Project Gutenberg's Parzival (vol. 2 of 2), by Wolfram von Eschenback

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Title: Parzival (vol. 2 of 2)
       A Knightly Epic (volumes 1 & 2)

Author: Wolfram von Eschenback

Translator: Jessie L. Weston

Release Date: November 6, 2014 [EBook #47298]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


Produced by Richard Tonsing, The Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This book was
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The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.














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Book X. relates how Gawain, after various adventures, fell in with a maiden and a wounded knight, how he succoured the knight and rode to Logrois. How he met with Orgelusé and wooed her, and how she repaid him with scorn. How the squire Malcréature mocked Sir Gawain, and how the knight Urian stole his charger. How Lischois Giwellius fought with Gawain and was conquered, and of the tribute due to the Master Boatman. How Gawain came to Terre de Merveil, and was well entreated by the Boatman and his daughter Bené.

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Now tell we of strange adventures thro' which joy shall be waxen low,
And yet pride shall grow the greater, of the twain doth this story show.
Now the year of truce was ended, when the strife must needs be fought
Which the Landgrave unto King Arthur at Plimizöl had brought.
At Schamfanzon he challenged Gawain to meet him at Barbigöl, 5
Yet still unavenged was Kingrisein at the hand of Kingrimursel—
In sooth, Vergulacht, he rode there, and thither had come Gawain,
And the whole world was 'ware of their kinship nor might strife be betwixt the twain;
For the murder, Count Eckunât did it, and Gawain must they guiltless hold,
At rest did they lay their quarrel and friends were those heroes bold. 10
Then they parted for both would ride thence, Vergulacht and the knight Gawain,
Tho' both for the Grail were seeking yet apart would they ride, those twain.
And many a joust must they ride now, for he who the Grail would see
Sword in hand must he draw anigh it, and swift must his seeking be!
Now all that befell to Gawain, the lot of that blameless knight 15
Since he rode forth from fair Schamfanzon, if he oft on his way must fight,
Ye shall ask of those who there saw him, since naught may I tell ye here,
Yet hearken, and heed the story and the venture that draweth near.
[Pg 4] One morning Gawain rode gaily o'er a grassy plain and green,
When a shield, in the sun fair shining, with lance-thrust pierced thro' was seen, 20
And a charger stood beside it that bare women's riding-gear,
And the bridle and aye the housing were of costly stuff and dear—
And the charger and shield beside it were bound to a linden tree.
Then he thought, 'Who shall be this woman? for valiant I ween is she,
Since she beareth a shield so knightly—If she thinketh with me to fight, 25
How, then, may I best withstand her? Were it better to here alight?
If too long she wrestle with me perchance I were overthrown,
If hatred or love I shall win here I will fight her on foot alone;
Yea, e'en an she were Kamilla, who before Laurentium fought—
Did she live still to battle with me, as awhile she for honour sought, 30
I would face her, nor fear her prowess, if here she my foe would be,
Tho' ne'er with a maid have I foughten and the chance seemeth ill to me!'
Battle-hewn was the shield and dinted, as Gawain right well espied
The nearer he rode unto it, and pierced with a lance-thrust wide.
Such token by joust is painted, little payment his skill should know 35
Whose hand erst the shield had fashioned an he thought him to paint it so!
By the trunk of the mighty linden sat a maid on the grass so green,
And sore did she weep and bewail her, and joyless, I wot, her mien.
Then around the tree rode Gawain, and lo! on her knee she bore
A knight, and she wept above him, and grieved with a sorrow sore. 40
Fair greeting Sir Gawain proffered, she thanked him and bowed her low,
And hoarse was her voice thro' weeping and weakened thro' force of woe.
Then down to the ground sprang Gawain, for the knight he was like to choke,
Since the blood welled within his body, and unto the maid he spoke,
And he asked if the knight were living, or should now in the death-throe be? 45
And she spake, 'He dieth surely, yet but now alive was he,
God hath sent thee unto my succour, now help me with word and deed,
Such wounds shalt thou oft have looked on, give counsel in this my need!'
'Yea, gladly I'll aid thee, Lady, from death shall thy knight be freed,
And healing I well might win him an there were but at hand a reed. 50
[Pg 5] Thou shalt see him, and hearken to him, nor his life shall be waxen less,
The wound is not all too dangerous, but the blood on his heart doth press.'
Then he stripped from a bough of the linden the bark, and did wind it round,
(No fool he in art of healing,) and he set it unto the wound,
And he bade the maiden suck it till the blood should toward her flow— 55
And strength came again and hearing, and the voice of the knight they know,
And he looked on Gawain, and he thanked him, and said he should honoured be
In that from his woe he had freed him, and he asked of him, whence came he?
Rode he hither in search of knighthood? 'From far Punturtois I came
In search of such knightly venture as should win for me meed of fame, 60
Yet sorely must I bewail me for the ill that I here have won,
Sir Knight, an thy senses fail not, 'twere better this way to shun!'
'Such evil I little looked for—'Twas Lischois Giwellius
Who hath wounded me so sorely, and down from my charger thrust:
Fair was the joust and knightly, and he pierced me thro' shield and side, 65
On her steed this maiden helped me, and hither hath been my guide!'
Then he prayed Gawain to abide there, but he spake, he the place would see
Where such evil had chanced unto him, 'If Logrois thus near shall be,
Perchance I shall yet o'ertake him, he shall answer to me, I trow,
For the deed he hath done, and his reason for vengeance on thee I'll know!' 70
But the wounded knight spake, 'Not so, for true are the words I say,
And no child's play shall be this journey, great perils beset the way.'
With the band from the maiden's tresses Gawain the wound did bind,
And spake o'er it spells of healing, and he bade them their comfort find
In God, since He cares for all men—With blood was their pathway red, 75
And crimson the grass besprinkled as a stag had its life-blood shed;
Thus he rode not astray, and in short space did Logrois before him stand—
A fortress so fair and stately, its praise was in every land.
'Twas a stately Burg well builded, and it wound the hillside round,
From afar as a mighty circlet the fortress the summit crowned. 80
E'en to-day men this honour give it, its wall shall be stormed in vain,
For it openeth its gates to no foeman, whose hatred soe'er it gain!
[Pg 6] And a garden lay green around it, 'twas planted with trees so fair,
Olive, pomegranate, fig-tree, and the vine which its grapes doth bear,
And gaily they grew and flourished—as Gawain rode that garden bright 85
He saw there what wrought him sorrow, yet filled him with all delight!
A streamlet gushed forth from the hillside, there he saw that which grieved him naught,
A lady so fair to look on that gladly her face he sought.
The flower was she of all women, save Kondwiramur alone
No fairer form nor feature might ever on earth be known. 90
So sweet and so bright to look on, so courteous and royal of mien,
Orgelusé, was she, of Logrois, and men say that in her was seen
The charm that desire awakeneth, a balm for the eyes of care,
For no heart but was drawn toward her, and no mouth but would speak her fair!
Gawain gave her courteous greeting, and he spake, 'If such grace I ģain95
That thou willest I should alight here and awhile at thy side remain,
If I see that my presence please thee, then sorrow be far from me,
And joy in its stead dwell with me, no knight e'er might gladder be!
May I die if the truth I speak not, no woman e'er pleased me more—'
'It is well, yet methinks I knew that,' then the knight for a space she saw; 100
And her sweet lips spake thus unto him, 'Now make of thy praise an end,
For well might it work thee evil, and I care not that foe or friend,
Whoever he be that cometh, his judgment on me shall speak,
For sure if all lips shall praise me my fame it but waxeth weak!
If the wise praise me e'en as the foolish, the false as the pure and true, 105
Then my fame shall be e'en as another's, for the many shall drown the few.
But my praise do I hold, and but wisdom shall speak that which she doth know—
Who thou mayst be, Sir Knight, I know not, but 'tis time thou thy way shouldst go!'
'Yet o'er thee will I speak my verdict, if thou dwellest anear my heart
Then thy dwelling is not within it, for without shalt thou have thy part. 110
And say thou my love desirest, how hast thou rewarding won?
From the eyes swiftly shoot the glances, yet a sling, when the work is done,
[Pg 7] Smiteth gentler than looks which linger on that which doth sorrow wreak,
Thy desire is but empty folly, thou shouldst other service seek!
If thine hand for love's sake shall battle, if adventure hath bidden thee 115
By knighthood win love's rewarding, yet thou winnest it not from me.
Nor honour shall be thy portion, but shame shalt thou win alone—
Now the truth have I spoken unto thee, 'twere best thou shouldst get thee gone!'
Then he quoth, 'Truth thou speakest, Lady, since mine eyes thus mine heart have brought
In danger, for they beheld thee, and thy fetters around me wrought. 120
But now, since I be thy captive, I prithee entreat me well,
Without thine own will hast thou done this, in silence I owned thy spell:
Thou shalt loose me, or thou shalt bind me, for my will it shall be as thine,
And gladly all woes I'ld suffer if so I might call thee mine!'
Then she quoth, 'Yea! so take me with thee, if thou countest upon thy gain, 125
And the love that shall be thy guerdon, thou shalt mourn it in shame and pain.
I would know if a man thou shalt be who bravely for me would fight—
And yet, if thou prize thine honour, thou wilt flee from this strife, Sir Knight!
And should I yet further rede thee, and thou shouldst to my word say yea,
Then seek thou elsewhere a lady—For, if thou my love dost pray, 130
Then joy and fair love's rewarding fall never unto thy share,
But sorrow shall be thy portion if hence I with thee shall fare!'
Then answered Gawain, 'Without service, who thinketh true love to win?
An one did so, then here I tell thee, 'twere counted to him for sin,
For true love ever asketh service, yea after as aye before!' 135
Then she quoth, 'Wilt thou do me service? shame waiteth for thee in store,
Tho' thy life be a life of conflict—No coward as my knight I'll own;
See thou yonder path, 'tis no highway, o'er the bridge doth it wend adown
To the garden, take thou the pathway, for there shalt thou find my steed—
Many folk shalt thou see and shalt hearken, but take thou of their words no heed, 140
Nor stay for their dance or singing, for tambour, or harp, or flute,
But go thou to my horse, and loose it, that I go not with thee afoot!'
[Pg 8] Gawain sprang from off his charger—Yet awhile he bethought him well
Where his steed might abide his coming: by the waters that rippling fell
Was no tree unto which to bind it, and he knew not if he this dame 145
Might pray, would she hold his charger till once more with her own he came.
Then she quoth, 'I see well what doth vex thee, thine horse shalt thou leave with me,
I will guard it until thy coming tho' small good shall that be to thee!'
Then Gawain took his horse's bridle, 'Now hold this for me, I pray;'
'Now indeed art thou dull and foolish,' spake the lady, 'where thou dost lay 150
Thine hand, thinkest thou I'll hold it? such deed would beseem me ill!'
Then the love-lorn knight spake gently, for fain would he do her will,
'Further forward I never hold it!' Then she quoth, 'I will hold it there,
And do thou my bidding swiftly, bring my steed and with thee I'll fare;'
Then he thought this a joyful hearing, and straightway he left her side, 155
And over the bridge so narrow to the garden gate he hied;
There saw he many a maiden, and knights so brave and young,
And within that goodly garden so gaily they danced and sung.
And Gawain he was clad so richly, with helmet and harness fair,
That all must bewail his coming for naught but true folk dwelt there. 160
They cared for that lovely garden, on the greensward they stood or lay,
Or sat 'neath the tents whose shadow was cool 'gainst the sunlight's ray.
Yet they ceased not to bemoan him, and to grieve for his sorrow sore,
Yea, man alike and maiden, and in this wise their plaint they bore,
'Alas! that our lady's cunning will to danger this knight betray! 165
Alas! that he fain will follow, for she rideth an evil way.'
And many stepped fair towards him, and their arms around him threw,
And bade him a friendly greeting—to an olive tree he drew,
For the steed was fast beneath it, so rich was its gear, I ween,
That the cost of the goodly trappings full thousand marks had been. 170
And an old knight he stood beside it, well-trimmed was his beard and grey,
And upon a staff he leant him, and salt tears he wept alway.
And the tears, they were shed for Gawain, as he to the steed drew near,
Yet his words of kindly greeting fell soft on the hero's ear.
[Pg 9] Then he spake, 'Wilt thou hearken counsel? Lay not on this steed thine hand, 175
And herein shalt thou show thy wisdom—tho' none here thy will withstand,
Yet, indeed, it were best to leave it! Accurst be our lady queen,
For of many a gallant hero, I wot, she the death hath been!'
Yet Gawain he would do her bidding—'Then, alas! for woe draweth near,'
Spake the knight, and he loosed the halter, ''Twere best not to linger here, 180
The steed shalt thou take, and shalt leave us, and may He Who made salt the sea,
In the hour of thy need, and thy peril, thy strength and thy counsel be:
And see thou that our lady's beauty, it bringeth thee not to shame,
She is sour in the midst of sweetness, 'mid the sunlight a shower of rain.'
'God grant it,' then quoth Sir Gawain, and straightway he took his leave 185
Of the old knight and of his comrades and sorely the folk did grieve.
And the horse went a narrow pathway, and it passed thro' the garden gate,
And it crossed o'er the bridge, and he found her who there did his coming wait,
The queen of his heart, and the ruler was she of that land so fair,
Yet altho' his heart fled towards her yet grief thro' her deed it bare. 190
Her hand 'neath her chin soft-rounded had loosened the wimple's fold,
And flung it aback on her head-gear,—(if a woman ye thus behold,
Know ye that for strife she longeth and mischief she hath in mind)—
Would ye know how else she had robed her ye naught in my song shall find,
For how might I tell her raiment and name ye her robes aright, 195
When mine eyes, on her fair face gazing, saw naught but her beauty bright?
As Gawain drew near the lady, she hailed him with scornful mien,
'Now welcome, thou goose! for of all men most foolish art thou, I ween,
All too bent shalt thou be on my service, wert thou wise thou wouldst let it be—'
Then he quoth, 'Yet shalt thou be gracious who now art so wroth with me, 200
For so harshly thou dost chastise me thou in honour must make it good,
And my hand shall be fain to serve thee till thou winnest a milder mood;
Ask thou what of me thou willest—Shall I lift thee upon thy steed?'
But she quoth, 'I will no such service, for methinks all too great such meed
[Pg 10] For a hand that is yet unproven—Ask thou for a lesser grace!' 205
On the flowery sward she turned her, and she looked not on Gawain's face,
But she laid her hand on the bridle, and she light to the saddle sprung,
And she bade him to ride before her, and she spake with a mocking tongue,
'Now indeed would it be great pity did I stray from so brave a knight,
By God's grace will we keep together, so ride thou within my sight!' 210
Now he who my rede would follow his peace shall he hold awhile,
Lest he speak but the word of folly, till he know if she wrought of guile,
For as yet the truth ye know not, nor the thing that was in her heart.
And were it the time for vengeance, then I too might bear my part,
And take from this lady payment for the wrong she hath done Gawain; 215
Nor of that she shall do hereafter shall aught unavenged remain.
But Orgelusé, that lovely lady, bare herself in no friendly wise,
For she rode in the track of Gawain, and so wrathful, I ween, her guise
That were I in the stead of Gawain little comfort my soul might take
That she from my care would free me, and with fair love atonement make. 220
Then they rode on an open moorland, and a herb did Sir Gawain see
Whose root had the power of healing, and down to the ground sprang he,
And dug up the root, and swiftly he sprang on his steed again.
And the lady she looked upon him, and she spake in a mocking vein,
'Now in sooth if this my companion can at one-while be leech and knight, 225
For starvation he need not fear him if his salve-box he bear aright!'
Quoth Gawain, ''Neath a mighty linden a wounded knight I saw,
Methinks, if again I find him, this herb shall the poison draw
From his wounds, and new strength may give him!' She spake, 'Now I well were fain
To look on thy skill, for who knoweth what knowledge I thence may gain!' 230
Now a squire he rode swift behind them, 'twas the lady's messenger,
Fain was he to do her bidding—As the horse-hoofs they drew anear
Gawain would await his coming, and his steed for a space he held,
Yet he deemed him he saw a monster when first he the squire beheld,
For Malcréature did they call him, and Kondrie was his sister fair, 235
And e'en such a face as the sister, I ween, did the brother bear.
From his mouth, as the tusks of a wild-boar, stood the teeth out to left and right,
Unlike was his face to a man's face, and fearful in all men's sight.
[Pg 11] And the locks of his hair were shorter than those which from Kondrie hung
Adown on her mule, stiff as bristles, and sharp, from his head they sprung. 240
And beside the river Ganges, in the land of Tribalibot,
Dwell such folk, if awhile ye hearken ye shall learn how befell their lot.
Now Adam, of all men father, from God did he learn such skill,
All beasts, wild and tame, he knew them, and he namèd them at his will.
And he knew the stars and their pathway, as they circle the silent sky, 245
And the power of the seven planets, how they rule men from heaven high,
And he knew of all roots the virtue, and the ill that was theirs of yore—
When his children were grown to manhood, and daughters and sons they bore,
From evil desires he warned them; and his daughters he oft did rede
Of certain roots to beware them, that wrought ill with the human seed, 250
And would change their face, and their aspect, and dishonoured the race should be;
And he spake, 'Then shall we be other than erst God did fashion me,
And therefore do ye, my children, give heed to the words I say,
Nor be blind to your bliss, lest your children they wander too far astray.'
But the women, they did as women, in forbidden ways they went, 255
And they wrought out the lust and the evil on which their desire was bent,
And the shape of men was changèd, such rewarding their fault must win,
And tho' firm stood the will of Adam yet sorely he mourned their sin—
Now the fair Queen Sekundillé, her body, her crown, and land,
Feirefis had won as his guerdon by the power of his knightly hand, 260
And there, in her far-off kingdom (no lie is the tale I tell)
Full many of this strange people since the days that are gone do dwell,
And their faces are ill to look on, and the birth-marks are strange they bear.
And once of the Grail men told her, and Anfortas' kingdom fair,
That on earth was naught like to his riches, and a marvel she thought his land— 265
(And the waters within her kingdom bare jewels instead of sand,
And many a golden mountain shall rear its crest on high.)
And the queen she thought, 'How may I win speech of his majesty,
Who ruleth the Grail?' she bethought her, and rich presents she sent the king,
Of jewels fair, and beside them, they should to his kingdom bring 270
[Pg 12] Of this folk, so strange to look on, the twain of whom now I tell,
Kondrie and the squire, her brother—and in this wise the chance befell
(Much treasure beside she sent him whose cost might of none be told,)
That Anfortas, the gentle monarch, who was courteous as he was bold,
For the love he bare Orgelusé sent this squire unto her grace, 275
By the sin and the lust of women set apart from the human race!
Now this son of the herbs and the planets loud mocked at the gallant knight,
Who, courteous, would wait his coming; no charger he rode of might,
But a mare so feint and feeble and halting in every limb,
And oft to the ground it stumbled 'neath its rider so harsh and grim. 280
I wot well e'en Dame Jeschuté rode a better steed that day
When Parzival's hand avenged her, and her shaming was put away!
The squire he looked well upon Gawain, and thus in his wrath he spake,
'If thou be a knight, I think me, and my lady with thee wilt take
Thou shalt sorely repent the journey—A fool thou in truth must be, 285
And such peril shall be thy guerdon as winneth great praise to thee,
If so be that thou canst withstand it—Yet, if but a servant thou,
Of buffets and blows, I think me, full soon wilt thou have enow!'
Then out quoth Gawain, 'My knighthood such chastisement ne'er might feel,
'Tis good but for worthless youngsters who shrink from the touch of steel; 290
But I hold me free of such insults, and e'en if it so shall be
That thou and this lovely lady your mock'ry shall pour on me,
Then one sure shall taste my vengeance, nor think thou that I wax wroth
For ill tho' thou be to look on I hold thee but light in troth!'
With that by the hair he gripped him, and he swung him from off his horse, 295
The squire glared wrathful on him, and his bristles, so sharp and coarse,
Took vengeance sore on Gawain, his hand did they cut and tear
Till the blood dripped crimson from it—then loud laughed the lady fair,
'Now in sooth this is good to look on, to see ye twain in wrath!'
So rode the twain, the squire's horse came halting upon their path. 300
So came they unto the linden where the wounded knight they found,
On his side the herb of healing the hand of Gawain bound;
[Pg 13] Quoth the knight, 'Now, how went it with thee since first thou didst find me here?
Thou leadest with thee a lady who plotteth thine ill, I fear!
'Tis thro' her I so sore am wounded; at the Perilous Ford, I ween, 305
Did she force such a joust upon me as well-nigh my death had been!
So, if thou thy life now lovest, I warn thee to let her be,
And turn thee aside, nor ride with her, but warning to take by me—
And yet may my wounds be healèd, if rest for awhile I gain,
And, Sir Knight, thereto canst thou help me!' 'That will I,' quoth knight Gawain. 310
Then the wounded knight spake further, 'A spital shall stand near by,
And if I but now might reach it for awhile I in peace might lie,
Thou seest my lady's palfrey, it can carry, methinks, the twain
If she rideth afore, I behind her, so help me its back to gain.'
From the bough of the mighty linden Sir Gawain he loosed the steed, 315
And the bridle he took that the palfrey he might to the lady lead—
'Away from me!' cried the sick man, 'thou treadest on me I trow!'
Then he led it apart, and the lady she followed so soft and slow,
For she knew what her lord did purpose; as the maid to her horse he swung,
Up started the knight, and swiftly on the charger of Gawain sprung! 320
And, methinks, an ill deed he did there—With his lady he rode away,
And I ween that with sin was tainted the prize that he won that day!
Then sore did Gawain bemoan him, but the lady laughed loud and clear;
(And, were it a jest, he thought him such mirth were unfitting here,)
As his charger was taken from him her sweet lips in this wise spake, 325
'First wert thou a knight, then, in short space, I thee for a leech must take,
Now art thou become my footman! yet thou shouldst in no wise despair,
Such skill sure should bring thee comfort! Wouldst thou still in my favours share?'
'Yea, Lady,' then quoth Sir Gawain, 'an I might thy favor hold,
The whole earth hath nothing fairer were the tale of its riches told; 330
And of crownèd heads, and uncrownèd, of all who may joyful win
The highest meed of glory, did they bid me to share therein,
Yet still my heart would rede me to count all such gain as naught
If thy love were but weighed against it, such bliss had thy favour brought!
[Pg 14] If thy love may not be my guerdon then a swift sad death I'll die, 335
'Tis thine own this thing that thou scornest when thou dealest thus mockingly.
Tho' a free man born thou shalt hold me thy vassal, if such thy will,
Call me knight, or slave, or servant, the name it shall please me still!
Yet, I think me, thou doest not rightly—When my service thou thus wilt shame
Thou drawest down sin upon thee, and thou shamest thine own fair fame. 340
If my service doth bring me honour thou hast naught withal to scorn,
And such words shall but ill beseem thee tho' they lightly by me be borne!'
Then back rode the knight, sore wounded, and he quoth, 'Is it thou, Gawain?
For that which erewhile I owed thee here dost thou full payment gain,
Since thine hand in bitter conflict, me, thy foeman, did prisoner make 345
And unto thine uncle Arthur thou didst me thy captive take,
And four weeks long must I dwell there, and four weeks long I fed
With the dogs—I shall ne'er forget it till the days of my life be sped!'
Then he quoth, 'Is it thou, O Urian? If now thou art wroth with me,
Yet guiltless am I, the king's favour at that time I won for thee, 350
For thy folly so far betrayed thee that men spake thee an outcast knight,
And thy shield it was taken from thee, and forfeit thy name and right;
Since thou ill didst entreat a maiden, and the peace of the land didst break,
With a rope had the king repaid thee, but to him for thy life I spake!'
'Howe'er that might be, here thou standest, and the proverb thou well mayst know, 355
"Who saveth the life of another, that other shall have for foe."
And I do as a wise man doeth—'Tis better a child should weep
Than a full-grown man, and bearded,—this charger mine hand shall keep!'
Then he spurred him amain, and he rode thence, as fast as his steed might fly,
And wroth was Gawain at his dealing, and he spake out right angrily; 360
'Now it fell out in this wise, Lady, King Arthur his court did hold
At Dianasdron, and with him rode many a Breton bold.
Then as messenger to his kingdom a maiden must take her way,
And this fool, for venture seeking, he crossed her path that day,
And both to the land were strangers—He burnt with unholy fire, 365
And fierce with the maid he wrestled till he bent her to his desire.
[Pg 15] As she cried for help we heard her—then the king "To arms" did call,
In a wood the thing had chanced thus, thither rode we one and all,
And I rode of all the foremost, and I saw the sinner's track,
And I made him perforce my captive, and to Arthur I brought him back.' 370
'And the maiden she rode beside us, and sorely did she bemoan
That to force she must yield the guerdon that to service was due alone.
Of her maidenhood had he robbed her—Yet but lowly his fame shall stand
Who vaunteth himself the victor o'er a woman's unarmèd hand—
And wrathful, I ween, was King Arthur, and he spake, 'Ye my servants true, 375
Ye shall hold this deed for accursèd, and the day of its doing rue.
Alas! for the woful dawning and the light that this thing hath seen,
Alas! that I here am ruler, for the judgment is mine, I ween!'
And he spake to the weeping maiden, 'Hast thou wisdom, thy cause then plead.'
She spake fearless, e'en as he bade her, and the knights they must list her rede. 380
'Then Prince Urian of Punturtois stood before the Breton king,
And against his life and his honour, her plaint did the maiden bring,
And she spake so that all might hear her, and with weeping words did pray
The king, for the sake of women, her shaming to put away.
And she prayed by the honour of women, and by the Round Table's fame, 385
And the right which as message-bearer she thought of all men to claim,
If he sat there that day for judgment he should judge her with judgment true,
And avenge her of this dishonour which her soul must for ever rue.
And she prayed they would do her justice, those knights of the Table Round,
Since in sooth she had lost a treasure which might never again be found, 390
Her maidenhood fair and unstainèd! Then all men, with one accord,
Spake him guilty, and for his judgment called loudly upon their lord!'
'Then an advocate spake for the captive, (Small honour was his I trow.)
And he spake as he might in his favour, yet it went with him ill enow,
For of life and of honour forfeit did they judge him, the headsman's sword 395
Should ne'er be his death, but a halter should they twine him of hempen cord.
Then loud in his woe he prayed me, since he yielded him to mine hand,
For mine honour should sure be stainèd if wrought were the king's command.
[Pg 16] Then I prayed of the weeping maiden, since she saw how that I in fight
Had avenged upon him her shaming, to pardon the traitor knight. 400
For sure 'twas the spell of her beauty that had wrought upon him for sin,
And the love of her form so shapely—"For aye if a knight doth win
Sore peril for love of a woman, she should aid him, and hear his prayer,
So I prithee to cease thine anger, and have pity on his despair."'
'Then the king and his men I prayed them, by what service I e'er had done, 405
They should loose me from stain of dishonour which I by his death had won,
And the knight should live, as I sware him.—Then the lady, his gracious queen,
I prayed by the bond of kinship, since my friend she hath ever been,
(From my childhood, King Arthur reared me and my love doth toward them flow,)
That she of her kindness help me—as I asked, it was even so, 410
For she drew on one side the maiden, and she spake to her soft and kind,
And it was thro' the queen, I wot me, that the knight did his pardon find.
Thus free from his guilt they spake him, yet his sin must he sorely rue,
For the life that was granted to him stern penance he needs must do.
With the hounds of the chase and the house-dogs from one trough he needs must eat 415
For the space of four weeks, thus the maiden found avenging as it was meet!'
'For this cause is he wroth with me, Lady'—'Yet his judgment it went astray,
If my love ne'er shall be thy guerdon, in such wise I'll his deed repay
That ere he shall leave my kingdom he shall count it to him for shame!
Since King Arthur avenged not the evil that was wrought on that maid's fair fame 420
It falleth unto mine office, and judge am I o'er ye twain,
Tho' who ye may be I know not, yet I to this task am fain!
And well shall he be chastisèd for the wrong that he did the maid,
Not for thine, for I ween such evil is better by blows repaid.'
To the mare now Sir Gawain turned him, and lightly he caught the rein, 425
And the squire he followed after, and the lady she spake again,
And in Arabic spake she to him, and she gave him to know her will—
Now hearken unto my story, how Sir Gawain he fared but ill:
[Pg 17] Then Malcréature, he left them—and Gawain his horse beheld,
Too feeble it was for battle, the squire, as his way he held 430
Down the hill, from the peasant-owner had taken the sorry steed,
And Gawain for his charger must have it, tho' but ill it might serve his need.
In mocking and hatred spake she, 'Wilt still ride upon thy way?'
Quoth Gawain, 'I will take my journey e'en in such wise as thou shalt say.'
She quoth, 'Wilt abide my counsel? It shall reach thee I ween too late!' 435
Quoth he, 'Yet for that will I serve thee, tho' o'er-long I thy rede shall wait!'
Quoth she, 'Then a fool I think thee, for unless thou shalt leave this mind,
Then sorrow instead of gladness and repentance for joy thou'lt find!'
Then he quoth, of her love desirous, 'Yet thy servant I still abide,
If joy be my lot or sorrow, be thy love and thy will my guide. 440
Since thy love laid its spell upon me in thy bidding my law I see,
And ahorse or afoot I'll follow, I care not where'er it be!'
So stood he beside the lady, and awhile he beheld the mare,
Who to joust with such steed had ridden his gold were o'er-keen to spare!
For the stirrups of hemp were twisted, and ne'er had this gallant knight 445
Such saddle, I ween, bestridden, it would serve him but ill for fight.
For e'en as he looked upon it, he thought, 'If on that I ride,
The girths sure will break asunder, nor the saddle my weight abide!'
And so weak was the steed and ill-shapen, had one dared on its back to leap
Of a sooth would the back have broken—On foot he the road must keep! 450
And in this guise he took his journey: the horse by the rein he held,
And his spear and his shield he carried; and the lady his grief beheld,
And she mocked him with ringing laughter, fain was she to work him woe—
Then his shield on the mare he fastened, and she spake, 'In such guise wouldst go,
And carry thy wares thro' my kingdom? A strange lot is mine, I ween, 455
Since footman, and leech, and merchant in turn hath my comrade been!
Of the toll hadst thou best beware thee, or else, as thou goest thy way,
It may chance they who take the toll here on thy merchandise hands may lay!
[Pg 18]
And tho' sharp, I ween, was her mocking yet her words was he fain to hear,
Nor rued he the bitter speeches that rang sweet to his longing ear. 460
And as ever his eyes beheld her his sorrow it fled away,
For fair was she to his thinking as blossoms in month of May!
A delight of the eyes, and heart-sorrow, his gain and his loss was she,
And languishing joy did she quicken—Her freeman and captive he!
This hath many a master taught me, that Amor, and Cupid too, 465
And Venus, of both the mother, make all men their deeds to rue;
For with darts and with fire they kindle desire in the longing heart,
But such love seemeth me but evil that is lighted by torch or dart.
And the true heart it loveth ever, be its guerdon or joy or woe,
And in honour the love is rooted which alone shall abiding know! 470
'Gainst me have thy darts, O Cupid! I ween ever missed their mark,
Nor Amor with spear hath smote me, nor fell on my heart a spark
From the torch of thy mother Venus—Tho' love 'neath your rule shall be,
If love be my lot, not from passion but from faith shall it bloom for me!
And if I with wit and wisdom 'gainst love's spells might a hero aid, 475
Gawain had I gladly aided, nor asked that I be repaid.
And yet no shame need he think it if love's fetters him captive hold,
And if he of love be vanquished, for her captives are aye the bold.
And yet so strong was he ever, and so knightly, to face the foe,
That 'tis pity so brave a hero by a woman should be laid low! 480
Now well let us gaze upon thee, thou power which true love doth wield,
Such joy hast thou taken from us that barren and reft the field,
And thou makest a road of sorrow across it, both long and wide,
And if thy goal had been other than the high heart I would not chide.
For folly methinks and lightness love all too old shall be, 485
Or shall we to childhood reckon the evil love worketh free?
For better are ways unseemly in youth, than if age forget
Its wisdom—much ill love worketh, unto which shall the blame be set?
For the mind of youth ever wavers, and changeth as changing winds,
And if love shall be thus unsteadfast, little praise may she hope to find. 490
Nay, better shall be my counsel, for the wise praise true love alone;
Yea, and maiden and man shall join me, and all who love's power have known.
[Pg 19]
When true love unto true love answereth, undarkened by thought of guile,
And it vexeth them not that love turneth the key on their heart awhile,
For they fear not nor think of wavering, then high as the heaven above 495
O'er the earth, o'er the love that changeth, is such true and steadfast love.
Yet, gladly as I would free him, to Frau Minne Gawain must bow,
And his joy shall awhile be darkened—Small profit my words, I trow,
And the wisdom I fain had taught him, for no man may love withstand,
And love alone giveth wisdom, and nerveth with strength the hand! 500
And to Gawain she gave this penance, afoot must he wend his way
While his lady she rode beside him—To a woodland they came alway,
And he led the steed to a tree-trunk, and the shield that awhile it bare
He hung round his neck as befitting, and lightly bestrode the mare,
And scarcely the steed might bear him—Then they came to a builded land, 505
And a castle so fair and stately he saw there before him stand,
And his heart and his eyes bare witness no fortress was like this hall,
So knightly and fair the palace, and so countless its turrets tall.
And many a maiden looked forth from its casements, he thought to see
Four hundred and more, o'er all others, I ween, four might fairest be. 510
Then the lady and her companion they rode a well-trodden road
To a water whose waves ran swiftly, and ships sailed the flood so broad.
By the landing there lay a meadow, where men jousts were wont to ride,
And the towers of that stately castle rose fair on the further side.
Then Gawain, that gallant hero, saw a knight who rode swift and near, 515
As one who for combat lusted, and he spared not or shield or spear.
Quoth the lady, fair Orgelusé, and haughty her tone and proud,
'In what else thou mayst gainsay me in this be my truth allowed,
For other I ne'er have told thee save that shame shall thy portion be,
Now here, if thou canst, defend thee, since no better is left to thee. 520
Methinks he who cometh hither shall fell thee beneath his thrust—
If thy garments perchance be riven, and thou bitest, ashamed, the dust,
Then those women above shall mourn thee, who look for some deed of fame,
Seest thou how they gaze from the lattice? How, then, if they see thy shame?'
Then the boatman across the water he came at the lady's will, 525
[Pg 20] From the shore to the boat she stepped there, and Gawain it but pleased him ill;
For, mocking, fair Orgelusé spake thus to the gallant knight,
'Thou com'st not with me, I leave thee on this shore as a pledge for fight!'
Then sadly his voice rang after, 'Say, Lady, wilt leave me so?
Shall I never again behold thee?' Then she spake, 'I would have thee know 530
If victory be thy portion thou shalt look on my face again,
Yet but small is the chance I think me.' So sailed she from knight Gawain.
Then up rode Lischois Giwellius, 'twere a lie if I said he flew,
And yet little other did he for the earth scarce his footprints knew.
And for this must I praise the charger, who the greensward with such swift feet 535
Had trodden—Gawain bethought him how he best might his foeman meet;
He thought, 'Should I here await him afoot, or this steed bestride?
If his horse's speed he check not he surely o'er me will ride,
And this fate must o'ertake his charger, to fall o'er my fallen steed;
But, if he for combat lusteth, afoot on this flowery mead 540
Will I face him and give him battle, since battle he doth desire,
Tho' never I win her favour who hath brought on me need so dire.'
Fight they must, and they fought as heroes, he who came and he who did wait,
For jousting he made him ready, and the lance-point Gawain held straight,
And he rested it on the saddle, (for thus did he counsel take,) 545
Then e'en as the joust was ridden the spears did in splinters break,
And the knights, the one as the other, they fell in that goodly fray,
For the better charger stumbled and by Gawain its rider lay.
Then the twain to their feet upspringing their swords from the scabbard drew,
Since alike they were keen for combat, and their shields in pieces flew, 550
For each hewed at the shield of the other till a hand's breadth alone, I ween,
They held, for the pledge of conflict the shield it hath ever been.
Flashed the sword-blades, fire sprang from the helmets, a venture brave I trow
Was his who should here be victor, tho' stern conflict he first must know.
Long space did they fight, those heroes, on the flowery meadow wide, 555
And as smiths, who all day have laboured, as it weareth to eventide
[Pg 21] Grow faint with their toil and weary with the mighty blows they smite,
So weary and faint were those heroes who here did for honour fight.
But for this none methinks shall praise them, unwise do I hold the twain,
No cause had they here for battle, 'twas fame that they thought to gain; 560
And strangers unto each other, each other's life they sought,
And yet, had they made confession, each owed to the other naught!
Now Gawain was a gallant wrestler, and his foe to the ground would bring
If in spite of the sword he might grip him, and let but the mighty ring
Of his arms his foeman circle, he forced him where'er he would. 565
Now must he with force defend him, and he fought as a hero good,
And his courage waxed ever higher, and the youth in his arms he caught,
And he bare him to earth beneath him tho' e'en as a man he fought.
And he quoth, 'Wilt thou live, thou hero, thou must yield thee unto mine hand!'
Yet Lischois, he was all unready to follow so stern command; 570
For never his pledge had he given, and he deemed it a wondrous thing
That the hand of a knight should o'erthrow him, and him in such peril bring
That against his will he must yield him, who had ever the victor been,
For in sooth full many a combat his foeman o'erthrown had seen.
Full oft he from them had taken what he cared not to give again, 575
Nay, rather his life would he forfeit; and he spake unto knight Gawain,
And he said, 'Let what would befall him, his pledge to no man he'd give;'
Nay, death would he rather suffer, since no longer he cared to live!
Then sadly, he spake, the vanquished, 'Thou hero, is victory thine?
So long as God bare me favour such honour was ever mine; 580
But now hath my fame an ending, and thy right hand hath laid me low,
And if maiden and man must hearken to the tale of my overthrow
Whose glory once rose to the heaven, then death shall my portion be
Ere my kinsmen shall hear the story, and shall sorrow and mourn for me!
Yet Gawain still prayed him yield him, but his will and his mind were so 585
That he prayed God would rather take him, or slay him by this his foe.
Thought Gawain, 'I am loth to kill him, if he swear but to do my will
Unharmed he may go'—yet the young knight withheld him his promise still.
Then, ere he his hand had given, the hero he bade him rise,
On the flowery mead they sat them: then Gawain he bethought him wise, 590
[Pg 22] (For his sorry steed it vexed him) the horse of his vanquished foe
With spur and with rein would he test there, if 'twere good for his need or no.
('Twas armed as beseemed a warhorse, and the covering was fair to see,
Of velvet and silk was it fashioned, what trapping might better be?)
Since the venture such prize had brought him, who should hinder him in his need 595
If for his own use he took it? so he vaulted upon the steed:
And he joyed in the free, swift movement, and he cried, 'Now, how shall this be?
Of a sooth it is thou, Gringuljet, that false Urian stole from me.
He knoweth best how he took it, and shameful I count his deed.
Now, who thus for battle armed thee, since thou art of a truth my steed? 600
Sure 'tis God who hath sent thee to me, and this fair gift shall end my woe.'
Then he sprang to the ground, and he sought him the token he well might know,
On its shoulder the Grail-Dove branded—In a joust did Lähelein slay
Its rider, the knight of Prienlaskors, and the charger he bare away.
Then Orilus was its master, and he gave it to knight Gawain 605
On Plimizöl's shore—greatly joyed he when the charger he won again.
Blithe was he, and high of courage, who awhile was sad and sore,
Yet love unto ruth constrained him, and the service so true he bore
To the lady who yet would shame him, and his thoughts ever toward her flew.
Then up sprang proud Lischois lightly, and his good sword he gripped anew, 610
For it lay where Gawain had cast it when he wrested it from his hand:
And the ladies look down on the heroes, as for combat once more they stand.
The shields were so hacked and riven that the knights they must cast them by,
And, shieldless, to strife betake them, and they bare them right gallantly.
And a crowd of fair maidens o'er them from the palace window saw 615
The strife that below was foughten: and fierce anger awoke once more,
For too nobly born I wot me was each man that he might brook
That his fame should be lightly yielded, and maids on his shaming look.
And helmet and sword were smitten, for shields 'gainst cold death were they,
He who saw the heroes strive there had mourned for their toil that day. 620
Lischois Giwellius bare him, that fair youth, as knight so brave,
[Pg 23] True courage, and deeds undaunted, the counsel his high heart gave.
And many a swift blow dealt he, as quick on Gawain he sprung,
And lightly avoided from him, and his blade round his head he swung.
But Gawain stood firm and undaunted, and he thought him, 'Now, let me hold 625
Thee once in mine arms, I'll repay thee thy dealings, thou hero bold!'
And fiery sparks might ye look on, and the flash of the glittering blade
Well wielded by hand of hero—Nor one in his station stayed,
For they pressed each one on the other, backward, forward, to either side,
Yet this conflict so fierce, I wot me, did ne'er of revenge betide, 630
And no hatred they bare to each other—Then the arms of Gawain at last
He clasped round his gallant foeman, and the knight to the ground he cast.
And I think, an I friendship sware here, I would shrink from such fond embrace,
E'en tho' brotherhood it were sealing—Nor with ye would such clasp find grace!
Then Gawain he bade him yield him, yet Lischois, who against his will 635
Had striven when first he felled him, was all unready still.
And he quoth, 'Wherefore thus delay thee, 'tis needless, take thou my life,
For better to die than to yield me—Since I wot well that in this strife
The fame that was mine aforetime hath vanished beneath thy blow,
Of God must I be accursèd, since my glory such goal doth know! 640
For the love of fair Orgelusé have I served her with knightly hand,
And many a knight have I felled here, for none might my arm withstand.
Now shalt thou be heir to my glory, for it falleth to thee of right
If thou, who my fame hath ended, here endeth my life, Sir Knight.'
But King Lot's son he thought in this wise, 'To this deed have I little mind, 645
My name, it shall gain small honour if this man here his death shall find,
If for no sin of his I slay him, who is true and valiant knight—
'Twas her love that spurred him 'gainst me, for whose favour I too would fight;
'Tis her beauty that doth constrain me, 'tis she that doth work me woe,
Then why not, for the sake of my lady, show mercy to this my foe? 650
If perchance for mine own I win her, if mine own such bliss may be,
Then he cannot take her from me since stronger am I than he!
[Pg 24] And if o'er our strife she watcheth, then she must of a surety own
That I, who for love would serve her, true service and good have shown!'
Then out spake the gallant Gawain, 'I were loth thy life to take, 655
But hence will I let thee, scatheless, for fair Orgelusé's sake!'
Weary were they, small wonder, then the fallen knight arose,
And down on the grassy meadow apart sat those gallant foes.
Then the master boatman stepped forth from the water unto the land,
And a grey and yearling falcon he carried upon his hand. 660
This right was his o'er the meadow, who jousted upon the plain,
The charger of him who was vanquished he did as his tribute gain.
From his hand, who was there the victor, should he take, as a gift, the steed,
And bowing, thank him fairly, nor stint of his praise the meed.
And such payment he oft had taken on the flowery meadow green, 665
Nor otherwise had his living; save at whiles, when such chance had been,
That a bird in his falcon's clutches had fluttered in grief and pain.
Nor plough drave he thro' those furrows, for enough did he deem his gain.
And son of a folk so knightly was he born to a knight's estate,
And courteous, I ween, his bearing who there on Gawain did wait. 670
So came he unto the hero, and with courteous word and fair
He prayed of his hand the tribute, and the steed that should be his share.
Quoth Gawain, the gallant hero, 'No merchant methinks I be
To pay here or toll or tribute, from such tax do I hold me free!'
Then he spake out, the master boatman, 'Sir Knight, since full many a maid 675
Hath seen thee stand here the victor, by thee be my tribute paid.
My right o'er the plain must thou own here, in knightly joust thine hand
Hath won for mine own this charger; nor thy fame shall the lower stand,
For he, whom thine hand o'erthrew here, the world with his praises rung,
And with truth, unto this day's dawning, have men of his glory sung; 680
But now he of God is stricken, and his joy hath an ending found,
But thou, in his stead, I think me, with honour and fame art crowned!'
Quoth Gawain, 'He first o'erthrew me, and I but that deed repaid.
If tribute for joust be due here, by him be that tribute paid!
Look well on this mare, he won it, thou canst take it if such thy will. 685
The charger that standeth by me, as mine own will I claim it still—
[Pg 25] Tho' never a steed be thy portion, on that steed I hence will go,
Thou speakest of right, wouldst thou take it, then first I would have thee know
(Yea, thou thyself wilt own it) 'tis unfitting I take my way
Afoot, and right sore 'twould grieve me if that charger were thine alway! 690
For to-day in the early morning it was mine without doubt or fear,
And childish thou art if thou thinkest thus lightly to win it here!
'Twas Duke Orilus, the Burgundian, who gave me the steed of old,
Which Urian stole this morning, and the tale thou for truth shalt hold.
And the foal of a mule shalt thou win thee ere thy prize be this steed of mine— 695
Yet a fair gift in sooth will I give thee, for the steed shall the knight be thine,
Thou accountest him honour-worthy—if he say thee or yea or nay,
And if well or ill it doth please him I abide by my word alway!'
Then joyful I ween was the boatman, and with smiling lips he spake,
'Now methinks that a gift so costly it hath ne'er been my lot to take, 700
And I deem myself all unworthy—Yet, Sir Knight, be he mine indeed,
Then the guerdon is more than I asked for and o'er my deserts my meed.
For his praises they rang so clearly that five hundred steeds all told,
Swift-footed and strong for battle, too low for his price I'ld hold!
If a rich man thou thus wilt make me, then this thing shalt thou do for me, 705
To my boat shalt thou captive bring him, that I hold him as pledge from thee.'
King Lot's son he spake in answer, 'Yea this will I do, and more,
To thy boat first, and then from out it will I lead him within thy door,
And there will I yield him captive'—'And there will I welcome thee!'
Spake the boatman, and low he bowed him, and thanks spake he fair and free. 710
And he quoth, 'Dear my lord and master, if it please thee to be my guest,
And abide in my house till the morning, then softly I'll bid thee rest.
Nor won boatman e'er higher honour, and blest be the eventide
That seeth a knight so gallant 'neath the shade of my roof-tree bide.'
Then out quoth Gawain, 'That will I, for in truth I had prayed this grace, 715
For weary am I with battle, and fain would I rest a space.
She who to this sorrow led me, her sweetness she maketh sour,
And heart's joy shall be dear to purchase, and sorrow doth crown each hour,
[Pg 26] And the guerdon for this her service unlike to herself shall be—
Alas! I had found a treasure, yet but loss hath it brought to me! 720
And one breast thro' that loss now sinketh that awhile swelled so proud and high,
When joy was from God my portion, for a heart did beneath it lie.
Now I think me that heart hath vanished, and where shall I comfort seek?
Shall I helpless abide that Frau Minne her wrath upon me shall wreak?
Yea, had she the heart of a woman she would give me my joy again 725
Who maketh her sweetness bitter, and turneth my bliss to pain!'
Then the boatman he heard how he wrestled with sorrow, by love constrained,
And he quoth, 'So is here the custom, in the forest as on the plain,
As far as Klingsor ruleth, be he coward or valiant knight,
"Sad to day, to-morrow joyful," So it goeth for peace or fight. 730
Perchance the truth thou knowst not? This land is a wonder-land,
And ever by day and by night-time if good luck shall not aid thine hand
Little good may thy manhood do thee! See thou how the sun sinks low,
I think me, Sir Knight, it were better that we should to my vessel go!'
Then Lischois he was led by Gawain, and never a word he spake, 735
And the boatman he followed after and the steed by its rein did take.
So sailed they across the water, and they came to the further coast,
And the boatman he prayed Sir Gawain, 'Be thou in mine house the host.'
And so rich was the house and stately, that scarce in King Arthur's land,
E'en in Nantes that noble city, did a fairer dwelling stand. 740
And he led Lischois thro' the doorway, and he gave him unto the care
Of the host and his folk—Then the boatman spake thus to his daughter fair,
'Fair times and a goodly lodging be the lot of this noble knight
Who standeth here, go thou with him, for I deem me it shall be right,
And tend him as best shall seem thee, nor stint thou in aught thy care, 745
For great good hath he brought unto us, and 'tis meet he thy grace should share!'
To his son's care he gave the charger—-Then the maiden her sire's behest
Fulfilled as right well became her, for she led the noble guest
To a chamber fair, where the flooring was hid 'neath a carpet green
Of rushes and fresh-plucked blossoms, as the way of the land had been. 750
[Pg 27] There the gentle maid unarmed him—quoth Gawain, 'God show grace to thee,
For had not thy sire thus bade thee too great were thy care for me!'
And she quoth, 'For my father's bidding I do not this deed, Sir Knight,
But rather that this my service may find favour before thy sight.'
Then a squire, the host's son, must bear there soft cushions, a goodly store, 755
And along the wall he laid them, and over against the door.
And a carpet he spread before them that Gawain he might seat him there;
And as one who knew well his office a cushion so rich he bare,
With a covering of crimson sendal, that down on the couch he laid;
And a seat like unto the other for the host he beside it made. 760
Came another squire and he carried fresh linen the board to spread,
(For thus gave the host commandment,) and he bare with the linen bread.
And the hostess she followed after, and she looked well upon Gawain,
And she gave him a heartfelt greeting, and she spake, 'Now such grace we gain
From thine hand we are rich henceforward as we never have been before, 765
Sir Knight, sure our good luck waketh since such fortune it hither bore!'
Then when they had brought him water, and the host sat beside his guest,
With courteous mien Sir Gawain this prayer to his host addrest,
'Now I pray let this maid eat with me,' 'Sir Knight, ne'er was she allowed
To sit with knights, or eat with them, lest she wax of their grace too proud. 770
And yet so much do we owe thee, loth were I to say thee nay.
So, daughter, sit thou beside him, and as he shall speak obey!'
Then she blushed for shame all rosy, yet she did as her father bade,
And down on the couch by Gawain sat Bené the gracious maid.
(And two stalwart sons had the boatman beside that maiden sweet) 775
Three game-birds, I ween, that even were slain by the falcon fleet,
And all three did they bear unto Gawain, and a broth with herbs beside,
And the maiden she courteous served him as she sat by the hero's side;
For she carved for him dainty morsels, and laid them on bread so white
With her slender hands, and gently she spake to the stranger knight, 780
'Wilt thou send a bird to my mother? for else hath she none, I ween.'
Then gladly he told the maiden his will e'en as hers had been
[Pg 28] In this thing as in all other—to the hostess the bird they bare,
And they honoured the hand of the hero, nor the boatman his thanks would spare.
Purslain and lettuce brought they, in vinegar steeped, I ween 785
Had he sought here his strength to nourish little good might such food have been;
And if one should o'er-long feed on it then the colour it waxeth pale,
Such pallor as truth betrayeth, if the mouth to its speaking fail.
And if with false red it be hidden, it fadeth, and bringeth shame,
But she who is true and steadfast she winneth the higher fame. 790
If one by goodwill were nourished, then Gawain, he right well had fed,
To her child naught the mother grudgeth, and as free gave the host his bread.
Then they bare away the tables, and the hostess she bade him rest,
And bedding I ween in plenty they brought for the gallant guest.
And one was of down, and the covering above it of velvet green, 795
Yet the velvet was none of the richest tho' fair had its fashion been.
And a cushion must serve for cover, beneath it should Gawain lie;
Nor the silk had with gold been purchased, 'twas won in far Araby.
Of silk, too, the cunning stitching, and the linen was fair, and white
As snow that they laid above it, and a pillow they brought the knight. 800
And a cloak of her own she lent him, for wrapping, that maiden fair,
'Twas new, and of ermine fashioned, and such as a prince might wear.
Then leave the host courteous prayed him ere he laid himself down to sleep,
And men say that alone with Sir Gawain the maiden her watch did keep,
And I think if he more had prayed her she never had said him Nay— 805
Then he slept, for he well might slumber, God keep him till dawn of day!

[Pg 29]


[Pg 30]


Book XI. tells how Gawain would brave the venture of the Château Marveil, and how the boatman and his daughter strove to withhold him. How Gawain came to the Castle, and of the Lit Merveil and its perils. How Gawain slew the lion, and ended the enchantments of the castle, and how he was healed of his wounds by the Queen Arnivé.

