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

Author: von Eschenbach Wolfram

Translator: Jessie L. Weston

Release date: November 6, 2014 [eBook #47297]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Richard Tonsing, The Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This book was
produced from scanned images of public domain material
from the Google Print project.)


The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.

[Pg i]


[Pg ii]
[Pg iii]










[Pg iv]
[Pg v]


[Pg vi]
[Pg vii]


[Pg viii]
[Pg ix]


In presenting, for the first time, to English readers the greatest work of Germany's greatest mediæval poet, a few words of introduction, alike for poem and writer, may not be out of place. The lapse of nearly seven hundred years, and the changes which the centuries have worked, alike in language and in thought, would have naturally operated to render any work unfamiliar, still more so when that work was composed in a foreign tongue; but, indeed, it is only within the present century that the original text of the Parzival has been collated from the MSS. and made accessible, even in its own land, to the general reader. But the interest which is now felt by many in the Arthurian romances, quickened into life doubtless by the genius of the late Poet Laureate, and the fact that the greatest composer of our time, Richard Wagner, has selected this poem as the groundwork of that wonderful drama, which a growing consensus of opinion has hailed as the grandest artistic achievement of this century, seem to indicate that the time has come when the work of Wolfram von Eschenbach may hope to receive, from a wider public than that of his own day, the recognition which it so well deserves.

Of the poet himself we know but little, save from the personal allusions scattered throughout his works; the dates of his birth and death are alike unrecorded, but the frequent notices of contemporary events to be found in his poems enable us to fix with tolerable certainty the period of his literary activity, and to judge approximately the outline of his life. Wolfram's greatest work, the Parzival, was apparently written within the early years of the thirteenth century; he[Pg x] makes constant allusions to events happening, and to works produced, within the first decade of that period; and as his latest work, the Willehalm, left unfinished, mentions as recent the death of the Landgrave Herman of Thuringia, which occurred in 1216, the probability seems to be that the Parzival was written within the first fifteen years of the thirteenth century. Inasmuch, too, as this work bears no traces of immaturity in thought or style, it is probable that the date of the poet's birth cannot be placed much later than 1170.

The name, Wolfram von Eschenbach, points to Eschenbach in Bavaria as in all probability the place of his birth, as it certainly was of his burial. So late as the end of the seventeenth century his tomb, with inscription, was to be seen in the Frauen-kirche of Ober-Eschenbach, and the fact that within a short distance of the town are to be found localities mentioned in his poems, such as Wildberg, Abenberg, Trühending, Wertheim, etc., seems to show that there, too, the life of the poet-knight was spent.

By birth, as Wolfram himself tells us, he belonged to the knightly order (Zum Schildesamt bin Ich geboren), though whether his family was noble or not is a disputed point, in any case Wolfram was a poor man, as the humorous allusions which he makes to his poverty abundantly testify. Yet he does not seem to have led the life of a wandering singer, as did his famous contemporary, Walther von der Vogelweide; if Wolfram journeyed, as he probably did, it was rather in search of knightly adventures, he tells us: 'Durchstreifen muss Der Lande viel, Wer Schildesamt verwalten will,' and though fully conscious of his gift of song, yet he systematically exalts his office of knight above that of poet. The period when Wolfram lived and sang, we cannot say wrote, for by his own confession he could neither read nor write ('I'ne kan decheinen buochstap,' he says in Parzival; and in Willehalm, 'Waz an den buochen steht geschrieben, Des bin Ich kunstelos geblieben'), and his poems must, therefore, have been orally dictated, was one peculiarly fitted to develop his special genius. Under the rule of the Hohenstaufen the institution of knighthood had reached its highest point of glory, and had not yet lapsed into the extravagant[Pg xi] absurdities and unrealities which characterised its period of decadence; and the Arthurian romances which first found shape in Northern France had just passed into Germany, there to be gladly welcomed, and to receive at the hands of German poets the impress of an ethical and philosophical interpretation foreign to their original form.

It was in these romances that Wolfram, in common with other of his contemporaries, found his chief inspiration; in the Parzival, his master-work, he has told again the story of the Quest for, and winning of, the Grail; told it in connection with the Perceval legend, through the medium of which, it must be remembered, the spiritualising influence of the Grail myth first came into contact with the brilliant chivalry and low morality of the original Arthurian romances; and told it in a manner that is as truly mediæval in form as it is modern in interpretation. The whole poem is instinct with the true knightly spirit; it has been well called Das Hohelied von Rittertum, the knightly song of songs, for Wolfram has seized not merely the external but the very soul of knighthood, even as described in our own day by another German poet; Wolfram's ideal knight, in his fidelity to his plighted word, his noble charity towards his fellow-man, lord of the Grail, with Its civilising, humanising influence, is a veritable 'true knight of the Holy Ghost.' In a short introduction such as this it is impossible to discuss with any fulness the fascinating problems connected with this poem, one can do no more than indicate where the principal difficulties lie. These may be briefly said to be chiefly connected with the source from which Wolfram derived his poem, and with the interpretation of its ethical meaning. That Wolfram drew from a French source we know from his own statement, he quotes as his authority a certain 'Kiot the Provençal,' who, in his turn, found his information in an Arabian MS. at Toledo. Unfortunately no such poet, and no such poem, are known to us, while we do possess a French version of the story, Li Conte del Graal, by Chrêtien de Troyes, which, so far as the greater part of the poem (i.e. Books III. to XIII.) is concerned, shows a remarkable agreement not only in sequence of incidents, but even in verbal correspondence,[Pg xii] with Wolfram's work. Chrêtien, however, does not give either the first two or the last three books as we find them in Wolfram. The account of Perceval's father, and of his death, is by another hand than Chrêtien's, and does not agree with Wolfram's account; and the poem, left unfinished by Chrêtien, has been continued and concluded at great length by at least three other writers, who have evidently drawn from differing sources; whereas Wolfram's conclusion agrees closely with his introduction, and his whole poem forms the most harmonious and complete version of the story we possess. Wolfram knew Chrêtien's poem, but refers to it with contempt as being the wrong version of the tale, whereas 'Kiot' had told the venture aright. The question then is, where did Wolfram really find those portions of his poems which he could not have drawn from Chrêtien? Is 'Kiot' a real, or a feigned, source?

Some German critics have opined that Wolfram really knew no other poem than Chrêtien's, and that he boldly invented all that he did not find there, feigning another source in order to conceal the fact. Others have maintained that whether 'Kiot' be the name of the writer or not, Wolfram certainly had before him a French poem other than Li Conte del Graal.

It certainly seems in the highest degree improbable that a German poet should have introduced the Angevin element, lacking in Chrêtien; Wolfram's presentment of the Grail, too, differs in toto from any we find elsewhere, with him it is not the cup of the Last Supper, but a precious stone endowed with magical qualities. It is true that Chrêtien does not say what the Grail was, but simply that 'du fin or esmeree estoit, pieres pressieuses avoit el graal de maintes manieres,' yet it seems scarcely likely that Wolfram should have interpreted this as a precious stone, to say nothing of sundry Oriental features peculiar to his description. But whence Wolfram derived his idea of the Grail is a problem which it is to be feared will never now be completely solved.

The discussion as to the ethical meaning Wolfram attached to the story seems more hopeful of results, as here we do possess the requisite data, and can study the poem for ourselves. The question between[Pg xiii] critics is whether Wolfram intended to teach a purely religious lesson or not; whether the poem is an allegory of life, and Parzival a symbol of the Soul of man, hovering between Faith and Doubt, perplexed by the apparent injustice of God's dealings with men, and finally fighting its way through the darkness of despair to the clear light of renewed faith in God; or have we here a glorification of the knightly ideal? a declaration of the poet-knight's belief that in loyal acceptance of, and obedience to, the dictates of the knightly order, salvation is to be won? Can the true knight, even though he lack faith in God, yet by keeping intact his faith with man, by very loyalty and steadfastness of purpose, win back the spiritual blessing forfeited by his youthful folly? Is Parzival one of those at whose hands 'the Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence'? It may well be that both these interpretations are, in a measure, true, that Wolfram found the germ of the religious idea already existing in his French source, but that to the genius of the German poet we owe that humanising of the ideal which has brought the Parzival into harmony with the best aspirations of men in all ages. This, at least, may be said with truth, that of all the romances of the Grail cycle, there is but one which can be presented, in its entirety, to the world of to-day with the conviction that its morality is as true, its human interest as real, its lesson as much needed now as it was seven hundred years ago, and that romance is the Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach.

Some words as to the form of the original poem, and the method followed in translation, may be of interest to the reader. The original Parzival is a poem of some 25,000 lines, written in an irregular metre, every two lines rhyming, reim-paar. Among modern German translators considerable difference of opinion as to the best method of rendering the original appears to exist. Simrock has retained the original form, and adheres very closely to the text; his version certainly gives the most accurate idea of Wolfram's style; San Marte has allowed himself considerable freedom in versification, and, unfortunately, also in translation; in fact, he too often gives a paraphrase rather than a reproduction of the text. Dr. Bötticher's translation omits the Gawain[Pg xiv] episodes, and, though close to the original, has discarded rhyme. It must be admitted that Wolfram is by no means easy to translate, his style is obscure and crabbed, and it is often difficult to interpret his meanings with any certainty. The translator felt that the two points chiefly to be aimed at in an English version were, that it should be faithful to the original text, and easy to read. The metre selected was chosen for several reasons, principally on account of the length of the poem, which seemed to render desirable a more flowing measure than the short lines of the original; and because by selecting this metre it was possible to retain the original form of reim-paar. As a general rule one line of the English version represents two of the German poem, but the difference of language has occasionally demanded expansion in order to do full justice to the poet's meaning. Throughout, the translator's aim has been to be as literal as possible, and where the differing conventionalities of the thirteenth and nineteenth centuries have made a change in the form of expression necessary, the meaning of the poet has been reproduced, and in no instance has a different idea been consciously suggested. That there must of necessity be many faults and defects in the work the writer is fully conscious, but in the absence of any previous English translation she can only hope that the present may be accepted as a not altogether inadequate rendering of a great original; if it should encourage others to study that original for themselves, and learn to know Wolfram von Eschenbach, while at the same time they learn better to understand Richard Wagner, she will feel herself fully repaid.

The translator feels that it may be well to mention here the works which have been principally relied on in preparing the English translation and the writers to whom she is mostly indebted.

For the Text Bartsch's edition of the original Parzival, published in Deutsche Classiker des Mittelalters, has been used throughout, in connection with the modern German translation by Simrock.

In preparing the Notes use has been made of Dr. Bötticher's Introduction to his translation of the Parzival, and the same writer's[Pg xv] Das Hohelied von Rittertum; San Marte's translation has also been occasionally referred to.

The Appendix on proper names has been mainly drawn up from Bartsch's article on the subject in Germanistische Studien; and that on the Angevin allusions from Miss Norgate's England under the Angevin Kings, though the statements have been verified by reference to the original chronicles.

For all questions connected with the Perceval legend in its varying forms the authority consulted has been Studies on the Legend of the Holy Grail, by Mr. Alfred Nutt, to whom, personally, the translator is indebted for much valuable advice and assistance in preparing this book for publication.

[Pg xvi]
[Pg 1]


[Pg 2]


In the Introduction the poet tells of the evil of doubt and unsteadfastness—against which he would warn both men and women; he will tell them a tale which shall speak of truth and steadfastness, and in which many strange marvels shall befall.

Book I. tells how Gamuret of Anjou at the death of his father, King Gandein, refused to become his brother's vassal, and went forth to seek fame and love-guerdon for himself. How he fought under the Baruch before Alexandria, and came to Patelamunt. How Queen Belakané was accused of having caused the death of her lover Eisenhart, and was besieged by two armies, which Friedebrand, King of Scotland, Eisenhart's uncle, had brought against her. How Gamuret defeated her foemen, and married the Queen, and became King of Assagog and Zassamank. How he grew weary for lack of knightly deeds, and sailed away in secret from Queen Belakané, and left her a letter telling of his name and race. How Feirifis was born, and how Gamuret came to Seville.

[Pg 3]



