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"Well, cozen Gawaine," sayes Sir Kay, "Thy chance is fallen arright; 195 For thou hast gotten one of the fairest maids, I euer saw with my sight."
"It is my fortune," said Sir Gawaine; "For my vnckle Arthurs sake, I am glad as gra.s.se wold be of raine, 200 Great joy that I may take."
Sir Gawaine tooke the lady by the one arme, Sir Kay tooke her by the tother; They led her straight to King Arthur, As they were brother and brother. 205
King Arthur welcomed them there all, And soe did lady Geneuer, his queene; With all the knights of the Round Table, Most seemly to be seene.
King Arthur beheld that lady faire, 210 That was soe faire & bright; He thanked Christ in Trinity For Sir Gawaine, that gentle knight.
Soe did the knights, both more and lesse, 220 Rejoyced all that day, For the good chance that hapened was To Sir Gawaine and his lady gay.
13, Y^e a woman.
38, O else.
KING ARTHUR'S DEATH.
_Reliques of English Poetry_, iii, 67.
"The subject of this ballad is evidently taken from the old romance _Morte Arthur_, but with some variations, especially in the concluding stanzas; in which the author seems rather to follow the traditions of the old Welsh Bards, who 'believed that King Arthur was not dead, but conveied awaie by the Fairies into some pleasant place, where he should remaine for a time, and then returne againe and reign in as great authority as ever.' (Holinshed, B. 5, c. 14.) Or, as it is expressed in an old chronicle printed at Antwerp, 1493, by Ger. de Leew: 'The Bretons supposen, that he [King Arthur] shall come yet and conquere all Bretaigne, for certes this is the prophicye of Merlyn, He sayd, that his deth shall be doubteous; and sayd soth, for men thereof yet have doubte, and shullen for ever more,--for men wyt not whether that he lyveth or is dede.' See more ancient testimonies in Selden's Notes on Polyolbion, Song 3.
"This fragment, being very incorrect and imperfect in the original MS., hath received some conjectural emendations, and even a supplement of three or four stanzas composed from the romance of _Morte Arthur_."
On Trinitye Mondaye in the morne, This sore battayle was doom'd to bee, Where manye a knighte cry'd, Well-awaye!
Alacke, it was the more pitte.
Ere the first crowinge of the c.o.c.ke, 5 When as the kinge in his bed laye, He thoughte Sir Gawaine[L7] to him came, And there to him these wordes did saye.
"Nowe, as you are mine unkle deare, And as you prize your life, this daye 10 O meet not with your foe in fighte; Putt off the battayle, if yee maye.
"For Sir Launcelot is nowe in Fraunce, And with him many an hardye knighte: Who will within this moneth be backe, 15 And will a.s.siste yee in the fighte."
The kinge then call'd his n.o.bles all, Before the breakinge of the daye; And tolde them howe Sir Gawaine came, And there to him these wordes did saye. 20
His n.o.bles all this counsayle gave, That earlye in the morning, hee Shold send awaye an herauld at armes, To aske a parley faire and free.
Then twelve good knightes King Arthur chose, The best of all that with him were, 25 To parley with the foe in field, And make with him agreement faire.
The king he charged all his hoste, In readinesse there for to bee; 30 But noe man sholde noe weapon sturre, Unlesse a sword drawne they shold see.
And Mordred, on the other parte, Twelve of his knights did likewise bringe, The beste of all his companye, 35 To holde the parley with the kinge.
Sir Mordred alsoe charged his hoste, In readinesse there for to bee; But noe man sholde noe weapon sturre, But if a sworde drawne they shold see. 40
For he durste not his unkle[L41] truste, Nor he his nephewe[L42], sothe to tell; Alacke! it was a woefulle case, As ere in Christentye befelle.
But when they were together mette, 45 And both to faire accordance broughte, And a month's league betweene them sette, Before the battayle sholde be foughte,
An addere crept forth of a bushe, Stunge one o' the king's knightes on the knee; 50 Alacke! it was a woefulle chance, As ever was in Christente.
When the knighte found him wounded sore, And sawe the wild-worme hanginge there, His sworde he from his scabberde drewe; 55 A piteous case, as ye shall heare.
For when the two hostes sawe the sworde, They joyned battayle instantlye; Till of so manye n.o.ble knightes, On one side there were left but three. 60
For all were slaine that durst abide, And but some fewe that fled awaye: Ah mee! it was a b.l.o.o.d.ye fielde, As ere was foughte on summer's daye.
Upon King Arthur's own partye, 65 Onlye himselfe escaped there, And Lukyn Duke of Gloster free, And the king's butler Bedevere.
And when the king beheld his knightes All dead and scattered on the molde, 70 The teares fast trickled downe his face; That manlye face in fight so bolde.
"Nowe reste yee all, brave knights," he said, "Soe true and faithful to your trust: And must yee then, yee valiant hearts, 75 Be lefte to moulder into dust!
"Most loyal have yee been to mee, Most true and faithful unto deathe: And, oh! to rayse yee up againe, How freelye could I yield my breathe! 80
"But see, the traitor's yet alive!
Lo where hee stalkes among the deade!
Nowe bitterlye he shall abye, And vengeance fall upon his head."
"O staye, my liege," then sayd the duke; 85 "O staye for love and charite; Remember what the vision spake, Nor meete your foe, if it may bee."
"O staye mee not, thou worthye wight, This debt my loyal knights I owe: 90 Betide me life, betide me death, I will avenge them of their foe."
Then straite he grasp'd his trustye speare, And on his horse then mounted hee: As his butler holpe him to his horse, 95 His bowels gushed to his knee.
"Alas!" then sayd the n.o.ble king, "That I should live this sight to see!