[Pg 31]



Weary he closed his eyelids, and he slept in a slumber deep
Till the light of the early morning must waken him from his sleep.
And many a window saw he within that chamber wall,
And clear glass was before each window—Thro' a doorway the light did fall,
'Twas open, without was an orchard, thither gat him the gallant knight 5
For the air, and the song-birds' music, and to see what might meet his sight
And but little space had he sat there, when the castle he saw again
As at eventide he saw it when he fought on the grassy plain.
And he saw from the hall of the palace full many a maiden gaze,
And many were fair to look on; and he thought, with a great amaze, 10
That a wondrous watch they must keep there, since they wearied not thro' the night,
And little might they have slumbered, for as yet scarce had dawned the light.
Then he thought, 'For the sake of these ladies will I lay me to sleep once more.'
Then again to his couch he gat him, and for covering he drew him o'er
The mantle the maid had lent him—Did no man his slumber break? 15
Nay, sorely the host had vexed him, if one should his guest awake.
Then of true heart bethought the maiden, who soft by her mother lay,
And she roused her from out her slumber, and she took to the guest her way,
And again he slept so sweetly—Then she thought her, that gentle maid,
That fain would she do him service, and she sat her beside his bed, 20
Fair was she, and sweet to look on, and but seldom at eventide,
Or in hour of the early dawning, such venture has sought my side!
Short space ere Gawain awakened and beheld how she watched him there,
[Pg 32] And he looked and he laughed upon her, 'God reward thee, thou maiden fair,
That thou breakest for me thy slumber, on thyself dost thou vengeance take, 25
Since nor service nor joust so knightly have I ridden for thy sweet sake!'
And she answered, that gracious maiden, 'On thy service no claim have I,
But look thou with favour on me, and thy will do I willingly,
And all who are with my father, yea, mother alike and child,
Do hail thee their lord and master, for love of thy dealings mild!' 30
Then he quoth, 'Is it long since thou camest? Had I of thy coming known
Fain would I have asked a question, perchance thou the truth hadst shown:
Yestreen and again this morning fair ladies have looked on me
From a mighty tower, of thy goodness now tell me who may they be?'
But the maiden she shrunk in terror, and she cried, 'Ask me not, Sir Knight, 35
Since ne'er may I give an answer—I prithee to hear aright,
If I knew, yet I might not tell thee, nor do thou my silence chide,
But ask thou what else shall please thee and my lips naught from thee shall hide,
But on this thing alone keep silence, and follow thou what I say!'
But Gawain, he would ever ask her, and ever an answer pray, 40
What ladies were they who sat there, and looked from that stately hall?
And the maiden she wept full sorely, and aloud in her grief did call.
'Twas yet in the early dawning, and her father he sought her side,
Nor I deem me had he been wrathful if here did such chance betide
That Gawain with the maid had striven, and had forced her unto his will, 45
And the maiden, so fair and gentle, in such wise did she hold her still,
For beside the couch was she seated—Then her father he mildly spake,
'Now weep not so sore, my daughter, for if one a jest doth make
Whereof thou at first art wrathful, yet I ween ere the time be long,
Shall thy sorrow be changed to gladness, and thy wailing to joyful song!' 50
Quoth Gawain, 'Nay, mine host, naught hath chanced here save that which thine eye may see;
This maiden I fain would question, but naught would she tell to me,
[Pg 33] For she thinketh, 'tis my undoing, and silence hath she implored:
But now if it shall not vex thee let my service here find reward,
And tell me, mine host, if it please thee, how it stands with those ladies there, 55
For I know not the place or the country where I looked on such maidens fair,
So many there are, and their raiment showeth clear to my wondering sight!'
Then the host wrung his hands for sorrow, and he spake, 'Ask me not, Sir Knight,
In the name of God, ask no question—For wherever thy foot shall speed,
Or whatever thine eyes shall light on, no need shall be like their need!' 60
'Then soothly I'll mourn for their sorrow,' quoth Gawain, 'but mine host now say
Why vex thee so sore for my question? Thine answer why thus delay?'
'Sir Knight, for thy manhood mourn I, if thou wilt not thy question spare
Then strife sure shall be thy portion, and sorrow thine heart shall bear.
And thy sorrow of joy shall rob us, myself and my children three, 65
Who were born for thy gallant service true service to yield to thee.'
Quoth Gawain, 'Yet for this thou shalt tell me, or if thou still say me, Nay,
And I learn not from thee the story yet the truth will I know alway!'
Then the host he spake out truly, 'Sir Knight, I must sorely rue,
The question thou here dost ask me—Thou goest to strife anew, 70
Arm thee well, and a shield I'll lend thee—In "Terre Merveil" thou art,
And the "Lit Merveil" shall be here—And ne'er hath a knightly heart
Withstood all the many dangers that in Château Merveil shall be!
Turn aside, ere thy death o'ertake thee, for life should be dear to thee!
For wherever thine hand shall have striven, or what ventures soe'er it found 75
As child's play have been thy perils to those which beset this ground!'
Quoth Gawain, 'Yet 'twould sorely vex me, if I, but to save me pain,
Rode hence, doing naught, and those ladies had looked for mine aid in vain.
Long since have I heard of this castle, and since it so near doth stand
No man from the task shall bring me; to the venture I set my hand!' 80
Then the host he did sore bemoan him, and he spake to his guest so true,
'Now as naught is all other peril, what perils around thee drew,
To the peril of this adventure, to its awe, and its anguish dire,
And naught but the truth am I speaking, for no man ever spake me liar!
But that gallant knight, Sir Gawain, for naught would he turn aside, 85
[Pg 34] But he quoth, 'Now mine host give counsel how the strife I may best abide,
If thy words be the words of wisdom, and God give me the strength thereto,
Thy will and thy rede I'll follow, and knightly the deeds I'll do!
Sir Host, of a sooth it were ill done, did I fail here a blow to strike,
And coward should I be accounted of foeman and friend alike.' 90
Then first did the host bemoan him, such sorrow he ne'er might know,
And he quoth to his guest, 'If it may be that Heaven such grace shall show
That death be not here thy portion, then this land unto thee shall fall.
And the stake is full many a maiden fast bound in a magic thrall,
No man ere this day hath freed them—And with them many noble knights 95
Shall lie as yet imprisoned; and if thou with hand of might
Shall loose them, thou winnest glory, and God showeth grace to thee,
And joyful, o'er light and beauty, king and ruler thou sure shalt be!
And maidens from many a country shall honour thee as their king.
Nor think, if thou now dost ride hence, such deed shame on thee should bring, 100
Since on this field Lischois Giwellius hath yielded him to thine hand,
And left unto thee his honour; who erstwhile in every land
Hath done gallant deeds of knighthood, of right may I praise his name,
No knight showed a higher courage, or won him a fairer fame.
And in no heart the root of virtue it showeth such fair increase 105
In blossom and flower of God's planting, save in Ither of Gaheviess!'
'And he who at Nantes slew Prince Ither my ship bare but yesterday,
Five steeds hath he given unto me, (God keep him in peace alway,)
Princes and kings once rode them, but now they afar must fare,
And tidings of him who o'erthrew them must they carry to Pelrapär. 110
For thus have they sworn the victor—His shield telleth many a tale
Of jousting so fair and knightly—He rode hence to seek the Grail!'
Quoth Gawain, 'Say, whence came he hither? Mine host, since he rode so near,
Knew he naught of the wondrous venture? Or did he the marvel hear?'
'Sir Knight, ne'er a word hath he heard here, I guarded me all too well, 115
Lest unseemly my deed be reckoned if unasked I the tale should tell.
And hadst thou thyself not asked me thou never from me hadst known
The venture that here awaits thee, wrought of terror and pain alone.
[Pg 35] If thou wilt not forego this peril, and thy life shall the forfeit pay,
Then never a greater sorrow have we known than we know to-day. 120
But if thou shalt here be victor, and over this land shalt reign,
Then my poverty hath an ending, and my loss shall be turned to gain;
Such trust in thy free hand have I, I shall joy without sorrow know
If thy glory here winneth glory, and thy body be not laid low!'
'Now arm thee for deadly warfare!'—unarmed was as yet Gawain, 125
'Now I prithee bring here my harness!' and the host to his will was fain.
And from head to foot she armed him, the maiden fair and tall,
And her father he sought the charger—Now a shield hung upon the wall,
And the wood it was tough and well hardened, (else Gawain ne'er this tale might tell,)
And the shield and the horse were brought him—and the host he bethought him well; 130
And, as once more he stood before him, he spake, 'List thou well, Sir Knight,
I will tell thee how thou shalt bear thee, and guard thee thy life in fight:'
'My shield shalt thou carry with thee! Of war shall it bear no trace
For but seldom I strive in battle, nor I count it me as disgrace.
When thou comest, Sir Knight, to the castle, do this, it shall serve thy steed: 135
At the doorway a merchant sitteth, buy of him that which thou shalt need,
Then give him thy steed, he will hold it, nor care thou what thou shalt buy,
As a pledge will he hold thy charger, and will give it thee joyfully
If unhurt from the Burg thou comest!' Quoth Gawain, 'Say, shall I not ride?'
'Nay, nay, for sore peril neareth, and the maidens their faces hide!' 140
'Thou shalt find that fair palace lonely, deserted by great and small,
And no token of living creature shalt thou see in that stately hall.
And may God's grace watch o'er thy footsteps, and His blessing go with thine hand
When thou comest into the chamber where the "Lit Merveil" shall stand.
And the couch, and the rollers beneath it, in Morocco they first were made 145
For the Ruler of all the Faithful; and were it in the balance weighed
'Gainst all treasures of crown and kingdom it still would outweigh them all.
And I wot, there shall ill o'ertake thee, and God knoweth what shall befall,
[Pg 36] But I pray that the end be joyful! Yet hearken, Sir Knight, to me,
This sword and this shield that thou holdest, in thine hand must they ever be, 150
For surely when thou shalt think thee that the peril hath done its worst,
Then first mayst thou look for conflict, and then shall the storm-cloudburst!'
Then mournful I ween was the maiden, as Gawain to the saddle sprung,
And all they who stood around her they wept and their hands they wrung,
Then he quoth to his host, 'God grant me that hereafter I may repay 115
The care and the kindly counsel I have won from thy lips to-day.'
Then leave did he pray of the maiden, and her sorrow was sore to see,
He rode hence, and they whom he left here they mourned for him bitterly.
And now, if ye fain would hearken what unto Gawain befell,
The tale of his wondrous venture right gladly to ye I'll tell. 160
And in this wise I heard the story—As he came to the castle gate,
A merchant with merchandise costly without did his coming wait.
And so rich were his wares, and precious, that in sooth I were glad at heart
If I, in so great a treasure, my portion might bear and part.
Then, Sir Gawain, he sprang from his charger, for ne'er had he seen before 165
Outspread in the open market such goods as were here in store.
And the booth was of velvet fashioned, four-square, and both wide and high,
And that which lay there for purchase no monarch might lightly buy.
The Baruch of Bagdad scarcely had paid that which lay therein;
Nor the Patriarch of Rankulat might think him such prize to win. 170
Yea, and great as shall be the treasure that was found but awhile ago
In the land of the Greeks yet their Emperor such riches might hardly know!
And e'en if these twain had helped him the price he had failed to pay
That a man must count for the treasure that here before Gawain lay.
Then the knight greeted well the merchant as he looked on the wondrous store 175
Of marvels that lay before him, but he stayed not to turn it o'er,
But bade him show clasp and girdle; then he quoth to the hero bold,
'For many a year have I sat here, yet no man doth my wares behold;
[Pg 37] None but ladies have looked upon them! yet if manhood shall nerve thine hand
Of all here shalt thou be the master; they were brought from a distant land, 180
If here thou shalt be the victor, (for in sooth hast thou come for fight,)
And the venture shall well betide thee, I will deal with thee well, Sir Knight!
For all that my booth containeth is thine if thou win the day!
So trust thou in God and His mercy, and take to the Burg thy way.
Plippalinòt in sooth hath sent thee, and thy coming well praised shall be 185
Of many a gracious maiden if thy prowess shall set her free!'
'Now wouldst thou withstand this venture leave here for awhile thy steed,
If thou trust it unto my keeping, I will give to the charge good heed.'
Quoth Gawain, 'Yea, I'll gladly do so, if unseemly be not the task,
Too greatly I fear thy riches such grace from thine hand to ask, 190
For ne'er since I rode upon it such keeper my steed hath known'—
Out quoth the merchant freely, 'Sir Knight, all shall be thine own,
Myself, and the wares I guard here, (nor further of them I'll speak,)
They are his, who in safety faceth the danger thou here dost seek!'
And so bold was I ween the hero that on foot did he go straightway, 195
Undaunted, to face the peril untold that before him lay.
And, as I before have told ye, the Burg it stood high and wide,
And its bulwarks so stoutly builded did guard it on either side.
If for thirty years they stormed it, not a berry or leaf would yield,
However the foe might threaten; in the midst was a grassy field, 200
(Yet the Lechfeld I ween is longer,) many turrets they towered on high,
And the story it tells that Gawain, as the palace he did espy,
Saw the roof shine all many-coloured, as peacock's plumes its glow,
And so bright it was that its glory was dimmed nor by rain nor snow.
And within was it richly furnished, and decked to delight the eye, 205
And the pillars were richly carven, and the windows were arched on high,
And many a fair couch costly had they set there against the wall,
Nor touched they the one to the other, and rich covers lay over all.
And but now had the maidens sat there, but each one had taken thought,
And no one of them all remained there, and of welcome Gawain found naught. 210
Yet their joy came again with his coming, and the day of their bliss was he,
[Pg 38] And 'twere well they had looked upon him, none fairer their eyes might see.
Yet none there might dare behold him, tho' to serve them he aye was fain,
And yet in this thing were they guiltless—Thro' the palace strode knight Gawain,
And he looked on this side and the other, and he sought well the chamber o'er, 215
If to left or to right I know not, but he saw there an open door,
And wherever that door might lead him the hero was fain to go,
If high fame he might gain for his seeking, or die there a death of woe!
So stepped he within the chamber, and behold! the shining floor,
As glass it lay smooth beneath him, and the Lit-Merveil he saw, 220
The wonder-couch; and beneath it four rollers as crystal clear,
And fashioned of fire-red rubies: as the swift wind afar and near
Did it speed o'er the shining pavement, no floor might fairer be,
Chrysolite, sardius, jasper, inwrought there the eye might see.
For so had Klingsor willed it, and the thought it was his alone, 225
From far-off lands his magic had brought to the Burg each stone.
So smooth 'neath his feet the pavement, scarce might be his footing hold,
Then fain would he seek the venture, but, so is the marvel told,
As ever he stood before it the couch from its station fled,
And swift as the winds of heaven o'er the glittering floor it sped. 230
(And Gawain he found all too heavy the shield that his hand gripped fast,
And yet did his host give counsel it should ne'er on one side be cast.)
Thought Gawain, 'Now, how may I reach thee, since still thou dost fly from me?
Methinks thou shalt have a lesson, it may be I may spring to thee!'
Then still stood the couch before him, and straight from the ground he leapt 235
And stood firm in the midst of the marvel, and again o'er the floor it swept,
And hither and thither turning in the four walls its goal it found,
And blow upon blow fell swiftly, till the Burg echoed back the sound.
And many a charge did he ride there, with crash, as of thunder-cloud,
Or as trumpeters blow together when their blasts thro' the hall ring loud, 240
And the one vieth with the other, and each for a fair prize blows.
Less loud should have been their tumult than the tumult that there arose!
And waken and watch must Sir Gawain, altho' on a bed he lay.
[Pg 39] How best might the hero guard him? The noise he was fain to stay,
And his head with his shield he covered—There he lay, and would wait His will 245
Who hath help in His power, and helpeth all those who entreat Him still,
And shutteth His ear to no man who in sorrow for aid doth pray.
And the man who is wise and steadfast, as dawneth his sorrow's day,
Doth call on the hand of the Highest, that shall ne'er be too short to reach,
And the aid that shall meet their lacking He sendeth to all and each. 250
And so was it now with Gawain—Thro' Whose grace he had gotten fame,
He called on His power and His mercy to shelter him here from shame.
Then stilled for a space the clamour—The couch stood within the hall,
And an equal space had they measured from its station to either wall.
Yet now waxed his peril greater, for five hundred missiles, swung 255
With craft from hands yet hidden, were against Sir Gawain flung.
And they fell on the couch as he lay there; but the shield it was hard and new,
And it sheltered him well, and I think me of the blows did he feel but few.
And the stones were as river pebbles, so heavy, and hard, and round,
And in many a place on the surface of the shield might their trace be found. 260
At length was the stone-shower ended, and never before he knew
Such sharp and such heavy missiles as those which toward him flew.
For now full five hundred cross-bows were bended, their bolts they sped,
And each one was aimed at the hero as he lay on the Wonder-Bed.
(And he who hath faced such peril in sooth he of darts may tell:) 265
Yet their wrath was soon spent, and silence for awhile on the chamber fell.
And he who would seek for comfort he ne'er on such couch should lie!
Little solace or rest may he find there, but peace from his face shall fly!
And youth would wax grey and agèd, if such comfort should be its share
As fell to the lot of Gawain, when he lay on that couch so fair. 270
Yet nor weariness nor terror had weakened or hand or heart,
Tho' the stones and the bolts of the cross-bow had done on his limbs their part,
And spite of both shield and corslet, sore bruisèd and cut was he:
And he thought that, this peril ended, the venture should ended be—
But yet with his hand must he battle, and the prize of the victor win, 275
For a doorway e'en now flew open, and one trode the hall within;
[Pg 40] And the man was a mighty peasant, and fearful of face, and grim,
And the hide of the grey sea-otter was his covering on head and limb,
And his hosen were wide, and he carried a club in his strong right hand,
And 'twas thicker I ween than a pitcher that round-bellied doth firmly stand. 280
So came he unto Sir Gawain, (and his coming it pleased him ill,)
Yet he thought, 'He doth bear no harness, mine arms shall withstand him still,'
Upright on the couch he sat him, as nor terror nor pain he knew,
And the peasant, as he would flee him, a space from the bed withdrew,
And he cried in a voice so wrathful, 'From me hast thou naught to fear, 285
Yet such peril I'll loose upon thee that thy life must thou buy full dear;
The devil himself doth aid thee, else wert thou not still in life,
Bethink thee, for death cometh swiftly, and the ending of all thy strife,
No more can the devil shield thee, that I tell thee ere hence I pass!'
Then he gat him once more thro' the doorway, and Gawain gripped his sword-hilt fast, 290
And the shafts did he smite asunder of the arrows that thro' his shield
Had passed, and had pierced his armour, nor yet to his hand would yield.
Then a roar, as of mighty thunder, on the ear of Gawain did fall,
As when twenty drums were sounding to dance in the castle hall.
Then the hero, so firm and dauntless, whose courage ne'er felt the smart 295
Of the wounds that cowardice pierceth, thought thus in his steadfast heart:
'What evil shall now befall me? Must I yet more sorrow know?
For sorrow enow have I seen here, yet here will I face my foe!'
He looked toward the peasant's doorway, and a mighty lion sprang thro',
And its size was e'en that of a warhorse, and straight on Gawain it flew. 300
But Gawain he was loth to fly here, and his shield he held fast before,
As best for defence should serve him, and he sprang down upon the floor.
And the lion was hunger-ravening, yet little should find for food,
Tho' raging it sprang on the hero, who bravely its rush withstood.
The shield it had near torn from him, with the first grip its talons fierce 305
It drave thro' the wood, such hardness but seldom a beast may pierce.
Yet Gawain did right well defend him, his sword-blade aloft he swung,
And on three feet the beast must hold him, while the fourth from the shield yet hung.
[Pg 41] And the blood gushed forth on the pavement, and Gawain he firmer stood,
And the fight raged hither and thither, as the lion, on the hero good, 310
Sprang ever with snorting nostrils, and gleaming fangs and white—
And if on such food they had reared it, that its meat was a gallant knight,
I had cared not to sit beside it! Nor such custom pleased Gawain well,
Who for life or for death must fight it—and the strife ever fiercer fell.
So sorely the beast was wounded, the chamber with blood ran o'er; 315
Fierce sprang the lion upon Gawain, and would bear him unto the floor,
But Gawain a sword-thrust dealt him, thro' the heart the swift blade sped
Till his hand smote full on the breast-bone, and the lion at his feet fell dead.
And now all the deadly peril and the conflict was over-past—
In the same hour Gawain bethought him, 'Where now shall my lot be cast? 320
Since to sit in this blood I like not, and I must of the couch beware,
For it runneth a race so frantic 'twere foolish to sit me there!'
But yet was his head so deafened with the blows that upon him fell,
And many his wounds, and the life-blood did forth from its fountains well,
And his strength waxed faint, and it left him, and he fell on the chamber floor; 325
His head lay on the lion's body, and the shield might he hold no more.
And if wisdom and power were his portion, of the twain was he reft I ween,
And tho' fair was the Burg, yet within it full rough had his handling been.
His senses forsook him wholly—no such pillow I ween was his
As that which on Mount Ribbelé Gymele gave to Kahenis; 330
Both fair and wise was the maiden—and his honour he slept away—
But here honour ran swift-footed to Gawain as he prostrate lay.
For in sooth ye shall well have hearkened, and shall know how such chance befell,
That thus lay the hero lifeless, from the first have ye heard it well.
Then in secret one looked upon him, and the chamber with blood was red, 335
And the lion alike and the hero they lay as the twain were dead.
'Twas a fair and gracious maiden who saw thro' a loop-hole high,
And her face it grew wan, and the colour from her lips and her cheek must fly.
[Pg 42] And youth was so heavy-hearted that old age sore must mourn her tale.
Yet Arnivé was wise, and her wisdom did here o'er the woe prevail, 340
And still for this deed must I praise her, she drew near to aid Gawain,
And from peril of death she freed him who freedom for her would gain.
Then herself she was fain to behold him, and they gazed thro' the window small,
And naught might they tell, those women, of what waited them in the hall.
Was it news of a joyful future? Or of woe that should last for aye? 345
And the queen's heart it sore misgave her that the hero had died that day,
(And the thought brought her grief and sorrow,) since he sought him no better bed,
But silent he lay, and rested on the corse of the lion his head.
And she spake, 'From my heart I mourn thee, if thy manhood so true and brave
Hath won thee no better guerdon, and thy life thou hast failed to save. 350
If death here hath been thy portion for our sake, who shall strangers be,
And thy truth to such fate hath brought thee, then for ever I'll mourn for thee.
And thy virtue I'll praise, tho' the counting of thy years I may never know!'
And she spake to the weeping women, as they looked on the knight laid low,
'Ye maids who shall be baptizèd, and by water have won a place 355
In God's kingdom, pray ye unto Him, that He show to this hero grace!'
Then she sent below two maidens, and she bade them to seek Gawain,
And softly draw nigh unto him, nor pass from his side again
Till they brought her full assurance how it went with the gallant knight,
If perchance he should yet be living, or had found his death in fight. 360
So she gave to the twain commandment—Did they weep those maidens fair?
Yea, both must weep full sorely for the grief that was here their share,
When they found the hero lying, for his wounds they ran with blood
Till the shield in blood was swimming—then they bent o'er the hero good,
And with gentle hand the helmet one loosened from off his head, 365
And she saw a light foam gathered upon his lips so red,
And she waited a space and hearkened, if perchance she might hear his breath,
For but now had she thought him living, yet she deemed it might well be death.
And his over-dress was of sable, and the mystic beasts it bore,
[Pg 43] Such as Ilinot the Breton as his badge with great honour wore. 370
(And courage and fame were his portion from his youth till his dying day.)
From the coat with her ready fingers the sable she tore away,
And she held it before his nostrils, for thus might she better know
If yet he should live, since his breathing would stir the hair to and fro.
And the breath was yet there, and straightway she bade her companion bring 375
Fair water, the gentle maiden did swift on her errand spring.
Then the maid placed her ring so golden betwixt his teeth closed fast,
And deft was her hand in the doing, and between his lips she passed,
Drop by drop, e'en as he might take it, the water, and little space
Ere he lifted once more his eyelids, and he looked on the maiden's face. 380
And he thanked them, those two sweet children, and offered them service meet—
Alas! that ye here should find me, unseemly laid at your feet!
If ye will on this chance keep silence, for good will I count the deed,
And courtesy shall ye honour if ye give to my words good heed!'
Quoth the maid, 'Thou hast lain, and thou liest, as one who the prize doth hold, 385
In sooth thou art here the victor and in joy shall thy life wax old,
To-day is thy day of triumph! But comfort us now I pray,
Is it so with thy wounds that, naught fearing, we may joy in thy joy to-day?'
Then he quoth, 'Would ye see me living, then help shall ye bring to me.'
And he prayed of those gracious maidens that a leech to his wounds should see, 390
Or one who was skilled in healing, 'But if yet I must face the strife,
Go ye hence, give me here my helmet, and gladly I'll guard my life!'
But they spake, 'Nay, the strife is over, Sir Knight, send us not away,
Yet one shall go, and the guerdon of messenger win straightway.
To the four queens shall she betake her, and shall say that thou livest still, 395
And a chamber shall they prepare thee, and leechcraft with right goodwill,
And with salves shall thy wounds be tended, and so mild shall their working be
That thy pain shall be swiftly lessened, and healing be brought to thee!'
Then one of the maids sprang swiftly, and she ran with no halting tread,
[Pg 44] With the news that the knight was living straightway to the court she sped. 400
'In sooth shall he be so living, if ever it be God's will,
Rich in joy may we be henceforward and glad without fear of ill,
For naught but good help he needeth,' 'Dieu Merci!' then quoth they all.
Then the old queen wise her maidens did straightway around her call,
And she bade them a bed prepare him, and a carpet she spread before, 405
And a fire on the hearth burnt brightly, and precious the salves they bore.
And the queen with wisdom mixed them for the healing of cut or bruise.
In that hour from among her women four maids did Arnivé choose,
And she bade them disarm the hero, and his harness bear soft away,
And with wisdom should they deal with him lest he feel himself shamed alway. 410
'A silk shall ye bear about ye, in its shadow the knight disarm,
If yet he can walk he may do so, if else, bear him in your arms
To where I by the bed await him, for his couch will I rightly care,
If the strife in such wise hath fallen that no deadly wound he bear,
Then I think me I soon may heal him, but if wounded he be to death 415
Then cloven our joy—with the hero are we slain tho' we yet draw breath!'
And all this was done as she bade them, disarmed was the knight Gawain,
Then they led him where help they gave him who well knew to ease his pain.
And of wounds did they find full fifty, or perchance they were even more,
But the darts had not pierced too deeply since ever his shield he bore. 420
Then the queen in her wisdom took her warm wine, and a sendal blue,
And Dictam, the herb of healing, and she wiped with her hand so true
The blood from his wounds, and she closed them, and the flow of the life-blood stayed.
And wherever his helm was indented the stones on his head had made
Sore bruises, yet they must vanish 'fore the salves and their healing power, 425
And the master-skill of Arnivé who tended him in that hour!
And she quoth, 'Ease I well may give thee, whiles Kondrie doth come to me,
And all help that may be in leechcraft of her friendship she telleth free.
Since Anfortas so sore doth suffer, and they seek aid from far and near,
This salve shall from death have kept him, from Monsalväsch 'twas brought me here.' 430
When Gawain heard she spake of Monsalväsch, then in sooth was he glad at heart,
[Pg 45] For he deemed it was near—Then this hero, who ne'er had in falsehood part,
Spake thus to the queen, 'Now, Lady, my senses that far were fled,
Hast thou won back again, and mine anguish I ween hast thou minishèd,
What of strength shall be mine, or of wisdom, I owe to thine hand alone, 435
Thy servant am I!' But the queen spake, 'Sir Knight, thou such faith hast shown
That we all must rejoice in thy welfare, and strive for it faithfully.
But follow my rede, nor speak much, a root will I give to thee
That shall win thee refreshing slumber, thou shalt care not for drink or meat
Till the night, then such food I'll bring thee thou shalt need not ere morn to eat.' 440
Then a root 'twixt his lips she laid there, and straightway he fell asleep,
And throughout the day he slumbered, and in coverings they happed him deep.
Rich in honour and poor in shaming, soft and warm, there in peace he lay,
Yet he sneezed, and at whiles he shivered, for the salve wrought on him alway.
And a company of fair women passed within and without the door, 445
And fair was the light of their faces, and stately the mien they bore.
And she bade them, the Queen Arnivé, that silence they all should keep,
None should call, and no maiden answer, so long as the knight should sleep.
And she bade them fast close the palace, nor burger, nor squire, nor knight,
Should hear what had there befallen till the dawn of the morning light. 450
But new sorrow drew nigh to the women—The knight slept till even grey,
Then Arnivé the queen in her wisdom drew the root from his lips away.
And straightway he woke, and he thirsted, and they brought him of drink and meat,
And he raised himself and, rejoicing, as they brought him so would he eat:
And many a maid stood before him, such fair service he ne'er had known, 455
So courteous their mien and bearing—then he looked at them one by one
And he gazed at each and the other, yet still his desire was set
On the lady Orgelusé, for ne'er saw he woman yet,
In all the days of his lifetime, who so near to his heart did lie;
Tho' many his prayer had hearkened, and some did their love deny! 460
Then out spake the gallant hero to Arnivé, his leech so wise,
[Pg 46] 'Lady, 'twill ill beseem me, nor deal I in courteous guise,
If these ladies stand here before me, I would they might seated be,
Or if such be thy will it were better shouldst thou bid them to eat with me!'
'Nay, Sir Knight, none I ween may sit here save I, the queen, alone, 465
And shamed would they surely hold them were such service not gladly done,
For our joy shalt thou be; yet I think me that if this be thy will indeed,
Whate'er shall be thy commandment, we will give to thy words good heed.'
But nobly born were those ladies, and their courtesy did they show,
For all with one voice they prayed him he would e'en let the thing be so, 470
And while he should eat they would stand there; so waited they on the guest
And passed hence when the meal was ended and Gawain was laid to rest.

[Pg 47]


[Pg 48]


In Book XII. the poet recounts the valiant deeds done by Gawain's kinsmen for love's sake, and how they were as naught to the perils dared by Gawain.

Of the watch-tower in the castle, and the magic pillar, and how Gawain beheld the coming of Orgelusé and her knight.

How Gawain fought with and overcame the Turkowit, and how he was urged by Orgelusé's mockery to the venture of the Perilous Ford. How he plucked a bough from a tree guarded by King Gramoflanz, and was challenged by that monarch to single combat. Of the repentance of Orgelusé, and her reconciliation with Gawain, and how both were welcomed by the dwellers in Château Merveil. How Gawain secretly sent a squire to the court of King Arthur bidding him, his knights and ladies, to Ioflanz to witness the combat between Gawain and Gramoflanz.

[Pg 49]



Now he who his rest had broken, if rest he perchance might win,
Methinks they who hear the story had counted it him for sin.
For, e'en as the venture telleth, sore toil had the hero known,
And in sooth did he face such peril that his fame thro' all lands hath flown.
Lancelot on the sword-bridge battled, and Meljakanz must sue for grace, 5
Yet as naught was I ween his danger to the woe that Gawain must face.
And that which is told of Garel, the valiant and knightly king,
Who o'erthrew the lion 'fore the palace and made Nantes with his daring ring—
And he sought the knife too, Garel, but he paid for his deed full dear
In the pillar of marble—greater was the venture ye read of here! 10
For the darts that were shot against Gawain, as his manly courage bade,
For a mule were too great a burden if they all on its back were laid!
The Perilous Ford hath its dangers; and Erec must sorrow know,
When for Schoie-de-la-kurt he battled, and Mabonagrein would fain lay low,
Yet ne'er had he faced such peril as fell here to knight Gawain. 15
Nor Iwein, the gallant hero, who water would pour amain,
Nor feared of the stone the venture—Were these perils all knit in one,
He who knoweth to measure danger saith Gawain greater deeds had done!
What peril is this I tell of? If ye will, I the woe will name,
Or too early perchance the telling? Swift-foot Orgelusé came, 20
And straight to the heart of the hero hath she taken her silent way,
That heart that hath ne'er known trembling, that courage hath ruled alway.
[Pg 50] And how came it so stately lady might hide in so small a space?
For narrow I ween was the pathway that led to her resting-place.
And all sorrow he knew aforetime was as nought to this bitter woe, 25
And a low wall it was that hid her when his heart did her presence know
In whose service he never faltered, but was watchful as he was true.
Nor find ye here food for laughter, that one who ne'er terror knew,
A hero so brave in battle, should yield to a woman's hand.
Alas! woe is me for the marvel that no man may understand! 30
And Frau Minne she waxeth wrathful 'gainst him who the prize hath won,
Yet dauntless and brave hath she found him, and shall find him, till life be done.
Who harm on a wounded foeman shall work doth his honour stain,
Yet in strength 'gainst his will did Love bind him, and it turnèd to him for gain.
Frau Minne, wouldst have men praise thee? Then this will I say to thee, 35
This strife shall be not to thine honour, since sore wounded Gawain shall be.
And ever throughout his life-days has he lived as thou didst command,
And he followed in this his father, and the men of his mother's land.
For they yielded thee loyal service since the days Mazadan was king,
Who Terre-de-la-Schoie from Fay-Morgan in thy service did gallant bring. 40
And this do men tell of his children, no man from his fealty fell.
And Ither of Gaheviess bare it, thy badge, and he served thee well;
And never in woman's presence did one speak of the hero's name
But their hearts yearned in love towards him, and they spake it, nor thought it shame,
How then when they looked upon him? Then the tale first was told aright! 45
Frau Minne, a faithful servant didst thou lose in that gallant knight!
Slay Gawain if thou wilt, as his cousin Ilinot by thine hand was slain,
Since thy power with the bitter torment of desire did the knight constrain,
Till he strove for the love of his lady all the days of his fair young life,
Florie of Kanedig was she, and he served her in many a strife. 50
And he fled from the land of his fathers in the days of his youth's unrest,
And was reared by this queen, and Britain ne'er saw him but as a guest.
And the burden of Love weighed on him, and from Florie's land he fled,
Till the day that in true love's service, as I told ye, men found him dead.
And often the kin of Gawain thro' love have known sorrow sore, 55
[Pg 51] And of those by Frau Minne wounded could I name to ye many more.
And why did the snow and the blood-drops move Parzival's faithful heart?
'Twas his wife wrought the spell, I think me! Yea, others have known thine art,
Galoes and Gamuret hast thou vanquished, and in sooth hast thou laid them low,
And the twain for their true love's guerdon must the death of a hero know. 60
And Itonjé, Gawain's fair sister, must love Gramoflanz the king,
And grieve for her love; and sorrow, Frau Minne, thou once didst bring
On fair Surdamur and her lover: since thou sufferest not Gawain's kin
To seek them another service, so on him wouldst thou honour win!
Be mighty towards the mighty but here let Gawain go free, 65
His wounds they so sorely pain him, and the hale should thy foemen be!
But many have sung of love's working who never so knew love's power,
For myself, I would hold me silent—But true lovers shall mourn this hour
What chanced unto him of Norway, for the venture he faced right well,
And now, without help or warning, love's tempest upon him fell! 70
Quoth the hero, 'Alas, for restless my resting-place shall be,
One couch did so sorely wound me, and the other hath brought to me
Sore torment of love and longing! Orgelusé must favour show
Unto me her true knight and servant, or small joy shall my life-days know!'
As unresting he turned, and he stretched him, the bands from his wounds were torn, 75
So restless he lay and wakeful awaited the coming morn.
And at last the day shone on him, and many a battlefield
And sword-strife more rest had brought him than the rest which his couch might yield.
Would one liken his woe unto Gawain's, and be e'en such a lover true,
Of his love-wounds let him be healèd, and then smitten by darts anew, 80
And methinks he shall find that the sorrow and torment shall vex him more
Than all the sum of the sorrow he hath borne for love's sake before!
Nor love's torments alone vexed Gawain—Ever clearer it grew, the light,
Till dark seemed the lofty tapers that erstwhile had shone so bright.
Then up sprang from his couch the hero, and as blood, and as iron, red 85
[Pg 52] With wounds, and with rust, was his linen, yet beside him he saw outspread
Hosen and shirt of woollen, and the change pleased our hero well,
And robes lined with fur of the marten, and a garment that o'er them fell,
(In Arras its stuff was woven, and from Arras 'twas hither sent,)
And boots had they lain beside it, none too narrow for his content. 90
In these garments anew he clothed him, and forth from the chamber went
Gawain, and hither and thither his steps thro' the palace bent,
Till he found the hall of his venture, no riches he e'er had known
To liken unto the glories within this fair castle shown.
And there at one side of the palace a narrow dome he found, 95
And it rose high above the building, and a staircase within it wound,
And above stood a shining pillar; nor of wood was it shapen fair,
But so large and so strong that the coffin of Kamilla it well might bear.
And Klingsor, the wise, he brought it from the kingdom of Feirefis,
And his cunning and skill had fashioned both the hall and the stair I wis! 100
No tent might so round be fashioned; did the Master Geometras will
To raise such a work he had failèd, for unknown to his hand the skill.
'Twas magic alone that wrought it—The venture it bids us know
Of diamond, amethyst, topaz, carbuncle with red-fire glow,
Of chrysolite, emerald, ruby, and sardius, the windows tall, 105
That each one like to the other encircled this wondrous hall.
And rich as the window columns, and carven, the roof o'erhead,
And herein was a greater marvel than all marvels ye yet have read;
For, the vault below, no pillar was like to that column fair
That stood in the midst of the circle, and wondrous the power it bare, 110
For so the venture telleth—Gawain fain would gaze around,
And alone did he climb the watch-tower, and precious the jewels he found.
And he saw there a greater wonder, and the sight never vexed his eye,
For he thought him upon the column all the lands of the earth did lie.
And he saw the countries circle, and the mighty mountains' crest 115
Meet, e'en as two hosts in battle, as one vision the other pressed.
And folk did he see in the pillar, and on horse or afoot they went,
They ran, and they stood: in a window he sat him on seeing bent.
[Pg 53]
Came the agèd Queen Arnivé, with Sangivé her child, and there
Were two maidens, the gentle daughters that Sangivé erewhile did bear. 120
And the four queens they came unto Gawain, and he saw them and sprang upright;
And thus quoth the Queen Arnivé, 'Methinks thou shouldst sleep, Sir Knight,
For though rest may no longer please thee, thou art wounded too sore, I trow,
That thou further toil and labour shouldst yet for a season know!'
Quoth the knight, 'Lady mine and my mistress, since thy wisdom hath brought to me 125
My wit, and my strength, all my lifetime thy servant I fain would be!'
Quoth the queen, 'If I so may read them, the words thou didst speak but now,
And thou ownest me as thy mistress, then Sir Knight, to my bidding bow,
And kiss at my will these ladies, as thou mayest, without thought of shame,
Since nor mother nor maid before thee but a kingly birth may claim!' 130
Then glad was Gawain at her bidding, and he kissed those ladies three,
And Sangivé was first, then Itonjé, and the third was the fair Kondrie.
And the five sat them down together, and Gawain saw those maidens twain,
Their face and their form so gracious, and he looked, and he looked again;
Yet one woman so worked upon him, for yet in his heart she lay, 135
That their beauty by Orgelusé's he deemed but a cloudy day.
For he held with the Lady of Logrois none other might well compare,
And his heart and his thoughts were captive to this lady so sweet and fair.
Now 'twas done, and Gawain had been greeted with a kiss by those ladies three,
And so fair were they all that I wot well their beauty would fatal be 140
To a heart that was yet unwounded—Then he spake to the elder queen,
And he prayed her to tell of the pillar, and the marvels he there had seen.
Quoth Arnivé, 'By day and by night-time that pillar, I ween, doth throw
Its light for six miles around it, so long as its power I know.
And all that within that circuit doth chance on its face we see, 145
In water, or on the meadow, and true shall the vision be.
The bird and the beast we see here, the guest and the woodman true,
He who to this land is a stranger, or its ways of aforetime knew.
[Pg 54] Yea, all may we find within it, and it shineth for six miles round;
And so fast and so firm it standeth none moveth it from the ground, 150
And no hammer shall ever harm it, and no smith hath, I ween, the skill.
'Twas stolen from Queen Sekundillé, I think me, against her will!'
Now Gawain he saw at this moment on the column a goodly pair,
A knight with a lady riding, and he thought him the maid was fair,
And clearly and well he saw them—and armed were both steed and knight, 155
And his helmet was plumed and jewelled, and it gleamed in the morning light.
And they rode at a hasty gallop thro' the defile out on the plain:
Tho' I wot well he little knew it, yet they rode but to seek Gawain!
And they came by the self-same pathway that Lischois he rode afore,
The proud knight whom Gawain had vanquished, and in joust from his charger bore. 160
And the lady she held the bridle of the knight who to joust would ride,
And the sight to Gawain brought sorrow, and swiftly he turned aside,
And behold! 'twas no lying vision, for without on the grassy plain
By the river rode Orgelusé, and a knight at her side drew rein.
E'en as hellebore within the nostril pierceth sharp, and a man doth sneeze, 165
Thro' his eye to his heart came the Duchess, and she robbed him of joy and ease!
Alas! I wot well 'gainst Frau Minne all helpless shall be Gawain—
Then he looked on the knight who rode there, and he spake to the queen again,
'Lady, a knight I see there, who rideth with well-aimed spear,
Nor will cease from the goal he seeketh—Well! I ween he may find it here, 170
Since he craveth some deed of knighthood I am ready with him to fight,
But say, who shall be the maiden?' she quoth, ''Tis the lady bright
Who is Duchess and queen of Logrois,—Now 'gainst whom doth she bear ill-will?
For the Turkowit rideth with her, and unconquered shall he be still.
With his spear such fame hath he won him, as were riches for kingdoms three, 175
And against a hand so valiant 'twere best not to venture thee;
For strife is it all too early, and thou shalt be hurt too sore,
And e'en wert thou whole I should rede thee to strive with him nevermore!'
[Pg 55] Quoth Gawain, 'If indeed I be lord here then he who so near shall seek
Deeds of knighthood, shall shame mine honour if vengeance I fail to wreak. 180
Since he lusteth for strife, O Lady, thou shalt give me mine armour here!'
Then the ladies, the four, bewailed them with many a bitter tear:
And they quoth, 'Wilt thou deck thy glory? wilt thou greater honour know?
Strive not now, shouldst thou fall before him then greater shall wax our woe.
But e'en if thou be the victor, if thou girdest thine harness on 185
Thou must die who so sore art wounded, and with thee are we all undone!'
Gawain, he was sorely anguished, and the cause have ye heard aright,
For he counted himself dishonoured by the coming of such a knight
And his wounds, they must sorely pain him, yet love's torment it vexed him more,
And the grief of these four fair ladies, and the love they towards him bore. 190
Then he bade them to cease from weeping, and harness and sword he craved,
And his charger; and those fair women they led forth the hero brave.
And he bade them go forth before him, and adown the steps they wind
To the hall where the other maidens so sweet and so fair they find.
Then Gawain for his perilous journey was armed 'neath the light of eyes 195
Tear-dimmed, and they secret held it, and none knew save the merchant wise.
And they bade him the steed make ready, and the hero he slowly stept
To the place where his charger waited—nor light on its back he leapt,
But scarcely his shield might he carry, for in sooth was he wounded sore.
And thro' centre and rim was it piercèd, and traces of battle bore! 200
Then again he bestrode his charger, and he turned from the Burg away,
And he rode to his host so faithful; and never he said him Nay,
But all that he asked he gave him, a spear both strong and new,
(Many such had, I ween, been his tribute from that plain where they jousted true,)
Then Gawain bade him ship him over, in a ferry they sought the shore, 205
And the Turkowit, who high courage and the thought of sure victory bore;
For so well against shame was he armèd that ill-deeds from before him fled,
And his fame was so high accounted, that they made of the sward their bed
Who would ride a joust against him—From their charger they needs must fall,
And of those who had faced his valour, his spear had o'erthrown them all. 210
And this was the rule of the hero, that by spear-thrust, and no sword-blade,
[Pg 56] Would he win to him fame in battle, or his honour be prostrate laid.
And to him who should face his onslaught, and o'erthrow him, the self-same day
Would he yield, nor defend him further, but would give him his pledge straightway.
And thus heard Gawain the story from him who the pledge did hold, 215
For his pledge Plippalinòt took there, when the tale of the joust was told.
Did one fall while the other sat still, with goodwill of the heroes twain
Did he take that which one must forfeit, and the other methinks should gain,
Of the charger I speak, hence he led it, for he deemed they enough had fought.
Who was victor, and who the vanquished, from the Burg were the tidings brought, 220
For the women, they looked on the jousting, and many a conflict saw.
Then he bade Gawain seat him firmly, and the charger he led to shore,
And his shield and his spear he gave him—and the Turkowit swiftly came
As one who his joust can measure, nor too high nor too low his aim.
And Gawain turned his horse against him—of Monsalväsch, Gringuljet, 225
And it answered unto the bridle, and his spear 'gainst the foe he set.
Now forward!—the joust be ridden—Here rideth King Lot's fair son,
Undaunted his heart—Now know ye where the helm hath its fastening won?
For there did his foeman strike him; but Gawain sought another aim,
And swift thro' the helmet's visor with sure hand the spear-point came, 230
And plain to the sight of all men was the fate of the joust that day,
On his spear short and strong the helmet from his head Gawain bare away,
And onward it rode, the helmet! But the knight on the grass lay low,
Who was blossom and flower of all manhood till he met with such mighty foe.
But now he in joust was vanquished, and the jewels from his helm were seen 235
To vie with the dew on the herbage and the flowers on the meadow green.
And Gawain, he rode back unto him, and his pledge did he take that day,
And the boatman he claimed the charger, who was there should say him Nay?
[Pg 57]
Thou art joyful, and yet hast small reason,' spake the lady of Gawain's love,
(As of old were her words of mocking,) 'Since wherever thy shield doth move 240
The lion's paw doth follow—And thou thinkest fresh fame to gain
Since the ladies have looked on thy jousting—-Well thou mayst in thy bliss remain,
Since the Lit Merveil hath dealt gently and but little harm hath wrought!
And yet is thy shield all splintered as if thou hadst bravely fought—
Thou art doubtless too sorely wounded to yearn for a further fray? 245
And such ill to the 'Goose' be reckoned, that I called thee but yesterday.
So eager wert thou to vaunt thee, as a sieve hast thou piercèd thro'
Thy shield, one would deem it riddled with the darts that toward thee flew.
But to-day mayst thou well shun danger—If thy finger shall wounded be
Ride hence to the maids of the castle, for well will they care for thee! 250
Far other strife were his portion, to whom I a task would give,
Did thine heart yet yearn for my favour, and thou wouldst in my service live!'
Quoth Gawain to the Duchess, 'Lady, tho' deep were my wounds I trow
They ere this have found help and healing—If such help I from thee might know
That thou, gracious, wouldst own my service, no peril would be so great, 255
But I, for thy love and rewarding, the issue would gladly wait!'
Quoth she, 'Then shalt thou ride with me new honour perchance to gain!'
Then rich in all joy and contentment was that valiant knight Gawain—
And the Turkowit went with the boatman, and he bade him the tidings bear
To the Burg, and there pray the maidens to have of the knight good care. 260
And his spear it was yet unsplintered, tho' both horses they spurred amain
To joust, his right hand yet held it, and he bare it from off the plain.
And many a maiden saw him, and wept as he rode away.
Quoth Arnivé, 'Our joy and comfort hath chosen to him to-day
A joy for the eyes and a sorrow for the heart, yea, both flower and thorn, 265
Alas! that he rides with the Duchess, since he leaveth us here forlorn.
To the Perilous Ford he rideth, and his wounds sure shall work him ill!'
(Maids four hundred must weep for his going, yet new tasks would he fain fulfil.)
But yet tho' his wounds they pained him, his sorrow had taken flight
When he looked upon Orgelusé, so fair was her mien and bright. 270
[Pg 58] Then she quoth, 'Thou shalt win me a garland of fresh leaves from off a tree,
And I for the gift will praise thee—If thou doest this deed for me
Thou shalt find in my love rewarding!' Then he quoth, 'Wheresoe'er it stand,
The tree that shall bring such blessing as reward unto this mine hand,
If I not in vain bemoan me, but win hearing for this my grief, 275
Then thy garland, tho' death it bring me, shall lack not a single leaf!'
And tho' many a blossom bloomed there yet their colour it was as naught
To the colour of Orgelusé, and Gawain on her beauty thought
Till it seemed him his grief of aforetime and his anguish had fled away—
And thus with her guest did she journey a space from the Burg that day, 280
And the road it was straight and easy, and it led thro' a forest fair,
And Tamris I ween and Prisein were the names that the trees did bear,
And the lord of the wood was Klingsor—Then Gawain the hero spake,
'Say, where shall that garland blossom which the spell of my grief shalt break?'
(In sooth he had best o'erthrown her, as oft shall have chanced I trow 285
To many a lovely lady.) Then she quoth, 'Thou shalt see the bough
Whose plucking shall win thee honour!' O'er the field ran a deep ravine,
And so near did they ride to the chasm that the tree from afar was seen.
Then she quoth, 'Now, Sir Knight, one guardeth that tree who my joy hath slain,
If thou bring me a bough from off it, no hero such prize shall gain 290
As from me shall be thy rewarding! And here must I hold my way,
Nor further may I ride with thee; but make thou no more delay,
God have thee in His safe keeping! Thine horse must thou straightway bring
To the gulf, and with sure hand urge it o'er the Perilous Ford to spring.'
So still on the plain she held her, and on rode the gallant knight, 295
And he hearkened the rush of water that had riven a path with might
Thro' the plain—it was deep as a valley, and no man its waves might ford;
Then Gawain spurred his steed towards it, and he sprung o'er the flood so broad,
And yet but the charger's fore-feet might light on the further side,
And they fell in the foaming torrent; and the lady in anguish cried, 300
[Pg 59] For swift and wide was the water; yet Gawain he had strength enow,
Tho' heavy the weight of his armour, for he saw where there grew a bough
That hung o'er the foaming torrent, and he grasped it, for life was dear,
And he gained on the bank a footing, and he drew from the waves his spear.
Up and down the stream swam the charger, and Gawain to its aid would go, 305
Yet so swift was the rush of the water he followed with pain its flow,
For heavy I ween his harness, and his wounds they were deep and sore:
Then he stretched out his spear as a whirlpool bare the charger towards the shore—
For the rain and the rush of the waters had broken a passage wide,
And the bank at the place was shelving, and the steed swept towards the side— 310
And he caught with the spear its bridle, and drew it towards the land
Till the hero at last might reach it and lay on the rein his hand.
And Gawain, the gallant hero, drew his horse out upon the plain,
And the steed shook itself in safety, nor the torrent as prize might gain
The shield—Then he girt his charger, and the shield on his arm he took: 315
And if one weepeth not for his sorrow methinks I the lack may brook,
Tho' in sooth was he in sore peril—For love he the venture dared,
For the fair face of Orgelusé, his hand to the bough he bared.
And I wot, 'twas a gallant journey, and the tree it was guarded well,
He was one, were he twain, for that garland his life must the payment tell. 320
King Gramoflanz, he would guard it, yet Gawain he would pluck the bough.
The water, men called it Sabbins, and the tribute was harsh enow
That Gawain would fetch when both charger and knight did the wild waves breast.
Tho' the lady was fair, I had wooed not! To shun her methinks were best.
When Gawain erst the bough had broken and its leaves in his helm did wave, 325
Uprode a knight towards him, and his bearing was free and brave.
Nor too few were his years nor too many; and in this he his pride had shown,
What evil so e'er befell him he fought not with one alone,
Two or more must they be, his foemen! So high beat his gallant heart,
That whate'er one might do to harm him unscathed might he thence depart. 330
To Gawain this son of King Irôt a fair 'good-morrow' gave,
[Pg 60] 'Twas King Gramoflanz—'To the garland that doth there in thine helmet wave
I yield not my claim!' thus quoth he, 'Sir Knight, were ye two I trow,
Who here for high honour seeking had reft from my tree a bough,
I had greeted ye not, but had fought ye, but since thou alone shalt be, 335
Thou canst ride hence, for strife unequal I deem it a shame to me!'
And Gawain, too, was loth to fight him, for no armour the king did wear,
And naught but a yearling falcon he did on his white hand bear.
(And the sister of Gawain gave it, Itonjé the maid was hight.)
His headgear in Sinzester fashioned was of peacock's plumage bright, 340
And green as grass was the mantle of velvet that wrapped him round,
And with ermine lined, and on each side it swept even unto the ground.
None too tall yet strong was the charger on which the king did ride,
From Denmark by land they brought it, or it came o'er the waters wide.
And the monarch he rode unarmèd, nor even a sword would bear. 345
Quoth King Gramoflanz, 'Thou hast foughten, if thy shield may the truth declare,
For but little unharmed remaineth, and it seemeth sure to me
That the "Lit Merveil" was thy portion, and this venture hath fallen to thee!'
'Now hast thou withstood the peril that myself I were fain to dare,
Had not Klingsor been ever friendly, and warfare with her my share 350
Who in Love's strife is ever victor, since her beauty doth win the day;
And she beareth fierce wrath against me, and in sooth hath she cause alway!
Eidegast have I slain, her husband, and with him I slew heroes four;
Orgelusé herself, as my captive, I thence to my kingdom bore,
And my crown and my land would I give her, yet what service my hand might yield, 355
Of all would she naught, but with hatred her heart 'gainst my pleading steeled.
And a whole year long I held her, and a whole year long I prayed,
Yet never she hearkened to me, and ever my love gainsaid.
And thus from my heart I bemoan me, since I know that her love to thee
She hath promised, since here I meet thee, and death wouldst thou bring to me. 360
[Pg 61] If with her thou hadst hither ridden, perchance had I here been slain,
Or perchance ye had died together—such guerdon thy love might gain!'
'And my heart other service seeketh, and mine aid lieth in thine hand,
Since here thou hast been the victor thou art lord o'er this wonder-land;
And if thou wilt show me kindness help me now a fair maid to win 365
For whose sake my heart knoweth sorrow, to King Lot is she near of kin,
And no maiden of all earth's maidens hath wrought me such grief and pain!
Her token I bear—I prithee, if thou seest that maid again
Swear thou to her faithful service—I think me she means me fair,
And for her sake I fight, for her favour I many a peril dare; 370
For since with true words Orgelusé her love hath denied to me,
Wherever for fame I battled, whate'er might my portion be,
Of joy or of grief, she hath caused it, Itonjé, for whom I fight,
Yet alas! I have ne'er beheld her! Now do me this grace, Sir Knight,
If aid thou art fain to give me, then take thou this golden ring, 375
And unto my lovely lady, I prithee, the token bring.
Thou art free from strife, I fight not till thou bring with thee two or more.
What honour were mine if I slew thee? I ever such strife forbore!'
'Yet in sooth I can well defend me, as a man should,' quoth knight Gawain,
'Thou thinkest small fame will it bring thee if I here at thine hand be slain, 380
But what honour shall I have won me by breaking this bough, I pray?
For none will account it glory if I slay thee unarmed to-day!
But yet will I do thy message—Give me here the finger-ring,
And thy sorrow of heart, and thy service, I will to thy lady bring.'
Then the king he thanked him freely—But Gawain he quoth in this wise, 385
'Now tell me, Sir Knight, who may he be who doth conflict with me despise?'
'An thou count it me not for dishonour,' quoth the king, 'here my name be told,
King Irôt he was my father, who was slain by King Lot of old.
And King Gramoflanz do men call me, and my heart doth such valour know
That never, for evil done me, will I fight with but one for foe, 390
Saving one man alone, hight Gawain, of him have I heard such fame
That to fight with him I am ready, and vengeance from him I claim.
For his father he dealt with treason, in fair greeting my father slew,
Good cause have I here for mine anger and the words that I speak are true.
[Pg 62] Now dead is King Lot, and Gawain, his fame o'er all knights stands high 395
Of the Table Round, and I yearn still till the day of our strife draw nigh.'
Then out quoth King Lot's son dauntless, 'Wouldst pleasure thy lady still,
If indeed she shall be thy lady, and dost speak of her father ill?
And reckonest to him false treason, and her brother art fain to slay!
Then indeed must she be false maiden if she mourn not thy deeds alway! 400
If true daughter she were, and sister, for the twain would she surely speak,
And forbid thee, methinks, thine hatred on kinsmen so near to wreak.
If so be that thy true love's father hath broken his troth, yet thou
Shouldst, as kinsman, avenge the evil that men spake of the dead, I trow!
His son will not fear to do so, and little methinks he'll care 405
If small aid in his need he findeth from the love of his sister fair.
He, himself, will be pledge for his father, and his sin be upon my head,
For Sir King, I who speak am Gawain, and thou warrest not with the dead!
But I, from such shame to free him, what honour be mine or fame,
In strife will I give to the scourging ere thou slander my father's name!' 410
Quoth the king, 'Art thou he whom I hated with a hatred as yet unstilled?
For alike with both joy and sorrow thy valour my soul hath filled.
And one thing in thee doth please me, that at last I may fight with thee,
And I rede thee to wit that great honour in this hast thou won from me,
Since I vowed but to fight with thee only—And our fame shall wax great alway, 415
If many a lovely lady we bring to behold the fray.
For I can bring fifteen hundred, and thou art of a fair host king
At Château Merveil; and on thy side thine uncle can others bring
From the land that he rules, King Arthur, and Löver its name shall be,
And the city is Bems by the Korka, as well shall be known to thee. 420
There lieth he now with his vassals, and hither can make his way,
In eight days, with great joy; so I bid thee to meet me the sixteenth day,
When I come, for my wrong's avenging, to Ioflanz upon the plain,
And the pay for this garland's plucking I there from thine hand shall gain!'
Then King Gramoflanz prayed of Gawain to ride unto Rosche Sabbin, 425
'For nearer methinks than the city no way o'er the flood thou'lt win!'
But out quoth the gallant Gawain, 'I will back e'en as erst I came,
But in all else thy will I'll follow.' Then they sware them by their fair fame
[Pg 63] That with many a knight and lady at Ioflanz they'ld meet for strife
On the chosen day, and alone there would battle for death or life. 430
And on this wise Gawain he parted for awhile from the noble knight,
And joyful he turned his bridle, and the bough decked his helm so bright.
And he checked not his steed, but spurred it to the edge of the gulf once more,
Nor Gringuljet missed his footing, but he sprang well the chasm o'er,
And he fell not again, the hero—Then the lady she turned her rein 435
As he sprang to the ground, and tightened the girths of his steed again,
And swiftly to give him welcome, I ween, she to earth did spring,
And low at his feet she cast her, and she spake, 'I such need did bring
Upon thee, Sir Knight, as I wot well was more than thy worth might ask,
And yet have I felt such sorrow, for the sorrow of this thy task, 440
And the service that thou hast done me, as I deem she alone doth know
Who loveth in truth, and, faithful, doth weep o'er her lover's woe!'
Then he quoth, 'Is this truth, and thy greeting be not falsehood in friendly guise,
Then thyself dost thou honour, Lady! For in this shall I be so wise
That I know a knight's shield claimeth honour, and thou didst against knighthood sin, 445
For so high doth it stand that from no man methinks doth he mocking win,
Who as true knight hath ever borne him—This, Lady, I needs must say,
Whoever had looked upon me had known me for knight alway,
Yet knighthood thou wouldst deny me when first thou my face didst see,
But henceforth that may rest—Take this garland I won at thy will for thee, 450
But I bid thee henceforth beware thee that never thy beauty bright
Shall again in such wise mislead thee to dishonour a gallant knight,
For I wot, ere such scorn and mocking again at thine hand I bore,
Thy love thou shouldst give to another, I would ask for it nevermore!'
Then she spake as she wept full sorely, that lady so sweet and fair, 455
'Sir Knight, did I tell unto thee the woe that my heart doth bear,
Thou wouldst own that full sore my sorrow—If I shall discourteous be,
Then he whom I wrong may forgive me of true heart with forgiveness free.
For of such joy no man can rob me as the joy that I lost awhile
In that knight of all knights the bravest, Eidegast, who knew naught of guile! 460
[Pg 64] So brave and so fair my true love, his fame was as sunlight's ray,
And for honour he strove so truly that all others, in this his day,
Both here and afar, born of woman, they owned that his praise stood high
O'er that of all men, and no glory might e'er with his glory vie.
A fountain, for aye upspringing, of virtue, his gallant youth, 465
And falsehood ne'er shamed his honour nor darkened the light of truth.
Into light came he forth from the darkness, and his honour aloft he bore,
That none who spake word of treason might reach to it evermore.
From the root in a true heart planted it waxed and it spread amain,
Till he rose o'er all men as Saturn doth high o'er the planets reign. 470
And true as the one-horned marvel, since the truth I am fain to tell,
The knight of my love and desiring,—for whose fate maids may weep full well,
Thro' its virtue I ween it dieth—And I, I was as his heart,
And my body was he! Ah! woe is me, that I must from such true love part!
And King Gramoflanz, he slew him, the knight thou but now didst see, 475
And the bough thou hast brought unto me from the tree of his ward shall be.'
'Sir Knight, did I ill-entreat thee, I did it for this alone,
I would prove if thine heart were steadfast, and my love might to thee atone.
I know well my words did wound thee, yet they were but to prove thee meant,
And I pray thee, of this thy goodness, be thine anger with pity blent, 480
And forgive me the ill I did thee. I have found thee both brave and true,
As gold that is tried in the furnace shineth forth from the flame anew,
So, methinks, doth it shine, thy courage. He, for whose harm I brought thee here,
As I thought me afore, and I think still, his valour hath cost me dear.'
Quoth Gawain, 'If awhile death spare me, such lesson I'll read the king 485
As shall put to his pride an ending, and his life in sore peril bring.
My faith as a knight have I pledged him, hereafter, a little space,
To meet him in knightly combat, nor our manhood shall we disgrace.
And here I forgive thee, Lady, and if thou wilt not disdain
My counsel so rough, I'll tell thee wherewith thou mayst honour gain, 490
What shall 'seem thee well as a woman, nor in aught shall unfitting be,
Here we twain are alone, I pray thee show favour and grace to me!'
But she quoth, 'In an arm thus mail-clad but seldom I warmly lay;
[Pg 65] Yet would I not strive against thee, thou shalt on a fitting day
Win rewarding for this thy service—Thy sorrow will I bemoan, 495
Till thou of thy wounds art healèd and all thought of thine ill be flown;
To Château Merveil I'll ride with thee.' 'Now waxeth my joy indeed!'
Quoth the hero, of love desirous, and he lifted her on her steed,
And close clung his arm around her: 'twas more than she deemed him worth
When first by the spring she saw him, and mocked him with bitter mirth. 500
Then joyful Gawain he rode hence; yet the lady she wept alway,
And he mourned with her woe, and he prayed her the cause of her grief to say,
And in God's Name to cease from weeping! Then she quoth, 'I must mourn, Sir Knight,
Because of the hand that slew him, the knight of my love, in fight;
For that deed to my heart brought sorrow, tho' I naught but delight had known 505
When Eidegast's love rejoiced me; yet was I not so o'erthrown
But since then I might seek his mischief, whatever the cost might be,
And many fierce jousts have been ridden that were aimed at his life by me.
And here, methinks, canst thou aid me, and avenge me on him, my foe,
And repay me for this sore sorrow that my heart doth for ever know.' 510
'For the winning his death I took gladly the service he proffered me,
A king, who of earthly wishes the master and lord should be,
Sir Knight, he was named Anfortas—As his love-pledge to me he sent
That which standeth without thy portals, from Tabronit it came, that tent,
And great I ween is its value—But alas! for that gallant king, 515
Such reward did he win in my service as all joy to an end must bring
Where fain I my love had given, there must I fresh sorrow know,
For bitter indeed was his guerdon!—As great, or e'en greater, woe
Than the death of Eidegast brought me, was my lot thro' Anfortas' fate.
Now say, how shall I, of all women most wretched, in this estate, 520
If my heart yet be true, be other than of senses and mind distraught,
Yea, at times have I been beside me when I on Anfortas thought;
After Eidegast did I choose him, my avenger and love to be—
Now hearken and hear how Klingsor won that booth thou erewhile didst see:
[Pg 66] When it fell so the brave Anfortas, who this token had sent to me, 525
Was of love and of joy forsaken, then I feared lest I shamed should be;
For Klingsor, such power he wieldeth by the force of his magic spell,
That maiden or man to his purpose can he force as shall please him well.
All gallant folk that he seeth, unharmed may they ne'er go free—
Thus my riches to him I proffered, if so be he sware peace with me. 530
And he that should brave the venture, and he that should win the prize,
To him I my love should offer; but if so be that in his eyes
My love were a thing unworthy, the booth should be mine again.
But now hast thou done my bidding, and it falleth unto us twain;
And 'twas sworn in the ears of many, for thereby I hoped to lure 535
My foe (yet in this I failèd) for the strife he might ne'er endure.'
'Now courtly and wise is Klingsor; for his honour it pleased him well
That many a deed of knighthood, at my will, in his land befell,
By the hand of my valiant servants, with many a thrust and blow.
All the week, every day as it passes, and the weeks into years do grow, 540
My troops in their changing order beset him by night and day,
For at great cost my snares so cunning for Gramoflanz did I lay.
And many have striven with him, yet must him as victor own;
Yet I still for his life am thirsting, and at last shall he be o'erthrown.
And some were too rich for my payment, and but for my love would serve, 545
Then I bid them for that do me service, but reward did they ne'er deserve.'
'And never a man beheld me but his service I swiftly won,
Save one, and he bare red armour; to my folk he much ill had done,
For hither he rode from Logrois, and he there did my knights o'erthrow
In such wise that they fell before him, and it pleased me but ill I trow. 550
And, between Logrois and thy meadow, five knights they followed fair,
And he cast them to earth, and their chargers the boatman from thence must bear.
Then as he my knights had vanquished, I myself did the hero pray
For my love and my land to serve me, but naught would that red knight say,
Save he had a wife who was fairer, and should aye to his heart be dear. 555
Then wroth was I at his answer, and the name of his wife would hear:
"Wouldst thou know the name of my chosen?—She reigneth at Pelrapär,
And Parzival all men call me, and naught for thy love I care,
[Pg 67] Other sorrow the Grail doth give me!" Then in anger he rode away;
Now, I prithee, here give me counsel, if evil I did that day, 560
When I, by heart-sorrow driven, proffered love to that gallant knight?
Should I count my fair fame dishonoured?' Quoth Gawain to that lady bright,
'A gallant knight is he, truly, who thus thy desire hath crossed,
Had he to thy bidding hearkened no fame thou thro' him hadst lost!'
Then Gawain, the courteous hero, and the lady his rein beside, 565
Gazed lovingly on each other—and so far on their way did ride,
That they drew anear to the castle, where the venture erewhile befell,
And they who looked forth might see them—-'Now, Lady, 'twould please me well
If thou do this thing that I ask thee, from all men my name withhold,
Which the knight who once stole my charger aloud in thine hearing told. 570
But do this that I say, if any shall pray thee to tell my name,
Say, "I know not the name of my true knight, none spake it when here he came."'
Then she quoth, 'I will keep it secret, since thou wouldst not 'twere spoken here.'
And the knight and the lovely lady they rode to the Burg anear.
Now the knights they had heard of the coming of one who, with valiant hand, 575
Faced the venture, and slew the lion, and the Turkowit dared withstand,
Yea, and had in fair joust o'erthrown him; and now on the flowery plain,
The meadow of strife, rode the hero, and they looked on the knight Gawain,
From the battlements could they see him; and the forces together draw;
And with ringing blast of trumpet they pass thro' the castle door, 580
And rich banners on high were tossing, and their steeds o'er the plain they flew,
And he deemed that they came for battle, so swift they towards him drew.
As Gawain from afar might see them to the lady he spake again,
'Do they come here with thought of battle?' But she quoth, 'They are Klingsor's men,
From afar have they seen thy coming, and they ride their new lord to greet, 585
With joy would they bid thee welcome! Refuse not this honour meet,
Since 'tis gladness that doth constrain them.' There, too, in a vessel fair
Plippalinòt came to meet them, and his daughter with him did bear;
[Pg 68] And swift o'er the flowery meadow the maiden towards them stept,
And joyful she hailed the hero for whom she aforetime wept. 590
Then Gawain gave her courteous greeting, and stirrup and foot she kissed,
And she turned her to Orgelusé, nor the lady her welcome missed.
And she prayed him to 'light from his charger the while that she held the rein,
And then to the ship she led them, the lady and knight Gawain;
And there, in the place of honour, a carpet and cushions lay, 595
And the Duchess by Gawain sat her, as the maiden the twain did pray.
And her office the maid forgat not, she disarmèd the hero there,
And in sooth it is said that the mantle she did for his robing bear
Which had served him that night for cover, when he did 'neath her rooftree lie,
And now was the hour for its wearing and it wrapped him right royally. 600
So clad was Gawain in her mantle, and his own robe beneath he wore,
And the harness he laid from off him on one side the maiden bore.
And now as they sat together for the first time the lady fair
Might look on his face and know him—Then unto the twain they bare
Two game-birds that well were roasted, and with them a flask of wine, 605
And two cakes did the maiden bring them on a cloth that was white and fine—
The birds were the prey of the falcon—but Gawain and his lady bright
Must seek water themselves, if to wash them ere they ate here should seem them right,
And this did the twain; and joyful was the knight that he now might eat
With her, for whose sake he would suffer joy, or sorrow, as seemed her meet. 610
And oft as the cup she gave him that her sweet lips had touched, anew
Sprang his joy that he thus drank with her, and his sorrow behind him drew,
And it halted nor might o'ertake him, and his gladness on swift foot sped,
So fair was her mouth and so rosy her lips that from grief he fled.
And no longer his wounds they pained him—Then the ladies from out the tower 615
They looked on the feast, and below them there rode in the self-same hour,
On the further side of the river, brave knights who would show their skill.
And the boatman alike and his daughter Gawain thanked with right goodwill,
[Pg 69] Ere yet he might ferry them over, and the lady spake with him there,
For the food and the drink they had brought them—Then out quoth the lady fair, 620
'Now what hath that knight befallen, who yestreen, ere I rode away,
Was o'erthrown in a joust by another? Was he slain, or doth live alway?'
Quoth the boatman, 'He liveth, Lady, and he spake but this day with me,
He was given to me for his charger: if thy will be to set him free,
In his stead will I have the "swallow" that Queen Sekundillé sent 625
To Anfortas, be thine the hero, with the harp were I well content!'
'Both the harp and the other riches that the booth may within it hold,'
Quoth the lady, 'are his who sits here, he may give them, or aye withhold,
Let him do as he will! If he love me, Lischois he methinks will loose,
Nor freedom unto the other, my prince, will he here refuse. 630
Florand of Itolac is he, of my night-watch was he the chief,
And as he as Turkowit served me, so his sorrow shall be my grief!'
Quoth Gawain to his lovely lady, 'Ere it weareth to eventide
Thou shalt look on the twain in freedom!' Then they came to the further side,
And the Duchess, so fair to look on, he lifted upon her steed, 635
And many a noble horseman were waiting them on the mead,
And greeting fair they gave them; and they turned to the Burg again,
And joyful they rode around them and skilful they drew the rein,
And the Buhurd was fair to look on—What more shall I tell ye here?
Gawain, and his lovely lady, at the castle they found good cheer, 640
In such wise did the ladies greet them at Château Merveil that day,
And good fortune had here befallen that such bliss should be his alway.
Then Arnivé she straightway led him to a chamber, and they who knew
Of such lore his hurts they tended, and they bound up his wounds anew.
Quoth Gawain unto Arnivé, 'Give me, Lady, a messenger!' 645
Then straightway she sent a maiden, and the maid brought again with her
A footman, both true and manly, as behovèd him well to be.
And an oath did he swear unto Gawain, to serve him right faithfully,
And, were it for joy or for sorrow, his errand to secret hold
From all men, both there and elsewhere, till he came where it might be told. 650
Then they brought to him ink and parchment, and Gawain, King Lot's fair son,
[Pg 70] Wrote clear with his hand the message, and thus did the writing run—
To them who abode in Löver's fair country, King Arthur brave
And his queen, with a faith unstainèd, true service and good he gave;
And he said, had he fame deservèd, and they would not his praise were slain, 655
They should come to his aid in his trouble, and show to him truth again,
And with following of knights and ladies to Ioflanz their way should wend,
Where he came himself, and his honour would in mortal strife defend.
And further, this thing he told them, the foemen on either side
Had pledged themselves in all honour and pomp to the field to ride; 660
And therefore he, Gawain, prayed them, both lady alike and knight,
If they bare goodwill towards him, with their king to behold the fight.
For so should it be to their honour. He commended him to them all
Who were of his service worthy, for the strife that should there befall!—
No seal did he put to the letter, yet token enough it bare 665
Of him who should be the writer. Quoth Gawain to the footman there,
'No longer shalt thou delay thee, the king and the queen abide
In the city of Bems by the Korka; seek the queen in the morning-tide
And the thing she shall bid thee, do thou. But this shalt thou secret hold,
That I in this land am master shall unto no ear be told. 670
Nor of this thing be thou forgetful, that thou shalt my servant be,
And do thou, without delaying, the errand I give to thee!'
Then the footman from thence he gat him, and Arnivé she softly went,
And she asked of him what was his errand? and whither his road was bent?
And he quoth, 'Nay, I may not tell thee, for an oath have I sworn to-day, 675
God keep thee, for I must ride hence!' To the army he took his way.

