave her greeting.
And the reason she’d come there
Was to seek pardon, and declare
A wrong she’d done and so request
A hearing and, as for the rest,
She begged the King and Queen’s aid,
And their approval, and then she made
A turn, to where she saw Parzival
Seated by Arthur; swiftly withal,
She leapt down from her palfrey
To the grass, and with courtesy,
Of which she had no lack, did kneel
Before him, and made this appeal,
Seeking his goodwill, as she wept:
That whatever anger still slept
In him, regarding her, he would
Set it by, pardoning, if he could,
Past wrong, though without the kiss
Of reconciliation. In this,
Arthur and Feirefiz did warmly
Grant support to her fervent plea.
Parzival, at his friends’ request,
Agreed he would forgive this guest,
Sincerely, and without malice,
And in full, such was his promise.
She declares that Parzival is to be Lord of the Grail
THAT true and noble woman, whom
None might call fair, did now assume
Her feet, and to all who’d helped her
Bowed in thanks, now that her error
They’d forgiven, and then unwound
Her wimple, throwing to the ground
The costly hood, ribbons and all.
Cundrie La Surziere stood tall;
She was known, now they had sight
Of her face, and each valiant knight,
Knew the dove-emblem of the Grail.
They recognised her without fail.
Her features were as they had been,
Those that men and women had seen
As she’d approached the Plimizoel.
Of her strange looks you’ve been told;
The colour of topaz were her eyes,
Her teeth long, her mouth like skies
Before great storms, a bluish violet.
Except that she’d hoped to be met
With praise, she need not have worn
That costly hat that she had borne
Beside the Plimizoel, since the sun
Not a shred of harm had done,
Its treacherous rays could not impair
Her skin through that wealth of hair.
She stood there, and most solemnly
Gave utterance, much like prophecy;
And here’s the speech now begun:
‘O happy man, brave Gahmuret’s son!
Now God reveals His grace in you,
A man found both honest and true,
You whom Herzeloyde once bore!
I greet too Feirefiz the pied, for
Secundille’s sake, and the many
Honours, won so chivalrously,
By him since his boyhood days.’
To Parzival she spoke in praise:
‘Now be humble and yet feel joy,
O happy man, at such employ,
You crown of man’s felicity!
The inscription read, of a surety,
Tis you shall be Lord of the Grail!
And your wife too, I must hail,
Condwiramurs, she is assigned
There with you, and you shall find
Your son Loherangrin, he also,
With you to Munsalvaesche must go.
Twin sons she bore after you’d gone;
The other, Kardeiz, shall long
Rule all your lands, from Brobarz.
Were you to play no other part,
Find no good fortune other than
With true heart to address that man,
Noble, and gentle, Anfortas,
And with a question heal, at last,
His dire affliction, and banish his
Sore pain, who yet could match your bliss?’
Then seven lights did Cundrie name,
In Arabic; Feirefiz knew those same,
Heavenly bodies, the noble knight,
Seated before her, pied black and white.
‘Come now, take note, brave Parzival:
The furthest of these is Zuhal,
Next, Al-mushtari, swifter by far,
And third the red orb, Al-ahmar,
Then Ash-shams, the glittering sun,
Promise of your fortune to come,
Bright Az-zuhara is the fifth,
Al-katib, ‘the scribe’, the sixth,
While Al-quamar is the nearest;
What I utter is of the clearest;
Bridling the firmament, these seven,
Counter the onrush of each heaven,
With courses, forever contrary
To the firmament, in swift journey.
All that these famed lights embrace,
Within their orbit, every last place,
All that they shed their light upon,
Marks the scope, as they move on
Of what you may win, for, indeed,
Your woe is doomed to pass, tis greed
Alone can deny you your portion.
The Grail denies a false companion,
Its power forbids. Cares and fears,
You nurtured in your tender years,
But happiness, approaching now,
Will banish such; I here avow,
You shall win to your soul’s peace;
Joy, in this body; woes will cease.’