If unfaith in the heart find dwelling, then the soul it shall reap but woe;
And shaming alike and honour are his who such doubt shall show,
For it standeth in evil contrast with a true man's dauntless might,
As one seeth the magpie's plumage, which at one while is black and white.
And yet he may win to blessing; since I wot well that in his heart, 5
Hell's darkness, and light of Heaven, alike have their lot and part
But he who is false and unsteadfast, he is black as the darkest night,
And the soul that hath never wavered stainless its hue and white!
This my parable so fleeting too swift for the dull shall be,
Ere yet they may seize its meaning from before their face 'twill flee,10
As a hare that a sound hath startled: yea, metal behind the glass,
And a blind man's dream yield visions that as swift from the eye do pass,
For naught shall they have that endureth! And at one while 'tis bright and sad,
And know of a truth that its glory but for short space shall make ye glad.
And what man shall think to grip me, where no hair for his grasp shall grow,15
In the palm of mine hand? The mystery of a close clasp he sure doth know!
If I cry aloud in such peril, it 'seemeth my wisdom well.
Shall I look for truth where it fleeteth? In the fire that the stream doth quell,
Or the dew that the sun doth banish? Ne'er knew I a man so wise,
But was fain to learn the wisdom my fable doth ill disguise, 20
[Pg 4] And the teaching that springeth from it: for so shall he ne'er delay
To fly and to chase as shall fit him, to shun and to seek alway,
And to give fitting blame and honour. He who knoweth the twain to tell,
In their changing ways, then wisdom has tutored that man right well.
And he sits not o'er-long at leisure, nor his goal doth he overreach,25
But in wisdom his ways discerning, he dealeth with all and each.
But his comrade, of heart unfaithful, in hell-fire shall his portion be,
Yea, a hailstorm that dims the glory of a knightly fame is he.
As a short tail it is, his honour, that but for two bites holds good,
When the steer by the gad-fly driven doth roam thro' the lonely wood.30
And tho' manifold be my counsel not to men alone I'ld speak,
For fain would I show to women the goal that their heart should seek.
And they who shall mark my counsel, they shall learn where they may bestow
Their praise and their maiden honour; and the manner of man shall know
Whom they freely may love and honour, and never may fear to rue 35
Their maidenhood, and the true love they gave him of heart so true.
In God's sight I pray all good women to keep them in wisdom's way,
For true shame on all sides doth guard them: such bliss I for them would pray.
But the false heart shall win false honour—How long doth the thin ice last,
If the sun shineth hot as in August? So their praise shall be soon o'erpast.40
Many women are praised for beauty; if at heart they shall be untrue,
Then I praise them as I would praise it, the glass of a sapphire hue
That in gold shall be set as a jewel! Tho' I hold it an evil thing,
If a man take a costly ruby, with the virtue the stone doth bring,
And set it in worthless setting: I would liken such costly stone 45
To the heart of a faithful woman, who true womanhood doth own.
I would look not upon her colour, nor the heart's roof all men can see,
If the heart beateth true beneath it, true praise shall she win from me!
Should I speak of both man and woman as I know, nor my skill should fail,
O'er-long would it be my story. List ye now to my wonder-tale: 50
And this venture it telleth tidings of love, and anon of woe,
Joy and sorrow it bringeth with it. 'Stead of one man if three ye know,
[Pg 5] And each one of the three hath wisdom and skill that outweigh my skill,
Yet o'erstrange shall they find the labour, tho' they toil with a right good-will
To tell ye this tale, which I think me to tell ye myself, alone, 55
And worn with their task and weary would they be ere the work was done.
A tale I anew will tell ye, that speaks of a mighty love;
Of the womanhood of true women; how a man did his manhood prove;
Of one that endured all hardness, whose heart never failed in fight,
Steel he in the face of conflict: with victorious hand of might 60
Did he win him fair meed of honour; a brave man yet slowly wise
Is he whom I hail my hero! The delight he of woman's eyes,
Yet of woman's heart the sorrow! 'Gainst all evil his face he set;
Yet he whom I thus have chosen my song knoweth not as yet,
For not yet is he born of whom men this wondrous tale shall tell, 65
And many and great the marvels that unto this knight befell.
NOW they do to-day as of old time, where a foreign law holds sway
(Yea, in part of our German kingdom, as ye oft shall have heard men say),
Whoever might rule that country, 'twas the law, and none thought it shame
('Tis the truth and no lie I tell ye) that the elder son might claim70
The whole of his father's heirdom—And the younger sons must grieve,
What was theirs in their father's lifetime, they perforce at his death must leave.
Before, all was theirs in common, now it fell unto one alone.
So a wise man planned in his wisdom, that the eldest the lands should own,
For youth it hath many a fair gift, but old age knoweth grief and pain,75
And he who is poor in his old age an ill harvest alone doth gain.
Kings, Counts, Dukes (and no lie I tell ye) the law holdeth all as one,
And no man of them all may inherit, save only the eldest son,
And methinks 'tis an evil custom—So the knight in his youthful pride,
Gamuret, the gallant hero, lost his Burg, and his fair lands wide, 80
Where his father had ruled with sceptre and crown as a mighty king,
Till knighthood, and lust of battle, to his death did the monarch bring.
And all men were sore for his sorrow, who truth and unbroken faith
Bare ever throughout his lifetime, yea even unto his death.
[Pg 6] Then the elder son he summoned the princes from out his land, 85
And knightly they came, who rightly might claim from their monarch's hand,
To hold, as of yore, their fiefdoms. So came they unto his hall,
And the claim of each man he hearkened, and gave fiefs unto each and all.
Now hear how they dealt—As their true heart it bade them, both great and small,
They made to their king petition, with one voice from the people all,90
That to Gamuret grace and favour he would show with true brother's hand,
And honour himself in the doing. That he drive him not from the land
But give him, within his kingdom, a fair Burg that all men might see,
That he take from that Burg his title, and he held of all tribute free!—
Nor the king was ill-pleased at their pleading, and he quoth, 'A small grace, I trow,95
Have ye asked, I would e'en be better than your prayer, as ye straight shall know,
Why name ye not this my brother as Gamuret Angevin?
Since Anjou is my land, I think me the title we both may win!'
Then further he spake, the monarch, 'My brother in sooth may seek
Yet more from my hand of favour than my mouth may as swiftly speak,100
With me shall he have his dwelling—I would that ye all should see
How one mother alike hath borne us; his riches but small shall be,
While I have enough; of free hand would I give him both lands and gold,
That my bliss may be ne'er held forfeit by Him, Who can aye withhold,
Or give, as He deemeth rightful!' Then the princes they heard alway,105
How the king would deal well with his brother, and they deemed it a joyful day!
And each one bowed him low before him. Nor Gamuret long delayed,
But he spake as his heart would bid him, and friendly the words he said:
'Now hearken, my lord and brother, if vassal I think to be
To thee, or to any other, then a fair lot awaiteth me. 110
But think thou upon mine honour, for faithful art thou and wise,
And give counsel as shall beseem thee, and help as thou shalt devise.
For naught have I now save mine armour, if within it I more had done,
Then far lands should speak my praises, and remembrance from men were won!'
Then further he spake, the hero: 'Full sixteen my squires shall be,115
[Pg 7] And six of them shall bear harness; four pages give thou to me
Of noble birth and breeding, and nothing to them I'll spare
Of all that my hand may win them. Afar in the world I'ld fare,
(Somewhat I ere now have journeyed,) if Good Fortune on me shall smile,
I may win from fair women favour. If a woman I serve awhile, 120
And to serve her she hold me worthy, and my heart speaketh not amiss,
True knight shall I be and faithful! God show me the way of bliss!
As comrades we rode together (but then o'er thy land did reign
The King Gandein, our father), and sorrow and bitter pain
We bare for Love's sake! At one while I knew thee as thief and knight,125
Thou couldst serve, and thou couldst dissemble, for the sake of thy lady bright.
Ah! could I steal love as thou couldst, if my skill were but like to thine,
That women should show me favour, then a blissful lot were mine!'
'Alas! that I ever saw thee,' spake, sighing, the king so true,
'Who lightly, with words of mocking, my heart would in pieces hew 130
And would fain that we part asunder! One father hath left us both
A mighty store of riches, I would share with thee, nothing loth.
Right dear from my heart I hold thee; red gold and jewels bright,
Folk, weapons, horse, and raiment, take thou as shall seem thee right,
That thou at thy will mayst journey, and thy free hand to all be known.135
Elect do we deem thy manhood, didst thou Gylstram as birthplace own,
Or thou camest here from Rankulat, yet still would that place be thine,
Which thou boldest to-day in my favour; true brother art thou of mine!'
'Sir King, thou of need must praise me, so great is thy courtesy!
So, courteous, thine aid be given, if thou and my mother free 140
Will share with me now your riches, I mount upward, nor fear to fall,
And my heart ever beateth higher—Yet I know not how I should call
This life, which my left breast swelleth! Ah! whither wouldst go mine heart?
I would fain know where thou shalt guide me—'Tis time that we twain should part.'
And all did the monarch give him, yea, more than the knight might crave,145
Five chargers, picked and chosen, the best in his land he gave
[Pg 8] High-couraged, swift to battle; and many a cup of gold,
And many a golden nugget, for naught would his hand withhold.
Four chests for the road he gave him, with many a jewel rare
Were they filled. Then the squires he took him who should for the treasure care,150
And well were they clad and mounted; and none might his grief withhold
When the knight gat him unto his mother, who her son in her arms did fold.
Spake the woman, as woman grieving: 'Wilt thou tarry with me no more,
King Gandein's son? Woe is me! yet my womb this burden bore
And the son of my husband art thou. Is the eye of God waxed blind, 155
Or His ear grown deaf in the hearing, that my prayer doth no credence find?
Is fresh sorrow to be my portion? I have buried my heart's desire,
And the light of mine eyes; will He rob me, who have suffered a grief so dire,
Who judgeth with righteous judgment? Then the tale it hath told a lie,
That spake of His help so mighty, Who doth help unto me deny!' 160
'God comfort thee,' quoth the hero, 'for the death of my father dear,
For truly we both must mourn him—But I think from no lips to hear
Such wailing for my departing! As valour shall show the way,
I seek knighthood in distant countries—So it standeth with me to-day.'
Quoth the queen, 'Since to high love's service thou turnest both hand and heart,165
Sweet son, let it not displease thee to take of my wealth a part
That may serve thee upon thy journey; let thy chamberlain take from me
Four chests, each a pack-horse burden, and heavy their weight shall be.
And within, uncut, there lieth rich silk of Orient rare,
No man as yet hath cut it, and many a samite fair. 170
Sweet son, I prithee tell me what time thou wilt come again,
That my joy may wax the greater, and I look for thee not in vain!'
'Nay, that I know not, Lady, nor the land that shall see my face,
But wherever I take my journey, thou hast shown unto me such grace
As befitteth knightly honour: and the king he hath dealt with me 175
In such wise that grateful service his rewarding shall ever be.
And this trust have I, O Lady, that for this thou wilt love him more
Henceforward, whate'er the future yet keepeth for me in store.'
And as the venture telleth, to the hand of this dauntless knight,
[Pg 9] Thro' the favour he won from a woman, and the working of true love's might,180
Came a token fair, and its value was full thousand marks, I trow,
E'en to-day an a Jew were craving a pledge, he would deem enow
Such jewel, and ne'er disdain it—'Twas sent by his lady true,
And fame did he win in her service, and her love and her greeting knew,
Yet seldom his pain found easing—Then the hero he took his leave 185
Of mother, brother, and brother's kingdom, and many I ween must grieve
Since his eyes never more beheld them. And all who his friends had been,
Ere he passed from the land of his fathers, tho' the grace were but small, I ween,
He gave them of thanks full measure; he deemed they too much had done,
And, courteous, little thought him, that of right he their love had won!190
Straighter his heart than straightness; did one of his praises speak
In a full and fitting measure, then doubt were not far to seek,
But ask ye of those his neighbours, or of men who in distant lands
Had seen his deeds, then the marvel ye were swifter to understand.
And Gamuret he trode ever where Temperance aye should guide, 195
And naught else might rule his doings, nor he boasted him in his pride
But bare great honour meekly; from loose ways he e'er had flown;
And he thought him, the gallant hero, that none bare on earth a crown,
Were they King, or Queen, or Kaiser, whom he deemed of his service worth
Were they not the mightiest reckoned of all monarchs that be on earth.200
This will in his heart he cherished—Then men spake, at Bagdad did reign
A monarch so strong and powerful, that homage he well might claim
From two-thirds or more of earth's kingdoms. The heathen his name held great,
And they spake of him as the Baruch, and kings did on his bidding wait,
And crownèd heads were his servants; and his office it lasts to-day—205
See how Christian men baptizèd to Rome wend their pilgrim way,
So there was the heathen custom. At Bagdad was their papal right,
And the Baruch as 'seemed his office purged their sins with his word of might.
From Pompey and Ipomidon, two brothers of Babylon,
Nineveh, the town of their fathers, the Baruch with force had won, 210
[Pg 10] And bravely 'gainst him they battled. Then came the young Angevin,
And the Baruch he showed him favour, yea, he did to his service win
Gamuret the gallant hero—And he deemed it were well he bore
Other arms than Gandein his father had given to him of yore.
Then the hero he well bethought him; on his charger's cloth they laid215
An anchor of ermine fashioned, and the same at his will they made
For shield alike and vesture—And green as the emerald rare
Was his riding-gear, and 'twas fashioned and wrought of Achmardi fair,
('Tis a silken stuff,) and he bade them to make of it at his will
Both blazoned coat and surcoat, (than velvet 'tis richer still;) 220
And he bade them to sew upon it the anchor of ermine white,
And with golden threads inwoven was the badge of this gallant knight.
And his anchors they never tested or mainland or haven fair
And found in that place abiding—But the hero must further bear
Thro' many a land, a brave guest, the load of this heraldry, 225
And behind the sign of this anchor but short space might his resting be,
And nowhere he found abiding—The tale of the lands he saw,
And the vessels in which he sailed him? If the truth unto ye I swore,
On mine own oath must I swear it, and my knightly honour true
In such wise as the venture told me; other witness I never knew! 230
And men say that his manly courage held the prize in far heathendom,
In Morocco's land, and in Persia, and elsewhere he high honour won,
At Damascus and at Aleppo, and where knightly deeds should be:
In Arabia and lands around it was he held of all conflict free,
For no man might dare withstand him, he won him such crown of fame;235
And his heart for honour lusted, and all deeds were brought to shame,
And became as naught before him, as all men bare witness true
Who a joust with him had ridden, and Bagdad of his glory knew.
And his heart never failed or faltered, but onward his course he bare
To Zassamank's land and kingdom; there all men wept that hero fair,240
Eisenhart, who in knightly service gave his life for a woman's smile;
Belakané thereto constrained him, sweet maid she, and free from guile.
(Since her love she never gave him, for love's sake did the hero die,)
And his kinsmen would fain avenge him, and with force and with subtlety
[Pg 11] Their armies beset the maiden, but in sooth she could guard her well245
Ere Gamuret came to her kingdom, and her wrath on her foemen fell.
For the Prince Friedebrand of Scotland, and his host that against her came
By ship, ere he left her kingdom had she wasted with fire and flame.
Now hear what befell our hero; storm-driven he was that day,
And scarce might he win to safety, and his boat in the haven lay 250
Beneath the royal palace; and the folk they beheld him there,
And he looked around on the meadow, and he saw many tents stand fair
Around the town, save the sea-coast, and two armies he thought to see.
Then he bade them to tell the story, and whose that fair Burg should be?
Since he knew it not, nor his shipmen—And an answer they straightway gave,255
'Twas Patelamunt; then the townsfolk a boon from the knight would crave,
And their speech it was soft and friendly—In the name of their gods they'ld pray
He should help them, so great their peril that in danger of death they lay.
When the young Angevin had hearkened to the tale of their bitter pain,
He proffered to them his service for such payment as knight may gain,260
(As it oft shall befit a hero)—They should say for what goodly prize
He should dare the hate of their foemen? And they answered him in this wise
With one mouth the hale and the wounded—Naught would they from him withhold,
But lord should he be of their treasure, of their jewels alike and gold,
A fair life should he lead among them!—But such payment he little sought,265
For many a golden nugget from Araby had he brought.
And dark as night were the people who in Zassamank dwelt alway—
And the time it seemed long unto him that he need in their midst must stay—
But he bade them prepare a lodging, and methinks it became them well
The best of their land to give him, since awhile he with them would dwell.270
And the women they looked from the windows, and they gazed on the noble knight,
And they looked on his squires, and his harness, how 'twas fashioned for deeds of might.
Then they saw how the knight, free-handed, on his shield of ermine bare
[Pg 12] Full many a pelt of sable; the Queen's Marshal he read it fair,
The badge, for a mighty anchor, and little he rued the sight, 275
If his eye spake the truth unto him ere this had he seen the knight,
Or one who bare his semblance—At Alexandria it needs must be,
When the Baruch besieged the city—and unequalled in strife was he!
So rode the gallant hero, in stately guise and meet;
Ten pack-horses heavy-laden they led first adown the street, 280
And twenty squires behind them; and his people they went before,
And lackeys, cooks, and cook-boys, at the head of the train they saw.
And stately I ween his household, twelve pages of lineage high
Rode next to the squires, well-mannered, and trained in all courtesy,
And Saracens were among them; and behind them in order fair 285
Came chargers eight, and a covering of sendal did each one bear.
But the ninth it bore a saddle, and the shield ye have known ere now
Was borne by a squire beside it, and joyful his mien, I trow.
And trumpeters rode behind it, for in sooth they must needs be there,
And a drummer he smote his tambour, and swung it aloft in air. 290
And as naught had the hero deemed it, this pomp, if there failed to ride
Men who on the flute were skilful, and three fiddlers were at their side,
And they hasted not nor hurried; and behind them the hero came,
And his shipman he rode beside him, a wise man of goodly fame.
And much folk was within the city, and Moors were both man and maid.295
Then the hero he looked around him, and, lo! many a shield displayed,
Battle-hewn and with spear-thrust piercèd they hung on each wall and door.
And wailing and woe was their portion; for the knight at each window saw
Many men lie sorely wounded, who to breathe the air were fain,
And e'en tho' a leech might tend them no help might they think to gain300
Who were hurt too sore for healing—In the field had they faced the foe,
And such shall be their rewarding who in conflict no flight will know—
Many horses were led towards him, sword-hewn and with lance thrust through;
And on each side stood dusky maidens, and black as the night their hue.
Then his host gave him kindly greeting—and of joy did he reap his meed—305
A rich man was he and mighty, and many a knightly deed
[Pg 13] With thrust and blow had his hand wrought when his post at the gate he found;
And many a knight was with him, and bandaged their heads and bound,
And their hands in slings were holden; yet tho' sorely wounded still
They did many deeds of knighthood, nor were lacking in strength and skill.310
Then the Burg-grave of the city, with fair words did he pray his guest
To deal with him and his household in such wise as should seem him best.
And the host, he led the hero to his wife, and courteously
Did Gamuret kiss the lady, small joy in the kiss had he!
Then they sat them down to the table, and e'en as the feast was o'er,315
The Marshal he gat him swiftly to the queen, and the tidings bore,
And craved from her goodly payment, as to messenger shall be due.
And he spake, 'It shall end in gladness, the grief that erewhile we knew,
We have welcomed here, O Lady, a knight of such gallant mien,
We must thank the gods who have sent him, for our need they have surely seen.'320
'Now tell me upon thine honour who this gallant knight may be?'
'Lady, a dauntless hero, and the Baruch's man is he,
An Angevin he, of high lineage; Ah me! little did he spare
Himself, when his foemen seeking he forth to the field would fare.
How wisely, with skill and cunning, he avoided the threatening blow,325
And turned him again to the onslaught! Much sorrow he wrought his foe—
Ere this have I seen him battle, when the princes of Babylon
Their city of Alexandria had fain from the Baruch won,
And with force from its walls would drive him, and many a man lay dead
In the overthrow of their army, for their venture was but ill-sped.330
And such deeds did he do, this hero, that no counsel was theirs but flight:
And there did I hear his praises, for all spake of this gallant knight
As one who, without denial, had won him, in many a land,
The crown of true knightly honour, by the strength of his own right hand.
'Now fain would I speak with the hero, see thou to the time and way;335
E'en now might he ride to the castle, for peace shall be kept to-day.
Were it better that I should seek him? He is other than we in face,
Pray Heaven it not displease him, but our need with the knight find grace!
[Pg 14] I would that I first might know this, ere the rede from my folk I hear
That I show to this stranger honour—If it pleaseth him to draw near,340
Say, how shall I best receive him? Shall the knight be so nobly born
That my kiss be not lost, if I kiss him?' 'Nay, hold me of life forsworn
If he be not of kings the kinsman! Lady, this word I'll bear
To thy princes, that they shall clothe them in raiment both fit and fair,
And stand before thee, in due order, ere yet to thy court we ride, 345
And the same shalt thou say to thy ladies—In the city he doth abide;
I will ride below, and will bring him to thy palace, a worthy guest,
For no fair or knightly virtue shall be lacking that noble breast.'
But little space they delayed them, for the Marshal, with ready skill,
Strove that all in such wise be ordered as should pleasure his lady's will.350
But soon did they bear to the hero rich garments, he did them on,
And this hath the venture told me that their cost should be hardly won;
And thereon lay the anchors, heavy, and wrought of Arabian gold,
For so had he willed. Then the hero, who fair payment for love had told
A charger bestrode that 'fore Babylon a knight rode, for jousting fain,355
From the saddle did Gamuret smite him, and I wot it hath wrought him pain.
If his host thought to ride beside him? He and his gallant knights?
Yea, in sooth they would do so, gladly—So wended they up the height,
And dismounted before the palace; and many a knight stood there,
And each, as was fit, had clothed him in raiment both rich and fair.360
And his pages they ran before him, and each twain they went hand in hand,
And in marvellous fair arraying he saw many ladies stand.
And the queen, her eyes brought her sorrow as she looked on the Angevin,
So lovely was he to look on that he needs must an entrance win
Thro' the gates of her heart, if 'twere anguish or joy that within he bore,365
Tho' her womanhood 'gainst all comers had held them fast closed before.
Then a space did she step towards him, and a kiss from her guest she prayed;
And, herself, by the hand she took him and they sat them, both man and maid
In a window wide, that looked forth from the palace upon the foe,
And a covering of wadded samite was spread o'er the couch below. 370
Is there aught that than day is lighter? Then it likeneth not the queen!
[Pg 15] Yet else was she fair to look on, as a woman should be, I ween,
But unlike to the dew-dipped roses was her colour, yea, black as night.
And her crown was a costly ruby, and thro' it ye saw aright
Her raven head. Then as hostess she spake to her guest this word, 375
That greatly she joyed at his coming, 'Sir, Knight, I such tale have heard
Of thy knightly strength and prowess—Of thy courtesy, hear me fair,
For fain would I tell of my sorrow, and the woe that my heart doth bear!'
'My help shall not fail thee, Lady! What hath grieved, or doth grieve thee now,
I think me aside to turn it, to thy service my hand I vow! 380
I am naught but one man only—Who hath wronged or now wrongeth thee
My shield will I hold against him—Little wroth shall thy foeman be!'
Then a prince he spake out courteous, 'The foe would we little spare,
Did our host not lack a captain, since Friedebrand hence must fare.
He defendeth afar his kingdom—A king, one Hernant by name 385
(Whom he slew for the sake of Herlindè) his kinsmen against him came,
And evil enow have they wrought him, nor yet from their strife forbear—
Yet he left here full many a hero, and among them, Duke Heuteger
With his gallant deeds of knighthood, and his army, hath pressed us sore,
They have skill and strength for the conflict. And many a soldier more390
With Gaschier of Normandy came here, and a hero wise is he.
Many knights hath he brought to this country (and wrathful guests they be):
Kailet of Hoscurast. All these hath he brought upon our fair land
With his comrades four, and his soldiers, the Scottish king Friedebrand!
And there, to the West, by the sea-coast doth Eisenhart's army lie,395
And their eyes shall be fain for weeping; nor in secret, nor openly
Hath one seen them, and failed to marvel at their grief and their sorrow sore,
Since their lord hath been slain in battle with the heart's rain their eyes run o'er.'
Then the guest courteous spake to his hostess, 'I would, an it seem thee right,
Thou shouldst say why thy foeman threaten, why they seek thee with war-like might!400
[Pg 16] Thou hast here many gallant heroes, it grieveth me sore to see
Thy land thus with hate o'erladen, for woe must it bring to thee.'
'Wouldst thou know? Then, Sir Knight, I will tell thee—A knight did me service true,
And the fruit of all manly virtue his life as its decking knew,
And gallant and wise was the hero, and his faith as a goodly tree 405
Was fast-rooted, and none so courteous but were shamed by his courtesy.
And modest was he as a woman, tho' dauntless and strong, I trow,
And a knight e'en as he free-handed ere his day never land might know.
(But they that shall come hereafter, other folk shall their doings see.)
A fool was he in false dealing, and a Moor, as myself shall be; 410
And his father's name was Tánkaneis, a king of a kingly heart,
And his son, he who was my lover, men knew him as Eisenhart.
That for love's sake I took his service, as a woman I did not well,
It hath brought me but lasting sorrow since no joy to his portion fell,
They deem I to death betrayed him! Yet such treason were far from me,415
Tho' his folk bring such charge against me; and dear to my heart was he,
Far dearer than they e'er held him. Nor witnesses here shall fail
To speak to the truth of my saying, if it please them to tell the tale.
His gods and mine, they know it, the truth—I must sorrow deep
Since my womanly shame hath brought him a guerdon I needs must weep!420
'Thus he won in my maiden service much honour by knighthood fair,
I thought thus to prove my lover; his deeds did his worth declare.
For my sake he put off his harness (that which like to a hall doth stand
Is a lofty tent, the Scotch folk they brought it into this land),
Then e'en tho' he bare no armour his body he little spared, 425
For he held his life as worthless, many ventures unarmed he dared.
As the matter so stood between us, a prince who my man should be,
Prothizilas did men call him, a bold knight, from all cowardice free,
Rode forth in search of venture, and evil for him that day
For there, in Assagog's forest, his death in waiting lay. 430
In a knightly joust he met it, and there too he found his end
The gallant knight who faced him—'Twas Prince Eisenhart my friend.
For both of the twain were piercèd with a spear thro' heart and shield,
And I, alas! poor woman, must weep for that fatal field.
[Pg 17] And ever their death doth grieve me, and sorrow from love shall grow,435
And never henceforth as my husband a man do I think to know.'
Then e'en tho' she was a heathen Gamuret he bethought him well,
That a heart more true and tender ne'er in woman's breast might dwell.
Her purity was her baptism, and as water that washed her o'er
Was the rain that streamed from her eyelids o'er her breast, and the robe she wore;440
All her joy did she find in sorrow, and grief o'er her life did reign—
Then the queen she looked on the hero, and in this wise she spake again:
'With his army the king of Scotland hath sought me across the sea,
For the knight was son to his uncle; yet no ill can he do to me,
If here the truth be spoken, that is worse than the grief I knew 445
For Eisenhart's death!' and sorely she sighed that lady true;
And many a glance thro' her tear-drops on Gamuret shyly fell,
And her eyes to her heart gave counsel, and his beauty it pleased her well,
(And she knew how to judge a fair face, since fair heathen she oft had seen,)
And the root of true love and longing it sprang up the twain between.450
She looked upon him, and his glances, they answering sought her own—
Then she bade them to fill the wine-cup, had she dared, it were left undone,
And she grieved she might not delay it, since to many a hero brave
Who spake with the maids this wine-cup the signal of parting gave.
Yet her body was e'en as his body, and his look did such courage give455
To the maid, that she thought henceforward in the life of the knight to live.
Then he stood upright, and he spake thus, 'Lady, I weary thee,
Too long methinks do I sit here, I were lacking in courtesy!
As befitting true knight and servant I mourn for thy woe so great,
Lady, do thou command me, I will on thy bidding wait. 460
Wherever thou wilt, there I wend me. I will serve thee in all I may!'
And the lady she quoth in answer, 'I believe thee, Sir Knight, alway!'
Then his kindly host the Burg-grave, of his labour would nothing spare
Lest the hours of his stay be heavy; and he asked if he forth would fare,
And ride round the walls of the city? 'The battle-field shalt thou see,465
And how we would guard our portals!' then Gamuret courteously
[Pg 18] Made answer, he fain would see it, the field where they late had fought,
And the place where brave deeds of knighthood had by gallant hands been wrought.