[Pg 71]


[Pg 72]


Book XIII. tells of the goodly feast that was holden in Château Merveil, and of the wedding of Gawain and Orgelusé. How Gawain's squire did his bidding; and how King Arthur and Queen Guinevere pledged themselves to ride to Ioflanz to behold the conflict between Gawain and Gramoflanz.

How Gawain fared in Château Merveil; and how Arnivé told him the history of Klingsor, and of his unlawful love.

Of the coming of King Arthur and his host; how they fought before Logrois; and came with great pomp to the plain of Ioflanz.

How Gawain and the dwellers in Château Merveil followed to the plain; of the goodly camp prepared for them; of the wonder of the court and Kay's jealousy; and how the four queens were made known to King Arthur.

[Pg 73]



Then wrathful, I ween, was Arnivé that the messenger said her Nay,
Nor told her aught of his errand, nor whither his journey lay.
And in this wise she quoth to the porter, 'Now, whatever the hour may be,
Be it day, be it night, when he cometh, send tidings thereof to me,
In secret would I speak with him; thou art wise, as full well I know!' 5
Yet wroth was she still with the footman—Then she would to the Duchess go,
And win from her lips the answer, but ready was she of wit,
And the name that he bare, her hero, her mouth spake no word of it.
Gawain he would have her silent, in her hearing his prayer found grace,
And she spake not, nor might Arnivé learn aught of his name and race. 10
Then the sound as of many trumpets thro' the hall of the palace rang,
And joyful the blasts—Then rich carpets around on each wall they hang,
And no foot but fell on a carpet would it tread on the palace floor,
A poor man had surely feared him for the riches that there he saw.
And many a couch they stood there, around the stately hall, 15
Soft were they as down, and rich cushions they laid upon each and all.
But Gawain with his toil was wearied, and he slept tho' the sun was high,
And his wounds, with such skill they bound them, tho' his love should beside him lie,
And he in his arms should hold her, he had gotten no hurt I ween.
And sounder his daylight's slumber than his sleep of the night had been 20
When his love had so sorely vexed him; he slept till the vesper bell,
Yet still in his sleep he battled for the lady he loved so well.
[Pg 74] Then rich garments of fair silk fashioned, and heavy with broidered gold,
Did the chamberlain bear unto him—Then out quoth the hero bold,
'More robes such as these, and as costly, I ween, shalt thou hither bear, 25
For Gowerzein's Duke shall need them, and Florand, the hero fair,
For in many a land hath he battled, and hath won for him glory's meed—
Now see that thou make them ready, and do my behest with speed!'
Then he prayed, by a squire, the boatman send hither the captive knight,
And Lischois did he send at his bidding by the hand of his daughter bright. 30
And the maiden Bené brought him for the love that she bare Gawain,
And the good that he vowed to her father that morn when she wept amain,
And the knight he left her weeping, and rode on his toilsome way—
And the highest prize of his manhood it fell to his lot that day.
The Turkowit too had come there, and Gawain the twain did greet 35
In all friendship, and then he prayed them beside him to take their seat
Till their robes should be brought unto them; and costly they needs must be,
For never was fairer raiment than the garb of those heroes three.
For one lived of yore named Sarant, (a city doth bear his name,)
From out of the land of Triande in the days that are gone he came. 40
In the land of Queen Sekundillé stood a city so great and fair,
(E'en Nineveh or Akraton with its glories might scarce compare,)
And the city, men called it Thasmé; there Sarant won meed of fame,
Since he wove there a silk with cunning, Saranthasmé should be its name.
Think ye it was fair to look on? How might it be otherwise, 45
For much gold must he give for the payment who would win to him such a prize.
Such robes ware these two and Gawain: then they gat them unto the hall,
And on one side the knights they sat them, on the other the ladies all,
And he who a woman's beauty had wisdom to judge aright
Must reckon Gawain's fair lady the first of these ladies bright. 50
And the host and his guests so gallant they gazed on her radiant glow,
As they stood before Orgelusé; and her knights she again must know,
And her Turkowit, gallant Florand, and Lischois, the young and fair,
Were set free, without let or hindrance, for the love that Gawain must bear
To the lovely lady of Logrois—Then their victor they thanked amain, 55
Who was dull to all ill, yet had wisdom in all that might true love gain.
[Pg 75] As the captives thus free were spoken, Gawain the four queens must see
As they stood by the side of the Duchess, and he spake in his courtesy,
And he bade the two knights go nearer, and with kiss greet those ladies bright,
The three younger queens, and joyful, I ween, was each gallant knight. 60
And there was the maiden Bené, with Gawain had she sought the hall,
And I think me a joyful welcome she found there from each and all.
Then the host would no longer stand there, and the twain did he pray to sit
By the maidens, as best should please them, and it grievèd them not one whit,
Such counsel it grieveth no man! Then the gallant Gawain spake, 65
'Now which of these maids is Itonjé? Beside her my seat I'ld take!'
Thus in secret he spake to Bené, and she showed him the maiden fair,
'She, with eyes so clear and shining, and red lips, and dusky hair!
Wouldst thou speak with the maid in secret? Then thy words be wise and few:'
Thus quoth Bené the wise in counsel, who Itonjé's love-tale knew, 70
And knew that King Gramoflanz loved her, and did service for her heart's love,
And his faith as a knight unstainèd would fain to the maiden prove.
Gawain sat him by the maiden, (as I heard so the tale I tell,)
And soft was his speech and gentle, and his words they beseemed him well.
And tho' few were the years of Itonjé yet great was her courtesy, 75
And well did she know how to bear her as a maiden of high degree.
And this question he asked the maiden, if a lover she aye had known?
And with wisdom she made him answer, 'To whom might my love be shown,
For ne'er to a man have I spoken, since the day I first saw the light,
Save the words which thou now dost hearken as I speak unto thee, Sir Knight!' 80
'Yet mayst thou have heard the rumour of one who hath bravely fought,
And striven for prize of knighthood, and with dauntless heart hath sought
Fair service for fair rewarding?' In such wise spake the knight Gawain;
But the maiden she quoth, 'Nay, no hero hath striven my love to gain;
Yon lady, the Duchess of Logrois, hath many a gallant knight 85
Who serve her for love, or for payment, and hither they come to fight,
[Pg 76] And we of their jousts are witness, yet none shall have come so nigh
As thou hast, Sir Knight, and this conflict thy glory hath raised on high!'
Then he quoth to the lovely maiden, 'Whose pathway shall she have crossed
With many a chosen hero? Say, who hath her favour lost?' 90
'That, Sir Knight, hath the valiant monarch, King Gramoflanz, he who bore
From aforetime the crown of honour; so men say, and I know no more!'
Quoth Gawain, 'Thou shalt know more of him, since he draweth the prize anear,
And with steadfast heart doth he seek it; from his lips I this tale did hear—
Of true heart would he do thee service, if such service shall be thy will, 95
And help at thine hand he seeketh that thy love may his torment still.
It is well that a king face peril, if his lady shall be a queen,
And thou art the maid whom he loveth, if King Lot hath thy father been;
Thou art she for whom his heart weepeth, if thy name shall Itonjé be,
And sorrow of heart dost thou give him—By my mouth would he plead with thee.' 100
'Now if thou be true and faithful of his woe wilt thou make an end,
And both would I serve right gladly—This ring he to thee doth send,
I prithee to take it, Lady! In sooth do I mean thee well,
And if thou wilt trust unto me no word of the tale I'll tell!'
Then crimson she blushed, the maiden, and e'en as her lips were red 105
So red grew her cheek, yet the blushes as they came so they swiftly sped.
And she stretched forth her hand so shyly toward the little ring of gold,
For e'en at a glance she knew it, and her hand did the token hold.
Then she spake, 'Now, Sir Knight, I see well, if I freely to thee may speak,
That thou comest from him, whom, desiring, my heart doth for ever seek. 110
My words shalt thou still hold secret, as courtesy biddeth thee,
This ring have I seen aforetime, for it oft hath been sent to me;
From the hand of the king it cometh, and I know it for token true,
From my hand did he first receive it. What sorrow so e'er he knew,
Of that do I hold me guiltless; what he asked, that in thought I gave, 115
Had we met I had ne'er withholden the boon he from me did crave.'
'This day have I kissed Orgelusé, who thinketh his death to win,
I ween 'twas the kiss of Judas which all men count to him for sin!
[Pg 77] And honour and faith forsook me, when the Turkowit, brave Florand,
And Gowerzein's Duke, fair Lischois, I kissed here at thy command. 120
From my heart I might not forgive them, for my true love they hate alway—
But speak thou no word to my mother.' Thus the maiden Gawain did pray.
'Sir Knight, it was thou didst pray me to take from their lips this kiss,
Tho' no will for forgiveness had I, and my heart sickeneth sore for this!
If joy shall be e'er our portion, our help in thine hand shall be, 125
And I know well, above all women, the king he desireth me;
And his will shall he have, for I love him o'er all men on earth that live—
God send thee good help and good counsel, that joy thou to us mayst give!'
Quoth Gawain, 'How may that be, Lady? He beareth thee in his heart,
And in thine dost thou ever hold him, and yet are ye twain apart. 130
If I knew how to give thee counsel that ye twain might in gladness dwell,
Of a sooth no pains would I spare me such rede unto thee to tell.'
Then she quoth, 'Yet in truth shalt thou rule us, myself, and my gallant king,
And naught but thy help and God's blessing our love to its goal may bring,
So that I, poor homeless maiden, his sorrow may put away, 135
For his joy shall be set upon me! If so be I from truth ne'er stray,
What other can I desire here, or for what shall my true heart yearn,
Save to give him the love he asketh, and his grief unto gladness turn?'
Gawain, he saw well that the maiden would fain to her love belong,
Yet her hatred towards the Duchess as aforetime was fierce and strong; 140
Thus hatred and love did she bear here, and wrong had he done the maid
Who thus, of a true heart simply, her plaint had before him laid.
Since never a word had he told her how one mother had borne them both,
And King Lot he had been their father—Then he answered her, little loth,
He would do what he might to aid her, and in secret with gracious word 145
She thanked him who brought her comfort, and her sorrow with kindness heard.
Now the hour it was come, and they brought there for the tables fair linen white,
And bread did they bear to the palace unto many a lady bright,
And there might ye see a severance, for the knights they sat by one wall,
Apart from the maids; and their places Gawain gave to each and all. 150
[Pg 78] And the Turkowit sat beside him, and Lischois ate with Sangivé,
(And that fair queen was Gawain's mother,) and Orgelusé by Arnivé.
And Gawain set his lovely sister by his side at that festal board,
And all did as he bade them gladly, for he was that castle's lord.
My skill not the half doth tell me, no such master-cook am I, 155
That I know the name of the viands they offered them courteously;
The host, and each one of the ladies, their servers were maidens fair,
To the knights who sat over against them many squires did their portion bear.
For this was the seemly custom, that no squire, in his serving haste,
Brushed roughly against a maiden, but ever apart they paced— 160
And whether 'twas wine, or 'twas viands, they offered unto the guests,
In naught was their courtesy harmèd, for so did men deem it best.
And a feast they to-day must look on such as no man before had seen,
Since vanquished by Klingsor's magic both lady and knight had been.
Unknown were they yet to each other, tho' one portal it shut them in, 165
And never a man and a maiden might speech of each other win;
And a good thing Gawain he thought it that this folk should each other meet,
And much he rejoiced in their gladness, and his own lot it seemed him sweet;
Yet ever he looked in secret on his lady and love so fair,
And his heart it waxed hot within him, and love's anguish he needs must bear. 170
But the day drew near to its closing, and faint waxed the waning light,
And fair thro' the clouds of heaven gleamed the messengers of the night,
Many stars so bright and golden, who speed on their silent way
When the night would seek for shelter in the realm of departing day;
And after her standard-bearers, with her host doth she swiftly tread— 175
Now many a fair crown golden in the palace hung high o'erhead,
And with tapers they all were lighted around the stately hall,
And they bare unto every table a host of tapers tall;
And yet the story telleth that the Duchess she was so fair,
That ne'er was it night in her presence tho' never a torch were there! 180
For her glance was so bright and radiant it brought of itself the day;
And this tale of fair Orgelusé full oft have I heard men say.
[Pg 79] He had spoken, methinks, untruly who said that he e'er had seen
A host so rich and joyous, and joyous his guests, I ween;
And ever with eager gladness each knight and each gentle maid 185
Looked well on each other's faces, nor shrank from the glance afraid.
If friendship they here desirèd, or each other would better know,
Then naught of their joy would I grudge them, methinks it were better so!
Tho' I wot well there none was a glutton, yet still had they ate their fill,
And they bare on one side the tables, and Gawain asked, with right goodwill, 190
If here there should be a fiddler? and many a gallant squire
Was skilled on the strings, and gladly would play at the host's desire,
Yet were they not all too skilful, and the dances were old alway,
Not new, as in fair Thuringia the dances they know to-day.
Then they thanked their host who, joyful, would give to their joy its vent, 195
And many a lovely lady in his presence danced well content,
For goodly their dance to look on, and their ranks, with many a pair
Of knight and lady, mingled, and grief fled from their faces fair.
And oft 'twixt two gentle maidens might be seen a noble knight,
And they who looked well upon them in their faces might read delight. 200
And whatever knight bethought him, and would of his lady pray
Reward, if for love he served her, none said to his pleading Nay.
Thus they who were poor in sorrow, and rich in joy's fairest dower,
With sweet words, by sweet lips spoken, made gladsome the passing hour.
Gawain and the Queen Arnivé, and Sangivé, the dance so fleet 205
Would look on in peace, for they danced not; then the Duchess she took her seat
By the side of Gawain, and her white hand he held in his own a while,
And they spake of this thing and the other, with many a glance and smile;
He rejoiced that she thus had sought him, and his grief it waxed small and faint,
And his joy it grew strong and mighty, nor vexed him with sorrow's plaint. 210
And great was the joy of the lady o'er the dance, and the merry feast,
Yet less was the sorrow of Gawain, and his joy o'er her joy increased.
Then spake the old Queen Arnivé, 'Sir Knight, now methinks 'twere best
That thou get thee to bed, for sorely, I ween, shall thy wounds need rest
[Pg 80] Has the Duchess perchance bethought her to care for thy couch this night, 215
And tend thee herself, with such counsel and deed as shall seem her right?'
Quoth Gawain, 'That thyself mayst ask her; I will do as shall please ye twain!'
Then the Duchess she spake in answer, 'He shall in my charge remain.
Let this folk to their couch betake them, I will tend in such sort his rest
That never a loving lady dealt better by gallant guest; 220
And the other twain, my princes, in the care of the knights shall be,
Florand, and the Duke of Gowerzein, for so seemeth it good to me.'
In short space the dance was ended, and the maidens in beauty bright
Sat here and there, and between them sat many a gallant knight;
And joy took her revenge on sorrow, and he who so sweetly spake 225
Words of love, from his gentle lady must a gracious answer take.
Then the host must they hear, as he bade them the cup to the hall to bear,
And the wooers bemoaned his bidding; yet the host he wooed with them here,
And he bare of his love the burden, and the sitting he deemed too long,
For his heart by love's power was tortured with anguish so fierce and strong. 230
And they drank the night-drink, and sadly to each other they bade goodnight,
And the squires they must bear before them full many a taper bright.
And the two gallant guests did Gawain commend to them each and all,
And glad were the knights, and the heroes they led forth from out the hall.
And the Duchess, with gracious kindness, wished fair rest to the princes twain, 235
And then to their sleeping chambers forth wended the maiden train,
And as their fair breeding bade them, at the parting they curtseyed low:
Queen Sangivé and her fair daughters they too to their rest would go.
Then Bené, the maid, and Arnivé, they wrought with a willing hand
That the host he might sleep in comfort, nor the Duchess aside did stand, 240
But she aided the twain, and Gawain was led of the helpers three
To a chamber fair where his slumber that even should joyful be.
Two couches alone did he see there, but no man to me hath told
Of their decking, for other matters, I ween, doth this story hold.
Quoth Arnivé unto the Duchess, 'Now, Lady, think thou how best 245
This knight whom thou broughtest hither, shall beneath this roof-tree rest,
[Pg 81] If aid at thine hand he craveth, to grant it shall honour thee;
No more would I say, save this only, his wounds they shall bandaged be
With such skill he might bear his armour—But if he bemoan his grief
Then methinks it were good and fitting that thou bring to his woe relief. 250
If thou wakest anew his courage, then we all in his gladness share—
Now think thou no ill of my counsel, but have for thy knight good care!'
Then the Queen Arnivé left them, (yet leave had she craved before,)
And Bené she bare the taper, and Gawain he made fast the door.
If the twain to their love gave hearing? The tale how should I withhold, 255
I would speak, were it not unseemly that love's secrets aloud be told,
For courtesy doth forbid it; and he who would tell the tale
Worketh ill to himself, o'er love's dealings true hands ever draw the veil.
Now betwixt his love and his lady had the joy of Gawain waxed small,
An the Duchess would have no pity, then healing might ne'er befall. 260
They who sat in the seat of the wise men, and knew many a mystic word,
Kancor, and Thèbit, and Trebuchet, the smith who Frimutel's sword
Once wrought, ('twas a wondrous weapon, and men of its marvels tell)—
Nay, all the skill of physicians, tho' they meant to the hero well
And plied him with roots well mingled—Had a woman ne'er sought his side, 265
Then vain were their skill, in his torment methinks had he surely died!
Fain would I make short the story, he the rightful root had found
That helped him unto his healing, and the chain of his grief unbound,
And brought light in the midst of his darkness—(Breton by his mother's side
Was Gawain, and King Lot his father) thus the healing task he plied, 270
And sweet balsam for bitter sorrow was his lot till the dawn of day.
Yet that which had wrought him comfort it was hid from the folk alway,
But all there, both knights and ladies, they beheld him so gay and glad
That their sorrow was put far from them and their heart was no longer sad.
Now list how he did the message whom Gawain he had sent afar, 275
Yea unto the land of Löver, unto Bems by the fair Korka,
For there he abode, King Arthur, and his lady, the gracious queen,
With fair maids and a host of vassals; this the lot of the squire had been.
'Twas yet in the early morning, when his message he fain had brought,
And the queen, in the chapel kneeling, on the page of her psalter thought; 280
[Pg 82] Then the squire bent his knee before her, and he gave her a token fair,
For she took from his hand a letter, and the cover must writing bear
That was writ by a hand she knew well, ere yet she the name might know,
From the squire, of him who had sent him, as she looked on him kneeling low.
Then the queen she spake to the letter, 'Now blessed that hand shall be 285
That wrote thee; for care was my portion since the day that mine eyes might see
The hand that hath writ this writing'—She wept, yet for joy was fain,
And she quoth to the squire, 'Of a surety thy master shall be Gawain!'
'Yea, Lady, he truly offers true service as aye of yore,
With never a thought of wavering, yet his joy it shall suffer sore, 290
If so be thou wilt not upraise it; and never it stood so ill
With his honour as now it standeth—And more would he tell thee still,
In joy shall he live henceforward if comfort he gain from thee;
And I wot that yet more shall be written than what thou hast heard from me.'
Then she quoth, 'I have truly read there the cause that hath brought thee here, 295
And service I think to do him with many a woman dear,
Who to-day shall I ween be reckoned to have won to them beauty's prize—
Save Parzival's wife and another, Orgelusé, in all men's eyes,
Thro' Christendom none shall be fairer—Since far from King Arthur's court
Gawain rode, sore grief and sorrow have made of my life their sport. 300
And Meljanz de Lys hath told me he saw him in Barbigöl—
Alas!' quoth the queen, 'that ever mine eyes saw thee, Plimizöl!
What sorrow did there befall me! Since that day might I never greet
Kunnewaare of Lalande, she hath left me, my friend and companion sweet.
And the right of the good Round Table was broken by words of scorn, 305
And four years and a half and six weeks have left us, I ween, forlorn,
Since the Grail Parzival rode seeking; and after him rode Gawain
To Askalon—Nor Jeschuté nor Hekuba come again
Since the day that they parted from me, and grief for my friends so true
Hath driven my peace far from me, nor joy since that day I knew!' 310
And the queen spake much of her sorrow: then the squire would her counsel know,
'Now do thou in this my bidding, in secret thou hence shalt go,
[Pg 83] And wait till the sun be higher, and the folk all at court shall be,
Knights, servants, and gentle ladies, and vassals of all degree;
And then to the court ride swiftly, nor think who shall hold thy steed, 315
But spring from its back, and hasten where the king shall thy coming heed.
They will ask of thee news of venture, but thou, do thou act and speak
As one who from peril flieth, whom the flames would devouring seek,
And they may not prevail to hold thee, nor win from thy lips the tale,
But press thou thro' them to the monarch, and to greet thee he will not fail. 320
Then give to his hand the letter, and swiftly from it he'll read
Thy tale, and thy lord's desiring; I doubt not the prayer he'll heed!'
'And this will I further rede thee, make thou thy request to me
Where I sit, and, amid my ladies, thy dealings may hear and see;
And beseech us, as well thou knowest, for thy lord wouldst thou hearing gain. 325
But say, for as yet I know not, where abideth the knight Gawain?'
'Nay,' quoth the squire, 'I may not, ask not where my lord doth dwell,
But think, an thou wilt, that good fortune is his, and he fareth well!'
Then glad was the squire of her counsel, and he took from the queen his way
In such wise as ye here have hearkened, and he came, e'en as she did say. 330
For e'en at the hour of noontide, not in secret but openly
He came to the court, and the courtiers his garments eyed curiously,
And they thought that they well beseemed him, and were such as a squire should wear,
And his horse on each flank was wounded, where the spurs they had smitten fair.
And, e'en as the queen had taught him, he sprang straightway unto the ground, 335
And a crowd of eager courtiers pressed, thronging, his steed around.
Mantle, sword, and spurs, e'en his charger might be lost, he would little care
But he gat thro' the crowd to the heroes, and the knights they besought him there,
Brought he news of some gallant venture? For the custom was aye of yore,
That they ate not, nor man nor maiden, save unto the court they bore 340
The news of some deed of knighthood, and the court might claim its right,
If so be 'twas a worthy venture, and one that beseemed a knight.
[Pg 84] Quoth the squire, 'Nay, I naught may tell ye, for my haste doth not brook delay,
Of your courtesy then forgive me, and lead to the king the way,
For 'tis meet that I first speak with him, and mine haste it doth work me ill; 345
But my tale shall ye hear, and God teach ye to aid me with right goodwill!'
And so did his message urge him he thought not on the thronging crowd,
Till the eyes of the king beheld him, and greeting he spake aloud.
Then he gave to his hand the letter that bade to King Arthur's heart,
As he read it, two guests, joy and sorrow, alike there the twain had part 350
And he spake, 'Hail! the fair day's dawning, by whose light I have read this word,
And of thee, O son of my sister, true tidings at last have heard!
If in manhood I may but serve thee as kinsman and friend, if faith
Ever ruled my heart, 'twill be open to the word that Sir Gawain saith!'
Then he spake to the squire, 'Now tell me if Sir Gawain be glad at heart?' 355
'Yea, sire, at thy will, with the joyful I ween shall he have his part,'
(And thus quoth the squire in his wisdom,) 'yet his honour he sure shall lose,
And no man fresh joy may give him, if thine aid thou shalt here refuse.
At thy succour his gladness waxeth, and from out of dark sorrow's door
Shall grief from his heart be banished, if thou hearken his need so sore. 360
As of yore doth he offer service to the queen, and it is his will
That the knights of the good Round Table as their comrade account him still,
And think on their faith, nor let him be 'spoiled of his honour's meed,
But pray thee his cry to hearken, and make to his aid good speed!'
Quoth King Arthur, 'Dear friend and comrade, bear this letter unto the queen, 365
Let her read therein, and tell us why our portion hath twofold been,
And at one while we joy and we sorrow. How King Gramoflanz is fain
In the pride of his heart, and his malice, to work ill to my knight, Gawain;
He thinketh for sure that my nephew shall be Eidegast, whom he slew,
Thence grief hath he won; deeper sorrow I'ld teach him, and customs new!' 370
Then the squire he would pass where a welcome so kindly he did receive,
And he gave to the queen the letter, and many an eye must grieve,
[Pg 85] And with crystal tears run over, as with sweet lips she read so clear
The words that within were written, and the need of Gawain they hear,
And his prayer did she read before them; nor long would the squire delay 375
With skill to entreat the ladies, and aid at their hand to pray.
King Arthur, Sir Gawain's uncle, he wrought with a hearty will
That his vassals might take the journey: nor did she abide her still,
Guinevere, the wise and the courteous, for she prayed them make no delay,
Her ladies, but bravely deck them, and get on their stately way. 380
Quoth Kay aloud in his anger, 'If ever I dared believe
That so gallant a man as Gawain of Norway on earth should live
I would cry to him, "Come thou nearer!" Fetch him swift, else he swift will go,
As a squirrel away he flasheth, and is lost ere his place ye know!'
To the queen quoth the squire, 'Now, Lady, my lord must I swiftly seek, 385
His cause do I leave to thine honour!' To her chamberlain did she speak,
'See thou that this squire doth rest well, and look well unto his steed,
Is it hewn with spurs, find another, the best that shall serve his need.
And what else beside shall fail him, for his dress, or lest pledge he lose,
Make ready as he shall ask thee, and naught unto him refuse!' 390
And she quoth, 'Thou shalt say unto Gawain, I am ever to serve him fain,
Thy leave from the king will I care for, he greeteth thy lord again!'
Thus the king he was fain for the journey; and the feast it might now be served,
Since the right of the good Round Table by this venture was well observed;
And joy in their hearts awakened, since this gallant knight Gawain 395
Should be yet in life, and true tidings they might of his welfare gain.
And the knights of that noble order, that even were glad at heart,
And there sat the king, and those others who had in the ring their part,
And they sat and they ate with their monarch who fame by their strife had won,
And the news of this gallant venture wrought joy to them every one. 400
Now the squire might betake him homewards, since his errand so well had sped,
He gat forth at the early dawning, ere the sun should be high o'erhead,
And the queen's chamberlain he gave him a charger, and robes beside,
[Pg 86] And gold lest his pledge be forfeit, and glad on his way he hied,
For had he not won from King Arthur what should end his lord's sorrow sore? 405
And I know not the days of his journey, but in safety he came once more
To Château Merveil; then joyful was Arnivé, for as she bade
The porter bare news of his coming, how his steed he no whit had stayed,
But swiftly had done his errand. Then in secret she made her way
To where by the castle drawbridge the squire did his charger stay, 410
And she asked him much of his journey, and why he in haste must ride?
Quoth the squire, ''Tis forbidden, Lady! my errand I needs must hide,
An oath have I sworn of silence, and my lord he might well be wroth
If to thee I should tell the tidings, for so should I break mine oath,
And a fool would he surely hold me! Ask himself what thou fain wouldst learn!' 415
Yet she strove still with many a question from his purpose the squire to turn,
Then weary was he of her pleading, and in anger this word he spake,
'Without cause dost thou here delay me, for I think not mine oath to break!'
So he went where he found his master, and the Turkowit brave Florand,
And Lischois, and the lady of Logrois, many ladies did with them stand, 420
And the squire made his way to his master, and up stood the knight Gawain,
And he took him aside, and welcome he bade him in joyful strain,
'Now tell unto me, my comrade, the tidings thou here hast brought,
If thy news be for joy or for sorrow, what speak they of me at court?'
'And say, didst thou find King Arthur?' quoth the squire, 'My master, yea, 425
The king, and the queen, and with them many brave knights I saw alway,
And they offer to thee their service, and they will at thy bidding come,
And they heard in such sort thy message, with such gladness, that every one,
Rich and poor, as one man were joyful when I spake, thou wert safe and well.
And the folk there were sure a marvel! Their number I may not tell! 430
And the Table Round, by thy message, was spread for the feast I ween;
And if knight e'er won fame by his valour, then I wot that thy fame hath been
Far greater than all who hearkened to the words that I spake of thee,
And it beareth the crown o'er all others, tho' mighty their fame shall be!'
[Pg 87]
Then he told him all that befell there, how he spake with the gracious queen, 435
And the counsel she gave unto him; and how he the folk had seen,
Those brave knights and gentle ladies; how Gawain should behold their face
At Ioflanz, before the combat, and the end of his day of grace.
And the sorrow of Gawain vanished, yet his joy in his heart he'ld hide,
Tho' from grief did he pass to gladness; yet the squire must his oath abide 440
And yet for a space keep silence—Forgotten was all his care,
And thither he went, and he sat him again by his lady fair,
And with joy he abode in the castle till King Arthur to his relief
Might come with his host—Now hearken to a story of love and grief:
Gawain he was ever joyful; one morn did it so befall 445
That many a knight and lady were seen in that stately hall,
And Gawain sat apart in a window, and looked o'er the stream so wide,
And with many a tale of wonder sat Arnivé the knight beside.
To the queen spake the gallant hero, 'Ah! hearken, my Lady dear,
If my questions they shall not vex thee, do thou to my words give ear 450
And tell me the wondrous story, which as yet shall be hid from me—
That I live, and my life is joyful, I owe it to none but thee;
Tho' my heart had the wit of manhood, yet the Duchess she held it fast,
But thou in such wise hast helped me that my sorrow is overpast;
Of my love, and my wounds had I died here, but with wisdom thy helpful hand 455
Thou didst stretch to my aid, and hast loosed me for aye from my sorrow's band.
I owe thee my life! My Lady of healing, now tell to me
The wonder that was, and the marvel that yet in this place shall be.
Say, wherefore by mighty magic hath Klingsor this palace made?
For surely my life had I lost here had thy wisdom not been mine aid!' 460
Then out quoth the wise Arnivé, (and ne'er with such goodly fame
Of womanly faith and wisdom fair youth unto old age came,)
'Sir Knight, these are but small marvels to the marvels his cunning hand,
And his skill in hidden magic, have wrought in full many a land.
He who counteth it shame unto us that into his power we fell, 465
He sinneth for sure! His doings, Sir Knight, I to thee will tell.
[Pg 88] Many folk, I ween, hath he troubled, his land is Terre de Labûr:
From a wondrous race he springeth, whose marvels they aye endure,
For Virgil was his forefather, in Naples his spells he wrought:
And in this wise his nephew Klingsor was to shame and to sorrow brought;' 470
'And the chief of his towns was Capua—such high fame was his, I ween,
That never in praise or in honour methinks had he shamèd been,
And all folk they spake of Duke Klingsor, and praised him, both man and maid,
Till in this wise he won dishonour, and his glory to earth was laid.
In Sicily reigned a monarch, King Ibert, his life was blest 475
With a fair wife, Iblis, none fairer e'er hung on a mother's breast,
And Klingsor would do her service, till her love should be his reward,
And in shame did he win his guerdon from the hand of her rightful lord.'
'If here I must tell his secret, forgiveness I first must pray,
For methinks it shall be a story that scarce fitteth my lips to say; 480
With a stroke was he made magician, with the self-same stroke unmanned'—
Then loudly he laughed, Sir Gawain, as the tale he must understand.
'In Kalot Enbolot's castle he won him this lasting shame,
(I trow 'tis a mighty fortress, and far lands shall know its fame,)
With his wife did the monarch find him, there lay Klingsor within her arm, 485
And sorely must he repent him of his slumber so soft and warm,
For the hand of the king avenged him in such wise as he deemed his right;
And he left with his knife such token of shame on the traitor knight
That henceforward the love of woman it rejoiceth him never more!
And I wot well for his dishonour many folk shall have suffered sore.' 490
'('Tis not in the land of Persia) in a city called Persida
Were magic spells first woven; it stands in a land afar,
And thither did Klingsor journey, and there did he learn such skill,
That with secrets of magic cunning he worketh whate'er he will.
For the ill that was wrought his body he beareth goodwill to none, 495
But rejoiceth to work them evil, the more if they fame have won.'
'E'en such peril beset one monarch—Irôt was, I ween, his name,
And Rosch-Sabbins was his kingdom—At length to such pass he came,
[Pg 89] That he bade him to take of that country what he would, so he peace would keep;
Then Klingsor he took of the monarch this mountain so high and steep, 500
And the land for eight miles around it; on the summit did Klingsor rear
The wonder-work thou seest, and this palace we look on here.
And there faileth nor worldly riches, nor marvel of magic skill,
If for thirty years one besieged it, methinks 'twere provisioned still.
And power doth he hold o'er all spirits, 'twixt the earth and the heaven above, 505
Both evil and good, save those only whom God doth from his power remove.'
'Sir Knight, since thy deadly peril thou hast passed, nor thy death hast found,
He gives to thine hand his kingdom, this Burg, and the lands around,
No claim doth he make upon it; and peace doth he promise thee—
This he sware in the ears of his people, and a man of his word is he, 510
That the knight who withstood the venture, this gift should be his for aye.
And all who from Christendom's countries 'neath the spell of his magic lay,
Be they woman, or man, or maiden, are thy vassals both one and all,
And many from lands of paynim with us 'neath his power must fall.
Let this folk then now get them homewards, where yet for our loss they mourn, 515
For to dwell in the land of the stranger, it maketh my heart forlorn
And He, who the stars hath counted, may He teach thee to give us aid,
And turn once again to rejoicing those hearts that are sore afraid!'
'A child was born of a mother, who its mother's mother shall be;
For the ice it came of the water; when the sunlight shineth free, 520
Then nothing I ween shall hinder that water from ice be born—
Of my glad youth I often think me, tho' now I must weep forlorn,
If my lot shall once more be joyful then the child from the child shall spring.
And thou, art thou wise and courteous, methinks well mayst work this thing!'
''Tis long since all joy forsook me! The skiff 'neath its sail flies fast, 525
But the man who doth sail within it hath swifter his voyage o'erpast.
If thou readest aright my riddle thy fame shall wax high and fleet,
For our joy canst thou make to blossom, and our song to ring clear and sweet.
[Pg 90] And, bringers of joy, shall we journey into many a distant land,
Where the folk weep sore for our losing, and shall greet us with outstretched hand!' 530
'Of joy had I once full measure: a crownèd queen was I!
And my daughter amid her princes bare a crown too right royally,
And all men they deemed us worthy—Sir Knight, I wrought ill to none,
But alike, both man and maiden, from my hand due guerdon won.
And all men they knew, and they owned me one fit o'er the folk to reign, 535
For I, so God gave me wisdom, ne'er brought to another pain.
Yet she who in gladness dwelleth, tho' a fair praise she think to earn,
And the prayer of the poor she hearken, yet her joy to such grief may turn
That a poor lad may make her joyful—Sir Knight, here o'erlong I stay,
Yet there cometh no man who doth know me, and turneth my care away!' 540
Then out quoth the gallant hero, 'Lady, if life be mine,
Then gladness shall be thy portion, nor shalt thou in exile pine!'
Now this self-same day brought the coming of Arthur the Breton king,
The son of the sad Arnivé, whom kinship and faith did bring;
And many a fair new banner Gawain from the castle saw, 545
And the field it was thick with the horsemen who near at his summons draw.
On the road that wound hence from Logrois came many a blazoned spear,
And Gawain, he was glad at their coming; for delay it oft teacheth fear,
Who waiteth o'erlong for succour, he doubteth 'twill come too late!
From such doubt had King Arthur freed him! Ah me! how he rode in state! 550
Gawain, he would hold it secret, yet his eyes they were fain to weep,
Little good had they been for cisterns, since the water they failed to keep.
And for love must he weep, for Arthur such love had toward him shown,
He had cherished him from his childhood, and had dealt with him as his own;
And the twain they had never wavered, but their faith to each other kept, 555
And nor falsehood nor thought of doubting betwixt their two hearts had crept.
But Arnivé was 'ware of his weeping, and quoth, 'Now shalt thou begin
To joy with the shout of rejoicing, thus comfort we all shall win.
[Pg 91] 'Gainst sorrow shouldst thou defend thee—See the host that now draweth nigh,
Methinks 'tis the Duchess' army, with their coming shall joy wax high.' 560
Now many a tent and banner they saw wind across the plain,
But one shield did they bear before them, and Arnivé beheld again,
And she knew, as of yore, the blazon, and Isayé she called the name
Of the knight, he should be king's marshal, and Uther Pendragon came!
But the shield it was borne by another, graceful of limb and tall, 565
And she said, 'He shall be queen's marshal, and Maurin his name they call.'
But little she knew, Arnivé, that dead were both king and knight,
And Maurin, he held the office that afore was his father's right.
To the bank in the meadow of conflict rode the host—They who served the queen
Found a resting-place for the ladies, and a fair camp it was I ween. 570
By the side of a swift, clear streamlet they set up the tents so fair,
And, apart, many goodly circles for the king and his knights prepare.
And methinks they had left behind them, wherever the host must ride,
A mighty track of hoof-prints on the field and the roadways wide!
Gawain, by the mouth of Bené, his host Plippalinòt prayed 575
To hold vessel and boat in safe keeping that no crossing that day be made.
And the maid from the hand of Gawain took the first gift of his rich store,
'Twas a swallow, the harp was costly, such as harpers in England bore.
Then joyful, she sought her father, and Gawain, he gave command
To shut fast the outer portals, since a host at the gate did stand; 580
And old and young they listed the word that he courteous spake:
'On the further side of the river an army its camp doth make,
And never, by land or by water, a mightier host I saw,
Would they fight, then I pray ye help me my knighthood to prove once more!'
With one voice did they make the promise—Then they asked of the Duchess fair, 585
If the host should be hers? But she answered, 'Believe me, of all men there
I know neither shield nor bearer; perchance he who wrought me ill
Hath entered my land, and thought him to bow Logrois unto his will.
[Pg 92] He hath found it right well defended! My people might well defy,
From their tower and their battlements lofty, e'en such army as here doth lie! 590
Hath he wrought there fresh deeds of knighthood, then King Gramoflanz sure hath thought
To revenge himself for the garland that my knight from his tree hath brought.
But whoever they be, I know well, they shall many a joust have seen,
And many a spear at Logrois by mine army hath splintered been.'
And never a lie had she spoken—For Arthur must peril face 595
As he rode thro' the land of Logrois; and many of Breton race
In knightly joust had fallen—But Arthur their ill repaid
In the self-same coin, and on both sides sore stress on the host was laid.
Battle-weary, so came they hither of whom one full oft must hear
That they sold their lives full dearly, and did never a foeman fear. 600
And either side had suffered, both Garel and Gaherjet,
King Meljanz of Lys, and Iofreit, son of Idol, in durance set
Ere even the end of the Tourney—From Logrois they captive bare
The Duke of Vermandois, Friam, and Count Richard, he of Nevers,
Who naught but one spear had needed ere he against whom he rode 605
Had fallen 'neath his stroke so mighty, and no man his joust abode.
With his own hand King Arthur made him his captive, this gallant knight;
Then, dauntless, they spurred them onward, and the armies they met in fight,
And a forest, methinks, it cost them! For no man the jousts might know
That were ridden, a rain of splinters fell thick at each mighty blow; 610
And the Bretons, they bore them bravely 'gainst the Lady of Logrois' host,
And Arthur himself the rear-guard would keep at sore conflict's cost.
And in this wise they fought and they vexed them through the hours of the livelong day,
Till the greater part of the army outwearied with conflict lay.
And well might Gawain have told her, the Duchess, that to his aid 615
They had ridden her land, then, I wot well, no strife had their way delayed,
But he would that no lips should tell her till her own eye the truth had seen—
Then he dealt as should well befit him had King Arthur his foeman been,
And made ready to march against him with rich tents and warlike gear.
[Pg 93] And no man of them all repented that he came as a stranger here, 620
For with open hand Sir Gawain his gifts upon all did shower
In such wise that ye might have deemed well he drew nigh to his dying hour.
And servant, and knight, and lady, they looked on his gifts so fair,
And all, with one mouth, they praised him who brought help in their sore
And all, for his sake, were joyful—Then the hero he bade prepare 625
Strong chargers, and well-trained palfreys, such as well might a lady bear.
Nor the knights should be lacking armour—Strong squires in coat of mail
Were ready to do his bidding, nor should one of their number fail.
And in this wise he gave his orders, four knights he aside did take:
His chamberlain one; and another, cup-bearer he fain would make; 630
The third he would make his steward; and his marshal the fourth should be,
For this was his prayer, and the four knights said 'Yea' to him willingly.
At peace lay King Arthur's army, and no greeting did Gawain send,
Yet I wot well it sorely grieved him! With the morning the host did wend,
With the blast of many a trumpet, their way unto Ioflanz' plain, 635
And the rear-guard was armed, yet no foeman did they find in their path again.
Then Gawain took his office-bearers, and in this wise to them he spake,
The marshal, he bade him straightway to Ioflanz his way to take,
'There a camp of my own prepare me—The host that thou here didst see
Shall unto that plain have ridden, and its lord will I name to thee, 640
For 'tis well that thou too shouldst know him, he is Arthur, my kinsman true,
In whose court and whose care from my childhood I unto my manhood grew.
Now do this thing in which I trust thee, rule my journey in such a wise,
With such riches and pomp, that my coming be stately in all men's eyes;
But within the walls of this castle no word of the truth be told— 645
That the king for my sake cometh hither, this must thou for secret hold!'
So did they as Gawain bade them, and Plippalinòt he found
Little space had he now for leisure, since his lord was on journey bound.
For large and small his vessels, both boat and skiff, must fare
O'er the water, and troops well armèd, ahorse and afoot they bare. 650
[Pg 94] And the marshal the squires and footmen on the track of the Bretons led,
And hither and thither riding behind them the army sped.
And they bare with them, so 'twas told me, the tent that in days of yore
Fair Iblis had sent to Klingsor, as pledge of the love she bore.
By the sending of this love-token their secret to men was told, 655
And the favour they bare each other in the days that have waxen old.
And no cost had they spared who had wrought it, and no better was ever seen
Save the tent of Eisenhart only—Then apart on the grass so green
They set up the tent, and around it many others in goodly ring,
And so great was the pomp and the riches that men deemed it a wondrous thing. 660
And they spake before King Arthur that the marshal of Gawain came,
And his lord the same day would follow, and encamp him upon the plain.
'Twas the talk of all the vassals—Then Gawain, from falsehood free,
Rode forth from his home and there followed a goodly company.
And their train was so richly ordered that marvels I here might tell! 665
With church gear and chamber hangings the pack-steeds were burdened well;
And some were with harness laden, and above the harness bare
Full many a crested helmet, and shield that was blazoned fair.
And many a gallant war-horse was led by the bridle rein,
And behind them both knight and lady rode close in the glittering train. 670
Would ye measure the length? a mile long, methinks, had it stretched, and more,
And Sir Gawain, I ween, forgat not that a gallant knight should draw
His rein by the side of each lady, and ever of love they spake,
Or one scant of wit had deemed them! And in this wise the road they take,
The Turkowit, brave Florand, for companion upon his way 675
Had the daughter of Queen Arnivé, Sangivé of Norroway,
And Lischois, who was ne'er unready, he rode at sweet Kondrie's side,
And by Gawain the maid Itonjé, his sister, perforce must ride.
At the same time the Queen Arnivé and the Duchess of fair Logrois
Rode gaily the one by the other, for in such wise they made their choice. 680
Beyond the camp of King Arthur the tents of Gawain they lay,
And they who were fain to reach them thro' the army must take their way.
'Twas a sight for all men to gaze at! Ere the folk to their journey's end
[Pg 95] Might come, of a courteous custom, to do honour unto his friend,
Gawain by the tent of Arthur bade the first maiden take her stand, 685
Then the marshal so did his office that the second, to her right hand,
And the third beside the second, should unto each other ride,
And none of them all delayed them—So made they a circle wide,
Here the matrons, and there the maidens, and by each of them rode a knight
Who would fain do the lady service, and would for her favours fight. 690
And thus round the tent of the monarch stood the ladies, a goodly ring,
And to Gawain, the rich in gladness, fair welcome would Arthur bring.
To the ground sprang Gawain and Arnivé, and her daughters with children twain,
The Lady of Logrois, and the heroes he o'erthrew on the grassy plain,
Lischois and the gallant Florand; then unto those heroes brave 695
Stepped Arthur from his pavilion, and a kindly welcome gave;
And the queen, she greeted Gawain, and she welcomed him and his
Of true heart, and from many a lady, I ween, was there many a kiss!
Quoth Arthur unto his nephew, 'Say, who shall thy comrades be?'
Quoth Gawain, 'A kiss of greeting from my lady I fain would see, 700
'Twere ill an she should refuse it, for noble are both I ween.'
Then Florand and the Duke of Gowerzein were kissed by the gracious queen.
Then into the tent they gat them, and to many the fair field wide
Was as if it were full of maidens, so close stood they, side by side.
Then not as the heavy-footed sprang Arthur upon his steed, 705
And he turned to the knights and the ladies in the ring with a kindly heed,
And he rode from one to the other, and gracious the words he spake,
From the lips of the king so kindly each one must his welcome take.
For this was the will of Gawain that no man from hence should ride
Till he himself rode with them, but courteous his coming bide. 710
Then the king would dismount, and straightway he entered the tent again,
And he sat him beside his nephew, and straitly he prayed Gawain
To say who were these five ladies, whom hither the knight did bring.
Then Gawain he looked on the eldest and he spake to the Breton king,
'Didst thou know Uther Pendragon? 'Tis Arnivé, his queen and wife, 715
And well mayst thou look upon her, from the twain didst thou draw thy life.
[Pg 96] And there standeth the Queen of Norway, and I am the son she bare,
And these twain they shall be my sisters; say, are they not maidens fair?'
Ah! then once again they kissed them, and sorrow and joy were seen
Of all those who looked upon them, from Love this their lot had been; 720
And they laughed, and they cried together, and their lips spake of joy and woe,
And I ween that with tears of gladness their bright eyes must overflow.
Then Arthur he spake to Gawain, 'Nephew, unknown to me
Is the fifth of these lovely ladies, I prithee who may she be?'
'The Duchess, is she, of Logrois,' quoth Gawain in his courtesy, 725
'In her service have I come hither, and, so it was told to me,
Thou thyself hast sought her dwelling, and how it rejoiced thee there,
Thou canst without shame declare us, as a widower dost thou fare.'
Quoth Arthur, 'She doth, as her captive, thy kinsman Gaherjet hold,
And Garel, who in many a conflict hath shown h'm a hero bold; 730
From my very side was he taken, one charge had we made so nigh
That almost we gained the portal, when lo! from the gate did fly
Meljanz of Lys! How he battled! On high flew a banner white
And the host who fought beneath it took captive my gallant knight.
And the banner it bare a blazon of crimson, a bleeding heart, 735
And right through the midst was it pierced by the shaft of a sable dart,
As one who to death is smitten—'Lirivoin' was the battle-cry
Of the army who fought beneath it, and their hand did the victory buy.
My nephew, Iofreit, was taken, and grief for his sake I know—
Yestreen did I keep the rear-guard, and the chance it hath worked me woe!' 740
Sore mourned the king for his sorrow—quoth the Duchess, with courteous mien,
'Sire, I speak thee free of all shaming, I had greeted thee not, I ween.
Thou mayst well have wrought me evil, tho' no wrong had I done to thee,
And I would that God's wisdom teach thee that harm to make good to me.
The knight to whose aid thou camest, if combat with me he dared, 745
Hath found me, methinks, defenceless, with side to the foeman bared.
If yet for such strife he lusteth, nor of conflict hath had his fill,
With never a sword or a weapon I think to withstand him still.'
[Pg 97] Then Gawain, he quoth to King Arthur, 'Wilt thou that we fill the plain
With knights? For we well can do so—I think me such grace to gain 750
From the Duchess that all the captives from thine host she will swiftly free,
And, many a new spear bearing, her knighthood we here may see.'
'Yea, such were my will,' quoth Arthur; then the Duchess she gave command,
And many a gallant hero she summoned from Logrois' land—
And I wot well a host so goodly the earth ne'er had seen before— 755
Then Gawain, he prayed leave of the monarch, he would to his tent withdraw,
And the king's will was e'en as Gawain's, and all they who hither rode
With the knight, they turned their bridles, and with him in his camp abode.
And his tent was so rich and so goodly, as befitted a gallant knight,
That afar from its costly trappings had poverty taken flight. 760
And there rode unto his pavilion full many whose hearts were sore
For the weary days since he left them, and the love they to Gawain bore.
And the wounds of Kay had been healèd since he jousted by Plimizöl,
And he looked on the wealth of Gawain, and with envy his heart was full,
And he quoth, 'Now, King Lot, his father, my monarch's near of kin, 765
Ne'er thought with such pomp to shame us, nor a camp of his own would win.'
(For ever did he bethink him how Gawain would no vengeance take
On the knight who so sorely smote him, when his right arm in joust he brake,)
'God worketh for some His wonders,—Who gave Gawain this woman folk?'
And the words they were scarce a friend's words that Kay in his anger spoke. 770
Of the honour his friend hath won him the true knight is ever glad,
But the faithless, aloud he crieth, and his heart ever waxeth sad
When the heart of his friend rejoiceth, and he needs must his gladness see.
Bliss and honour had fallen to Gawain; and, if one would more favoured be,
I know not what thing he may wish for! Thus ever the evil mind 775
Is with envy filled, while the brave man his comfort and joy doth find
When honour shall seek his comrade, and shame from his face doth flee—
Gawain ne'er forgat his knighthood, and from falsehood was ever free;
And thus it was right and fitting that men on his bliss should gaze,
And gladness and fair rejoicing henceforward should crown his days. 780
[Pg 98] In what wise for the folk that followed did the knight of Norway care,
Alike for his knights and ladies? Not ill was, methinks, their fare.
And Arthur and all his people they looked on King Lot's fair son,
And I trow well they greatly marvelled at the riches his hand had won.
Now the evening meal was ended, and 'twas time for the folk to sleep, 785
And little I grudge their slumber! A guard thro' the night they keep,
And lo! at the early morning, ere the dawning had waxed to-day,
Came a folk in goodly armour, and the men of Logrois were they.
And they read their helmet's token by the light of the waning moon,
On this side lay the host of Arthur, and his camp had they passed full soon, 790
And they came to the goodly circle where Gawain and his men should lie—
And, methinks, who such gallant succour by the might of his hand could buy
Were reckoned of men a hero! Then Gawain bade his Marshal find
A place for the host to camp on, but, such was their leader's mind,
He deemed it best that their circle apart from the rest should be, 795
And 'twas even the hour of noontide ere all were lodged fittingly.
Then Arthur, the noble monarch, a message would straightway send;
Unto Rosche Sabbins, and the city, a squire on his way should wend
To King Gramoflanz should he speak thus, 'Since conflict the king doth pray,
And he lusteth to fight my nephew, the strife shall he not delay, 800
For Sir Gawain is fain to meet him—But bid him to meet us here,
As a gallant man do we know him, were he other, 'twould cost him dear!'
And the messenger of King Arthur he rode on his errand fain—
Then forth, with Lischois and Sir Florand, rode the gallant knight, Gawain,
And he prayed them to show them to him who from many a land afar 805
Had ridden for love's high service, and had fought in his lady's war.
And he met them and gave them greeting in such wise that the heroes knew
Sir Gawain for courteous lover, and faithful knight and true.
With that again he left them, and in secret his way he sped,
And he gat him again to his chamber, and he armed him from foot to head; 810
[Pg 99] He would know if his wounds were healèd so that never a scar should pain,
And his limbs would he test, since so many, both maiden and man were fain
To look on the strife, had they wisdom they should see if his dauntless hand
Might even to-day, as aforetime, the victor's crown command.
A squire did he bid to bring him his charger, Gringuljet, 815
And he sprang to the saddle lightly and the horse to a gallop set.
He would try both himself and his charger, if ready for strife the twain—
Ah! woe is me for his journey! so rode he upon the plain,
And so had his Fortune willed it, that a knight his bridle drew
By the side of the river Sabbins, and ye know that knight so true, 820
And a rock, men well might call him, for manhood and courage high,
And no knight might stand before him, and falsehood his heart did fly.
And yet so weak was his body that no burden it bare of wrong,
Yea, a hand's-breadth had been too heavy, and a finger-length too long!
And, I ween, of this gallant hero of old time ye oft must hear, 825
For my tale hath come to its root-tree, and draweth its goal anear.

