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for the blow and I shall stand still and say never a word to thee, do as thou wilt.”

With that he bent his head and showed his neck all bare, and made as if he had no fear, for he would not be thought afraid.

Then the Green Knight made him ready, and grasped his grim weapon to smite Gawain. With all his force he bore

it aloft with a mighty feint of slaying him: had it fallen as 20 straight as he aimed, he who was ever doughty of deed

had been slain by the blow. But Gawain swerved aside as the axe came gliding down to slay him as he stood, and shrank a little with the shoulders, for the sharp iron. The

other heaved up the blade and rebuked the prince with many 25 proud words:

“Thou art not Gawain,” he said, “who is held so valiant, that never feared he man by hill or vale, but thou shrinkest for fear ere thou feelest hurt. Such cowardice did I never

hear of Gawain! Neither did I flinch from thy blow, nor 30 make strife in King Arthur's hall. My head fell to my feet,

and yet I fled not; but thou didst wax faint of heart ere any harm befell. Wherefore must I be deemed the braver knight.”

Quoth Gawain, “I shrank once, but so will I no more; 35 though if my head fall on the stones I cannot replace it.

But haste, Sir Knight, by thy faith, and bring me to the point, deal me my destiny, and do it out of hand; for I will stand thee a stroke and move no more till thine axe have

my troth on it.” 40 "Have at thee, then," quoth the other, and heaved aloft

the axe with fierce mien, as if he were mad. He struck at him fiercely but wounded him not, withholding his hand ere it might strike him.

Gawain abode the stroke, and flinched in no limb, but 45 stood still as a stone or a stump of a tree that is fast rooted

in the rocky ground with a hundred roots.

hit me

Then spake gaily the man in green, “So now thou hast thine heart whole it behooves me to smite. Hold aside thy hood that Arthur gave thee, and keep thy neck thus bent lest it cover it again.”

50 Then Gawain said angrily, “Why talk on thus ? Thou dost threaten too long. I hope thy heart misgives thee."

“For sooth," quoth the other, "so fiercely thou speakest I will no longer let thine errand wait its reward.” Then he braced himself to strike, frowning with lips and brow, 'twas 55 no marvel that it pleased but ill him who hoped for no rescue. He lifted the axe lightly and let it fall with the edge of the blade on the bare neck. Though he struck swiftly, it hurt him no more than on the one side where it severed the skin. The sharp blade cut into the flesh so that the blood ran 60 over his shoulder to the ground. And when the knight saw the blood staining the snow, he sprang forth, swiftfoot, more than a spear's length, seized his helmet and set it on his head, cast his shield over his shoulder, drew out his bright sword, and spake boldly (never since he was 65 born was he half so blithe), “Stop, Sir Knight, bid me no more blows. I have stood a stroke here without flinching, and if thou give me another, I shall requite thee, and give thee as good again. By the covenant made betwixt us in Arthur's hall but one blow falls to me here. Halt, there- 70 fore.

Then the Green Knight drew off from him and leaned on his axe, setting the shaft on the ground, and looked on Gawain as he stood all armed and faced him fearlessly at heart it pleased him well. Then he spake merrily in a loud voice, 75 and said to the knight, “Bold sir, be not so fierce; no man here hath done thee wrong, nor will do, save by covenant, as we made at Arthur's court. I promised thee a blow and thou hast it - hold thyself well paid! I release thee of all other claims."


Arthur's Bravery (From History of British Kings, Book IX, Chap. IV) When he had done speaking, St. Dubricius, archbishop of Legions, going to the top of a hill, cried out with a loud voice, “You that have the honour to profess the Christian faith, keep fixed in your minds the love which you owe to 5 your country and fellow subjects, whose sufferings by the treachery of the pagans will be an everlasting reproach to you, if you do not courageously defend them. It is your country which you fight for, and for which you should, when

required, voluntarily suffer death; for that itself is victory 10 and the cure of the soul. For he that shall die for his brethren,

offers himself a living sacrifice to God, and has Christ for his example, who condescended to lay down his life for his brethren. If therefore any of you shall be killed in this

war, that death itself, which is suffered in so glorious a cause, 15 shall be to him for penance and absolution of all his sins.”