And noble knights rode with him adown from the palace hall,
Some were wise, some were young and foolish,—So rode they around the wall470
To sixteen gates, and they told him not one of them might they close
Since Eisenhart's death called for vengeance—'So wrathful shall be our foes
Our conflict it resteth never, but we fight both by night and day,
Nor our portals since then we fasten, but open they stand alway.
At eight of our gates they beset us, true Eisenhart's gallant knights,475
And evil shall they have wrought us; spurred by anger each man doth fight,
The princes of lofty lineage, the king of Assagog's ban!'
And there floated before each portal a banner, so pale and wan,
With a piercèd knight upon it. When Eisenhart lost his life
His folk chose to them this symbol, as badge in the coming strife. 480
'But against these arms have we others, wherewith we their grief would still,
And thus shalt thou know our banner; 'twas wrought at our lady's will,
Two fingers in oath she stretcheth, that never such grief she knew
As Eisenhart's death hath brought her (true sorrow for heart so true),
And so doth it stand the semblance of our queen, on a samite white 485
Belakané in sable fashioned,—Since against us they came in might,
(To avenge him for whom she sorrows) so she looks from our portals high.
And proud Friedebrand's mighty army doth to eight of our gates stand nigh,
Baptized men, from o'er the waters. A prince doth each portal hold,
And forth from the gate he sallies, with his banners and warriors bold.'490
'From the host of Gaschier the Norman, a count have we captive ta'en,
And heavy methinks the ransom we may hope from that knight to gain;
He is sister's son to Kailet, and the harm he to us hath done
His nephew I ween shall pay for! Yet such prize have we seldom won.
Here have we no grassy meadow, but sand, thirty gallops wide 495
Betwixt the tents and the trenches; here many a joust we ride.
And further his host would tell him, 'One knight, he doth never fail
To ride forth, a fair joust seeking. (If his service shall nought avail
With her who hath sent him hither, what boots it how well he fight?)
Proud Heuteger is the hero, of him may I speak with right 500
[Pg 19] For since our besiegers threaten there dawneth never a day
But before the gates 'neath the castle, that knight doth his charger stay.
And oft from that dauntless hero many tokens we needs must bear,
That he smote through our shields at his spear-point, and costly their worth and rare
When the squire from the shield doth break them. Many knights 'fore his joust must fall;505
He would that all men may behold him, and our women they praise him all.
And he who is praised of women, one knoweth that he doth hold
The prize in his hand, and his heart's joy in full measure shall aye be told!'
But now would the sun, grown weary, its wandering rays recall;
'Twas time that the ride was ended—Then he sought with his host the hall,510
And the evening meal was ready; and I needs of that feast must tell,
'Twas laid in a fitting order, and knightly 'twas served, and well.
And the queen with mien so stately she unto his table came,
(Here stood the fish, there the heron) and she counted it not for shame
To ride adown from her palace, that herself she might be aware 515
If they cared for the guest as 'twas fitting, and with her rode her maidens fair.
Low she knelt (and but ill it pleased him) and cut as it seemed her best
For the knight a fitting portion; she was glad in her goodly guest.
And she filled for him the wine-cup, and care for his needs would take,
And well did he mark, the hero, her mien, and the words she spake. 520
And his fiddlers sat at the table, and over against the knight
Was his chaplain: with shy looks shamefast, he spake to the lady bright:
'I looked not to find such welcome as, Lady, thou gavest me,
Too much must I deem the honour! If rede I might give to thee,
Then to-day I had claimed naught from thee save was due to my worth alone,525
Nor adown the hill hadst thou ridden, nor such service to me hadst shown.
And, Lady, if I may venture to make unto thee request,
Let me live but as best befits me, thou dost honour o'ermuch thy guest!'
Yet her kindly care she stayed not; for she stept to his page's seat
And with gentle words and friendly she prayed them to freely eat, 530
This she did her guest to honour: and the noble lads, I trow,
Bare goodwill to the royal lady. Nor the queen methinks was slow
[Pg 20] To pass where the host was seated and his lady, the Burg-gravine,
And she raised the golden goblet, and she spake as should fit a queen:
'Now unto your care I give him, our guest, and I rede ye both 535
Since the honour is yours, to hearken, and do my will nothing loth!'
And she bade them farewell, and she turned her, and passed to her guest once more,
Whose heart for her sake was heavy; and such sorrow for him she bore,
And her heart and her eyes they answered, and they spake to her sorrow yea!
And courteous she spake, the lady, 'Sir Knight, thou the word shalt say,540
And whate'er be thy will, I will do it, for I hold thee a worthy guest.
Now give me, I pray, dismissal; if here thou in peace shalt rest,
Of that shall we all be joyful.' Her torch-holders were of gold,
And four tapers they bare before her, so she rode to her fortress-hold.
Nor long at the board they lingered—The hero was sad, and gay, 545
He was glad for the honour done him, yet a sorrow upon him lay,
And that was strong Love's compelling, that a proud heart and courage high
Can bend to her will, and gladness shall oft at her bidding fly.
Then the hostess she passed to her chamber, yea, e'en as the meal was o'er;
And a couch did they spread for the hero, and love to the labour bore.550
And the host to his guest spake kindly, 'Now here shall thy sleep be sweet,
Thou shalt rest thro' the night that cometh, to thy need shall such rest be meet.'
Then he spake to his men, and he bade them they should hence from the hall away,
And the noble youths his pages, their couches around his lay
Each one with the head toward his master, for so was the custom good;555
And tapers so tall and flaming alight round the chamber stood.
Yet ill did it please the hero that so long were the hours of night,
For the Moorish queen so dusky, had vanquished his heart of might.
And he turned as a willow wand bendeth, till his joints they were heard to crack,
The strife and the love that he craved for he deemed he o'er-long did lack.560
And his heart-beats they echoed loudly, as it swelled high for knighthood fain,
And he stretched himself as an archer who bendeth a bow amain.
And so eager his lust for battle that sleepless the hero lay
[Pg 21] Till he saw the grey light of morning, though as yet it should scarce be day.
And his chaplain for Mass was ready, and to God and the knight they sing,565
For so did he give commandment. Then he bade them his harness bring,
And he rode where a joust should wait him, and that self-same hour would ride
A horse that could charge the foeman, and turn swiftly to either side,
And answer to bit and bridle if its rider would backward draw.
And the watchers, both man and woman, his helm in the gateway saw, 570
And the anchor shone fair upon it; and no man ere this might see
So wondrous fair a hero, for like to a god was he!
And strong spears they bare for his using—How then was he decked, the knight?
With iron was his charger covered, as should serve for a shield in fight,
And above lay another covering, nor heavy methinks it weighed, 575
'Twas a samite green; and his surcoat and blazoned coat were made
Of Achmardi, green to look on, and in Araby fashioned fair,
And no lie I tell, but the shield-thongs that the weight of the shield should bear
Were of silk and gold untarnished, and jewel-bedecked their pride,
And the boss of the shield was covered with red gold, in the furnace tried.580
He served but for love's rewarding; sharp conflict he held it light;
And the queen she looked from her window, with many a lady bright.
And see, there Heuteger held him, who the prize ne'er had failed to gain;
When he saw the knight draw nearer, in swift gallop across the plain,
He thought, 'Now whence came this Frenchman? Who hither this knight hath sent?585
If a Moor I had thought this hero, my wit were to madness bent!'
No whit they delayed the onslaught, from gallop to swifter flight
Each man spurred amain his charger; and as fitting a valiant knight
Nor one would evade the other, but would meet him in jousting fair,
From brave Heuteger's spear the splinters flew high thro' the summer air,590
But his foeman so well withstood him that he thrust him from off his steed
Adown on the grass; but seldom might he win for his joust such meed!
And his foe in his course rode o'er him, and trode him unto the ground,
[Pg 22] Yet he sprang up again, and valiant, fresh lust for the strife he found,
But Gamuret's lance had pierced him thro' the arm, and he bade him yield,595
And he knew he had found his master, and he spake from the foughten field,
'Now who shall have o'erthrown me?' and the victor he swiftly spake,
'Gamuret Angevin do men call me!' then he quoth, 'Thou my pledge canst take!'
Then his pledge the knight took, and straightway he sent him within the wall,
And much praise did he win from the women who looked from the castle hall.600
And swiftly there came towards him, Gaschier of Normandy,
A proud and wealthy hero and mighty in strife was he.
And Gamuret made him ready, for a second joust he'ld ride,
And strong and new was his spear-shaft, and the iron was both sharp and wide,
And the strangers they faced each other—But unequal their lot, I trow,605
For Gaschier and his gallant charger full swiftly were they laid low,
And the knight with his arms and harness he fell in the shock of strife;
If he thought it for good or for evil, by his pledge must he win his life.
Then Gamuret quoth, the hero, 'Thou hast pledged unto me thine hand,
Yet the weapon it well hath wielded! Ride thou to the Scottish band,610
And bid them to cease from troubling; if they to thy will are fain,
Thou canst follow me to the city.' Then the knight hied him o'er the plain.
If he prayed them, or gave commandment, they did at the last his will,
And the Scottish host they rested, and from conflict they held them still.
Then Kailet spurred swift towards him, but Gamuret turned his rein,615
His cousin he was, and near kinsman, why then bring him grief and pain?
And the Spaniard cried loudly on him; on his helm he an ostrich bare,
And so far as I know to tell ye the knight he was decked so fair
With silken raiment goodly, and long were his robes and wide,
And the plain rang clear with the chiming of sweet bells as he o'er it hied.620
The flower he of manly beauty, and his fairness it held the field,
Save for two who should come hereafter, and his fame unto theirs must yield;
[Pg 23] But Parzival and brave Beaucorps, King Lot's son, they are not here,
Not yet were they born, but hereafter for their beauty men held them dear!
Then Gaschier he grasped his bridle. 'Now checked will it be thy race,625
So I tell thee upon mine honour, if the Angevin thou shalt face
Who there my pledge hath taken. Sir Knight, thou shalt list my prayer
And hearken unto my counsel; in Gamuret's hand I sware
From strife aside to turn thee: stay thy steed then for my sake,
For mighty is he in conflict!' Then aloud King Kailet spake, 630
'Is he Gamuret my cousin, and son unto King Gandein?
Then I care not with him to battle, no foe shall he be of mine!
Take thine hand from off my bridle'—'Nay, further thou shalt not fare
Till mine eyes have first beheld thee, with thine head of the helmet bare,
For mine with blows is deafened!' Then his helmet the prince unbound.635
And yet, tho' with him he fought not, Gamuret other foemen found.
And the day had grown to high morning—And the folk who the joust might see
Were glad at heart, and they gat them to their bulwarks right speedily,
For he was as a net before them, and none might escape his hold.
And he chose him another charger, so the tale unto me was told, 640
And it flew, and the earth it spurnèd, and its work could aright fulfil,
Bold when the knight would battle, yet its speed could he check at will.
And what would he do the rider? His valour I praise alway,
For he rode where the Moorish army to the west by the sea-coast lay.
Thence a prince, Rassalig men called him, forgat not each coming morn645
(He was Assagog's richest hero, to riches and honour born
Since he came of a royal lineage) to take from the camp his way
He would fain joust before the city—But his strength it was quelled that day
By Anjou's dauntless hero; and a dusky maid made moan
(Since 'twas she who sent him hither) that her knight should be thus o'erthrown.650
For a squire brought, without his bidding, to his master, brave Gamuret,
A spear, with light reed-shaft fashioned, and its point 'gainst the Moor he set,
And with it he smote the paynim from his steed down upon the sand,
Nor longer he bade him lie there than as surety he pledged his hand.
[Pg 24] So the strife it had found its ending, and the hero had won him fame;655
Then Gamuret saw eight banners toward the city that onward came,
And he bade the conquered hero the force with his word to stay,
And follow him to the city. And that word must he needs obey.
Nor Gaschier delayed his coming; and unto the Burg-grave told
How his guest sought for further conflict nor his wrath might the host withhold.660
If he swallowed not iron as an ostrich, nor his wrath did on stones assuage
'Twas but that he might not find them! Then he gnashed his teeth for rage,
And he growled as a mighty lion, and the hair of his head he tare,
And he quoth, 'So the years of my lifetime a harvest of folly bear,
The gods they had sent to my keeping a valiant and worthy friend, 665
If with strife he shall be o'erladen, then mine honour hath found an end;
Sword and shield they shall little profit—Yea, shame he would on me cast
Who should bring this to my remembrance!' Then swift from his place he passed,
And he gat him into the portal, and a squire towards him drew,
And he bare a shield that was painted with a knight by a spear pierced thro',670
In Eisenhart's land was it fashioned; and a helmet his hand must hold,
And a sword that Rassalig carried in battle, that heathen bold,
But now was he parted from it whose fame was in every place;
Were he slain unbaptized I think me, God had shown to this hero grace!
And e'en as the Burg-grave saw it, ne'er of yore was his joy so great,675
For the coat-of-arms he knew it—So he rode thro' the city gate,
And without, his guest had halted, young hero he, not yet old,
As one of a joust desirous, and his bridle the Burg-grave bold,
Lahfilirost was his name, he grasped it, and he led him within the wall;
And I wot well no other foeman that day 'neath his spear must fall.680
Quoth Lahfilirost the Burg-grave, 'Sir Knight, thou shalt tell to me
If thine hand Rassalig hath vanquished?' 'Then our land from all strife is free;
For he of the Moors is chieftain, the men of true Eisenhart
Who have brought unto us such sorrow—But now shall our woe depart,
'Twas a wrathful god who bade him thus seek us with all his host, 685
But his weapons to naught are smitten, and to folly is turned his boast!'
Then he led him in (ill it pleased him) and there met then the royal maid,
[Pg 25] And she loosened the bands of his vizor, and her hand on his bridle laid,
To her care must the Burg-grave yield it: nor his squires to their task were slack,
For they turned them about, and swiftly they rode on their master's track.690
So men saw the queen so gracious lead her guest thro' the city street
Who here should be hailed the victor—Then she lighted her on her feet,
'Ah me! but thy squires are faithful! Fear ye lest your lord be lost?
Without ye shall he be cared for; take his steed, here am I his host!'
And above found he many a maiden: then her hands of dusky hue 695
The queen set unto his harness, and disarmed the knight so true.
And the bed-covering was of sable, and the couch it was spread so fair,
And in secret a hidden honour they did for the knight prepare,
For no one was there to witness—The maidens they might not stay,
And the door was fast closed behind them, and Frau Minne might have her way.700
So the queen in the arms of her true love found guerdon of sweet delight,
Tho' unlike were the twain in their colour, Moorish princess and Christian knight!
Then the townsfolk brought many an offering to the gods who had seen their woe.
That which Rassalig needs must promise ere he from the field might go
That he did, in all truth and honour, yet heavy was he at heart, 705
And afresh sprang the fount of his sorrow for his prince gallant Eisenhart.
And the Burg-grave he heard of his coming; then loud rang the trumpet call,
And no man of Zassamank's princes but came to the palace hall.
They gave Gamuret thanks for the honour he had won in the field that day,
Four-and-twenty had fallen before him, and their chargers he bore away,710
And three chieftains had he made captive. And there rode in the princes' train
Many gallant knights, in the courtyard of the palace did they draw rein.
And the hero had slept and eaten, and clad him in raiment fair,
Chief host was he, for his body fit garments would they prepare.
And she who afore was a maiden but now was a wife would take 715
Her lord by the hand, forth she led him, and unto her princes spake:
[Pg 26] 'My body and this my kingdom are vassals unto this knight,
If so be that his foemen fearing, resist not his hand of might!'
Then Gamuret spake, and his bidding was courteous, for hero meet,
Sir Rassalig, go thou nearer, with a kiss thou my wife shalt greet;720
And Sir Gaschier, thou shalt do likewise.' Then the Scotch knight proud Heuteger
He bade on the lips to kiss her (and the wounds won in joust he bare).
Then he bade them all be seated, and standing, he wisely spake:
'I were fain to behold my kinsman, if he who did captive take
The knight shall have naught against it—As kinsman it seemeth me 725
That I find here no other counsel save straightway to set him free!'
Then the queen she smiled, and bade them go swiftly and seek the knight,
And then thro' the throng he pressed him, that count so fair and bright,
Yet bare he the wounds of knighthood, and bravely and well had fought;
With the host of Gaschier the Norman the land of the Moors he sought.730
He was courteous; his sire a Frenchman he was Kailet's sister's son,
Killirjacac his name; in the service of fair women fair meed he won,
And the fairest of men they deemed him. When Gamuret saw his face
(For like were they each to the other, as men of a kindred race)
He bade his queen to kiss him and embrace him as kinsman true, 735
And he spake, 'Now come thou and greet me!' and the knight to his arms he drew,
And he kissed him, and each was joyful that the other he here might meet:
And Gamuret quoth unto him, 'Alas! cousin fair and sweet,
What doth thy young strength in this conflict? Say, if woman hath sent thee here?'
'Nay, never a woman sent me, with my cousin I came, Gaschier, 740
He knoweth why he hath brought me—A thousand men have I,
And I do to him loyal service—To Rouen in Normandy
I came, where his force was gathered, and many a youthful knight
I brought from Champagne in mine army; 'neath his banner we fain would fight.
Now evil hath turned against him what of cunning is hers and skill,745
Thou wilt honour thyself if thou free him for my sake, and cure his ill!'
'Thyself shalt fulfil thy counsel! Go thou, take with thee Gaschier,
[Pg 27] I would fain see my kinsman Kailet, do thou bring him unto me here!'
So they wrought out the host's desiring, and brought him at his behest,
And in loving wise and kindly did Gamuret greet his guest; 750
And ofttimes the queen embraced him, and kissed him with kisses sweet:
And nothing it wronged her honour in such wise the prince to greet,
He was cousin unto her husband, by birth was himself a king.
Then smiling his host spake to him, 'God knows, 'twere an evil thing,
Had I taken from thee Toledo, and thy goodly land of Spain 755
For Gascony's king, who wrathful doth plague thee with strife amain;
'Twere faithless of me, Sir Kailet, since mine aunt's son thou sure shalt be;
The bravest of knights shall be with thee; say, who forced this strife on thee?'
Then out spake the proud young hero, 'My cousin Schiltung bade
(Since his daughter Friedebrand wedded) that I lend to the king mine aid.760
For the sake of his wife hath he won him, yea even from me alone
Six thousand chosen heroes, who valour and skill have shown.
And other men did I bring him, but a part they shall hence have sailed,
For the Scottish folk came they hither, brave bands who in strife ne'er failed.
And there came to his aid from Greenland, strong heroes who bravely fought,765
Two mighty kings, and a torrent of knighthood with them they brought,
And many a goodly vessel: and they pleased me, those men of might—
And here for his sake came Morhold, who hath cunning and skill in fight.'
'But now have they turned them homewards, and that which the queen shall say
Even that will I do with mine army, her servant am I alway! 770
Thou shalt thank me not for this service, from kinsman 'twas due, I ween.
Now thine are these gallant heroes, if like mine they baptized had been
And were even as they in colour, then never a monarch crowned
But if they should fight against him, of conflict his fill had found!
But I marvel what here hath brought thee? Say, how didst thou reach this strand?'775
'Yestreen I came, and this morning I am lord o'er this goodly land!
The queen by the hand she took me, and with love I myself would shield,
For so did my wit give counsel—' 'Yea, so hast thou won the field,
[Pg 28] Those sweet weapons two hosts have vanquished!' 'Thou wouldst say, since I fled from thee,
So loudly on me thou calledst, say, what wouldst thou force from me?780
Let us speak of the thing in friendship!' 'Thine anchor I failed to know,
But seldom mine aunt's brave husband Gandein, did such token show!'
'But I, I knew well thine ostrich with the snake's head upon thy breast,
Aloft stood thy bird so stately, nor hid it within a nest!'
'And I saw in thy mien and bearing that that pledge would have 'seemed thee ill785
Which two heroes afore had given, tho' first had they fought their fill.'
'E'en such fate as theirs were my portion—But this thing I needs must say,
Tho' little I like a devil, were he victor as thou this day
For love of his gallant doings the women had deemed him sweet,
Yea, as sugar were fain to eat him!' 'Now thou praisest me more than meet!'790
'Nay, of flattery know I little, thou shalt see that I hold thee dear
In other wise!' Then the hero bade Rassalig draw anear.
And courteous he spake, King Kailet, 'My kinsman with valiant hand
Hath made of thee here his captive?' 'Yea, Sire, so the thing doth stand,
And I hold him for such a hero that Assagog's kingdom fair 795
Should fail not to yield him homage, since the crown he may never wear,
Our prince Eisenhart! In her service was he slain who shall now be wife
To thy kinsman, as knight so faithful he gave for her love his life.
With my kiss have I sealed forgiveness, yet my lord and my friend I lost!
If thy cousin by knightly dealing will repay of his death the cost 800
I will fold my hands as his vassal: and wealth shall be his and fame,
All that Eisenhart from Tánkaneis as his heritage thought to claim.
Embalmed here the hero lieth, and I gaze on his wounds each day
Since this spear thro' his true heart piercing, my lord and my king did slay!'
Then he drew it forth from his bosom by a silken cord so fine, 805
And the heroes saw the spear-blade 'neath his robe on his bare chest shine.
And he quoth, 'It is now high morning, if my lord Sir Killirjacac
My token will bear to my princes, with him will the knights ride back.'
And a finger-ring he sent them: dark as hell were those heroes all
And they rode who were there of princes, thro' the town to the castle hall.810
As his vassals he gave with their banners to Assagog's lords their land,
[Pg 29] And each one rejoiced in the fiefdom he won from his ruler's hand,
But the better part was his portion, Gamuret's, as their lord and king.
And these were the first—as they passed hence their homage they fain would bring
The princes of Zassamank's kingdom, and they came in their order due,815
And each as their queen had bade them, they took from his hand anew
Their land, and the fruit it should bear them, as to each man was fit and right,
And poverty fled from his presence. Now he who was slain in fight
And in life was a prince by lineage, Prothizilas, he had left
A Dukedom fair, and this country which was thus of its lord bereft 820
He gave unto him who much honour had won by his strong right hand,
The Burg-grave, in combat dauntless—With its banners he took the land.
Then Assagog's noble princes took the Scotch Duke, proud Heuteger,
And Gaschier, the Norman hero, to their lord did they lead them there,
And he spake them free for their asking, and they thanked brave Gamuret.825
Then Heuteger of Scotland with prayers did these knights beset,
'Now give to our lord the armour, as prize for his deeds so brave,
That Eisenhart's life took from us, when to Friedebrand he gave
That which was of our land the glory—Forfeit of joy the knight,
And dead on his bier he lieth, since no love might his love requite—'830
And earth knoweth naught so goodly, the helm it was strong and hard,
Yea even of diamond fashioned, in battle a goodly guard.
Then Heuteger sware unto them, if the land of his lord he saw
He would pray of his hand the armour, and send it to them once more.
And this did he swear them freely—Then leave would the princes pray835
Who stood in the royal presence, and they wend from the hall their way.
And tho' sorely the land was wasted, yet Gamuret scattered free
Such royal gifts and goodly as if laden with gold each tree.
And costly I ween the presents that vassal and friend must share
From the open hand of the hero; and the queen deemed it right and fair.840
Full many a bitter conflict had been fought ere the bridal feast,
But peace had the foeman sealèd, and the land was from strife released;
(Nor this song I myself have woven, but so was it told to me)
[Pg 30] And Eisenhart did they bury with honours right royally.
To his grave did his kinsmen bear him, and the gold that his lands might bring845
In a whole year long, did they spend there, of their free will they did this thing.
And Gamuret bade his kinsfolk his riches and lands to hold
And use as they would; tho' they craved not such boon from the hero bold.
At dawn from before the fortress the foe would their camp withdraw,
And those who were there departed; many litters with them they bore.850
And the field was left unsheltered, save for one tent so great and fair,
And the king he bade his servants that tent to his vessel bear.
And he said to his folk that to Assagog would he take it, and yet I wot
He did with that speech deceive them, for Assagog saw him not.
Now that proud and gallant hero, his heart gave him little rest 855
Since he found there no deeds of knighthood, and gladness forsook his breast;
Yet his dusky wife was dearer than e'en his own life might be,
Ne'er knew he a truer lady whose heart was from falsehood free,
She forgat not what 'seemed a woman, and with her as comrades good
Went purity untarnished, and the ways of true womanhood. 860
He was born in Seville's fair city whom the knight would hereafter pray,
When he grew of his sojourn weary, to sail with him far away;
For many a mile had he led him, and he brought him unto this place,
And a Christian was he, the steersman, nor like to a Moor in face.
And wisely he spake, 'Thou shalt hide it from them who a dark skin bear,865
Too swift is my barque for pursuing, from hence shall we quickly fare!'
Then his gold it was borne to the vessel. Now of parting I needs must tell,
By night did he go, the hero, and his purpose he hid it well;
But when from his wife he sailèd, in her womb did she bear his child:
And fair blew the wind, and the breezes bare him hence o'er the waters wild.870
And the lady she found a letter, and 'twas writ by her husband's hand;
And in French (for she well could read it) did the words of the writing stand:
[Pg 31] 'Here one love to another speaketh—As a thief have I stolen away
That mine eyes might not see thy sorrow—But this thing I needs must say,
Wert thou, e'en as I, a Christian I ever should weep for thee, 875
For e'en now I must sorely mourn thee. If it chance that our child shall be
In face like unto one other, then his is a dowry fair,
Of Anjou was he born, and Frau Minne for his lady he did declare.
Yet was he in strife a hailstorm, ill neighbour unto his foe;
That his grandsire hath been King Gandein, this I will that my son shall know.880
Dead he lay thro' his deeds of knighthood; and his father the same death won,
Addanz was his name, and unsplintered his shield hath been seen of none;
And by birth he hath been a Breton, and two brothers' sons were they,
He and the brave Pendragon, and their sires' names I here will say;
For Lassalies he hath been the elder, and Brickus was his brother's name,885
And Mazadan was their father whom a fay for her love did claim.
Terre-de-la-schoie did they call her, to Fay-Morgan she led the king,
For he was her true heart's fetters; and my race from those twain did spring.
And fair shall they be, and valiant, and as crownèd kings they reign—
If lady, thou'lt be baptizèd thou mayst win me to thee again!' 890
Yet had she no thought of anger, but she spake, 'Ah! too soon 'tis o'er,
Of a sooth would I do his bidding, would it bring him to me once more.
In whose charge hath my courteous hero left the fruit of his love so true?
Alas! for the sweet communion that we twain for a short space knew!
Shall the strength of my bitter sorrow rule body and soul alway? 895
And she quoth, 'Now his God to honour, his will would I fain obey,
And gladly I'ld be baptizèd, and live as should please my love!'
And sorrow with her heart struggled, and e'en as the turtle dove
Her joy sought the withered branches, for the same mind was hers, I ween,
When the mate of the turtle dieth, she forsaketh the branches green.900
Then the queen at the time appointed bare a son, who was dark and light,
For in him had God wrought a wonder, at one while was he black and white.
And a thousand times she kissed him where white as his sire's his skin.
And she named the babe of her sorrows Feirefis Angevin.
And he was a woodland-waster, many spears did he shatter fair, 905
And shields did he pierce—as a magpie the hue of his face and hair.
Now a year and more was ended since Gamuret won such fame
[Pg 32] At Zassamank, and his right hand the victor's prize might claim,
And yet o'er the seas he drifted, for the winds vexed the hero bold.
Then a silken sail red gleaming he saw, and the barque did hold 910
The men whom the King of Scotland, Friedebrand, sent upon their way
At the bidding of Queen Belakané: from her would they pardon pray
That ever he came against her, tho' in sooth he had lost the more.
And with them the diamond helmet, the corslet and sword they bore,
And hosen e'en such as the harness, and a marvel it needs must be 915
That the barque was thus borne towards him, as the venture hath told to me!
And they gave him the goodly armour, and an oath unto them he swore
That his mouth it should speak their message, an he came to the queen once more.
And they parted; and one hath told me that the sea bare him onward bound
Till he came to a goodly haven, and in Seville his goal he found. 920
And with gold did he pay his steersman right well for his guidance true,
And they parted, those twain, and sorrow the heart of that steersman knew!

[Pg 33]


[Pg 34]


This Book tells how Gamuret sought for King Kailet, and found him before Kanvoleis. How the Queen of the Waleis ordered a Tourney to be holden, and of the heroes there assembled. How Gamuret did valiant deeds, and was adjudged the victor; and how two queens laid claim to his love. Of the wedding of Gamuret and Queen Herzeleide and their love to each other. How Gamuret went to the aid of the Baruch, and was treacherously slain before Alexandria. How the news was brought to the land of the Waleis; of the sorrow of Herzeleide; and of the birth of Parzival.