[Pg 100]
[Pg 101]


[Pg 102]


Book xiv. tells how Parzival and Gawain met and, unknowing, fought with each other, how Gawain was defeated, and of Parzival's grief when he learnt with whom he had fought.

How the combat between Gawain and Gramoflanz was deferred till the morrow; and how Parzival was welcomed at the court of King Arthur, and admitted to the Brotherhood of the Round Table.

How Parzival, in Gawain's stead, fought with and overcame King Gramoflanz, and how the latter sent messengers to King Arthur to pray that none but Gawain should fight against him. Of the grief of Itonjé when she learnt how her brother would fight with King Gramoflanz, and how she prayed the aid of King Arthur.

How Arthur and Brandelidelein made peace between the Duchess and Gawain, and of the wedding feast that was held in the camp. Of Parzival's sorrow and longing for his wife, and how ere the dawn of day he stole in secret from the court.

[Pg 103]



If now the gallant Gawain a knightly joust would ride,
Tho' never I feared for his honour yet I fear what may now betide.
And tho' dear be the other's safety yet never a doubt I know,
For he who in strife would face him an army had found for foe.
O'er far seas, in the land of paynim, his helmet was fashioned fair, 5
And ruby-red was his harness, and the trappings his charger bare.
So rode he in search of adventure, and his shield it was piercèd thro'—
He had plucked for his helm a garland, and the tree where the garland grew
Was the tree that Gramoflanz guarded; and Gawain knew the wreath again,
And he thought, did the king here wait him it were counted to him for shame, 10
If hither for strife he had ridden then strife there perforce must be,
Tho' alone were the twain, and no lady the fate of their jousting see.
From Monsalväsch they came, the chargers, which each of the knights bestrode,
And they spurred them alike to a gallop, and each 'gainst the other rode,
On the dewy grass of the meadow, not the sand of the Tourney ring, 15
Should the joust this morn be ridden; and I ween, as their deeds I sing,
I had mourned for the harm of either—'Twas a fair joust they rode that morn,
Of a race that fought fair and knightly was each gallant hero born;
And little had been his winning, great his loss, who there won the prize,
And ne'er had he ceased to mourn it, if he were in his calling wise. 20
[Pg 104] For faith had they pledged to each other, nor of old time, nor yet to-day,
Had their love and their truth been wounded—Now hear how they fought the fray:
Swiftly they rode, yet in such wise that each knight must mourn his fate—
For kinsman and knightly brethren, in strength of foeman's hate,
In strife had come together; and he who this joust should win 25
His joy were the pledge of sorrow, and his deed must he count for sin—
And each right hand it smote so surely that the comrades and foemen twain,
With horse and with goodly harness, fell prone on the grassy plain.
And then in such wise they bear them, with their swords such blows they smite,
That their shields are hewn and riven, and cloven in deadly fight. 30
And the splinters of shields, and the grass blades, were mingled upon the ground,
And far other the look of the meadow ere their strife had its ending found;
And too long must they wait for a daysman—'twas early when first they fought,
And the hours sped by, and no man an end to their conflict brought,
And no man was there beside them—Will ye hear how, the self-same day, 35
King Arthur's knights to the army of King Gramoflanz made their way?
On a plain by the sea he camped him—On the one side of the ground
Flowed the Sabbins, and over against it the Poinzacleins its ending found.
And the plain it was strongly guarded; Rosche Sabbins the citadel,
With towers and with walls deep-moated, defended the fourth side well. 40
And the host on the plain lay stretching its length for a mile and more,
And half a mile broad had they deemed it—As the messengers toward it bore,
Many unknown knights rode forward, archers, squires, with arms and spear,
And behind them, with waving banners, did the mighty host draw near.
With ringing blasts of trumpet would the army leave the plain, 45
That very morn to Ioflanz marched the monarch and all his train.
And clear rung the ladies' bridles as they circled around the king—
And, if I may tell the story, the tidings I fain would bring
Of those who had ridden hither, and camped on the sward so green,
For Gramoflanz bade them hither, and his combat they fain had seen. 50
[Pg 105] If ye shall not before have heard it then here would I make it known,
From Punt, the water-locked city, to his nephew's aid had flown
Brandelidelein, and with him were six hundred ladies fair,
By the side of each lovely lady her knight must his armour wear;
For knighthood and love would he serve her—Of Punturtois, the gallant knights 55
Were fain for this stately journey, in sooth 'twas a noble sight.
And there rode, an ye will believe me, Count Bernard of Riviers,
Rich Narant had been his father, and left Uckerland to his heir.
And in many a ship o'er the water had he brought so fair a host
Of ladies, that none gainsaid him who would make of their beauty boast. 60
Two hundred of them were maidens, and two hundred already wed—
And if I have rightly counted 'neath his banner Count Bernard led
Five hundred knights well proven, who with him had sailed the sea,
And each well might face a foeman, and each should a hero be.
Thus King Gramoflanz would wreak vengeance in strife for the broken tree, 65
For he deemed he should be the victor, and the folk should his prowess see.
And the princes from out his kingdom, with many a valiant knight,
And many a lovely lady, had come to behold the fight;
And a goodly folk were gathered—Now Arthur's men drew near,
And they looked upon the monarch, how they found him ye now shall hear. 70
Of Palmât was the high seat 'neath him, and with silk was the couch spread o'er,
And maidens, so fair and graceful, they knelt low the king before,
And with iron hose they shod him; and high o'er the monarch's head,
A silk, Ecidemon-woven, both broad and long, was spread,
On twelve spear-shafts tall was it lifted, from the sunlight to be a shade— 75
Then came the men of King Arthur, and this was the word they said:
'Sire, King Arthur hath hither sent us, and ever hath he been known
As one whom all men have honoured, and whom all shall as victor own.
Yea, honour enow is his portion—And yet wouldst thou mar his fame,
Since upon the son of his sister thou thinkest to bring this shame! 80
And e'en had Sir Gawain wrought thee worse ill by far, I ween,
That the fame of the great Round Table might here for a shield have been.
[Pg 106] For brotherhood all have sworn him who sit at that noble board,
And stainless shall be their knighthood who own Arthur for king and lord!
Quoth the king, 'The strife I sware him e'en to-day my hand shall dare, 85
And Gawain to-day shall face me, if well or if ill he fare.
For this hath been truly told me, that King Arthur draweth near
With his queen, and his host of warriors; I bid them welcome here!
Tho' it may be the angry Duchess shall counsel him to mine ill,
Yet hearken and heed, ye children, the strife shall be foughten still. 90
For here have I many a follower, and hindered of none will be,
What one man can do unto me that bear I right joyfully!
And if now I should fear to face that to which I my pledge have sworn,
Of Love's service and Love's rewarding henceforward were I forlorn!
In her favour I found aforetime my life and my life's best bliss— 95
God knoweth how he hath pleased her, she oweth me much for this!—
And tho' ever I did disdain me to fight with one man alone,
Yet Gawain hath so bravely borne him that him as I my peer I'll own.
And I think me I shame my manhood when such easy strife I fight;
And yet have I fought, believe me, (ye can ask if it seem ye right,) 100
With folk whom mine hand hath proven to be valiant men and true,
But ne'er have I fought but one man! No praise shall be here my due,
From the lips of gracious women, tho' the victory be mine to-day—
And greatly my heart rejoiceth that her bands have been reft away
For whose sake I fight this conflict; so many a distant land 105
Are vassals unto King Arthur, and pay tribute unto his hand,
It may well be with him she cometh, for whose sake both joy and pain
Unto death I would gladly suffer, if she be for my service fain.
And what better fate can befall me than that this my fair lot shall be,
That she looketh upon my service, and her eyes shall my victory see!' 110
And near to the king sat Bené, nor her heart for the strife did fail,
For full oft had she seen his valour, and she deemed he might well prevail.
But yet had she known that Gawain was brother unto the maid,
And 'twas he who now stood in peril, of a sooth had she been dismayed.
A golden ring from Itonjé she brought him for token fair, 115
'Twas the same as her gallant brother did over the Sabbins bear
[Pg 107] O'er the Poinzacleins came Bené in a boat, and this word she spake,
'From Château Merveil doth my lady, with the others, her journey take.'
And she spake from the lips of Itonjé such steadfast words and true,
That more, from the lips of a maiden, I ween never monarch knew. 120
And she prayed him to think of her sorrow, since all gain did she hold as naught
For the gain of his love, and his service was all that her true heart sought.
And glad was the king at the tidings, yet would fight with her brother still—
'Twere better I had no sister, such rewarding would please me ill!
Then they bare unto him his harness, 'twas costly beyond compare— 125
No hero, by love constrainèd, who fought for love's guerdon fair,
Were he Gamuret, or Galoes, or Killicrates, the valiant king,
Had better decked his body the love of a maid to win—
And no richer silk had been woven in Ipopotiticon,
Or brought from Kalomedenté, or the city of Akraton, 130
Or from far-off Agatyrsjenté, than the silk for his garment wove—
Then he kissed the small ring golden, the pledge of Itonjé's love,
For he knew her for true and faithful, and tho' peril upon him pressed,
Yet the thought of her love and her longing would guard, as a shield, his breast.
All armed was now the monarch; twelve maidens on palfreys fair, 135
Each one a spear-shaft holding, the awning aloft would bear.
And the king, he rode beneath it, and its shadow was o'er his head,
As on to the strife he craved for the gallant hero sped.
And on either side of the monarch there rode fair maidens twain,
Tall and stately were they to look on, the noblest of all his train. 140
The messengers of King Arthur no longer they made delay,
And, behold! they met with Gawain as they rode on their homeward way,
And ne'er had they felt such sorrow, their voices they raised on high,
And they cried aloud for his peril, and their love and their loyalty.
For the strife had near found its ending, and victor was Gawain's foe, 145
For his strength, it was more than Gawain's, and well-nigh had he laid him low,
When the pages who rode towards them called loudly on Gawain's name,
For well did they know the hero, and it grieved them to see his shame.
Then he, who erewhile would fight him, of conflict would have no more,
[Pg 108] But he cast from his hand his weapon, and he cried, as he wept full sore, 150
'Accursèd am I, and dishonoured, and all blessing from me hath flown,
Since my luckless hand, unwitting, so sinful a strife hath known.
Methinks it is too unseemly! yea, guilty am I alway,
And born 'neath a star of Ill Fortune, and forced from all bliss to stray.
And the arms that to-day I carry are the same that of old I bore, 155
For they are of Ill-luck the token, e'en to-day as they were of yore.
Alas! that with gallant Gawain I have foughten so fierce a fight,
'Tis myself whom I here have vanquished, and my joy shall have taken flight.
With the first blow I struck against him misfortune hath reached my side,
And peace shall have sped far from me, and her face from my face doth hide!' 160
And Gawain heard, and saw his sorrow, and he spake out right wonderingly,
'Alas, Sir Knight, who art thou, who speakest thus well of me?
If I might such words have hearkened the while I had strength and power,
Then my honour had ne'er been forfeit, for the victory is thine this hour!
And fain would I know how men call him with whom I shall find my fame, 165
Since hereafter I needs must seek it, so tell me, I pray, thy name—
For ever was I the victor when I fought with one man alone.'
'Yea, gladly my name I'll tell thee who aforetime my face hast known,
And true service I fain would do thee wherever such chance befall,
For thy kinsman am I, and cousin, and men call me Parzival!' 170
Then out quoth Gawain, 'So, 'tis fitting, here Folly her goal hath found,
And her ways full straight hath she wroughten which aforetime but crooked wound.
Here have two hearts, leal and faithful, their hate 'gainst each other shown,
And thy hand which hath won the victory hath the twain of us overthrown.
And for both of us shalt thou sorrow, for thyself by thyself laid low, 175
And the thought it shall surely grieve thee if thy true heart true faith doth know!'
Then, e'en as the words were spoken, no longer the knight Gawain
Might stand for very weakness, for the blows they had dulled his brain,
And his footsteps they failed and faltered, and prone on the grass he lay—
Then down sprang the squire of King Arthur, and aid did he bring straightway, 180
[Pg 109] For he lifted his head, and from off it he loosened the helmet's band,
With his head-gear of peacock's feathers the face of Gawain he fanned
Till his care new strength had brought him—Now on to the field did ride,
From the armies twain, much people, they flocked hither from either side.
And each one would seek his station, for here should the fight be fought, 185
And the lists, they were set with tree-trunks, each smooth as a mirror wrought.
Gramoflanz the cost had given, since from him had the challenge come,
A hundred in all the tree-trunks, and brightly they shone each one.
And no man should come within them, and the place between was wide,
Full forty lengths from each other stood the fifty on either side, 190
Each blazoned with many colours; and here should the combat be;
And on either side the army from the strife should hold them free.
As by moat and rampart sundered, so should they in peace remain,
In this wise they sware, the foemen, King Gramoflanz and Gawain.
To this combat, by none awaited, came the folk from either side, 195
At the self-same hour, fain were they to know what should there betide,
For they marvelled much who had fought here, and had shown such knightly skill;
Or who should such strife have challenged, for alone was it foughten still,
And neither side their comrades had bidden unto the ring,
But alone had each knight come hither, and men deemed it a wondrous thing. 200
But now as the fight was foughten on the flower-besprinkled plain,
Came King Gramoflanz, to wreak vengeance for the garland upon Gawain;
And he heard what thing had chanced there, that so fierce the fight had been
That never a fiercer conflict with sword might a man have seen,
And the twain who fought together had never a cause to fight— 205
Then the king, from out his army, rode straight to the gallant knights;
And he found them battle-weary, and much he mourned their pain;
Tho' scarcely his strength might bear him, up-sprang the knight Gawain,
And the twain they stood together—Now Bené rode with the king,
And with him, as the strife was ended, she came to the battle-ring, 210
And she saw Gawain all powerless, whom, for honour and fair renown,
O'er all the world had she chosen to crown with joy's fairest crown.
[Pg 110] With a cry of heartfelt sorrow from her palfrey the maiden sprung,
And she spake, as her arms around him in a close embrace she flung,
'Accurst be the hand that such sorrow on so fair a form hath brought, 215
For in sooth all manly beauty its mirror in thee hath sought!'
On the sward did she bid him seat him, and, the while that she wept full sore,
With tender hand from his eyelids she wiped the sweat and gore;
And heavy and hot his harness—Then Gramoflanz quoth again,
'In sooth must I grieve for thy sorrow, since my hand wrought it not, Gawain; 220
If to-morrow again thou comest, and wilt meet me upon this field,
Then gladly will I await thee, and will face thee with spear and shield.
Now as lief would I fight with a woman as with thee, who art brought so low,
For how shall I win me honour if strength shall have failed my foe?
Go, rest thee to-day, for 'tis needful, and then wouldst thou take the place 225
Of thy father, King Lot, I am ready to meet thee here, face to face.'
But Parzival stood unwearied, nor as yet a sign he bare
Of pallor, nor strength had failed him, and he faced the monarch fair,
And he loosed from his head the helmet, that the king his face might see,
And he spake, 'Sir, if this my cousin in aught shall have wrongèd thee 230
Then take me as his pledge, unwearied, as thou seest, is yet mine hand,
And the wrath thou dost bear against him I may well with my sword withstand.'
Then spake the King of Rosche Sabbins, 'Sir Knight, at the morrow's morn
For my garland he payeth tribute, and its fame shall anew be born,
Or to such a pass shall he bring me that shame shall my portion be— 235
Thou mayst otherwise be a hero, but this conflict is not for thee!'
In wrath spake the lips of Bené, 'Fie on thee! thou faithless hound,
Thro' him whom thy false heart hateth thine heart hath its freedom found.
She to whom thou wouldst do love-service, she liveth at his command,
Thyself hast renounced the victory which else might have crowned thine hand. 240
Thou hast no claim on Love's rewarding, and if ever within thine heart
Love had for awhile her dwelling with falsehood she bare a part!'
[Pg 111] As thus she waxed full wrathful, Gramoflanz led the maid aside,
And quoth,'Now, Lady, grieve not, this strife must needs betide.
But stay thou here with thy master, and say to his sister sweet 245
That I am in truth her servant, in all that a knight finds meet.'
But now as Bené hearkened, and knew of a truth Gawain
Was brother unto her lady, and must fight on the grassy plain,
Then drave griefs plough its furrows thro' her heart, both deep and sore,
And filled them with flood of sorrow, for truth in her heart she bore. 250
And she quoth, 'Ride hence, accursèd, thou false and faithless one,
For steadfast love and loyal thine heart hath never won!'
The king and his knights they rode hence, and the lads of Arthur's train
They took the heroes' chargers, weary with strife the twain.
Then Parzival, and Gawain, and Bené, that maiden bright, 255
They rode to the camp of King Arthur with many a gallant knight.
And Parzival in manhood had so borne the prize away
That all men were glad at his coming, and rejoiced in his fame that day.
And more, if I can, would I tell ye—the wise men of either host
Spake but of this man, of his valour in this wise they made their boast, 260
'Wot ye well who hath here been victor? 'Twas Parzival, he alone!'
And so fair was his face to look on none fairer was ever known.
So thought they who looked upon him, and they swear it, both man and maid—
So he came to the tent of Gawain; and little his host delayed,
But he bade them bring costly raiment, and rich as was his own gear, 265
And alike were they clad, the heroes, and all folk must the marvel hear
That Parzival came among them, of whose glory all men had heard,
And the fame of his deeds so knightly, and no mouth but spake this word.
Quoth Gawain, 'Art thou fain to look on four queens who are kin to thee,
And other fair ladies with them, then thy guide will I gladly be.' 270
Quoth Gamuret's son, 'If fair ladies be here thou shalt vex them not
With the sight of my face, for no kindness from woman shall be my lot
Since by Plimizöl's bank they hearkened to the shame that upon me fell:
May their honour of God be guarded, for ever I wish them well,
[Pg 112] But my shame weigheth heavy on me, and it vexeth so sore my heart, 275
I were fain ne'er to look on woman, but live me a life apart'
'Yet so must it be,' quoth Gawain; then Parzival he led
To the four queens, who gave him greeting and kissed him with lips so red.
But sorely it vexed the Duchess, that she, too, must kiss this knight,
Who little had cared for her kisses, nor would for her favours fight— 280
Tho' her lands and her love she proffered when he before Logrois fought,
And she rode far to overtake him—thus shame in her anger wrought.
But the others they spake him gently, with never a thought of wrong,
Till shame from his heart was driven, and joy in its stead waxed strong.
Then Gawain of right and reason, if Bené his grace would hold, 285
Bade her seal her lips to silence, to her lady no word be told,
'That King Gramoflanz for his garland doth hatred toward me bear,
And at the set time to-morrow our strife must be foughten fair,
Speak no word of this to my sister, and do thou thy tears give o'er;'
And she spake, 'I do well to weep thus, and to mourn, and to sorrow sore, 290
For whoever shall fall in the combat my lady must sorrow know,
And however the battle goeth, the issue shall be for woe.
And well may we mourn the venture, my lady and I alike,
What boots it to be her brother, if thou at her heart wilt strike?'
Now the host to their tents betook them, and the mid-day meal was spread 295
For Gawain, and the knights and ladies who should break at his table bread,
And Parzival as companion should have the Duchess fair—
And Gawain, he besought his lady for the hero to have good care;
But she quoth, 'To my care dost thou give him, who can make of a woman sport?
How should I care for this man? Yet would I gainsay thee naught; 300
And if this be thy will, I will do it, tho' for payment I mocking know'—
Quoth Gamuret's son, 'Nay, Lady, thou doest me wrong I trow,
At least have I so much wisdom, if I know myself aright,
That women are free from my mocking, since ill 'twould beseem a knight!'
Whatever they set before them no lack had they there of meat, 305
And courteous was their service, and with joy all the folk did eat.
[Pg 113] But Itonjé, she looked on Bené, and she read in her eyes the tale
Of the tears she had wept but lately, and for sorrow her cheeks grew pale,
And nothing she ate, for she thought still, 'Now wherefore doth Bené weep?
For I sent her but now to the monarch who my heart doth his captive keep, 310
And for whose sake I grieve me sorely—Have I done aught to vex my knight?
Doth he think to renounce my service and no more for my love to fight?
If, with steadfast heart and manly, he thinketh on me no more,
Poor maid, I must die of sorrow, and the love that to him I bore!'
The noontide hour was over ere the feast had ended here, 315
Then hither rode King Arthur, and his queen, fair Guinevere,
With a host of knights and ladies, to where, within their sight,
Mid the band of gracious maidens sat that true and valiant knight;
And to Parzival such greeting and such welcome fair they gave
That from many sweet lips sweet kisses he won, that hero brave! 320
And Arthur would do him honour, and with many a gracious word
He thanked him for the valour that had spread his name abroad,
And the fame that had waxed so goodly, and that stood so high and fair,
That of right o'er all men living the crown of worth he bare.
Quoth the Waleis unto King Arthur, 'Yet Sire, when I saw thee last 325
My honour so sore was wounded that it well-nigh to earth was cast;
And in knighthood I paid such forfeit that of knighthood was I forlorn—
But now have I hearkened to thee, and if thou be not forsworn
Then honour still dwelleth with me, tho' my heart it misgives me sore!
I would trust in thy word right gladly—But what of these knights who swore 330
True friendship and brotherhood with me, and from whom I must part in shame?'
Then all with one voice they spake there—He had won for himself such fame
And had wrought such brave deeds of knighthood in many a distant land,
That his fame o'er the fame of all others did high and unspotted stand.
Then the knights of the Duchess' army they came where by Arthur's side 335
Sat Parzival, fair to look on, 'mid the knightly circle wide.
And the king in the tent received them, but so courtly was he and wise,
That, tho' wide was the tent of Gawain, he thought best that in all men's eyes
[Pg 114] He should sit without on the meadow, and the knights they should sit around,
And strangers they were to each other who place in the circle found. 340
Would ye know who was this and that one? The tale it were all too long
If Christian I named and paynim—Who were Klingsor's warriors strong;
Who were they who so well were armèd, and showed them such men of might
When they rode from the city of Logrois, and would for their Duchess fight;
Who had followed King Arthur hither—If each one, his land and kin, 345
I named in their rightful order 'twere ill to the end to win!
But all men they spake together, there was none there like Parzival,
For his face and his form so lovely many women might love him well;
And nothing there failed unto him of aught that beseemed a knight
Who beareth the crown of honour, and fighteth a goodly fight. 350
Then Gamuret's son upstood there, and he spake, 'Ye who shall be here
Give counsel, and help me win that which my soul ever holdeth dear;
A strange and a hidden wonder it drave me from out your band—
Ye who brotherhood once have sworn me, and in friendship have clasped my hand,
Now help me, by this your knighthood, mine honour to win again!' 355
And gladly would Arthur grant him that for which his desire was fain.
Then aside with few folk he stepped him, and straitly he prayed this grace,
That the strife, at the hour appointed, he in Gawain's stead might face,
'Right gladly will I defy him, King Gramoflanz, in his pride;
I brake from his tree this morning a bough ere I thence did ride, 360
And for that he of need must fight me—For conflict I sought his land,
And for nothing else came I hither but to fight with his strong right hand.
I thought not I here should find thee, my cousin, it grieves me sore,
For this king did I surely take thee, who never from strife forbore.
Now let me, I prithee, fight him; if ever he know defeat 365
My hand shall such lesson teach him as he findeth not over sweet!
They have given me back mine honour, and thy brother knight am I,
And thy kinsman true, fair cousin, so grant to me, cousinly,
That this combat be mine—I swear thee for us twain will I face the foe,
And there do such deeds of valour that all men shall my manhood know!' 370
Quoth Gawain, 'In the court of King Arthur have I many a brother dear,
And kinsman true, yet to no man may I grant what thou prayest here.
[Pg 115] My cause is so good, I think me, that Fate so shall rule the fight
That I stand at the last the victor, tho' my foe be a man of might.
God reward thee that thou, of thy kindness, this conflict for me wouldst face, 375
But the day is not yet in its dawning when another may take my place!'
Now Arthur the prayer had hearkened, of their speech he an end would make,
Once more in the ring beside them his seat did the monarch take.
And the cup-bearers did not tarry, the noble youths they bare
Many golden cups so precious, and wroughten with jewels fair, 380
Nor one alone could fill them—and when their task was o'er
The folk uprose, and gat them each one to his rest once more.
And night-fall had come upon them—Naught did Parzival delay,
But he wrought in such wise that his harness might be ready ere break of day.
Were a strap or a fastening broken, of that did he have good care, 385
And he bade them look well unto it, that all should be fit and fair.
And a shield new and strong must they bring him, for his own, in many a fight,
With many a blow was cloven, and they brought him a shield of might;
And the serving-men who bare it, they knew not the knight, I trow,
And Frenchmen were some among them, as the venture doth bid ye know. 390
And the steed that erewhile to jousting the Knight of the Grail must bear,
Of that did a squire bethink him, and ne'er might it better fare.
But now 'twas the hour for slumber, and the night had o'ercome the day,
And Parzival slept, and before him all ready his armour lay.
And King Gramoflanz, he rued it that the day such chance had brought 395
That another man in his presence for the sake of his garland fought;
Nor his folk might still his longing for the strife that the morn should bring,
And the thought, that he had delayed him, full sorely it vexed the king.
What, then, should the hero do here? Since honour he sought and fame,
He scarce might await the dawning, and the strife that with daylight came, 400
But ere sunrise himself and his charger were clad all in harness rare—
Did women, with wealth o'erburdened, the cost of his decking share?
I wot that, without their aiding, it costly and fair should be,
For the sake of a maid did he deck him, in her service no laggard he!
[Pg 116] So he rode hence to seek his foeman, and sorely it vexed the king 405
That the early light of the morning Sir Gawain had failed to bring.
Now, unknown unto all, in secret stole Parzival from the court,
And he stripped of its floating pennon a strong spear from Angram brought;
And fully armed was the hero, and lonely he took his way
Where the posts round the ring of battle shone fair in the dawning day. 410
And he saw the king await him, and ere ever a word they spake
Men say that they smote each other thro' the shield, and the spear-shafts brake;
And from either hand the splinters flew high in the summer air,
For skilled were they both in jousting, and their swords they right well might bear.
And the dew was brushed from the meadow, and the helmets felt many a blow 415
From the edge of the blades keen-tempered, no faltering might either know.
And the grass underfoot was trodden, and the dew-drops in many a place
Swept away, and I needs must mourn here the red blossoms' vanished grace.
Yet more do I mourn for the heroes, and their toil without thought of fear,
And who with unmixed rejoicing, the tale of their strife should hear 420
To whom they had ne'er done evil?—Then Gawain must himself prepare
For the toil and the stress of battle, and the peril he thought to dare.
And 'twas even the midst of the morning ere of all men the tale was told
From his tent was Parzival missing, and they sought for the hero bold.
Did he think to make peace? Nay, his bearing spake little, methinks, of peace, 425
For he fought as a man, and 'twas noontide ere ever the strife might cease.
A bishop sang Mass for Gawain, and the folk they stood thick around,
And many a knight and lady on horseback might there be found,
Without the tent of King Arthur, ere the Mass to an end they sing—
While the priest did his holy office, beside him there stood the king; 430
When he spake the Benediction, then Gawain armed himself for fight,
And greaves of iron, well wroughten, they did on his limbs of might.
Then uprose a voice of wailing from the women, and one and all
The host rode forth to the meadow; and lo! there did strife befall,
And they heard the clash of the sword-blades, and they saw the fire-sparks fly 435
From the helmets as there the foemen their blows with fierce strength did ply.
[Pg 117] King Gramoflanz oft had boasted he would scorn with one man to fight,
He thought here that six were his foemen, and each one a valiant knight
Yet none but Parzival faced him, and he fought in such gallant wise,
That he taught to the king a lesson which men e'en to-day may prize; 440
That in his own praise his own lips should speak never more this tale,
He could fight and could conquer two men, since o'er one he might not prevail.
From left and from right came the armies, o'er the grassy plain so wide,
And, each one their station keeping, they halted on either side,
And they looked on the mighty combat, on one side the chargers stood, 445
And afoot on the ground they battled with sword-blades, the heroes good.
And sharp and sore was the conflict, and steadfast the twain did stand,
And their swords on high they tossed them, and oft did the blades change hands.
Now Gramoflanz reaped sore payment for the garland from off his tree,
To the kinsman of his fair lady should the strife none too easy be. 450
His kinship with fair Itonjé had stood Parzival in good stead,
If right might have claimed a hearing, yet was not his strife ill-sped.
And they who much fame had won them, again for fair fame would fight;
And one strove for the sake of his kinsman, and one for his lady bright,
For he did but Frau Minne's bidding, as was meet for her vassal true— 455
Now uprode the gallant Gawain, and e'en as he nearer drew
The conflict was nigh its ending, and the Waleis should victor be;
And, bareheaded, unto the battle, there hastened those heroes three,
Brandelidelein of Punturtois, and Count Bernard of Riviers,
And the third knight who rode beside them was Affinamus of Clitiers. 460
From the army over against them came King Arthur beside Gawain,
To the two knights, with battle wearied, they rode o'er the grassy plain;
And all the five they thought them 'twas time that the strife should end,
And Gramoflanz must confess here that no longer he might contend,
And his own mouth proclaimed him vanquished, and his foeman had won the day— 465
And the folk who had seen the combat might never his word gainsay!
Then out spake King Lot's son gaily, 'Sir King, I will speak to thee
To-day, as yestreen thou spakest when rest thou didst bid to me
[Pg 118] "Go rest thee to-day, for 'tis needful," he who conflict did here demand,
He will own thou art all too feeble this day to resist mine hand. 470
Alone I might well have faced thee, but thou with but two wilt fight!
To-morrow I'll dare the venture, and may God show forth the right!'
Then the king he rode to his army, but first must he pledge his word
He would meet Gawain on the morrow, and face him with spear and sword.
To Parzival quoth King Arthur, 'Nephew, thou late didst pray, 475
Of thy manhood, to fight this combat for Gawain, and he said thee Nay,
And therein didst thou sore lament thee, and yet thou this fight hast fought
For him who did strait forbid thee! Of our will hast thou asked us naught.
From our court, as a thief, hast thou stolen, or else had we held thine hand
Afar from this strife, I wot well thou didst fight not at our command! 480
Yet Gawain, he shall not be wrathful, tho' great praise be for this thy meed.'—
Quoth Gawain, 'Nay, it nothing grieves me, my cousin's gallant deed,
To-morrow is all too early if this combat I needs must face,
An the king would withdraw his challenge I would count it to him for grace.'
To the camp rode the mighty army, there were many ladies fair, 485
And many a knight in armour, and costly the arms they bare.
And I ween that never an army was so richly decked before,
For the knights of the good Round Table, and the men of the Duchess wore
Fair surcoats richly blazoned, of silk from Zinidunt,
And bright was their outer garments, and brought from far Pelpiunt. 490
But the heroes in either army spake ever of Parzival,
And their lips, in such wise they praised him, that his friends it rejoiced them well.
And the men of Gramoflanz spake thus, that never the sun had shone
On a knight who fought so bravely, or such gallant deeds had done;
And whatever feats of knighthood had been wrought on either side, 495
Yet he, o'er all other heroes, the victor should still abide.
Yet they knew not of whom they spake thus, nay, neither his race or name,
Tho' the army it rang with his praises, and no mouth but declared his fame.
Then Gramoflanz did they counsel, King Arthur he well might pray
To take good heed to his army that no knight from his ranks should stray 500
For combat, as e'en that morning, but to send unto him one knight,
The son of King Lot, Sir Gawain, for with him had he come to fight.
And straightway he sent the message by two courtly lads and wise,
[Pg 119] And he spake, 'Now look well for the maiden who is fairest in all men's eyes,
Look well by whom Bené sitteth; and so ye play well your part, 505
Ye shall see in what wise she bear her, if joyful, or sad at heart.
Ye shall prove these her ways in secret, in her eyes ye right well may see
If yet for a friend she mourneth; and this too your task shall be,
Ye shall give to my friend, fair Bené, this letter and golden ring,
She knoweth for whom is the token—Now see that ye do this thing!' 510
In the other camp, the meanwhile, did Itonjé the tidings hear
That her gallant brother, Gawain, and he whom her soul held dear,
The fairest knight that a maiden within her heart might hold,
Would fight, the one with the other, and their hand might no man withhold.
Then her maiden shame it yielded to the flood of her grief so sore, 515
And none shall rejoice at her sorrow, for the pain undeserved she bore.
Then her mother and Queen Arnivé they led the maid aside
To a tent so small and silken, and Arnivé her grief would chide,
And she bade her cease her weeping—There was naught that the maid might say,
But to speak aloud the secret she hid in her heart alway; 520
Then out quoth the royal maiden, 'Of my brother shall he be slain
Who is lord of my heart and my true love! Let his hand from such deed refrain!'
To a noble youth spake Arnivé, 'Now get thee unto my son,
And bid him come hither quickly, with him would I speak alone.'
Then the lad he brought King Arthur—Now this was Arnivé's mind, 525
If she told unto him the story perchance he might counsel find,
And by him should that strife be hindered, for which the maiden fair
So sorely wept, and such sorrow and anguish of heart must bear.
Now they came to the camp of King Arthur, who Gramoflanz' message bore,
By the silken tent they dismounted; there sat Bené before the door, 530
And within spake the maid to King Arthur, 'If my brother shall slay my king
To pleasure his faithless Duchess, doth he deem that shall honour bring?
[Pg 120] He might know of himself it were ill-done—He hath wronged him no whit I ween,
That he doeth to me true service, his safety might well have been!
If my brother be yet in his senses he doth of our true love know, 535
How pure it is, and how faithful, and this venture should work him woe.
A bitter death shall it bring me, the hand that my love doth kill—
Sir King, thou shalt mourn my sorrow, and I think not that such thy will,'
Spake the fair maid unto King Arthur, 'Forget not that thou shalt be
Mine uncle, and stay this combat which worketh such ill to me!' 540
Quoth Arthur aloud in his wisdom, 'Alas, thou fair niece of mine,
That thus young thou canst love so dearly, for sorrow shall sure be thine,
As sorrow befell thy sister, Surdamur, for her love so true
To the Emperor of Greece—Sweet maiden, thy will might I surely do,
And hinder this strife, if I knew well that ye twain were but one in heart— 540
Yet King Irot's son, he is valiant, and courage in him hath part,
And this combat he'll fight, full surely, an Love stay not his hand so bold—
Did he ne'er, in a joyful moment, thy fair face and sweet lips behold?'
And she spake, 'Nay, we love, but neither as yet hath the other seen,
Tho' of true love many a token from his hand hath my portion been. 550
And tokens true have I sent him, that no doubt should betwixt us lie—
No falsehood my king's heart ruleth, but he loveth me steadfastly!'
Then the maiden Bené saw them, and knew them, the squires twain
Who came to the court of King Arthur from Gramoflanz' kingly train,
And she spake, 'Here should no man linger, will ye that I bid them go, 555
The folk, from our tent? It were ill-done, methinks, that all men should know
How sorely my lady sorroweth for the sake of her love so dear;
Methinks it might lightly happen that too many the tale should hear!'
Then forth from the tent went Bené, and in secret unto her care
The squire gave the folded letter, and the golden ring he bare, 560
And they, too, had heard the wailing of the maid, and they knew full well
Why she sorrowed, and this their errand they fain to the king would tell.
And they asked of the maiden Bené if she their friend would be?
And she spake, 'Stand without the circle till I bid ye to come to me!'
Then Bené, the gentle maiden, she told them within the tent 565
That without two squires were waiting, from Gramoflanz hither sent,
And fain would they speak with King Arthur—'But unfitting it seemeth me
[Pg 121] That we call them unto our counsels, and that witnesses they should be.
On my lady must I avenge me, if thus they shall see her weep,
I bade them await my bidding, and without there their station keep!' 570
Quoth Arthur, 'Are they the pages whom I saw behind me ride?
Of noble birth shall the twain be, methinks, it might well betide
That so wise are they both and courteous they might give us counsel good,
Methinks of their king's love either would treat in a fitting mood?'
Quoth Bené, 'Nay, that I know not, but Sire, of thy grace, this ring 575
And the letter which now I bring thee, they bare hither from their king.
As but now I left the pavilion, of the pages, one gave it me.
Now see, Lady, do thou take it, for methinks it is meant for thee!'
Then Itonjé, she kissed the letter, and she held it unto her heart,
And she quoth, 'Now, Sire, thou canst see here if he would in my love have part.' 580
In his hand Arthur took the letter, and within he found written fair
The words of one who loveth, and his passion would fain declare.
For Gramoflanz' hand had written the words that his lips would say,
And Arthur, he saw by the letter that Love held o'er his heart such sway
That ne'er had he known aforetime one who loved with so true a love— 585
And the words that within were written Frau Minne might well approve.
'Now greeting to whom I owe greeting, whose greeting I fain would earn,
To thee, O thou gracious maiden, whose heart toward my heart doth turn!
Who with comfort would fain console me—Our love goeth hand-in-hand,
And the solace thy love would bring me doth high o'er all solace stand; 590
And my joy in thy love is rooted, and my faith is to thee held fast,
And sorrow and bitter anguish shall forth from my heart be cast.
And thou bringest me help and counsel, so that never an evil thought
Or a faithless deed, and shameful, shall against my fame be brought.
But I look on thy truth and thy beauty with ever a steadfast mind, 595
As the Pole-star doth in the north pole the goal of its gazing find,
And neither its post forsaketh; e'en so shall our true love be,
And waver not, one from the other—So think thou, sweet maid, on me,
How I mourned unto thee my sorrow, nor be weary of this my prayer—
And if one would part thee from me, for the hatred that he shall bear 600
[Pg 122] Unto me, then shalt thou bethink thee how thy love shall reward us both,
And think thou of woman's honour, nor be of thy favours loth;
But still let me be thy servant, in thy service I fain would live,
And, in all that I may, true service I will to my lady give!'
Quoth Arthur, 'Fair niece, thou saidst truly, he greeteth thee without guile 605
Such tale doth this letter tell me that never, at any while,
Have I found of true love such marvel! His grief shalt thou put away,
As he too shall cure thy sorrow, so do thou thy weeping stay,
And trust unto me, this combat shall be hindered—Yet say thou here,
Thou wert captive, how hath it chanced then that ye hold each other dear? 610
Thou shalt give him thy fair love's payment, that he do thee service true.'—
Spake Itonjé, 'See, here she standeth who us twain together drew,
Our love, it had else been hidden—If thou will that I now may see
Him whom my heart desireth she will summon him unto me!'
Quoth Arthur, 'Now, show her to me; if I may, I this thing will guide 615
That your will shall be done, and hereafter ye twain shall in joy abide!'
Quoth Itonjé, ''Twas none but Bené; and two of his squires are here,
If thou wilt, do this thing, (for I think me my life shall to thee be dear,)
Thou shalt see that the king cometh hither, that he looketh upon my face
In whom all my joy is hidden, and my life shall be in his grace!' 620
Then Arthur, the wise and courteous, would speak with the squires without,
He greeted them as he saw them, and boldly the one spake out,
'Sire, King Gramoflanz, he prays thee, for thine honour as knight and king,
That the oath sworn 'twixt him and Gawain thou wilt to fulfilment bring.
And further, Sire, he prays thee that none other with him shall fight, 625
So great is thine host, must he face all, methinks it would scarce be right!
But Gawain shalt thou send against him, for he willeth no other foe,
And Gawain alone hath he challenged, as thyself thou shalt surely know!'
Quoth King Arthur unto the pages, 'I will free us from blame alway,
And sorely it grieved my nephew that he fought not the strife to-day. 630
And the knight who fought with your monarch, to victory was he born,
The son of Gamuret is he—Three armies are here this morn,
And from many a land came they hither, but never a man hath seen
In combat so brave a hero, and glorious his deeds have been.
[Pg 123] He is Parzival, my kinsman, ye shall see him, the fair of face,— 635
For the faith and the need of Gawain will I do to the king this grace.'
Then King Arthur and maiden Bené, with the squires they rode here and there,
And in sooth those squires they looked on full many a lady fair,
And they saw on the jewelled helmets many proud crests and knightly wave,
And few for such sight shall vex them, for he who is rich as brave 640
Full many a friend he findeth! They 'lighted not from their steed,
And the bravest men of the armies that lay camped on the flowery mead
King Arthur would show unto them, they might gaze on them at their will,
Knights, ladies, and gentle maidens, of beauty they saw their fill!
In three portions it lay, the army, and two spaces there were between— 645
Then away from the camp rode King Arthur, far out on the plain so green,
And he quoth, 'Now sweet maiden Bené, her plaint didst thou hear alway,
Itonjé, the child of my sister, her weeping she will not stay.
These my comrades who ride beside me, if they will, they may well believe
Of her beauty their king hath robbed her, so sorely the maid doth grieve! 650
Now help me, ye twain, and thou, Bené, that the king he shall hither ride,
E'en to-day, tho' the strife to-morrow he may, if he will, abide.
I will bring Gawain to meet him on the plain, as he prayed but now—
If he cometh to-day to mine army 'gainst the morn is he armed I trow,
For Love such a shield shall give him that his foeman may ill withstand 655
The courage that Love doth kindle, and that nerveth anew the hand.
And his princes shall he bring with him, for here would I do as best
Doth lie in my power that the Duchess shall hearken to my behest,
And peace shall be sealed between them—Now strive ye, my comrades dear,
With skill for such happy ending, 'twill be to your honour here. 660
And further I make my mourning, wherein shall have been my sin
That I wrought 'gainst your king that he beareth, in such measure, against my kin,
Both love alike and hatred? Methinks, he doth hold us light!
Another king, mine equal, had thought more of this my right.
Doth he think to repay with hatred her brother, who loves him well? 665
If his heart such thought shall teach him, then he knoweth not true Love's spell!'
[Pg 124]
Quoth one of the squires to King Arthur, 'What my king did to thee of ill,
That, Sire, shall he do no longer, for courteous shall he be still.
But thou knowest well the old hatred, and 'twere better the king should stay
Within his camp, I think me, than ride to thine host to-day. 670
Of the same mind is still the Duchess, that she counteth him for her foe,
And maketh her plaint against him, as many a man doth know!'
'With but few folk shall he come hither,' quoth Arthur, 'the while I'll pray
Of that high and noble lady that her anger she put away.
And an escort good I'll send him, Beau-corps, my sister's son, 675
Shall meet him half-way, and his journey shall under my care be done.
Nor as shame shall he look upon it, for brave men and true I'll send'—
Then leave did they take of King Arthur, and their way to the camp they wend.
Alone did they leave the monarch, and Bené and the pages twain
Rode swiftly unto Rosche Sabbins, on the further side of the plain. 680
'Twas the fairest day of his life-time, so thought the joyful king,
When his squires and the maiden Bené such tidings to him might bring.
And e'en as he hearkened to them his heart spake, in sooth to-day
Good Fortune had thought upon him, and his sorrow was put away!
Then he spake, 'He would come, right gladly,' and he chose to him comrades three, 685
A prince of his land was each one who bare the king company.
Brandelidelein, his uncle, with his nephew was fain to ride,
Affinamus of Clitiers, and Count Bernard of Riviers rode beside.
And each man he chose another who should be for such journey meet,
And twelve in all might ye reckon who rode hence the king to greet. 690
And many a squire went with them, and many a footman strong,
Well armèd, as should befit them, did unto the train belong.
Would ye know how the knights had robed them? Of silk was their raiment bright,
And heavy with gold inwoven that shone in the morning light.
And the king, he went as to hawking, with his falconer by his side— 695
Now Arthur had well bethought him, and Beau-corps he bade to ride,
And half-way to meet the monarch as escort both fit and fair—
And over the stretch of the meadow, or a pool or a brook lay there,
[Pg 125] Where'er one might find the water rode the king as on pastime bent,
Yet ever Love drew him onward, and on Love was his heart intent. 700
And Beau-corps, he rode towards him, and in such wise the king would greet
That I ween 'twas a joyful moment when the twain and their folk did meet.
And more than fifty pages with Beau-corps should ride that day,
And their faces were fair to look on, Dukes and Counts might they be alway,
And kings' sons, too, rode among them—And the greeting was good to see, 705
When from either side the children kissed each other, of true heart free.
And Beau-corps was fair to look on, and the king asked, who might he be?
And Bené, she straightway answered. 'The son of King Lot is he,
And Beau-corps the name men call him'—Then he thought, 'Of a sooth, my heart,
Thou hast found her! For she shall be like him who so knightly doth play his part, 710
For in truth shall she be his sister, she who sent me the headgear rare
That of erst was in Sinzester fashioned, and the hawk on mine hand I bear.
If she further will show me kindness then all earthly power and pride
Would I count as naught, might I win her, tho' the earth were twice as wide.
And surely she meaneth truly—For love of her came I here, 715
Hitherto hath she dealt so kindly that methinks I but little fear;
She will show unto me such favour that my courage shall wax full high!'
Then he clasped the hand of her brother that fair in his hand did lie.
In the meanwhile within his army King Arthur in such wise wrought
That the Duchess was fain to grant him the peace that his lips had sought. 720
For rich was her consolation for her love by King Gramoflanz slain,
For whose sake she had borne him hatred; and no more might her lips complain,
For her anger had sunk to slumber, and she wakened to life anew
'Neath Gawain's embrace so tender, and her wrath, it was smitten thro'.
Then Arthur, the king of the Bretons, took many a lady bright, 725
One hundred, both wife and maiden, who were lovely in all men's sight,
In a tent apart he set them—Nor might her lot fairer be,
Itonjé, who sat beside them, since her king there she thought to see.
And ever her heart was joyful, and yet in her soft eyes' glow
Ye might see that the gentle maiden thro' love must sore sorrow know. 730
[Pg 126] And many a knight and hero sat there, yet among them all
No face was so fair to look on as the fair face of Parzival.
To the tent-door up rode the monarch, and Gramoflanz, he ware
For garment a robe of wonder, in Gampfassâsch wroughten fair.
'Twas a rick silk, all gold embroidered, and woven with golden thread, 735
And a shimmer of light from his vesture afar round the monarch spread.
Then they who had hither ridden adown from their steeds they spring,
And the squires, they press them forward to the tent before their king,
And the chamberlains vie with each other, and they make thro' the court a way
To the throne where the queen of the Bretons in her glory sat that day. 740
Brandelidelein, his uncle, before the monarch went,
And the twain, Guinevere she kissed them, and bade welcome within her tent.
And Count Bernard, and Affinamus a kiss from her lips must take—
Then to Gramoflanz Arthur turned him, and thus to the king he spake,
'Ere thou takest thy seat, bethink thee; if thou dost a maiden love, 745
And thou seest her here, thou mayst kiss her, nor will I such kiss reprove!'
It had told him which was his lady, the letter he read but now
In the open field, and that letter, 'twas her brother's face I trow!
The brother of her who from all men had hidden her love so true—
And Gramoflanz' eyes beheld her, and straightway his love he knew, 750
And his heart swelled high within him—Since Arthur had willed their bliss,
And had bid him in men's sight greet her, on her sweet lips the maid he kissed.
Brandelidelein, he sat him by the queen, fair Guinevere,
And King Gramoflanz, he was seated by the maid, who with many a tear
Had dimmed the glow of her beauty; 'twas for his sake she wept so sore, 755
Nor might he take vengeance on her, since guiltless this woe she bore.
But softly he spake unto her, and he vowed to her service true,
And she thanked him for this his coming, and their hearts toward each other flew,
And further no word they spake there, but they gazed in each other's eyes,
And their yea and their nay would I tell here, were I but in Love's language wise. 760
[Pg 127] To Brandelidelein quoth Arthur, 'Methinks thou enow hast told
Thy tale in the ears of my lady!' Then he led forth the hero bold,
To a little tent he led him, apart on the grassy field;
Yet Gramoflanz came not with them, but, e'en as King Arthur willed,
He abode in the tent with his comrades, and so fair were the ladies bright, 765
That I deem well to look upon them but little would vex a knight
And fair was their joy and their pastime, 'twould please many a man, I trow,
Who to-day, after peril ended, would joy for his sorrow know.
Then wine to the queen and her ladies and to many a knight they bare,
And, methinks, an enow they tasted, their faces waxed fresh and fair. 770
To Brandelidelein and King Arthur the cup-bearers wine must bring;
As they passed from the tent in this wise quoth Arthur, the goodly king:
'Sir King, say, the conflict ended, if the strife in such wise have run
That the king, the son of thy sister, shall have slain my sister's son,
Yet would woo my niece, the maiden who maketh to him her moan 775
But now, as they sit together and their love for each other own;
If she do as shall best beseem her, she will favour him never more,
But will give him for payment hatred as shall vex the king full sore
If her love he yet desireth—for where love is o'ercome by hate
Then joy from true hearts is banished, and desire doth with sorrow mate!' 780
Then out spake the King of Punturtois to Arthur of Brittany,
'Sir King, they are sons to our sisters betwixt whom this hate shall be.
'Tis our part this strife to hinder, nor other shall be its end
Save that they twain shall love each other, and from foe shall be turned to friend.
'Twere best that thy niece, Itonjé, ere she yield to my nephew's prayer, 785
Shall say, if in truth he love her he shall from this strife forbear.
Thus an end shall be put to the combat, and the quarrel shall turn to peace—
And thou, thou shalt pray the Duchess that her wrath 'gainst my nephew cease!'
'Yea, that have I done,' quoth Arthur, 'my sister's son, Gawain,
He holdeth such power o'er the lady, that, as courtesy doth constrain, 790
For his sake and mine she forgiveth the ill that the king hath done—
Now do thou thy part with thy nephew, that peace on his side be won.'
[Pg 128] Brandelidelein quoth straightway, 'I will do e'en as thou dost say'—
And back to the tent and the feasting the monarchs they took their way.
Then sat the King of Punturtois on one side of the gracious queen, 795
And Parzival sat on the other, and so fair was his face, I ween,
That never a man so goodly their eyes had beheld afore—
Then Arthur, the king, he rose up, and he gat him from out the door,
And he sought Gawain, his nephew; then he, who a while must hear
How his foemen had ridden hither, learnt that Arthur now drew anear, 800
And before his tent dismounted—Then swift did Sir Gawain spring,
And forth from the tent on the meadow he hastened to meet the king.
Then counsel they took together, and the Duchess, she peace would swear,
But not otherwise save that Gawain for her sake should this strife forbear.
Then should Gramoflanz be forgiven, if he, too, would forgive the ill 805
Once done by King Lot, her kinsman—so Arthur should speak her will.
Then Arthur the wise and courteous, he brought the tale again,
And King Gramoflanz, for his garland, henceforward must mourn in vain.
And his hatred to Lot of Norway it passed as the snow flakes melt
In the sun, 'neath the glance of Itonjé, and anger no more he felt. 810
And the while he sat beside her he said to her bidding, yea,—
Then they spake, Gawain came hither with his knights in brave array,
And their names I may not tell ye, nor the land in which each was born;
But here love had banished sorrow, and sadness was overworn.
Then the Duchess, Orgelusé, and her gallant men and true, 815
With part of the host of Klingsor, with Gawain nearer drew;
And the covering 'gainst wind and weather from the king's tent they took away,
And thither came good Arnivé with Sangivé and Kondrie alway,
They came at King Arthur's bidding where men words of peace would speak,
(He who counteth this but a small thing, at his will may a greater seek.) 820
Then Iofreit, Gawain's comrade, by her white hand, within the tent
Led the Duchess, fair and stately, and on this was she courteous bent,
That the three queens should go before her—Brandelidelein they kissed,
Then she followed, proud Orgelusé, nor the monarch her greeting missed.
[Pg 129] Then Gramoflanz stepped towards her, atonement he fain would make, 825
From her sweet lips the kiss of forgiveness as token of peace he'ld take;
And the lady was moved to weeping, for she thought of her true love slain,
And the faith and the sorrow of women did her heart to such woe constrain.
Then Gramoflanz and Sir Gawain with a kiss put an end to strife;
And Arthur gave maid Itonjé to King Gramoflanz to wife, 830
For truly and long had he served her; and Bené was glad that day—
And another for love's sake sorrowed, and his sorrow was put away,
For Lischois, the Duke of Gowerzein, won fair Kondrie for his own,
And, I ween, were her love not his portion his life little joy had known.
To the Turkowit, brave Florant, as his wife King Arthur gave 835
Her who wedded King Lot aforetime, and her love a man well might crave;
'Twas a gift such as love beseemeth, and the knight took it joyfully—
For the king, he was aye free-handed, and he gave such gifts readily!
To this end had he well bethought him, and counsel wise had ta'en,
And soon as his speech was ended, the Duchess, she spake again, 840
And she said that her love Sir Gawain had conquered with valiant hand,
And henceforth he of right was master alike of her life and land.
And many a knight who hearkened he thought her speech ill to hear,
For they fought for her love, and had broken in her service full many a spear.
Gawain, and they who rode with him, Arnivé, and the Duchess fair, 845
And many a lovely lady prayed leave of the monarch there.
And Parzival, he went with them—Sangivé and maid Kondrie
They rode hence, but with King Arthur she abode still, fair Itonjé.
And the wedding feast that was holden was a feast beyond compare;
And Guinevere took Itonjé, and her true love, within her care, 850
The gallant king who with knighthood full many a prize had won,
And for love and desire of Itonjé full many brave deeds had done.
And many they sought their lodging who for love's sake must sorrow sore;
And how that night they had feasted, of that will we think no more—
But they who for love did service, who knew of true love the might, 855
They would that the day was ended, for fairer they deemed the night.
Then King Gramoflanz sent this message (he bethought him in his pride)
To his men, who, before Rosche-Sabbins, lay camped by the water-side.
[Pg 130] They should spare nor pains nor labour, but their tents should they strike straightway,
And hither, with all his army, should they hasten ere break of day. 860
And his marshal here must seek him a fitting place and fair—
'Each prince by himself be encamped, and ye shall for myself prepare
Such goodly state and royal as well shall beseem a king,
Nor spare ye the cost'—'Twas nightfall ere this word to the host they bring.
And many a man must sorrow who had learnt from a woman woe,— 865
Whose love to the winds is scattered, and who ne'er doth rewarding know
For his service, to grief he speedeth, and naught shall his steps delay,
Save only the help of a woman o'ertaketh him on his way.
But Parzival, he bethought him of his wife so fair and sweet,
How pure she was, and how gentle—Did he ne'er another greet, 870
And offer for fair love service, and, wavering, love anew?
Nay, nay, he was far from such dealings, and naught of such love he knew!
For a mighty faith so guarded his body alike and heart
That never a woman living might have in his love a part,
Save only his queen and lady, Kondwiramur, the flower 875
Of women, Love's fairest blossom, with none should she share her power.
And he thought, 'Since to Love I wakened but ill hath Love dealt with me,
Of Love was I born, how comes it that I must from her presence flee?
Tho' my hand for the Grail be seeking yet desire it doth rend my heart,
And I yearn for her sweet embraces; ah, too long have we dwelt apart! 880
Shall I look with mine eyes on rejoicing while my heart seeth naught but woe?
The twain fit but ill together, and no man thereby shall know
High courage, a knight befitting—Now Good Fortune direct my way,
And show me what best beseemeth!' His harness before him lay,
And he thought, 'Since to me that lacketh with which others are richly blest,— 885
The love in whose sweet fulfilment many sad hearts have found their rest—
Since this sorrow must be my portion I care not what else my lot,
Little reck I what shall befall me, since my joy Heaven willeth not!
And thou, for whose love I am yearning, were it so both with me and thee,
That our hearts ever dreamed of parting, nor our love from all doubt were free, 890
It might well be that with another joy and blessing again were mine,
[Pg 131] But thy love it so fast doth hold me, I may rest on no heart but thine!
And for aye am I Sorrow's captive! Now Good Fortune bring joy to all
Who find peace in fair Love's fulfilment, they are blessèd whate'er befall—
May God give to this folk rejoicing! But I from their joy must flee, 895
And wend lonely as of aforetime, since gladness is not for me!'
Then he stretched out his hand to his harness, and as oft was his wont of yore,
Unaided he girt it on him, and soon was he armed once more.
Now sorrow anew he seeketh—When he, who from joy would fly,
Had armed himself, his charger he saddled right speedily, 900
And his shield and spear were ready—O'er his loss did they wail next morn,
For no eye looked on his departing, he rode thence ere the day was born.