At these words, all of them, encouraged with the benediction of the holy prelate, instantly armed themselves, and prepared to obey his orders. Also Arthur himself, hav

ing put on a coat of mail suitable to the grandeur of so great 20 a king, placed a golden helmet upon his head, on which was

engraven the figure of a dragon; and on his shoulders his shield called Priwen ; upon which the picture of the blessed Mary, mother of God, was painted, in order to put him fre

quently in mind of her. Then girding on his Caliburn, which 25 was an excellent sword made in the isle of Avallon, he graced

his right hand with his lance, named Ron, which was hard, broad, and fit for slaughter.

After this, having placed his men in order, he boldly attacked the Saxons, who were drawn out in the shape of a 30 wedge, as their manner was. And they, notwithstanding that the Britons fought with great eagerness, made a noble defence all that day; but at length, towards sunsetting, climbed up the next mountain, which served them for a camp: for they desired no larger extent of ground, since they confided very much in their numbers. The next morn-35 ing Arthur, with his army, went up the mountain, but lost many of his men in the ascent, by the advantage which the Saxons had in their station on the top, from whence they could pour down upon him with much greater speed than he was able to advance against them. Notwithstanding, 40 after a very hard struggle, the Britons gained the summit of the hill, and quickly came to a close engagement with the enemy, who again gave them a warm reception, and made a vigorous defence.

In this manner was a great part of that day also spent; 45 whereupon Arthur, provoked to see the little advantage he had yet gained, and that victory still continued in suspense, drew out his Caliburn, and calling upon the name of the blessed Virgin, rushed forward with great fury into the thickest of the enemy's ranks; of whom (such was the merit of 50 his prayers) not one escaped alive that felt the fury of his sword; neither did he give over the fury of his assault until he had with his Caliburn alone killed four hundred and seyenty men. The Britons seeing this followed their leader in great multitudes, and made slaughter on all sides; so 55 that Colgrin, and Bardulph his brother, and many thousands more, fell before them. But Cheldric, in this imminent danger of his men, betook himself to flight.


The Beatitudes

1. Jhesus forsothe, seynge cumpanyes, wente up in to an hill; and when he hadde sete, his disciplis camen nize to hym.

2. And he, openynge his mouthe, tauzte to hem, sayinge, 5 3. Blessid be the pore in spirit, for the kingdam in hevenes is heren.

4. Blessid be mylde men, for thei shuln welde the eerthe.

5. Blessid be thei that mournen, for thei shuln be comfortid. 10 6. Blessid be thei that hungren and thristen rigtwisnesse, for thei shuln be fulfillid.

7. Blessid be mercyful men, for thei shuln gete mercye.
8. Blessid be thei that ben of clene herte, for thei shuln

see God.

15 9. Blessid be pesible men, for thei shuln be clepid the sonys of God.

10. Blessid be thei that suffren persecucioun for rigtwisnesse, for the kingdam of hevenes is herun.

11. Zee shulen be blessid, when men shulen curse 30u, 20 and shulen pursue you, and shulen say al yvel azeins zou leezing, for me.

12. Joye zee with yn forth, and glade zee with out forth, for youre meede is plenteuouse in hevenes; forsothe so thei han pursued the prophetis that weren before you.


The Vision of the Field Full of Folk

(From The Vision of Piers the Plowman)
In a summer season, when soft was the sun,
In rough cloth I clad me, as if I were a shepherd,
In habit like a hermit in his works unholy,
And through the wide world I went, wonders to hear.
But on a May morning, on Malvern Hills,
A marvel befell me, from fairyland it seemed.
I was weary from wandering, so I went to rest


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