[Pg 35]



Now there in the Spanish country he thought him the king to greet,
His kinsman and cousin Kailet, and he followed with footsteps fleet
To Toledo, but thence had he ridden unto deeds of knighthood fair,
Where many a spear should be splintered, and men thought not their shields to spare.
Then he thought him to make him ready (so the venture doth tell I ween)5
With many a blazoned spear-shaft, and many a sendal green;
For each spear it bare a pennon, with the anchor in ermine white,
And well was it wrought, the symbol, and costly in all men's sight.
And long and broad were the pennons, and e'en to the hand hung low
When men on the spear-blade bound them, a span-breadth the point below.10
And a hundred spears were ready for that true and gallant knight,
And his cousin's folk they bare them, and with him went forth to fight;
And honour and loyal service they showed him as fit and fair,
Nor I think had their lord been wrathful that his kinsman their love should share.
I know not how long he sought him, till shelter at length he found 15
In the Waleis land: 'fore Kanvoleis were pitched on the open ground
Many tents so fair and knightly; (I speak not from fancy light
But sooth are the words I tell ye if the tale ye would hear aright)
Then he bade his folk to halt there, and he sent on before his face
The chief of his squires, and he bade him to seek them a resting-place.20
He would fain do his master's bidding, and swift to the town he sped,
And many a pack-horse laden his comrades behind him led.
And never a house he saw there but its roof was a shield I trow,
[Pg 36] And the walls were hung and circled with spears in a goodly row,
For the queen of the Waleis country had ordered at Kanvoleis 25
That a Tourney fair be holden, and they ordered it in such wise
That a coward had little liked it—for whoever would seek such strife
At his will doth it chance but seldom! She was maiden, not yet a wife,
And herself and two lands she offered to him who the prize should hold;
And many to earth had fallen in whose ear had this tale been told, 30
And he who such fall must suffer he held that his chance was o'er.
And many a dauntless hero showed knighthood those walls before,
And many a horse rushed onward as the knight spurred to onslaught fierce,
And the sword-blades rang clear on each other, and spears did the shield rims pierce.
A bridge from the plain was builded that crossed o'er the river's flow,35
And 'twas closed by a tower-portal; nor the squire at his task was slow,
But he opened the gates, unwearied, when one would an entrance win.
And above it there stood the palace, and the queen sat the hall within,
And she gazed from the high hall window with many a maiden fair,
And they looked on the squires beneath them to see what had brought them there.40
'Twixt themselves had they taken counsel, and a tent did they rear on high
For the winning of love ungranted a king wrought it in days gone by,
('Twas in service of Queen Belakané). The squires laboured with might and main
Till the burden of thirty pack-steeds they raised on the grassy plain,
A pavilion rich to look on, and the meadow it was so wide 45
That the silken ropes that held it might stretch forth on either side.
And Gamuret, their master, ate without in the open air—
And then for his courtly entrance with skill would the knight prepare,
Nor longer might be delaying—His squires take the spears straightway,
And they bind them fast together, and five in each band they lay, 50
And the sixth in their hand they carry, with its pennon and anchor white;
So proudly into the city came riding this gallant knight.
Then the queen she heard the tidings that a noble guest was come
From a far-off land and distant, and in sooth was he known to none.
[Pg 37] 'And courteous his folk in bearing; both heathen and French I trow, 55
And Angevin, some among them if their speech I aright may know;
And their courage is high, and their raiment both rich and well shaped shall be.
But now was I with his people, and they seem me from falsehood free,
And they say, 'Who hath lust for riches, if he to our lord shall seek
He will free him from fear of scarceness!' The while I with them did speak,60
I asked them to tell of their master, and they thought not to hide the thing,
But spake of a true heart freely, 'Of Zassamank is he king.'
'Twas a page who brought the tidings—'Ah me! that pavilion fair!
Wouldst thou pledge thy crown and thy kingdom not half of its cost were there!'
'Thou needst not to praise so highly, my mouth ne'er shall say thee nay,65
A rich man shall be its owner, no lack doth he know alway.'
And in this wise she spake, the lady, the fair and gracious queen,
'Why cometh he not to the castle? For fain I his face had seen.'
This she bade her page to ask him—Then the hero was fain to make
Brave entry into the city, and the sleepers must needs awake. 70
Many shields he saw fair shining—The blast of the trumpets clear
Rang loud and long before him, and two drummers ye needs must hear
As they tossed and smote their tambours, and the walls echoed back the sound,
With the notes of the flutes 'twas mingled as the train through the city wound,
'Twas a march that they played so gaily—Nor forget we how he must ride75
Their master and lord, he followed with the fiddlers his rein beside.
Then he threw his leg o'er his charger, that hero so bold and fair,
And boots did he wear of leather, or else had his limbs been bare.
And his mouth it was e'en as a ruby, and red, as a fire doth burn,
And full, not too thin; fair his body wherever the eye might turn; 80
And fair was his hair and curling, and wherever one saw the skin
I ween 'twas as costly cover as ever a head might win.
And of samite green was his mantle, and the sable shone dark thereon
Tho' white was his vest, and the gazers they came in a goodly throng.
And many must ask the question, 'Who was he, the beardless knight 85
[Pg 38] Who rode with such pomp of riches?' Then the tale it was spread aright,
For they spake it as truth who knew it—So they drew to the bridge anear
The folk of the town, and his people; and so bright was the radiance clear
That shone from the queen that it thrilled him thro' his strong limbs, that goodly knight,
And he braced himself as a falcon that plumeth its wings for flight,90
And the lodging he deemed it goodly; so thought he that hero wise;
And his hostess with joy beheld him, the lady of fair Waleis!
Then the king of Spain he heard it, how there stood on the open plain
The tent that at Rassalig's bidding Gamuret as his prize did gain
At Patelamunt, and the tidings a knight to his lord would bring— 95
Then he sped as a deer, joy's vassal I ween was the gallant king!
And thus spake the knight, 'Thy kinsman, and the son of thine aunt I saw,
And with pomp and in state as aforetime, so to-day doth he hither draw;
There are floating a hundred pennons full fair by his knightly shield,
And around his high pavilion they stand on the grassy field, 100
And green as the grass the pennons, and the hero bold doth bear
Three anchors of snow-white ermine on every sendal fair.'
'Hath he come here arrayed for battle? Ah! then shall men see straightway
How he spurreth him swift to the onslaught, how he striveth in knightly fray!
Long time hath the proud King Hardeiss his anger against me shown, 105
Here in joust shall Gamuret fell him, and good fortune shall be mine own!'
Then straightway he sent a message to Gaschier, the Norman knight,
Where he lay with many a vassal; and Killirjacac the fair and bright,
For here had they come at his bidding—The twain at King Kailet's side
Towards the fair pavilion with a goodly following hied. 110
And Zassamank's king was joyful, for he held them dear at heart:
And the time over-long had seemed them since they must from each other part,
This they spake of a true heart truly—And the king he was fain to know
What knights should be here for the Tourney, who valour and skill should show.
Then spake unto him his kinsmen, 'From distant lands they came, 115
[Pg 39] The knights whom love's power hath brought here, many heroes of dauntless fame.'
'Here Uther Pendragon fighteth, and with him his Breton host;
One grief as a thorn doth vex him, his wife hath the hero lost,
The queen who was Arthur's mother; a clerk who all magic knew
With him hath she fled, and Arthur doth after the twain pursue; 120
'Tis now the third year since he lost them, his son alike and wife—
And here is his daughter's husband, a hero well skilled in strife,
King Lot is his name, of Norway—swift seeketh he knighthood's prize,
But slow are his feet to falsehood, the knight so bold and wise.
And here is his young son Gawain; as yet he too weak shall be 125
For any deed of knighthood—but now was the boy with me,
And he spake, were he not too feeble a spear-shaft as yet to break
He were fain to do deeds of knighthood, in the Tourney his part would take!
His lust for strife waketh early! Here Patrigalt's king hath brought
Of spears a goodly forest; yet their valour shall be as naught 130
When weighed against the gallant doings of the men of Portugal,
Yea, bold we in truth may call them, and shields do they pierce right well.
And here are the men of Provence, with many a blazoned shield;
And here the Waleis, to their onslaught the foemen perforce must yield,
And they ride at their will thro' the combat, for men of the land are they.135
Many fight here for love's rewarding whose title I may not say,
But all whom I here have named thee now lie, and the truth I tell,
At great cost here within the city, for so the queen deemed it well.'
'And without on the plain they hold them who deem their prize lightly won,
Proud Arragon's haughty monarch, and the brave king of Askalon. 140
Eidegast, he is there from Logrois, and the King Brandelidelein
(The monarch is he of Punturtois), there too is bold Lähelein.
And Morhold is there of Ireland, many pledges that knight hath ta'en;
And many a haughty German doth camp on that battle plain.
To this country the Duke of Brabant hath come thro' the King Hardeiss;145
The king of Gascony gave him his sister the fair Aleiss,
(Yet his service ere that won payment) wrath against me those princes drew:
Now I trust thee to think of our kinship—For love's sake do me service true!'
Quoth the king of Zassamank, 'Cousin, no thanks would I have from thee
[Pg 40] Whate'er I may do for thine honour, my will e'en as thine shall be.150
Doth thine ostrich yet stand un-nested? Thou shalt carry its serpent's head
'Gainst thy foeman's demi-gryphon, my anchor shall swift be sped,
And find in his onslaught landing; himself shall a haven seek
Behind his steed on the gravel! If our wrath we be fain to wreak,
And ride one against the other, I fell him, or he felleth me— 155
On my knightly faith as a kinsman this word do I swear to thee!'
Then Kailet he sought his lodging, and his heart it was gay and light.
Then arose on the plain a war-cry, 'fore the face of two gallant knights,
They were Schyolarz of Poitou, and Gurnemanz of Graharz,
On the plain did they meet together; ere the eventide might pass 160
The knights in their troops they rode forth, here by six and there by three,
And they did gallant deeds of knighthood—nor otherwise might it be.
And now it was fully noontide, and the knight in his tent abode;
Then the king of Zassamank heard this, that o'er all the field they rode,
'O'er the length and the breadth they gallop, and in knightly order fight.'165
And thither he rode, the hero, with many a banner bright;
But he rode not in search of conflict, at his leisure he thought to see
What was done by one side and the other of fair deeds of chivalry.
On the plain did they spread his carpet, where the knights in strife would close,
And the shriek of the wounded horses o'er all the tumult rose. 170
The squires stood round in a circle mid the clash of the ringing steel,
And the heroes for fair fame battled, and the swords sang for woe or weal.
There was sound as of splintered spear-shafts, but none need to question, Where?
And his walls were of meeting foemen, by knightly hands builded fair.
And so near was I ween the jousting that the maids from the hall above175
Might look on the toil of the heroes—But sorrow the queen did move
Since the king of Zassamank did naught, nor mingled him in the fight,
And she quoth, 'Ah! why came he hither? I had deemed him a gallant knight!'
(Now the King of France, whose fair wife brought Gamuret sorrow sore
[Pg 41] When he fought for her sake, lay lifeless, and the queen sought the wide world o'er180
To know if from heathen countries he had come to his land again.
'Twas love's power to the search that drove her, for love did her heart constrain.)
And many brave deeds were done there of many a poor man bold,
Who yet for the highest strove not, which the queen for their prize had told,
Herself and her two fair kingdoms,—they thought not such prize to gain,185
But they battled for other booty, tho' their hearts were for payment fain.
Now clad was Gamuret's body in the harness whereby his wife
Might bring to her mind forgiveness, and the ending of bitter strife.
The Scotch King Friedebrand sent it, as a gift, to repay the woe
That with conflict he heaped upon her, nor shall earth of its fellow know.190
Then he looked well upon the diamond—'twas a helmet, thereon they bound
An anchor, and jewels so precious were within its setting found;
Nor small were the stones, but costly, and the weight it was none too light
Of that helmet, and yet he bare it, and decked was the guest for fight
And what was his shield's adorning? of gold of Araby fair, 195
And the boss it was rich and costly, and heavy the weight he bare.
And the red gold shone so brightly that mirrored the face therein,
And an anchor beneath of sable—I were fain to myself to win
That wherewith the knight was girded, full many a mark its worth.
And wide was the coat emblazoned, and it reached e'en unto the earth,200
And I ween that few in battle such raiment shall think to wear.
And if I have skill to praise it, or its value aright declare,
It shone e'en as when there burneth thro' the night-time a living flame,
And never a tint was faded, and its shimmer as lightning came,
A feeble eye had feared it! And with gold was it all inwrought, 205
That in Kaukasus' distant mountains from out of the rock was brought
By gryphon claws, for they guarded, and shall guard it unto this day.
And from Araby came the people who stole it by craft away,—
Elsewhere shall be none so precious,—and they bare it to Araby
Where they weave Achmardi and Pfellel, and no vesture like that shall be!210
His shield, round his neck he hung it—There stood a charger proud,
[Pg 42] Well-nigh to the hoof was it armed—and the squires cried the war-cry loud,
And he sprang on his steed as he found it; and many a spear of might
Did he break with strong hand in the Tourney, and where men did the closest fight
There he brake a way thro' the mêlée, and came forth on the further side,215
And ever behind the Ostrich the Anchor did close abide.
Gamuret smote from off his charger Poytewin of Prienlaskors
And many another hero, their pledge must they yield perforce.
But what knight bare the cross he rejoiced him in the hero's valiant deeds,
And much did he win by his valour, since he gave him the captured steeds.220
Now four banners, with self-same bearing, were led 'gainst that gallant knight,
(And bold riders they rode beneath them, and their lord was a man of might,)
And on each was the tail of a gryphon; and that hinder part I trow
Was e'en as a hailstorm smiting, so rode they in goodly row.
And Gascony's king before them the fore part of that gryphon bare 225
On his shield; he was skilled in battle, and his body was armed full fair
As women alone might arm him; and he rode forth his knights before
Where he saw on a helm the Ostrich, but the Anchor towards him bore,
And he thrust him from off his charger, the brave king of Zassamank,
And made of him there his captive. Here close thronged the knightly ranks,230
And the furrows were trodden level, and their locks must the sword-blade know,
And many a wood was wasted, and many a knight laid low—
And they who thus fell, 'twas told me, they turned their chargers round
And hied to the back of the Tourney, where none but the cowards were found.
And so near was I ween the combat that the women might see aright 235
Who there won the prize of valour; Rivalein that love-lorn knight
With his spear hewed afresh a token, of Loheneis was he king,
And the crash of the splintered spear-shaft did aye with his onslaught ring.
Of a knight did Morhold rob them, for he drew him from off his steed
[Pg 43] And lifted him up before him (unseemly methinks such deed) 340
And Killirjacac they called him,—and ere this King Lac had ta'en
Such payment from him as in falling a knight from the earth may gain—
So his deeds had been fair and knightly; then this valiant man he thought
He would take him with never a sword-thrust, and the knight in his arms he caught.
Then the hand of the valiant Kailet it smote from the saddle-bow 245
The Duke of Brabant, Prince Lambekein, and the hero was laid alow.
And what think ye they did, his soldiers? Their swords into shields they turned,
And with them did they guard their monarch—And ever for strife they yearned.
Then the King of Arragon smote him Uther Pendragon old,
From his charger adown on the meadow fell the king of the Bretons bold,250
And the flowers stood fair around him—Ah! I courteous am I, I trow,
Since the Breton before Kanvoleis I lay on such couch alow,
Where never the foot of a peasant hath trodden unto this day,
Nay, perchance they may never tread there—'tis the truth and no lie I say—
No more might he keep his saddle as he sat on his steed of yore, 255
But his peril his friends forgat not, they fought fiercely the hero o'er.
And many a course was ridden; and the king of Punturtois
Fell prone in his horse's hoof-tracks on the field before Kanvoleis,
And low did he lie behind it—'Twas Gamuret dealt the blow—
'Ride on, on thy course, thou hero, and tread thy foemen low!' 260
Strife giveth whereon to trample! Then Kailet, his kinsman true,
Made the Punturtois his captive, tho' he scarce pierced the mêlée thro'.
Brandelidelein was prisoner, and his folk they had lost their king,
In his stead another monarch to their host did they captive bring.
And hither and thither sped they, the heroes, in armour good, 265
And by blows and by trampling kneaded, of alum I ween their food;
And dark on their skin the swellings, and many a gallant knight
Might speak, as he knew, of bruises he had won him in hard-fought fight.
Now as simple truth I say it, little rest was their portion here,
By love were they forced to conflict, many shields with their blazon clear,270
And many a goodly helmet whose covering the dust should be.
[Pg 44] And the meadow with flowers was sprinkled, and green turf ye there might see,
And there fell on it many a hero, who of honour had won such meed—
More modest were my desiring! 'Twould content me to sit my steed.
Then the king of Zassamank rode forth a space from the knightly fray275
Where a rested steed did wait him, and the diamond he loosed alway,
With no thought of pride in the doing, but the breezes blew fresh and cool,
And the squires unbound his vizor, and his lips shone so red and full.
I have named unto ye a lady—Her chaplain did hither ride,
And with him three noble pages, and strong squires were there beside;280
And pack-horses twain they led there, and the will of their queen they'ld do,
She was Lady of France, Anflisé—Her chaplain was wise and true,
And straightway he knew the hero, and in French should his greeting be,
'Soit le bien venu, mon beau sire' to my lady as e'en to me,
As queen of France she reigneth whom the lance of thy love doth smite,285
And he gave to his hand a letter, and therein read the gallant knight
A greeting fair, and a token it held of a finger-ring—
As pledge of the truth of his mission the chaplain the same must bring
His lady of old received it from the hand of the Angevin—
Then he bowed as he saw the letter. Would ye hear what was writ therein?290
'Here biddeth thee love and greeting a heart that hath ne'er been free
From grief since it knew thy service—Thy love is both lock and key
To my heart, and my heart's rejoicing! For thy love am I like to die,
If thy love afar abideth, then all love from my heart shall fly.
Come thou, and take from my true hand crown, sceptre, and kingdom fair,295
It falleth to me as heirdom, and thy love well may claim a share.
As payment for this thy service rich presents I send to thee,
Four pack-horses' chests well laden—I would thou my knight shouldst be
In this the land of the Waleis, 'fore the city of Kanvoleis.
I care not if the queen shall see it, small harm may therefrom arise,300
For fairer am I, and richer, and I think me shall better know
To take the love that is proffered, and love in return bestow.
Wilt thou live in true love as shall 'seem thee? Then here do I bid thee take
My crown as thy love's rewarding—This I pray for my true love's sake.'
And no more did he find in the letter—Then his squires once more they drew305
[Pg 45] O'er his head the under-helmet; from Gamuret sorrow flew,
And he bound on the helm of diamond, 'twas harder than blade might pierce,
For he thought again to prove him, and ride forth to conflict fierce.
And the messengers did he bid them to lead to the tent for rest:
And he cleared a space around him wherever the conflict pressed. 310
This was vanquished, and that one victor—Did a knight o'er-long delay
To win to him fame in battle, his chance might he find to-day.
Here twain would joust together; in troops would these others ride;
And the customs of friendly combat for a space did they lay aside,
And sworn brotherhood nothing counted 'fore the strength of fierce anger's might,315
And the crooked was seldom straightened; nor spake they of knightly right,
What they captured they kept, uncaring if another's hate they won,
And from many lands had they ridden who with brave hands brave deeds had done,
And their hurts but little grieved them. Here Gamuret heard her prayer,
And e'en as Anflisé bade him, as her knight to the field would fare;320
'Twas a letter had brought the tidings—Ah! he giveth his courage rein,
Is it love or the lust of battle that driveth him on amain?
Great love and strong faith they quicken his strength into life anew.
Now see where his shield he beareth, King Lot, that hero true,
His foemen to flight had forced him save for Gamuret's strong right hand,325
His charger in gallant onslaught brake its way thro' the threatening band,
And Arragon's king was smitten from his horse with a spear of reed,
'Schaffilor was his name, and the spear-point which thrust him from off his steed
Bare never a waving pennon, from paynim lands 'twas brought,'
And the knight made the king his captive, tho' his folk they had bravely fought.330
And the inner force drave the outer far back on the grassy plain.
'Twas a good vesper-play, yea, a Tourney; many spears did they smite in twain—
Then Lähelein 'gain wax wrathful, 'Shall our honour be reft away?
'Tis the fault of him of the Anchor! Now one of us twain to-day
Shall lay in short space the other on a couch that he liketh ill, 335
[Pg 46] For here are they well-nigh victors!' Then they cleared them a space at will,
And no child's play it was that combat—In such wise with their hands they wrought
That a woodland was well-nigh wasted; and alike from their squires they sought
'New spears! New spears! Bring them hither!' Yet Lähelein he must know
Sorrow and shame, for his foeman thrust him down from his horse alow,340
And he smote him the length of the spear-iron in a shaft of reed made fast,
And one read of itself his surety, for the knight to the earth was cast.
(Yet better I like to read them, sweet pears on the ground that lie
As thick as the knights lay round him! for his was the victory!)
And the cry arose from many who had fallen in joust before, 345
'Fly! Fly! For the Anchor cometh!' Then a knight towards him bore,
(A prince of the Angevin country) and grief was his comrade true,
For he bare a shield inverted, and sorrow it taught anew
To the King, for the badge he knew it—Ah! why did he turn aside?
If ye will, I the truth will tell ye, 'twas given in royal pride 350
By Galoes the son of Gandein, Gamuret's brother true,
Ere Love this guerdon gave him that the hero in joust she slew.
Then he loosed from his head the helmet: nor thro' grass, nor thro' dust and sand
Did he make him a way to the conflict, but he yielded to grief's command;
And his thoughts within him battled, that he sought not ere this to hear355
From Kailet, his friend and kinsman, how it fared with his brother dear
That he came not here to the Tourney—Alas! tho' he knew it not,
He had fallen before Monthorie—Sore sorrow was there his lot,
For to anguish did love constrain him, the love of a noble queen;
For his loss had she grieved so sorely that death had her portion been.360
And tho' sorely Gamuret sorrowed, yet had he in half a day
So many spear-shafts broken, were it Tourney indeed this fray
Then had he a woodland wasted. Did I think me to count each spear
One hundred in fight had he shattered, each blazoned with colours clear—
But the heralds, they won his pennons, in sooth were they theirs of right—365
Then toward the fair pavilion he turned him, the gallant knight.
And the Waleis squire rode after; and his was the coat so fair,
[Pg 47] All pierced and hewn with sword-thrust, which he did to his lady bear;
And yet with gold was it precious, and it shone with a fiery glow,
And right well might ye see its richness. Then joy did the queen's heart know,370
And she spake, 'A fair woman sent thee, with this knight, to this distant land!
Now, courteous, I must bethink me lest these heroes ashamed shall stand
Who have risked their fate in this venture—goodwill unto all I bear,
For all do I count my kinsmen, since Adam's flesh we share,
Yet Gamuret's hand, I think me, the highest prize hath won.' 375
But by wrath constrained they battled till the shadows of night drew on,
And the inner host the outer by force to their tents had brought,
Save for Askalon's king and Morhold thro' the camp they their way had fought.
Some were winners, and some were losers, and many sore shame had earned,
While others won praise and honour. Then the foe from each other turned,380
Here no man might see—He who holdeth the stakes, if no light he show,
Who would cast the dice in the darkness? To such sport were the weary slow!
Men well might forget the darkness where Gamuret did abide,
'Twas as day—That in sooth it was not, but light shone on every side
From many small tapers clustered. There, laid on the olive wood, 385
Was many a costly cushion, and by each couch a carpet good.
Then the queen, she rode to the doorway with many a maid of rank,
For fain would they see, those ladies, the brave king of Zassamank.
Many wearied knights thronged after—The cloth had they borne away
Ere she came to the fair pavilion; then the host he uprose straightway,390
And the monarchs four his captives (and many a prince was there),
And she welcomed him with due honour, and she saw him, and deemed him fair.
Then glad spake the queen of the Waleis, 'Thou art host where we twain do stand,
And I, even so I think me, am hostess o'er all this land,
If thou deem it well I should kiss thee, such kiss seemeth good to me!'395
[Pg 48] 'Thy kiss shall be mine if these heroes, e'en as I, shall be kissed by thee,
But if princes and kings must forego it, 'twere unfit I such boon should crave!'
'Yea, e'en as thou wilt, so be it, tho' ne'er saw I these heroes brave!'
Then she kissed, e'en as Gamuret prayed her, these princes of noble line,
And he prayed her to sit, and beside her sat the King Brandelidelein!400
Then lightly they strewed, o'er the carpet, green rushes yet wet with dew,
And he sat him down upon them whose presence brought joy anew
To the gracious queen of the Waleis; and love did her soul constrain,
And as Gamuret sat before her his hand did she clasp again,
And she drew him once more towards her, and she set him her seat beside.405
No wife was she, but a maiden, from whose hand did such grace betide.
Would ye know the name they called her? Herzeleide the queen was she,
(And her cousin was hight Rischoydè, King Kailet should her husband be,
And he was Gamuret's cousin), and so radiant the queen, and bright,
That e'en though they quenched the tapers, in her presence 'twould still be light!410
(Were it not that a mighty sorrow his joy which aloft would fly
Had beaten to earth, I think me he had wooed her right readily.)
And courteous they spake to each other: then cup-bearers drew anigh,
And from Assagog the vessels, and their cost might no man deny;
And noble pages bare them, many costly bowls and fair, 415
Of precious jewels wroughten, and wide, none too small, they were,
And none of them all were golden—'twas the tribute of that fair land,
Which Eisenhart oft had proffered, when love's need nerved his knightly hand.
And the drink unto each they proffered in many a coloured stone,
And of emerald some, and of sardius, and of ruby some wrought alone.420
Then there drew near to his pavilion two knights who their word must swear,
(To the outer host were they captive and from thence to the town would fare.)
And one of them was King Kailet; and he looked upon Gamuret,
And he saw him sit heavy-hearted, and he spake, 'Dost thou sorrow yet
For all men they own thy valour; Herzeleide and kingdoms twain 425
Hast thou won, and all tongues have said it, to thy praises all men are fain,
[Pg 49] Be they Britons or men of Ireland—Who speaketh with foreign tongue,
If France be their land, or Brabant, with one voice they thy praise have sung,
That none here both skill and wisdom in strife like to thine have shown.
True letter it is I read thee! No slumber thy strength hath known, 430
When these knights thou hast put in peril who surety ne'er sware of old,
Brandelidelein the monarch, and Lähelein, hero bold;
And Hardeiss and King Schaffilor; yea, and Rassalig the Moor,
Whom thine hand before Patelamunt o'erthrew and he surety swore,
Such lesson thou there didst teach him—Yea, this doth thy fame desire435
That with every coming conflict it broader shall wax and higher.'
'The queen sure will deem thou ravest, if in this wise thou praisest me,
Yet I think not that thou shalt sell me, since the buyer the flaw shall see;
Thy mouth is o'er-full of praises! Say, how hast thou come again?'
'The worthy folk of Punturtois, this knight from fair Champagne 440
And myself have loosed, and Morhold who this nephew hath stolen of mine
Will set him free, if on thy part thou wilt free Brandelidelein;
Otherwise are we captive to them, both I and my sister's son,
But such grace thou wilt surely show us—Here such vesper-play was run
That it cometh not to a Tourney this while before Kanvoleis, 445
And in sooth do I know how it standeth! Here sit they before mine eyes,
The strength of the outer army—now speak, tell me when and how
They could hold the field against us? Much fame hast thou won, I trow!'
Then the queen she spake to the hero from a true heart full tenderly,
'Whate'er be my claim upon thee, I pray thee to let it be. 450
I were fain of thy service worthy—If here I my right shall claim,
And thine honour thereby be tarnished, I will leave thee nor mar thy fame!'
Then he sprang to his feet, the chaplain of Anflisé the wise and fair,
And he quoth, 'Nay, my queen doth claim him, at her will to this land I fare.
For his love hath she sent me hither, for his love she afar doth pine,455
And her love layeth claim upon him and hers shall he be, not thine.
O'er all women I ween doth she love him: here as messengers hath she sent
Three princes, lads free from falsehood; and the one is hight Lazident
Of noble birth from Greenland, and in Kärlingen doth he dwell,
[Pg 50] And his own hath he made the language; and the second his name I'll tell,460
Liodarz he, a count his father, and Schyolarz was he hight.
And who was the third? Will ye hearken, his kinship I'll tell aright:
Belleflur she hath been his mother, Pansamur was his father's name,
Liahturteltart they called him, of the race of the fays he came.
Then they ran all three before him, and they spake, 'Wouldst thy fortune prove?465
(The queen of France doth proffer the chance of a worthy love.)
Thou shalt play the game, and never a pledge shall be asked from thee,
Nor thy joy be to sorrow forfeit, as it waxeth still fair and free!'
Then e'en while they spake their errand Kailet he had ta'en his seat
'Neath a fold of the royal mantle, and she spake to him low and sweet,470
'Now say, hath worse harm befallen? Methinks I the wounds have seen?'
In that same hour his wounds and bruises she sought out, the gracious queen,
With her white hands so small and shapely, which their wisdom from God must win,
And sore was he cut and wounded on nose and on cheek and chin.
He had won for his wife the cousin of the queen who such honour fair475
Would show him, herself would she tend him, and her hands for his hurts should care.
Then e'en as courtesy bade her she spake unto Gamuret,
'The fair queen of France, it seemeth, her heart upon thee hath set;
Now honour in me all women, and give what I here may claim,
Go not till men judge betwixt us, else thou leavest me here to shame.'480
This he sware unto her, the hero, and leave she from him would crave,
And she passed thence, and then King Kailet, that monarch so true and brave,
He lifted her to her saddle; and he turned him about once more
And came into the pavilion, where his kinsman and friends he saw.
Then spake he unto King Hardeiss, 'Aleiss thy sister fair 485
She proffered her love, I took it—Now wedded is she elsewhere,
And a better than I is her husband! No longer thus wrathful frown,
Prince Lambekein, he hath won her—tho' in sooth she shall wear no crown,
Yet honour enough is her portion—Brabant and Hennegau
[Pg 51] Do her service, and many a brave knight doth unto her bidding bow. 490
If thy mind it shall turn to greet me let thy favour be mine once more,
And take thou again my service of a true heart as aye of yore.'
Then the king of Gascony answered as befitted a hero brave,
'Yea, soft is thy speech, yet if greeting I give thee as thou dost crave,
Who hath offered to me such insult, men will deem fear such grace hath won,495
For captive am I to thy cousin!' 'Yet ill shall he deal with none,
Gamuret, he shall grant thy freedom, that boon my first prayer shall be:
No man shall thereto constrain thee, yet my service the day shall see
When thou as thy friend shalt claim me. For the shame, 'tis enow I wot,
For whate'er thou mayst do against me, thy sister, she slayeth me not!'500
Then all at his words laughed loudly. But their mirth it was soon o'erpast
For his true heart the host constrainèd, and desire held him once more fast,
And a sharp goad I ween is sorrow—Then the heroes they saw right well
How he wrestled anew with sorrow and his joy in the conflict fell;
And his cousin he waxed right wrathful, and he spake, 'Now thou doest ill.'505
'Nay, nay, for I needs must sorrow, and naught may my yearning still
For the queen I have left behind me, afar on a heathen shore,
Pure wife and true is that lady, and my heart she hath wounded sore.'
'And her purity doth constrain me to mourn for her love so sweet,
Vassals and lands she gave me; yet joy for a true knight meet 510
Belakané of that hath robbed me! yet shame for a wavering mind
I think me is right and manly—With such fetters her love did bind
That she held me afar from Tourney, nor in search of strife I went;
Then I thought me that deeds of knighthood should free me from ill-content,
And here have I somewhat striven—Now many a fool would say 515
That I, for her colour, fled her, to my eyes was she light as day!
For her womanhood true I sorrow; o'er all others her worth stood high
As the boss from the shield outstandeth. And another grief have I,
And here make I my moan unto ye, my brother's arms I saw,
But the shield on which they were blazoned, with point up-turned they bore.'520
(Ah! woe for the words that are spoken, and the tidings of grief they bring!)
[Pg 52] His eyes they o'erflowed with water, that gallant Spanish king,
'Alas! O queen for thy madness, thro' thy love is Galoes slain,
Whom every faithful woman from her heart shall mourn amain
If she would that her dealing win her true honour in true man's thought.525
Ah! queen of Auvergne I think me, tho' small grief it to thee hath brought,
Yet thro' thee have I lost my kinsman, tho' his ending was fit and fair,
For a knightly joust hath slain him who thy token in strife would bear!
And these princes here, his comrades, their heartfelt grief they show,
As in funeral train their shield's-breadth do they turn to the earth below,530
For thus hath great sorrow taught them—In this guise do they knightly deeds,
Heavy-hearted that he, my cousin, serveth no more for true love's meed!'
He hath won him another heart-grief as his brother's death is told,
And he spake aloud in his sorrow, 'Now mine anchor hath found its hold
And its haven in bitter rueing,' and the badge did he lay aside, 535
And his grief taught him bitter anguish, and aloud the hero cried,
'Galoes of Anjou! henceforward shall never a man deny
That on earth ne'er was born thine equal for manhood and courtesy,
And the fruit of a free hand knightly from thine heart did it bloom amain.
Ah! woe is me for thy goodness!' then to Kailet he spake again, 540
'How goeth it with Schoettè, my mother, of joy bereft?'
'So that God hath had pity on her! When Gandein this life had left,
And dead was Galoes thy brother, and thou wert not by her side,
And she saw thee no more, then death brake her heart, and she too hath died!'
Then out quoth the Gascon Hardeiss, 'Turn thy will to a manly mien,545
Thou shalt mourn but in fitting measure if true manhood thine own hath been!'
But too great was the load of his sorrow, and the tears as a flood must flow
From his eyes—Then all things he ordered that the knights a fair rest might know,
And he went where he saw his chamber, of samite the little tent,
And in grief and sore lamentation the hours of the night he spent. 550
When there dawned another morning the knights together came,
[Pg 53] The inner host and the outer, all who thought there to win them fame;
Were they young or old, were they cowardly or brave, they fought not that day.
And the light grew to middle morning: yet so worn were they with the fray,
And the horses so spent with spurring, that the knights in battle tried 555
Were yet by weariness vanquished—Then the queen herself would ride,
And the valiant men from the open would she bring to the town again,
And the best of the knights within there she bade ride to the Leo-plain;
And straightway they did her bidding, and they rode in their knightly ranks,
And they came ere the Mass was ended to the sad king of Zassamank. 560
Then the benediction spoken, Herzeleide the queen she came,
And e'en as the folk upheld her, so she laid to the knight her claim:
Then he spake, 'A wife have I Lady, and than life shall she be more dear,
Yea, and e'en if I were without her thou another tale shouldst hear
That afar should drive me from thee, if men here shall list my right!' 565
But the queen she looked upon him, and she spake to the gallant knight:
'Thou shalt leave thy Moorish lady for my love; stronger far shall be
The blessing that baptism giveth! From heathendom set thee free,
And wed me in Christian marriage, since my heart for thy love doth yearn.
Or say shall the French queen's message to my shame and my sorrow turn? 570
Sweet words did they speak her people, and thou heardest them to the end!'
'Yea, she is in truth my lady. When I back to Anjou must wend,
Then fair counsels and courteous customs with me from her land I brought;
Yea, even to-day doth she help me whom from childhood to man she taught.
She hath fled all that mars a woman—We were children then, she and I, 575
Yet gladly we saw each other in the days that are long gone by!
The noble queen Anflisé, in true womanhood hath she share,
From her lands a goodly income she gave me, that lady fair,
(In those days was I still a poor man), yet I took it right willingly,
As a poor man thou still shalt count me, and Lady, shalt pity me, 580
He is dead, my gallant brother—Of thy courtesy press me not,
Turn thy love where thou findest gladness, for sorrow is aye my lot!'
'Nay, let me not longer sorrow; how wilt thou deny my claim?'
'Thy question I'll gladly answer, here a Tourney thou didst proclaim,
[Pg 54] That Tourney hath not been holden, as many shall witness bear' 585
'For the vesper-play hath marred it! The knights who had foughten there
So well have they tamed their ardour that the Tourney hath come to naught,'
'I did but defend thy city with others that bravely fought;
Thou shouldst force me not to withstand thee, here have others done more than I,
Mine the greeting that all may claim here, other right would I still deny!'590
Then, so hath the venture told me, they chose them, both man and maid,
A judge o'er the claim of the lady, and their cause they before him laid,
And it drew near to middle morning, and thus did the verdict run,
'What knight hath bound on his helmet, and hath hither for conflict come,
And hath fought, and the prize hath holden, then that knight he shall wed the queen.'595
And unto the judgment spoken the knights gave consent I ween.
Spake the queen, 'Mine thou art, and I'll yield thee fair service thy love to gain,
And will give thee of joy such portion that thy life shall be free of pain!'
And yet bare he grief and sorrow—Now the April sun was o'er,
And had left behind a token in the garment the meadow bore, 600
With short green grass was it covered, so that coward hearts waxed bold,
And won afresh high courage; and the trees did their buds unfold
In the soft sweet air of the May-tide, and he came of the fairy race
That aye loveth, or sweet love seeketh, and his friend she would show him grace.
Then he looked on Queen Herzeleide, and he spake to her courteously,605
'If in joy we would live, O Lady, then my warder thou shalt not be,
When loosed from the bonds of sorrow, for knighthood my heart is fain;
If thou holdest me back from Tourney I may practise such wiles again
As of old when I fled from the lady whom I won with mine own right hand;
When from strife she would fain have kept me I fled from her folk and land!'610
Then she spake, 'Set what bonds thou willest, by thy word will I still abide.'
'Many spears would I break asunder, and each month would to Tourney ride,
Thou shalt murmur not O Lady when such knightly joust I'ld run!'
This she sware, so the tale was told me, and the maid and her lands he won.
The three pages of Queen Anflisé and her chaplain were nigh at hand,615
[Pg 55] As the judgment was sealed and spoken they must hearken and understand,
And he spake to the knight in secret, 'To my lady this tale was told
How at Patelamunt thy valour did the guerdon of victory hold,
And that there two kingdoms served thee—And she too hath lands I trow,
And she thinketh herself to give thee, and riches and gold enow!'620
'As knighthood of old she taught me so must I hold fast alway
By the strength of the knightly order, and the rule of the shield obey.
Thro' her my shield have I won me, else perchance I had worn it not,
Here doth knightly verdict bind me, be sorrow or joy my lot.
Go ye homeward, and bear my service, her knight will I ever be, 625
And for her is my deepest sorrow tho' all crowns were awaiting me!'
Then he proffered to them of his riches, but his gifts did they cast aside.
Yet was she not shamed their lady, tho' homeward they needs must ride!
And they craved not leave, but they rode thence, as in anger ye oft shall find,
And the princes' sons, her pages, well-nigh did they weep them blind.630
They who bare their shields inverted their friends spake to them this word,
'The queen, fair Herzeleide, hath the Angevin for her lord.'
'Say, who from Anjou hath fought here? Our lord is, alas, elsewhere;
He seeketh him fame 'gainst the heathen, and grief for his sake we bear!'
'He who shall be here the victor, who hath smitten full many a knight,635
He who smote and pierced so fiercely, he who bare on his helm of light
An anchor rare and costly, that knight is the knight we mean,
And King Kailet he spake his title, Gamuret Angevin—I ween
Good fortune doth here befall him!' Then swift to their steeds they sprung,
And their raiment was wet with the tear-drops that grief from their eye-lids wrung,640
When they came where their lord was seated they gave him a welcome fair,
And he in his turn would greet them, and sorrow and joy were there.
Then he kissed his knights so faithful, and spake, 'Ye no more shall make
Such measureless moan for my brother, his place I with ye will take.
Turn your shields again as befits them, and as men who would joyful fare;645
My anchor hath struck its haven; my father's arms I'll bear,
For the anchor it is a symbol that befitteth a wandering knight,
[Pg 56] He who willeth may take and wear it. I must rule my life aright
As now shall become my station: I am rich now, when shall I be
The lord of this folk? For my sorrow it worketh but ill to me. 650
Queen Herzeleide, help me that thou and I may pray
The kings that are here and princes for my service awhile to stay,
Till thou unto me hast yielded that which love from true love may crave!'
Thus both of them made petition, and the heroes their promise gave.
Then each one went to his chamber, and the queen to her knight spake low,655
'Now yield thyself to my tending, and a hidden way I'll show!'
For his guests did they care as fitting tho' the host was no longer there,
The folk they were all together, but the knight he alone must fare
Save for two of his pages only—Then the queen and her maidens bright
They led him where gladness waited, and his sorrow was put to flight,660
And regret was o'erthrown and vanquished—And his heart it waxed high and brave
As is ever the lot of lovers! and her maidenhood she gave
The queen, fair Herzeleide: nor their lips did they think to spare,
But close did they cling in kisses; grief was conquered by joy so fair!
Then courteous deeds were begun there; for free were his captives set,665
And the Kings Hardeiss and Kailet were made friends by Gamuret.
And such marriage feast was holden that he who had proudly thought
Hereafter to hold such another much riches thereto had brought.
For this did Gamuret purpose, his wealth he would little spare,
But Arabian gold did he scatter mid the poor knights; and jewels rare670
Did he give to the kings and princes who were there with the host I ween;
And glad were the wandering players, for rich gifts had their portion been.
Let them ride whom he there had feasted, from the Angevin leave they prayed.
Then the panther the badge of his father on his shield they in sable laid;
And a small white silken garment, a shift that the queen did wear, 675
That had touched her naked body who now was his wife so fair,
This should be his corslet's cover. And of foemen it saw eighteen
Pierced thro' and hewn with sword-blade ere he parted from her his queen,
And aye as her love came homeward on her body that shift she drew:
[Pg 57] And many a shield had he shattered; and their love it waxed strong and true.680
And honour enow was his portion ere his manly courage bore
The knight o'er the seas to conflict, for his journey I sorrow sore.
For there came unto him true tidings, how the Baruch, his lord of old,
Was beset by mighty foemen, by Babylon's princes bold:
And the one he was called Ipomidon, and Pompey his brother's name 685
(For so hath the venture told me), a proud man of warlike fame.
('Twas not he whom Julius Cæsar had driven from Rome of yore).
His uncle was Nebuchadnezzar, who in books found the lying lore
That he himself should a god be, (o'er this would our folk make sport)
And of noble race these brothers, nor of strength nor of gold spared aught.690
From Ninus they came who was ruler ere ever Bagdad might be,
Nineveh did he found—Now an insult and a shame vexed them bitterly,
The Baruch as vassals claimed them—So the combat was won and lost,
And bravely the heroes battled, and on each side they paid the cost.
Thus Gamuret sailed the water, and aid to the Baruch brought, 695
And gladly he bade him welcome; tho' I weep that that land he sought!
How it chanced there, how went the conflict, gain or loss, how the thing might be
Naught of that knew Queen Herzeleide; and bright as the sun was she,
And her form it was fair to look on, and both riches had she and youth,
And more than too much her gladness! I think me in very truth 700
She had sped past the goal of all wishes—And on wisdom her heart was set,
And she won from the whole world favour; her fair deeds with fair guerdon met,
And all men praised Herzeleide, the queen, as both fair and true,
And the queen of three kingdoms was she, of Waleis and fair Anjou,
Of these twain was she aye the ruler; and beside them in far Norgals705
Did she bear the crown and sceptre, in the city of Kingrivals.
And so dear did she hold her husband, if never a maid might win
So gallant a man, what recked she? She counted it not for sin.
As for half a year he was absent she looked for his coming sure,
For but in the thought of that meeting might the life of the queen endure.710
Then brake the sword of her gladness thro' the midst of the hilt in twain,
[Pg 58] Ah me! and alas! for her mourning, that goodness should bear such pain
And faith ever waken sorrow! Yea, so doth it run alway
With the life of men, and to-morrow must they mourn who rejoice to-day!
So it chanced that the queen one noontide in a restless slumber lay,715
'Twas as if with a start she wakened and by lightning was borne away,
And towards the clouds it bare her, and they smote her with mighty force,
The fiery bolts of Heaven, as they sped on their downward course,
And sparks sprang from her floating tresses mid the fire of the circling spheres,
And the thunder crashed loud around her, and the rain-drops were burning tears.720
For a little space was she conscious, then a grip on her right hand fell,
And, lo! it was changed, the vision, and wondrous things befell;
For then did she nurse a dragon, that forth from her body sprung,
And its dragon life to nourish awhile at her breast it hung,
Then it fled from her sight so swiftly she might look on it never more:725
And her heart it brake for the anguish, and the terror and grief she bore.
And never methinks a woman in slumber such woe hath seen,
But now had she been so joyful, alas! all was changed I ween,
And sorrow should be her portion, and her ill it waxed long and wide,
And the shadow of coming sorrow did still on her heart abide. 730
Then she did what afore she could not, for the terror that on her lay,
She stretched her limbs in her slumber, and moaned in her grief alway,
And she cried aloud on her people; and many a maid sat by
And they sprang to her side at her summons, and wakened her speedily.
Then Tampaneis he came riding, of her husband's squires the chief, 735
And many a page was with him, and joy's goal was o'erpassed in grief,
And they cried, 'He was dead, their master!' And her senses forsook the queen,
And she fell aback in her anguish—And the knights spake, 'How hath this been?
Hath our lord been slain in his harness, who ever was armed so well?'
And tho' sorely the squire must sorrow, to the heroes the tale he'ld tell:740
'No long life should he have, my master! His helm he put off awhile,
[Pg 59] The heat thereto constrained him—'twas accursed heathen guile
That stole him from us, our hero—A knight took a he-goats blood,
And from a long glass he poured it on the helmet of diamond good,
And softer than sponge grew the diamond. May He Whom as Lamb they show745
With the Cross in His hold, have mercy on the deeds that are wrought below!'
'Then when one host met the other: Ah! that was indeed a fight,
And the knights who were with the Baruch they fought all as men of might,
And there in the field by Bagdad full many a shield was pierced,
As they flew each one on the other, and they mingled in charges fierce,750
And banner was mixed with banner, many fell who had bravely fought,
And my lord's hand it did such wonders that his foemen became as nought,
But Ipomidon he came riding, and with death would reward the knight,
And he smote him down, and I think me many thousands they saw that sight.'
'For my master, free from falsehood, rode against Alexandria's king,755
But, alas! for the guile of the heathen, this joust but his death should bring,
For the spear cut sheer thro' the helmet, and it pierced thro' my master's brain
(In his head did they find the splinters), yet the hero still held the rein,
And dying he rode from the combat, o'er a wide plain his way he'ld take,
And his chaplain he knelt above him, and in few words his shrift he spake.760
And he sent here the shift and the spear-blade that hath robbed us of our friend,
He died free from sin—us his servants he did to the queen commend!'
'At Bagdad was the hero buried, and the Baruch the cost would pay,
With gold is it fair to look on, and rich is the tomb alway;
And many a costly jewel doth gleam where he lies at rest, 765
And embalmed was the fair young body (sad was many a faithful breast);
And the grave-stone it is a ruby, and thro' it he shineth clear,
And they granted us as with martyrs, the cross o'er his tomb to rear,—
For as Christ by His death hath freed us, and to comfort that soul so brave,
And for shelter we raised the symbol—And the Baruch the cost he gave.770
For the cross was of emerald wroughten: heathen counsel we asked it not,
[Pg 60] For they know not the Cross, nor the blessing that Christ's death won for us I wot!
And the heathen they pray unto him as if he were a god in truth,
Nor they do it the Cross to honour, nor hath Baptism taught them ruth
(Tho' it looseneth us from Hell's fetters when the uttermost day shall dawn),775
But his knightly faith and honour, who leaveth us here forlorn,
Have wrought him a place in Heaven where he shineth with Heaven's light,
And true penitence and confession—for falsehood e'er fled that knight.'
'And there in his diamond helmet an epitaph did they grave,
And fast to the cross they fixed it o'er the tomb of that hero brave,780
And thus do they run the letters: '(Through this helmet a joust hath slain)
This hero who bare all manhood, and Gamuret was his name,
As king did he rule o'er three kingdoms, in each land the Crown he wore
Whom mighty princes followed—Anjou's land this hero bore,
And he lost his life for the Baruch at the city of Bagdad fair.785
And so high did it soar, his honour, that no knight may with him compare,
Howe'er ye may test their dealings. Nor is he of woman born,
(I mean of the knightly order) to whose hand he his strength had sworn.
But help and true manly counsel to his friends did he steadfast give;
And thro' women much grief he suffered, for he would in their favour live. 790
Baptized was he as a Christian tho' Saracens mourn him yet,
(This is truth and no lie)—All his lifetime since his years were on wisdom set
His strength strove for fame and honour, till he fell in his knightly pride,
Wish him bliss who here lieth buried! 'Twas by treason's hand he died!'
So spake the squire, and the Waleis who heard it must weep full sore,795
Cause hast they enow for sorrow! A living child she bore
Who of men was left unaided, Herzeleide the gracious queen,
With death the mother battled: her maidens were crazed I ween,
Since they thought not to help their lady, for within her womb she bare
Him who should be flower of all knighthood, if death did not claim him there.800
Then there came a wise man ancient to weep with his lady's grief,
And he saw how with death she struggled, and he brought to her swift relief;
For he forced her teeth asunder, and betwixt her lips they pour
Water, and at their tending her senses they came once more.
Then she spake, and aloud she mourned him, 'My heart's dearest, Ah! where is he?805
[Pg 61] For in sooth my heart's deepest gladness was in Gamuret's chivalry,
Yet his valour of this hath robbed me—Now his mother am I and wife,
Tho' far younger was I, for within me do I carry his flesh and life;
The love that we bore to each other hath been of such flower the root,
And if God shall in truth be faithful, He withholdeth not here the fruit.810
Already too sore my sorrow for my husband so proud and brave,
What ill death hath wrought upon me! Her love never woman gave,
But his heart it rejoiced in her gladness, and sad for her grief was he,
Thus his true heart it gave him counsel who was aye from all falsehood free.'
Now hearken yet more the story how the noble queen must mourn, 815
Within her arms would she hold him, her child who was yet unborn,
And she spake, 'Now God send me safely the child of my hero fair,
For this is my heart's petition; God keep me from dark despair,
'Twere Gamuret's second slaying if I thought myself to slay
While I bear of his love the token who was faithful to me alway!' 820
Then careless of who might see her, the robe from her neck she tore,
And her fair white breasts she tended with the wisdom of mother-lore,
To her rosy lips she pressed them, 'Ah, thou food that shall feed my son,
He hath sent thee before his coming who life from my life hath won!'
And the queen it nothing vexed her that above her heart it lay 825
The milk that her child should nourish, and softly she spake alway,
'Twas true love that brought thee hither, if I yet unbaptized should be
From thee had I won my baptism, and the tears which shall flow so free,
And openly and in secret will I mourn for my husband dear!'
Then the shift with his life-blood crimsoned she bade them to bring anear,830
(Thus clad in the Baruch's army had Gamuret lost his life,
For he chose him a gallant ending in the turmoil and stress of strife),
And then for the spear she prayed them wherewith was her husband slain,
From Nineveh's Prince Ipomidon such guerdon he needs must gain.
And tho' tattered and hewn to pieces yet the queen fain the shift would wear,835
As aforetime had been her custom when her lord did from Tourney fare,
But her maidens who stood around her they took it from out her hand,
And they carried them to the Minster, the highest from out her land,
And the spear and the blood they buried as men bury a hero dead,
[Pg 62] And sorrow and bitter mourning thro' Gamuret's kingdom spread. 840
And when fourteen days were ended a babe lay the queen beside,
'Twas a son, and so great and goodly that the mother had well-nigh died.
Now 'tis cast the die of the venture, and here doth my tale begin,
For now is he born who henceforward this song for his own shall win.
And now have ye heard the story of his father, his love and grief, 845
Of his gallant life, and the treason that ended its span so brief;
And ye know whence he came, the hero of this tale, and how for long
He was hidden from deeds of knighthood, till his youth it waxed bold and strong.
When the queen found sight and hearing she was fain on her child to look,
And her maidens they bare him to her and the babe in her arms she took;850
And she saw his limbs soft rounded, and she knew she had born a son,
And her maidens with her were joyful that the earth had a man-child won.
(As he bare of a man the body, so manly was he of heart,
As a smith did he wield the sword-blade till fire from the helm would start)
And no joy did she know, the mother, save ever her babe to kiss, 855
And with soft words she spake to him ever, 'Bon fils, Cher fils, Beau fils.'
And e'en as herself she bare him, so herself she his nurse would be,
At his mother's breast was he nourished who was ever from falsehood free.
And she thought she had won her husband by her prayers to her arms again,
She all folly forsook, and meekness and truth in her heart did reign.860
And musing spake Herzeleide, 'The queen of Heaven high
Gave her breast to the dear Lord Jesu Who a bitter death would die
As Man on the cross for man's sake, for thus did His love begin:
Who thinketh light of His anger his soul's peace shall hardly win,
Tho' he else were brave man and worthy—and this tale do I know for true!'865
Then the queen of the land she bathed her in heart sorrow's bitter dew,
And her eyes on the babe rained tear-drops as soft in her arms it lay,
For hers was the way of women, where a true heart holdeth sway;
She could laugh and weep together, her heart joyed for her baby's birth,
Yet the ford of her bitter sorrow had drowned in short space her mirth.870

