Part 2, lines 811-1125 Notes from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Part 2, lines 811-1125

Sir Gawain asked the castle porter to carry his words to the lord of the castle and ask him for shelter. The porter replied that he already knew what the lord would say, and that he was welcome in that house for as long as Gawain pleased. The porter arrived at the door with several men and they dropped the drawbridge, coming out and courteously kneeling before the knight and welcoming him. They begged Gawain to enter, then helped him to dismount and ran to stable his horse. Squires and knights swarmed Gawain and escorted him into the castle, and took his helmet, sword, and shield from him. Gawain greeted them all in turn as he was led into a hall where a huge fire crackled. The lord came out and said that everything that was his was free for Gawain to use; the knight replied with thanks, and asked Christ to reward his host. The two kissed and embraced like brothers.

Gawain approved of his host, who was tall and strong, and in the prime of life. He had a heavy, brown beard, a red face, and thick legs, but his words were courtly. Gawain was led to a glorious bed in a noble room, hung with silk and trimmed with gold. A man told to serve Gawain removed the knight's armor and brought him rich robes, which Gawain wore. All at once Gawain thought it to be spring: his face shone and his robe glistened as he walked through the knights of that castle, who approved of him as a great warrior.

Back in the hall, Gawain sat in front of the fireplace in a covered chair, and a fur cloak was thrown about his shoulders. A table, covered in white cloth and silver spoons was set in front of him, and he went to his meat. He was brought double-portions of stews, broths, baked, breaded, and grilled fish and spiced fish soups. Gawain called the meal a feast, but his hosts brushed off the compliment, saying the next meal would be better. Gawain laughed with them and drank until he stuttered.

Gawain's hosts asked him discreetly of his origins; he replied that he had rode from noble Arthur's court, and that his name was Gawain. The lord of the castle later laughed with delight upon hearing that Gawain was with him, and the castle's knights did the same.

"And the knights in that castle shouted with pleasure,
Proud to stand in his presence - Gawain,
Eternally praised, bearer of excellence,
Most able, most knightly, best on earth,
Most famous, most honored of men. And each of them
Whispered to his fellow: 'How sweet it will be
To see such easy, virtuous skill!
What lessons we will learn in noble speech,
What marvelous words, what practiced methods
Of converse, now that we welcome this model
Of perfect breeding! God has been good,
Truly, to grant us a guest like Gawain,
In this season when men sing and rejoice
In His birth.
This knight will lead us to the meaning
Of manners, will work
Miracles for us to see
In the soothing of lovers' hurts'"
Part 2, lines 910-927

Topic Tracking: Chivalry 6

After his dinner it was nearly night, and Gawain rose and found the lord and his wife, she in a pew, busy at prayer. The lord greeted him, told him that no one could be more welcome, and they embraced and sat together for mass. After the service, the lord's wife approached, surrounded by her ladies. Gawain thought her to be lovelier than Guenevere. A second lady, an old woman, led the lord's wife by the left hand. She was a startling contrast to the red cheeks and white skin of the young woman; she was stumpy, short, and faded yellow, with wrinkled jowls, a black chin hidden in white veils, and a broad buttocks. Gawain greeted the old woman courteously, but wrapped his arms around the young one and exchanged kisses and chivalric words with her. Each lady took one of Gawain's arms and together led him to a room with a fire, and ordered wine and platters of spice-cakes. In the room, the lord urged Gawain and the ladies to mirth, then pulled a spear from the wall and challenged Gawain in the spirit of Christmas to get it away from him. He kept Gawain entertained with jokes until he called for the lights to be put out and they retired to bed.

The next morning was Christmas morning, and everyone in the castle celebrated Christ's birth with dishes of sweets at meals. At dinnertime the old woman sat to the lord's right, and Gawain was seated with the young lady. When everyone was seated there was meat and drink and much joy passed around the table. Gawain and the lord's wife were the gayest of all the guests, relishing each other's laughter.

The party went on that day and the next; the day after that was the feast of Saint John, and the guests danced and guzzled wine until the morning came and they slowly stumbled home. Gawain said goodnight to his host, who thanked him for blessing the castle with his presence during such a holy time. Gawain, in return, explained his debt of gratitude to the lord. The lord tried to tempt him into staying, but Gawain knew he could not, remembering his duty to the Green Knight.

The lord asked Gawain what had driven him away from Arthur's court at such a time in the year; Gawain explained that duty bound him to find the green chapel by New Year's morning, which was just three days away. He asked the lord if he'd heard of such a place. The lord replied that he knew the green chapel, and it was close by. If he left in the morning on New Year's day he'd be there by noon. He thus implored Gawain to stay, and Gawain, gleeful, accepted. The lord set Gawain down and called for his ladies, then for everyone to rejoice. The lord babbled, almost incoherent in his love for Gawain, then suddenly shouted to Gawain to accept his next request; Gawain said he was duty bound to accept it. The lord said that rest was what Gawain needed, therefore he was to stay in bed until mass the next morning, and to make company with his wife during the day. As for the lord, he would rise at dawn and spend the day hunting with his hounds. Furthermore, they were to play a game: whatever the lord got in the woods was to belong to Gawain, and whatever Gawain earned in the castle would belong to the lord. Gawain said that he liked the game and would oblige. Then they drank together and talked merrily, and then said goodnight softly, exchanging courteous kisses. Then each one was led to their beds by a crowd of servants carrying torches high.

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