[Pg 132]
[Pg 133]


[Pg 134]


Book XV. tells how Parzival met with a mighty heathen, with whom he fought fiercely, and how he was well-nigh vanquished. How he found the heathen to be his brother, Feirefis Angevin, and how the twain rode together to the court of King Arthur.

Of the welcome given to Feirefis by King Arthur and his knights; of his riches; and of the kings conquered by the two brothers.

How a feast of the Round Table was holden, and how Kondrie bare tidings of Parzival's election to the Grail Kingdom, and summoned him, his wife, and his son Lohengrin, to Monsalväsch; and how Parzival and Feirefis rode thither with Kondrie as their guide.

[Pg 135]



Now many were sorely angered that I told not this tale afore
Since it wearied them naught in the hearing—Now my words I withhold no more,
But I give ye to wit full truly, as my mouth may the story tell,
The end of this wondrous venture for methinks it shall please ye well.
Ye shall know how the king, Anfortas, of his wound was made whole again— 5
Of the queen doth the venture tell us, who in far Pelrapär did reign;
How she kept a pure heart and loyal till the day of her great reward,
And earth's fairest crown was her guerdon at the hand of her faithful lord.
Ye shall hear the tale of its winning, if my skill fail me not alway;
Yet first must ye list the labour that Parzival wrought that day. 10
Now, tho' dauntless his hand had striven, but as children his foemen all,
And ne'er would I risk my hero might I rule that which shall befall.
I must sorrow sore for his peril, and fain would I speak him free,
But now must I trust that Good Fortune the shield of his heart may be.
For purity, and high courage, side by side in his heart they lay, 15
And ne'er had he cherished cowardice, nor shrunk from the knightly fray;
And I deem this shall surely give him such strength he his life may hold,
Since fierce strife draweth nigh unto him, and his foe is a hero bold.
For he meeteth a prince of battles who dauntless to strife doth ride,
And unbaptized was the foeman who rode here in his heathen pride. 20
Full soon had he come, our hero, to a mighty woodland shade,
And without, in the light of the dawning, his armour a knight displayed.
[Pg 136] 'Twere a marvel could I, a poor man, of the riches now speak to ye
That the heathen he bare as his decking, so costly their worth should be.
If more than enough I told ye, yet more would be left to tell; 25
Yet I would not his wealth were hidden—What of riches, I ween, shall dwell
In Bretagne alike and England, and be tribute to Arthur's might,
They had paid not the stones that, shining, glowed fair on his armour bright.
His blazoned coat was costly, and naught but the truth I say,
Ruby and Chalcedony, ye had held them not fair that day. 30
And bright as the sun was his vesture, on the mount of Agremontein,
In the glowing fires, Salamanders had welded that garment's shine.
There jewels rare and precious, with never a fault or flaw,
Glowed dark and light; of their nature, I ween, I can tell no more!
His desire was for love's rewarding, and the winning of high renown, 35
He had won from the hands of fair women the jewels that his pride did crown.
For the favour Frau Minne showed him with joy did his proud heart beat,
And it swelled high with manly courage, as is for a lover meet.
As reward for his deeds of knighthood on his helmet a beast he bare,
Ecidemon, all poisonous serpents they must of its power beware, 40
For of life and of strength doth it rob them, if they smell it but from afar—
Thopedissimonté, Assigarzionté, Thasmé, and Arabia,
They scarce of such silk might boast them as was covering for his steed—
He sought, that mighty heathen, in a woman's love his meed,
And therefore he bravely decked him, and fain would his courage prove, 45
And his manhood, it urged him onward to battle for sake of love.
Now the knight, so young and gallant, in a haven beside the wood,
But little known, on the water had anchored his ships so good.
And his armies were five-and-twenty, and they knew not each other's speech—
'Twas a token fair of his riches, and the lands that his power might reach, 50
As the armies, so were the kingdoms that did service unto his hand—
And Moors and Saracens were they, and unlike was each warlike band,
And the hue of their skins was diverse—Thus gathered from lands afar
Ye might see in his mighty army strange weapons of heathen war.
[Pg 137]
So thus, in search of adventure, from his army this man would ride, 55
In the woodland green he wandered, and waited what should betide.
And since thus it well doth please them, so let them ride, these kings,
Alone, in search of ventures, and the fair fame that combat brings.
Yet Parzival rode not lonely, methinks he had comrades twain,
Himself, and the lofty courage that lord o'er his soul did reign. 60
And that he so bravely fought here might win from a woman praise,
If falsehood should not mislead her, that injustice should rule her ways.
So spurred they against each other, who were lambs in their purity,
Yet as lions were they bold and dauntless, 'twas a sight for a man to see!
Ah! woe is me for their meeting, for the world and its ways are wide, 65
And they well might have spared each other, nor, guiltless, to battle ride.
I should sorrow for him whom I brought here, save my heart did this comfort hold,
That the Grail shall with strength endue him, and Love shelter the hero bold,
Since he was of the twain the servant, nor his heart ever wavering knew,
And ever his hand was ready to serve them with service true. 70
My skill little wit doth give me this combat that here befell,
In fitting words and knightly, from beginning to end to tell.
But the eye of each flashed triumph as the coming foe he saw,
And the heart of each knight waxed joyful, as they nearer to battle draw.
Yet sorrow, I ween, was nigh them, true hearts, from all falsehood free, 75
And each bare the heart of the other, and should comrade and stranger be!
Nor may I asunder part them, the paynim and Christian knight,
Hatred they show to each other, tho' no cause have they here for fight.
And methinks this of joy shall rob them, who, as true women, share their pain
Who risk their lives for a woman! May they part, ere one here be slain! 80
As the lion-cub, that its mother beareth dead, doth to life awake
At the aweful voice of its father, so these twain, as the spear-shafts break
Arouse to fresh life, and to honour, I ween, are they newly born,
For many a joust have they ridden and many a spear outworn.
Then they tighten the hanging bridle, and they take to their aim good care, 85
That each on the shield of the other, as he willeth, shall smite him fair.
[Pg 138] And no point do they leave unguarded, and they give to their seat good heed,
As men who are skilled in jousting, and sharply each spurs his steed.
And bravely the joust was ridden, and each gorget asunder broke,
And the spears bent not, but in splinters they flew from each mighty stroke; 90
And sore was he wroth, the heathen, that this man might his joust abide,
For never a knight but had fallen who a course 'gainst his spear would ride.
Think ye that their swords they wielded as their chargers together drew?
Yea, the combat was sharp and bitter, and each must give proof anew
Alike of his skill and his manhood—The strange beast, Ecidemon, 95
Had many a wound, and beneath it the helmet sore blows had won;
And the horses were hot and wearied, and many new turns they tried—
Then down they sprung from their chargers, and their sword-blades afresh they plied.
And the heathen wrought woe to the Christian, 'Thasmé!' was his battle-cry,
And when 'Tabronit!' he shouted he drew ever a step anigh. 100
And the Christian, he showed his valour in many an onslaught bold;
So pressed they upon each other—Nor would I the tale withhold
Of how the fight was foughten, yet must I the strife bemoan,
How, one flesh and one blood thus sharing, each wrought evil unto his own;
For both were the sons of one father, and brothers, I ween, were they, 105
And methinks upon such foundation faith and friendship their stone should lay!
And love ne'er had failed the heathen, and his heart was for combat fain,
For the love of Queen Sekundillé fresh honour he thought to gain;
Tribalibot's land she gave him, and she was his shield in strife—
So bravely he fought, how think ye that the Christian might guard his life? 110
On love let his thoughts be steadfast, else sure is he here undone,
And he hath from the hand of the heathen in this combat his death-blow won.
O thou Grail, by thy lofty virtue such fate from thy knight withhold!
Kondwiramur, thine husband in such deadly stress behold!
Here he standeth, of both the servant, in such danger and peril sore 115
That as naught ye may count the ventures he hath dared for your sake of yore!
[Pg 139] Then on high flashed the sword of the heathen, and many such blow had slain,
To his knee Parzival was beaten—Now see how they fought, the twain,
If twain ye will still account them, yet in sooth shall they be but one,
For my brother and I are one body, e'en as husband and wife are one! 120
The heathen wrought woe to the Christian—Of Asbestos, I ween, his shield,
That wondrous wood that never to flame or decay shall yield;
I' sooth, right well she loved him who gave him a gift so fair,
Turquoise, Chrysoprase, Emerald, Ruby, rich jewels beyond compare
Decked with shining lines its surface, on the boss shone a precious stone, 125
Antrax, afar they call it, as Carbuncle it here is known.
And as token of love, for his guarding, Sekundillé the queen would give
That wondrous beast, Ecidemon—in her favour he fain would live,
And e'en as she willed he bare it, as his badge, did that gallant knight—
Here with purity faith joined issue, and truth with high truth would fight. 130
For love's sake upon the issue of this combat each risked his life,
Each had pledged his hand to the winning of honour and fame in strife;
And the Christian, in God he trusted since the day that he rode away
From the hermit, whose faithful counsel had bidden him trust alway
In Him who could turn his sorrow into bliss without thought of bale— 135
To Him should he pray for succour, whose succour should never fail.
And fierce and strong was the heathen, when 'Tabronit,' he cried,
For there, 'neath the mount Kaukasus did the queen, Sekundillé', abide;
Thus gained he afresh high courage 'gainst him who ne'er knew of yore
The weight of such deadly combat, for in sooth was he pressed full sore— 140
To defeat was he aye a stranger, and ne'er had he seen its face,
Tho' his foemen right well must know it, as they yielded them to his grace!
With skill do they wield their weapons, and sparks spring from the helmets fair,
And a whistling wind ariseth as the blades cleave the summer air;
God have Gamuret's son in His keeping! and the prayer it shall stand for both, 145
For the twain shall be one nor, I think me, to own it were either loth.
[Pg 140] For had they but known each other their stake ne'er had been so great,
For blessing, and joy, and honour, were risked on that combat's fate,
For he who shall here be victor, if true brother and knight he be,
Of all this world's joy is he forfeit, nor from grief may his heart be free! 150
Sir Parzival, why delay thee to think on thy queen and wife,
Her purity and her beauty, if here thou wouldst save thy life?
For the heathen, he bare two comrades who kindled his strength anew,
The one, in his strong heart, steadfast, lay ever a love so true;
And the other, the precious jewels that burnt with a mystic glow, 155
Thro' whose virtue his strength waxed greater, and his heart must fresh courage know.
And it grieveth me sore that the Christian was weary and faint with fight,
Nor swiftly might he avoid him, and his blows they were robbed of might;
And if the twain fail to aid thee, O thou gallant Parzival,
Thy queen and the Grail, then I think me this thought it shall help thee well, 160
Shall thy fair babes thus young be orphaned? Kardeiss and Lohengrin,
Whom thy wife, e'en as thou didst leave her, for her joy and her hope must win—
For children thus born in wedlock, the pledge of a love so pure,
I ween are a man's best blessing, and a joy that shall aye endure!
New strength did he win, the Christian, and he thought, none too soon, I ween, 165
On his love so true and faithful, on Kondwiramur, his queen,
How he won his wife at the sword's point, when sparks from the helm did spring
'Neath the mighty blows he dealt him, Klamidé, the warrior king.
'Tabronit! and Thasmé!' and above them rung clear his battle-cry,
'Pelrapär!' as aloud he cried it to his aid did his true love fly, 170
O'er kingdoms four she sought him, and her love gave him strength anew,
And lo! from the shield of the heathen the costly splinters flew,
Each one a hundred marks' worth—and the sword so strong and keen
That Ither of Gaheviess bare first brake sheer on the helmet's sheen,
And the stranger, so rich and valiant, he stumbled, and sought his knee— 175
For God, He no longer willed it that Parzival lord should be
Of this weapon of which in his folly he had robbed a gallant knight—
Then up sprang afresh the heathen who ne'er before fell in fight,
[Pg 141] Not yet is the combat ended, and the issue for both shall stand
In the power of the God of battles, and their life lieth in His hand! 180
And a gallant knight was the heathen, and he spake out, right courteously,
(Tho' the tongue was the tongue of a heathen yet in fair French his speech should be,)
'Now I see well, thou gallant hero, thou hast no sword wherewith to fight,
And the fame shall be small I win me if I fight with an unarmed knight,
But rest thee awhile from conflict, and tell me who thou shalt be, 185
For the fame that so long I cherished it surely had fallen to thee
Had the blow not thy sword-blade shattered—Now, let peace be betwixt us twain,
And our wearied limbs will we rest here ere we get us to strife again.'
Then down on the grass they sat them, and courteous and brave were they,
Nor too young nor too old for battle—fit foemen they were that day! 190
Then the heathen, he spake to the Christian, 'Believe me, Sir Knight, that ne'er
Did I meet with a man so worthy the crown of such fame to bear
As a knight in strife may win him—Now, I prithee, tell thou to me
Thy name, and thy race, that my journey may here not unfruitful be!
Quoth the son of fair Herzeleide, 'Thro' fear shall I tell my name? 195
For thou askest of me such favour as a victor alone may claim!'
Spake the heathen prince from Thasmé, 'Then that shame shall be mine, I ween,
For first will I speak my title, and the name that mine own hath been;
"Feirefis Angevin" all men call me, and such riches are mine, I trow,
That the folk of full many a kingdom 'neath my sceptre as vassals bow!' 200
Then, e'en as the words were spoken, to the heathen quoth Parzival,
'How shall "Angevin" be thy title, since as heirdom to me it fell,
Anjou, with its folk and its castles, its lands and its cities fair?
Nay, choose thee some other title, if thou, courteous, wouldst hear my prayer!
If thro' thee I have lost my kingdom, and the fair town Béalzenan, 205
Then wrong hadst thou wrought upon me ere ever our strife began!
If one of us twain is an Angevin then by birthright that one am I!—
And yet, of a truth, was it told me, that afar 'neath an Eastern sky,
[Pg 142] There dwelleth a dauntless hero, who, with courage and knightly skill,
Such love and such fame hath won him that he ruleth them at his will. 210
And men say, he shall be my brother—and that all they who know his name
Account him a knight most valiant, and he weareth the crown of fame!'
In a little space he spake further, 'If, Sir Knight, I thy face might see,
I should know if the truth were told me, if in sooth thou art kin to me.
Sir Knight, wilt thou trust mine honour, then loosen thine helmet's band, 215
I will swear till once more thou arm thee to stay from all strife mine hand!
Then out he spake, the heathen, 'Of such strife have I little fear,
For e'en were my body naked, my sword, I still hold it here!
Of a sooth must thou be the vanquished, for since broken shall be thy sword
What availeth thy skill in combat keen death from thine heart to ward, 220
Unless, of free will, I spare thee? For, ere thou couldst clasp me round,
My steel, thro' the iron of thy harness, thy flesh and thy bone had found!'
Then the heathen, so strong and gallant, he dealt as a knight so true,
'Nor mine nor thine shall this sword be!' and straight from his hand it flew,
Afar in the wood he cast it, and he quoth, 'Now, methinks, Sir Knight, 225
The chance for us both shall be equal, if further we think to fight!'
Quoth Feirefis, 'Now, thou hero, by thy courteous breeding fair,
Since in sooth thou shalt have a brother, say, what face doth that brother bear?
And tell me here of his colour, e'en as men shall have told it thee.'
Quoth the Waleis, 'As written parchment, both black and white is he, 230
For so hath Ekuba told me.' 'Then that brother am I alway,'
Quoth the heathen—Those knights so gallant, but little they made delay,
But they loosed from their heads the helmet, and they made them of iron bare,
And Parzival deemed that he found there a gift o'er all others fair,
For straightway he knew the other, (as a magpie, I ween, his face,) 235
And hatred and wrath were slain here in a brotherly embrace.
Yea, friendship far better 'seemed them, who owed to one sire their life,
Than anger, methinks, and envy—Truth and Love made an end of strife.
[Pg 143]
Then joyful he spake, the heathen, 'Now well shall it be with me,
And I thank the gods of my people that Gamuret's son I see. 240
Blest be Juno, the queen of heaven, since, methinks, she hath ruled it so,
And Jupiter, by whose virtue and strength I such bliss may know,
Gods and goddesses, I will love ye, and worship your strength for aye—
And blest be those shining planets, 'neath the power of whose guiding ray
I hither have made my journey—For ventures I here would seek, 245
And found thee, brother, sweet and aweful, whose strong hand hath made me weak.
And blest be the dew, and the breezes, that this morning my brow have fanned.
Ah! thou courteous knight who holdest love's key in thy valiant hand!
Ah! happy shall be the woman whose eyes on thy face shall light,
Already is bliss her portion who seeth so fair a sight!' 250
'Ye speak well, I would fain speak better of a full heart, had I the skill;
Yet alas! for I lack the wisdom, tho' God knoweth, of right goodwill
The fame of your worth and valour by my words would I higher raise,
And as eye, and as heart should serve me, the twain, they should speak your praise;
As your fame and your glory lead them, so behind in your track they fare— 255
And ne'er from the hand of a foeman such peril hath been my share
As the peril your hand hath wrought me! and sooth are these words I say.'
In this wise quoth the knight of Kanvoleis; yet Feirefis spake alway;
'With wisdom and skill, I wot well, hath Jupiter fashioned thee,
Thou true and gallant hero! Nor thy speech shall thus distant be, 260
For "ye" thou shalt no more call me, of one sire did we spring we twain.'
And with brotherly love he prayed him he would from such speech refrain
And henceforward 'thou' to call him, yet Parzival deemed it ill,
And he spake, 'Now, your riches, brother, shall be e'en as the Baruch's still,
And ye of us twain are the elder, my poverty and my youth 265
They forbid me "thou" to call ye, or discourteous were I in truth.
Then the Prince of Tribalibot, joyful, with many a word would praise
His god, Jupiter, and to Juno thanksgiving he fain would raise,
[Pg 144] Since so well had she ruled the weather, that the port to which he was bound
He had safely reached, and had landed, and there had a brother found. 270
Side by side did they sit together, and neither forgot the grace
Of courtesy, to the other, each knight fain had yielded place.
Then the heathen spake, 'My brother, wilt thou sail with me to my land,
Then two kingdoms, rich and powerful, will I give thee into thine hand.
Thy father and mine, he won them when King Eisenhart's life was run, 275
Zassamank and Assagog are they—to no man he wrong hath done,
Save in that he left me orphaned—of the ill that he did that day
As yet have I not avenged me, for an ill deed it was alway.
For his wife, the queen who bare me, thro' her love must she early die,
When she knew herself love-bereavèd, and her lord from her land did fly. 280
Yet gladly that knight would I look on, for his fame hath been told to me
As the best of knights, and I journey my father's face to see!'
Then Parzival made him answer, 'Yea I, too, I saw him ne'er;
Yet all men they speak well of him, and his praises all lands declare,
And ever in strife and conflict to better his fame he knew, 285
And his valour was high exalted, and afar from him falsehood flew.
And women he served so truly that all true folk they praised his name,
And all that should deck a Christian lent honour unto his fame,
For his faith it for aye stood steadfast, and all false deeds did he abhor,
But followed his true heart's counsel—Thus ever I heard of yore 290
From the mouth of all men who knew him, that man ye were fain to see,
And I ween ye would do him honour if he yet on this earth might be,
And sought for fame as aforetime—The delight of all women's eyes
Was he, till king Ipomidon with him strove for knighthood's prize,
At Bagdad the joust was ridden, and there did his valiant life 295
For love's sake become death's portion, and there was he slain in strife;
In a knightly joust we lost him from whose life do we spring, we twain;
If here ye would seek our father, then the seas have ye sailed in vain!'
'Alas, for the endless sorrow!' quoth the knight. 'Is my father dead?
Here joy have I lost, tho' it well be that joy cometh in its stead. 300
In this self-same hour have I lost me great joy, and yet joy have found,
For myself, and thou, and my father, we three in one bond are bound;
[Pg 145] For tho' men as three may hold us, yet I wot well we are but one,
And no wise man he counts that kinship 'twixt father, methinks, and son,
For in truth for more must he hold it—With thyself hast thou fought to-day, 305
To strife with myself have I ridden, and I went near myself to slay;
Thy valour in good stead stood us, from myself hast thou saved my life—
Now Jupiter see this marvel, since thy power so hath ruled the strife
That from death hast thou here withheld us!' Then tears streamed from his heathen eyes,
As he laughed and wept together—Yea, a Christian such truth might prize, 310
For our baptism truth should teach us, since there are we named anew
In the Name of Christ, and all men they hold the Lord Christ for true!
Quoth the heathen, e'en as I tell ye, 'No longer will we abide
In this place, but if thou, my brother, for a short space with me wilt ride,
From the sea to the land will I summon, that their power be made known to thee, 315
The richest force that Juno e'er guided across the sea.
And in truth, without thought of falsehood, full many a gallant knight
Will I show thee, who do me service, and beneath my banners fight,
With me shalt thou ride towards them.' Then Parzival spake alway,
'Have ye then such power o'er these people that your bidding they wait to-day 320
And all the days ye are absent?' Quoth the heathen, 'Yea, even so,
If for half a year long I should leave them, not a man from the place would go,
Be he rich or poor, till I bade him. Well victualled their ships shall be,
And neither the horse nor his rider setteth foot on the grassy lea,
Save only to fetch them water from the fountain that springeth fair, 325
Or to lead their steeds to the meadow to breathe the fresh summer air.'
Then Parzival quoth to his brother, 'If it be so, then follow me
To where many a gracious maiden, and fair pleasures, ye well may see,
And many a courteous hero who shall be to us both akin—
Near by with a goodly army lieth Arthur, the Breton king, 330
'Twas only at dawn I left them, a great host and fair are they,
And many a lovely lady shall gladden our eyes to-day.'
[Pg 146] When he heard that he spake of women, since he fain for their love would live,
He quoth, 'Thou shalt lead me thither, but first thou shalt answer give
To the question I here would ask thee—Of a truth shall we kinsmen see 335
When we come to the court of King Arthur? For ever 'twas told to me
That his name it is rich in honour, and he liveth as valiant knight'—
Quoth Parzival, 'We shall see there full many a lady bright,
Nor fruitless shall be our journey, our own folk shall we find there,
The men of whose race we have sprung, men whose head shall a king's crown bear.' 340
Nor longer the twain would sit there, and straightway did Parzival
Seek again the sword of his brother that afar in the woodland fell,
And again the hero sheathed it, and all hatred they put away,
And e'en as true friends and brothers together they rode that day.
Yet ere they might come to King Arthur men had heard of the twain a tale— 345
On the self-same day it befell so that the host, they must sore bewail
The loss of a gallant hero, since Parzival rode away—
Then Arthur, he took good counsel, and he spake, 'Unto the eighth day
Would they wait for Parzival's coming, nor forth from the field would fare'—
And hither came Gramoflanz' army, and they many a ring prepare, 350
And with costly tents do they deck them, and the proud knights are lodged full well,
Nor might brides e'er win greater honour than here to this four befell.
Then from Château Merveil rode thither a squire in the self-same hour,
And he said, in their column mirrored, had they seen in their fair watch-tower
A mighty fight, and a fearful—'And where'er men with swords have fought, 355
I wot well, beside this combat their strife shall be held as naught.'
And the tale did they tell to Gawain, as he sat by King Arthur's side,
And this knight, and that, spake wondering to whom might such strife betide?
Quoth Arthur the king, 'Now I wager that I know of the twain one knight,
'Twas my nephew of Kanvoleis fought there, who left us ere morning light!' 360
And now, lo the twain rode hither—They had foughten a combat fair,
As helmet and shield sore dinted with sword-stroke might witness bear.
[Pg 147] And well skilled were the hands that had painted these badges of strife, I trow,
(For 'tis meet in the lust of combat that a knight's hand such skill should show,)
Then they rode by the camp of King Arthur—As the heathen knight rode past 365
Full many a glance of wonder at his costly gear was cast.
And with tents the plain was covered—Then rode they to Gawain's ring,
And before his tent they halted—Did men a fair welcome bring,
And lead them within, and gladly behold them? Yea, even so,
And Gawain, he rode swiftly after when he did of their coming know; 370
For e'en as he sat by King Arthur he saw that his tent they sought,
And, as fitted a courteous hero, joyful greeting to them he brought.
And as yet they bare their armour—Then Gawain, the courteous knight,
He bade his squires disarm them—In the stress of the deadly fight
Ecidemon, the beast, was cloven; the robe that the heathen ware 375
In many a place bare token of the blows that had been its share,
'Twas a silk of Saranthasmé, decked with many a precious stone,
And beneath, rich, snow-white, blazoned with his bearings his vesture shone.
And one over against the other stood the gems in a double row;
By the wondrous Salamanders was it woven in fierce flame's glow! 380
All this glory a woman gave him, who would stake on his skill in strife
Her crown alike and her kingdom, as she gave him her love and life.
'Twas the fair Queen Sekundillé (and gladly he did her will,
And were it for joy or for sorrow he hearkened her bidding still)
And, e'en as her true heart willed it, of her riches was he the lord, 385
For her love, as his rightful guerdon, had he won him with shield and sword.
Then Gawain, he bade his people of the harness to have good care,
That naught should be moved from its station, shield, or helmet, or vesture fair.
And in sooth a gift too costly e'en the blazoned coat had been
If poor were the maid who a love-gift would give to her knight, I ween, 390
So rich were the stones that decked it, the harness of pieces four—
And where wisdom with goodwill worketh, and of riches there be full store,
There love well can deck the loved one! And proud Feirefis, he strove
With such zeal for the honour of women, he well was repaid by Love!
[Pg 148]
And soon as he doffed his harness they gazed on the wondrous sight, 395
And they who might speak of marvels said, in sooth, that this heathen knight,
Feirefis, was strange to look on! and wondrous marks he bore—
Quoth Gawain to Parzival, 'Cousin, I ne'er saw his like before,
Now who may he be, thy comrade? For in sooth he is strange to see!'
Quoth Parzival, 'Are we kinsmen, then thy kinsman this knight shall be, 400
As Gamuret's name may assure thee—Of Zassamank is he king,
There my father he won Belakané who this prince to the world did bring.'
Then Gawain, he kissed the heathen—Now the noble Feirefis
Was black and white all over, save his mouth was half red, I wis!
Then they brought to the twain fair raiment, and I wot well their cost was dear. 405
(They were brought forth from Gawain's chamber.) Then the ladies, they drew anear,
And the Duchess she bade Sangivé and Kondrie first kiss the knight
Ere she and Arnivé proffered in greeting their lips so bright.
And Feirefis gazed upon them, and, methinks, he was glad at heart
At the sight of their lovely faces, and in joy had he lot and part. 410
Then Gawain spake to Parzival, 'Cousin, thou hast found a new battle-field,
If aright I may read the token of thy helmet and splintered shield,
Sore strife shall have been your comrade, both thine and thy brother's too!
Say, with whom did ye fight so fiercely?' Then Parzival spake anew,
'No fiercer fight have I foughten, my brother's hand pressed me sore 415
To defend me, no charm more potent than defence 'gainst death's stroke I bore.
As this stranger, whom yet I knew well, I smote, my sword brake in twain,
Yet no fear did he show, and 'vantage he scorned of mischance to gain,
For afar did he cast his sword-blade, since he feared lest 'gainst me he sin,
Yet naught did he know when he spared me that we twain were so near akin. 420
But now have I won his friendship, and his love, and with right goodwill
Would I do to him faithful service as befitteth a brother still!'
Then Gawain spake, 'They brought me tidings of a dauntless strife and bold,
In Château Merveil the country for six miles may ye well behold,
The pillar within the watch-tower showeth all that within that space 425
Doth chance,—and he spake, King Arthur, that one who there strife did face,
[Pg 149] Should be thou cousin mine of Kingrivals, now hast thou the tidings brought,
And we know of a sooth the combat was even as we had thought.
Now believe me, the truth I tell thee, for eight days here our feast we'ld hold
In great pomp, and await thy coming, shouldst thou seek us, thou hero bold. 430
Now rest here, ye twain, from your combat—but methinks, since ye thus did fight,
Ye shall each know the other better, and hatred shall own love's might.'
That eve would Gawain sup early, since his cousin of far Thasmé,
Feirefis Angevin, and his brother, had tasted no food that day.
And high and long were the cushions that they laid in a ring so wide, 435
And many a costly covering of silk did their softness hide.
And long, and wide, and silken, were the clothes that above them went,
And the store of Klingsor's riches they spread forth within the tent.
Then four costly carpets silken, and woven so fair to see,
Did they hang one against the other, so the tale it was told to me; 440
And beneath them, of down were the pillows, and each one was covered fair,
And in such wise the costly couches for the guests would the squires prepare.
And so wide was the ring that within it six pavilions right well might stand
Nor the tent ropes should touch each other—(Now wisdom doth fail mine hand,
I will speak no more of these marvels). Then straightway Gawain he sent 445
To King Arthur, he fain would tell him who abode here within his tent,
He had come, the mighty heathen, of whom Ekuba erst did tell
On Plimizöl's plain! And the tidings they rejoiced King Arthur well.
And he who should bear the tidings, he was Iofreit, and Idol's son;
And he bade the king sup early, and so soon as the meal was done, 450
With his knights and his host of ladies, to ride forth a train so fair,
And a fit and worthy welcome for Gamuret's son prepare.
Quoth the king, 'All who here are worthy, of a sooth, will I bring with me.'
Quoth Iofreit, 'Ye fain will see him, so courteous a knight is he,
And a marvel is he to look on—From great riches he forth must fare, 455
For the price of his coat emblazoned is such as no man might bear,
And no hand might count its equal, not in Löver or Brittany,
Or in England, or e'en from Paris to Wizsant beside the sea—
[Pg 150] Nay, all the rich lands between them, were their wealth in the balance weighed,
Then the cost of his goodly raiment, I think me, were yet unpaid!' 460
Then again came the knight Iofreit, when he to the king had told
The guise that should best befit him when he greeted the heathen bold.
And within the tent of Gawain the seats were ordered fair,
In courteous rank and seemly, and the guests to the feast repair.
And the vassals of Orgelusé, and the heroes within her train 465
Who gladly for love had served her, they sate there beside Gawain.
Their seats they were on his right hand, on his left were Klingsor's knights,
And over against the heroes sat many a lady bright,
All they who were Klingsor's captives, in sooth were they fair of face,
And Parzival and his brother, by the maidens they took their place. 470
Then the Turkowit, Sir Florant, and Sangivé, that noble queen,
Sat over against each other, and in like wise, the board between,
Sat Gowerzein's Duke, brave Lischois, and his wife, the fair Kondrie.
Iofreit and Gawain forgat not each other's mate to be,
As of old would they sit together, and together, as comrades, eat. 475
The Duchess, with bright eyes shining, by Arnivé must find her seat,
Nor forgat they to serve each other with courteous and kindly grace—
At the side sat fair Orgelusé, while Arnivé by Gawain found place.
And all shame and discourteous bearing from the circle must take their flight,
And courteous they bare the viands to each maid and each gallant knight. 480
Then Feirefis looked on his brother, and he spake unto Parzival;
'Now Jupiter ruled my journey so that bliss to my lot would fall
Since his aid shall have brought me hither, and here mine own folk I see,
And I praise the sire that I knew not, of a gallant race was he!'
Quoth the Waleis, 'Ye yet shall see them, a folk ye right well may love, 485
With Arthur their king and captain, brave knights who their manhood prove.
So soon as this feast is ended, as methinks it will be ere long,
Ye shall see them come in their glory, many valiant men and strong.
Of the knights of the good Round Table there shall sit at this board but three,
Our host, and the knight Iofreit, and such honour once fell to me, 490
[Pg 151] In the days that I showed me worthy, that they prayed me I would be one
Of their band, nor was I unwilling, but e'en as they spake 'twas done,'
Now 'twas time, since all well had eaten, the covers to bear away
From before both man and maiden, and this did the squires straightway.
The host would no longer sit there; then the Duchess and Arnivé spake, 495
And they prayed that the twain, Sangivé and Kondrie, they with them might take;
And go to the strange-faced heathen, and entreat him in courteous wise—
When Feirefis saw them near him, from his seat did the prince arise,
And with Parzival, his brother, stepped forward the queens to meet,
By his hand did the Duchess take him, and with fair words the knight would greet; 500
And the ladies and knights who stood there she bade them be seated all—
Then the king and his host came riding, with many a trumpet call;
And they heard the sound of music, of tambour, and flute, and horn,
With many a blast drew nearer the king of Arnivé born;
And the heathen this pomp and rejoicing must hold for a worthy thing— 505
And Guinevere rode with King Arthur, so came they to Gawain's ring;
And goodly the train that followed of ladies and gallant knights,
And Feirefis saw among them fair faces with youth's tints bright;
And King Gramoflanz rode among them, for Arthur's guest was he,
And Itonjé, his love so loyal, true lady, from falsehood free! 510
Then the gallant host dismounted, with many a lady sweet,
And Guinevere bade Itonjé her nephew, the heathen, greet.
Then the queen herself drew anear him, and she kissed the knight Feirefis,
And Gramoflanz and King Arthur received him with friendly kiss;
And in honour they proffered service unto him, those monarchs twain, 515
And many a man of his kinsfolk to welcome the prince was fain.
And many a faithful comrade Feirefis Angevin had found,
Nor in sooth was he loth to own here that he stood upon friendly ground.
Down they sat them, both wife and husband, and many a gracious maid,
And many a knight might find there (if in sooth he such treasure prayed,) 520
From sweet lips sweet words of comfort—If for wooing such knight were fain,
Then from many a maid who sat there no hatred his prayer would gain,
[Pg 152] No true woman shall e'er be wrathful if a true man for help shall pray,
For ever the right she holdeth to yield, or to say him 'Nay,'
And if labour win joy for payment then such guerdon shall true love give— 525
And I speak but as in my lifetime I have seen many true folk live—
And service sat there by rewarding, for in sooth 'tis a gracious thing
When a knight may his lady hearken, for joy shall such hearing bring.
And Feirefis sat by King Arthur, nor would either prince delay
To the question each asked the other courteous answer to make straightway— 530
Quoth King Arthur, 'May God be praised, for He honoureth us I ween,
Since this day within our circle so gallant a guest is seen,
No knight hath Christendom welcomed to her shores from a heathen land
Whom, an he desired my service, I had served with such willing hand!'
Quoth Feirefis to King Arthur, 'Misfortune hath left my side, 535
Since the day that my goddess Juno, with fair winds and a favouring tide,
Led my sail to this Western kingdom! Methinks that thou bearest thee
In such wise as he should of whose valour many tales have been told to me;
If indeed thou art called King Arthur, then know that in many a land
Thy name is both known and honoured, and thy fame o'er all knights doth stand.' 540
Quoth Arthur, 'Himself doth he honour who thus spake in my praise to thee
And to other folk, since such counsel he won of his courtesy
Far more than of my deserving—for he spake of his kindly will.
Yea, in sooth shall my name be Arthur, and the tale would I hearken still
Of how to this land thou camest, if for love's sake thou bearest shield, 545
Then thy love must be fair, since to please her thou ridest so far afield!
If her guerdon be not withholden then love's service shall wax more fair,
Else must many a maid win hatred from the knight who her badge doth bear!'
'Nay, 'twas otherwise,' quoth the heathen; 'Now learn how I came to thee,
I led such a mighty army, they who guardians of Troy would be, 550
And they who its walls besiegèd, the road to my hosts must yield—
If both armies yet lived, and lusted to face me on open field,
Then ne'er might they win the victory, but shame and defeat must know
From me and my host, of a surety their force would I overthrow!—
And many a fight had I foughten, and knightly deeds had done, 555
[Pg 153] Till as guerdon at length the favour of Queen Sekundill' I won.
And e'en as her wish so my will is, and her love to my life is guide,
She bade me to give with a free hand, and brave knights to keep at my side,
And this must I do to please her; and I did even as she would,
'Neath my shield have I won as vassals full many a warrior good, 560
And her love it hath been my guerdon—An Ecidemon I bear
On my shield, even as she bade me, at her will I this token wear.
Since then, came I e'er in peril, if but on my love I thought
She hath helped me, yea, Jupiter never such succour in need hath brought!'
Quoth Arthur, 'Thy gallant father, Gamuret, he hath left thee heir 565
To the heart that on woman's service thus loveth afar to fare.
Of such service I too can tell thee, for but seldom hath greater deeds
Been done for a woman's honour, or to win of her love the meed,
Than were done for the sake of the Duchess who sitteth beside us here.
For her love many gallant heroes have splintered full many a spear, 570
Yea, the spear-shafts were e'en as a forest! And many have paid the cost
Of her service in bitter sorrow, and in joy and high courage lost!'
And then the tale he told him of the fame that Gawain had found,
And the knights of the host of Klingsor, and the heroes who sat around,
And of Parzival, his brother, how he fought fierce combats twain, 575
For the sake of Gramoflanz' garland, on Ioflanz' grassy plain;
'And what other have been his ventures, who never himself doth spare
As thro' the wide world he rideth, that shall he himself declare;
For he seeketh a lofty guerdon, and he rideth to find the Grail.
And here shall it be my pleasure that ye twain, without lack or fail, 580
Shall tell me the lands and the peoples against whom ye shall both have fought.'
Quoth the heathen, 'I'll name the princes whom I here as my captives brought':
'King Papirus of Trogodjenté, Count Behantins of Kalomedenté,
Duke Farjelastis of Africk, and King Tridanz of Tinodent;
King Liddamus of Agrippé, of Schipelpjonte King Amaspartins, 585
King Milon of Nomadjentesin, of Agremontein, Duke Lippidins;
Gabarins of Assigarzionté, King Translapins of Rivigatas,
From Hiberborticon Count Filones, from Sotofeititon, Amincas,
[Pg 154] From Centrium, King Killicrates, Duke Tiridé of Elixodjon,
And beside him Count Lysander, from Ipopotiticon. 590
King Thoaris of Orastegentesein, from Satarthjonté Duke Alamis,
And the Duke of Duscontemedon, and Count Astor of Panfatis.
From Arabia King Zaroaster, and Count Possizonjus of Thiler,
The Duke Sennes of Narjoclin, and Nourjenté's Duke, Acheinor,
Count Edisson of Lanzesardin, Count Fristines of Janfusé, 595
Meiones of Atropfagenté, King Jetakranc of Ganpfassasché,
From Assagog and Zassamank princes, Count Jurans of Blemunzîn.
And the last, I ween, shall a Duke be, Affinamus of Amantasîn!'
'Yet one thing for a shame I deemed it—In my kingdom 'twas told to me
Gamuret Angevin, my father, the best of all knights should be 600
That ever bestrode a charger—Then so was my will and mind,
That, afar from my kingdom faring, my father I thought to find;
And since then strife hath been my portion, for forth from my kingdoms twain
A mighty host and powerful 'neath my guidance hath crossed the main,
And I lusted for deeds of knighthood; if I came to a goodly land, 605
Then I rested not till its glory paid tribute into mine hand.
And thus ever I journeyed further—I won love from two noble queens,
Olympia and Klauditté; Sekundillé the third hath been.
And well have I served fair women!—Now first must I learn to-day
That my father is dead! My brother, the tale of thy ventures say.' 610
And Parzival quoth, 'Since I seek it, The Grail, in full many a fight,
Both far and near, have I striven, in such wise as beseems a knight,
And my hand of their fame hath robbed them who never before might fall—
If it please ye the tale to hearken, lo! here will I name them all!'
'King Schirniel of Lirivoin, and his brother of Avendroin, King Mirabel, 615
King Piblesun of Lorneparz, of Rozokarz, King Serabel,
Of Sirnegunz, King Senilgorz, and Strangedorz of Villegarunz,
Rogedal the Count of Mirnetalle and Laudunal of Pleyedunz.
From Semblidag King Zyrolan, from Itolac Onipreiz,
From Zambron the Count Plenischanz, and Duke Jerneganz of Jeropleis, 620
Count Longefiez of Teuteleunz, Duke Marangliess of Privegarz,
From Lampregun Count Parfoyas, from Pictacon Duke Strennolas;
Postefar of Laudundrehte, Askalon's fair king, Vergulacht,
[Pg 155] Duke Leidebron of Redunzehte, and from Pranzile Count Bogudaht,
Collevâl of Leterbé, Jovedast of Arl, a Provençal, 625
Count Karfodyas of Tripparûn, all these 'neath my spear must fall.
In knightly joust I o'erthrew them the while I the Grail must seek!
Would I say those I felled in battle, methinks I o'er-long must speak,
It were best that I here keep silence—Of those who were known to me,
Methinks that the greater number I here shall have named to ye!' 630
From his heart was he glad, the heathen, of his brother's mighty fame,
That so many a gallant hero 'neath his hand had been put to shame,
And he deemed in his brother's honour he himself should have honour won,
And with many a word he thanked him for the deeds that he there had done.
Then Gawain bade his squires bear hither (yet e'en as he knew it not) 635
The costly gear of the heathen, and they held it was fair I wot.
And knights alike and ladies, they looked on its decking rare,
Corslet, and shield, and helmet, and the coat that was blazoned fair.
Nor narrow nor wide the helmet—And a marvel great they thought
The shine of the many jewels in the costly robe inwrought, 640
And no man I ween shall ask me the power that in each did dwell,
The light alike and the heavy, for I skill not the tale to tell;
Far better might they have told it, Heraclius or Hercules
And the Grecian Alexander; and better methinks than these
Pythagoras, the wise man, for skilled in the stars was he, 645
And so wise that no son of Adam I wot well might wiser be.
Then the women they spake, 'What woman so e'er thus hath decked this knight
If he be to her love unfaithful he hath done to his fame despite.'
Yet some in such favour held him, they had been of his service fain—
Methinks the unwonted colour of his face did their fancy gain! 650
Then aside went the four, Gawain, Arthur, Gramoflanz, and Parzival,
(And the women should care for the heathen, methinks it would please them well.)
And Arthur willed ere the morrow a banquet, rich and fair,
On the grassy plain before him they should without fail prepare,
[Pg 156] That Feirefis they might welcome as befitting so brave a guest. 655
'Now be ye in this task not slothful, but strive, as shall seem ye best,
That henceforth he be one of our circle, of the Table Round, a knight.'
And they spake, they would win that favour, if so be it should seem him right.
Then Feirefis, the rich hero, he brotherhood with them sware;
And they quaffed the cup of parting, and forth to their tents would fare. 660
And joy it came with the morning, if here I the truth may say,
And many were glad at the dawning of a sweet and a welcome day.
Then the son of Uther Pendragon, King Arthur, in this wise spake:
For Round Table a silk so costly, Drianthasmé, he bade them take—
Ye have heard how it once was ordered, afar on Plimizöl's plain, 665
How they spread them there a Round Table, in such wise was it spread again—
'Twas cut in a round, and costly it was, and right fair to see,
And on the green turf around it the seats of the knights should be.
It was even a goodly gallop from the seats to the Table Round,
For the Table's self it was not, yet the likeness they there had found. 670
And a cowardly man might shame him to sit there with such gallant knights,
And with sin would his food be tainted since he ate it not there of right.
Thro' the summer night 'twas measured, the ring, both with thought and care,
And from one end unto the other with pomp they the seats prepare.
And the cost were too great for a poor king, as they saw it in noontide light, 675
When the trappings, so gay and costly, shone fair in the sun-rays bright.
Gramoflanz and Gawain would pay it, the cost, since within their land
He was but a guest, King Arthur, tho' he dealt with a generous hand.
And the night, it seldom cometh but, as it is wont, the sun
Bringeth back the day and the daylight when the hours of the night are run; 680
And e'en so it befell, and the dawning was clear and calm and bright,
And many a flowery chaplet crowned the locks of many a knight;
And with cheeks and lips unpainted saw ye many a lovely maid,
And, if Kiot the truth hath spoken, knight and lady they were arrayed
In diverse garb and fashion, with head-gear both high and low, 685
As each in their native country their faces were wont to show—
[Pg 157] 'Twas a folk from far kingdoms gathered and diverse their ways were found—
If to lady a knight were lacking she sat not at the Table Round,
But if she for knightly service had promised a guerdon fair,
She might ride with her knight, but the others, they must to their tents repair. 690
When Arthur the Mass had hearkened, then Gramoflanz did they see
With Gowerzein's Duke and Florant; to the king came the comrades three,
And each one a boon would crave here, for each of the three was fain
To be one of the good Round Table, nor this grace did they fail to gain.
And if lady or knight would ask me who was richest of all that band, 695
Who sat as guests in the circle, and were gathered from every land,
Then here will I speak the answer, 'twas Feirefis Angevin,
But think not from my lips of his riches a further tale to win.
Thus in festive guise, and gaily, they rode to the circle wide,
And often to maid had it chancèd (so closely the guests must ride) 700
Were her steed not well girthed she had fallen—with banners waving high
From every side of the meadow to each other the groups drew nigh;
And a Buhurd fair was ridden without the Table Round,
And in courtly guise and skilful no man rode within its bound;
There was space without for the chargers, and they handled their steeds with skill, 705
And rode each one against the other till the ladies had looked their fill.
Then in order fair they seat them when 'twas time for the guests to eat,
And cup-bearer, steward, and butler, they bethink them as shall be meet,
How, courteous, to do their office—No lack of food had they,
And many a maid was honoured as she sat by her knight that day. 710
And many thro' fond heart's counsel had been served by knightly deed—
And Feirefis, and the Waleis, to the maidens they gave good heed,
And they looked on the one and the other, and a fair choice was theirs, I ween,
For never on field or meadow may the eye of man have seen
So many sweet lips and fair faces as shone there at the Table Round, 715
And the heathen was glad for their beauty, and the joy that his heart had found.
Now hail to the hour that cometh, and the tidings they soon shall hear
[Pg 158] From the welcome lips of a maiden who draweth the host anear;
For a maiden came towards them, and her raiment was fair to see,
And e'en as in France the custom so 'twas fashioned right cunningly. 720
Her mantle was costly velvet, and blacker, I ween, its hue
Than the coat of a sable jennet; and with gold was it woven thro'
With turtle-doves, all shining, the badge of the Grail were they.
And they looked and they marvelled at her as toward them she made her way,
For swiftly she came, and her head-gear was high and white, her face 725
With many a veil was shrouded, and her features no man might trace.
Then with even pace and seemly she rode o'er the turf so green,
And saddle and reins and trappings were costly enow I ween;
And they let her within the circle—Now she who would tidings bring
No fool was she, but wise maiden—So rode she around the ring, 730
And they showed her where sat King Arthur, nor her greeting should fail that day,
In French was her speech, and in this wise the monarch she fain would pray;
They should wreak not on her their vengeance for the words that she spake of yore,
But hearken unto her message since welcome the news she bore.
And the king and the queen she pleaded to give unto her their aid, 735
That she failed not to win from the hero the grace that she fain had prayed.
Then to Parzival she turned her, since his place by the king's was found,
And she stayed not, but down from her charger she sprang swiftly unto the ground,
And with courteous mien, as beseemed her, fell low at the hero's feet,
And, weeping, she prayed that in friendship her coming he now would greet, 740
And forget his wrath against her, and forgive her without a kiss.
And they joined to her prayer their pleadings, King Arthur and Feirefis.
Of a sooth Parzival must hate her, yet he hearkened to friendship's prayer,
And of true heart and free forgave her—Tho' I say not the maid was fair,
Yet methinks she was honour-worthy—Then swiftly she sprang upright, 745
And thanked those who had won her pardon for the wrong she had done the knight.
Then she raised her hand to her head-gear, were it wimple or veil, no less
[Pg 159] Was it cast on the ground, and all men knew Kondrie, the sorceress.
And they knew of the Grail the token and the badge that the maiden bare,
And all men I ween must marvel—Her face it was e'en as fair 750
As man and maiden saw it when to Plimizöl's banks she came,
Of her countenance have I told ye, and to-day was it still the same,
And yellow her eyes as the topaz, long her teeth, and her lips in hue
Were even as is a violet, that man seeth not red but blue!
Yet methinks had her will been evil she had borne not the head-gear rare 755
That aforetime, on Plimizöl's meadow, it had pleasured the maid to wear.
The sun it had worked no evil, if its rays thro' her hair might win
Yet scarce had they shone so fiercely as to darken one whit her skin.
Then courteous she stood, and she spake thus, and good were her words to hear,
In the self-same hour her tidings came thus to the listening ear; 760
'Oh! well is thee, thou hero, thou Gamuret's son so fair,
Since God showeth favour to thee whom Herzeleide of old did bear.
And welcome is he, thy brother, Feirefis, the strange of hue,
For the sake of my Queen Sekundillé, and the tidings that erst I knew
Of the gallant deeds of knighthood that his valiant hand hath done, 765
For e'en from the days of his childhood great fame for himself he won!'
And to Parzival she spake thus, 'Now rejoice with a humble heart,
Since the crown of all earthly blessings henceforward shall be thy part,
For read is the mystic writing—The Grail, It doth hail thee king,
And Kondwiramur, thy true wife, thou shalt to thy kingdom bring, 770
For the Grail, It hath called her thither—Yea, and Lohengrin, thy son,
For e'en as thou left her kingdom twin babes thou by her hadst won.
And Kardeiss, he shall have in that kingdom a heritage rich I trow!
And were no other bliss thy portion than that which I tell thee now—
That with true lips and pure, thou shalt greet him, Anfortas the king, again, 775
And thy mouth thro' the mystic question shall rid him of all his pain,
For sorrow hath been his portion—If joy's light thro' thy deed shall shine
On his life, then of all earth's children whose bliss shall be like to thine?'
[Pg 160]
Seven stars did she name unto him in Arabic, and their might,
Right well Feirefis should know it, who sat there, both black and white. 780
And she spake, 'Sir Parzival, mark well the names that I tell to thee,
There is Zevâl the highest planet, and the swift star Almustri;
Almaret and the shining Samsi, great bliss unto thee they bring,
Alligafir is fifth, and Alketer stands sixth in the starry ring;
And the nearest to us is Alkamer; and no dream shall it be, my rede, 785
For the bridle of heaven are they, to guide and to check its speed,
'Gainst its swiftness their power, it warreth—Now thy sorrow is passed away,
For far as shall be their journey, and far as shall shine their ray.
So wide is the goal of thy riches and the glory thine hand shall win,
And thy sorrow shall wane and vanish—Yet this thing It holds for sin, 790
The Grail and Its power, It forbids thee unlawful desire to know,
And the company of sinners henceforth must thou shun, I trow;
And riches are thine, and honour, but from these shall thy life be free—
Now thy youth was by sorrow cherished, and her lesson she taught to thee,
But by joy she afar is driven, for thou hast thy soul's rest won, 795
And in grief thou o'er-long hast waited for the joy that is now begun.'
Nor seemed ill to the knight her tidings—Thro' joy must his eyelids know
A rain of crystal tear-drops from a true heart's overflow.
And he quoth, 'If thou speakest, Lady, the thing that indeed shall be,
If God as his knight doth claim me, and they are elect with me, 800
My wife and my child, then I wot well, tho' a sinful man am I,
God looketh with favour on me, and hath dealt with me wondrously!
Of a sooth hast thou here repaid me for the grief thou on me hast brought,
Yet I deem well thy wrath had spared me save that evil myself had wrought,
Nor to bliss was I then predestined—but thou bringest such tidings fair 805
That my sorrow hath found an ending—And these arms do thy truth declare,
For when by the sad Anfortas I sat in Monsalväsch' hall,
Full many a shield I looked on that hung fair on the castle wall,
And with turtle-doves all were blazoned, such as shine on thy robe to-day.
But say, to the joy that awaits me, when and how may I take my way, 810
For I would not there were delaying?' Then she quoth, 'Lord and master dear,
But one knight alone shall ride with thee; choose thou from these warriors here
[Pg 161] And trust thou to my skill and knowledge to guide thee upon thy way,
For thy succour Anfortas waiteth, wouldst thou help him, make no delay!'
Then they heard, all they who sat there, how Kondrie had come again 815
And the tidings she bare; and teardrops fell soft like a summer's rain
From the bright eyes of Orgelusé, since Parzival should speak
The words that should heal Anfortas, nor that healing be long to seek.
Then Arthur, the fame-desirous, spake to Kondrie in courtesy,
'Now, Lady, wilt ride to thy lodging? Say, how may we care for thee?' 820
And she quoth, 'Is she here, Arnivé, what lodging she shall prepare,
That lodging shall well content me till hence with my lord I fare;
If a captive she be no longer, then fain would I see them all,
The queen, and the other ladies, whom Klingsor, in magic thrall,
For many a year hath fettered'—Then they lifted her on her steed, 825
Two knights, and unto Arnivé did the faithful maiden speed.
Now the feast drew nigh to its ending—By his brother sat Parzival,
And he prayed him to be his comrade, nor his words did unheeded fall,
For Feirefis spake him ready to Monsalväsch' Burg to ride—
In the self-same hour upstood they, the guests, o'er the ring so wide, 830
And Feirefis prayed this favour from Gramoflanz, the king,
If in sooth he should love his cousin of that love he would token bring;
'Both thou and Gawain, ye must help me, whether princes or kings they be,
Or barons, or knights, none betake them from this field till my gifts they see.
Myself had I shamed if I rode hence and never a gift should leave, 835
And the minstrel-folk they shall wait here till they gifts from my hand receive.
And Arthur, this thing would I pray thee, seek that none of these knights disdain,
Tho' lofty their birth, a token of friendship from me to gain;
For the shame, on thyself shalt thou take it—one so rich shall they ne'er have known—
Give me messengers unto the haven that the presents to all be shown!' 840
Then they sware them unto the heathen that no man of them should depart
From the field till four days were ended, and the heathen was glad at heart,
And wise messengers Arthur gave him, who should forth to the haven fare—
Feirefis took him ink and parchment, and a letter he bade them bear,
[Pg 162] Nor the writing, I ween, lacked tokens of his hand from whom it came, 845
And seldom methinks a letter such goodly return might claim!
Then soon must the messengers ride hence—Parzival stood the host before,
And in French did he tell the story from Trevrezent learnt of yore,
How the Grail, throughout all ages, may never by man be known,
Save by him whom God calleth to It, whose name God doth know alone. 850
And the tale shall be told in all lands; no conflict may win that prize,
And 'tis vain on that Quest to spend them, since 'tis hidden from mortal eyes!'
And for Parzival and his brother the maidens must mourn that day,
Farewell they were loth to bid them—Ere the heroes rode on their way
Thro' the armies four they gat them, and they prayed leave from each and all, 855
And joyful, they took their journey, well armed 'gainst what might befall.
And the third day hence to Ioflanz from the heathen's host they brought
Great gifts, so rich and costly, men ne'er on such wealth had thought.
Did a king take of them, his kingdom was rich for evermore—
And to each as beseemed his station the precious gifts they bore, 860
And the ladies, they had rich presents, from Triant and Nouriente—
How the others rode I know not, but the twain, they with Kondrie went!