[Pg 63]


[Pg 64]


In the Introduction the poet speaks of the honour in which he holds all true women, though he be wroth with one who has wronged him. Yet, though women shall count him their friend, he would fain that they should honour him for his knightly deeds, rather than for this his song.

In Book III. he tells of the sorrow and the faith of Queen Herzeleide; of Parzival's childhood; of his meeting with the knights; of his faring forth to seek knighthood from King Arthur; and of the death of Herzeleide. How Parzival met with Jeschuté, and robbed her of her token, and of the wrath of her husband Orilus. Of the sorrow of Siguné, and how Parzival learnt his name and his lineage. How Parzival met with the Red Knight and bare his challenge to the court of King Arthur, and how he craved a boon of the king. Of the shaming of Kunnewaaré; and of the death of the Red Knight. How Parzival came to Gurnemanz of Graharz and was cured by him of his folly and taught all knightly wisdom, and how he rode forth from the land of Graharz.

[Pg 65]



Is there ever a singer among you, who singeth a sweeter song
Of the favour and love of women, I hold not he does me wrong!
Full fain am I still to hearken to aught that may give them joy,
But to one alone among women my homage I still deny.
Nay, ever the fire of my anger doth kindle and flame anew, 5
And the sorrow her treason wrought me, it grieveth me still I trow!
I, whom men have named the singer, I, Wolfram of Eschenbach,
The words that against a woman I spake, I may ne'er take back.
Nay, I hold fast my wrath for ever, and clasp it closer still,
As I think how in soul and body alike hath she wrought me ill! 10
How can I do aught but hate her, till death setteth seal on life?
Yet it grieveth me sore that others should mingle in this our strife;
It grieveth me sore that maidens should say, as they name my name,
'Forsooth he hath shamed all women, let it be unto him for shame!'
Nay, then, an they reckon for evil the words that in grief I spake, 15
I will speak them no more for ever, though my heart should in silence break!
But let them beware in their anger, these warlike maidens fair,
How they stir from his eyrie the eagle, rouse the lion from his lair!
Full well I know how to defend me, full well know I what beseems
The maid of a knight's devotion, the maid of the poet's dreams! 20
Let a maiden be steadfast-hearted, pure and true in word and deed,
And her champion true she'll find me, comes there ever an hour of need.
I hold his renown waxeth slowly, and halteth upon the road,
Who, for wrong at the hand of one woman, shall slander all womanhood:
But if any will look upon me, and hearken to what I sing, 25
[Pg 66] Of a sooth I will not deceive them, though my tale over-strange may ring.
Born was I unto the bearing of knightly shield and spear,
And though sweet be the song of the singer, I hold it not all too dear:
I had rather my love should love me for my deeds of high renown,
Than because in the hall of the Wartburg they should crown me with music's crown!30
With the shield and the spear of knighthood will I seek for a knight's reward,
Nor charm, with the harp of the singer, what I failèd to win with the sword!
Nor in praise of fair women only runs this tale that I have to tell,
Full many strange deeds it holdeth, and marvels that once befell
Ere the course of this wondrous venture be tracèd unto its end; 35
Yet he who heareth shall reckon, if he fain would account me friend,
That this is no book he readeth, for no maker of books am I!
But a singer of strange adventures, and of knightly prowess high:
Stripped bare will I be of all honour, naked and reft of fame,
Ere I trust my renown unto letters, and give to a book my name! 40
It vexes me, soul and body, that so many should bear the name
And speak with the tongue of women, who reck not of woman's fame;
That those who have known no falsehood, and those who are swift to fall,
Should carry one name in common, be counted as sisters all!
A truth that has faltered never, a faith that has aye withstood, 45
Is the only glory of woman, the crown of her womanhood!
Many will say, 'What good thing can come out of poverty?'
She who for love endures it, she 'scapeth Hell thereby,
And, in the kingdom of Heaven, receiveth a hundredfold
For all she has borne for love's sake, new joys for her sorrows old!50
Not one have I known in my lifetime, I count it a bitter truth,
Neither a man nor a maiden, who the joy and the pride of youth,
And all earth's riches and honour, will leave as a worthless thing
If weighed with the glory of Heaven, and the service of Heaven's King!
But Queen Herzeleide only, she left her fair estate, 55
In her youth of all joy bereavèd, with sorrow afar to mate.
So holy was she and gentle, so faithful and pure of mind,
That no tongue spake a word against her, and no eye a fault could find.
Sunlight or shadow, what recked she? the day was to her as night,
[Pg 67] For her heart was the home of sorrow, and dead was the world's delight.60
And in sorrow and grief she wandered, till she came to Soltanè's strand,
A woodland wild and lonely afar from her native land:
Fair flowers might bloom and blossom without, on the sunlit plain,
And be woven in rosy chaplets, but for her they would bloom in vain!
And there, mid the woodland shadows, she hid with Gamuret's son, 65
For she willed that her life's last treasure be revealed unto none:
So she called her folk around her, (who toiled in the upland field
With oxen and plough, that the furrows their daily bread might yield,)
And she charged them all, by the service which she as their queen might claim,
That they hide from the boy his birthright and the fame of his father's name.70
'For the knightly deeds ye vaunt of, and the glory and pride of war,
Have wrought me but heart's affliction, and trouble and anguish sore,
So, lest I yet more should suffer, I pray you, my servants dear,
That ye speak no word of knighthood, lest my son perchance should hear!'
Then full sore were her people grievèd, for they held it an evil thing,75
And a training that ill beseemèd the son of a mighty king.
But his mother kept him hidden in the woodland valleys wild,
Nor thought in her love and sorrow how she wronged the kingly child:
No knightly weapon she gave him, save such as in childish play
He wrought himself from the bushes that grew on his lonely way, 80
A bow and arrows he made him, and with these, in thoughtless glee,
He shot at the birds as they carolled o'erhead in the leafy tree.
But when the feathered songster of the woods at his feet lay dead,
In wonder and dumb amazement he bowed down his golden head,
And in childish wrath and sorrow tore the locks of his sunny hair; 85
(For I wot well of all earth's children was never a child so fair
As this boy, who afar in the desert from the haunts of mankind did dwell,
Who bathed in the mountain streamlet, and roamed o'er the rock-strewn fell!)
Then he thought him well how the music, which his hand had for ever stilled,
Had thrilled his soul with its sweetness, and his heart was with sorrow filled,90
And the ready tears of childhood flowed forth from their fountains free
As he ran to his mother weeping, and bowed him beside her knee.
'What aileth thee child?' quoth the mother, 'but now wast thou gay and glad'—
[Pg 68] But, childlike, he gave no answer, scarce wist he what made him sad!
But Queen Herzeleide watched him through the sunny summer days, 95
Till beneath a tree she saw him stand silent, with upturned gaze,
And a look of joyful rapture in the radiant childish eyes,
As he listed the bird, that, soaring, sang clear thro' the cloudless skies;
And the mother's heart was troubled, and her wrath waxed to fever heat,
She would brook in his love no rival—not even God's singers sweet!100
So she sent forth in haste her servants, with many a cunning snare
To capture the singers whose music made joyful the woodlands fair.
Then, alas! for the birds, who struggled in the cruel snare in vain,
Yet some few burst their bonds, and joyful, brake forth into song again!
Then the boy spake,'Now sweet my mother, why trouble the birds so sore?105
Forsooth they can ne'er have harmed thee, ah, leave them in peace once more!'
And his mother kissed him gently, 'Perchance I have wrought a wrong,
Of a truth, the dear God who made them, He gave unto them their song,
And I would not that one of his creatures should sorrow because of me.'
But the boy looked up in wonder, 'God, Mother? Who may God be?' 110
'My son, He is light beyond all light, brighter than summer's day,
And He bare a Man's Face, that we men might look on His Face alway!
Art thou ever in need of succour? call on Him in thine hour of ill,
And be sure He will fail thee never, but will hear thee, and help thee still.
Yet one there is dwelleth in darkness, and I wot men may fear him well,115
For his home is the house of falsehood, and his kingdom the realm of Hell!
Turn thy mind away from him ever, nor waver betwixt the twain,
For he who doubteth, his labour shall ever be wrought in vain.'
Thus his mother read him the riddle, the myst'ry of day and night,
The dread and the doom of darkness, and the glory and grace of light!120
Then javelin in hand he hastened thro' the forest pathways wild,
And the deer sprang up from their thickets, and fled from the dauntless child;
But clear-eyed and eager-footed he hastened upon their track,
And full oft with a hornèd trophy, at even he hied him back.
Little cared he for rain or sunshine, summer's storm or winter's snow,125
And daily in strength and beauty all men might behold him grow;
Till at length no beast so mighty thro' the forest wild did roam,
[Pg 69] If it fell 'neath his shaft, unaided, on his shoulder he bore it home!
It chanced thro' a woodland thicket one morn as he took his way,
And brake from o'erhanging bushes full many a leafy spray, 130
That a pathway steep and winding rose sharply his track anear,
And the distant beat of horse-hoofs fell strange on his wondering ear.
Then the boy grasped his javelin firmly and thought what the sound might be;
'Perchance 'tis the devil cometh! Well, I care not if it be he!
Methinks I can still withstand him, be he never so fierce and grim,135
Of a truth my lady mother she is o'er-much afraid of him!
As he stood there for combat ready, behold, in the morning light,
Three knights rode into the clearing, in glittering armour bright;
From head to foot were they armèd, each one on his gallant steed,
And the lad as he saw their glory thought each one a god indeed! 140
No longer he stood defiant, but knelt low upon his knee,
And cried, 'God, Who helpest all men, I pray Thee have thought for me!'
Then wroth was the foremost rider as the lad barred his further way,
And he spake out, 'This stupid Waleis will hinder our work to-day!'
(Now here would I give to the Waleis the fame we Bavarians hold; 145
They are duller than e'en our people, yet manly in strife and bold.
And in sooth were one born in both countries such marvel of strength and skill
Would he hide in himself that I think me their fame he might well fulfil!)
Then there rode swift with hanging bridle, in costly harness dight,
With plumed and jewelled helmet another gallant knight; 150
Swiftly he came as thirsting to challenge in mortal fight
The foe who sped far before him, who had done him a sore despite;
For two knights from out his kingdom a maiden had borne away,
And he held it a deed most shameful and one he must needs repay;
For the maiden's sorrow grieved him, and fain would he ease her pain:155
(And the three knights who rode before him were part of his warlike train.)
He rode a Spanish war-horse, and his shield had fierce conflict seen,
And Karnachkarnanz did they call him (he was Ulterleg's count I ween).
Then he cried to his knights, 'Why loiter? who barreth our onward way?'
[Pg 70] And straight on the lad did he ride there, who deemed him a god alway,160
For ne'er had he seen such glory; his harness shone fair with dew,
And on either foot the stirrups with golden bells rang true.
And their length was e'en as fitting, and with bells did each strong arm ring,
As he stirred himself, or his sword-blade in battle aloft would swing.
And the hero was swift in seeking the guerdon of knightly prize, 165
So he rode here, the prince, and had decked him in a fair and wondrous wise.
Then spake this flower of all knighthood, 'Say, boy, did they pass thy way?
Two knights who have shamed their knighthood, nay, robbers I ween are they,
For they bear a maiden with them, and she rideth against her will!'
Yet the boy, tho' he spake with a man's tongue, as a god must account him still;170
For he thought how Queen Herzeleide had told him that God was Light
And dwelleth in Light for ever; and so to his dazzled sight
This knight, in his shining armour in the glow of the summer's day,
Was the God of his mother's lesson, and he knelt him again to pray.
But the prince he spake full gently, 'Fain am I to do God's will, 175
And yet for no God I hold me, but a sinful mortal still.
Nay, wert thou more clear of vision, thou wouldst see, an thou sawest aright,
No Lord of the host of Heaven, but only a humble knight!'
'Knight?' quoth the boy in answer, 'Nay! I wot not what that may be,
Is thy strength not of God, but of knighthood, then I would such were given to me!'180
'Then wend thy way to King Arthur, an thou camest unto his court,
A noble knight he would make thee, ashamed and afeared for naught,
For sure, now I look upon thee, thou com'st of a noble strain.'
Then his knights they turned their bridles, and gazed at the boy again.
Full well might they look and wonder, at the work that God's Hand had wrought,185
For they say, who tell this story, that never could human thought
Have dreamed of aught so goodly, since ever the world began,
For of all men beloved by women, was there never so fair a man!
Loud they laughed as the boy spake further, 'Good knight, what may these be?
[Pg 71] These rings that so close around thee, above and below I see.' 190
Then he handled, with curious finger, the armour the knight did bear,
His coat of mail close-linkèd as behovèd a knight to wear;
And he spake as he looked on the harness, 'My mother's maidens string
On their chains, and around their fingers, full many a shining ring,
But they cling not so close to each other as these rings that here I see,195
I cannot force them asunder, what good are they then to thee?'
Then the prince drew forth from its scabbard his shining blade so keen,
'Now see, he who fights against me, must withstand my sword I ween,
And lest he, on his part, should slay me, it is fit that with mail and shield,
I ward me against his spear-thrusts, and the blows that his arm may wield.'200
Swiftly the lad made answer, 'Little good would it do the deer
An their coats were e'en such as thine is, they would fall still beneath my spear.'
Full wroth were the knights and scornful that their lord thus long had talked
With this lad with the face of an angel, and the speech as of one distraught;
Then the prince he spake full gently, 'God keep thee in His good grace,205
I would that my shield's bright mirror might show me as fair a face!
Nay, an the Giver of all gifts but gave thee wit enow
To match with a mien so goodly, full rich wert thou then I trow!
May He keep all sorrow from thee, and thy life be a summer's day—'
And with that he turned his bridle, and wended once more his way. 210
Then adown the woodland pathway they rode, till they came full soon
Where the carles of Queen Herzeleide toiled hard thro' the sultry noon:
The fields must they plough and harrow, if a harvest they hoped to reap,
So they goaded the patient oxen to their toil on the hillside steep.
Then the prince he gave them 'Good-morrow,' and asked if there passed that way215
A maiden in need and sorrow? and they dared not to say him nay;
But they answered him e'en as he prayed them, and they spake 'Yea, at early morn
Two knights and a maiden passed here, and the maiden, she wept forlorn,
And the knights as they rode beside her, spurred ever her flying steed.'
[Pg 72] Then the prince knew his foe, Meljakanz, and his wrath waxed hot indeed,220
On his tracks he followed swiftly, and they who this venture tell,
Say he won back in fight the maiden ere the shadows of evening fell.
But sore were the queen's folk troubled that the heroes had chanced that way,
And they spake, 'God forbid that our queen's son fall in with these knights to-day!
An he chances to light upon them in the pride of their warlike gear,225
It will anger full sore our mistress if by hap she the tale should hear:
And ill-luck will it bring upon us that, ere ever the dawn of day,
With us while his mother slumbered, to the woods he stole away!'
Little recked the boy of their trouble as he chased the flying deer,
And shouted in youthful gladness, as they fell before his spear 230
Then homeward he sped to his mother, but ere he his tale might tell
She was smitten with deadly terror, and low at his feet she fell.
Then soon as Queen Herzeleide found hearing and speech once more
Her boy was she fain to question tho' her heart it misgave her sore;
'Who spake to thee, son, of knighthood? What knowest thou of such-like rede?'235
'I met in the woods, sweet mother, four men I deemed gods indeed,
So light were they all and shining, God Himself ne'er could brighter be,
And of knighthood they spake and King Arthur, who might well make a knight of me!'
Then her sorrow of old-time wakened, and the queen in her heart she sought
For some cunning wile of woman, that her boy from his will be brought.240
When the simple lad and gallant would crave from her hand a steed,
Tho' heavy her heart, she bethought her in naught to gainsay his need,
'Yet not as he asks will I give him, no mother's gifts be mine,
But ever the worst and the meanest that my skill may aye divine.'
And she thought her, Queen Herzeleide, 'Many folk thro' the world shall fare245
Who love mocking—On his fair body my son shall a Fool's dress wear,
Then sure when the mockers see him, and to scoff at his garb are fain,
An he at their hands be smitten, then he cometh to me again!'
Alas! for a woman's cunning, and the cruelty of mother's love,
[Pg 73] She chose from her stores a sackcloth, the coarsest that might be wove,250
And a garment of this she made him that should reach e'en unto his knee;
For his sunny hair such covering as on fools men are wont to see;
And instead of hose she bound him on his limbs so strong and fair
Leggings of undressed calf-skin—And all wept who beheld him there.
Then his mother with forethought bade him to tarry till morning light,255
'Nor from hence would I have thee journey till my rede thou hast heard aright—
'Keep thou ever from paths untrodden and ford not the darkling stream,
Where the waters flow clear and limpid, there safe is the ford I ween.
And be ever fair and courteous, greet all men who pass thy way.
If a wise man old and grey-headed would teach thee, as well he may,260
All courteous ways and fitting, as his word so shall be thy deed,
Nor wax wroth if by whiles he chide thee, but give to my words good heed.
And one thing, my son, would I tell thee, canst thou win from a maid her ring
And her greeting fair, thou shalt take them, and sorrow hath lost her sting!
If a kiss from her lips she will give thee, and thine arms shall the maid enfold,265
Be she pure and true thou art blessèd, and thy strength shall wax high and bold!'
'And hearken my son, a proud knight, Lähelein, do men call his name,
From thy princes two lands hath wrested, else from them couldst thou tribute claim.
And Waleis they are and Norgals—and one of thy princes brave,
Turkentals, hath he slain, and thy people he hath smitten and doth enslave.'270
'For such wrong will I vengeance, mother, if vengeance be here God's will,
Be he never so strong with my javelin I think me to wound him still.'
Then e'en at the daylight's dawning the boy would no longer stay,
For the thought of King Arthur's glory yet heavy upon him lay.
Then Queen Herzeleide kissed him, and she sped swift his steed behind,275
And the sorrow of sorrows smote her when her boy she no more might find.
(Hence he rode and what heart rejoiceth?) Then the queen from all falsehood free,
Fell low on the earth, and grief tare her till death must her portion be!
Yet I wot that her death so faithful it hath saved her from pains of Hell,
[Pg 74] And to be of such son the mother, it repayeth all anguish well! 280
Thus she, the root of all goodness whence humility's flower might blow,
Herself on a pilgrimage wended that a goodly goal should know.
Woe worth us! that none of their children should live still, to hand us down
In these days when we look on falsehood their honour and fair renown.
And therefore shall faithful women wish well to this lad so bold, 285
Who rideth fair ventures seeking, whose journey ye now behold!
Then the gallant lad rode onward on his way toward Briziljan's wood,
And he came to a rippling streamlet, and a cock well might wade that flood!
And flowers in the grass were blooming, yet so darkling ran the wave
That the lad he thought not to ford it; but as wit the counsel gave,290
So he followed its course thro' the daylight, and he passed as he could the night,
Till he saw once more the morning, and he came to a fair ford bright.
On the further side was a meadow, and a tent decked the grass so green,
And tall was the tent wide-spreading, and riches thereon were seen;
'Twas of samite of threefold colours, on the seams lay fair ribbons wide,295
And a leathern covering hung there, 'gainst the rain-cloud to guard its pride.
('Twas Duke Orilus of Lalande, whose wife he beneath it found—
She lay there in peaceful slumber with riches happed fair around,
A Duchess she was, well worthy the love of a gallant knight,
And the venture it tells that Jeschuté was the name of that lady bright)300
Softly the princess slumbered,—yet weapons of love she bore;
A mouth so red and glowing, that a knight's heart had wounded sore,
And e'en as she slept they parted asunder, her lips so bright,
That the fire of love had kindled, (fit venture for gallant knight)
And even as ivory snow-white, and little, and close the row 305
Of the teeth that gleamed white betwixt them—methinks that a man were slow
To use himself to such kisses from a mouth that all men might praise—
I wot that so fair a guerdon but seldom hath crowned my days!
A covering of richest sable over foot and knee was thrown,
(For the heat she aside hath cast it, whom her lord had thus left alone)310
And her form it was fairly fashioned, and wrought by a skilful hand,
[Pg 75] Since 'twas God Himself in His wisdom who so fair a work had planned.
And long was her arm and rounded: on her snow-white hand a ring
Gleamed golden, and when he saw it the lad to her side did spring;
For had not his mother told him such jewels were the guerdon fair 315
That a knight well might crave? and he thought him he fain would such token bear!
Then the lady awoke in terror as his clasp on her white arm fell,
And gazed in startled wonder and wrath as beseemed her well;
'Who is it, who thus would shame me? Nay, sir, thou art all too free!
Go, choose thee some fairer maiden, my favours are not for thee!' 320
In vain might she weep and bewail her; he asked not her yea, or nay,
But took from her lips unwilling the kiss she would fain gainsay;
And the ring of gold from her finger with ungentle hand he'ld take,
And the clasp that her shift had fastened from the garment he roughly brake:
In vain were her tears and struggles, she was but a woman still, 325
And his strength was to hers as an army, perforce must she do his will.
Then the lad spake aloud, he hungered, from his hand was the lady free,
And she quoth, 'Of a truth 'twere better thou shouldst not make meal of me!
If thou wert but a little wiser thou wouldst choose thee some other meat,
There stand bread and wine, and two game-birds, of them mayst thou freely eat,330
Methinks when my maiden brought them, 'twas scarcely of thee she thought!'
Then he asked not where sat the hostess, but he ate e'en as hunger taught,
And he drank his fill; and the lady she deemed all too long his stay,
For she thought him bereft of his senses, and she wished he were well away,
And for fear and shame the sweat-drops stood thickly upon her brow—335
And she spake, 'Thou my ring shalt give me, and the clasp thou didst take but now,
And get thee away, if he cometh, my husband, then shalt thou bear
The weight of his wrath, and I think me thou wouldst then wish thyself elsewhere!'
Quoth the noble youth, 'What care I how fierce thy lord's wrath may be?
If my presence doth shame thine honour, then from hence will I swiftly flee.'340
And he stepped to the bedside boldly, and kissed her as there she lay,
[Pg 76] Tho' little it pleased the Duchess, and without leave he rode away;
And he spake a word of parting as he vaulted upon his steed,
'God have thee in His safe keeping, so my mother she gave me rede.'
Then the lad he was glad of his booty, and thus did he ride a while—345
Methinks there was little lacking that from hence he had gone a mile,
Ere he came of whom I would tell you: on the dew he the tracks might see
Of one who had sought his lady—The tent-ropes displaced should be
Where the lad thro' the grass had ridden; then the gallant Duke and proud
Found his lady within in sorrow, and Orilus spake aloud, 350
'Alas! for the service done thee—for smitten and put to shame
Is the crown of my knightly honour, since another thy love can claim!'
Then little, alas! might it profit that with streaming eyes she swore
No lover had she save her husband,—he would hearken her tale no more.
Then she spake in her fear and anguish, 'Twas a fool, he who came to me,355
And yet tho' a fool, of all men I wot he may fairest be!
My ring and my clasp gold-gleaming, he took them against my will!'
'Nay, I doubt not so well he pleased thee, thou didst grant him more favours still,'
'Now, God forbid! for his fool's garb and his javelin were e'en too near,
It shameth us both, my husband, such words from thy lips to hear! 360
Are queens wont to love thus lowly, that thou speakest such words of me?
Thou wrongest our royal breeding, when thou deemest such things may be!'
Then the Duke spake, 'This shame, O lady! alone hast thou won from me,
Thou dost call thyself Queen no longer; tho' thy title shall Duchess be
Little good hath that bargain brought me—So bold shall my manhood be,365
That thy brother, King Lac's son Erec, for that cause beareth hate to thee:
He is wise, and right well he knoweth that my fame so high shall stand
That nothing shall stain mine honour, save at Prurein when his right hand
In knightly joust once felled me, but that have I paid right well,
In a joust at Karnant I smote him, and behind his steed he fell, 370
And his pledge did he yield unto me,—thro' his shield I thy token bare,
I thought not, my wife Jeschuté, with another thy love to share!'
'Thou mayst also well assure thee that the son of King Gandein,
[Pg 77] Proud Galoes, once lay lifeless before this arm of mine;
And thou thyself wast witness when the Knight Plihopleheri 375
Rode swift in a joust against me, nor his strife it hath passed me by,
My spear from the saddle thrust him that his charger he sat no more;
Yea, great was the fame that I won me by my prowess in days of yore,
Many knights have I borne from their chargers,—yet it profiteth not I ween,
Nor outweigheth the bitter shaming that thro' thee hath my portion been!'380
And with reason good do they hate me, those knights of the Table Round,
Since eight of their bravest champions have I borne unto the ground,
And many fair maidens saw it, when at Kanedig fierce we fought
For the hawk; there was I the victor, and my hand fame to thee hath brought
And that didst thou see with King Arthur—At his court doth she dwell to-day,385
My sister, sweet Kunnewaaré, and grave is her mien alway,
For her lips may not move to laughter till the day that her eyes shall light
On him who of all shall be reckoned the fairest and bravest knight.
Would he come unto me, that hero! Ah! then should a strife be seen
As to-day in the early morning already my lot hath been. 390
I have fought, and a prince hath suffered, for joust he toward me sped,
But my spear-point so sorely smote him that he lay there before me, dead!'
'Well I know that in righteous anger for a lesser sin than thine
Full many had slain the sinner, but I would not such deed were mine!
For the service of knightly honour that to thee I had offered fair,395
Henceforth shalt thou know but lacking; nor thy need do I think to spare—
No more with thy white arms circled in love and in peace I'll lie,
Those golden days of love's glory have faded and passed us by,
But pale be thy mouth so rosy, and tear-dimmed thy shining eyes,
For joy shall be put far from thee, and thy heart's songs be turned to sighs!'400
Then sadly she looked upon him, that princess so fair and true,
'May it be for the honour of knighthood what seemeth thee best to do,
Wise art thou indeed and loyal, and I in thy power may be,
And I know well that heavy sorrow and pain thou canst bring on me:
To the ordeal, I prithee, put me, and do this for all women's sake,405
[Pg 78] Thereafter, an I be guilty, for my sin do thou vengeance take!
If another's hand shall slay me, (for thee were such deed un-meet)
Then gladly I'll die—Dost thou scorn me? then welcome is death, and sweet!'
Then he broke out in bitter anger, 'If thy pride be still so great,
It is meet I should meekness teach thee, tho' the lesson be all too late—410
No more shall we be companions, together no more we'll eat;
Be our marriage couch forgotten and the hours of communion sweet.
This garment in which I found thee thy only robe shall be,
And instead of jewelled bridle hempen twist will I give to thee;
Thy steed be the guest of hunger, and thy saddle once decked so fair415
Shall be robbed of its goodly trappings!' and with hasty hand he tare
The samite adown, and he brake it, the saddle she rode erewhile,
(Nor her gentle ways and seemly might his angry wrath beguile)
With a hempen cord he bound it—Too soon had she won his hate!
As he did this he spake, 'Now Lady, 'tis best we no longer wait, 420
Could I reach him who shared thy favours, then fulfilled were my heart's desire,
The venture I'ld face, though as dragon he were breathing forth flames and fire!'
Then with weeping instead of laughter she passed from out the tent
That lady so rich in sorrow, and sadly her way she went;
Yet more than she mourned her shaming she wept her lord's grief, I ween,425
His sorrow so sorely moved her, e'en death would have lighter been.
Now of true heart shall ye bemoan her who thus did sore anguish know,
And tho' hatred I won from all women, still I'ld mourn for Jeschuté's woe!
So rode they upon the traces of the lad who before them fled,
And, dauntless, he little thought him how a foeman behind him sped,430
But whoever his eyes might light on, as his pathway they drew anear,
He gave to him kindly greeting, 'Thus bade me my mother dear!'
Thus rode he, our lad so foolish, adown a mountain side,
When a woman's voice before him from amid the rocks loud cried;
'Twas a cry of heartfelt sorrow, for her joy was in ruins laid— 435
Then swift rode the lad towards her,—Now hear what she did, this maid:
She tore, the maid Siguné, her plaits of long brown hair
[Pg 79] From out her head thro' sorrow; and the lad he beheld her there,
And he saw Schionatulander, the prince, on her knee lie dead,
And the maiden she wailed above him, and her joy had for ever fled.440
('If sad be their mien or joyful, my mother she bade me still
Greet all men, whoe'er might meet me) God keep thee from greater ill,
For in sooth a sorry treasure have I found on thy knee to-day!
Who hath wounded this knight?' (For an answer the lad he would press alway)
'Did one with a javelin slay him? For Lady, he sure is dead; 445
Wilt thou tell me naught? Who hath slain him? If he none too far hath fled
Methinks I might overtake him, for gladly with him I'ld fight!'
Then the lad he laid hold on his quiver wherein lay the javelins bright,
And still in his hand tight claspèd, the tokens twain he bore
Which he in his thoughtless folly erewhile from Jeschuté tore. 450
Had he known the courtly customs with his father's life in-bound,
His shield were better smitten when the duchess alone he found
Who thro' him must suffer sorrow—for more than a whole year long,
Her husband withheld his favour, tho' in sooth did he do her wrong.
Now list to this maid Siguné who her grief would bemoan as meet, 455
She spake to the lad, 'Thou art courteous, all hail! to thy youth so sweet,
And thy face so fair; yea blessèd thy lot shall hereafter be!
No javelin pierced this hero, but slain in a joust was he—
From truth wast thou born who truly for another's woe can grieve!'
Then his name she was fain to hearken, ere the lad her side might leave,460
And she spake, God with skill had wrought him—But his answer was naught but this,
'At home all who know me call me 'Bon fils, Cher fils, Beau fils!'
Ere ever the word was spoken, the maiden she knew his name—
Now hearken aright his title, that hereafter ye own his fame
Who is hero of this my venture, who now standeth the maid beside— 465
And her red lips they spake unfaltering, 'Thou art Parzival,' she cried,
And thy name it shall mean 'to pierce thro',' for thy mother's faithful heart
With furrow of grief was riven when she from her lord must part:
And I speak not that those shouldst vaunt thee; thy mother my aunt shall be,
[Pg 80] And in truth, with no guile of falsehood, thy race will I tell to thee!'470
'An Angevin was thy father, thy mother of fair Waleis,
And I know for a truth thy birthplace was the city of Kanvoleis;
And thou art the King of Norgals, and there in the citadel
As king shalt thou bear the sceptre and crown as beseems thee well.
For thy sake was he slain, this hero, who thy kingdom for thee would guard,475
His truth it hath faltered never, tho' in death did he find reward.
Two brothers have wrought thee evil, two kingdoms from thee have reft,
And Orilus this thy kinsman in a joust hath lifeless left.
And me too hath he left in sorrow—He served me nor thought it shame,
This prince of thy land, where my childhood did thy mother's tending claim.480
Now fair and sweet my cousin wouldst thou hear how he met his end?
'Twas the fair wove leash of a brachet that brought sorrow unto my friend—
He hath served us twain, in our service hath he won him but death alone,
And I, I have won but sorrow, and henceforth for his death make moan,
For scant of wit was I surely, that I gave not my love afore— 485
So God hath my gladness shattered, and the dead I love evermore!'
Then he spake, 'I must mourn, O cousin, thy grief, and my bitter wrong,
Of a truth till I may avenge them the time seemeth over-long!'
Then straight would he ride to battle, but the way did she falsely show,
For she feared were he slain then henceforward yet sorer should wax her woe.490
But a road he found that led him straightway to the Breton's land,
And smooth and wide was that highway—An there met him on either hand
Afoot or ahorse a merchant or knight, he would greet them still,
For so was his mother's counsel; and she spake with no thought of ill.
But great weariness o'ertook him, as darkened the eventide, 495
And a house that was none too stately the youth in his folly spied.
'Twas a churl he who sat within it, discourteous by birth and low,
(A fisherman he, little kindness might one at his hand e'er know)
Then the lad drew rein for he hungered, and craved of him drink and meat.
But the host quoth, 'Nay, not a half-loaf shalt thou have at mine hand to eat500
In thirty years; he who waiteth, in the gifts of mine hand to share,
O'er-long shall delay his journey—For none but myself I care,
Thereafter perchance for my children—Thou comest not here to-day,
[Pg 81] Hadst thou money or pledge 'twere other, then thine host would I be straightway!'505
Then Jeschuté's clasp all golden the lad he would bid him take,
And soon as the peasant saw it, with smiling mouth he spake,
'Wilt thou stay here, sweet lad? then due honour be thy portion from all within—'
'Wilt thou feed me to-night and to-morrow wilt help me the way to win
To King Arthur (for well I love him) then thyself mayst keep the gold!'510
'Yea, that will I do,' quoth the peasant, 'for ne'er might mine eyes behold
A face and form so comely—I will thee, as a marvel, bring
To the court, and the good Round Table, and the face of the noble king!'
So the lad thro' the night abode there, and ere ever the dawn of day
He roused himself full eager to get on his onward way, 515
And the fisher, he made him ready, and before the lad he ran,
And the boy he rode behind him, and swift were both steed and man.
(Herr Hartmann von Aue, and thy lady, the queenly Guinevere,
And thy gallant lord, King Arthur, a guest do I bring ye here;
No tool is he for your mocking, nay, never a harp or lute, 520
Ye shall choose ye some other plaything, such as courtesy well doth suit;
Else will I thy lady Enid, and her mother Karnafite
Pass under the mill, and their honour with bitter scorn I'll smite—
Tho' I tune my song to mocking, and thy lips with mockery seal,
Yet here will I guard my hero lest thy scorn he perchance should feel!)525
When the lad with his guide so humble to the city walls drew near,
And Nantes might be well discernèd in the morning light so clear,
'God keep thee, boy,' said the fisher, 'thou seest where thou must ride.'
Quoth the lad yet scant in knowledge, 'Yet nearer must thou be guide!'
'Nay, nay, so proud as these court-folk, such folly be far from me,530
An' a peasant came nigh unto them, his welcome would sorry be!'
So alone the lad rode onward o'er a plain that was none too wide,
And the flowers stood fair around him and blossomed on every side,
No Kurwenal was his teacher and of courtesy knew he naught—
[Pg 82] They know it not, the untravelled, till the world hath wisdom taught—535
Of hempen twist his bridle, and feeble and faint his steed,
And oft it fell, as stumbling it went o'er the flowery mead.
And nowhere upon his saddle fair leather and new was seen;
And of samite fair and ermine full great his lack had been.
No mantle clasp he needed, nor knightly garb he wore, 540
Of blazoned coat or surcoat; his javelin alone he bore.
He whose deeds were praised of all men, his father so brave and wise,
Was robed in far other fashion on the carpet 'fore Kanvoleis!
He who ne'er felt the sweat of terror, to him did a knight draw near;
Then he greeted him, 'May God keep thee! thus bade me my mother dear.'545
'God reward thee, lad, and thy mother,' swift answer the knight would bring,
(Uther Pendragon reared him, he was cousin unto the king,
And unto the land of Bretagne did the self-same knight lay claim)
He was Ither of Gaheviess, 'The Red Knight' they called his name.
All dazzling red was his armour, the eye from its glow gleamed red;550