Parzival is allowed one companion on his journey
NAUGHT but delight felt Parzival;
Tears of joy from his eyes did fall,
The heart’s spring. ‘Madam,’ he said,
As, gazing at her, he bowed his head,
‘If I may have been found worthy
Of all that you’ve declared to me,
Such that my sinful self, my wife,
And children, are to share that life,
Then God has indeed proved kind,
For now it doth seem, to my mind,
As far as any amends you owe me,
Your words but showed sincerity;
Had I not failed to ask the question,
You’d have spared me your derision;
There indeed good-fortune failed me.
But now you grant me such mastery
That sorrow is fled, and all my care;
The emblems on your hood declare
The very same, for when I did pass
Those hours with woeful Anfortas,
At Munsalvaesche, the shields I saw,
Hanging there, that device they bore,
The dove; and, here, doves you show!
Now Madame, say, how shall I go
And when, on the path to happiness;
Let me not linger, to my distress!’
She answered: ‘My dear lord, choose one
To go as your companion.
For guidance look to me this day,
You bear aid, so brook no delay.’
Now the word went around the ring
Of the news that Cundrie did bring,
And Orgeluse wept for joy because
The cruel suffering of Anfortas
Would be relieved by Parzival;
His one question would end it all.
Cundrie was now addressed by Arthur,
Ever courteous in seeking honour.
‘My lady, ride on to your quarters,
And be seen to now by others.’
‘If Arnive is here,’ she replied,
‘I shall seek shelter at her side,
Until my lord is ready to leave.
If from captivity she was freed,
Let me greet her, perchance more
Too, of those to whom Clinschor
Showed his malice, prisoning them
For many a year.’ Two lords then
Helped her to mount her palfrey,
And the maiden, more than worthy,
Rode on, to seek out Queen Arnive.
An end to the feast did now arrive.
And once the courtesies were over,
Parzival sought to ask his brother
As they sat there, if he’d make one
On that journey, as his companion,
And Feirefiz said he’d gladly ride,
To Munsalvaesche, at his brother’s side.
Parzival and Feirefiz set out, with Cundrie, for Munsalvaesche
THEN at once throughout the ring
All rose, with Feirefiz soon asking
King Gramoflanz if he would prove
His perfect and undyingFor his Itonje, his undying love,
For Itonje, his kin: ‘Lend a hand
You and Gawain, now, and demand
That not one king, prince, or baron,
Must quit this place, not to mention
All of the landless knights, without
Viewing my treasure; for no doubt
I’d be much shamed were I to go
And did not a single gift bestow.
And all the strolling players too
Can look to me for payment true.
King Arthur, I beg your favour,
Seek to win your great lords over
To the thought, and not scorn it,
With your own example adorn it,
Granting each one the guarantee
He needs fear no loss of dignity;
Such wealth they may not comprehend.
Grant me messengers too, to send
To the haven where gifts may be
Unloaded swiftly, and brought to me.’
They promised the Infidel that they
Would not depart till the fifth day,
And he was pleased so I am told.
Arthur granted him men fourfold,
To send down to the ship at anchor.
Feirefiz took parchment moreover,
And inked a missive, not lacking
In the authentic marks, sprinkling
Them all about the letters, I fancy
No message e’er showed so many.
The messengers now left that place.
Then Parzival, in French, did grace
Them with a speech, informing all
(As Trevrizent, you may recall,
Had instructed him) ‘none may avail
Themselves of force to win the Grail;
Summoned by God, the chosen one
By whom the blessing shall be won.’
That news soon spread to every land;
Twould not be had by force of hand,
And many did then forego the quest,
And that whole matter, and let it rest,
And, thus, it lies hidden to this day.
Parzival and Feirefiz, I might say,
Made many a lady sad. They rode
About the four armies and showed
Their regrets at going, as they ought,
Then their road they gladly sought,
Fully armed, ’gainst any encounter,
With lance and sword, shield and armour.
On the third day gifts were brought
From the Infidel’s fleet, to the court
At Joflanze, gifts of such splendour
That any king who had the honour
Of anything from Feirefiz’ bounty
Thus, forever endowed his country;
For none had e’er received such things,
So apt to their rank, knights or kings;
While pages set in each lady’s hand
Fair gifts from Nourient and Triande.
I know not all that did there ensue,
For Cundrie departed with the two.
End of Book XV of Parzival