[Pg 163]


[Pg 164]


Book XVI. tells of the sorrow of Anfortas and his knights; how he prayed them to kill him, and how he would fain have withheld his eyes from the light of the Grail; of the coming of Parzival and Feirefis, and of the healing of Anfortas.

How Parzival set forth to meet his wife on the shores of Plimizöl; and how Trevrezent confessed to having spoken falsely in order to withhold him from the Quest.

Of the joyful meeting of Parzival and Kondwiramur; and how Kardeiss was proclaimed king of Brobarz, Waleis, Norgals, and Anjou; and how Parzival with Kondwiramur and Lohengrin rode to Monsalväsch. How on their way they found Siguné dead, and buried her by her lover.

Of the great feast at Monsalväsch; and how Feirefis failed to behold the Grail, and of his love for Répanse de Schoie. How Feirefis was baptized, and wedded Répanse de Schoie; how the twain set forth for Feirefis' kingdom, and of their son, Prester John. Of Lohengrin and the Duchess of Brabant; how he was sent to her aid from Monsalväsch, and dwelt with her in peace till she asked the question which drove him forth.

The poet blames Chrêtien de Troyes for having done the tale a wrong; it was Kiot who taught the song aright, to its very end. He, Wolfram of Eschenbach, will speak no more of it, but he prays that all good and gracious women will praise him for his song, since he sang it to pleasure a woman.

[Pg 165]



Now Anfortas and his Templars they suffered sore grief and pain,
And their true love in bondage held him, since he prayed them for death in vain;
And in sooth death had been his portion, save they wrought that the Grail he saw—
From the might of Its mystic virtue fresh life must he ever draw.
Then he spake to the knights of Monsalväsch, 'Of a sooth, were ye true of heart, 5
Ye had pitied ere this my sorrow, how long shall pain be my part?
If reward ye would have as deserving, then God give ye payment fair,
For ever was I your servant since the days that I harness bare.
Atonement in full have I made here for aught I have done of wrong
To ye, e'en tho' none had known it, and my penance endureth long! 10
If ye would not be held unfaithful, by the helmet and shield I bore,
And the bond of our common knighthood, release me from bondage sore!
For this of a truth must ye grant me, if ye do not the truth disdain,
I bare both as a knight undaunted, and fame thro' my deeds did gain.
For hill and vale have I ridden, and many a joust have run, 15
And with sword-play good from my foemen much hatred methinks, I won.
Yet with ye doth that count for little! Bereft of all joy am I;
Yet, cometh the Day of Judgment, my voice would I lift on high,
And in God's sight, I, one man only, at the last will accuse ye all,
If freedom ye fail to give me, and to Hell shall ye surely fall! 20
For in sooth ye should mourn my sorrow—From the first have ye seen the thing,
And ye know how it came upon me—Now I profit ye not as king,
[Pg 166] And all too soon will ye think so, when thro' me ye have lost your soul—
Alas! why thus ill-entreat me? Ere this had I been made whole!'
And the knights from his grief had freed him, save they hope from the word must draw 25
That Trevrezent spake of aforetime, and that writ on the Grail he saw.
And once more would they wait his coming whose joy there had waxen weak,
And the hour that should bring them healing from the question his lips should speak.
Then the king of a wile bethought him, and fast would he close his eyes,
And four days long so he held them, when the knights, in their 'customedwise, 30
Before the Grail would bear him, if he said them or yea, or nay;
But his weakness so wrought upon him, as before the shrine he lay,
That his eyelids he needs must open, and against his will must live,
For the Grail held death far from him and fresh life must Its vision give.
And so was it with Anfortas till the day when Parzival 35
And Feirefis his brother, rode swift to Monsalväsch' hall;
And the time was near when the planet, its course in high heaven run,
Mars or Jupiter, glowing wrathful, its station had well-nigh won,
And the spot whence it took its journey—Ah! then was an evil day
That wrought ill to the wound of Anfortas, and the torment would have its way; 40
And maiden and knight must hearken as the palace rang with his cries,
And the help that no man might give him he besought with despairing eyes,
For past all aid was he wounded, and his knights could but share his grief—
Yet the tale saith he drew ever nearer who should bring him alone relief.
Then oft as the bitter anguish in its bondage the hero held, 45
The taint of the wound to banish, the hall was with sweetness filled,
For before him they spread on the carpet Terebinth, and odours fair
Of aromatic spices and sweet woods filled the scented air.
Teriak and precious Ambra, and methinks that their smell was sweet—
Cardamom, Jeroffel, Muscat, lay broken beneath the feet 50
Where'er one set foot on the carpet; and e'en as each footstep fell
Their perfume arose, and their freshness, of the venom o'ercame the smell.
And his fire was of Lignum aloe, as methinks ye have heard afore—
[Pg 167] Of the horny skin of the viper had they fashioned the pillars four
That stood 'neath his couch—'Gainst the venom must his knights on the cushions strew 55
Powder of roots so precious, whose healing scent they knew.
Well stuffed, but unsewed, was the covering against which the monarch leant,
And the silk and the mattress 'neath it were of Palmât of Nouriente.
And the couch itself was yet richer, with many a precious stone
Was it decked, nor were others found there save the rarest of jewels alone; 60
And by Salamanders woven were the cords which the bed did bind,
Yea even the fastening 'neath it—Yet no joy might Anfortas find.
The couch on all sides was costly, (no man shall contend I ween
That he in the days of his lifetime a richer shall e'er have seen,)
'Twas precious alone from the virtue of the jewels and their magic power, 65
Would ye learn their names, then hearken, for we know them unto this hour.
Carbuncle and Balas ruby, Silenite, and Chalcedony,
Gagatromeus, Onyx, Coral, and Bestion, fair to see.
And there too were Pearl and Opal, Ceraunius and Epistites,
Jerachites, Heliotropia, Panterus, Agate, and Emathites. 70
Antrodragma, Praseme, and Saddae, Dionisia and Celidon,
Sardonyx and red Cornelian, Jasper and Calcofon.
Echites, Iris, Gagates, and Lyncurium, with many more,
Asbestos and Cecolithus, and Jacinth, that rich couch bore.
Galactida, Orites, Enydrus, and Emerald, glowing green, 75
Absist and Alabanda, and Chrysolect had ye seen.
Hiennia, Sapphire, Pyrites, and beside them, here and there,
Turquoise, and Lipparèa, Chrysolite, and Ruby fair—
Paleisen, Sardius, Diamond, Chrysoprasis, and Malachite,
Diadoch, Peanite, and Medus with Beryl and Topaze bright. 80
And many they taught high courage, and others such virtue knew
That healing skill they taught men, and fresh life from their power they drew.
And many their strength won from them, if aright they might use their art,
And therewith would they tend Anfortas whom they loved with a faithful heart—
And great grief had he brought his people, yet joy soon his lot shall be— 85
To Terre de Salväsch from Ioflanz he rideth to speak him free,
[Pg 168] Parzival, with the maid and his brother, nor in truth did I ever hear
The distance these three had journeyed ere they drew to the Burg anear;
But conflict had been their portion had Kondrie not been their guide,
But afar from all strife did she hold them, and in peace on their way they ride. 90
So came they at length to an outpost—Then swiftly towards them sped
Many Templars well armed and mounted, and right soon they the truth had read,
And they knew by the guide that succour at last to their walls should draw,
And the Captain he spake out gladly as the Turtle-doves he saw
Gleam fair on Kondrie's vesture, 'Now an end hath it found, our grief, 95
With the sign of the Grail he cometh who shall bring to our king relief,
The knight we have looked and have longed for since the dawn of our sorrow's day—
Stand ye still, for great gladness cometh, and our mourning is past away!'
Feirefis Angevin would urge him, his brother, to joust to ride,
But Kondrie, she grasped his bridle, lest conflict should there betide, 100
And the maiden, true but unlovely, spake thus unto Parzival,
'Shield and banner, thou sure shouldst know them, of the Grail are these heroes all,
And ready to do thee service.' Then out spake the heathen bold,
'If so it shall be, from battle mine hand may I well withhold.'
Then Parzival prayed that Kondrie would ride forward, the knights to meet, 105
And she rode, and she spake of the gladness that neared them with flying feet.
And, one and all, the Templars sprang straightway unto the ground,
And from off their head the helmet in the self-same hour unbound,
And Parzival they greeted, and they were in his greeting blest,
And Feirefis they welcomed as befitted a noble guest. 110
And then with the twain to Monsalväsch the Templars they took their way;
Though they wept, yet methinks that gladness was the fount of their tears that day.
And a countless folk they found there, many grey-haired knights and old,
And pages of noble bearing, and of servants, a host untold.
[Pg 169] And sad were the folk and mournful, whom their coming might well rejoice, 115
And Parzival and his brother they welcomed with friendly voice,
And kindly did they receive them, without, in the palace court,
At the foot of the noble stairway, and the knights to the hall they brought.
And, e'en as was there the custom, a hundred carpets round,
Each one with a couch upon it, were spread there upon the ground; 120
And each couch bare a velvet covering, and methinks, if the twain had wit,
The while that the squires disarmed them 'twould pleasure them there to sit.
And a chamberlain came towards them, and he brought to them vesture fair,
And each should be clad as the other, and many a knight sat there.
And they bare many precious vessels of gold, (none I ween was glass,) 125
And the twain they drank, and upstood them to get them to Anfortas.
And this have ye heard of aforetime, how he lay, for he scarce might sit,
And the couch and its goodly decking, forsooth have ye read of it.
And the twain did Anfortas welcome with gladness, and yet with grief,
And he spake, 'O'er-long have I waited tho' I win from thine hand relief; 130
But a while ago didst thou leave me in such wise, art thou true of heart,
And thinkest to aid my sorrow, thou must have in repentance part.
If e'er men have praised thy valour, then be thou to my woe a friend,
And pray of these knights and maidens that death may my torment end;
If Parzival men shall call thee, then forbid me the Grail to see 135
Seven nights and eight days, and I wot well my wailing shall silenced be!
Nor further I dare to warn thee—Well for thee if thou help canst bring!
A stranger shall be thy comrade, and I think it an evil thing
That thus he doth stand before me, say wherefore no thought dost take
For his comfort, and bid him seat him?' Then Parzival, weeping, spake: 140
'Now say where the Grail It lieth? If God's mercy He think to show,
And it be o'er His wrath the victor, this folk, they shall surely know!'
Then three times on his knee he bowed him in the Name of the Trinity,
And three times he prayed that the sorrow of Anfortas should ended be,
Then he stood upright, and he turned him to the monarch, and thus he spake: 145
'What aileth thee here, mine uncle?' He who Lazarus from death did wake,
[Pg 170] And by the mouth of His saint, Sylvester, a dead beast to life did bring,
Wrought healing and strength on Anfortas—and all men beheld the king,
And what French folk shall know as 'Florie' it shone on his face so fair,
And Parzival's manly beauty was but as the empty air! 150
Yea, Vergulacht, Askalon's monarch, and Absalom, David's son,
And all who the dower of beauty as their birthright shall e'er have won—
E'en Gamuret, as men saw him draw near unto Kanvoleis,
So wondrous fair to look on—they were naught unto all men's eyes
When matched with the radiant beauty that forth from his bitter woe 155
He bare, the King Anfortas—such skill God doth surely know!
No choice was there for the Templars since the writing upon the Grail
Had named unto them their ruler, and Parzival did they hail
Their king and their lord henceforward; and I ween ye in vain would seek
Would ye find two men as wealthy, if of riches I here may speak, 160
As Parzival and his brother, Feirefis Angevin—
And many a proffered service the host and his guest did win.
I know not how many stages queen Kondwiramur had made
On her journey towards Monsalväsch, nor, joyful, her steps delayed,
For already the truth had been told her, and a messenger tidings bare, 165
And she knew that her grief was ended and her gladness had blossomed fair.
And led by her uncle, Kiot, and by many a hero bold,
Had she come unto Terre de Salväsch and the wood where they fought of old;
Where in joust Segramor had fallen, and her lord did her likeness know
In the threefold blood-drops mystic, on the white of the drifted snow. 170
And there should Parzival seek her, and tho' toilsome and rough the way
Yet never a gladder journey had he ridden than he rode that day!
Then a Templar tidings brought him, 'E'en as doth her rank beseem
Full many a knight so courteous rideth hither beside the queen.'
Then Parzival bethought him, with the knights of the Holy Grail 175
To Trevrezent did he ride first, and he told him the wondrous tale;
From his heart was the hermit joyful that it thus with Anfortas stood,
Nor death was his lot, but the question brought rest to the hero good.
[Pg 171] And he quoth, 'Yea, God's power is mighty—Who doth at His Council sit?
Who hath known of His strength the limit? What Angel hath fathomed it? 180
God is Man, and the Word of His Father; God is Father at once and Son,
And I wot thro' His Spirit's working may succour and aid be won!'
Then Trevrezent quoth to his nephew, 'Greater marvel I ne'er may see
Than that thou by thy wrath hast won blessing, and th' Eternal Trinity
Hath given thee thy desiring! Yet aforetime in sooth I lied, 185
For I thought from the Grail to bring thee, and the truth I from thee would hide.
Do thou for my sin give me pardon, henceforth I thy hand obey,
O my king, and son of my sister!—Methinks that I once did say
That the spirits cast forth from Heaven thereafter the Grail did tend
By God's will, and besought His favour, till their penance at last did end. 190
But God to Himself is faithful, and ne'er doth He changing know,
Nor to them whom I named as forgiven did He ever forgiveness show.
For they who refuse His service, He Himself will, I ween, refuse,
And I wot they are lost for ever, and that fate they themselves did choose.
And I mourned for thy fruitless labour, for ne'er did the story stand 195
That the Grail might by man be conquered, and I fain had withheld thine hand;
But with thee hath the chance been other, and thy prize shall the highest be,
But since God's Hand doth give It to thee, turn thine heart to humility.'
Quoth Parzival to his uncle, 'I would see her I ne'er might see
For well-nigh five years—When together we dwelt she was dear to me, 200
And no whit less dear shall she now be! Yet thy counsel I fain would hear
So long as death fail to part us, thou didst help me in need so drear!
Now I ride to my wife, since she cometh to meet me upon my way,
By Plimizöl's banks doth she wait me, and leave I from thee would pray.'
And the good man bade 'God speed him,' and he rode thro' the dusky night, 205
And his men knew the woodland pathways—In the early morning light
He found that which brought him gladness; full many a tent stood fair,
From out the kingdom of Brobarz many banners were planted there,
With many a shield beneath them—there lay princes from out his land,
And Parzival fain would ask them where the tent of the queen might stand? 210
[Pg 172] If her camp lay apart from the others? Then they showed him where she should be,
And a goodly ring around her of tents did the hero see.
And Duke Kiot of Katelangen, he had risen ere dawn of day,
And he looked on the band of riders who came by the woodland way.
And tho' grey was the light of the morning, yet, as the host nearer drew, 215
Kiot saw the Dove on their armour, and the arms of the Grail he knew;
And the old man sighed as he thought him of Schoysiané, his lovely bride,
How he won her in bliss at Monsalväsch, and how she untimely died.
Towards Parzival he stepped him, and he bade him a greeting fair;
By a page he bade the queen's Marshal a lodging meet prepare 220
For the knights who had there drawn bridle—in sooth 'twas a gallant band—
Then to the queen's dressing-chamber he led Parzival by the hand,
('Twas a small tent made of buckram,) and there, in the waxing light,
His harness they take from off him ere he pass to his lady's sight.
And the queen she knew naught of his coming—her twin sons beside her lay, 225
Lohengrin and Kardeiss; and their father, methinks he was glad that day!
There he found them slumbering sweetly, in a tent both high and wide,
And many a lovely lady lay sleeping on either side.
Then Kiot, he drew the covering from the queen, and he bade her wake,
And look, and laugh, and be joyful, and her love to her arms to take; 230
And she looked up and saw her husband; and naught but her smock she bare,
The covering she wrapt around her, and sprang swift on the carpet fair,
Kondwiramur, the lovely lady—and Parzival held her tight,
And they say that they kissed each other, the queen and her faithful knight.
'Thou joy of my heart! Good Fortune hath sent thee again to me,' 235
She quoth, and she bade him welcome, 'Now in sooth I should wrathful be,
Yet have I no heart for anger! Ah! blest be the dawn and the day
That this dear embrace hath brought me, which all sorrow must drive away.
For now at last have I found thee, whom my heart hath desired so long,
And grief in my heart is vanquished, and sighing is turned to song.' 240
And now from their sleep they wakened, both Lohengrin and Kardeiss,
Naked they lay on their pillows, and fair in their father's eyes,
[Pg 173] And, joyful, Parzival kissed them whom he never had seen before—
Then at Kiot's courteous bidding the babes from the tent they bore,
And Kiot, he bade the maidens to get them from out the tent, 245
And they greeted their lord, long absent, ere yet on their way they went.
Then he bade the queen care for her husband, and the maidens from thence he led,
And the curtains they drew together, for as yet was the night scarce sped.
Now if blood and snow had robbed him of his senses and wit of yore,
(In this self-same spot its message the snow to his true heart bore,) 250
For such sorrow she well repaid him, Kondwiramur, his wife—
Nor elsewhere had he sought love's solace in payment for love's fierce strife,
Tho' many their love had proffered—I ween that in bliss he lay,
And converse sweet, till morning drew nigh to the middle day.
And the army, they rode together, on the Templars had they gazed, 255
And their shields in jousts were piercèd, and with many a sword-blow grazed;
And each knight he wore a surcoat of silk or of velvet rare,
And their feet were shod with iron, nor harness beside they bare.
Nor longer they cared to slumber—Then the queen alike and king
Arose, and e'en as they bade him, a priest the Mass would sing; 260
And closely they thronged together, that army, brave and good,
Who in their queen's day of peril her shield 'gainst Klamidé stood.
Then, the benediction given, his men greeted Parzival,
Many gallant knights and worthy, their true words from true lips must fall.
From the tent they take the hangings, and the king spake, 'Say which is he, 265
Of my boys, who henceforward ruler of your folk and your land shall be?'
And further he spake to the princes, 'Both Waleis and Norgal's land,
And their towns, Kingrivals and Kanvoleis, by his birthright shall serve his hand,
With Béalzenan and Anjou, should he grow unto man's estate;
And thither shall ye fare with him, and shall there on his bidding wait. 270
Gamuret was he called, my father, and he left them to me, his heir,
But I, by God's grace, have won me an heritage yet more fair!
Since the Grail shall be mine, I bid ye your fealty to swear anew
To my child, ere this hour be ended, if your hearts shall to me be true!'
[Pg 174] And of right goodwill they did this—Ye saw many proud banners wave, 275
And two little hands the tenure of many a wide land gave.
And there did they crown Kardeiss king; and, when many a year had flown,
Kanvoleis, and Gamuret's kingdom they needs must his lordship own—
And then by Plimizöl's water did they measure a circle wide
That there a feast might be holden ere again on their way they ride. 280
Nor long at the board they tarried; no longer the host might stay,
The tents were struck, with their child-king they wended their homeward way.
And many a maid and vassal must bid to their queen Farewell
In such wise that they made loud mourning, and many a teardrop fell.
And Lohengrin and his mother did the Templars take in their care, 285
And with them to the Burg of Monsalväsch again on their journey fare.
Quoth Parzival, 'Once in this woodland an hermitage did I see,
And thro' it a rippling brooklet flowed swift on its way so free;
If ye know where it stands ye shall show me.' His comrades swift answer gave,
They knew one; 'There dwells a maiden, and she weeps o'er her true love's grave; 290
A shrine of all goodness is she—Our road it doth lead that way,
And her heart is ne'er free from sorrow.' 'That maid will we see to-day,'
Quoth Parzival, and the others, as he willed, so they thought it good,
And onward they spurred their chargers, and rode thro' the lonely wood.
And they found, in the dusk of the evening, on her knees Siguné dead, 295
And the queen wept for bitter sorrow—Then they brake thro' unto the maid;
Parzival, for the sake of his cousin, bade them raise of the tomb the stone,
There, embalmed lay Schionatulander, nor long should he lie alone,
For beside him they laid the maiden, who in life to him true love gave
In such wise as beseemed a maiden, and they closed o'er the twain the grave. 300
And she wept for her uncle's daughter, the queen, with a faithful heart;
Schoysiané, the dead maid's mother, had shown her a mother's part,
And had cared for her in her childhood, and therefore she sorrow knew:
And Parzival's aunt, too, was she, if the tale Kiot read be true.
Kiot knew not the death of his daughter, he was guardian to King Kardeiss— 305
(Nor my tale like the bow shall be bended, but straight as an arrow flies,)
[Pg 175] They delayed not upon their journey, to Monsalväsch they came by night,
And the hours Feirefis must wait them sped swift in their joyful flight.
And they lighted many a taper, 'twas as flamed all the woodland wide,
And a Templar of Patrigalt, armèd, by the queen's bridle rein did ride; 310
And broad and wide was the courtyard, and many a host stood there,
And they welcomed the queen, and a greeting to their lord and his son they bare;
And they bore Lohengrin to his uncle, Feirefis, who was black and white,
And the babe turned aside nor would kiss him—as children oft do from fright!
But gaily he laughed, the heathen—Then they gat them from out the court, 315
When first the queen had dismounted, who joy with her coming brought—
And they led the guests so noble, where, with many a lady fair,
Both Feirefis and Anfortas awaited them on the stair.
Répanse de Schoie, and from Greenland, Garschiloie, the fair of face,
Florie of Lünel, the bright-eyed, rich were they in maiden grace. 320
There she stood, than a reed more graceful, to whom beauty nor truth should fail,
The daughter of Reil's lord, Jernis, as Anflisé the maid they hail;
And of Tenabroc, maid Clarischanz, sweet was she, and bright to see,
And so slender her shape, I think me, an ant's scarce might slighter be.
Feirefis stepped toward his hostess, and he kissed her e'en as she bade, 325
And a kiss did she give Anfortas, for she joyed that his woe was stayed.
Feirefis by the hand must lead her where her husband's aunt she found,
Répanse de Schoie, and she kissed her, and the maidens who stood around,
And her lips that were red aforetime thro' kissing grew yet more red,
(And sorely I ween doth it grieve me, that this labour, I, in her stead, 330
Might not here have taken on me, for weary in sooth was she;)
Then her maids by the hand they take her, and they lead her in courteously.
And the knights, in the hall they waited, that with countless tapers bright
Was decked, on the walls they sparkled, and burnt with a steady light,
For a solemn feast they made ready, when the Grail should be shown to all; 335
For it was not on every feast-day, that they bare It thro' the hall,
But on high festivals only—When nearer their aid should draw,
On that even when joy forsook them, and the bleeding spear they saw,
[Pg 176] 'Twas then, that the Grail might help them, that It thus thro' the hall was borne—
Yet Parzival asked no question, and left them of joy forlorn— 340
But now, in joy and gladness, might they look on the Grail again,
For at last was their mourning ended, and their sorrow was pierced and slain!
When the queen her riding garment had put off, and decked her hair,
She came in such garb as beseemed her, in the light of the tapers fair;
And Feirefis stepped to meet her, and he took her by the hand, 345
And no man gainsaid his fellow, that in this, or in other land,
None might speak of a fairer woman! And rich was the garb she wore,
A silk by a skilled hand woven, such as Sarant had wrought of yore,
And with cunning and skill had fashioned in Thasmé, the paynim town—
Feirefis Angevin, he led her thro' the palace hall adown, 350
And the three great fires they burnt there with Lignum aloe sweet;
And more there were by forty, both carpets alike and seats,
Than the time when Parzival sat there and looked on the wondrous Grail,
But one seat above all was costly, nor the host to his place should fail.
And Feirefis, and Anfortas, they should sit there beside the king— 355
And, courteous, they did them service, who the Grail to the hall should bring.
Aforetime methinks ye heard it, how they to Anfortas bare
The Grail, even so would they do now 'fore the child of King Tampentäre,
And Gamuret's son—The maidens, no longer they make delay,
Five-and-twenty in rightful order they wend thro' the hall their way. 360
And Feirefis gazed on the first maid, with her sweet face and waving hair,
And she pleased him well, yet the others who followed were yet more fair;
And costly and rich their garments, and lovely each maiden's face,
But Répanse de Schoie, who followed, was first in her maiden grace,
And the Grail, so men have told me, might be borne by her hands alone; 365
Pure was her heart, and radiant as sunlight her fair face shone.
Did I tell ye of all the service—how many did water pour,
And the tables they bare, (I wot well far more than they had of yore,)
How discord fled from the palace; how the cars on their circuit rolled,
With their freight of golden vessels, 'twere long ere the tale were told. 370
[Pg 177] For the sake of speed would I hasten—with reverence from the Grail
Each took of the fowl of the forest, wild or tame, nor their drink should fail;
Each took wine or mead as it pleased him, Claret, Morass, or Sinopel;
At Pelrapär 'twas far other, as Gamuret's son might tell!
Then the heathen would know the wonder—What hands did these gold cups fill 375
That stood empty here before him? The wonder, it pleased him still!
Then answered the fair Anfortas, who sat by the heathen's side,
'Seest thou not the Grail before thee?' But Feirefis replied,
'Naught I see but a green Achmardi, that my Lady but now did bear,
I mean her who stands before us with the crown on her flowing hair, 380
And her look to mine heart hath piercèd—I deemed I so strong should be
That never a wife nor a maiden my gladness should take from me;
But now doth it sore displease me, the love I may call mine own—
Discourteous indeed I think me to make unto thee my moan
When I never have done thee service! What profits my wealth, I trow, 385
Or the deeds I have done for fair women, or the gifts that I gave but now,
Since here I must live in anguish! Nay, Jupiter, thou wast fain
I should ride here, didst hither send me to torment of grief and pain?'
And the strength of his love, and his sorrow, turned him pale where he erst was light—
Kondwiramur, she had found a rival in this maiden's beauty bright— 390
In her love-meshes did she hold him, Feirefis, the noble guest,
And the love that he erst had cherished he cast it from out his breast.
What recked he of Sekundillé, her love, and her land so fair,
Since she wrought on him woe so bitter, this maiden beyond compare?
Klauditté, and Sekundillé, Olympia, and many more, 395
Who in distant lands had repaid him with love for his deeds of yore,
What cared he now for their kindness? It seemed but a worthless thing
To Gamuret's son, the heathen, great Zassamank's noble king!
Then he saw, the fair Anfortas, his comrade in pain so sore,
(For the spots in his skin waxed pallid, and heavy the heart he bore,) 400
And he spake, 'Sir Knight, it doth grieve me if thou dost for my sister mourn,
No man for her sake hath sorrowed since the day that the maid was born.
[Pg 178] No knight for her joust hath ridden; to none doth she favour show;
But with me did she dwell at Monsalväsch, and hath shared in my bitter woe,
And it somewhat hath dimmed her beauty, since she seldom hath joyful been— 405
Thy brother is son to her sister, he may help thee in this I ween.'
'If that maiden shall be thy sister,' quoth Feirefis Angevin,
'Who the crown on her loose locks weareth, then help me her love to win.
'Tis she that my heart desireth—What honour mine hand hath won
With shield and spear in Tourney, for her sake hath it all been done, 410
And I would she might now reward me! The Tourney hath fashions five,
And well known unto me is each one, nor against knightly rule I strive.
Spear in rest 'gainst the foe have I ridden; I have smitten him from the side;
His onslaught have I avoided; nor to fair joust have failed to ride
In gallop, as should beseem me; I have followed the flying foe— 415
Since the shield, it hath been my safeguard, such sorrow I ne'er may know
As that which to-day besets me—I have fought with a fiery knight
At Agremontein, I bare then a shield of Asbestos bright,
And a surcoat of Salamander, else sure had I there been burned;
And in sooth my life have I perilled, and my fame have I dearly earned. 420
Ah! would but thy sister send me to battle for love's reward,
In strife would I do her bidding, and her fame and mine own would guard.
And ever my heart fierce hatred to my god Jupiter shall bear,
If he make not an end of my sorrow, and give me this maiden fair!'
Of the twain, Frimutel was the father, and therefore Anfortas bore 425
E'en such face and such form as his sister—Then the heathen, he looked once more
On the maiden and then on her brother—What they bare him of drink or meat
No morsel he ate, yet he sat there as one who made feint to eat.
Then to Parzival spake Anfortas, 'Sir King, it doth seem to me
That thy brother, who sitteth by me, he faileth the Grail to see!' 430
And Feirefis spake that he saw naught, nor knew what It was 'the Grail';
And they hearkened his words, the Templars, and a marvel they deemed the tale.
And Titurel needs must hear it, in his chamber the old king lay,
And he quoth, 'If he be a heathen, then such thought shall he put away
[Pg 179] As that eyes unbaptized may win them the power to behold the Grail! 435
Such barriers are built around It, his sight to the task shall fail.'
Then they bare to the hall these tidings, and the host and Anfortas told
How that which the folk did nourish, Feirefis, he might ne'er behold,
Since from heathen eyes It was hidden, and they prayed him to seek the grace
Of Baptism, by its virtue he should win him in Heaven a place. 440
'If I, for your sake, be baptizèd, will that help me to win my love?'
Spake Gamuret's son, the heathen—'As a wind shall all sorrows prove,
That wooing or war shall have brought me, to the grief that I now must feel!
If long or short the time be since I first felt the touch of steel,
And fought 'neath a shield, such anguish ne'er hath fallen unto my share, 445
And tho' love should, I ween, be hidden, yet my heart would its grief declare!'
'Of whom dost thou speak?' quoth the Waleis, 'Of none but that lady bright,
Who is sister to this, thy comrade—If thou, as a faithful knight,
Wilt help me to win the maiden, I will give her with kingly hand
Great riches, and men shall hail her as queen over many a land!' 450
'If to Baptism thou wilt yield thee,' spake the host, 'then her love is thine,
(And as thou I right well may hail thee, since the Grail and Its realm are mine,
And our riches methinks are equal)'—Quoth Feirefis Angevin,
'Then help me to bliss, my brother, that the love of thine aunt I win.
And, if Baptism be won by battle, then help me to strife I pray, 455
That I, for sweet love's rewarding, may do service without delay.
And mine ear well doth love the music when the spear-shafts in splinters break,
And the helmet rings clear 'neath the sword-thrust, and the war-cry the echo wakes.'
Then Parzival laughed out gaily, and Anfortas, he laughed yet more,
'Nay, nay,' quoth the host, 'such blessing is no guerdon for deeds of war. 460
I will give unto thee the maiden, by true Baptism's grace and power,
But the god and the love of a heathen shalt thou leave in the self-same hour;
And to-morrow, at early dawning, will I give to thee counsel true,
Whose fruit shall be seen in the crowning of thy life with a blessing new!'
[Pg 180]
Now Anfortas, before his sickness, in many a distant land 465
Had won him fair fame, for Love's sake, by the deeds of his knightly hand.
And the thoughts of his heart were gentle, and generous he was and free,
And his right hand had won full often the guerdon of victory;
So they sat in the wondrous presence of the Grail, three heroes true,
The best of their day, and the bravest that sword-blade in battle drew. 470
An ye will, they enough had eaten—They, courteous, the tables bare
From the hall, and as serving-maidens, low bent they, those maidens fair.
And Feirefis Angevin saw them as forth from the hall they passed,
And in sorrow and deeper anguish I ween was the hero cast.
And she who his heart held captive, she bare from the hall the Grail, 475
And leave did they crave of their monarch, nor his will to their will should fail.
How the queen, herself, she passed hence; how men did their task begin;
Of the bedding soft they brought him who for love's pain no rest might win;
How one and all, the Templars, with kindness would put away
His grief, 'twere too long to tell ye—speak we now of the dawning day. 480
In the light of the early morning came his brother, Parzival,
With the noble knight Anfortas, and in this wise the tale they tell;
This knight who to love was captive, proud Zassamank's lord and king,
They prayed, of true heart, to follow, and they would to the Temple bring,
And before the Grail they led him—And there had they bidden stand 485
The wisest men of the Templars—knights and servants, a goodly band,
Were there ere the heathen entered: the Font was a ruby rare,
And it stood on a rounded pillar that of Jasper was fashioned fair,
And of old Titurel, he gave it, and the cost was great I ween—
Then Parzival spake to his brother, 'This maid wouldst thou have for queen, 490
Then the gods thou hast served henceforward thou shalt for her sake forswear,
And ever thine arms, as a true knight, 'gainst the foes of the true God bear,
And, faithful, still do His bidding'—'Yea, aught that may win my love,'
Quoth the heathen, 'I'll do right gladly, and my deeds shall my truth approve.'
Now the Font, toward the Grail had they turned it, filled with water, nor hot nor cold, 495
[Pg 181] And a priest by its side did wait them, and grey-haired he was, and old;
He had plunged 'neath baptismal waters full many a paynim child,
And he spake to the noble heathen, and gentle his speech and mild—
'If thy soul thou wouldst wrest from the Devil, thou shalt serve Him who reigns on high,
And Threefold is He, yet but One God for aye is the Trinity. 500
God is Man, and the Word of His Father, God is Father at once and Son,
And alike shall the twain be honoured, and the Spirit with them is One!
In the Threefold Name shall it cleanse thee, this water, with Threefold might,
And from shadow of heathen darkness shalt thou pass into Christian light.
In water was He baptizèd, in Whose likeness was Adam made, 505
And each tree from the water draweth its sap, and its leafy shade.
By water all flesh is nourished, and all that on earth doth live,
And the eyes of man are quickened, such virtue doth water give;
And many a soul it cleanseth, till it shineth so pure and white
That the angels themselves in heaven methinks shall be scarce so bright!' 510
To the priest then he spake, the heathen, 'If it bringeth me ease for woe
I will swear whatsoe'er thou biddest—If reward in her love I know,
Then gladly I'll do His bidding—Yea, brother, I here believe
In the God of my love, and for her sake all other gods I'll leave,
(For such sorrow as she hath brought me I never have known before,) 515
And it profiteth naught Sekundillé the love that to me she bore,
And the honour that she hath done me—All that shall have passed away—
In the Name of the God of my father would I fain be baptized to-day!'
Then the priest laid his hands upon him, and the blessing baptismal gave,
And he did on the chrisom vesture, and he won what his soul did crave, 520
For e'en as he was baptizèd they made ready the maiden mild,
And for christening gift they gave him King Frimutel's lovely child.
From his eyes had the Grail been hidden ere baptismal waters bright
Had passed o'er his head, but henceforward, 'twas unveiled to his wondering sight,
[Pg 182] And, e'en as the rite was over, on the Grail they this writing read; 525
'The Templar whom God henceforward to a strange folk should send as head,
Must forbid all word or question of his country, or name, or race,
If they willed he aright should help them, and they would in his sight find grace.
For the day that they ask the question that folk must he leave straightway'—
Since the time that their king, Anfortas, so long in his anguish lay, 530
And the question o'er-long awaited, all questions but please them ill,
The knights of the Grail, and no man doth question them with their will.
Then, baptized, Feirefis the Christian to Anfortas made urgent prayer,
He should ride with him to his kingdom, and his riches with him should share;
But, with courtesy, Anfortas to the knight and his prayer said 'Nay, 535
Naught shall hinder the willing service that to God I would give alway;
'Tis a goodly crown, the Grail crown, thro' pride was it lost to me,
Henceforth do I choose as my portion a life of humility,
And riches and love of women shall be strangers unto my heart—
Thou leadest with thee a fair wife, henceforth shall it be her part 540
With true love to reward thy service, as to women is fit and fair,
But I for the love of mine Order henceforward mine arms will bear;
For the Grail and Its service only I many a joust will ride,
But I fight never more for women—thro' a woman did ill betide!
Yet no hatred I bear to women, high courage and joy they give 545
Unto men, tho' I won but sorrow while I did in their service live.'
But yet, for the sake of his sister, Feirefis rested not to pray
That Anfortas should journey with them, but ever he said them nay.
Then he prayed Lohengrin should fare with him, but the mother, she willed it not;
And King Parzival spake, 'In the service of the Grail hath he part and lot, 550
And my son, he is pledged to the Order, and a faithful heart and true
Must he bear in the holy service—God grant him the will thereto!'
Then in joy and in fair diversion, till eleven days were o'er,
Feirefis abode at Monsalväsch, on the twelfth would he ride once-more,
[Pg 183] He would lead his wife, this rich man, to his army that yet did wait 555
His coming, and Parzival sorrowed for the brother he won so late,
And mourned sore when he heard the tidings—Then counsel he took straightway,
And a goodly force of the Templars did he send with them on their way,
Thro' the woodland paths should they guide them—Anfortas, the gallant knight,
Himself fain would be their escort—sore wept many maidens bright. 560
And new pathways they needs must cut them to Karkobra's city fair—
Then Anfortas, he sent a message to him who was Burg-grave there;
And he bade him, if aye of aforetime rich gifts from his hand he won
To bethink him, that so this service of true heart by him be done;
His brother-in-law with his lady, the king's sister, he now must guide 565
Thro' the wood Lœhprisein, where the haven afar lieth wild and wide—
For now 'twas the hour of parting, nor further the knights must fare,
But Anfortas, he spake to Kondrie, and he bade her the message bear.
Then from Feirefis, the rich man, the Templars leave did pray,
And the courteous knight and noble rode hence on his homeward way. 570
And the Burg-grave no whit delayed him, but he did e'en at Kondrie's word,
And gave welcome fair and knightly to the folk and their noble lord.
Nor might Feirefis grow weary of his stay, at the dawn of day,
With many a knight as escort, they guided him on his way.
But I know not how far he had ridden, nor the countries his eyes had seen 575
Ere he came once more to Ioflanz, and its meadow, so fair and green.
And some of the folk yet abode there—and Feirefis fain had known,
In the self-same hour, the tidings of whither the host had flown;
For each one had sought his country, and the road that full well he knew—
King Arthur to Camelot journeyed with many a hero true— 580
Then he of Tribalibot hastened, and his army he sought once more,
For his ships lay yet in the haven, and they grieved for their lord full sore
And his coming brought joy and courage to many a hero bold—
The Burg-grave and his knights from Karkobra he rewarded with gifts and gold—
And strange news did they tell unto Kondrie, for messengers sought the host, 585
Sekundillé was dead; with the tidings they many a sea had crossed.
[Pg 184] Then first in her distant journey did Répanse de Schoie find joy,
And in India's realm hereafter did she bear to the king a boy;
And Prester John they called him, and he won to himself such fame
That henceforward all kings of his country were known by no other name. 590
And Feirefis sent a writing thro' the kingdoms whose crown he bore,
And the Christian Faith was honoured as it never had been of yore.
(And Tribalibot was that country which as India here we know.)
Then Feirefis spake to Kondrie, and he bade her his brother show
(Who reigneth in far Monsalväsch) what had chanced unto him, the king, 595
And the death of Queen Sekundillé—and the tidings the maid did bring;
And Anfortas was glad and joyful to think that his sister fair,
Without or strife or conflict, the crown of those lands might bear.
Now aright have ye heard the story of the children of Frimutel,
Five they were, and three are living, and death unto two befell. 600
And the one was Schoysiané, who was pure in the sight of God,
And the other was Herzeleide, and falsehood her soul abhorred;
And the sword and the life of knighthood, Trevrezent, he had laid them down
For the love of God, and His service, and the hope of a deathless crown.
And the gallant knight, Anfortas, pure heart and strong hand he bore, 605
And well for the Grail he jousted, but for women he fought no more.
And Lohengrin grew to manhood, and cowardice from him flew,
And his heart yearned for deeds of knighthood, to the Grail he did service true.
Would ye further hear the story? A maiden, in days of yore,
Whose heart was free from falsehood, the crown of a fair land bore— 610
Her heirdom was rich and noble, and lowly and pure her heart,
And no taint of earthly longing had found in her soul a part.
And wooers she had in plenty, of crownèd kings, I ween,
And princes, whose race and kingdom fit mate for her own had been.
Yet so humble she was, the maiden, she thought not of earthly love— 615
And the counts of her realm waxed wrathful, since no pleading her soul could move,
And their anger raged hot against her that she gave not her maiden hand
To one who should be fit ruler o'er her folk, and her goodly land.
[Pg 185] In God was her trust, whatever men might in their anger speak,
And guiltless, she bare the vengeance her folk on her head would wreak. 620
But she called of her land the princes, and they journeyed from far and near,
From many a distant country, the will of their queen to hear.
And she sware she would have no husband, and no man as her lord would own
Save him whom God's Hand should send her, his love would she wait alone.
Of the land of Brabant was she princess—From Monsalväsch he came, the knight 625
Whom God at His will should send her, and his guide was a swan so white.
He set foot in her land at Antwerp, and she knew that her heart spake true,
And gallant was he to look on, and all men the hero knew
For a noble knight and manly, and his face, it was wondrous fair,
And his fame was in every kingdom where men did his deeds declare. 630
And a wise man he was, free-handed, with never a doubting heart,
And faithful and true, and falsehood it found in his life no part.
A fair welcome the princess gave him—now list ye unto his rede,
Rich and poor stood there around him, and they gave to his words good heed,
And he spake thus, 'My Lady Duchess, if thou wilt not mine hand refuse, 635
But wilt have me for lord and husband, for thy sake I a kingdom lose—
But hearken to what I pray thee, ask thou never who I may be,
And seek not to know my country, for so may I abide with thee.
In the day thou dost ask the question of my love shalt thou be bereft—
Take thou warning, lest God recall me to the land which erewhile I left.' 640
Then she pledged her faith as a woman that her love, it should ne'er wax less,
She would do e'en as he should bid her, and never his will transgress
So long as God wit should give her—Her love did he win that night,
And Lord of Brabant and its Duchess they hailed him with morning light.
And the marriage feast was costly, and many a knight the land 645
That of right should be his, as vassal, must take from his princely hand.
For he gave ever righteous judgment, and many a gallant deed
Of knighthood he did, and, valiant, he won of fair fame his meed.
[Pg 186] Fair children were born unto them—The folk of Brabant yet know
Of the twain, how he came unto them, and wherefore he thence must go, 650
And how long he dwelt among them ere her question broke the spell,
And drove him forth, unwilling, for so shall the story tell.
The friendly swan, it sought him, and a little boat did bring,
And he sailed thence, and left as tokens his sword, and his horn, and ring.
So Lohengrin passed from among them, for in sooth this gallant knight 655
Was Parzival's son, and none other, if the tale ye would know aright.
By water-ways he sought it, the home of the Grail, again—
And what of the lovely duchess who longed for her lord in vain?
Why drove she hence her true love? since he bade her be warned of yore,
And forbade her to ask the question when he landed on Brabant's shore— 660
Here Herr Erec should speak, for, I think me, he knoweth the tale to tell
Of revenging for broken pledges, and the fate that such speech befell!
If Chrêtien of Troyes, the master, hath done to this tale a wrong,
Then Kiot may well be wrathful, for he taught us aright the song,
To the end the Provençal told it—How Herzeleide's son the Grail 665
Did win, as was fore-ordainèd when Anfortas thereto did fail.
And thus, from Provence, the story to the German land was brought,
And aright was it told, and the story doth lack in its ending naught.
I, Wolfram of Eschenbach, think me that here-of will I speak no more—
Of Parzival's race, and his kindred, of that have I told afore; 670
To the goal of his bliss have I brought him—he whose life such an end shall gain,
That his soul doth not forfeit Heaven for sins that his flesh shall stain,
And yet, as true man and worthy, the world's favour and grace doth keep
Hath done well, nor hath lost his labour, nor his fame shall hereafter sleep!
And if good and gracious women shall think I be worthy praise, 675
Since I tell to its end my story, then joyful shall be my days.
And since for the love of a woman I have sung it, this song of old,
I would that, in sweet words gentle, my guerdon by her be told!