Red was his horse swift-footed, and the plumes that should deck its head,
Of samite red its covering; redder than flame his shield;
Fair-fashioned and red his surcoat; and the spear that his hand would wield
Was red, yea, the shaft and the iron; and red at the knight's desire
Was his sword, yet the blade's fair keenness was not dimmed by the raging fire.555
And the King of Cumberland, stately, in his mailèd hand did hold
A goblet, with skill engraven, and wrought of the good red gold—
From the Table Round had he reft it—All red was his shining hair
Yet white was his skin, and kindly his speech to the lad and fair.
'Now hail to thy fair young body, that in sooth a true woman bare, 560
Yea, blessèd is she thy mother! Ne'er saw I a face so fair,
And the light of thine eyes, I think me, is kindled by love alone,
And Love shall in thee be victor, as by thee Love is overthrown!
And in thee is the joy of woman, whose bliss finds in thee its goal,
[Pg 83] And for thee shall the load of sorrow weigh heavy upon the soul— 565
Now do me this grace I pray thee, an thou wend thee unto the town
Bear greeting from me to King Arthur, and his heroes of high renown,
And say that no fleeting vision am I who now speak with thee,
But here I abide, and await him who thinketh to joust with me!'
'And never a man will wonder: to the Table Round I came 570
And there, in the heroes' presence to my kingdom would I lay claim,
And with hasty hand I raised it, this cup, and the wine out-poured
The robes of the queen besprinkled, as she sat there beside her lord.
This I did as the custom olden of one who would claim his right
For better I thought the wine-cup, than the straw-wisp all alight, 575
For its smoke perchance had soiled me, thus I chose it not' spake the king,
'Nor for robbery rode I hither, my crown doth forbid such thing—
Say thou to the queen that the wine-drops, they fell on her 'gainst my will
Where those heroes sit, nor remember, nor their knighthood as meet fulfil.
Whether kings they shall be or princes o'er-long doth he thirst their king!580
This cup, why delay to fetch it? Their fame it hath taken wing!'
Then the lad spake, 'I'll bear thy message, yea, e'en as thou biddest me.'
And then unto Nantes fair city he gat him right speedily,
And many a youth they followed to the court of the palace fair,
And 'twas filled with a motley gathering, and they thronged him and pressed him there.585
Then Iwanet sprang from out them, and this youth from falsehood free
He gave him a kindly greeting, and he proffered him company.
And the lad he quoth, 'God keep thee, (so my mother she bade me speak
Ere yet from home I wended) King Arthur I fain would seek
But here see I full many an Arthur! Who of all these shall make me knight?'590
Then Iwanet laughed loud 'I will show thee, not yet hast thou seen the right!'
To the Table Round he led him where sat the heroes all
And as best he could for the tumult cried the lad thro' the lofty hall,
'God keep ye all ye heroes! I greet ye both queen and king,
For thus did my mother bid me fair greeting to ye to bring. 595
And all who have won by their valour at the Table Round a seat
[Pg 84] Ye gallant knights and heroes, ye too did she bid me greet!
But in one thing my skill doth fail me, who is host here I may not know;
To him do I bear a message from a knight who all red doth glow,
He waiteth without the portal (methinks he is fain to fight) 600
That he spilt o'er the queen the wine-cup that sorely doth grieve the knight—
Ah! if I his gear so goodly from the king's hand as gift might take,
In sooth were I rich in gladness—so knightly and fair its make!'
Thus spake the youth gay and careless, and the courtiers they thronged around
And hither and thither pressed him till scarce might he stand his ground:605
And well did they look upon him, for each for himself might see
That never in man or maiden might the fruit of love fairer be.
And in truth it was no ill working that in Parzival God had wrought,
In whom never a sight of terror had wakened of fear a thought.
Thus they brought him before King Arthur, he whom God for a wonder chose,610
And no man might bear him hatred—Then the queen from her seat arose
And she gazed for a space upon him ere she passed from out the hall
Where the wine from the golden goblet perforce on her robes must fall.
Then Arthur he looked upon him—To the simple youth he spake,
'Now lad to thy kindly greeting a kindly answer take, 615
For this would I do thee service, yea with body alike and land;
This I speak of a true heart truly, so my will doth toward thee stand!'
'Would to God that were true! Now I think me it well-nigh a year shall be
That I fain would be knight, lacking knighthood all else seemeth ill to me!
Now make thou no more delaying, be knighthood my lot straightway.' 620
Quoth the king, 'I were fain to do so if worth fail me not alway,
So noble art thou to look on; and goodly gifts and rare
Would I give thee; to do thee service I'll naught of my treasure spare.
Yea, loath had I been to refuse thee, wait but for to-morrow's light,
And I myself will dower thee with all that befits a knight.' 625
The lad like a bird new cagèd, he shook himself to and fro,
And he quoth, 'For naught do I ask thee! But that knight who as fire doth glow
If thou givest me not his armour no gift will I take from thee,
[Pg 85] My mother will not withhold it—For a queen shall she surely be.'
Then Arthur he quoth, 'That armour so gallant a knight doth wear 630
That to give thee a gift so goodly methinks I may hardly dare.
And guiltless I live in sorrow since his homage I must forego,
Ither he is of Gaheviess; thro' my joy hath he wrought me woe.'
'Now my King sure it were ungracious to say to his pleading nay,
Thou shalt give him what he desireth, nor think it too great,' quoth Kay,635
'Let him forth to the plain; bid him bring thee the cup if it be thy will!
Here hast thou the whip, there the top is, let the child have of sport his fill.
The women, forsooth, will praise him, and it seemeth good to me
He should learn to take blows an he gives them, many such will his portion be.
For the life of the twain what care I? Each of us needs must have his day,640
If thy dogs for the spoil shall hunger, thou must e'en give thy dogs their way.'
'I were loath to refuse his pleading, yet I feared lest he here be slain,
And to knighthood I fain had helped him.' Thus Arthur he spake again.
Thus the lad won the gift he craved for, which many perforce must rue,
And young and old they followed, as forth from the hall he flew. 645
By the hand would Iwanet lead him, 'fore a bower that was none too high,
And backward and forward turning the lad gazed with eager eye.
And the bower was so low that within it the lad he both heard and saw,
And therefrom did he win a sorrow that vexed him with torment sore.
The queen from her bower window to look on the sight was fain, 650
And her knights and maidens round her they gazed and they gazed again.
And the maiden Kunnewaaré she sat there, the fair and proud,
And never, that man might wot of, had she laughed or low or loud.
For never she vowed, an she died first, would she laugh ere her eyes might see
That knight, who of knights the bravest or was, or henceforth should be.655
As the lad rode beneath the window she brake into laughter sweet,
And her back was sore from the guerdon—reward for a maid unmeet!
For Kay the Seneschal seized her, the maiden of fair Lalande,
[Pg 86] By her waving hair, and the tresses he wound fast around his hand,
Without a band he bound her—Tho' never an oath she sware 660
His staff he laid unknightly on her maiden shoulders fair,
And ere ever the sound of the smiting on the ear had died away
Thro' white skin and royal raiment had he wounded the maid that day.
And thus did he speak in his folly, 'Now hast thou thine own fair fame
Cast aside, and I wot thou hast done it to thine own mending shame!665
Now see, e'en in flight have I caught it, and I bring it to thee once more
In such wise thou mayst well remember, and be e'en in the memory sore:
For I wot well unto King Arthur, to his court and his palace hall
Many gallant men have ridden, yet hast thou despised them all,
And ne'er hast thou smiled upon them—And now doth thy laughter ring670
For one knowing naught of knighthood! Unseemly I deem this thing!'
Now whate'er might be done in anger I wot well no king's decree
Had bid him thus smite the maiden; and her friends mourned her bitterly.
(Might she bear knightly shield and armour it had helped not this sore disgrace,
Discourteous the blows were smitten.) She came of a royal race, 675
Had her gallant brothers seen it, Lähelein and Orilus
Far fewer blows had fallen; she ne'er had been smitten thus.
Now Sir Antanor the Silent, who thro' silence a fool was thought,
(His speech and the maiden's laughter on a self-same thread were wrought)
For never a word would he utter till she laughed whom Kay thus did smite,680
As clear rang the maiden's laughter, aloud spake the silent knight,
'Now here before God I tell thee, Kunnewaaré of fair Lalande
Thou hast wronged for that lad, and thy guerdon awaiteth thee at his hand,
Nor so weak shall he be, nor so foolish, but he turneth thy bliss to bale!'
'And thy speech thou hast found but to threaten for joy shall it naught avail.'685
His food would he make full bitter.—Kay smote him upon the ear
With his fist till naught but a singing and a whispering might he hear.
And Parzival saw the sorrow of the maiden and Antanor,
And his heart was hot for their shaming, and grief for their sake he bore,
And he grasped his javelin tightly, but the throng pressed so close around690
[Pg 87] That perforce the dart must he lower, lest some other aim it found.
Thus alone from the court of King Arthur rode the son of Gamuret,
And he came to the plain where the Red Knight his foeman awaited yet;
And he bare unto him the tidings how in Nantes was there never a knight
Whose heart yet yearned for jousting, or who lusted with him to fight.695
'But a gift King Arthur gave me—I spake as thou saidst before,
That without thy will had it chanced thee the wine o'er the queen to pour,
Thy discourtesy sorely vexed thee—They think not to fight with thee.
Now give me the steed thou ridest, and thine harness give thou to me,
They were given me in the palace, therein shall I be a knight, 700
Wouldst withhold them, I will not greet thee—Yield thou what is mine of right!'
Then the King of Cumberland answered, 'If Arthur hath given to thee
Mine armour, my life he gave thee, if that life thou canst take from me,
So well doth he love his kinsmen! Hath he known thee before to-day,
That so swiftly the service done him with such guerdon he would repay?'705
'I may win what I will I trow me, of a sooth had he given me more;
Now leave thou thy claim on his kingdom—'Tis time I a knight's shield bore
For squire will I be no longer!' He laid on the rein his hand
'Thou art Lähelein, so I think me, who hath taken from me my land!'
Then the knight he turned his spear-shaft, and he struck with so true a blow710
That the lad and his sorry charger on the meadow he laid them low,
And the hero was swift in his anger, and he smote with a will so good
That there where the spear-shaft struck him there sprang forth bright drops of blood.
Then Parzival sprang up swiftly and stood wrathful upon his feet
And he grasped his javelin firmly—Where the helm and the visor meet715
And betwixt the twain is an opening, there the javelin swiftly sped
And thro' eye and neck it struck him, and the knight on the plain lay dead.
Fierce foe had he been to falsehood; women's sighs, true hearts wounded sore,
Were the fruit of his death, and with tear-drops must many an eye run o'er.
And they whom his love made joyful their gladness asunder brake, 720
[Pg 88] And their joy to the goal of sorrow o'er a rough road its way must take.
Then Parzival in his folly turned the dead knight o'er and o'er,
For fain would he loose his armour, yet was lacking the needful lore.
He fingered both helm and corslet with his bare white hands alone,
Yet the fastening he failed to loosen, nor with force might they be undone725
Tho' oft and again he tried them, who in wisdom was all untaught.
Then the horses they neighed so loudly that the sound on the breeze was brought
To Iwanet's ear, and he heard them, by the city moat he stood,
(To Queen Guinevere was he kinsman, and he did to her service good)
He heard the cry of the horses, but naught of the riders saw, 730
As his true heart would give him counsel, Parzival did he seek once more.
And Ither lay dead; and his slayer by his folly was vexed amain—
Then swiftly he sprang to aid him, and Parzival thanks must gain
For the honour he here had won him o'er the hero of Cumberland:
'God reward thee, but give me counsel for skill here doth fail mine hand,735
How best may I loose this armour which myself I were fain to wear?'
'Such lore I right well may teach thee,' quoth Iwanet the proud and fair,
So the armour was reft from the dead man, 'fore Nantes on the grassy plain,
And they did it upon the living, o'er whose dealings did folly reign.
Quoth Iwanet, 'These leather leggings fit not with the mailèd gear,740
As a knight shalt thou now be clothèd,' and the lad deemed it ill to hear;
Quoth Parzival, 'What my mother aforetime hath given me
That cometh not from my body, or for good or for ill it be!'
And much did Iwanet marvel, for clever was he i' troth,
Yet he followed perforce his bidding, nor waxed at his folly wroth.745
And he drew above the leggings the hosen of shining mail,
Nor the spurs with red gold in-wroughten should unto the harness fail,
And of silk and gold the laces, nor leather might there be found.
Ere he gave unto him the corslet he bound him with greaves around,
And tho' o'er-long Parzival deemed it yet the time was swiftly sped,750
Ere in knightly armour shining he clad him from foot to head.
Then the lad would have ta'en his quiver, but Iwanet he spake out free,
[Pg 89] 'Nay, no javelin will I give thee, unknightly such arms shall be!'
Then he girt the sharp sword around him, and he showed how to draw the blade,
And he bade him ne'er fly in battle, nor in conflict to be dismayed.755
Then nearer he led unto him the charger the dead knight rode,
And 'twas tall and strong, yet the saddle the youth with one spring bestrode,
He recked not the weight of his armour, and of stirrups had little need—
E'en to-day do men speak of his swiftness, and the fame of his mighty deeds.
Nor o'er-much did Iwanet think it to teach him with fitting skill 760
To hold his shield and to guard him, while he wrought to his foeman ill;
And a spear in his hand he gave him—But Parzival turned aside,
'Nay, nay, what good may that do me?' 'If a joust one with thee would ride
Thou shalt on thy foeman break it, perchance drive it thro' his shield,
If thou doest that oft, 'fore the maidens will they praise thee for well-fought field.'765
And this hath the venture told me,—Not in Maestricht, or e'en Cologne
Might a painter so fair a picture as this lad and his steed have shown.
Then straightway he spake to Iwanet, 'My friend and companion dear,
The boon that I asked have I won me, of that art thou witness here.
My service bear thou to the city, to Arthur the noble king, 770
And mourn unto him my shaming—This cup thou again shalt bring,
And tell him a knight hath wronged me, since he smote that maiden fair
Who looked, and who laughed upon me, and grief for her grief I bear.
Nor hath it but lightly touched me, it hath pierced to my inmost heart
This maid's woe all undeservèd—Now do thou in her shame have part 775
Thro' the friendship that thou hast shown me! God keep thee in peace alway,
And watch o'er us twain, for I think me no longer I here may stay!'
And Ither the prince of Gaheviess on the plain had he lifeless left,
E'en in death was he fair to look on who was thus of fair life bereft.
If in joust by a spear-thrust pierced he thro' knighthood his death must gain780
Who had mourned for the grief and the marvel? By a javelin he here was slain.
Then Iwanet he strewed above him a covering of blossoms bright,
[Pg 90] And he smote the shaft of the javelin in the ground by the fallen knight,
And that lad so true and faithful, he pierced with the crimson blade
A bough of wood, and in this wise a cross o'er the dead man made. 785
Then he gat him again to the city, and the heavy tidings told;
And from many a trembling woman, and from many a hero bold
Rose the wail of love and of sorrow; and the dead would they fetch in state,
And the Host they bare before her, as the queen passed the city gate.
Then o'er Cumberland's prince and hero, who by Parzival's hand was slain,790
Queen Guinevere spake in sorrow while her tear-drops they flowed amain,
'Alas! alas! for broken in twain is King Arthur's might,
For he whom the good Round Table accounted its bravest knight
Here slain before Nantes he lieth! His heritage did he claim
Where men gave him death for his guerdon—For naught marred his knightly fame;795
Here long hath he dwelt among us in such wise that never an ear
The tale of a deed unknightly, or wrong he had done, might hear.
He held him afar from falsehood, to guile was he aye a foe;
The lock and the seal of knighthood all too soon must we bury low.
His heart wise in courteous wisdom, and steadfast as seal and sign,800
Taught him ever the fairest counsel that a man's heart might aye divine,
Whereby with true love and courage a man woman's love may woo
And show manhood's truth—Fruit-bearing it seedeth itself anew
The plant of all woman's sorrow! From thy wounds grief shall ever grow—
So red was thy hair that the blossoms that bloom here thy corse below805
Scarce redder may be with thy life-blood—All laughter hast thou forbid
To fair women, and joy and gladness by thy death are for ever hid.'
Thus Ither, beloved of all men, as a king in the grave was laid,—
With his life must he pay for his armour who taught sighing to many a maid,
Since Parzival in his folly for the harness his death had sought, 810
Hereafter, when he won wisdom, he scarcely such deed had wrought!
NOW this might ye mark in the charger, great labour it held as naught,
Were it hot, were it cold, no journey the sweat on its coat had brought;
It sped over stone or tree-trunk, and scarce was there need to draw
The girth by one hole the tighter if the knight for two days it bore.815
So fully armed, in his folly yet further he rode that day
[Pg 91] Than a wise man unarmed in two days if his steed he betimes would stay.
And ever it onward galloped, and but seldom would walk or trot,
How to check its speed by the bridle as yet Parzival knew not.
Then he saw the roof of a castle rise fair in the evening glow, 820
And the lad he thought in his folly that the towers from the earth must grow
Since the one roof bare so many—And he thought Arthur sowed such seed,
And he who could work such marvels were a holy man indeed!
Then he said, 'While at home I tarried ne'er looked I on woodland field
That a crop so rich and so stately in growth might ever yield; 825
I think me my mother's people their labour but little know,
For never too dry, I think me, is the soil where their seed they sow!'—
Now Gurnemanz of Graharz of this mighty Burg was lord:
At his portal a spreading linden stood fair on the summer sward,
Nor too long nor too wide was the meadow, and the horse and the road they led830
To where Parzival found him seated who of castle and land was head.
Now weariness sore constrained him, nor his shield might he rightly hold
But it backward and forward wavered as beseemed not a rider bold.
And Prince Gurnemanz sat all lonely, and the boughs of the linden tree
Gave shade as was meet to its master, the captain of courtesy— 835
And his life it fled from falsehood—Then e'en as should be his right
He gave to the guest fair welcome, and with him stood nor squire nor knight.
Then Parzival made him answer—In his folly he spake straightway,
'My mother bade me seek counsel from an old man with locks of grey;
For thy rede will I do thee service, for so did my mother speak!' 840
'If here thou art come for counsel, and aid at my lips would seek,
Thy favour thou still shalt leave me whatever my counsel be,
If thou will that thy prayer I hearken, and give rede as seem best to me!'
Then the prince cast a yearling falcon from his hand and aloft it flew,
And it winged its way to the castle, and its golden bells rang true,845
'Twas a messenger; and the pages came swiftly in garments fair,
And he bade them to lead the guest in, and lodging as meet prepare;
And the lad he spake in his folly, 'My mother she told me true,
[Pg 92] An thou follow an old man's counsel his rede shalt thou never rue!
And the pages they led him straightway where stood many a gallant knight,850
And there in the castle courtyard from his steed did they bid him light.
Spake the youth, and he showed his folly, 'Tis a King who hath bidden me
Be a knight, and whate'er befall me on this charger my seat shall be.
My mother she bade me greet ye!' And mother they thanked and son,
(Both horse and man were wearied) then, the words of greeting done,855
Full many a time they urged him, but it cost them many a thought
Ere the lad within the castle, and from off his steed they brought.
Then they led him to a chamber, and they prayed the stranger guest,
'Let us loose thine harness off thee, that thy wearied limbs find rest.'
But scarce had they loosed his armour when lo! there came to view 860
A garment e'en such as Fools wear, and leggings of calf-skin new;
Then startled and shamed they turned them, and they whispered each to all,
And with bated breath the tidings ran swift through the castle hall,
And the host for shame was speechless—But a knight spake in courtesy,
'Let that be as it may, one so noble mine eyes they might never see,865
And Good Fortune hath looked upon him by his mien so high and fair—
Ah! he whom Love's light hath chosen, who bade him such garb to wear?
And it grieveth me sore to find thus on the World's Joy such poor attire.
Ah! well for the mother who bare him, she hath won her full heart's desire!
And his helmet is decked so costly; ere his harness from him we took870
It became him well, and knightly and noble I ween his look,
And many a bruise and blood-stain the lad on his limbs doth bear.'
Quoth the host, ''Tis perchance a woman who bade him such garb to wear!'
'Nay, Sire, for so strange his bearing he would know not a maid to pray
To take from him knightly homage,—Tho' his face is so fair alway 875
It had fitted him well for Love's service.' Then the host spake, ''Tis best we see
This lad, in whose strange attiring a marvel for sure shall be!'
Then to Parzival they betook them, and they found that a wound he bare
From a spear that was never shattered, and the host for his hurts would care,
And so kindly I ween his tending that a father, whose heartfelt love880
To his children, found no denial, his faith might no better prove.
And he washed his wounds and bound them, the prince, with his own right hand,
[Pg 93] Ere forth to the hall he led him where the evening meal should stand.
And food the guest sore needed, and hungry was he alway,
From the house of the fisherman fasting had he ridden at break of day,885
And his wound and the heavy harness which he before Nantes had won
Wrought him weariness sore and hunger ere ever the ride was done.
For from Arthur the King of the Bretons the whole day he needs must ride,
Nor his fast at the Court had broken, and now it was eventide.
Then the host bade him eat at his table, and Parzival did his will,890
And the food it swiftly vanished, as if one would a manger fill!
And Gurnemanz was well pleasèd, and ever the lad did pray
To eat as he would, and his hunger and weariness put away.
When 'twas time, and the meal was ended, 'Now weary art thou, I ween,'
Quoth the host to his guest, 'If this morning betimes thou a-foot hast been?'895
'God knoweth my mother slumbered, so early she ne'er doth wake.'
Then the host he laughed, and he led him where rest he right well might take,
And he bade him disrobe, tho' unwilling, he needs must—An ermine fair
They cast o'er his naked body,—fairer fruit never woman bare!
By weariness taught to slumber, but seldom throughout the night 900
On his other side did he turn him, he might well wait the morning light.
Then the prince he bade his servants ere ever 'twas middle day,
A bath, as was meet, make ready by the couch where the young knight lay,
And roses they threw within it—And tho' he no call might hear
The guest awoke from his slumbers, and he stepped in the waters clear.905
I know not who sent them hither, but maidens richly dressed,
Lovely and sweet to look on, all courteous sought the guest,
They washed his wounds and bound them with their hands so soft and white,
(Nor should this o'er strange have seemed him who was reft of wisdom's might)
And both ease he felt and gladness, nor his folly they made him rue—910
Thus these fair and gentle maidens they tended the lad anew,
And they spake 'twixt themselves, and he hearkened, yet never a word would say,
Yet too early he might not deem it, for they shone as a second day,
And their beauty it vied with the morning, yet his fairness outshone the twain,
[Pg 94] For naught to the youth was lacking that favour and praise might gain.915
Then a linen cloth they proffered, but the lad he took it ill,
An he robed himself before them, their presence should shame him still.
Perforce must the maidens leave him, nor longer might linger there
Tho' in sooth they would fain have questioned lest deeper the wounds he bare.
(For such was the way of woman, and such is true woman's will, 920
Tho' scatheless themselves yet the sorrow of a friend it doth work them ill.)
Then he strode to the bed, and he found there fresh raiment so fine and white,
With a girdle he bound it round him, 'twas of silk and of gold so bright;
And hosen of scarlet woollen they drew on the fearless knight,
In sooth they well became him who was comely in all men's sight. 925
And of ruddy brown well fashioned, (nor lining they thought to spare)
Were robe alike and mantle, and within was the ermine fair,
And without were they decked with sable, both black and grey in hue;
Then the gallant youth the mantle around his shoulders threw,
With a belt so rich and costly he girt him found the waist, 930
And the fastening of the mantle with a golden clasp was graced.
And his mouth was red and glowing—Then his host he drew anigh,
And many a proud knight followed, to greet him courteously,
And e'en as 'twas done the heroes they spake with a great amaze
'Ne'er saw they a man so goodly!'—And all would the mother praise 935
Who such son to the world had given—And in truth and in courtesy
They spake, 'Whatsoe'er he asketh for his service fulfilled shall be,
And favour and love await him if his worth win its meed alway,'
And of those who hereafter saw him none were there who said them nay.
By his hand the host then took him, and forth from his chamber led,940
And the prince fain would hear the story how the night hours with him had sped,
'Were it otherwise, I think me that living I scarce might wake,
'Twas well that my mother bade me thus shelter with thee to take
Ere yet from her I had ridden—May God requite ye both,
For mercy Sir Knight, and kindness, hast thou shown to me nothing loth.'945
So went our hero witless where to God and the host they'd sing,
[Pg 95] And the prince by the Mass would teach him that which health to the soul shall bring.
He would rede him well of the Offering—How to sign himself with the Cross,
And thus work on the Devil vengeance, who seeketh for aye our loss!
Then again to the hall of the castle and the morning meal they came,950
And the host set his guest beside him, and he ate without fear or shame.
Then out spake the prince so courteous, 'An it seemeth not ill to thee,
Fain am I to know thy dwelling, and from whence thou art come to me?'
Then frankly he told the story how his mother's side he fled,
Of the ring and the clasp so golden, and the winning the harness red.955
And the prince he knew the Red Knight, and his fate it pleased him ill,
And the name of his guest he asked not but 'The Red Knight' he called him still.
Then e'en as the meal was over, were they tamed the ways so wild,
For the host to his guest he quoth thus 'Thou speakest as doth a child,
Why hold not thy peace of thy mother, and otherwise turn thy speech?960
An thou follow henceforth my counsel far wiser the ways I'll teach!'
'And thus I begin, do thou hearken—From true shame shalt thou never flee,
A shameless man, bethink thee, what place in the world hath he?
As a bird that moulteth ever so his honour doth fall away,
And hereafter he hath his portion in the fires of Hell for aye.' 965
'So noble methinks thy bearing, a folk's Lord thou well mayst be;
If high be thy birth, and yet higher the lot that awaiteth thee,
Then see that thy heart hath pity for the poor and needy man
And fight thou against his sorrow with free gifts as best thou can,
For a true knight must aye be humble—A brave man who need doth know970
Full often with shame he battles, and sore is that strife I trow,
For him shall thy help be ready—(Who lighteneth his brother's need
From Heaven he winneth favour as rewarding for righteous deed.)
For in sooth his case is harder than theirs who as beggars stand
'Neath the window, and succour seeking, for bread shall stretch forth the hand.'975
'Thou shalt learn in a fitting measure both rich and poor to be,
[Pg 96] Who spendeth as lord at all times no lordly soul hath he—
Yet who heapeth o'er-much his treasure he winneth methinks but shame,
But give thou unto each their honour, so best shalt thou guard thy fame.'
'I saw well as thou earnest hither that thou hadst of my counsel need—980
Yield not unto ways discourteous but give to thy bearing heed,
Nor be thou so swift to question—Yet I would not that thou withhold
An answer good and fitting to the speech one with thee would hold.
Thou canst hear and see, I wot well full five shalt thy senses be,
An thou use them aright, then wisdom it draweth anear to thee.' 985
'In thy wrath remember mercy, and slay not a conquered foe,
He who to thine arms shall yield him take his pledge and let him go;
Unless he such ill have wrought thee as sorrow of heart doth give,
An my counsel thou fain wouldst follow, then in sooth shalt thou let him live.'
'Full oft shalt thou bear thy harness—When thy knightly task is sped990
Thy hands and face thou shalt cleanse them from the rust and the iron red,
For such is in truth thy duty, so thy face shall be fair and bright,
And when maiden's eyes behold thee they shall deem thee a goodly sight.'
'Be manly and of good courage, so shalt thou deserve thy fame;
Hold women in love and honour, it shall be to thine own good name; 995
And be ever steadfast-minded as befitteth good man and true,
An with lies thou wouldst fain deceive them much harm can thy dealings do.
If true love be repaid with falsehood then swift shalt the judgment be,
And a speedy end to all honour and renown shall it bring to thee.
As beneath the stealthy footsteps of the thief the dry stick breaks,1000
And the slumbering watcher, startled, to his danger swiftly wakes
So false ways and dealings crooked in their wake bring but strife and woe;
Prove this by true love, for true women have skill 'gainst the hidden foe,
And their wiles can outweigh his cunning—An thou winnest from women hate,
Then for ever art thou dishonoured, and shame on thy life shall wait.'1005
'So take thou to heart my counsel—And more would I tell to thee;
Husband and wife united as one shall they ever be,
As the sun that this morning shineth, and this morn that we call to-day,
[Pg 97] So the twain may be sundered never but one shall be held alway.
As twin blossoms from one root springing e'en so shall they bloom and grow;1010
With wisdom receive my counsel that its truth thou hereafter know.'
Then he thanked his host for his teaching, nor spake of his mother more,
But as true man and son so loving in his heart her memory bore.
Then the prince spake as did him honour, 'Yet more will I teach to thee,
Thou shalt learn knightly skill and bearing—In such wise didst thou come to me,1015
Full many a wall have I looked on that the shields might better deck
Than that shield erewhile became thee, as it hung there around thy neck.
None too late shall be the morning, we'll hence to the open field,
And fitting skill I'll teach thee that thine arms thou mayst rightly wield.
So bring to my guest his charger, and mine shalt thou hither lead,1020
And each knight shall make him ready, and mount, e'en as I, his steed.
And pages shall thither follow, and each one shall bear a spear,
And the shaft shall be strong and untested, and blazoned with colours clear.'
So the prince and his guest together they rode to the grassy plain,
And many a feat so skilful was shown by that knightly train. 1025
And the lad he learned how to check him his charger in seeming flight
With touch of spur, and turn him once more 'gainst the foeman's might;
His spear to sink as needed, and before him hold his shield
As he rode a joust; 'Thus shalt thou thine arms in future wield!'
Thus of lack of skill he cured him better than by the bough 1030
That smiteth unruly children and breaketh their skin I trow.
Then he bade swift knights come hither, and a joust with the stranger ride,
And himself to the ring he led him, and against the foe would guide;
And the lad in his first joust carried his spear through the foeman's shield,
And tho' strong was the knight yet he smote him from his steed on the open field.1035
And they marvelled much who beheld it—Then another to joust rode near,
And Parzival took unto him a fresh and unbroken spear,
And his youth had strength and courage—The beardless lad and fair
[Pg 98] Was spurred by his inborn manhood, and to Gamuret's skill was heir—
Then he urged his charger onward full swiftly against the foe, 1040
And his spear rang true on the four nails, and struck nor too high nor low,
Nor the host's knight might keep his saddle, but prone on the sward he fell,
Of the spear-shaft full many a splinter the force of the blow might tell.
Thus five of the knights were smitten ere the host to the Burg would ride,
And the victory was his, and hereafter fierce strife might he well abide.1045
Then they who his deeds had witnessed, the wise men, they needs must say
That great was the skill and valour he had shown in the joust that day,
'Our lord may be free of sorrow, and his youth it may bloom anew
If he give him to wife his daughter, our lady so fair and true.
If we see him wax in wisdom then the sorrow shall be o'erpast— 1050
The death of his sons a shadow o'erlong o'er his life hath cast,
But now to his door hath ridden one who maketh amends for all,
And gladness no more shall fly him, but it seeketh his palace hall!'
Then homeward they turned at even when the board for the feast was spread,
And the prince bade his daughter hither (for so I the tale have read)1055
As he saw the maid draw near him the host to Liassé spake,
'To this knight shalt thou do all honour, and a kiss from his lips shalt take,
With Good Fortune for guide he fareth! And of thee would I pray this thing,
If token perchance she beareth, thou wilt leave to the maid her ring—
Yet none hath she, nor clasp—Who should give her what that forest princess wore?1060
For she won from the hand of her husband what thine hand from her raiment tore,
From Liassé canst thou take little'—Then the lad he must blush for shame,
On her lips did kiss the maiden, and her mouth it was red as flame.
And Liassé was fair to look on, and gentle of heart and pure,
And a hero might well have loved her with a love that should aye endure.1065
Full long and low was the table, nor many might sit thereat,
At its head was the prince so kindly, and his guest by his side he set
Betwixt him and his daughter, and the maiden with snow-white hand
[Pg 99] Must carve, as he willed, for the Red Knight, so her father would give command,
And courteous, she did his bidding, and none did the twain prevent1070
As shy glances rosy-blushing, they each to the other sent!
The feast over, the maiden left them, but she bade not the guest 'Farewell,'
For twice seven days in honour Parzival with his host did dwell.
But within his heart lay a sorrow, 'twas no other I ween than this,
He would he enough had striven to be worthy of wedded bliss, 1075
And he thought him a goal so worthy must lead to a guerdon high
Both in this life and e'en in the other—And these words they shall be no lie.
One morning for leave he prayed him, from Graharz he fain would ride,
And his host, sore loth to lose him, awhile rode his steed beside.
Fresh sprang of grief the fountain as the prince spake, 'I lose once more1080
A son, Death of three hath robbed me, thy loss now shall make them four.
And threefold it was, my sorrow—Who my heart would in pieces smite
Fourfold and from hence would bear them, in the pain should I find delight.
One for thee, since thou ridest from me, and three for my three sons slain—
Bravely they fell in battle, such guerdon doth knighthood gain!' 1085
'And its end is of sorrow woven—One death all my joy doth lame,
The death of my son so gallant, Schenteflur did they call his name;
When Kondwiramur her kingdom and herself would withhold with strife
From Klamidé the king, and Kingron, in her aid did he lose his life,
And my heart with the thrust of sorrow, as a hedge is it piercèd thro'.1090
Now all too soon dost thou leave me since no comfort from thee I drew,
Ah! would Death were here my portion since Liassé, that maiden bright,
And the land I had deemed so goodly find no favour in this thy sight!'
'My other son, Count Laskoit, by Idêr son of Noit was slain
Anent a hawk—Little gladness from his death I methinks might gain—1095
Gurzgrei did they call my third son, to whom Mahaut gave her heart,
As his wife did he win the maiden from her brother proud Ekunât.
'Gainst Brandigan on a venture for Schoie-de-la-kurt he'ld ride,
[Pg 100] And the Prince Mabonagrein smote him, and there by his hand he died.
And Mahaut she lost her beauty, and his mother, my wife, lay dead,2000
For thro' sorrow and bitter yearning the days of her life were sped.'
Then the guest saw his host's deep sorrow as he told unto him his woe,
And he quoth, 'Little wisdom have I, yet if ever the day I know
When I win knightly fame and honour, so that maiden I well may woo,
Thou shalt give unto me Liassé, thy daughter so fair and true. 2005
Thou hast told me of o'er-much sorrow; if thy grief I may lift from thee
From the load of so sore a burden I gladly will set thee free!'
Then leave from the prince so kindly the young knight that morn would pray,
And from all his gallant vassals; and he rode from their land away;
And the prince, in the game of sorrow, tho' heavy before his throw,2010
Had lost yet more, for from threefold to fourfold his grief must grow.