[Pg 187]

[Pg 188]
[Pg 189]



In examining into the source whence Wolfram derived this poem, it may be well to restate briefly the problem as indicated in the Preface. We may take it as an acknowledged fact, disputed by none, that for the bulk of his work, from the commencement of Books III. to XIII., and inclusive of part of the latter, Wolfram drew from a French source; he himself says that this source was the poem of 'Kiot the Provençal,' and, while acquainted with the work of Chrêtien de Troyes, he distinctly avows his preference for Kiot over Chrêtien, saying that Chrêtien had told the story wrongly, for which Kiot might well be wrathful with him. From this we gather that, granting the existence of the two French versions, Kiot's had preceded Chrêtien's.

The difficulties in the way of accepting Wolfram's own definite statement are twofold: first, that no trace of such a poem, or such a poet, exists (which in itself is not an insuperable difficulty); second, and more serious, that we do possess the poem of Chrêtien de Troyes, and that it presents such striking features of similarity to Wolfram's version that it is clear that if one were not the source of the other, there is a common source at the root of both.

Now, of Chrêtien's source he only tells us that Count Philip of Flanders gave him the book in which he found this story of Perceval and the Grail, but of the author of the book he says no word. Of Kiot's source, Wolfram tells us that the story of the origin of the Grail was found in a MS. at Toledo, written in Arabic by a heathen astronomer, Flegetanis; and it also appears, from a passage in Book VIII. p. 238, that the story of Parzival was contained in the same MS. That Kiot then sought through the chronicles of various countries for some confirmation of the tale, and finally found the record of the Grail kings in the chronicles of Anjou.

Of the sources thus variously given, the book possessed by Count Philip of Flanders, the Arabic MS. of Flegetanis, the Chronicles of Anjou, and Kiot's poem founded upon these two last, the Chronicles of Anjou alone remain to us; do they throw any light on the question or not? It has long been asserted that they do not, and it is true that they contain no record of the Grail kings, nor, though King Arthur is mentioned, and treated as an historical personage, do we find any mention of Mazadan, Gamuret, Herzeleide, and Parzival under the same names; but it also seems equally clear that the writer of the Parzival knew the Chronicles of Anjou, and in the case of each of the characters mentioned above it is not difficult to trace a distinct correspondence between what is recorded in the Parzival and real personages and events of Angevin history. (A reference to Appendix A, vol. i., 'on the Angevin allusions' will show how close in some cases this[Pg 190] parallel is.) Now we find that the greater number of these allusions are contained in the earlier part of the poem, Books I., II., and III., some of the most striking, e.g. the account of the origin of the Angevin House; the parallel between Gamuret and Fulk V.; and the introduction of Herzeleide, being in the two first books; i.e. that part of the poem peculiar to Wolfram's version is also the part of the poem richest in indications of a knowledge of Angevin history.

The fact that Wolfram has an introduction, and a completion, to the Perceval legend which agree perfectly one with the other, and are not found elsewhere, naturally leads to the inference that he either had a source other than Chrêtien, or that he invented the books himself; which latter Simrock claims to have been the case. In a case of this kind, where there is an utter lack of external testimony to help us, we can only judge from the internal evidence of the work itself, and here we are met at the outset by the startling phenomenon of a poem, ascribed to the invention of a German poet, abounding in allusions to a contemporary French line of princes, and evidently designed for the glorification of that house. It is perfectly true that the princely family in question had risen to a point of greatness that resulted in their dominating for some years European politics, but, in the absence of any testimony connecting Wolfram with the House of Anjou, we are at least entitled to ask how he possibly came to give such a colour to his poem. It is impossible to avoid being perplexed by such questions as these; how did Wolfram come to be so familiar with the early history of the Angevin counts? If he wished to glorify any reigning prince why did he not choose a German, say Hermann of Thuringia, rather than lead to the suspicion that he wished to compliment a house represented at the time he wrote by its very worst and weakest descendant, John of Anjou and England? Why did he lay the adventures of his hero's father in the East, and bring into the story the curious and enigmatic personality of Feirefis, and, having invented him, give him a name of undoubted French origin? And even if we pass over the difficulties of the first two books we are met by other questions just as puzzling, e.g. why did Wolfram, who had so high an idea of fidelity to his source, and who blamed so strongly the leading poet of his day for the fault of departing from his supposed model, represent the Grail and the dwellers in Its castle in the light in which he did? There is no parallel to his Grail-stone or the 'Templeisen' throughout the whole Grail literature, and we cannot escape from the alternative of admitting that if Wolfram did not invent all this he found it in a source unknown to us.

The problem of the Grail has been attempted to be solved by the hypothesis of a misunderstanding of Chrêtien de Troyes, this solution is of course possible, but it must be admitted that it has the appearance rather of an ingenious evasion than an explanation of a difficulty, and it holds good for nothing beyond the bare presentment of the Grail as a stone. The Angevin problem, on the other hand, has so far never been solved at all, and only its removal hinted at by the suggestion that Walter Mapes was the author of Wolfram's source, which of course admits that Wolfram had a source other than Chrêtien, and therefore by implication throws doubt on the above suggested explanation of the Grail which is based on the supposition that Chrêtien, and Chrêtien alone, was the source of Wolfram's information. In fact, so long as we refuse to admit the truth of Wolfram's own explicit statements, so long shall we find the interpretation of the Parzival beset with innumerable difficulties, the attempted explanation of one part of the problem only rendering the remaining portion more obscure; but if we will accept it as possible that Wolfram gave a correct account of the source of his poem, and, divesting our minds of all preconceived ideas in favour of this or that theory, carefully examine the indications afforded by the poem itself, we may find that there is a solution which will meet, more or less fully, all the difficulties which beset the question. Now, as remarked above, when Wolfram wrote[Pg 191] his poem the power of the Angevin House was beginning to decline, the date assigned to the Parzival, with which date all the internal evidences agree, is within the first fifteen years of the thirteenth century, a period exactly corresponding to the reign of John, and it may be the first two or three years of that of his successor Henry III., and it was during the fatuous misgovernment of these princes that the edifice so carefully built up by the early Angevin counts fell to pieces. Works in glorification of any special house or kingdom are not, as a rule, written during that house or kingdom's period of decadence, rather during its time of growth and aggrandisement, and we find as a fact that the events which led to the accession of an Angevin count to the throne of England 'stirred up, during the early years of Henry Fitz-Empress' reign, a spirit of patriotic loyalty which led more than one of his subjects to collect the floating popular traditions of his race, and weave them into a narrative which passed for a history of the Angevin counts.' (Cf. England under the Angevin Kings, vol. ii. p. 195.) It is therefore to this period rather than to a later date, i.e. to Wolfram's source rather than to Wolfram himself, that historical testimony would bid us assign the Angevin allusions. History also forbids us to assume that Chrêtien could have been the source of Wolfram's information; Chrêtien was of Troyes, in Champagne, therefore an adherent of the House of Blois who were hereditary foes of the Angevin counts, and not without reason, as the latter were most undesirable neighbours, and never lost a chance of increasing their dominions at the expense of their fellow-princes. At one time or another, either by marriage or by conquest, they annexed all the surrounding estates (though they grasped considerably more than they could permanently hold), and after the marriage of Henry Fitz-Empress with Eleanor of Aquitaine, the heiress of Poitou and Guyenne, and of his son Geoffrey with Constance of Brittany, the whole of the coast-line of France belonged to the Angevin possessions. It was not surprising that princes of such an acquisitive nature should have many enemies, and when Henry's sons rebelled against him they were not without friends to back them up, among them, apparently, was the very Count Philip of Flanders from whom Chrêtien received the book from whence he drew his poem. If then Wolfram in his first two books was following a French poet, that poet was not Chrêtien.

But if the Angevin counts had many foes they had also many adherents, not only in Europe but in the East, their connection with which dated back to the reign of Fulk Nerra, or Fulk the Palmer. It was not to a member of an unknown house that Baldwin, king of Jerusalem, in 1129 sent an invitation to become his son-in-law and successor; nor did Fulk, when he left Anjou for Jerusalem, go alone—we are expressly told that he took a large army with him. Fulk himself died in 1142, but he left sons who succeeded him, so that the Angevin rule in the East did not end with his death.

Is it then impossible, or even improbable, that this 'Kiot the Provençal' of whom Wolfram speaks was an adherent of the House of Anjou, who had followed their fortunes in the East, and who, coming under the spell of the Grail myth in its connection with the Perceval legend, remodelled the story, probably then still in a rough and transitional form, in accordance with his own personal experiences and prepossessions? Do not all the indications afforded by the poem favour this theory? Such a man would have been thoroughly familiar with the legends that had gathered round the early Angevin princes, as well as with the historical facts connected with their successors; he would have come into contact with the Order of the Knights Templars in a land where they were in deed, and not merely in name, guardians of the Faith; he would be familiar with many a legend of precious stones, the favourite talisman of the East, and would know the special virtue ascribed to each; above all, he would have seen before him in a concrete form the contest between faith and unbelief, darkness and light, Christianity and Heathendom, a black race and a white, which forms at least one of the leading ideas in the interpretation of the poem.

[Pg 192]

In fact, if we will allow the existence of such a writer as a travelled Angevin might well have been, we shall find all the principal problems of the Parzival admit of a rational explanation. Even the central puzzle, Wolfram's representation of the Grail, is explicable on such an hypothesis. We know how very vague Chrêtien's account of the Grail is; how much in the dark he leaves us as to Its outward form, Its influence, and Its origin. A writer before Chrêtien is scarcely likely to have been more explicit; what more likely than that a man long resident in the East, and familiar, as has been said above, with Eastern jewel talismans and the legends connected with them, when confronted with this mysterious Grail, of which no definite account was given, yet which apparently exercised a magical life-sustaining influence, should have jumped to the conclusion of Its, at least partial, identity with the precious stones of the power of which he had heard so much?

And in connection with this it is worthy of note that Wolfram represents the Grail as lying on a green Achmardi; in other versions of the Grail romances it is red, or white, samite that we find mentioned as veiling the relic. Throughout the poem we find green constantly mentioned, e.g. Gamuret's equipment, the robes of the Grail maidens and of Gramoflanz, the cross over Gamuret's grave, Trevrezent's shrine or reliquary; all these allusions seem to point to the writer's familiarity with green as a royal and sacred colour, a knowledge which could only have been gained in the East. Nor, as mentioned in note to Book IX., is the description of the Grail the only instance of a mystical influence being attributed to a precious stone, but throughout the whole poem the constant mention of gems, and, in special instances, of the virtue they possess, is one of the marked peculiarities of the poem, and one of the features which differentiate it from Chrêtien's version.

That Wolfram had a model for these earlier books, and one that he was following closely, appears from the description he gives in two places of Kailet's armour; in Book I. we find 'do rekande ich abr wol dinen strûs, ame schilde ein sarapandra test,' and in Book II. 'stit dîn strûs noch sunder nest? Du solt din sarapandra test gein sinem halben grîfen tragen,' where in both instances it is distinctly implied that Kailet had two badges, an ostrich on his helmet and a snake's head on his shield, which is, to say the least, extremely unlikely. What seems to be really meant is that Kailet carried the figure of the entire bird on his helmet, and a representation of its head on his shield; the likeness in the shape of the latter to a snake's head has often been commented upon, and the ostrich, from its curious head and neck, has been known as 'the serpent bird.' It seems clear that here at least Wolfram was following another description, and one which he did not altogether understand.

As to the conclusion to be drawn from the proper names which occur in such profusion throughout the poem, this question has been so fully treated by Bartsch (cf. vol. i. Appendix B) that it would be superfluous to discuss it here; and the correspondence between the Titurel poems and the Parzival, which argues a common source for both, has also been adequately discussed, but the addition of the arguments to be derived from the correspondence existing between Wolfram's Angevin allusions and the facts of Angevin history, seems to put it beyond doubt that there is a strong body of evidence in support of Wolfram's own statement that he had a French source other than Chrêtien de Troyes; and, if we admit that he spoke the truth so far, it seems only logical to believe that he was also speaking the truth when he gave the name of the author of his source as 'Kiot the Provençal.'

[Pg 193]


In explanation of the striking agreement which exists between the Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach and that part of Li Conte del Graal which we owe to Chrêtien de Troyes, three solutions may be suggested: (a) That Chrêtien was the source of Wolfram; (b) That Chrêtien and Wolfram both drew from a common source, that source, if Wolfram is to be believed, being Kiot; (c) That Chrêtien, who wrote before Wolfram, drew from a source anterior to Wolfram, which source was also used by Kiot.

For reasons already stated we may dismiss (a) without further argument, and accept Wolfram's statement as to the existence of a French poem other than Chrêtien's; but the question as to the relationship existing between these two poems, whether the one was directly the source of the other (as Wolfram seems to have supposed), or whether both represent a common source, requires to be carefully examined.

The principal difference between the Parzival and the Conte del Graal is in the Introduction, which is missing entirely in Chrêtien, whose account of Perceval's father and of his death is at variance with all the other versions, and has been supplemented by a later Introduction, more in harmony with what seems to have been accepted as the original form of the story, i.e. with the fact of the death of the hero's father before his birth, and the flight of the widowed mother into the woods. Now, it is of course quite possible, it is even highly probable, that Chrêtien, had he known a version of the story such as Wolfram gives, would have rejected it on account of its connection with the House of Anjou, but we cannot base any argument on the absence of this introduction, since Chrêtien left his poem unfinished at a point before the close connection between the first two books and the ending of the story becomes apparent in Wolfram. Had Chrêtien lived to complete his work we should have then been in a better position to judge whether he knew Kiot's poem and deliberately set it on one side, or whether he was following another version.

Closely as the two poems agree, it is noticeable that, in more than one instance, Chrêtien's version of an incident is more in harmony with the story as told in other members of the Grail cycle than is Wolfram's; e.g. Parzival's visit to the court of King Arthur, and Gawain's adventure in the Château Merveil, both of which have been fully treated in the Notes. It is curious also that in the three versions of the story most closely agreeing, the Conte del Graal, Parzival, and Peredur, we find the bleeding lance and the sword in each, while for the 'Grail' talisman we have variously, an enigmatic object of gold set with precious stones, a stone, and a bleeding head on a dish; this variation seems to point to the conclusion that the lance and sword, and not the 'Grail,' were the original features of the story; and accordingly we find in Chrêtien that it is the lance, and not the Grail, which Gawain goes to seek; and the lance is also treated at greater length than is the Grail.

If Wolfram and Chrêtien were drawing from the same source it seems strange that it is in the work of that one of the two who avowedly places a high value on adherence to the traditional form of the story that we miss just these archaic features.

Again, Wolfram and Chrêtien differ very decidedly in their presentment of the Grail knights and their organisation; if so striking and effective a feature existed in a source common to both, it is difficult to understand why Chrêtien omitted it; he could have had no such grudge against the Order of Templars as he would reasonably have against the House of Anjou, and it is equally difficult to believe that if it was not in the source, Wolfram departed from his avowed principle of fidelity so far as to introduce it.

[Pg 194]

We also find the same ideas introduced in a different context; thus, when Perceval leaves his mother to go out into the world, among her counsels the French poet includes, 'Preudom ne forconselle nie celui ki tient sa compagnie'; in Wolfram we have no such phrase, but when Parzival arrives at Gurnemanz's Castle we find him saying, 'Mîn muoter saget al wâr, Alt mannes rede stêt niht se vâr,' which in the Parzival she did not say. It is evident that in the two versions counsel and application have become separated, and in this case again it seems more probable that the counsel would originally have been given without the application, as by Chrêtien, than vice versa as by Wolfram. On the other hand, Mr. Nutt points out in his Studies that Perceval's recognition of the knights as angels is quite at variance with his mother's representation of armed men as devils, whereas in the Parzival the whole episode is clear and consistent. Here the French poet has evidently dropped out something, and there are other instances, such as the names of Gurnemanz's sons, in which the German poem seems to have followed an older tradition.

But on the whole, a careful comparison of the two poems seems to show that Wolfram's version is further removed from the original form of the story than is Chrêtien's, and that therefore the probability is that the common basis of the two poems was a work known to the two French poets.

In support of this theory it may be noted as a curious fact that while Chrêtien avowedly bases his poem on a book given to him by the Count of Flanders, Wolfram's poem really contains more references to Flanders than Chrêtien's does. Thus we have several allusions to Lambekein, Duke of Brabant; Brandelidelein of Punturtois figures prominently both in the second and in the later books, and his city 'Der Wazzervesten stat von Punt' (punt=pont=bridge) is suspiciously like Bruges; to say nothing of the connection of the Lohengrin story with Brabant and Antwerp. It has been pointed out already by critics that Gerbert, one of Chrêtien's continuators, has the same connection of the Grail winner with the knight of the swan, which seems to indicate that the stories were not first connected by the German poet (Gerbert also connects with the Swan Knight with the Deliverer of the Holy Sepulchre, an Oriental and Crusading feature quite in harmony with what has been suggested with regard to Wolfram's French source).

On the whole, the evidence seems to point to the conclusion that the source of Kiot's poem was identical with the book delivered to Chrêtien by the Count of Flanders; and the connection between Wolfram and Chrêtien is that of a source from which Chrêtien drew at first, Wolfram at second hand, Wolfram's medium having treated the legend with far more freedom and boldness than was common at that date.


The question of the interpretation to be placed upon the Parzival is one of the most important parts of the problem under discussion. As a rule it has been treated apart from the question of the source, for critics have been pretty generally unanimous in declaring that whatever the authority followed as to the story, its employment as a medium of ethical edification was due to Wolfram and to Wolfram alone. But a careful examination of the poem seems to indicate that not only were the first germs of a spiritual interpretation due to another and older writer, but also that a very close and important connection exists between the interpretation and the source, as alleged by Wolfram himself.

[Pg 195]

Now, whether we are treating of the source or of the inner signification of the poem, one of the most important elements in the question is the character of Feirefis. That this curious personality is as closely connected with the inner, as with the outer, development of the story many critics have readily admitted, and therefore the question of the origin of the character becomes one of no little importance. If we can prove that Feirefis is beyond doubt the invention of Wolfram, then we have a strong argument for believing that the ethical teaching is also entirely Wolfram's; but if the evidence points the other way, and is in favour of the theory that Feirefis is an integral part of the original French source, then there is strong ground for believing that the semi-allegorical treatment of the subject was also part of Kiot's scheme. Simrock feels this so strongly that he advances the close connection of Feirefis alike with the grund-idee of the poem and the first two books to prove that Wolfram must have written those books, since to him alone the moral teaching can be due.

But is the evidence in favour of the German authorship of these books? Is it not, as we have shown in the discussion of the Angevin allusions, distinctly against such a conclusion? And here we must not overlook the fact that the Angevin parentage is insisted on far more strongly in the case of Feirefis than in that of his brother; it seems indeed as if the elder brother were regarded specially as the son of his father, from first to last he is 'Feirefis Angevin,' whereas Parzival is regarded more as the son of the mother through whom he is connected with the mystic race of the Grail-kings, and bears throughout the title of 'Waleis,' his mother's, not his father's, land.

A close study of the poem seems to show that it came into Wolfram's hands an organic whole; in spite of the strong individuality of the German poet which has stamped itself on every page, in spite of the constant personal allusions, of the characteristic form into which he has remoulded the story, we feel that he has never lost sight of the original conception, but, even while working out his own interpretation, has allowed the thread of his source to run unbroken, if not untangled, to the end. And with that thread Feirefis is closely inwoven; it is at the critical moment of Parzival's life, when the conventional faith in God as the All-wise Ruler of the world, which has been sufficient for his boyhood, fails him, that the hero first learns the existence of his unknown brother, Feirefis Angevin; from that point onward, whenever the story will admit of an allusion to Feirefis, either directly, or indirectly through his love Sekundillé, that allusion is introduced, so that as we draw towards the end of the poem the mind is not unprepared for the appearance of Feirefis himself, and the combat which is the last, as it is the most desperate, of Parzival's trials. The breaking of the sword of Ither of Gaheviess, as well as the exceptional nature of the conflict itself, is a distinct indication of a special significance attached to the incident, and one is not surprised to find that the conclusion of Parzival's probation and his election to the Grail kingdom follow closely upon it. It is impossible to believe that a personality so strange as that of Feirefis, so closely connected with the hero of the poem, and brought into special prominence at the turning-points of his career, means nothing at all; and this when we have the contrast between Doubt and Steadfastness, Darkness and Light, Black and White directly insisted upon.

The original ethical idea seems to have been simple enough; the sin of lack of faith in God, which mars an otherwise steadfast character. Feirefis shows, in a concrete form, the contrast sketched in the opening lines of Book I., and Parzival's final conflict with his parti-coloured brother signified the final victory over Doubt which rendered him worthy to win the Grail. The idea of working some such motif into the story may very likely have arisen from a wish to supply a better and more adequate reason for Parzival's interview with the Hermit, an episode which, as the Parzival shows, is capable of far finer treatment than it has received in any other version. (It must not be forgotten that[Pg 196] Parzival's passionate outbreak and defiance of God is found nowhere else, and that the duty of trust in God and reliance upon Him in the hour of trouble has been distinctly part of his early teaching, and that there too the 'black and white' contrast has been insisted upon.) The idea thus first suggested, the circumstances of a residence in the East, where such a conflict between light and darkness was actually being carried on, determined the form into which it should be cast. It is extremely difficult to understand how Wolfram, if he only possessed the Perceval legend in an incomplete form, conceived the idea of supplementing it in this special manner; but if Kiot be responsible for the first introduction of the religious idea, as he was of the Angevin, the problem becomes perfectly easy, his conception of the struggle in the soul of man was simply a reflection of the struggle as he saw it in the world.

(It cannot be too strongly insisted upon, that no princes of the day were more strongly affected by the Crusading spirit, or more closely connected with the East than the Angevin princes; and that to assume on the part of one of their followers the familiarity with Crusading ideas which is here ascribed to 'Kiot' is to do little more than state a commonplace fact of history.)

But that the idea of the poem has, in a measure, undergone a change, and that the Parzival in its present shape owes much to the genius of the man who, probably attracted by the ethical turn Kiot had given to the story, took it into his own hands, and, remodelling it, sent it forth to the world a heritage for all generations, may readily be granted. No careful reader of the poem can fail to feel that the interpretation is a double one; that if there are passages which seem to treat of Faith and Doubt only as they affect the position of the soul towards God, there are others which as clearly treat of the same questions as affecting man's relation to his fellow-men; in which faith is interpreted in its widest sense as a loyal fulfilment of all obligations, social as well as religious; and that all this is summed up and expressed in the inculcation of loyalty to the dictates of the knightly order in their highest form.

Occasionally these two ideas obviously clash, as when in Book IX. Trevrezent tells Parzival that the Grail cannot be won by human effort, and asks, 'Wilt thou force thy God with thine anger?' and in Book XVI. practically takes back his words and admits that this is what Parzival has done. The true solution of the puzzle seems to be neither in interpreting the poem exclusively as an allegory of the struggle in the soul of man, nor exclusively as a confession of faith in the knightly order as a means of salvation, but rather in admitting that the poem sets forth both these views, and that the lines of thought cross and recross and overlie one another according as Wolfram reproduced the ideas of the older poet, or overlaid them with his own.

And if we will believe in the real personality of 'Kiot,' we may find that the religious teaching of the poem gains a new significance; deeply religious it undoubtedly is, full of a profound trust in God, a deep conviction of the individual relationship existing between the soul and its Maker, and a simple acceptance of the elementary doctrines of Christianity, the Trinity, the Incarnation, and Its extension through the initial Sacrament of Baptism; but with all this there is a complete absence of ecclesiasticism, and a lack of features familiar to us in other works of the day.

It is very curious that, constantly as Baptism is insisted upon as essential to salvation, the equal necessity for the Second Great Sacrament of the Faith is passed over. It is perfectly true that Wolfram's knights attend Mass, and that Mass is apparently celebrated with regularity, but here their obligation seems to end; never once do we hear of one of his knights communicating, even Gamuret, when dying, though he receives absolution, does not receive the viaticum (the account of Vivians' death in Willehalm seems to show that elsewhere Wolfram, in common with other writers of the day, did acknowledge this necessity). Again, though Parzival comes to the Hermit's cell on Good[Pg 197] Friday, and spends fourteen days in his company, confessing and receiving absolution, we have no mention of the Easter Communion in the German poem, though we have in the French. In Book X. the wounded knight, whom Gawain succours, asks to be helped to a spital that his wounds may be attended to; in Chrêtien's version he expresses his fear of dying unabsolved and uncommunicated, and would seek a Hermit who lives near at hand for that purpose. And this difference between the two versions meets us at every turn; Chrêtien abounds in allusions to the hours of prayer; if he wishes to indicate the time when any special event happens he mentions that it is just after Prime, or between Tierce and Noon; Perceval says that if he finds his mother he will make her a veiled nun, and the mother's counsels in the French poem are emphatic on the subject of Perceval's religious duties, which Wolfram wholly omits; Chrêtien's characters constantly invoke the saints, which Wolfram's knights never do; when Parzival is in imminent danger of death it is to his wife, and not to a patron saint, that he looks for aid. Wolfram is always a religious poet, but, if we compare his other important poem the Willehalm with the Parzival, we cannot help feeling that the former is decidedly more in harmony with the thought of his day, and less curiously 'modern' in tone than the latter. It is difficult to resist the conviction that some of the special peculiarities of the Parzival are due to Wolfram's source quite as much as to Wolfram himself.

It is a commonplace of history that one effect of the contact between heathen and Christian races brought about by the Crusades was the awakening of a spirit of tolerance between the brave men on either side. In a day when manly strength and courage were accounted of such value it was impossible that the existence of such qualities on the side of the heathen should not, in the opinion of many, go far to counterbalance their lack of Christianity; and it is certain that among those long resident in the East such tolerance eventually led to laxity in matters both of faith and practice. It was such laxity that was the ostensible reason for the fall of the Knights Templars. In the case of a poem, which otherwise gives indication of familiarity with Oriental custom and tradition, is it unreasonable to suggest that its peculiarities of religious treatment, its freedom from petty ecclesiastical details, the breadth and tolerance of its views, and the far more human ideal of virtue which it presents, may, at least in part, be due to the influence of the Crusading spirit which we know did, on the whole, make in these directions?

To sum up the entire question, the drift of the internal evidence of the Parzival seems to indicate that the author of Wolfram's source was a warm partisan of the House of Anjou, sometime resident in the East, familiar with the History of the House whose fortunes he followed, and with much curious Oriental legend, and thoroughly imbued with the broader views of life and religion inspired by the Crusades. That he wrote his poem after 1172 seems most likely from the connection between England, Anjou, and Ireland noted in Book IX.; on the other hand, the parallel existing between the early history of Henry Fitz-Empress and that of the hero of the Parzival seems to show that he intended a compliment to that prince, which would fix the year of Henry's death, 1189, as the terminus ad quem. The probabilities are that it would be written earlier, before the troubles of Henry's later years. What we know of the extent of the Angevin rule and influence at that date renders it quite possible for us to believe that the writer was by birth a Provençal. That the source of the poem bore a strong affinity to the source of Chrêtien's Conte del Graal is certain, and the many Flemish allusions give colour to the supposition that it may have been identical with that source.

If we grant the correctness of the Angevin allusions to be found in the earlier parts of the poem, we must logically grant that these two first Books, and as a consequence the latter part of the poem which agrees with them, are due to the French source rather than the German redaction; that it was Kiot who introduced the characters of Gamuret, Belakané, Feirefis, and Lähelein; and that to Kiot is due the first germ of the ethical[Pg 198] interpretation amplified by Wolfram. It was probably in a great measure owing to the unecclesiastical nature of Kiot's teaching, and the freedom with which he handled the Grail myth, that his work failed to attain the popularity of Chrêtien's. When the Grail legend was once definitely stamped with the traditional-Christian character which it finally assumed and retained, the semi-pagan character of Kiot's treatment would cause his version to be regarded with disfavour by the monkish compilers of his day. It is probably owing to the accident of Maude's first husband having been Emperor of Germany that this particular presentment of the story found its way into that country; it may well be that it is, indirectly, to that very Angevin element that has for so long perplexed critics that we owe its preservation! As regards the Grail problem itself, it therefore seems most probable that in Wolfram's Parzival we have no really independent version of the Grail myth, such as may be taken into consideration by scholars when constructing a scientific theory of its development; but simply an interesting specimen of one form which, in the period of its translation from a pagan to a Christian symbol, it temporarily assumed, that form being entirely coloured and determined by the personality of the writer.


Besides the Parzival, Wolfram's longest and, from every point of view, most important work, we possess seven songs belonging to the class known as Tage-or Wächter-Lieder; thus called because the secret lovers, who have indulged their passion during the hours of night, are warned by the call of the watchman from the ramparts of the approach of day and of the hour of parting. Though Wolfram made in these songs a concession to the lax morality of his day, the concluding lines of one of them clearly show how far superior to such unlawful passion he held the love of wedded wife and husband, such love as he has immortalised in Kondwiramur and Parzival. Beside these songs, we have the poems dealing with the loves of Siguné and Schionatulander, and classed together under the name of Titurel. Whether these are complete in themselves, and intended to serve as an explanatory addition to the Parzival, or whether they are fragments of an unfinished poem, does not very clearly appear; in any case they indicate a source identical with that of the Parzival.

Willehalm, Wolfram's other great epic poem, in nine books, deals with the history of William of Orange, a contemporary of Charlemagne, whose story belongs to this cycle of French Romance. The poem is clearly derived from the old French Chanson de Geste, Aliscans, and is originally founded on the prolonged struggle between the Saracen and Christian power in the South of France, a struggle which for poetical purposes has been condensed into two battles of Aliscans, or Alischanz, in the first of which the Christians are defeated, while in the second they are victorious. Whether this poem, too, is or is not unfinished, is a matter of debate among critics; judging from Wolfram's method in the Parzival, the fact that he leaves the fate of his hero 'Rennewart' in uncertainty, and does not even reveal the secret of his parentage and close connection with William's wife, seems to indicate that he did not finish the poem. Willehalm abounds in references to the Parzival, and in similar turns of thought and expression, and has some passages of great beauty. The Titurel is also written in a more elaborate metre than the other poems, and some doubt has been expressed as to which of these two represents Wolfram's latest work. The style of both is more finished than that of the Parzival, but they are both inferior alike in depth of thought and human interest to this, the greatest work of Germany's greatest mediæval poet.

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[Pg 200]
[Pg 201]




Hero meets with wounded knight and maiden. Is warned of the perils of the way. Chrêtien, who gives all the incidents in corresponding sequence.
Meets with a lovely lady, whom he woos and is repulsed by her with mockery. Is insulted by a squire of hideous aspect, and his charger is stolen by the wounded knight.
Comes to a river on the further side of which is a castle, and fights with a knight who is riding his own horse. Is entertained by the boatman.

Introduction, lines 1-19. In Book X. the poet returns to Gawain, taking up the story at the point at which he dropped it in Book VIII. The corresponding book in Chrêtien commences very abruptly, making no further mention of the challenge between Gawain and Kingrimursel (Guigambresil) or of Gawain's search for the Grail (or Lance). It is doubtful whether the passage beginning with line 15 really refers to traditional adventures ascribed to Gawain, and omitted here, or whether it is merely introduced in order to soften down the abrupt transition from the story of Parzival to that of Gawain. From the fact that, both here and in Chrêtien, this incident of Gawain's meeting with the wounded knight follows immediately after Parzival's interview with the hermit, it seems certain that a similar sequence existed in the source common to both; on the other hand, in line 804, Wolfram seems to be referring to a definite version of the Gawain episode, which certainly differed from Chrêtien's. Here, as elsewhere, in the absence of any external evidence, it is not possible to speak with certainty.

Page 1, line 5—'At Schamfanzon he challenged Gawain.' Cf. Book VIII. p. 239.

Page 1, line 9—'The murder, Count Ekunât did it.' Cf. Book VIII. p. 236 and Book III. p. 99.

Page 4, line 29—'Kamilla.' A reference to the Æneid of Heinrich von Veldeck, where Kamilla, the daughter of Turnus, is represented as defending Laurentium against the Trojans, and being slain on the field of battle. Cf. Book XII. p. 52.

Page 4, lines 39, 40—'On her knee she bore a knight.' This incident occurs under exactly the same circumstances in Chrêtien, there, too, Gawain comes to the rescue of the knight by arousing him from his stupor, though the surgery, of which Wolfram gives so curious an account, finds no parallel in the French poem. The reader will not fail to notice the likeness between this incident and Parzival's meeting with Siguné, in Book III. As will be pointed out later Wolfram evidently intended a parallel, or a contrast, between his two heroes.

[Pg 202]

Page 5, line 63—'Lischois Giwellius.' This name, again, seems to be a misunderstanding of a French original, in Chrêtien the knight is not named, the passage; 'li Orguelleus de la roce à l'estroite voie, qui garde les pors de Galvoie' in which some critics have found the origin of the name, seems rather to refer to the knight overthrown by Gawain in Book XII. and named Florand by Wolfram. Here there is a distinct identity between the knight now referred to and him who fights with Gawain later (p. 20); in Chrêtien the knight who opposes Gawain is the nephew of the wounded man, and therefore can scarcely be the guardian of the 'bogue de Galvoie' who overthrows him. Later on Wolfram uses a French expression to indicate where the knight in question was wounded, Av estroite mâvoié, which distinctly indicates a ford rather than a ravine as in Chrêtien (translated Perilous Ford, p. 13), and the whole incident, carefully examined, decidedly points to a French source, other than Chrêtien.

Page 5, line 74—'Spake o'er it spells of healing.' As all students of folk-lore are well aware, a belief in the virtue of certain formula of words for the healing of bodily ailments was at one time practically universal, and indeed, in certain districts, a belief in them exists to this day. In vol. ii. of Grundriss der Germanischen Philologie (part I.), a number of such spells, collected from old German MSS. are given; among them will be found one for checking the flow of blood, and another for the closing of a wound.

Page 5, line 77—'Logrois,' French Logres. In Malory we have Logris, which has been identified with Loegria, or Saxon Britain.

Page 6, line 90—'Orgelusé.' This name, like Orilus, is a misunderstanding of a French original. Chrêtien calls the lady 'L'Orguelleuse de Logres,' and it evidently stood so in Wolfram's source. This incident of a knight proffering his services to, and riding with, a lady who repays him with mockery, and finds food for mirth in his misfortunes, seems to have been a favourite theme with mediæval writers. Malory gives two such adventures, one of which, that of La Cote Male Taile and the damsel Maledisant, is, curiously enough, connected with the Castle Orgulous. The adventure as recounted by Chrêtien closely parallels the German version, but the latter is told at greater length, and the lady appears to decidedly more advantage; her mockery, though biting, is more in the vein of a courtly lady, and, what we should not expect to find, there is far more lightness of touch and 'malice,' in the French sense of the word, about the German than about the French poet. The little touch on p. 9, lines 192, 193 (If a woman ye thus behold), is lacking in Chrêtien, and is decidedly in keeping with the dry humour of Wolfram, who, in spite of his respect for women, delights in a sly hit at feminine weaknesses. The very curious adjuration of the old knight, on the same page, 'May He who made salt the sea,' seems, according to Bartsch, to be frequent in old French literature, 'Qui fit la mer salée,' but does not occur at all in Chrêtien, who here simply has 'Dieu le Souverain Pêre.'

Page 10, line 235—'Malcréature.' This squire appears in Chrêtien, but is not connected in any way with Kondrie, though it may be noted that the description given of him in the French poem agrees far more closely with Wolfram's description of the Grail Messenger than the latter does with Chrêtien's Maiden. Bartsch says that the curious account of this strange people 'rests on Talmudic tradition, and is repeated in many mediæval writings, Latin, German, and Romance.' In Wolfram's poem of Willehalm he introduces a strange 'horned' people who come from the banks of the Ganges, and who speak with no human tongue. Chrêtien has nothing corresponding to this wild story, nor is his squire named.

Page 12, line 274—'Anfortas.' This is the first indication that the lady in whose service Anfortas received his incurable wound was Orgelusé. Cf. Book IX. p. 275. The story is more fully told in Book XII. p. 65.

Page 12, line 281—'I wot well e'en Dame Jeschuté, etc.' Cf. Book V. p. 145.

[Pg 203]

Page 13, line 311—'A spital shall stand near by.' Chrêtien's knight wishes to be taken to a Hermit that he may confess and receive the sacrament. The incident is a good illustration of the different tone of the two poems: Chrêtien's is deeply imbued with the ecclesiasticism of his day, and abounds in references to hours of prayer, religious services, and invocation of saints, all of which are lacking in Wolfram's version, which, nevertheless, is far more thoroughly pervaded with the religious spirit.

Page 14, line 349—'Is it thou, O Urian?' In Chrêtien the name of the knight is Griogoras. Urian appears to be the same name as Friam, which we meet with later on, Book XIII. p. 92. The main outline of his story is the same in the French as in the German poet, but there are some significant points of divergence. In Chrêtien we have no mention of the trial before the king, nor of the death-sentence; Gawain appears to have punished the knight on his own account, and his anger is therefore more intelligible, especially as Chrêtien gives an additional touch of ignominy to his punishment, 'les Il mains liiès au dos'; and we hear nothing of the special right of message-bearer, by outraging which Urian broke 'the peace of the land.' The incident itself is a common one with mediæval writers, but it is generally treated lightly, and the punishment, as a rule, was a money fine. It seems as if the more serious manner in which the episode is treated by Wolfram were to be accounted for by the maiden's official position. Throughout the poem there are frequent allusions to the manners, customs, and modes of government of his day, and, where Chrêtien seems to give us simply a world of romance, Wolfram seems to aim at investing his story with reality by surrounding it with the atmosphere of the time in which he lived.

The indignation expressed by Orgelusé (line 417) is peculiar to Wolfram's version, and seems somewhat out of keeping with the general laxity of her conduct.

Page 18, line 465—'Amor and Cupid.' Amor and Cupid were regarded by the poets of the Middle Ages as two separate gods, both being the children of Venus.

The fine passage, lines 480-496, is an eloquent exposition of Wolfram's belief in the superiority of lawful love over the mere earthly passion, too often unlawful, sanctioned, if not encouraged, by the prevailing licence accorded to Minne-Dienst. Throughout this poem Wolfram is a steadfast upholder of the binding nature of the marriage vow; Parzival's fidelity to his wife is held to be a virtue sufficient to cancel any other sin of which he may be guilty; cf. Book IX. p. 270, where Trevrezent's words are a sufficient commentary on the rarity of such fidelity in those days. At the same time Wolfram accepts the prevailing ideal, and it must be noted that it was he, and not a poet of laxer principles, such as Gottfried von Strasbourg, who first brought into vogue the Wächter-lieder, the very essence of which is that the love to which they give eloquent voice is an unlawful love, and must be indulged in secrecy and under the cover of night.

Page 19, line 506 and seq.—'A Castle so fair and stately.' This is Château Merveil, mentioned by Kondrie, Book VI. p. 181.

Page 22, line 598—'Gringuljet.' Chrêtien explains how Lischois Giwellius comes to be in possession of Gawain's horse; he is, according to the French poet, the nephew of the wounded knight Griogoras, who has sent him to attack Gawain, and has given him the horse stolen from that hero for the purpose. For the meaning of the name, cf. vol i. Appendix B. The previous history of the steed has been alluded to twice, Books VII. p. 196 and IX. p. 272. In the latter passage Trevrezent recognises Parzival's horse, also a Grail steed, by the dove on its saddle, here the badge is branded on the horse itself. The fight between Lischois and Gawain is told at much greater length here.

Page 24, line 661—'This right was his o'er the meadow.' The tribute due to the Ferryman is also related in Chrêtien, where Gawain evades it in the same manner.

Page 26, line 729—'Klingsor.' The magician, lord of the Château Merveil, has not[Pg 204] been named before; he is identical with the 'clerk who all magic knew,' cf. Book II. p. 39. Chrêtien has not this character at all; the castle, according to him, was built by 'I. sages clers d'astrenomie,' who came there with King Arthur's mother, but there is no indication that the lady eloped with him, nor does he play any part in the story. The origin of the name seems to be uncertain; in the poem of the Wartburg-krieg, already alluded to (note to Book VI.), Klingsor appears as a magician from Hungary, and Simrock thinks that here his name is derived from Klingsære, a singer or minstrel, and that Wolfram was weaving into his poem an old legend illustrative of the power of song. San Marte derives the name from an old French word clincher, and thinks it indicative of the sensual character ascribed to the magician, and that the character is of French origin. Merlin is, of course, the Arthurian magician, and appears as such in Chrêtien's continuators, but there is no sign of him in the Parzival, nor can the incidents related of Klingsor be paralleled in the history of Merlin.

Page 27, line 774—'Bené.' The part assigned to this character in Wolfram is important, the maiden does not appear in Chrêtien's version, here she plays an active part as confidant of Itonjé, Gawain's sister, in her love affair with King Gramoflanz and acts as messenger between the lovers. Some critics have derived her name from a misunderstanding of Chrêtien's phrase, que bencois soit votre ostu, spoken by Gawain to the boatman, and, of course, such a phrase may have stood in Wolfram's French source, but, as he certainly did not borrow the character from Chrêtien, it seems scarcely likely that he borrowed the name.

Page 28, lines 785-790—'Purslain and lettuce.' The dish was apparently a kind of salad. Wolfram makes an ingenious use of the mention of vinegar to impress upon his readers the folly of speaking untruly, and incidentally shows that the use of rouge was not unknown in his day.

[Gawain's adventures with the Proud Lady (Orgelusé) and at the Castle of Wonders form, perhaps, the most confused and perplexing portion of the poem, while they also bear obvious marks of age and of freedom from the Christian symbolism which has so profoundly affected the 'Grail' legend as a whole. 'The Proud Lady' seems to be a composite creation; the characteristics of a courtly lady of the day having been grafted on to an originally supernatural conception. According to this latter, she was a water-fairy (note that Gawain meets her by the side of a spring, Book X. p. 6), mistress of a magic garden, in which are held captive the mortals whom she incites to a perilous venture, i.e. the crossing of the stream which separates this from the other world, and the bringing thence a branch plucked from a tree growing there. This adventure is of course only to be achieved by the best knight in the world, the hero, namely, of the episode, and to urge him to it she uses every species of raillery. When the hero has performed the task she gladly yields herself his. This incident, in itself a straightforward and intelligible one to which many parallels might easily be adduced from romantic and heroic literature, is, however, crossed and blended with another adventure of the same hero, the achieving the feats of the Wonder Castle, and thereby overcoming its magician builder.

The two episodes, originally told each for itself, coalesced owing to the personages in each being the same; for the Proud Lady is, I believe, far more intimately connected with the Wonder Castle than appears from Wolfram's poem; I suspect her, indeed, of being the magician's daughter. That the wedding of Gawain with Orgelusé should take place in the Château Merveil is at present almost the only trace remaining of the original connection, but that is decisive. For, as will be pointed out in Note to Book XI., the episode of the Wonder Castle must originally have ended in the hero's remaining there; he has won to the other world whence he cannot return, but over which he rules, in com[Pg 205]pany with its fair mistress. As it is, the reader cannot but feel that the winning of the Branch is an anti-climax after the achievement of the Castle of Wonders.

The true significance of the Proud Lady's garden has also been obscured in our poem; it may possibly at one time have been confused with the Wonder Castle, and might then be compared with the Garden of Joy which Merlin created for Ninian; there is indeed a strong temptation to compare Merlin and Ninian with Klingsor and Orgelusé, wide as the difference is between the two stories. But it is more probable that the Magic Garden belongs wholly to the Winning of the Branch feat, and that, like the remainder of this episode, it has suffered from contamination with the Wonder Castle story. (In connection with this it may be noted that in Chrêtien, Gawain, after crossing the Perilous Ford, is not to pluck the branch of any one special tree, but to gather the flowers which he sees, 'A ces arbres et á ces prés.' The idea of a garden seems to have been better preserved in the French than in the German poem.)

Another portion of the original story, the flyting of hero and heroine, has been completely remodelled by the twelfth century poets, in order to afford an exemplification of the current ideal of courtly love and lady-service; hence the complex character of the heroine, and the confused nature of the episode as related by Wolfram. It would be useless to seek in pre-twelfth century literature for an exact parallel to a situation so manifestly coloured to suit the prevailing social ideas of the time; but the episode must have some root in preceding literature, the special form of the social relation of man to woman which is the most marked feature of twelfth century literary art must stand in some relation to the past; and it is in the Irish heroic literature of the seventh to the eleventh centuries that we must seek for the origin of this feature.

In this literature we find a remarkable parallel to the whole Gawain-Orgelusé episode. 'The Wooing of Emer' by Cuchulainn is one of the most famous stories about the greatest Irish hero. Emer was the daughter of Forgall the Wily, the chief maiden of Ireland in all virtues and qualities, and therefore the only one whom Cuchulainn deemed worthy of him. But she is by no means minded to take him at his own estimation; when he recounts his achievements, 'these are goodly fights of a tender boy,' says she, nor will she consent to see him until he perform certain definite feats. Moreover, her father is by no means anxious that she should marry, and to get rid of the wooer has him sent off with two companions on a perilous expedition to Skye. The first danger he encountered (I quote textually from the oldest version of the story, ascribed by the editor, Professor Kuno Meyer, to the eighth century) is 'some dreadful beast like a lion, which fought with him, but did him no harm, and the foul play of the youths who laughed at him' (Revue Celtique, vol. X. 44). Afterwards he has to make his way across the 'plain of ill-luck' on which men freeze, and by a narrow path over a glen, and a 'terrible stony height.' Cuchulainn of course comes safely through all these and other ventures, and carries off Emer, whom he weds. Here, then, we have the contemptuous attitude of the wooed maiden, her indication of feats to be performed before she can be won; and before the final marriage a series of incidents bearing no small resemblance to those which befall Gawain at the Wonder Castle.—Alfred Nutt.]

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Gawain, against the advice of the Boatman, visits Château Merveil, seats himself on the magic couch, and is assailed, first by unseen adversaries, then by a lion which he kills and ends the enchantments of the Castle. Chrêtien gives the incidents in the same order, but with some difference in details,

(There is a Castle of Wonders in 'Peredur,' but the adventures connected with it are quite different.)

The entire episode of the Magic Castle and Gawain's adventures therein is stamped with a weird, fantastic character, unlike the rest of the poem, and gives the effect of a Mährchen introduced into the midst of a knightly epic. More than one critic has pointed out the similarity between the tasks to be achieved by Gawain, before he becomes lord of the castle, and those which, in old folk-tales, fall to the lot of those who dare a venture to the shadowy under-world. Some of the features in the story, which will be noted as they occur, seem to distinctly indicate that such was the original nature of this episode, related with so much spirit by the German poet.

Page 34, line 107—'He who at Nantes slew Prince Ither.' Cf. Books VII. p. 218 and VIII. p. 242, and notes on these passages, where Wolfram's introduction of the chief hero of the poem, unmentioned in Chrêtien's version, is commented upon. Some critics have drawn a contrast between the Château Merveil, with its magic lord, and the Grail Castle, with its wounded king, which are won respectively by the two heroes of the poem, and have seen in the castle of Klingsor the embodiment of the fleshly principle, opposed to the spiritual realm of the Grail. But Wolfram seems to have intended a parallel rather than a contrast. Klingsor, on the whole, is by no means a malicious character, and of the deadly antagonism between him and the Grail knights, which is the very essence of Wagner's Parzival, there is here no trace. If there is a contrast between spirit and sense in Wolfram's poem, it is rather to be found between the court and knighthood of Monsalväsch and that of King Arthur, and the latter monarch certainly embodies the world-principle far more than Klingsor does. Parzival's failure to ask the question here is quite in keeping with his general character and devotion to a single aim, but the introduction of the incident was doubtless intended to heighten the parallel between Monsalväsch and Château Merveil.

Page 35, line 125—'Now arm thee for deadly warfare!' In Chrêtien's account the Boatman plays the same kindly part of adviser, and, further, accompanies Gawain to the palace and to the hall of the Lit-Merveil, but, as before noted, the part played by the daughter is omitted.

Page 36, line 162—'A merchant with merchandise costly.' In Chrêtien this character is an 'Eskiékier,' rather a money-changer than a merchant. The story of the oath, and how it came to be in the courtyard of the castle, is rally related in Book XII. p. 65.

Page 36, line 169—'The Baruch of Bagdad.' Cf. Book I. p. 9, and note on 'Rankulat.' The allusion to the Emperor of Greece shows that this was written after the taking of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204.

Page 37, line 185—'Plippalinòt.' The Boatman is unnamed in Chrêtien. The critics give no interpretation of the name.

[Pg 207]

Page 37, line 201—'The Lechfeld.' The Lechfeld is a wide plain near Augsburg between the rivers Werch and Lech, where the Hungarians were defeated in 955 by the Emperor Otho. Naturally, the courtyard of a castle could not be so large, and it seems probable that Wolfram was commenting humorously on the exaggerated description given in his source. Chrêtien gives much the same account of the castle and its gorgeous decorations.

Page 38, line 220—'The Lit-Merveil.' Chrêtien gives a more detailed description of the magic couch: it is of gold, with cords of silver, and bells hanging from the interlaced cords. It is apparently the peal of these bells, as the knight seats himself upon the couch, that gives warning of the intruder, and is the signal for the enchantments to begin. In Chrêtien's account the attack by the five hundred unseen foes (Gawain has already been informed by the Boatman that five hundred knights guard the castle) follows immediately on the hero taking his seat on the couch, and the onslaught of the lion immediately on the cross-bows, so that the ordeal, as represented by Wolfram, is considerably more severe and prolonged than in the French version.

Page 40, line 299—'A mighty lion.' The encounter with the lion is the same in Chrêtien; there, too, the lion's paw is smitten off by Gawain, and remains hanging to the shield. The remark in line 312 is quite in keeping with Wolfram's dry, quaint humour; such 'asides' are lacking throughout in the French poem.

Page 41, line 331—'Mount Ribbelé.' An allusion to Eilhart's Tristan, where Gymele, Isolde's maid, gives to Kahenis, who should keep watch with her, a magic pillow on which he slumbers throughout the night, and is mocked in consequence.

Page 42, line 340—'Arnivé.' This is Arthur's mother, whose elopement with Klingsor has been mentioned, cf. Book II. p. 39. (Whether Arnivé went with Klingsor of her own free will, or whether she was constrained by magic art, does not clearly appear; from Book II. we should conclude the former, but the passage in Book XIII. pp. 89 and 90, reads as if she were not a free agent.) She has been named as one of the dwellers in Château Merveil, (Book VI. p. 189); how it was that Arthur, who had apparently spent some years in the search for his mother (cf. Book II. p. 39), failed to recognise her name when mentioned before him, is not explained. But the whole episode, as noted above, is so wild and fantastic, and so full of difficulties, that it seems most probable that it was not originally connected with the Arthurian legend, and has been only imperfectly fitted into the framework. In Chrêtien, too, the queen is Arthur's mother, but she is much less prominent in the story, indeed from this point onwards the two versions diverge considerably. In Chrêtien, Gawain is by no means seriously wounded; the Boatman, who seems to have awaited the issue of the adventure outside the castle, returns promptly and tells him that the enchantments are at an end, and Gawain is greeted by a train of pages, gaily dressed and playing flutes; and maidens, one of whom bears royal robes. Chrêtien then introduces a very curious and archaic feature, to which Wolfram has no parallel; Gawain expresses his desire to leave the castle and hunt in the surrounding forest, but the Boatman tells him this is impossible; it is judged and decreed that whoever achieves the venture of the Château Merveil shall never leave the castle, 'Que jamais de cette maison n'istroit u fust tors u raison. Jamais n'istrés nul jor,' at which Gawain is extremely angry. Nevertheless, he does leave the castle and no harm comes of it. The only explanation of this curious feature seems to be that this episode, as noted above, found its origin in the story of some hero's visit to the under-world, when his return to the world of the living depends on his fulfilment of certain conditions, e.g., that he should eat nothing during his stay in the land of shadows; Gawain certainly partakes of a meal in the Magic Castle, which meal in Wolfram precedes, though in Chrêtien it follows, his attempt to leave Château Merveil. Heinzel understands Chrêtien's account of the arrival of the two elder queens in Terre de Merveil as meaning[Pg 208] that they really were dead, and supernaturally revived; (Chrêtien certainly does say of the elder queen, 'Qui fus mis en tière,' but as he goes on to state that she brought all her riches with her into the country where she came, accompanied by her daughter, it is rather difficult to understand what he really does mean.) Mr. Nutt remarks, 'I think there can be no doubt that Klingsor's castle is a form of the other world, and that its inhabitants cease to live if they return to this world. There is a distinct parallelism in the original form of the legend between Parzival's winning the Grail Castle and Gawain's winning the Magic Castle. On this theory neither, of course, should come back to Arthur's court; the necessity of bringing them both into contact with Arthur again has obscured the significance of the story.'

Page 43, line 370—'Ilinot the Breton.' Arthur's son, alluded to in Book VII. p. 217, and note (which also explains the allusion to 'the mystic beasts' which seem to have been the badge of the royal Breton house). Ilinot's history is told at some length in Book XII. p. 50.

Page 44, line 422—'Dictam, the herb of healing.' San Marte says that this herb is mentioned by Cicero, Virgil, and Pliny, as possessing the power of drawing arrow-shafts from a wound. Wolfram, also, attributed this virtue to it, as he distinctly states in Willehalm, where he gives an account of his hero's wounds being dressed by his wife.

The allusion to Kondrie should be noted; it is another instance of the skill with which Wolfram connects all the threads of his story, and never loses sight of his main point.



Gawain overthrows a knight whom the Lady of Logrois brings to fight with him; crosses the Perilous Ford, and is challenged to single combat by a knight. Is rewarded by the love of Orgelusé, and returns in triumph to Château Merveil. Chrêtien.

Page 49, lines 5-18—'Launcelot on the sword-bridge battled.' This passage to line 18 contains numerous allusions to the knightly tales of the day, some of which have been previously referred to. Launcelot's fight with Meljakanz and subsequent freeing of Queen Guinevere is mentioned in Book VII. (pp. 205, 219 and Note).

The story of Garel and the lion is not known to us; he was the hero of a later poem by Pleier, but this adventure does not appear in it. Garel and Gaherjet we find again in Book XIII. p. 96, according to Chrêtien they were Gawain's brothers, but Wolfram seems to regard them merely as kinsmen. (The fact that Wolfram knows only one brother, Beau-corps, whereas Chrêtien mentions two, if not three, seems to indicate that he was here following a different source.) 'The Perilous Ford' we shall meet with presently; and Erec and the venture of Schoie-de-la-kurt have been alluded to in Book III. pp. 76 and 100, and Note; and Book VIII. p. 245.

The allusion to Iwein is taken from Hartmann's poem of that name, which relates that in the wood Briziljan (Broceliande) there was a spring beside which hung a golden basin; if any one drew water from the spring in this basin, and poured it upon a stone near by, a violent storm immediately arose which devastated the wood, and slew the game therein.[Pg 209] As soon as the tempest was over the lord of the spring appeared in full armour and demanded satisfaction for the mischief done. Iwein withstands this venture, slays the knight, and eventually, by Lunete's counsel, marries his widow. Cf. Book V. p. 143, and Book IX. p. 252.

Page 50, lines 39-64—'They yielded thee loyal service,' etc. Mazadan, cf. Book I. p. 31 and Book VIII. 230 and Note. Ither of Gaheviess needs no further notice. Ilinot has already been alluded to, Book VII. p. 217 and Book XI. p. 43. This is the first full account given of this prince, hitherto his fate has only been alluded to; we know nothing of this character, but it is quite evident from such passages as these, and Book VI. p. 171, that Wolfram was familiar with Arthurian romances other than those which have come down to us. Ilinot, being Arthur's son, was of course first cousin to Gawain; the relationship with Parzival is much more distant, and, though Arthur speaks of Parzival as his 'nephew,' the term must be taken in a much wider sense than we should now understand it; from Wolfram's own account Parzival cannot have been more than very distantly connected with the House of Pendragon.

Galoes and Gamuret, cf. Book II. pp. 46, 52, and 59.

The loves of Itonjé and Gramoflanz occupy a considerable part of the next two books. Surdamur was Gawain's sister, and married the Emperor of Greece, Alexander; their son was Cligés, the hero of Chrêtien's poem of that name, in the early part of which the tale of their love is fully told. (Cf. Note to Book VI. 'Sir Klias.') None of these allusions are to be found in Chrêtien, whose books, as a rule, lack introductory passages; but, as noted in Book XI., from the conclusion of the Lit-Merveil incident onwards the two poems diverge widely in detail, though the outline of the story is identical.

Page 52, line 89—'Arras.' A town in Picardy, famous in the Middle Ages for its stuffs.

Page 52, line 97—'A shining pillar.' This magic pillar, of which a full account is given further on (lines 109 and 143), is peculiar to Wolfram's version. In Chrêtien we have simply a watch-tower, from the windows of which Gawain can see the country. Later on we find the deadly fight between Parzival and Feirefis mirrored on this pillar, and the news of the encounter conveyed to Arthur's court before the arrival of the heroes.

Page 52, line 98—'The coffin of Kamilla.' Cf. Book X. p. 4 and Note. Heinrich von Veldeck gives a minute account of this coffin.

Page 52, line 101—'Master Geometras.' It is curious to find geometry thus personified. The same mistake has apparently been made by Heinrich von Veldeck, who makes Geometras the designer of Kamilla's coffin.

Page 53, line 119—'Came the agèd queen Arnivé.' According to Chrêtien there are two queens, mother and daughter, and a maiden, daughter to the younger queen, who is named Clarissant. Gawain's mother he does not name at all, the old queen has her original name of Yguerne. In Chrêtien the elder lady asks Gawain at once if he is one of King Arthur's knights, and questions him closely as to King Arthur, King Lot, and the sons of the latter; but apparently Gawain's curiosity is in no way aroused, and he makes no attempt to learn who the ladies are, though he makes a compact with the old queen that she shall not ask his name for seven days. The account, so humorously given by Wolfram of Arnivé's curiosity and unavailing attempts to discover Gawain's identity, is lacking in the French poet. It is difficult to understand how it is that Gawain has no suspicion of the real facts of the case till enlightened by Gramoflanz, but, as remarked above, the whole episode is mysterious and perplexing.

Page 54, line 174—'The Turkowit.' This seems to be the name for a lightly-armed soldier, an archer. This particular knight, we learn later, was captain of Orgelusé's night-watch, or body-guard; his name was Florand of Itolac; and he subsequently marries Sangivé, Gawain's mother.

[Pg 210]

Page 58, line 282—'Tamris and Prisein.' Tamris-Tamarisk, has been mentioned in Book VIII. (p. 242 and Note). Prisein has not been identified, Bartsch suggests Provençal Bresil.

Page 58, 294—'The Perilous Ford.' Wolfram's expression here is 'Ligweiz prelljus,' evidently the French 'Li guex perelleus.' Chrêtien's description of the episode is much the same, but he represents Gawain as being well acquainted with the character of this venture, and of the fame that will accrue to the knight who achieves it. In the French poem there does not appear to be one tree in especial guarded by Guiromelans, but Gawain is bidden 'Quellir de ces flours que veés. A ces arbres et a ces prés.'

Page 60, line 332—'King Gramoflanz.' This character has been already referred to in Book IX. p. 258. In Chrêtien he is called Le Guiromelans, and Wolfram's name for him is undoubtedly derived from some such original (cf. Appendix B, vol. i.). The account of his meeting with Gawain differs in many respects in the French version; there his quarrel with Gawain seems to be much more of a personal matter, not only has King Lot slain his father, as here, but Gawain himself has slain seven of his kinsmen. Chrêtien's description of the king's dress and appearance is far less gorgeous than is Wolfram's.

Page 60, line 340—'Sinzester.' Bartsch suggests that Winchester is here meant. In Book VI. we find Kondrie wearing a hat with plumes of 'the English peacock.'

Page 60, line 353—'Eidegast.' Cf. Book II. p. 39 and Note on 'The Tourney.' In Chrêtien Orgelusé's lover is not named but he has been slain by Guiromelans, and, as here, it is her desire for vengeance that has led her to urge Gawain to the venture; but in the French poem Orgelusé is a much less imposing personage, and her attempts at vengeance are of a less organised character.

Page 61, line 374—'Yet alas! I have ne'er beheld her.' Such instances of a knight vowing himself to the service of a lady whom he had never seen were by no means rare in mediæval times. (Cf. the well-known story of Rudel and the Lady of Tripoli.) In Chrêtien, also, Guiromelans is the lover of Gawain's sister, whose name there is Clarissant. In the French poem Guiromelans gives a full history of all the queens, here he only states the identity of Itonjé, and Gawain apparently takes the rest for granted.

Page 62, line 419—'Löver.' This name has been mentioned in Book IV. p. 121. The derivation is uncertain, but in each instance Arthur's kingdom, as a whole, seems to be meant. The curious name 'Bems by the Korka' has exercised critics much; Chrêtien has 'A Pentecouste est la cors le roi Artu en Orcanie,' and Korka is evidently a form of Orcanie. Some have suggested that 'Bems bei' is a misunderstanding of Pentecouste (couste = côte), but the derivation seems far-fetched and unsatisfactory; all that can be said with certainty is that the name points to a French source.

Page 62, line 425—'Rosche Sabbin.' This also seems to be derived from the French; Chrêtien calls the castle 'Roche de Sanguin,' and Wolfram seems to have transferred the name to Gramoflanz' kingdom.

Page 64, line 471—'True as the one-horned marvel.' Cf. Book IX. p. 277, where the story of the Unicorn's love for a pure maiden is given. We learn from this passage that advantage was taken of its slumber to slay it.

Page 65, line 511—'For the winning his death.' Here we have a full explanation of the connection between Orgelusé and Anfortas. The tent given to the Lady of Logrois by Anfortas was, we learn from the Willehalm (which abounds in allusions to the Parzival), sent to that monarch by Queen Sekundillé as a love-token.

Page 66, line 547—'And never a man beheld me.' This account of Orgelusé's bargain with the knights who fought for her, and her relations with Parzival and Gawain, throws a most curious light on the conventionalities of the day. It is quite evident that [Pg 211]Orgelusé in no way transgressed against the code of manners then prevailing, she is throughout treated as a great lady, and is well received at Court.

Though this is the only episode of the kind recounted, it is quite clear from Books XIV. pp. 130-131 and XVI. 173 that Orgelusé was not the only lady who had proffered her love to Parzival and been refused. (Those familiar with Wagner's Parzival will not need to have it pointed out to them what fine dramatic use he has made of the fact that it is Anfortas' love, and the indirect cause of his wound, who thus offers herself to Parzival. With wonderful skill Wagner has combined the characters of Kondrie and Orgelusé, thereby, in some ways, assimilating Kondrie more closely to the original form of the legend.)

Page 69, line 625—'The Swallow.' Bartsch says that this was an English harp, so called from the fact that the lower part of the frame was shaped like the fork of a swallow's tail.

Page 69, line 639—'The Buhurd.' Cf. Book II. Note on 'The Tourney.' There is no trace of this formal knightly reception in Chrêtien,—there the old queen receives them seated outside the castle, and the maidens dance and sing around them.



Feast at the Château Merveil; Gawain persuades his sister to confide her love-story to him. Chrêtien, whose poem ends abruptly in the middle of a line.
Arrival of Gawain's messenger at the Court of King Arthur.

(From this point onwards there is no resemblance between Wolfram's poem and any other known Romance of the Grail-cycle.)

Page 74, line 39—'One lived of yore named Sarant.' Cf. note to Book I. 'Silk of Orient.' Bartsch identifies the name of the skilful weaver with that of an Asiatic people, probably the Chinese. Thasmé is named later on as part of Feirefis' kingdom. His battle-cry is 'Tabronit and Thasmé!' 'Akraton,' cf. Book VIII. p. 230.

Page 75, line 66—'Itonjé.' This is the French name 'Idonie.' In Chrêtien the maiden is named Clarissant, and Gawain wins her confidence in the same manner. Chrêtien's share of the Conte ends so abruptly that we cannot tell how he intended to treat her love-story; here, it plays a considerable part in the development of the poem.

Page 77, line 147—'Now the hour it was come.' The account of the feast here given is very interesting from the light it throws on mediæval manners and customs. In those days it was very usual for two to eat from one plate, in fact, this was one of the rules of the Knights Templars; the reason assigned being that one brother might care for the other, and all share alike (cf. Feast at Monsalväsch, Book V. p. 136). On great occasions the principal guests seem to have had ladies assigned to them as their table companions (cf. Book VI. p. 178). One would gather from this passage, and that in Book VI., that the lady of highest rank had the hostess for companion, thus we find Arnivé eating with Orgelusé, and Guinevere having a queen (probably Ekuba) for companion; while Kunnewaare is Arthur's table-mate, as here Itonjé is Gawain's.

Page 78, line 180—'Ne'er was it night in her presence.' Cf. Book II. p. 48.

Page 79, line 194—'Thuringia.' San Marte remarks on this passage that at this[Pg 212] period music and song invariably went together, the one was necessary to the complete understanding of the other; separately, they were unintelligible. In many instances the lyrical poems of the day were wedded to dance music, the flowing graceful rhythm of which made it an appropriate vehicle for the illustration of poetry. The Thuringian Court being the centre of the literary life of the time many of these dances would naturally originate there; though it must not be supposed that dances without the accompaniment of song were not also known.

Page 81, line 262—'Kancor, and Thèbit, and Trebuchet.' San Marte says that Thèbit is Thabet Ben Korka, a famous Arabic physician, mathematician, and philosopher of the ninth century. Kancor is probably Kenkeh, an astronomer and physician of the same period. Trebuchet has been mentioned before. Cf. Book V. p. 144 and Note.

Page 81, 279—''Twas yet in the early morning.' Chrêtien gives no account of the delivery of the squire's message, but simply states that he finds Arthur and his knights plunged in grief at the prolonged absence of Gawain, and then breaks off abruptly in the middle of a sentence before they have learnt of his safety. From this point onward Wolfram's version is entirely independent of the Conte del Graal, but his poem shows no dislocation or contradiction, such as one would expect would have been the case had he been following a source that suddenly failed him; on the contrary, there is a far more complete harmony between all the parts of Wolfram's poem than we find in any other Romance of the cycle.

Page 82, lines 301-10—'Meljanz de Lys.' Cf. Book VIII. p. 239, and Introduction to Book X. and Note. If there was no account of Gawain's intermediate adventures Wolfram is evidently anxious to make his hearers believe in the existence of such a record, by means of well-timed and appropriate allusions. The fact that the combat was to be in the presence of Meljanz de Lys is only casually mentioned in Book VIII. For the allusions to Kunnewaare, Jeschuté, and Ekuba cf. closing pages of Book VI. with the account of the dispersal of the company at Plimizöl. The whole passage is a proof of the care with which the poem has been constructed, and the details brought into harmony with each other.

Page 83, line 339—'Brought he news of some gallant venture?' Cf. Book VI. p. 176 and Note.

Page 87-88, lines 466-506—'His doings, Sir Knight, I to thee will tell.' This history of the magician Klingsor, as noted in Book X., is found in Wolfram only, and the indications seem to point to a French source. Terre de Labûr is undoubtedly a French rendering of Terra di Lavoro, in Calabria. Kalot Enbolot is Kalota-Belota, a fortress on the south-eastern coast of Sicily, well known in the days of the Hohenstauffen. This location of Klingsor's kingdom in Southern Italy may have been introduced in order to lend a colour to his supposed relationship to Virgil, who by the twelfth century was firmly established in popular belief as a magician. The name Iblis, Bartsch refers to the Sicilian town Hybla; Ibert may be a form of the French Guibert. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that in the lord of the Château Merveil, wounded as a punishment of unlawful love, we have a parallel to the King of Monsalväsch, whose wound is due to a similar cause. (A reference to the original German will show how close this resemblance is); as mentioned before, it seems to be a parallel, rather than a contrast, which Wolfram intended to draw between his two heroes. It may well be that in the original version of the story from which both Chrêtien's and Wolfram's poems are derived the Gawain episodes were unfinished, and that in their original form Gawain, too, was brought to the Grail Castle, but to regard them as unfinished here seems a clear misunderstanding of the meaning of the poem. We are distinctly given to understand (p. 97, line 780) that Gawain's lot in life is finally settled, the Grail Quest, which was originally in the Gawain[Pg 213] story, has been quietly dropped, and this adventure of the Château Merveil has taken its place; an alteration which artistically can only be considered an improvement, as it clearly marks Gawain's position as secondary to Parzival. Whether the story of Klingsor was introduced for the purpose of emphasizing the parallel between Monsalväsch and Château Merveil it is difficult to say. Certainly, the incident of Parzival's missing the adventure of the Magic Castle, as he did that of Monsalväsch, by failing to ask the question must, as noted above, be due to this idea. With the end of this book Gawain's adventures are practically concluded; Wolfram promptly clears the stage for the winding-up of the history of his real hero, Parzival, by bringing the two knights into contact, when Gawain is naturally worsted, and takes the second place. Whether it be due to Wolfram or to his source, it is certain that the Parzival is far simpler in construction than the majority of the Grail Romances, in which the adventures of various heroes succeed each other with such bewildering rapidity and similarity of incident that it is difficult to tell who is the real hero of the tale!

Page 89, line 519—'A child was born of a mother.' A well-known mediæval riddle, which Wolfram might easily have derived from a German source.

Page 90, line 531—'Of joy had I once full measure.' It is somewhat curious that in Chrêtien Gawain eulogizes Guinevere in similar terms. It rather looks as if the original passage had been the same in both instances, though it would be difficult to tell to which queen it originally referred.

Page 91, line 566—'Maurin.' This name occurs in the Lancelot of Ulrich von Zatzikhoven, from which it was probably borrowed.

Page 92, line 601 and seq.—'And either side had suffered.' Garel and Gaherjet: cf. Note to Book XII. Iofreit, son of Idol: cf. Book V. p. 155 and Note. Though this character only plays an unimportant part in the poem, he is yet very frequently mentioned, it may be that in the original French source he was more prominent. Friam is probably the same name as Urian, in Book X. Vermandois and Nevers point to a French origin.

Page 94, line 658—'Save the tent of Eisenhart only.' Cf. Book I. p. 16 and Note. Tents seem to have been favourite love-gifts at this time, note the Booth in Books XI. and XII. given by Anfortas to Orgelusé, and, as we know from Willehalm, sent to that king in the first instance by Sekundillé.

Page 96, line 733—'Meljanz of Lys.' How Meljanz of Lys came to be there is not explained. It is worthy of note that in Book VII. we find the King of Lirivoin fighting against Meljanz, and taken captive by Parzival; here the men of Lirivoin are evidently on the same side.

Page 97, line 763—'The wounds of Kay had been healed.' Cf. Book VI. p. 169 and Note to Book III.

Page 99. line 819—'A knight his bridle drew.' This knight is, of course, Parzival, though how he came to be there is not explained. In the Conte del Graal Perceval does not appear on the scene for some time, and passes through a variety of wild and fantastic adventures before finally winning the Grail. The poem, as we possess it, is more than twice as long as Wolfram's.

[With reference to the Klingsor and Iblis story, it is noteworthy that Chrêtien's first continuator relates a long story of King Carduel of Nantes and his reputed son Carados. The wife of King Carduel is beloved by a magician, Garahiet, who is in truth the father of Carados. The latter grows to manhood and goes to King Arthur's court to receive knighthood, there a stranger knight appears and offers to allow his head to be cut off provided the knight who accepts the challenge will submit to the same ordeal a year later. Carados accepts, and strikes off the head of the knight who[Pg 214] picks it up and walks off. Returning after a year he finds Carados ready to fulfil his part of the bargain, and then acquaints him with the fact that he, and not Carduel, is in truth his father. Carados returns to the court of Carduel and tells him what he has learnt from the magician; the king in anger imprisons his wife in a tower; she is nevertheless still visited by her lover, whom the king eventually surprises and punishes in a manner appropriate to his crime. This story, in its outline, appears to be the basis of the Klingsor and Iblis episode, but it has been very freely handled by the compiler, and, as suggested above, not improbably altered so as to draw out the parallel between Klingsor and Anfortas.

A feature of importance in this connection is that the episode of Carados and his magician father, a most famous story of the Arthurian cycle, is elsewhere invariably associated with Gawain; e.g. in the well-known Middle-English poem of 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,' and it is difficult to understand why, in a part of the poem specially devoted to the adventures of this knight, the French poet should have attributed this, one of his greatest and most famous feats, to another hero.

Here again we find a parallel in Irish literature; in the 'Fled Bricrend,' Bricriu's feast, the feat by which Cuchulainn establishes his claim to be regarded as the chief Ulster hero is precisely this one; though the French poem in making the magician the father of the hero seems to have retained an archaic trait which has disappeared from the, in point of redaction, centuries older Irish story. But from other Irish stories we know that Cuchulainn was the son of a god who is sometimes represented as carrying off the mortal mother to his fairy home, sometimes as visiting her in animal shape.

The foregoing facts warrant, I think, the conclusion that Gawain originally occupied in the Brythonic hero-saga of Arthur much the same position as Cuchulainn in the Goidelic hero-saga of Conchobor, both being par excellence the adventurous hero. Both, too, it should be noted, are sister's son to the king of the cycle; the same position being occupied by Diarmaid, the adventurous hero of the Finn or Ossianic cycle.

The nature of the connection between these cycles of romantic legend cannot be dealt with here. It is sufficient to show that in the French Arthurian poems of the twelfth century (which in one form or another undoubtedly form the basis of the Parzival) we have piecings together of originally disconnected narratives about separate heroes, many of which are found in more archaic form in the stories told of the Irish hero Cuchulainn and his compeers. In the process of piecing together, adjusting to the genealogical requirements of the cycle and to the social conceptions and literary modes of the twelfth century, the early Celtic narratives suffered sadly as far as order and significance are concerned, though gaining immensely in other respects. The changes are of course greatest where such far-reaching new ideas as the symbolical representation of Christian doctrine, or the exemplification of lady-service, affect the original narrative.—Alfred Nutt.]


Page 103, line 13—'From Monsalväsch they came, the chargers.' This fact that both Parzival and Gawain are riding Grail steeds is constantly insisted upon by Wolfram, and may be intended to emphasise the parallel obviously drawn between the two heroes. It does not seem very clear why Gawain, who here has nothing to do with Monsalväsch, should ride a Grail steed; if Wolfram took over the fact from his French source it may, perhaps, be a survival of Gawain's original connection with the Grail Castle, which, as noted above, has been dropped out of the German poem. The history of Gawain's[Pg 215] charger has been told more than once, cf. Book VII. p. 196 and Book IX. p. 272. Parzival's horse is, of course, the one ridden by the Grail knight, cf. Book IX. p. 258.

Page 104, line 38—'Poinzacleins.' Bartsch considers that the name of this river points to a French source, and indicates the sloping nature of its banks, the old French word for which would be aclins, Provençal aclis.

Page 105, line 52—'Punt, the water-locked city.' Punt = pont = bridge; German Brücke or Brügge. The name of this town is decidedly suggestive of Bruges, and considering the fact that Chrêtien confessedly derived his version of the story from a book given to him by the Count of Flanders, the frequent allusions throughout the poem to men of 'Punturtois' should not be ignored.

Page 105, line 57—'Count Bernard of Riviers.' A name of undoubtedly French origin. His father, Count Narant, has been mentioned in Book IV. p. 119. Uckerland is probably a misunderstanding for Outre-land.

Page 105, line 74—'Ecidemon-woven.' This is a curious passage, as we are distinctly told in Book XV. p. 136 that Ecidemon is an animal; and as such it is named in Book IX. p. 276 among the list of poisonous serpents. As we hear in Book XV. p. 136 that Salamanders wove the robe of Feirefis it is possible that the same power was ascribed to the Ecidemon. But the passage is somewhat ambiguous, and here a country, and not an animal, may be meant.

Page 107, line 127 and seq.—'Killicrates.' This name is of distinctly Greek origin. We find in Book XV. p. 154 that he was King of Centrium (which Bartsch identifies with the land of the Centaurs), and one of the princes conquered by Feirefis. In the same list of names we find Kalomedenté and Ipopotiticon; according to Bartsch the former name is a compound of Kálamos, and signifies Reed-land; the latter he suggests may be a variation of Hyperponticon, the land beyond the Pontus. Agatyrsjenté may perhaps be the same as Assigarzionté mentioned in Book XV. p. 136, as famous for its silks. 'Akraton,' cf. Book VIII. p. 230.

Page 108, line 150—'He cast from his hand his weapon.' It is worth remarking how strongly Wolfram insists on this tie of brotherhood, both of arms, as here, and of blood, as in Book XV. To fight with one closely related by friendship, or one near of kin, is in his eyes a sin against one's self, one's own personality. Other writers of the cycle do not seem to consider such a combat, provided it were not to death, in so serious a light. The etiquette connected with the naming themselves by the knights should be noted; it was the right of the victor to demand the name of the vanquished. Here, Parzival has heard Gawain's name from the pages, and therefore makes no objection to revealing himself; in the next Book when Feirefis asks his name he refuses to give it, the combat between them is practically undecided, and he will not admit Feirefis's right to put the question. That Feirefis names himself is an act of courtesy on his part. This unwillingness to name themselves was probably originally connected with the idea of the identity of name and person—once so universal; to this day the superstition that it is unlucky to mention the name of a person exists among certain races, and circumlocution and nicknames are employed to avoid the necessity for disclosing the real appellation of the individual referred to.

Page 110, line 237—'In wrath spake the lips of Bené.' We have already been told in Book X. p. 24, that the Ferryman, Bené's father, was of knightly birth, but it seems strange to find her addressing so powerful a monarch as King Gramoflanz in such discourteous terms. As noted before, the character of Bené and the part she plays are peculiar to Wolfram's version, and difficult of explanation.

Page 113, line 325—'Yet, Sire, when I saw thee last.' Cf. Book VI. p. 179, and Book XV. p. 158. Nevertheless, the other knights do not seem in any way to have held Parzival[Pg 216] as really dishonoured; they receive and welcome him as one of their body, though he has not won the Grail, nor, so far, apparently expiated his sin in failing to put the question.

Page 114, line 339—'He should eat without on the meadow.' Cf. Book V. p. 154.

Page 115, line 402—'Did women with wealth o'erburdened,' etc. That gifts of armour and warlike trappings were usual on the part of the lady is evident from many passages, cf. Book II. p. 47 and Book XV. pp. 139, 147, 155.

Page 117, line 460—'Affinamus of Clitiers.' This knight has not been named before. The same name occurs in the list of princes overcome by Feirefis, Book XV. p. 154, but it is evidently a different individual. Bartsch suggests that the name is of Greek origin, Clitiers being derived from Clitorium.

Page 117, line 467—'Then out spake King Lot's son gaily.' Cf. p. 110, line 225.

Page 120, line 543—'Thy sister Surdamur.' Cf. Note to Book XII.

Page 121, line 587—'Now greeting to whom I owe greeting.' Bartsch remarks that this love-letter and that addressed by Anflisé to Gamuret, Book II. p. 44, are specially interesting as being almost the oldest specimens of love-letters in German literature.

Page 124, line 675—'Beau-corps.' Cf. Book VI. p. 183. From the passage on p. 114 it would seem as if Gawain had other brothers, as in most stories of the cycle he has, but Wolfram mentions none but Beau-corps.

Page 129, line 830 and seq.—'Arthur gave maid Itonjé.' It has been suggested that here Wolfram is indulging in sly mockery at the many weddings which, as a rule, wound up the mediæval romances. In the original tales the whole character of King Arthur and his court was far less stamped with the rigid morality we have learned to associate with them, and the somewhat indiscriminate promotion of love-affairs and marriages (cf. Book XV. p. 157) is quite in keeping with what we elsewhere read of the king. (See note to Book X. p. 204, for Mr. Nutt's remarks on the marriage of Gawain being celebrated at the Château Merveil, instead of at court.)

Page 130, line 869—'But Parzival, he bethought him,' etc. It cannot be too strongly insisted upon that this presentment of Parzival as a married man, and absolutely faithful to his wife is quite peculiar to Wolfram's version of the story. Whether it is entirely due to the German poet we cannot now tell, but we meet with such constant instances of Wolfram's sense of the sanctity of the marriage vow, and the superiority of lawful, over unlawful, love, it seems most probable that it is to his genius we owe this, the most beautiful feature of the story. There is nothing answering to it either in Chrêtien or his continuators, although in Gerbert the hero's successive failures are declared to be due to his forsaking Blanchefleur.


Page 135, line 22—'His armour a knight displayed.' The riches of Feirefis and his costly raiment are dwelt upon at such length that one suspects that the aim of the poet was to exalt the importance of the House of Anjou; of which Feirefis, rather than Parzival, must here be considered the representative.

Page 136, line 31—'Agremontein.' Cf. Book IX. p. 284.

Page 136, line 42—'Thopedissimonté,' etc. This place has not been named before, and critics have not identified it with any known name. Assigarzionté may, as suggested in Note to Book XIV., be the same as Agatyrsjenté. Thasmé we already know, Book XIII. p. 74 and Note.

Page 137, line 59—'Parzival rode not lonely.' The expression of an idea which seems to be a favourite one with Wolfram, cf. Book V. p. 139 and Book VIII. 242.

[Pg 217]

Page 137, line 81—'As the lion-cub,' etc. This fable, a belief in which was general in the Middle Ages, is also mentioned by Wolfram in his Willehalm.

Page 139, line 120—'My brother and I are one body,' etc. As remarked before, Wolfram has an extremely high idea of the binding nature of family relationships, cf. Book III. p. 97 and further on p. 145.

Page 139, line 121—'Asbestos.' Cf. Book IX. p. 281.

Page 139, line 138—'Kaukasus.' It is rather curious to find Sekundillé associated with Kaukasus, as we are elsewhere told that she was queen of Tribalibot, i.e. India. In Book X. p. 11 we are told that she had golden mountains in her kingdom, which may have suggested the connection.

Page 140, line 155—'And the other, the precious jewels,' etc. It has already been remarked (Note to Book IX.) that the attribution of strengthening virtue to precious stones, and the prominence given to them throughout the poem, is a special feature of the Parzival. In the next book we meet with a remarkable instance of this peculiarity.

Page 140, line 161—'Kardeiss and Lohengrin.' This is the first intimation we have of the existence of Parzival's sons; from Kondrie's speech on p. 159, he seems himself to have been unaware of their birth. We hear of Parzival sending the knights conquered by him to yield themselves captives to Kondwiramur (Book VII. p. 220 and Book VIII. p. 243), and she, therefore, would be in some degree aware of her husband's movements during the five years of separation; but we have no indication of his having received any message from her; and from the wandering life he led during these years (cf. Introduction to Book IX.), and the fact that he had no squire in attendance who could act as go-between, it seems most probable that Parzival heard nothing of his wife throughout the entire time—a fact which makes his fidelity to her even more striking. Kardeiss was doubtless named after his mother's brother, whose death is referred to in Book VI. p. 167. Lohengrin, or as the name stands in the original, with an additional syllable, Loherangrin, has been derived from Lothringen, the German form Lorraine. If so, this may indicate the source of the story of the Swan-knight, which did not, of course, originally belong to the Grail legend.

Page 140, line 170—'Pelrapär!' seq. It is very curious that though Wolfram emphasizes the fact (p. 139) that Parzival had regained his faith in God, yet it is not this faith which stands him in good stead in the hour of his greatest peril; neither is it his devotion to the Grail; but it is his loyal love for, and fidelity to, his wife that proves his salvation. If the aim of the poem were, as some critics contend, a purely religious one, then we should surely find that at the crucial moment of the hero's career religion, and not Love, would be the saving power. As it is, Parzival's words to Gawain, Book VI. p. 188, are abundantly borne out, and it is his wife, and no heavenly power, that acts as Guardian Angel. (The lines 170-71 are not of course to be taken literally, 'o'er kingdoms four' is used in other old German poems as equivalent for 'a great distance.' It is not to be supposed that Kondwiramur was in any sense, even mystically, aware of her husband's danger, though doubtless it is the conviction that her love for him is as steadfast as his for her that strengthens his arm.) Throughout this conflict between the two brothers it is love, in the twelfth century form of Minne-Dienst, which is regarded as the animating power on either side; though the fact that they are respectively Christian and heathen is insisted on by the poet, yet we do not find the conflict regarded as a struggle between the two religions, nor any sign given of the superiority of the God of the Christian to the heathen deities, in fact the same Divine Power is invoked to shield them both (p. 139). It certainly seems here as if the knightly interpretation had, in a great measure, overborne the ethical. That there was an ethical signification attached to the episode seems evident, not only from the fact that this conflict with Feirefis, whose peculiar parti-coloured appearance recalls so strongly the contrast between Doubt and Faith, drawn in the Introduction, is the last stage[Pg 218] in Parzival's long expiation; but also from the fact of the breaking of Ither of Gaheviess' sword, of which special mention is made in lines 173 and seq. The poet evidently intends us to regard this as a token that Parzival's youthful sins have been atoned for, and there seems little doubt that the incident was introduced here for that purpose. That the sword here broken was originally the Grail sword, and that the change was made by Wolfram from the difficulty of reconciling that fact with previous statements (cf. Book IX. p. 252), as Simrock suggests, is most improbable, there would have been no reason for the Grail Sword breaking in this rather than in any other combat (accepting Chrêtien's statement that the sword would break only in one peril; it had withstood considerably more than one blow), quite the contrary, as here Parzival is practically the Grail champion; but there is a deep significance in this shattering of the last token of the headstrong folly of his youth. It seems most probable that Wolfram found this incident in his source; and that the original meaning of the combat was to depict the last desperate struggle of the soul with Doubt, wherein by steadfast resistance (absolute conquest is not at once to be looked for) the sins of the past are wiped out, and the soul becomes finally worthy of reward.

Page 141, line 195—'Thro' fear shall I tell my name?' Cf. Note to Book XIV. The courteous and knightly bearing of Feirefis, both here and on p. 142, should be noted. In everything but faith he is quite the equal of his Christian brother; indeed it must be admitted that, compared with either Feirefis or Gawain, Parzival gives the impression of being a much less courtly and polished figure. His character seems stamped throughout with a rugged simplicity and directness, quite in keeping with what we are told of his wild and lonely youth. It is noticeable, too, how very little, comparatively speaking, Parzival says; though all the speeches put into his mouth have an earnestness and depth of feeling which we do not find in the much more frequent utterances of Gawain. Wolfram's tolerant treatment of heathen, generally, has often been a subject of remark by critics; and, with regard to Feirefis, the number of allusions to him which the Willehalm contains lead one to the conclusion that this character, in particular, was a favourite with the poet.

Page 141, line 202—'How shall "Angevin" be thy title?' The reader will probably by this time have noticed that, King of Anjou as Parzival is, he is never called an Angevin, but is invariably referred to as a 'Waleis,' his mother's country. It is his mother's kingdoms of which he has been deprived (cf. Book III. pp. 73, 80, 87), and this is really the first indication we have that he knows himself to be also lord of Anjou. Gamuret is alluded to, and gives his name as, Gamuret Angevin; Feirefis, is always Feirefis Angevin; but Parzival, the hero of the story and the real glory of his house, is not an Angevin but a 'Waleis.' This shows clearly that the Angevin element formed no part of the original Perceval legend, but that it has been grafted on to a previously existing Celtic basis.

Page 141, line 205—'Béalzenan.' Cf. Book V. p. 147 and Note.

Page 142, line 230—'As written parchment.' Ekuba did not say this in Wolfram's version, cf. Book VI. p. 186, possibly the simile was in the French source and has been dropped out. It is a curious idea to occur to a man who, like Wolfram, could not write; and it is also a curious speech to put into the mouth of one who, like Parzival, had been brought up in the desert, and deprived of the ordinary training due to his rank.

Page 143, line 241—'Blest be Juno,' etc. This ascription of Latin gods and goddesses to all the non-Christian races was not unusual in the Middle Ages; Apollo was the god most commonly thus transferred. It is rather curious though to find the mistake made in a poem so obviously tinged by Oriental influences as the Parzival. Wolfram, too, seems to have known that the Saracens had other gods, in Willehalm he names as such Apollo, Mahmet, and Tervigant.

Page 144, line 275—'When King Eisenhart's life was run.' Cf. Book I. p. 28.

Page 144, line 294—'Till King Ipomidon.' Cf. Book II. p. 59.

[Pg 219]

Page 146, line 353—'From Château Merveil,' etc. Cf. Book XII. p. 53.

Page 147, line 377—'Saranthasmé.' Cf. Book XIII. p. 74 and note.

Page 149, line 458—'Wizsant.' A haven on the coast of France, near Boulogne, much frequented at that time. Writers of the period frequently allude to it.

Page 153, line 583 and seq., page 154, line 615 and seq. The list of kings conquered by Feirefis and Parzival contain some very perplexing names, the originals of which have evidently been corrupted in process of transmission from one language to another. Bartsch, who has devoted considerable time to the study of the proper names in the Parzival, has endeavoured, with varying success, to identify the majority; and the following suggestions are taken from his article on the subject, already quoted in Appendix B, of vol. i.

In the first list, that of the princes conquered by Feirefis, names of Greek origin are of frequent occurrence; thus Papirus of Trogodjenté, Bartsch identifies as the king of the Troglodytæ; Liddamus of Agrippé was originally Laodamus of Agrippias; Tinodent, the island of Tenedos; Milon is, of course, a well-known Greek name, as is Kallicrates, here Killicrates, Filones of Hiberborticon is the Greek Philon; and it may be taken as a general rule that all the names ending in on, in this list, may be traced more or less directly to a Greek source. Possizonjus is a version of Poseidonios (having probably passed through a Latin medium); Atropfagenté is the land of the Androphagi, or Anthropophagi; Acheinor is the Greek Archenor.

In the list of the heroes conquered by Parzival we have, on the contrary, few classical names; Jeropleis, i.e. Hieropolis, seems to be almost the only example. The majority of the names appear to be of Romance origin, or at least to have passed through a Romance source. Thus Mirabel, the name of a place in Southern France, and Serabel, here the ending bel indicates the French origin; Villegarunz is the Prov. Villagrana; Jovedast of Arles, a Provençal, proclaims his own nationality.

It is probably no accident that this majority of classical names appear in the first list, that of Feirefis, since, as noted above, Greeks and Romans alike were classed by the mediæval writers as heathens, and they would see nothing incorrect in giving Saracens classical names, in the same way as they provided them with classical deities.

Page 154, line 608—'Olympia and Klauditté.' Here again we find the names of the three queens beloved by Feirefis of distinctly classical origin: Klauditté being a French derivation from Claudia. Sekundillé is the only queen of whom we hear elsewhere, the other two are mentioned by name only.

Page 155, line 643—'Heraclius or Hercules.' Heracles was the hero of a German poem of the twelfth century, which attributes to him a knowledge of the properties of precious stones. The Alexander here referred to is Alexander the Great; not the lover of Surdamur, mentioned in Books XII. and XIV. (cf. note to XII.)

Page 156, line 664—'Drianthasmé.' Apparently a combination of Triande and Thasmé, cf. Book XIII. p. 74.

Page 158, line 723—'With turtle-doves, all shining.' Kondrie does not seem to have borne the badge of the Grail on her first visit (Book VI. p. 177); this, her second appearance, seems to bear more of an official character.

Page 158, line 741—'Without a kiss.' A kiss was the customary sign and seal of forgiveness (cf. Book V. 151, 152; Book VI. 177; Book XIV. 129), but Kondrie is fully aware of her repulsive appearance, and would, therefore, release Parzival from the fulfilment of a distasteful duty. It must be noted that, throughout the poem, Kondrie is in no sense represented as a malicious character. Her brother, Malcréature, on the contrary, seems to have been thoroughly evil-disposed, cf. Book X. p. 12.

Page 159, line 767—'Now rejoice with a humble heart.' Kondrie's announcement to[Pg 220] Parzival appears, in some points, to be a direct contradiction of what we have already been told with regard to the promised healing of Anfortas. In Book IX. p. 278, Trevrezent distinctly says that the question must be asked on the first night of the visit to the Castle; that no warning must be previously given; and that if the knight fulfils these conditions, then, and then only, will he become king of the Grail. Now Parzival apparently traverses all these conditions, he omits to ask the question on his first visit, he is told of the sin he has thereby committed, and on this, his second visit, is made well aware of what is expected of him (cf. lines 774 and seq.), while the Grail announces him as king before he has asked the question. It is true that no one tells him the exact words in which he is to put the query, but Parzival is well aware that he is to ask Anfortas the cause of his anguish, and it scarcely seems likely that the virtue of the question depends upon the form in which it is put. Are we to consider from Trevrezent's words, Book XVI. p. 171, that Parzival's valour and steadfastness of purpose have wrought a change in the Divine Counsels, and that the bliss which he had in his folly forfeited is to be granted to him on his fulfilment of the spirit of the Grail conditions, the fulfilment of the letter being dispensed with? The question is a perplexing one, and difficult to solve satisfactorily.

Page 160, line 779—'Seven stars did she name unto him.' The introduction of these Arabic names is decidedly curious in view of Wolfram's emphatic statement that the origin of the Parzival was an Arabic MS., though Bartsch remarks that the names in question were not necessarily derived from the source, there being still extant a German astronomical poem of the twelfth century which contains a number of Arabic names. Still it is strange that Wolfram's version should be as close as it is to the original form of the words, thus Zevâl is the Arabic Zuhal, Saturn; Almustri, El-musteri, Jupiter; Almaret, El-mirrêk, Mars; Samsi, Shams, the Sun; Alligafir and Alkamer cannot be exactly identified with the remaining two planets, Venus and Mercury, but seem to represent rather the names of two constellations, respectively called El-gafir and El-kidr. Alkamer is the moon, Arabic El-kamer.

Page 160, line 799—'If thou speakest, Lady.' The humility of this speech of Parzival's, contrasted with the indignant outbreak of wounded pride in Book VI. pp. 187, 188, is the most decisive proof which the poem affords of the spiritual change which has passed over him, and of his fitness to become king of the Grail, a blessing which Anfortas has forfeited through lack of humility (cf. Book IX. p. 272 and Book XVI. p. 182).

Page 161, line 817—'From the bright eyes of Orgelusé.' Cf. Book XII. p. 65.

Page 162, line 861—'Triant.' Cf. Book XIII. p. 74. Nouriente = von ourient, i.e. Orient.


Page 165, line 5, and seq.—'Then he spake to the knights of Monsalväsch.' Those readers who are familiar with Wagner's Parzival will see in this speech of Anfortas to the knights, and his attempt to win death for himself by shutting his eyes to the Grail, the germ of the scene in the Grail Temple in Act III. of the Drama. It will be noted that here Anfortas does not injure any one but himself by this attempt at self-destruction. Titurel is still alive, cf. p. 178. It is noteworthy that the knights still await the advent of the promised Healer; though, as we gather from Trevrezent's speech, Book IX. p. 278, 'The knight, he hath come, and hath left us,' they were aware that Parzival was he, and had failed to fulfil his mission.

[Pg 221]

Page 166, line 49—'Teriak.' Cf. Book IX. p. 278, Ambra=Amber.

Page 167, line 67, and seq.—'Carbuncle and Balas ruby,' etc. It has before been remarked that the belief in the virtue of precious stones was very real and very general in the Middle Ages. Similar lists are given by various writers, Albertus Magnus among them; and San Marte remarks that, if this list is compared with mediæval writings, it will be found that the names have not been put together in a haphazard fashion, but that the special virtue ascribed to each stone has a direct bearing on Anfortas' sufferings. Jewels, in the strict sense of the term, these stones are not exclusively, e.g. we find Asbestos and Pyrites among the list; the expression 'precious stones' was freely construed in those days. The Latin equivalent of all these names can be found in writings of the period, but it would scarcely be interesting to give a minute description and identification.

Page 169, line 119—'And e'en as was there the custom.' Cf. Book V. p. 132.

Page 169, line 130—'O'er-long have I waited.' Anfortas' speech to Parzival is curious; some critics have opined that he alone was not aware of the lately read Grail writing, and of Parzival's election to the Grail kingdom, and was, therefore, in doubt as to whether or not he was the destined Deliverer. But, if that were the case, how did he come not only to know Parzival's name, but to lay such stress upon it ('If Parzival men shall call thee, then, etc.'), i.e. 'If thou art indeed the chosen ruler of these knights, then exercise thine authority on my behalf.' We learn from Book IX. p. 271, that the name of the elect knights appeared on the Grail. If Anfortas had learnt it from Trevrezent, the only other source of information he could have had, he would have had no doubt of the identity of the promised Deliverer with the knight who had already paid an abortive visit to the Castle; as it is, he recognises him at once, but is in doubt whether he is the 'Parzival' named by the Grail. The meaning of his speech seems to be that Anfortas was unaware how far Parzival himself was acquainted with the rôle assigned to him, and feared to transgress the Grail's commandment, and risk the promised healing by saying too much.

Page 169, line 141—'Now say where the Grail It lieth?' It is remarkable that though Parzival is well aware of the nature of the question which he is to put to Anfortas, and of the happy results which will follow (p. 159), yet he fully realises that this healing can only be brought about by the blessing of God; it is as God's Messenger, and not in his own power, that he speaks. He feels himself, and wishes the knights to regard him, merely as the instrument in God's hand; there is no trace of self-assertion or presumption in his action, the grace of humility has been fully won. The beautiful touch in lines 155-56 seems to show that to Anfortas, also, the long ordeal issued in distinct spiritual gain. It is worth noting that, from this point onwards, Anfortas is spoken of as a knight in the prime of life, worthy to be compared in skill and prowess with his nephew, Parzival, and excelling him in physical beauty; whereas Trevrezent, who was considerably the younger (cf. Book IX. p. 275), is always spoken of as an old man. This is, of course, due to the youth-preserving powers of the Grail (cf. Book IX. p. 270), so Répanse-de-Schoie, who had been in the service of the Grail from her childhood, would have retained the appearance of a young girl, and there is nothing surprising, therefore, in Feirefis becoming enamoured of her beauty.

Page 178, line 147—'By the mouth of His saint, Sylvester.' An allusion to a well-known story told of S. Sylvester; how when he was defending Christianity against a Jew, in the presence of the Emperor Constantine, he restored to life, by the invocation of Christ, a steer which the Jew had slain by whispering the most Holy Name into its ear, but had failed to revivify by the same means.

Page 170, line 168—'The wood when they fought of old.' Cf. Book VI. p. 160 and seq. This reunion of Parzival and Kondwiramur on the very spot where he had been over[Pg 222]come by the mystic love-trance is a most poetical feature of Wolfram's version, and one found nowhere else.

Page 171, line 183—'Greater marvel I ne'er may see.' Cf. Book IX. p. 267. This passage, with its practical unsaying of much that Trevrezent has said in Book IX., is extremely difficult of explanation. That there is a distinct discrepancy, not to say contradiction, between the statements of Book IX. and those of Book XVI. is undoubtedly the fact; the most probable solution appears to be that suggested in Excursus C at p. 194 of this volume; i.e. the original interpretation, that of Kiot, was purely religious, and it was that which Wolfram in Book IX. was mainly following; he himself, however, had grafted another meaning on to that originally suggested, that of salvation by fidelity to the knightly ideal, the power of the unverzagter mannes muot. By the time Wolfram had reached the end of the poem, he found that his interpretation had dominated that of Kiot, he had practically made Parzival do that which Trevrezent says is impossible ('Wouldst thou force thy God with thine anger?' Book IX. p. 267. 'Thou by thy wrath hast won blessing'), and this passage seems to be an attempt to harmonise these two conflicting ideas. It is certainly not easy of interpretation, for on the face of it, while Trevrezent is asserting the unchanging nature of God's decrees, as illustrated by the history of the rebel angels, he is also implying that Parzival himself has been the object of special and peculiar favour on the part of the Deity, and that the foreordained course of events has in his case been at least modified.

Page 172, line 213—'Duke Kiot of Katelangen.' Cf. Book IV. p. 107, and Book IX. p. 274.

Page 174, line 277—'When many a year had flown.' This is the only indication we have of the eventual recovery of Parzival's inheritance. From the emphasis laid upon the episode in Book III. one would have expected to find Parzival himself making some effort for the recovery of his kingdoms, but he never seems to have done so (cf. Notes to Book III. pp. 308, 309).

Page 174, line 302—'Schoysiané, the dead maid's mother.' In Wolfram's poem, Titurel, we find exactly the reverse of this statement; i.e. Siguné, whose mother died at her birth (as we are repeatedly told), was given into the care of the mother of Kondwiramur, and the two children were brought up together till Siguné was five years old, when Herzeleide persuaded Duke Kiot to transfer his daughter to her charge. How this discrepancy arose is not clear; Wolfram may perhaps have forgotten what he had said in Titurel, or he may have followed his French source.

Page 174. line 306—'Nor my tale like the bow shall be bended.' Cf. Book V. p. 137.

Page 175, line 310—'A Templar of Patrigalt.' Cf. Book II. p. 39.

Page 175, line 319—'Garschiloie of Greenland.' Cf. Book V. p. 144. Greenland here is not to be understood as the Greenland we know, but as part of Norway. The Grail maidens have not been individually named before, though the Countess of Tenabroc and the daughter of Jernis were mentioned in Book V. pp. 133, 134. Florie of Lünel may be the daughter of the Count of Nonel named in conjunction with Jernis.

Page 177, line 373—'Claret, Morass, or Sinopel.' Morass seems to have been a wine made from mulberries; Sinopel, wine mixed with sweet syrups.

Page 178, line 411—'The Tourney hath fashions five.' Cf. Note to Book II. 'The Tourney.'

Page 178, line 434—'If he be a heathen.' This inability of the unbaptized to behold the Grail, and the renewal of the power of the stone every Good Friday are the two most direct proofs of the Christian nature of the Talisman to be found in the poem. As remarked in Note to Book IX., Wolfram never seems really to connect the Grail with the Passion of our Lord.

[Pg 223]

Page 179, line 441—'If I, for your sake, be baptizèd.' It should be noted that Feirefis is not in the least influenced by any religious motive in seeking Baptism; throughout, as in the combat with Parzival in Book XV., it is Love that is his guiding impulse.

Page 181, line 501—'God is Man,' etc. Cf. p. 171 where Trevrezent makes use of exactly the same words.

Page 181, line 506—'Each tree from the water draweth,' etc. This and the following lines are inscribed on the fountain erected in 1860 to the memory of the poet, in the market-place of Ober-Eschenbach.

Page 182, line 526—'The Templar whom God henceforward.' In the face of the antiquity of the Swan-knight legend, it is impossible to regard this as more than an ingenious attempt on the part either of Wolfram or of his French authority to account for Lohengrin's prohibition of the question, cf. Note on 'Lohengrin.'

Page 183, line 562—'Anfortas, he sent a message.' Cf. Book IX. p. 285.

Page 183, line 566—'Lœhprisein,' Book VIII. and Note. 'Lœhtamreis,' Book XII. and Note.

Page 183, line 580—'Camelot.' This is the only mention in this poem of the town so well known in other versions of the Arthurian legend.

Page 184, line 589—'Prester John.' The belief in a Christian kingdom in the East, ruled over by a king who was at the same time a priest was very widely spread in the Middle Ages, but it is very curious to find it thus connected with the Grail legend. Simrock takes this connection to be a confirmation of his theory, that the Grail myth was originally closely connected with St. John the Baptist. According to Der jüngere Titurel, a poem which, professedly written by Wolfram and long supposed to be his, is now known to be the work of a certain Albert von Scharffenburg, the Grail with its guardians, Parzival, Lohengrin, Kondwiramur, and all the Templars, eventually left Monsalväsch, and found a home in the domains of Prester John, but the story seems to be due rather to the imagination of the writer than to any real legendary source.

Page 184, line 610, and seq.—'The Lohengrin myth.' This legend of a supernatural benefactor or deliverer, who arrives at the land which he is to benefit in a boat, miraculously guided, and leaves it in the same way, is extremely widely spread, and may be regarded rather as the property of the Aryan race as a whole, than of one nation in particular. In its earliest forms, such as the legend of Sceaf among the Anglo-Saxons, and Höni in the Faroe Isles, the hero is undoubtedly of divine origin, and the second of these seems to be the first in which the swan element is introduced. The original signification appears to be that of a 'year-myth,' symbolising the conflict between the seasons; the god of spring first overcoming, and then in his turn being overcome by, the power of winter. Bloete, in an article on the subject in the Zeitschrift für Deutsches Alterthum, explains the connection with the swan by the fact that this is a migratory bird, and that in the days when the lower part of the Rhine formed a marshy Delta, swans frequented these lowlands in large numbers on their way to, and from, their summer quarters in Northern Europe. In this way the birds were the heralds alike of the coming and of the departing light and warmth, and became associated with the embodied genius of spring and summer. It is certainly a curious fact that the legend of the Swan-knight in its developed form is distinctly to be traced to these countries. The original association with the god of light, Bloete thinks, was the work of Keltic fancy, and by them imparted to their Batavian successors in the lowlands of the Rhine. By the thirteenth century, the story had clothed itself in distinctly chivalric form, the hero was no longer a god, but a knight, and in this shape the legend became connected with the origin of more than one noble family of the day; notably with that of Godfrey de Bouillon, the Crusader. It is noticeable in this connection that Gerbert, one of the continuators of Chrêtien, has[Pg 224] a passage prophesying that of Perceval's race shall spring the 'Swan-knight and the Deliverer of the Holy Sepulchre.'

This passage, together with the fact that Wolfram connects Lohengrin with Brabant, seems to indicate that the German poet was not the first to connect the legend of the Swan-knight with that of the Grail, but found the story in his French source; though he certainly gives the earliest version of the legend in the shape in which, through Wagner's Lohengrin, it is familiar to us to-day. A more prolonged and elaborate account of Lohengrin's adventures is given in Der jüngere Titurel already referred to; here the lady is the Duchess of Lizaborye, and the catastrophe is brought about by the advice of a treacherous maid, who persuades the Duchess that if she cuts off, roasts, and eats a portion of her husband's flesh, he will be unable to leave her. In pursuance of this intention, armed knights break into Lohengrin's chamber at night, and in the struggle with them, though overcoming his assailants, he is himself slain. The unhappy wife dies of grief, and the name of the country is changed from Lizaborye to Lothringen (Lorraine) in memory of Lohengrin. (Those familiar with the Wagner Drama will note the skill with which Wagner has combined these two versions of the legend.)

In the forbidden question we probably have a surviving testimony to the originally divine nature of the hero; it is a well-known feature of such legends that a mortal wife wedded to a divine husband may not inquire too closely into that husband's nature, e.g. the myths of Jupiter and Semele, and of Eros and Psyche. The question therefore probably belongs to the original form of the story, and the passage on p. 182 is merely, as suggested above, an ingenious attempt to explain a feature which puzzled the later compilers.

Page 186, line 661—'Here Herr Erec should speak.' An allusion to Hartmann's Erec, so often referred to. The hero forbids his wife to speak to him, she breaks the silence in order to warn him of an impending danger, and is punished by him for so doing.

Page 186, line 663—'If Chrêtien of Troyes,' etc. Here for the first time Wolfram gives us clearly to understand that he knew Chrêtien's Grail poem, but deliberately preferred to follow Kiot's' version, to which he has made frequent allusions. If Wolfram's statement is to be accepted as it stands, we must perforce conclude that both the first two books and the last three (of which Chrêtien has no trace) were in Kiot's poem, 'To the end, the Provençal told it.' Certainly Wolfram himself does not wish us to consider that any part of the tale was due to his own invention, but rather that he was throughout faithfully adhering to lines already laid down. The question of the connection between Chrêtien and Wolfram will be found fully discussed in Excursus B.


Printed by T. and A. Constable, Printers to Her Majesty at the Edinburgh University Press

Transcriber's Notes:

Simple spelling, grammar, and typographical errors were silently corrected.

Anachronistic and non-standard spellings retained as printed.

End of Project Gutenberg's Parzival (vol. 2 of 2), by Wolfram von Eschenback


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