[Pg 101]


[Pg 102]


Book IV. tells how Parzival came to Pelrapär, and found it besieged by sea and land, and the folk wasted by famine. How Queen Kondwiramur besought his aid; how he overthrew Kingron, and sent him to the court of King Arthur. How Parzival wedded the Queen; and of the wrath of King Klamidé when he heard the tidings. How the Burgers defended Pelrapär against their foemen; how Klamidé challenged Parzival to single combat, and was overthrown; and how he came to the court of King Arthur at Dianasdron. Of the love of Parzival and Kondwiramur; and how the hero parted from his wife, and went in search of knightly venture.

[Pg 103]



Thus Parzival parted from them, and courteous he now might bear
His knightly garb, and he knew them, the customs of knighthood fair.
But alas! he full sore was troubled with many a bitter pain,
And the world was too close, and too narrow the width of the spreading plain,
And the greensward he thought was faded, and his harness had paled to white;5
So the heart the eye constraineth and dimmeth awhile the sight.
For since he had waxed less simple somewhat of his father's lore,
The desire of the man for the maiden, in his wakening heart he bore;
And he thought but of fair Liassé, that maiden so true and sweet,
How never her love she proffered, yet with honour the guest would greet.10
And wherever his horse might turn it he took in his grief no heed,
And if slowly it paced or swiftly he thought not to guide its speed.
Nor many a field well-fencèd nor wayside cross he found;
Nor chariot-wheel nor horse-hoof had furrowed with tracks the ground;
Untrodden the woodland pathway, nor wide was I ween the way, 15
And he knew not the hills and the valleys—Full oft shall ye hear men say,
'Who rideth astray, in his wandering the lost axe may often find.'
They lay here unnumbered round him, if for axe ye have trees in mind.
Yet tho' far was the road he journeyed yet he went in no wise astray,
And thus from the land of Graharz he rode through the livelong day, 20
Till he came to the kingdom of Brobarz thro' mountains wild and high—
[Pg 104] When the shadows of evening lengthened, and red flushed the western sky,
Then he came to a mountain torrent, and the voice of the raging flood
Rang clear as its waves rushed foaming round the crags that amid them stood.
So he rode adown by the waters till he came to the city fair 25
Which a king had bequeathed to his daughter; 'twas the city of Pelrapär,
And I wot that tho' fair the maiden who bare of that land the crown,
Great grief and small gladness had they who dwelt in that noble town!
Like an arrow that swiftly speedeth from the bow by a strong arm bent,
The waters onward rushing on their downward pathway went; 30
And a bridge hung high above them with woven work so fair,
And the stream it flowed swift to the ocean—Well-guarded was Pelrapär,
As children in swings delight them, and swing themselves to and fro,
So swung the bridge, yet ropeless, youthful gladness it scarce might know!
And on either side were standing, with helmets for battle bound, 35
Of knights e'en more than thirty, and they bade him to turn him round,
And with lifted swords, tho' feeble, the strife would they gladly wait,
They thought 'twas the King Klamidé whom they oft had seen of late,
So royally rode the hero to the bridge o'er the field so wide—
As thus to the youth they shouted, and with one voice his arms defied,40
Tho' he spurred his steed full sharply it shrank from the bridge in fright,
But ne'er knew he a thought of terror—To the ground sprang the gallant knight.
And he led his horse by the bridle where the bridge hung high in air,
Too faint were a coward's courage so bitter a strife to dare!
And well must he watch his footsteps for he feared lest his steed should fall—45
From the other side of the water the knights had ceased their call,
And with shield and sword-blade gleaming within the town they passed,
For they feared lest an army followed, and they closed their portals fast.
So Parzival crossed the river, and he rode o'er a grassy plain
Where many in search of knighthood must death for their guerdon gain;50
And he came to the palace portal, and stately the Burg and high,
And there hung there a ring of iron, and he gripped it right manfully.
But none to his call made answer, save only a maiden bright
Who looked forth from out her window, and was 'ware of the gallant knight.
Spake the maiden so fair and courteous, 'An thou comest, Sir Knight, as foe,55
[Pg 105] Little need have we of thine hatred, for heavy enough our woe,
A wrathful host doth threaten already by sea and land!'
Then he quoth, 'Nay, gentle lady, at thy portals a man doth stand
Who will, if he can, do thee service! For thy service my hand is fain,
And never reward save thy greeting as payment I think to gain.' 60
Then the maiden she went in her wisdom to the queen and an entrance prayed
For the knight, and in sooth his coming it brought to their sorrow aid.
So Parzival came to the city; down the roadway on either hand
The folk who would fain defend them in close groups he saw them stand,
Soldiers on foot, and slingers, and they who the dart could throw, 65
He saw as he came towards them, in many a goodly row.
And many a squire so valiant, the bravest from out the land,
Long, sharp, and strong were the lances they bare in each strong right hand.
There too, so the story telleth, was many a merchant grave,
And the javelin and axe were their weapons, so their lady commandment gave.70
And their skins, they were loose for hunger—Then the Marshal of the queen
Made his way thro' their ranks to the castle, and heavy his task I ween.
And well was that castle guarded, with towers o'er the chambers high;
And barbican, keep, and oriel in such numbers they met his eye
That buildings so strong and so many in his lifetime he never saw, 75
And on horse or afoot from all sides the knights to his welcome draw.
'Twas a sorry host, for as ashes some were grey, some were pale as clay,
(My lord the Count of Wertheim sure had starved on such scanty pay!)
Thro' want full sore they hungered, nor cheese, nor bread, nor meat
Had they, and their teeth were idle since naught might they find to eat.80
And their palate knew naught of the flavour of the wine-cup, or red or white,
And their doublet hung loosely on them, and wasted each limb of might,
And their skin like wrinkled leather on each rib hung gaunt and grim,
For hunger their flesh had wasted and driven from every limb.
Thro' want must they sorely suffer, little grease in their fuel ran—85
(A hero to this had forced them, the proud King of Brandigan,
Thus they paid for Klamidé's wooing)—The mead might they seldom spill,
For small was their store, I think me, the vessel or cup to fill.
In Trühending oft shall ye hearken the hiss of the frying cake,
[Pg 106] In such music, methinks, but seldom the folk might their pleasure take!90
(And if for such want I'ld mock them, then in truth must I share their shame,
For there where I oft dismount me, where men do me 'Master' name,
At home in mine house, with trouble e'en the mice shall their portion steal,
Nor oft for their food be joyful! Nor need they the bread conceal,
Unhidden, I scarce may find it—Yea, oft doth it happen so, 95
And I, Wolfram of Eschenbach, ofttimes such pleasure and ease may know.)
But enough of my lamentation, once more ye the tale shall hear
How the city was full of sorrow, and for gladness they paid full dear.
How these heroes, so rich in courage, must in need and in scarceness live,
For so did the manhood bid them, to their need shall ye pity give—100
For their life stood in pledge, might He free it in Whose Hand all power shall be!—
Yet more of their grief would I tell ye that ye mourn for them bitterly,
With shame their guest did they welcome, for they deemed him so rich and great
That he craved not thro' need their shelter; he knew naught of their poor estate.
On the grass did they spread a carpet, where a linden was walled around,105
And trained to a welcome shadow—'Neath its boughs they his arms unbound,
And the vassals they took his harness; but other than theirs his face
When he in the streamlet washed it, and cleansed it from red rust trace;
Nay, the sunlight's rays were shamèd 'neath the glow of his beauty bright,
And a worthy guest they thought him as they gazed on the gallant knight.110
Then a mantle rich they brought him e'en like to the robe he bare,
And new was the smell of the sable wherewith it was garnished fair.
Then they spake, 'Wilt thou look upon her, the queen, our lady true?'
And the knight made answer straightway, that thing would he gladly do.
To the palace they came, and the stairway steep and high to the portal led,115
And the light of a fair face met him when his footsteps so far were sped.
Of his eyes should she be the sweetness—There shone from that lady bright
A radiant glow and dazzling, ere she welcomed the stranger knight.
Now Kiot of Katelangen and Manfilot, Dukes the twain,
[Pg 107] Led hither their brother's daughter who as queen o'er this land did reign:120
(For the love of God their harness, shield, and sword, had they put away
These princes true and stalwart, fair of face tho' their hair was grey.)
Midway adown the staircase all courteous the maid they led,
And she kissed the gallant hero, and the lips of the twain were red;
And she gave him her hand, and she led him, Sir Parzival, to the hall,125
And they sat them adown together in the midst of the courtiers all.
And feeble and faint the maidens, and the knights who stood there around,
And vassal alike and hostess, small joy in their life they found.
Yet Kondwiramur, her beauty did high o'er all others stand,
Were it Enid, or fair Jeschuté or Kunnewaaré of far Lalande, 130
Whoe'er men had deemed the fairest when they women's beauty weighed,
Their fame to the earth was smitten by the glance of this royal maid.
Yea, even the twain Isoldé, tho' men praise them evermore,
They must yield the crown of beauty to the lady Kondwiramur.
(And her name in our tongue betokens her shapely form and fair) 135
And well had they done, the mothers, who had borne such a goodly pair
As these twain who sat here together, naught did they who stood around
But gaze on the one and the other—Many friends had our hero found.
And the thoughts of the knight will I tell ye, 'There Liassé, Liassé here,—
God will free me from care since I see here Liassé that maiden dear140
The child of a gallant father!'—Yet her fairness was naught I wot,
'Gainst her beauty who sat beside him, in whom God no wish forgot.
(The maiden was queen of the country) Yea, e'en as by morning dew
Refreshed, the rose from its calyx forth buddeth in beauty new,
And is white and red together—And grief to her guest it wrought, 145
To whose courtesy naught was lacking since Gurnemanz' side he sought,
And his words had from folly freed him; and had bidden him questions spare
Save only where they were needful—So he sat by that lady fair,
And never a word his lips spake, tho' he sat close the maid beside—
Yet to those who know more of woman such silence doth oft betide. 150
Then the queen to herself said softly, 'This man disdaineth me,
He deemeth my fairness faded. Nay, perchance it yet may be
That in this thing he doeth wisely, his hostess in sooth am I,
[Pg 108] And he is my guest, the first speech should be mine assuredly!
Gently he looks upon me tho' never a word we speak, 155
And courteous hath been his bearing, 'twere well I the silence break;
Too long have I yet delayed me since here side by side we sit.'
To her guest did she turn, the maiden, and she spake as it seemed her fit:
'Sir Knight, it were well as hostess that the first words came from me,
Since I wot well my kiss as hostess a greeting hath won from thee, 160
And thou offeredst me thy service, so my maiden hath borne me word,
Our guests scarce are wont to do so, tho' the tidings I fain had heard.
Now tell me, my guest, I prithee, since the tale I am fain to know,
From whence art thou come to my kingdom, and whither thou yet wouldst go?'
'Lady, at early morning I rode from my host away, 165
A brave knight is he and faithful, yet he sorroweth sore to-day,
And Prince Gurnemanz do men call him, in Graharz he holds command,
From thence I to-day have ridden, thence came I unto this land!'
Then the noble maiden answered, 'Sir Knight, had another told
This tale, methinks that scarcely for truth I the words might hold,170
That thou in one day hadst ridden a journey that scarce in twain
My swiftest squire could compass, tho' his charger he spurred amain!
Thy host was my mother's brother; his daughter's youthful glow,
It hath paled before the sorrow which she, e'en as I, must know.
For many sad days and mournful, with sad eyes we've wept our fill 175
I, and the maid Liassé—Wouldst thou show to thy host goodwill?
Then thou shalt with us, man and woman, this night-tide our sorrow share,
Thou shalt serve him thereby; and I'll tell thee the want we perforce must bear.'
Then out spake her uncle Kiot, 'Lady, I send to thee
Twelve loaves of bread, and of shoulders and hams do I give thee three,180
And eight cheeses too are with them, and two casks of wine I trow,
And my brother, he too shall aid thee, of such aid hast thou need enow!'
And Manfilot spake, 'Yea, Lady, I send thee the self-same fare.'
And the maiden she sat in gladness, and of thanks she no word would spare.
Then leave they craved from their lady, and forth would the old men ride185
[Pg 109] To their hunting-house that was nigh there—But the cell where they would abide,
Was in Alpine wilds so lonely, there unarmed did they dwell afar,
And never a foeman vexed them with tumult or strife of war.
And the messenger sped full swiftly, and the fainting folk were fed,
No Burger within the city but was lacking for other bread, 190
And many were dead of hunger ere food for their need was found.
Then the queen she bade them share it to the feeble folk around,
With the cheese, the flesh, and the red wine, as Parzival counsel gave,
Scarce a morsel was left, yet they shared it, the queen and her guest so brave.
And swiftly the store had vanished, tho' to many who yet might live,195
Nor were slain by cruel hunger this succour fresh life might give.
Then they bade them a couch make ready for the guest, and 'twas soft his bed,
(Had the Burgers been hawks for the hunting methinks they were not o'er-fed
As their scanty board bare witness) yea, the folk there, one and all,
Bare the marks of bitter hunger, save the gallant Parzival. 200
Then leave he prayed of his hostess, he would lay him down to rest.
Do ye think that for tapers straw-wisps must light so brave a guest?
Nay, better were they I think me; he betook him, the hero fair,
To a bed so rich and stately a king well might slumber there,
Nor of poverty bare it token, and a carpet before it lay. 205
Then he prayed the knights to go hence, nor longer there delay,
And noble lads un-shod him, and straightway he fell asleep,
Till the cry of heart-sorrow woke him, and tears that bright eyes should weep.
This chanced e'en as I will tell ye; no woman's law she brake,
For pure was she aye, the maiden of whom this venture spake. 210
Long stress of war constrained her, and the death of her champion true,
So heavy her heart with sorrow that sleep from her eyelids flew,
So she went, this royal lady, (but never such love to claim
As urgeth a gentle maiden to crave of a wife the name)
But she sought help and friendly counsel, tho' clad in a warlike gear,215
A silken shift, (strife she wakeneth who doth thus to a man draw near.)
And the maiden she wrapped around her a mantle of samite long,
[Pg 110] And she went as her steps were guided by sorrow and bitter wrong.
Her maidens and waiting women who lay there around her bed
She left them slumbering softly, and with noiseless footsteps sped 220
To a chamber, there, e'en as she bade them, Parzival all lonely lay,
And around his couch the tapers burnt bright as the light of day.
To his bed she turned her footsteps, and she knelt low his couch before,
But no thought of love unlawful the heart of either bore.
Of joy bereft was the maiden, his help she was fain to claim, 225
If awhile they lay there together it brought unto neither shame.
So bitter the maiden's sorrow that there fell full many a tear
On Parzival, and her weeping thro' his slumbers the knight might hear,
And waking, he looked upon her, and sorrow and joy he felt,
And he rose up, the youthful hero, as the maiden before him knelt, 230
And he spake to the queen, 'Say, Lady, wilt thou now make a mock of me?
To God only, and never to mortal methinks shouldst thou bow the knee.
But rise thou and sit beside me, or grant me I pray this grace,
Lay thyself down where I was lying, I will seek me some other place!'
But she spake, 'Thyself wilt thou honour, and show honour alike to me,235
And by never a touch wilt shame me, I will e'en lay me down by thee.'
Then the knight he spake by his knighthood he would e'en do as he should say,
So down on the bed beside him in peace the maiden lay.
Tho' well sped were the hours of the night-time no cock did they hear to crow,
Empty and bare the perches, for the famine had left them so. 240
Then the maiden, grieving sorely, prayed him courteous her plaint to hear,
''Twill rob thee of sleep an I tell thee, and work to thee ill I fear.
My foeman the King Klamidé, and Kingron his seneschal,
My castles and lands have wasted, yea, all but this citadel.
My father, King Tampentäre, by his death me, poor orphan, left 245
In peril and need so deadly, of all hope am I well-nigh reft.
Kinsmen and princes many, and vassals, both rich and poor,
Yea, a mighty army served me, but they serve me now no more.
One half, nay, far more I think me, in defence of my land are slain,
[Pg 111] Alas! whence shall I, poor maiden, or gladness or succour gain? 250
In such sore strait do I find me, I am ready myself to kill
Ere my maidenhood and this body I yield to Klamidé's will.
His wife he is fain to make me, yet his was the hand that slew
My Knight Schenteflur, the hero, whose heart was both brave and true,
And the flower was he of all manhood, falsehood he ne'er might know,255
Who was brother unto Liassé, and she too shall share my woe.'
But e'en as she named Liassé then sorrow awoke anew
In his heart who would fain do service, and his spirit, so high and true,
Sank, as sinketh a hill to the valley, at the thought of that maiden dear;
Yet he spake to the queen, 'Say, Lady, how best may I serve thee here?'260
'Sir Knight an thou couldst but rid me of Kingron the seneschal;
In knightly joust of my warriors full many before him fell.
With the morning again he cometh, and he thinketh that free from harm
His lord soon shall lie, my husband, in the clasp of my circling arm.
My Burg hast thou seen, and thou knowest how lofty its towers and high,265
Yet down to the moat below them will I fling myself joyfully,
Ere of maidenhood King Klamidé shall rob me against my will,
If no better may be, then by dying, his boasting I yet may still!'
Then he quoth, 'Lady, French or Breton, of what country soe'er he be,
From Kingron my hand shall shield thee, with what power may be given to me.'270
The night was spent, with the dawning the queen she arose again,
Lowly she bent before him, nor from thanks would her lips restrain.
Then she passed from the chamber softly, and no man might be aware,
Tho' wise were he else, of her errand, save only the knight so fair.
Nor Parzival longer slumbered, for the sun was swift to rise, 275
And it pierced thro' the clouds of morning, and smote on his wakened eyes;
And he heard the sweet bells chiming, as the folk church and minster sought,
For Klamidé their joy had banished, and their land in sore peril brought.
Then up rose the young knight also; the chaplain was in his place
And he sang to God and his lady; and the guest saw the maiden's face,280
And he gazed till the Mass was ended, and the benediction o'er.
[Pg 112] Then he bade them to bring his harness, and soon was he armed once more,
A good knight and strong they deemed him, in gallant armour fair.
Then on came Klamidé's army with banners borne high in air.
And Kingron, he came full swiftly, he sped far before the force, 285
And, so hath the story told me, of Iserterre's land his horse.
And there waited before the portal the son of King Gamuret,
And the prayers and the hopes of the townsfolk on the youthful knight were set.
Nor with sword he ere this had striven—From afar did he aim his stroke,
And so swift his joust, in the meeting the gear of both chargers broke,290
And their girths were burst asunder, and each steed to its knees was brought,
And the heroes who yet bestrode them of their swords must they needs take thought;
In their scabbards did they find them—And already did Kingron bear
Wounds in arm and breast, and I wot me that loss was his portion there.
For this joust brought him loss of the glory that methinks had been his alway295
Till he met with this knight, and their meeting, of his pride was the dying day.
And valiant did men account him, six knights had he prostrate laid
Who rode in one field against him, yet here was he well repaid
By Parzival's right hand valiant, and Kingron the seneschal
Thought strange was indeed his peril, for stones surely on him fell300
Cast forth from a mighty engine—Other arms wrought his overthrow,
For a sword clave clean thro' his helmet, and Parzival laid him low,
And he knelt with one knee upon him, and he bade him forthwith to give
What he ne'er to a foe had given, his pledge, an he fain would live.
But he thought not to be his captor who had vanquished him here in field,305
But he bade him ride hence to Graharz and his pledge to its lord to yield.
'Nay, Sir Knight, thou hadst better slay me, 'twas I who slew his son,
'Twas my hand of life that robbed him, Schenteflur—Thou from God hast won
Great honour, yea, men shall praise thee for the strength that thou here hast shown,
Of a sooth art thou here the victor, and Good Fortune shall be thine own.'310
Quoth Parzival, 'Yet another is the choice I will give to thee,
[Pg 113] Yield thou to the queen whom thy master in his wrath wronged so grievously!'
'Nay! Then were I lost of a surety, for I wot with their sword-blades keen
My body they'ld hew in pieces, small as dust in the sun is seen!
Such sorrow of heart, I think me, and grief thro' my hand they win,315
Full many a gallant hero who dwelleth those walls within.'
'Then hence from this plain shalt thou journey to the kingdom of Brittany,
And bear to a gentle maiden thy pledge and thy fealty.
For she for my sake hath suffered a sorrow she ne'er had borne,
Had not Kay been of knightly customs, and of courtesy fair forsworn.320
Say to her how with me it fareth, that I come not in joy again
Till my spear, thro' his shield sharp-piercing, hath wiped out her honour's stain.
To King Arthur and to his lady, and the knights of the Table Round
Bear my greeting, and say in their presence shall I never again be found
Till the day I from shame have freed me; from the shame which I too must share325
With the maiden who smiled upon me, and great grief for that greeting bare.
Say to her I am aye her servant, to serve her with service fain!'
So Kingron must swear unto him ere they parted, those heroes twain.
Thus he came afoot to the city, for thither had fled his steed,
The Burgers' help in battle, from their anguish the folk he freed. 330
But the outer host was troubled that Kingron, their chosen knight,
In this wise had been dishonoured, and broken his dauntless might.
Then they led Parzival in triumph to their queen so fair and young,
And the maiden was fain to greet him, and her white arms around him clung,
And in close embrace she held him as she spake, 'The wide earth doth hold335
No man I will have for my husband save him whom these arms enfold!'
And as here they disarmed the hero her part would the maiden bear
With ready hand and skilful, nor her service she thought to spare.
But tho' heavy had been his labour, yet scanty, I ween, the board.
And the Burgers they came before him, and they sware him with one accord340
They would have him for lord and master; and the queen in her turn she spake,
And she said that this knight so valiant for her love and her lord she'ld take
Who had won him a fame so mighty o'er Kingron the seneschal—
[Pg 114] But now from the castle bulwarks two sails might be seen by all,
A strong wind to the haven brought them, and their lading must needs make glad345
The folk, they bare naught but victuals,—God's guidance they surely had!
Then they rushed adown from the ramparts, and swift to the ships they fled,
The hungry crowd, for the booty, as leaves by the wind are sped.
With flesh they were not o'erweighted, so wasted and thin were they,
Nor they strutted with well-filled belly, but bending they went their way.350
The queen's marshal he sware the shipmen, by the doom of the hempen cord,
Safe conduct for life and lading, none should touch that which lay aboard.
Then he bade them to lead these merchants straightway into the town,
And Parzival for their lading the double he paid them down,
And gladly the merchants took it, for princely they deemed such pay;355
And the Burgers these welcome viands to their fires did they bear straightway.
Now fain would I there take service, no man of them all drank beer,
Wine and food had they there in plenty—Then he did as you now shall hear,
Parzival, the gallant hero, for first in portions small,
With his own right hand he shared out the viands among them all, 360
Yea, even unto the nobles; so long had they lacked for bread,
He feared it had wrought them evil if perchance they were over-fed.
But to each one he gave his portion, and his counsel they deemed it right,
And more should they win ere nightfall from the hand of this gallant knight.
To their marriage couch they bade them, 'twas the will both of king and queen—365
Yet throughout the night so courteous he bare him, in truth I ween,
He little had pleased those ladies who now, in these latter days,
In passion's heat forget all that should win for a woman praise;
Tho' modest they seem to strangers, yet their heart gives their mien the lie,
And their tenderness worketh sorrow to their friend, tho' in secrecy.370
But the steadfast knight and faithful guards himself at every hour,
And well knoweth to spare a woman an she chanceth within his power.
For he thinketh, and thinketh truly, 'For many a lonely year
For her favours I served this lady; now, behold, the day is here
When her will is to reward me, and here we twain do lie— 375
[Pg 115] Had I touched with bare hand her vesture I were blest to eternity!
An I vantage take of her slumbers to myself untrue I seem,
Methinks we were both dishonoured did I waken her from her dream,
For a woman's sleep is holy, and all men shall own its sway.'
Thus the Waleis, who ne'er had feared him, lay still till the dawn of day.380
Thus he whom men called the Red Knight, a maiden he left the queen,
Yet surely she deemed in the morning his wife she o'er night had been,
And for love of her lord her tresses she bound with the morning light
As matrons are wont to bind them. And he won him, the gallant knight,
Castles and lands around them from the hand of his maiden bride, 385
But her heart was ere this his guerdon, and in peace did the twain abide.
Thus glad in their love they held them two days till the third night fell,
And often he thought might he take her to himself it would please him well.
Then he thought of his mother's counsel, and how Gurnemanz spake of yore,
That man and wife should as one be, and the doubt vexed his soul no more,390
And his wife did he take unto him—Love's custom ever old,
Yet ever new to lovers, to these twain brought joy untold.
'Twas well, not evil, with them—Now hear how the king, their foe,
As he rode in his might to battle, must tidings of evil know.
'Twas a squire who fain had told them, all crimson his spurs with blood;395
'Before Pelrapär on the meadow have they foughten those heroes good,
'Twas a bitter strife and knightly; thy seneschal fell that day,
Kingron, who led thine army, to King Arthur must take his way.
As he in departing bade them lies the army upon the plain.
Pelrapär shalt thou find well guarded 'gainst thyself and thine armies twain,400
There within is a gallant hero, and naught doth he crave but strife;
In the camp of thy hired soldiers is many a rumour rife,
They say from the good Round Table cometh Ither of Cumberland
To the help of the queen, and knightly and valiant methinks his hand!
'Twas his arms that rode forth for jousting, and no man his deeds shall blame,405
In such wise hath he borne his armour as winneth him meed of fame.'
Quoth the king to the squire, 'My lady, the queen, she desireth me,
And she and her land so goodly I trow shall my portion be.
And Kingron the seneschal told me, and surely the truth he spake,
[Pg 116] That famine doth plague the city, and peace they ere long must make,410
And the queen she her love shall proffer'—His wrath must the squire abide.
Then the king and his host passed onward, and a knight did toward them ride,
And he spared not his horse but spurred it, and told them the self-same tale,
And the king deemed the loss o'er-heavy, and courage and joy must fail.
Then a prince spake from out the army, 'Tho' Kingron hath valour shown,415
Yet never he fought for our manhood, he fought for himself alone.
Now let him to death be stricken—Why then should they be cast down,
Two hosts, this one, and the army that lieth before the town?'
Then he bade his lord take courage, 'Once more will we try our fate,
Let them look to their arms, the conflict shall be for their strength too great,420
We will make an end of their gladness! Bid thy vassals and kinsmen hear,
With banners twain before them to the town shall they draw anear;
Down the hill will we ride upon them, but afoot must we storm the gate,
For so shall we work them evil, and victory shall on us wait.'
Galogandres, the Duke of Gippones, it was who this counsel gave, 425
And sorrow he brought on the Burgers—but slain was this hero brave,
And slain, too, the brave Count Narant, a prince from Uckerland's shore,
And many another hero whom dead from the field they bore.
Now hear ye another story, how the Burgers would guard their wall.
Strong stakes of wood sharp-pointed they made fast in tree-trunks tall;430
(Sore pain thus was wrought the besiegers) and the trunks were made fast that day
To a rope that by wheel was guided, so they guarded their walls alway.
And all this had they done and tested ere Klamidé would storm the gate
To avenge the fall of Kingron—There had come to their land of late
Greek fire, for the ships had brought it that of food brought a goodly store,435
And it burnt of the foe the weapons, and the engines of deadly war;
And battering-ram or tortoise in vain 'gainst the walls were wheeled,
No weapon had they for onslaught but was forced to the flame to yield!
Now Kingron the seneschal journeyed till he came on to Breton ground,
In his hunting-house in Briziljan King Arthur at last he found, 440
And Karminöl did they call it—As 'fore Pelrapär he fought,
So at Parzival's word his surety to the maid of Lalande he brought,
And glad was fair Kunnewaaré that, faithful, he mourned her shame
[Pg 117] Whom men there knew as the Red Knight, and this knight at his bidding came.
And soon were the wondrous tidings amid the courtiers spread, 445
And he stood there before King Arthur, a gallant knight ill-sped.
Then he spake unto him and his vassals in such wise as he needs must speak,
And Kay was with terror smitten, and crimson it grew, his cheek,
And he spake, 'Is it thou, O Kingron? Ah! many a Breton knight,
Thou seneschal of Klamidé, thy hand hath o'erthrown in fight! 450
If thy captor ne'er look upon me with favour, thine office high
Shall turn to thy good; we are rulers of the caldron, both thou and I,
Of thy wisdom and skill do thou aid me, to win me the favour fair
Of this maiden Kunnewaaré, and sweet cates for her board prepare!'
Nor they asked from him other ransom—Now leave we that tale and hear455
What had passed since we left the story—So the host to the town drew near,
To Pelrapär came the King Klamidé, and a bitter strife arose.
The inner host strove with the outer, and in sooth were they gallant foes,
Fresh strength had they won and courage, and bravely they held the field;
And Parzival, lord of the country, in the vanguard he bare his shield.460
And he swung aloft his weapon, thro' the helm clave the blade so keen,
And the knights he o'erthrew before him found a bitter death I ween,
For there, where the corslet opened, the Burgers they pierced them thro',
In such wise would they take their vengeance—this wrought grief to the hero true,
And Parzival, he forbade them, and they ceased at their lord's command,465
But of living knights full twenty were captive unto their hand.
Yet Parzival well had marked it how the king and his bravest knights
Sought not fame before the portals, but far out in the plain would fight;
Then forth by a path untrodden the hero a circuit made,
And swiftly he charged where the monarch his banner aloft displayed.470
And, see! there a mighty slaughter the guard of the king befell,
And the shields they were hewn in pieces, the Burgers they fought so well.
And Parzival's shield had vanished 'fore the blows and the sword-blades keen;
And tho' little his skill rejoiced them, yet all who the strife had seen,
They spoke but to praise his valour—Galogandres the standard bare,475
[Pg 118] (Well he knew how to wake their courage!) but dead lay the hero there.
And Klamidé himself stood in peril, and great stress on his army lay;
Then he bade them withdraw, for the valour of the Burgers had won the day.
But Parzival, gallant hero, bade them treat their captives well
Till the dawn of the third day's morning, and fear on his foemen fell.480
Then the young host, proud and joyful, bade the knights on their oath go free—
'Good friends, when the word I send ye, then wend your way back to me!'
Their swords and their goodly harness as prisoners they needs must yield;
Unarmed did they fare from the city to the host on the outer field.
'For sooth,' spake their comrades mocking, 'from wine must ye needs be red,485
Poor souls, since within the city ye have hungered for lack of bread!'
'Nay! nay! ye may spare your pity,' so spake they, the heroes good,
'If ye lie here a whole year longer, within is such store of food,
That by them might ye well be nourished! And the queen hath the fairest knight
For her husband, that e'er won knighthood, or carried a shield in fight,490
He may well be of lofty lineage, for he lacketh no knightly skill!'
And the king needs must hear the tidings, and in sooth did they please him ill,
And heralds he sent to the city, and he bade them this challenge bear
To him whom the queen had wedded, 'If this knight the strife shall dare,
And the queen doth hold him worthy herself, and her lands so wide, 495
To defend in single combat, then in peace may our hosts abide!'
And Parzival he was joyful at the message the heralds bare,
And his heart was fain for the combat; and out spake the hero fair,
'Now I pledge me upon mine honour that no man within this wall
Shall lift his hand for my peril, alone will I stand or fall!'500
So betwixt the moat and the meadow a truce did they swear that day,
And those smiths of battle armed them as meet for the coming fray.
On a gallant war-horse armèd sat the King of Brandigan,
'Twas hight Guverjorz—This charger with many a gallant man,
[Pg 119] And many a goodly present, from Gringorz his nephew, king 505
Of Ipotente did Count Narant from the north o'er the deep seas bring.
And therewith were a thousand footmen, well armed save no shield had they;
(If the tale speaketh true to the third year the king had made good their pay.)
And Gringorz sent him knights five hundred, each one with his helm on head,
And skilled were they all in battle; with Klamidé they hither sped.510
And thus had the mighty army, alike both by sea and land,
Encircled the town of Pelrapär, and great need must its folk withstand!
Forth rode Parzival from the city to the field that should aye declare
If 'twas God's will his wife to leave him, the child of King Tampentäre.
Proudly he rode, yet he spurred not his steed to its swiftest flight,515
And 'twas armed for need, and its covering was a samite of red so bright,
And the iron lay beneath it—And the hero himself shone fair
In his harness red, red his corslet, and the shield that he proudly bare.
And Klamidé began the conflict—A short spear of wood unwrought,
With that would he fell his foeman, and the joust from afar he sought;520
And Guverjorz sprang forth swiftly, and the joust it was ridden well
By those heroes young and beardless, nor one from his saddle fell,
And never a horse or a rider had foughten a better fight;
And the steam rose in clouds from the chargers on which sat each gallant knight,
And so fierce was the fight that the horses, out-wearied with conflict sore,525
Stumbled and fell together, in sooth could they do no more.
And joyful they smote, the heroes, till fire from the helm must spring,
Small time had they there for leisure, but zeal to their task must bring;
And the shields were hewn in pieces, and the splinters were tossed on high,
As shuttlecocks gaily smitten to the winds of heaven fly. 530
Yet Gamuret's son was unwearied, and never a limb did ache,
Tho' Klamidé deemed that the foemen from the city the truce would break.
Then he bade his fellow-foeman to look to his honour well,
And stay the hand of the slingers, for the blows heavy on him fell
As of stones shot forth from an engine—But Parzival made reply, 535
'Nay, safe art thou from the slingers, my word is thy surety,
[Pg 120] Thou hast peace from mine hand, and I swear thee that never a sling shall break
Head, or breast, or thigh, thou art safe here, were it but for mine honour's sake!'
All too soon was Klamidé wearied and spent with the deadly fight,
Who was victor, and who was vanquished, ere long might be seen aright,540
And they looked on the King Klamidé, on the grass was he laid alow,
And Parzival's right hand gripped him till forth streamed the crimson flow
Of blood from the ears and nostrils, and the green turf was dyed with red;
And his foeman unbound the helmet and visor, and bared his head,
The vanquished would face the death-blow, and the victor spake, 'Here I free545
My wife for aye from thy wooing! Learn thou what Death may be!'
'Nay! nay! thou gallant hero, thirty-fold doth thy glory grow
Thro' the valour thine hand hath shown here, since in strife thou hast laid me low.
What higher fame dost thou look for? Kondwiramur sure shall say
That Good Fortune hath smiled upon thee, whilst I am Misfortune's prey;550
Thy land hast thou now delivered—As when one a leaking boat
Doth free from the load of water, that it light o'er the waves may float,
So lightened am I of honour! Manly honour and joy I trow
Are waxen thin and faded, what profit to slay me now?
From children and children's children mine heritage shall be shame,555
To do more here methinks were needless—For joy thou hast won and fame,
And a living death is my portion, since for ever from her I part,
Who fast in love's magic fetters hath held me both mind and heart,
Little good it forsooth hath brought me, ah! most wretched henceforth am I,
And this land and its lovely lady for aye in thy power shall lie!' 560
Now he who was here the victor on Gurnemanz' counsel thought,
How mercy should well beseem him who with manhood had valiant fought,
And he thought him the rede to follow; and thus to the king he spake,
'I free thee not, to the father of Liassé submission make!'
'Nay, Sir Knight, I have wrought him evil, 'twas thro' me that his son was slain,565
An ill-fate wouldst thou bring upon me! The hand of thy queen to gain,
[Pg 121] With Schenteflur I battled, and in sooth had I died that day,
Save that Kingron came to my succour, and his hand did the hero slay.
For Gurnemanz of Graharz had sent him to Brobarz' land
At the head of a gallant army; 'twas a fair and knightly band, 570
Nine hundred knights who fought well, and rode upon mail-clad steeds,
And fifteen hundred footmen all armed for valiant deeds,
For naught but shields should fail them—Too great their might I thought,
But the seed of such goodly harvest once more their country sought.
Yet now hath my loss been greater! Of my heroes but few are left, 575
What more would thine hand take from me, who of gladness am now bereft?'
'An easier way I'll show thee, to Brittany shalt thou ride,
Kingron has gone before thee, there King Arthur he doth abide,
To him shalt thou bear my greeting, and bid him to mourn alway
The shame I bare as my portion when I rode from his court away. 580
A maiden who smiled upon me for my sake was smitten sore—
Of all that in life e'er grieved me naught ever hath grieved me more!
And that maid shalt thou tell of my sorrow; and thy pledge to her hand shalt yield,
And do even as she shall bid thee—Or die here on this foughten field!'
'So, if here I must choose betwixt them, not long shall my choice delay,'585
Spake the King of Brandigan swiftly, 'From hence will I ride straightway!'
But his oath did he swear ere he parted whom pride had in peril brought.
Then Parzival, the hero, for his wearied charger sought,
And his foot touched nor horse nor stirrup as he light to the saddle sprung,
And his steed the hewn shields' splinters around him in circles flung.590
And the Burgers I ween were joyful—but their foemen were sad and sore,
For flesh and bone were wearied, and sorrow of heart they bore.
And they brought King Klamidé wounded to those who might give him aid,
And the dead on the bier they bare them, and to rest in the grave they laid.
From many a guest unwelcome the land at last was freed, 595
And the gallant King Klamidé to Löver he rode with speed.
Now it fell at this time King Arthur and the knights of the Table Round,
And many another hero, at Dianasdron were found.
[Pg 122] And in sooth no lie I tell ye when I say that this plain so good
Bare of tent-poles a greater number than the trees in Spessart's wood.600
For 'twas ever the wont of King Arthur the high feast of Pentecost
To keep with his knights and vassals, and of maidens a goodly host.
There were many a noble banner, and many a warlike shield
With coat of arms emblazoned, and fair tents stood adown the field;
'Twould be thought of the world a marvel, who should make all the travelling gear605
For such wondrous host of ladies as those that were gathered here!
And I think me that never a maiden but had counted it to her shame
If no knight mid the knights around her she might as her lover claim!
Came I myself to such gathering, an such youthful knights were there,
I were loth if my wife beside me thro' such tumult were fain to fare—610
(Nay, when folk thus come together far liefer were I away)
May be one might speak unto her, and some such words would say—
'With love of her was he smitten, and ne'er might he healing know
Save that she herself should heal him. Yea, an but her will were so,
Her knight would he be for ever, to serve her his whole life long' 615
I were swift, with my wife beside me, to flee from such foolish throng!
Yet enough of myself have I spoken—Now hear how King Arthur's tent
Might be known apart from the others; before it on gladness bent
He feasted, the king, with his vassals whose hearts never falsehood knew,
And with many a stately maiden, whose thoughts aye to jousting flew,620
As if with darts they sported, and their friend 'gainst the foe would aim,
And if ill befell their hero with sweet words to his aid they came.
Then the youthful King Klamidé in the ring would he bridle draw;
His steel-clad limbs and charger the wife of King Arthur saw,
His helmet and good shield cloven her maidens they saw right well—625
So he came to the court, (who had sent him small need have I here to tell.)
So sprang he adown from his charger, and they thronged him on either hand
Ere he came where she sat whom he sought for, Kunnewaaré of fair Lalande.
And he spake, 'Art thou she, O Lady, to whom I owe service fair?
(Yet need doth in part constrain me) from the Red Knight I greeting bear,630
[Pg 123] He willeth to take upon him the shame that thy lot hath been;
He prays that King Arthur mourn it—Thou wast smitten for him I ween,
Here, Lady, my pledge I bring thee, so my victor hath bidden me,
Else my body to death were forfeit—I will do here as pleaseth thee!'
Then the maiden Kunnewaaré by his hand led the gallant knight 635
Where Queen Guinevere was seated, she ate with her maidens bright;
And Kay uprose from the table as the tidings he needs must hear,
They brought gladness to Kunnewaaré, but to Kay had they wrought but fear.
And he quoth, 'What he speaketh, Lady, who thus unto thee hath sped
He speaketh perforce, yet I think me he greatly hath been misled! 640
I thought but to teach thee better, yet for this cause thou hatest me!
Now bid thou this knight disarm him, for his standing o'er-long shall be.'
Then she bade him put off his helmet and visor, the maiden true,
And e'en as the bands were loosened Klamidé the king they knew,
And Kingron he looked upon him, and he saw his lord again, 645
And he wrung his hands in his anguish till as dry twigs they cracked amain.
Then the seneschal of Klamidé, from the table he sprung straightway,
And he asked of his lord the tidings; and joyless was he that day,
For he spake, 'I am born to sorrow; I have lost such a gallant host,
No man that was born of woman, I think me shall more have lost. 650
And the load of such bitter sorrow lieth heavy upon my breast,
And joy is to me a stranger, and gladness a fleeting guest!
And grey am I grown for the anguish she hath wrought me, Kondwiramur,—
Yea, the sorrow of Pontius Pilate, and false Judas who evermore
Must grieve for his faithless dealings, who did Christ unto death betray,655
What of punishment God layeth on them that woe would I bear alway—
If so be that the Lady of Brobarz were my wife of goodwill and free,
And mine arms held her fast, I had recked not what hereafter should chance to me.
But, alas! for her love is withholden from the ruler of Iserterre,
And my land and my folk henceforward for her sake shall sorrow bear.660
Mine uncle's son, Mabonagrein, for her love long hath suffered pain;
And by knightly hand constrainèd in thy court I, O king, draw rein!
And well dost thou know in my kingdom much harm have I done to thee,
[Pg 124] Forget that, true knight and faithful, from thy hate do thou set me free
Since here I abide, a captive—And this maiden my life shall shield,665
Since I stand in her sight, her servant, and my pledge to her hand would yield!'
Then of knightly heart King Arthur forgave him as he would pray,
And with faithful words, and kindly, showed favour to him that day.
Far and wide did they tell the tidings how the King of Brandigan
Rode hither, and man and maiden in thronging crowds they ran. 670
Then the king he would crave a comrade, and he spake out with joyless mien,
'Commend me unto Sir Gawain, if thou deemest me worth, O Queen!
Well I know that he would desire it, and if he thy word obey,
Then he honoureth thee, and the Red Knight shall win praise at his hand to-day.'
Then King Arthur he bade his nephew deal well with the captive king,675
(Tho' I wot well, without his bidding, Sir Gawain had done this thing.)
And the conquered knight, in whose dealings no falsehood had part or share,
From the vassals and gallant heroes won a welcome both fit and fair.
Then Kingron he spake in sorrow, 'Alas! that I needs must see
The day when in Breton dwellings my king shall a captive be! 680
For richer wert thou than Arthur, and of vassals a greater host
Hath served thee, nor strength was lacking, and of youth canst thou make thy boast.
Shall men count it to Arthur's honour that Kay in his wrath did smite
A princess whose heart hath shown her the wisdom to choose aright,
And smile upon one whom henceforward all men may with truth proclaim685
Elect to the highest honour and crown of true knightly fame?
The tree of their fame these Bretons may deem to have waxen high;
Dead lay Cumberland's king, but I wot well be by no deed of theirs must die!
Nor the fame shall be theirs that, my master, thou didst yield to that self-same knight,
Or that I myself have been vanquished in fair and open fight; 690
And the sparks sprang bright from our helmets, and our swords clave the whistling air
As for life and death we battled, and men looked on our combat fair.'
[Pg 125]
Then all at the good Round Table, both rich and poor alike,
With one voice spake that Kay did evil when a maiden he thought to strike.
But now will we leave their story, and fare back unto Pelrapär 695
Where Parzival reigned as monarch; the waste lands were builded fair,
And joy was their lot and singing, (and red gold and jewels bright
King Tampentäre left in the city where awhile he had reigned in might)
Then rich gifts he gave till men loved him for his knightly hand and free;
New shields and costly banners the pride of his land should be, 700
And many a joust and Tourney did he and his heroes ride.
And e'en on the distant borders in gallant deeds he vied,
That hero young and dauntless, and no foeman might e'er deny
That on battle-field or in Tourney his hand won the victory.
And now of the queen would I tell ye—What lot might ye hold so fair705
As hers, that gentle lady? In earth's joys had she fullest share.
Her love it might bud and blossom, nor weakness nor wavering show,
For the worth of her lord and husband her heart scarce might fail to know.
And each found their life in the other, and each was the other's love.
If, as saith the tale, they were parted, what grief must each true heart move!710
And I mourn for that gentle lady, her body, her folk, her land,
(So he won of her love the guerdon) had he freed with his strong right hand.
Thus courteous he spake one morning (and the knights stood their lord beside),
'Lady, an it so please thee, give me leave that I hence may ride
And see how my mother fareth, if weal be her lot, or woe, 715
For naught of all that befalls her methinks I for long may know.
For a short space would I go thither; and if ventures my skill approve
Therewith would I do thee service, and be worthy my lady's love.'
Thus he spake, and the story telleth she thought not to say him 'Nay,'
For she deemed it well; from his vassals all lonely he took his way.720

[Pg 126]
[Pg 127]


[Pg 128]


Book V. tells of the wonderful adventure of the Grail Castle; how Parzival met with the Fisher King, and became his guest; and of the great feast in the hall of Monsalväsch. How Parzival saw the bleeding spear, and all the marvels of the Grail, and how be asked no question. How he in the morning found the palace deserted, and was mocked by the squire as he rode away. Of Parzival meeting with Siguné, and how she reproached him for his silence. Of Orilus and Jeschuté; of the fight between the heroes; and of Parzival's oath. How Orilus and his wife were made friends again, and of their welcome at the court of King Arthur.

[Pg 129]



Now he who would hear what befell him who thus for ventures sought,
Shall hearken many a marvel ere the tale to an end be wrought
Let the son of Gamuret ride forth, and all ye good folk and true
Wish him well, for bitter sorrow this hero hereafter knew,
Tho' honour and joy should crown him—And sorely his heart did grieve5
That the wife he loved so dearly he now for a space must leave.
For the mouth never read of woman, and never hath tale been told
Of a fairer wife and truer, and his heart did she captive hold,
And his spirit so high was troubled by thoughts of his wife and queen—
Had courage not been his birthright he had lost it ere this, I ween!10
O'er rock and marshy moorland, with loosened reins the steed
Dashed free, the rider thought not to guide or check its speed.
Of a truth the venture telleth, so far did he ride that day
E'en a bird had been outwearied, and its flight were fain to stay.
An the tale hath not betrayed me, no further the knight did fare 15
When Ither he slew, or from Graharz rode swift unto Pelrapär.
Now hear ye what chanced unto him; he came at the close of day
To a water fair, and upon it many boats at anchor lay,
And the fishers were lords of the water; to the shore did they lie so near
That e'en as they saw him riding his question they well might hear. 20
And one he saw in a vessel all clad in such royal pride
Scarce richer had been his vesture were he lord of the world so wide;
[Pg 130] Of peacock's plumes his head-gear—Then the knight to the Fisher spake
And he prayed him for knighthood's bidding, and he prayed him for God's dear sake,
To help him unto a shelter where he might thro' the night hours rest.25
And the Fisher sad he answered in this wise the stranger guest;
And he quoth, 'Nay, Sir Knight, I know not for full thirty miles around,
By land alike or water, where dwelling may yet be found
Save one house, I would bid thee seek it, for it lieth in sooth anear,
Thro' the livelong day wert thou riding none other thou findest here.30
Ride there to the high cliff's ending, then turn thee to thy right hand
Until to the moat thou comest, and thy charger perforce must stand;
Then bid thou the castle warder to let the drawbridge fall
And open to thee the portals, then ride thou unto the hall.'
Then he did as the Fisher bade him, and leave would he courteous pray,35
But he quoth, 'I myself will thine host be, an thou fail not to find the way,
Be thy thanks then as is our tendance—As thou ridest around the hill
Have a care lest the wood mislead thee, such mischance would but please me ill.'
Then Parzival turned his bridle, and gaily he took his way,
Nor missed he the path till before him the moat of the castle lay; 40
And the drawbridge was raised, and the fortress it lacked not for strength I trow,
As a turner with skill had wrought them stood the turrets in goodly row.
But with wings, or on winds of heaven uplifted, might ye have won
To that Burg, an a foeman stormed it little harm he methinks had done.
And so strong were the towers and the palace that its folk they had held the hall45
And mocked at the foe, if all armies thirty years long beset the wall.
Then a squire looked forth from the castle, of the knight was he well aware,
And he asked whence he came? and wherefore he thought to their Burg to fare?
And Parzival spake, ''Tis the Fisher who hath bidden me ride to thee,
With all courtesy have I thanked him for the shelter he proffered free,50
'Tis his will that the bridge be lowered, and I ride here the Burg within.'
'Sir Knight thou shalt here be welcome, and thy way to the Burg shalt win
[Pg 131] Since the Fisher so spake—And honour would we shew unto thee his guest!'
Then the squire he let fall the drawbridge, for so was their lord's behest.
So the hero came to the fortress, to a courtyard so broad and wide, 55
By knightly sports untrodden—Nor oft would they Tourneys ride,
(By short green turf was it covered) and but seldom with banners bright
As on Abenberg's field did they ride there, as fitting for gallant knight.
'Twas long since they might disport them in such pastimes of warlike skill,
For sorrow lay heavy on them, and mirth it beseemed them ill. 60
But little the guest should rue that, for knights both old and young,
They welcomed him with all honour, and swift to his bridle sprung.
And pages of noble breeding laid their hands on his bridle rein,
And others would hold his stirrup as the knight to dismount was fain.
And the knights they prayed him enter, and they led him where he might rest,65
And with ready hands and skilful of his armour they freed the guest,
And they looked on the beardless hero, and they saw his face so fair,
And they spake, of a truth Good Fortune and blessing should be his share.
Then he bade them to bring him water, and the rust-stains he washed away
From face and hands, and they saw him as the light of a second day, 70
So he sat in all eyes lovely—Then a mantle rich they brought
Of silk of Araby fashioned, and flaw therein was there naught;
And he laid it around his shoulder, that hero so fair and bright,
But the clasp did he leave unfastened, and with one voice they praised the knight.
'Repanse de Schoie, our lady and queen, did this mantle bear,' 75
Quoth the chamberlain, 'She hath lent it while fit robes they for thee prepare.
And I feared not this boon to ask her since it seemeth sure to me
That a gallant man and faithful, Sir Knight, thou shalt prove to be!'
'God reward thee who lookest on me with such true and trusting heart,
Methinks, an thou seest rightly, Good Fortune shall be my part, 80
Yet I wot well such gifts come only from the power of God on high.'
Then gladly they pledged the hero, and in honour and loyalty
They who sorrowed with him were joyful; far more had they there, I ween,
Than at Pelrapär, when his right hand their shelter from grief had been!
Then sadly he thought, as his harness the squires on one side would bear,85
[Pg 132] That in knightly joust and Tourney he here might find little share.
Then one to the host would call him, and fast came his words and free,
And boldly he spake to the stranger, yea, e'en as in wrath might be.
With his life had he nigh paid forfeit to Parzival's youthful pride,
For he laid his hand to his sword-hilt—When he found it not by his side90
Then he clenched his fist so tightly that the clasp rung the blood-drops red
From beneath his nails, and crimson to the sleeve of his robe they spread.
'Nay, nay,' quoth the knights, 'be not wrathful, for fain would he make us smile,
He hath licence to jest, and with jesting our sadness would he beguile.
Show thy courtesy here towards him, nor be wroth for a foolish word,95
That the Fisher hath come to the castle, naught else shalt thou here have heard.
Now do thou to our lord betake thee, here art thou an honoured guest,
And the load of thy heavy anger be banished from off thy breast.'
To the palace hall they gat them, where a hundred crowns hung low
With many a taper laden; round the walls shone the tapers' glow. 100
And beneath stood a hundred couches, with a hundred cushions fair,
And each of these goodly couches four knights should between them share.
And betwixt each twain of the couches an open space was found,
And before each there lay a carpet of cunning work fashioned round.
Thereto had he wealth in plenty, King Frimutel's son and heir: 105
And one thing had they not forgotten, nor their gold did they think to spare,
For within the hall were builded three hearths of marble rare,
With skill and wisdom fashioned, and each hearth stood four-square,
And the wood was Lignum aloe, and so great a fire, I ween,
Ne'er hath burnt on the hearth at Wildberg—Such things have aye costly been.110
And the host had bid them lay him on a costly folding bed
'Fore the central hearth; and gladness from before his face had fled,
And his life was but a dying—Parzival the hero fair
In the hall found kindly welcome from him who had sent him there.
Then his host bade him stand no longer, but be seated his couch anear,115
'Yea, here by my side, didst thou seat thee yet further from me, I fear
[Pg 133] 'Twere treating thee as a stranger'—In this wise to his gallant guest
Spake the host thus rich in sorrow, whose heart was by grief opprest.
And the host he craved thro' his sickness great fires, and warm robes would wear
Both wide and long, and with sable were they lined and garnished fair.120
And the poorest skin was costly, and black was its hue and grey;
And a cap of the self-same fashioned he wore on his head that day,
'Twas within and without of sable, with bands of Arabian gold
Wrought around, and a flashing ruby in the centre might all behold.
Now many brave knights they sat there, and grief passed their face before,125
For a squire sprang swift thro' the doorway, and a lance in his hand he bore,
(And thus did he wake their weeping) from the point did the blood run fast
Adown to the hand of the holder till 'twas lost in his sleeve at last.
And then thro' the lofty palace was weeping and wailing sore,
The folk of thirty kingdoms could scarce have bemoaned them more. 130
And thus to each of the four walls with the lance in his hand he drew,
Till he reached once again the doorway, and passed him the portal thro'.
And stilled was the lamentation, and the grief that this folk must know
When the squire bare the lance before them, and thus bade them to think on woe.
(An here ye be not outwearied I gladly would tell the tale, 135
How the feast in this Burg was ordered, for in courtesy naught did fail.)
At the end of the hall a doorway of steel did they open fair,
And two noble children entered—Now hearken what guise they bare,
An a knight for love would serve them, with love they his task might pay,
Two fair and gracious maidens as e'er man might woo were they. 140
And each wore on her hair loose flowing, a chaplet of blossoms bound
With silken band, beneath it their tresses sought the ground.
And the hand of each maiden carried a candlestick all of gold,
And every golden socket did a burning taper hold.
Nor would I forget the raiment these gentle maidens ware, 145
For one was Tenabroc's countess, ruddy-brown was her robe so fair,
And the self-same garb wore the maiden who beside the countess paced,
And with girdles rich and costly were they girt round each slender waist.
And behind them there came a Duchess and her fellow; of ivory white
[Pg 134] Two stools they bare, and glowing their lips e'en as fire is bright.150
Then they bowed, the four, and bending, the stools 'fore the host they laid,
Nor was aught to their service lacking, but fitly their part they played.
Then they stood all four together, and their faces were fair to see,
And the vesture of each fair maiden was like to the other three.
Now see how they followed swiftly, fair maidens twice told four, 155
And this was I ween their office, four tapers tall they bore;
Nor the others deemed too heavy the weight of a precious stone,
And by day the sun shone thro' it, and as Jacinth its name is known.
'Twas long and broad, and for lightness had they fashioned it fair and meet
To serve at will for a table where a wealthy host might eat. 160
And straight to the host they stepped them, and they bowed their fair heads low,
And four laid the costly table on the ivory white as snow,
The stools they had placed aforetime—and courteous they turned aside,
And there by their four companions stood the eight in their maiden pride.
And green were the robes of these maidens, green as grass in the month of May,165
Of Samite in Assagog woven, and long and wide were they.
At the waist were they girt with a girdle, narrow, and long, and fair,
And each of these gentle maidens ware a wreath on her shining hair.
Now Iwan, the Count of Nonel, and Jernis, the lord of Reil,
To the Grail were their daughters summoned from many a distant mile.170
And they came, these two princesses, in raiment wondrous fair,
And two keen-edged knives, a marvel, on cloths did those maidens bear.
Of silver white and shining were they wrought with such cunning skill,
And so sharp, that methinks their edges e'en steel might they cut at will.
And maidens four went before them, for this should their office be 175
To bear lights before the silver; four children from falsehood free.
Six maidens in all they entered and took thro' the hall their way,
Now hearken, and I will tell ye the service they did that day.
They bowed, and the twain who carried the silver they laid it low
On the Jacinth, and courteous turning to the first twelve in order go.180
[Pg 135] And now, have I counted rightly, here shall eighteen maidens stand;
And lo! see six more come hither in vesture from distant lands,
Half their robes were of silk, gold inwoven, half of silk of Nineveh bright,
For both they and the six before them, parti-coloured their robes of light.
And last of those maids a maiden, o'er the others was she the queen,185
So fair her face that they thought them 'twas the morning's dawn, I ween!
And they saw her clad in raiment of Pfellel of Araby,
And she bare aloft on a cushion of verdant Achmardi
Root and blossom of Paradise garden, that thing which men call 'The Grail,'
The crown of all earthly wishes, fair fulness that ne'er shall fail!190
Repanse de Schoie did they call her, in whose hands the Grail might lie,
By the Grail Itself elected was she to this office high.
And they who would here do service, those maids must be pure of heart,
And true in life, nor falsehood shall have in their dealings part.
And lights both rare and costly before the Grail they bore 195
Six glasses tall, transparent—and wondrous balsam's store
Burnt within with a strange sweet perfume; with measured steps they came,
And the queen bowed low with the maidens who bare the balsam's flame.
Then this maiden free from falsehood, the Grail on the Jacinth laid,
And Parzival looked upon her, and thought of the royal maid 200
Elect to such high office, whose mantle he needs must wear.
Then the seven courteous turned them to the eighteen maidens fair,
And the noblest they placed in the centre, and twelve on either side
They stood, but the crownèd maiden no beauty with hers had vied!
And as many knights as were seated around that palace hall, 205
So to each four was there a server, with golden beaker tall,
And a page so fair to look on who bare a napkin white—
Riches enow, I trow me, had ye seen in the hall that night!
And they bare there a hundred tables, at each table four knights would eat,
And swiftly they spread them over with coverings fair and meet. 210
The host himself took water, and heavy at heart was he,
And Parzival, too, he washed him, for so should the custom be.
A silken towel, bright coloured, a count's son would proffer fair,
Swift to the guest he gat him, and knelt low before him there.
And wherever there stood a table there four squires were ready dight215
[Pg 136] To serve the four who sat there, and their service they knew aright,
For twain would carve, low kneeling, and twain to the knights would bear
Of food and drink as needful, and thus for their wants would care.
Now hearken ye greater riches—on wheelèd cars were rolled
To every knight in order, fair vessels of wroughten gold, 220
And four knights set them on the tables, and with each ye a steward might see
To aid them, and claim the vessels when the feast at an end should be.
Now hearken another marvel—to a hundred squires they spake,
And they bade them in fair white napkins the bread from the Grail to take.
And straightway they went, and to each knight at each table the bread they bare;225
As I heard so I tell unto ye, and the truth ye, each one, shall swear,
'Twas the Grail Itself that fed them, and before the Grail did stand
What of food or drink desiring, each one might stretch forth his hand.
(Would I here betray another then in sooth ye shall lie with me)
Food warm or cold, or dishes that known or unknown shall be, 230
Food wild or tame—Such riches ye never on earth shall find,
So many have said, yet I think me that folly doth rule their mind—
For the Grail was the crown of blessing, the fulness of earth's delight,
And Its joys I right well may liken to the glories of Heaven's height!
Then they brought in small golden vessels that which every man should need235
Of sauces, or salt, or pepper—would one sparely or fully feed,
Yet each found enough—and courteous they bare to each noble guest;
And red wine and sweet drinks luscious, each one as he liked him best
Might speak the word, and proffer the cup, and behold! 'twas filled
By the power of the Grail—Thus the hunger of that gallant host was stilled,240
And the Grail Itself sustained them, and Parzival wondering saw
The riches and mighty marvels, yet to question his host forbore.
And he thought, 'Gurnemanz he bade me, in truth, without thought of guile,
To withhold my lips from question—If here I abide awhile
Methinks it will then befall me as aforetime in Graharz land, 245
They will tell me, without my question, how here with this folk it stands.'
Then e'en as he sat thus musing came a squire who a sword did bear,
[Pg 137] And its sheath was a thousand marks' worth, and its hilt was a ruby rare,
And the blade, it might well work wonders—Then the host gave it to the knight,
And he spake, 'I full oft have borne it in many a deadly fight 250
Ere God's Hand thus sorely smote me; now with this shalt thou be repaid
If aught hath in care been lacking—Henceforth shalt thou bear this blade
Whatever chance befall thee, and when thou its power hast tried
Thou wilt know thou art fully armèd, whatever strife betide.'
Ah! woe to the guest that asked not, I am sorrowful for his sake, 255
When his hand clasped the sword 'twas a token that his silence he well might break.
For the host too my heart is heavy, thus tortured by nameless woe,
And a question therefrom had freed him, yet to question his guest was slow.
But now the feast was ended, who the vessels hither bore
Again to their task they turn them, and they bear them forth once more.260
The cars again they circle; each maid to her task was fain
From last to first; the noblest she turned to the Grail again,
To host and guest all-courteous the queen and her maidens bend,
What they brought they once more would bear forth thro' the door at the high hall's end.
And Parzival he gazed after, and lo! thro' the open door 265
Within an outer chamber, on a folding couch he saw
The fairest of old men ancient whom ever his eyes had seen,
Grey was he as mists of morning—Nor o'er rash is the tale, I ween,
Who he was shalt thou know hereafter, when a fitting time shall be,
The host, his Burg, and his kingdom, yea, all will I name to ye, 270
And all shall be clear and in order, no halting my tale shall know;
Methinks that I then shall show ye the bowstring without the bow.
'Tis a symbol good, the bowstring, for swift as ye deem the bow,
Yet the shaft that the bowstring speedeth findeth swifter its aim, I trow!
And not without thought I said it, for the string, it seemeth me, 275
Is like to the simple story wherewith men well-pleased shall be;
[Pg 138] For it goeth straight to its ending, while he who aside shall stray,
Tho' his goal at last he reacheth findeth all too long his way.
When unbent the bow thou sawest, then straight was, I ween, the string,
From the straight line thou erst must draw it, ere the shaft to its goal may wing.280
But he who his story aimeth at the ear of a fool shall find
His shaft go astray, for no dwelling it findeth within his mind.
Too wide is the road, I think me, and that which he chance to hear
Ere yet he may know the meaning flies out at the other ear.
Far rather at home I 'ld bide me than in such ears my story tell, 285
A beast, or a stock, I think me, as a hearer would serve as well.
But further I fain would tell ye of this people so full of woe
To whom he had come, our hero, glad song might they seldom know,
Or sound of dance or of Tourney; so heavy were they at heart
That never a thought of gladness might find in their life a part, 290
And oft shall the folk be fewer yet of joy shall have fuller share,
But here every nook was crowded, nor space in the court to spare.
The host to his guest spake kindly, 'Methinks they thy couch have spread,
Art thou weary? then list my counsel, and get thee, my guest, to bed.'
(Now here might I raise my war-cry at the parting betwixt the twain,295
For I wot well that bitter sorrow each must from the venture gain.)
To the side of his host he stepped him, Parzival the fair of face,
And the Fisher a fair night wished him—Then the knights stepped each from his place,
And a part drew near towards him, and they led the stranger guest
Straightway to a sleeping chamber, and goodly should be his rest. 300
'Twas richly decked for his honour, and the couch it was spread so fair
That my poverty sorely grieves me since the earth doth such riches bear.
And that bed knew, I ween, no lacking, and a rich silk above it lay,
Bright-coloured its hue, and glowing as tho' fire-light did on it play;
Then Parzival prayed the heroes to get them again to rest, 305
For he saw there but one couch only, and they passed hence at his behest.
But he lacked not for other service—His fair face and tapers light
Gave challenge unto each other—What day e'er might shine so bright?
And before his couch was another, thereon would he take his seat
[Pg 139] While pages drew them nearer, and proffered him service meet. 310
And they bared his white feet comely, and they laid his robes aside,
And of noble birth were these children, and fair in their youthful pride.
Then there passed thro' the open doorway four maidens fair and bright,
They would know if they well had served him, and if soft lay the stranger knight.
And so the venture telleth, a squire a taper bare 315
Before each gentle maiden—Parzival, that hero fair,
Sprang swift to his couch; then the maidens with gentle voice they spake,
'Sir Knight, we fain would pray thee for our sake awhile to wake'—
Yet as children sport with each other had he hidden him from their sight
Ere yet they might hear his greeting, yet their eyes had found swift delight,320
And their heart's desire was quickened at the sight of his red lips' glow
That for youth were as yet unhidden, for no hair did upon them grow.
Now hear what they bare, these maidens, three in their hands so white
Brought syrups sweet, and red wine, and the fourth, that maiden bright,
Bare fruit that e'erwhile had ripened in the garden of Paradise 325
On a cloth fair and white, and she knelt low before him that maiden wise,
And he bade her sit, but she answered, 'Nay, Sir Knight, so is it best
For else were I sure unworthy to serve such a gallant guest.'
Then he drank and would eat a little, and he spake to them soft and sweet,
And he laid him adown, and the maidens craved leave of him as was meet.330
Then down on the costly carpet the squires set the tapers bright
When they saw that he slept, and swiftly they gat from the gallant knight.
Yet Parzival lay not lonely, for until the dawn of day
Heart-sorrow would lie beside him, nor passed with the dawn away.
And every coming anguish its heralds before would speed, 335
E'en so that the fair youth's vision out-weighed e'en his mother's need
When she dreamed ere the death of her husband. As a carpet unrolled his dream,
The centre of fair jousts woven, while the edge was with swords agleam.
And in slumber his foemen pressed him, and would swiftly upon him ride;
So fearful his dream that, wakened, thirty times had he rather died.340
Thus fear and unrest awoke him, and the sweat streamed from every limb;
[Pg 140] The daylight shone fair thro' the windows, yet no voice had called on him.
Then he spake, 'Where are now the pages, who stood before me of late?
Who shall hand unto me my garments?' Then awhile would he patient wait
Till slumber again o'ercame him; none spake, none aloud would cry, 345
Vanished the folk—When he wakened the noon-tide sun was high.
Then he sprang up, and lo! before him on the carpet his harness lay,
And two swords, his host's gift, and the other from Prince Ither he bare away.
Then he spake to himself, 'Now wherefore was this done? I these arms will take,
In sleep I such anguish suffered, methinks that I surely wake 350
To-day to some task of knighthood—If mine host doth some foeman fear
Then his will will I do right gladly, and faithful her prayer will hear
Who of true heart this mantle lent me—If my service she think to take
Then I were for such service joyful; yet not for her sweet love's sake,
For my wife hath a face as lovely as ever this castle's queen, 355
Nay more, an the truth be spoken she is fairer far I ween!'
Then he did e'en as seemed him fitting, and he armed himself for fight
From foot to head, and beside him he girded those swords of might.
Then forth went the gallant hero, and his steed to the palace stair
Was bound, shield and spear stood by it, and he joyed as he found them there.360
Then ere Parzival, the hero, his charger would mount again,
He sought thro' many a chamber, and he called on the folk amain,
But none might he see or hearken, and it vexed the knight full sore,
And wrathful he grew—Yet seeking, the hero he came once more
To where he at eve dismounted when first he the castle found, 365
And the earth and grass were trampled, and the dew brushed from off the ground.
Then, shouting, he turned, the young knight, once more to his charger good,
And with bitter words he mounted—Wide open the gateway stood,
And the track led across the threshold; nor longer he thought to stay
But he turned his rein, and swiftly to the drawbridge he made his way,370
[Pg 141] But a hidden hand drew the rope taut, and the forepart it rose on high
And well-nigh had his charger fallen, then he turned him right speedily
For fain would he ask the meaning, but the squire cried aloud in scorn,
'Goose that thou art, ride onward, to the sun's hate hast thou been born!
Thy mouth hadst thou thought to open, of these wonders hadst asked thine host,375
Great fame had been thine—But I tell thee now hast thou this fair chance lost!'
Then the guest cried aloud for his meaning, but answer he ne'er might win,
For the squire made as if he slumbered, and the portal he barred within.
Too early for peace his parting, and the hour it hath brought him woe,
And he payeth in joy the tribute, nor longer may gladness know; 380
And doubled the throw of sorrow since here he had found the Grail,
With his eyes, not his hand, had he cast it, and dice to the throw should fail.
If by grief he be now awakened such was never his wont of yore,
For naught had he known but gladness, nor sorrow of heart he bore.
On the track that he saw before him would Parzival ride apace, 385
And he thought, 'They who go before me to-day will a foeman face
And fight for their master's honour; an they knew it, their ring of might
Methinks would be little weakened if I in their ranks should fight!
I would waver not, but would aid them whate'er be their need to-day,
Thus my bread would I earn, and this fair sword, the gift of my host, repay,390
Undeserved as yet do I bear it—Sure they hold me for coward knight!'
Then he turned him, the free from falsehood, where the hoof-tracks still met his sight,
(And sorely I rue his parting—Now the venture doth grow apace,)
They had parted who rode before him, and their track he might scarcely trace,
What aforetime was broad waxed narrow till he lost it nor found it more395
And tidings he heard, the hero, that wrought to him sorrow sore.
For the young knight, rich in courage, heard a woman's voice make moan.
(On the grass lay the dew of morning.) On a linden there sat alone
A maiden, whose truth wrought her sorrow, for between her arms so white
Embalmed did she lifeless hold him who living had been her knight. 400
Were there one who saw her sorrow and mourned not for her bitter woe
Then false of heart must I hold him, one who true love might never know!
Then he turned his steed towards her, tho' as yet unknown was she,
[Pg 142] (Tho' the child of his mother's sister)—As the wind that fleeteth free
Is all earthly faith to her true love—Then Parzival greeting spake,405
'Lady, methinks that sorrow I must bear for thy sorrow's sake,
An thou needst in aught my service, would it free thee from further ill,
Then look thou on me as thy servant, thy grief were I fain to still!'
Then sadly her thanks she bade him, and asked him, 'Whence camest thou here?
He were ill-advised who his journey should take thro' this woodland drear.410
To them who know not its pathways great evil might here betide.
Yea, oft have I seen and hearkened how men in this wood have died,
For death was in strife their portion—Turn hence then, thou gallant knight,
An thou lovest life—Yet tell me in what shelter didst pass the night?'
'But a mile from here stands a castle, there I thro' the night abode,415
And naught have I seen like its riches, from thence in short space I rode.'
Then the maiden she looked upon him, and she spake, 'Now, methinks, 'twere ill
With falsehood to thus betray them who trust thee with right goodwill.
From thy shield art thou here a stranger, and canst naught but woods have found,
An here thou hast ta'en thy journey from planted and builded ground,420
For thirty miles round have they never, for a dwelling, hewn wood or stone,
Save but for one Burg, in this region that Burg it doth stand alone.
'Tis rich in all earthly riches, yet he who that castle fair
Would seek, he may never find it, tho' many that quest shall dare.
Unawares must they chance upon it, for I wot in no other wise 425
Shall that Burg and all that it holdeth be looked on by mortal eyes.
Sir Knight, thou hast never seen it; Monsalväsch I ween its name,
Terre de Salväsch the kingdom where its lord the crown may claim,
And Titurel once bequeathed it to his son King Frimutel,
So they called him, the dauntless hero; much fame to his portion fell,430
In a joust was he slain at Love's bidding, and four children fair he left,
And three, they have store of riches, yet are they of joy bereft.
And poor is the fourth, for penance hath he chosen this lot I trow,
Trevrezent is his name—Anfortas, his brother, hath grief enow,
He can neither stand, nor be seated, nor walk, but must aye recline,435
At Monsalväsch he hath his dwelling, the head of that noble line.'
Then she spake, 'If indeed thou camest to that folk who so sore doth mourn
[Pg 143] Then perchance is their king releasèd from the burden he long hath borne?'
Out spake the Waleis, 'I saw truly great marvels, and many a maid
Of beauty rare'—she knew him by his voice ere the words were said.440
And she quoth, 'Now indeed I know thee, for in sooth art thou Parzival!
Didst thou see the mournful monarch? Didst thou see the wondrous Grail?
Ah! tell me the joyful tidings, may his woe at last be stilled?
Well is thee that the blessèd journey thou hast ta'en, now shall earth be filled,
As far as the winds of heaven may blow, with thy fair renown; 445
Naught on earth but shall do thee service, fulfilment each wish shall crown!'
Then Parzival spake in wonder, 'Say, Lady, whence knowest thou me?'
And she answered, 'I am that maiden who erewhile made her plaint to thee,
I am she who thy name first told thee, near of kin to that gracious queen
Thy mother, of all earth's blossoms the fairest flower, I ween, 450
Tho' a flower that the dew ne'er nourished! May God reward thee well
Who didst truly mourn my hero who in knightly combat fell.
See, here in my arms I hold him, now think thou upon the woe
God hath laid for his sake upon me who too short a life must know;
Rich was he in all manly virtues, his death it has wrought me pain,455
And day by day as it dawneth reneweth my plaint again!
'Alas! is it thou, Siguné? Say, where are thy lips so red
That gave me to wit so truly who I was? From thy youthful head
Have thy locks so brown and waving been shorn since I saw thee last;
Then wert thou still fair to look on, tho' sorrow might hold thee fast,460
Now pale art thou waxed and feeble, such friendship, methinks with woe
Had vexed me too much, hear my counsel, and bury this dead knight low!'
Great tears bedewed her garments, for ne'er to that maiden fair
Had any given such counsel as Lunete to her lady bare.
(This rede did she give to her lady, 'Let him live who thy lord hath slain,465
Thou shalt in his love hereafter amends for thy sorrow gain.')
Not such was the will of Siguné, as maidens of wavering mind,
(On their names I had best keep silence) here the tale of true love ye'll find.
Then she spake, 'If joy e'er befall me that shall be when I know relief
[Pg 144] Is his, who so long hath suffered, when is lightened his load of grief.470
If thro' thee he hath found this succour then in truth shall all praise be thine;
Methinketh e'en now at thy girdle do I see his sword to shine—
If its magic spell thou knowest then to strife mayest thou fearless fare,
For its edge is keen—Its maker a noble name doth bear,
Trebuchet's hand hath wrought it; by Karnant there flows a spring, 475
And 'Lac' from the name of that streamlet methinks is he named, the king.
The sword will withstand the first blow, at the next it will break in twain,
An thou to these waters bring it from their flow 'twill be whole again.
Yet where at its source the streamlet flows forth from its rocky bed,
Shalt thou seek those healing waters ere the sun stand high overhead.480
Lac is the name of that fountain—If unsplintered shall be the blade
Then press thou its halves together, from the waters shall it be made,
Not whole alone, but stronger the blade and the edge shall grow,
Nor their brightness and fair adorning be dimmed by the water's flow.
Yet a spell thou first must master, ere thou draw that sword of might,485
Thou hast left it behind, I fear me! Hast thou learnt its words aright,
Then in truth all earthly blessings shall blossom and bear for thee—
Believe me, dear my cousin, what of marvels thou there couldst see,
To thine hand shall they all do service; the crown of blessings fair
Uplifted o'er all earth's noblest henceforward thine head shall bear.490
And thine is desire's fulfilment, and none with thy wealth and might
May measure himself, if the question hath won at thy lips its right!'
Then he quoth, 'Nay, I asked no question!' 'Alas I' cried the mournful maid,
'That ever mine eyes have seen thee, who to question wast sore afraid!
Such marvels they there have shown thee, yet no word might they win from thee,495
When thou sawest the Grail, and those maidens who serve It, from falsehood free,
Fair Garschiloie, and yet fairer Repanse de Schoie the queen.
Thou hast seen the knives of silver, thou the bleeding spear hast seen—
Alas! wherefore hast thou sought me? Dishonoured, accurst art thou
Who bearest wolf's fang empoisoned! And deep in thine heart I trow 500
Is it rooted, the plant of falsehood, and afresh doth it ever spring!
Thou shouldst have had pity on him, Anfortas, their host and king,
[Pg 145] And have asked of his bitter sorrow, on whom God hath a wonder sped,
Now thou livest, and yet I tell thee to bliss art thou henceforth dead!'
Then he spake, 'Nay, gentle cousin, show kindness to me I pray, 505
If in aught I have sinned, repentance my sin sure shall put away!'
'Little good may repentance do thee,' quoth the maiden, 'for well I know
That thy knightly fame and honour at Monsalväsch were laid alow.
And never a further answer or word shalt thou win from me.'
Then Parzival turned his bridle and left her right mournfully. 510
That his lips were so slow to question when he sat by the mournful king,
To the heart of the gallant hero must sorrow and rueing bring;
And thus thro' his heavy trouble, and the heat of the summer's day,
Great sweat-drops stood on his forehead as he rode on his lonely way.
For the sake of the air he loosened his helmet and visor band, 515
And his face shone fair thro' the iron-rust as he carried them in his hand.
Then he saw a fresh track, and before him short space did two horses fare,
A war-horse was one, well harnessed, but unshod was, I ween, the mare,
And it bare on its back a woman—Behind her he took his way,
And he looked on her steed, to hunger o'er-long had it been a prey;520
Thro' its skin might its ribs be counted, a halter of hemp its rein,
Its colour was white as an ermine, to the hoofs hung the untrimmed mane;
The eyeballs were sunk in the sockets, the hollows were deep and wide,
And I ween that this lady's palfrey by famine had oft been tried.
'Twas lean and dry as touchwood, 'twas a marvel it yet could go, 525
For little should she who rode it of the care of a charger know.
Narrow and poor the trappings that lay on that charger's back,
The saddle and bells were shattered, and much did the harness lack;
And the lady was sad, not joyful, and her girth was a hempen cord,
Yet, I ween, was her birth too noble in such guise to ride abroad. 530
By twigs and thorny branches tattered her shift and torn,
And the rags had she knit together where'er it had been out-worn,
But beneath her skin gleamed spotless, white as the swan's white wing;
And naught but rags was her clothing—where they might some shelter bring
There her skin was fair to look on, but elsewhere 'twas by sunburn dyed.535
Yet her lips were red, tho' sorrow and want she must long abide,
[Pg 146] And so glowing and bright their colour a fire had ye kindled there,
And where-e'er one would ride beside her on that side had ye found her bare.
Yet of base degree to hold her were to do her a wrong, I ween,
Tho' little had she upon her, yet guiltless she aye had been— 540
(Of your courtesy shall ye heed me, she forgot not her womanhood)
Of her poverty have I told ye, yet wherefore? If ye deem good
Then this will I say, that ragged and bare I this dame would take
O'er many a well-clad maiden, were it fitting my choice to make.
As Parzival bade her greeting, she saw him, and red she grew, 545
Of all men was he the fairest, small marvel his face she knew.
Then she quoth, 'Once before have I seen thee, great grief have I won thro' thee:
God grant to thee greater honour than thou hast deserved from me!
Far other hath been my raiment when thou sawest me last, I wot,
Hadst thou ne'er in that hour come near me then honour were still my lot!'550
Then he spake, 'Now bethink thee, Lady, who thus should thy hatred claim,
For never my hand, I think me, hath brought to a woman shame,
(So had I myself dishonoured) since ever I bare a shield,
Or thought upon deeds of knighthood, or hath striven in battle-field;
Yet else am I sad for thy sorrow!' Then forth brake the tear-drops bright,555
And ran fast adown her bosom, and over her breasts so white,
So fair, and so softly moulded, that never might turner's skill,
Tho' swiftly he wrought and rounded, his task in such wise fulfil.
And so lovely was she in her sorrow his heart was to pity fain,
And with hands and arms a cover from his glance did she strive to gain.560
Then Parzival spake, 'Now, Lady, of true service from mocking free,
In God's Name take thou here my surcoat, a covering 'twill be for thee.'
'Nay, Sir Knight, I may never take it, e'en tho' bliss I thereby should gain,
Ride swift on thy way, I pray thee, an thou wouldst not we both were slain;
Tho' my death it would little grieve me, if I fear me, 'tis for thy sake!'565
'Say, Lady, who thus would wrong us? Who thinketh our life to take?
'Twas God's hand that gave it to us—Nay, were they an armèd host
Who here for our life were thirsting, I would face them nor fear the cost!'
Then she spake, ''Tis a dauntless hero, so gallant in strife is he
That heavy would be their labour if six should his foemen be;570
[Pg 147] (I would thou wert not beside me) I aforetime his wife had been,
Yet so poor am I now and wretched, for his slave were I all too mean,
Thus his wrath doth he wreak upon me.' To that lady he spake again,
'Say, who rideth here with thy husband? For if I to fly were fain,
As here thou dost give me counsel, thyself sure wouldst deem it ill,575
Ere of flight I have learnt the lesson I would die with a right good will!'
Then out spake the Duchess sadly, 'Alone with my lord I fare,
But yet that may little serve thee, nor shall victory be here thy share.'
And in rags was all her vesture, and naught but the hem untorn,
Yet the crown of woman's honour in her poverty had she worn, 580
And her ways were ways of goodness, and falsehood afar had fled—
Then he bound afresh his visor and the helmet upon his head
As one who to battle rideth—Then his charger aloft would rear,
It was 'ware of the steed beside it, and its neigh rang out loud and clear;
And he who a space before them on the woodland way would ride, 585
He hearkened the sound, and would see him who rode there by his lady's side.
Then he turned his bridle wrathful by the side of the narrow way,
And with lance in rest for jousting Duke Orilus rode that day,
And manly, I ween, his bearing, from Gaheviess came his spear,
And weapon alike and harness of one colour were blazoned clear. 590
His helmet, Trebuchet wrought it; the shield in distant Spain
Was welded fair for the hero, King Kailet in that land doth reign,
And strong were the rim and the centre—In Alexandria's city fair
Was the costly pfellel woven that for surcoat and coat he ware.
The covering of his charger at Tenabroc was it made 595
Of rings of steel close welded—And thus he his pride displayed,
For over the iron cover lay a pfellel so fair to see,
And all men who saw bare witness that costly its worth must be—
And gorget, and greaves, and headgear, tho' rich, yet their weight was light,
And many a plate of iron it guarded this gallant knight; 600
In Beàlzenan was it fashioned, chief city of fair Anjou.
(But she who rode bare behind him far other her garb to view,
For in sooth might she find none better) from Soissons his breastplate came,
But he won his gallant charger from the far-off lake Brimbane,
[Pg 148] In the mountains of Monsalväsch—Lähelein, his brother bold, 605
In a joust o'erthrew the rider, and the steed as his prize would hold.
And Parzival too was ready—his charger in onward flight
'Gainst Orilus of Lalande bare swiftly the gallant knight;
And he saw on his shield a dragon, yea, e'en as it were alive,
And another upon the helmet fast bounden did upward strive. 610
And many small golden dragons on surcoat and robe he bare,
Enriched with many a jewel, and with red eyes of ruby fair.
From afar would they make their onslaught, these dauntless heroes twain,
No need to renounce their friendship, nor thro' kinship from strife refrain,
Aloft flew the spears in splinters—Methinks I might vaunt me well 615
If I such a joust had witnessed as here in this wood befell!
Thus they rode at swiftest gallop not one joust alone, I ween,
And Jeschuté at heart bare witness fairer jousting she ne'er had seen;
So she stood, and her hands she wrung them, this lady of joy bereft,
Nor harm did she wish to either, that one should be lifeless left. 620
In sweat were they bathed, the chargers, and the knights they strove for fame,
And sparks sprang bright from the sword-blades, and forth from the helm flashed flame,
And the blows fell fierce and mighty, and far flashed the light of strife,
None were better than they in battle, and they met here for death or life,
And tho' willing and swift the chargers that the heroes would here bestride,625
They forgot not their spurs, and their sword-blades bright-glancing they deftly plied.
And Parzival won him honour, for here hath he rightly shown
How before a hundred dragons one man well might hold his own.
And ill did it fare with one dragon, and sore were its wounds that day,
'Twas the crest that aloft in glory on Orilus' helmet lay, 630
And so clear that the light shone thro' them were the costly jewels bright
That fell when the helm was smitten by Parzival's sword of might;
'Twas on horse, not afoot, that they fought thus—The love of her angry lord
Was won back again for Jeschuté by the play of the glittering sword.
Then they dashed again on each other so close that they smote away,635
With their knees, the rings of iron—So valiant in strife were they!
I will tell ye why one was wrathful; that his lady of royal race
[Pg 149] Ere this had been shamed; her guardian, from him might she look for grace;
Yet he deemed that with wandering fancy her heart from her lord had strayed,
And that she, in the love of another, her honour had lowly laid. 640
And he would for such wrong have vengeance, and his judgment on her was done
In such wise, save were death her portion no woman such woe had won,
And yet she in naught had wronged him—If his favour he would withhold,
What man e'er might think to hinder? For ever from days of old
The man hath power o'er the woman, the husband shall rule the wife.645
Yet Parzival the hero, he thought him to win with strife
For Jeschuté her husband's favour—Methinks one should pray such grace
In courteous wise, but flattery it here found but little place.
And both they were right, I think me—He who ruleth the ways of life,
Or straight they may be or crooked, 'twas His so to rule their strife650
That never to one nor the other the joust death for guerdon brought,
Harm enow had they done to each other the while they so fiercely fought.
Now hotter it waxed, the conflict, each hero would fain defend
His knightly fame 'gainst the other; Duke Orilus of Lalande,
He fought with the skill and cunning his hand had learnt of yore, 655
For I ween none like him had battled—he had courage and strength in war,
And therefore had he been victor on many a foughten field,
Tho' other were here the ending—His foe would he force to yield;
And he threw his arms around him, the hero so proud and bold,
But Parzival, little daunted, on his foeman made good his hold, 660
And he drew him from off his saddle; as a sheaf from the field ye reap
So beneath his arm he swung him, and light from his horse did leap.
O'er a fallen tree he held him, for here was he overthrown
Who never of need or peril such fortune before had known.
'Now do penance for this thine anger that hath wrought to thy lady woe,665
An thy favour be yet withholden, then death shalt thou surely know!'
'Nay, nay, not so swift,' quoth his foeman, Duke Orilus of Lalande,
'Tho' o'erthrown, I am not so vanquished that I may not thy will withstand!'
Then Parzival, strong and valiant, his foeman he gripped amain,
And forth thro' the visor gushing streamed the blood in a crimson rain,670
[Pg 150] And the prince, I ween, was vanquished, he could win from him what he would,
To die was he all unwilling, and he spake to the hero good,
'Alas! thou bold knight dauntless, who evil on me hath sped,
Say how have I earned this peril, to lie here before thee, dead?'
Then Parzival quoth, 'Right gladly, Sir Knight, will I let thee live,675
If favour and love to thy lady thou swearest again to give!'
'That I will not! Her sin against me I trow all too great shall be.
Rich in honour she was; she hath injured herself, and she plungeth me,
Her lord, in yet deeper sorrow. In all else thy will I'll heed,
An thou thinkest my life to leave me—'Twas God gave it me indeed, 680
Now thine hand is become His servant, to give it to me anew,
And I to thy valour owe it'—In this wise spake the hero true:
'For my life will I give fair ransom, for kingdoms twain, I trow,
My brother with might hath won him, of riches he hath enow.
Thou shalt ask as it best may please thee: if from death thou wilt set me free,685
He loveth me, and will loose me whatever the cost may be.
And my Dukedom again as thy vassal will I take from thy valiant hand,
Thy fame it shall gain new lustre, since I might not thy power withstand.
Now release me, thou hero dauntless, from forgiveness of her, my wife;
Whatever shall be for thine honour, by that will I buy my life, 690
But with her, my dishonoured Duchess, at peace will I never be,
Nay, not for all pain or sorrow that shall otherwise fall to me!'
Quoth Parzival, 'Folk or kingdoms, or riches or jewels rare,
All these they shall nothing profit—Thy pledge thou to me shalt swear
In naught to delay thy journey, but to haste thee to Brittany 695
Where dwelleth a gentle maiden—One hath smitten her sore for me,
And I will on that man have vengeance, an his safety she shall not pray—
Thy pledge and my loyal service bear thou to that maid straightway,
Or here, without fail, I slay thee—To King Arthur and to his queen,
To both shalt thou bear my greeting; well paid hath my service been,700
If they for that blow ill-smitten the maiden do well entreat.
But first will I see that thou givest to this lady thine homage meet,
And that without guile—Dost withstand me, and thinkest my will to dare,
On a bier, and no more on a charger, from hence shalt thou lifeless fare!
Now mark thou my words, for their doing a pledge shalt thou straightway give,705
[Pg 151] And thy surety swear unto me, if longer thou fain wouldst live!'
To King Parzival spake his foeman, Duke Orilus, 'Helpeth naught
'Gainst this thy will, I will do it, for fain I my life had bought!'
In the fear for the life of her husband Jeschuté, that lady fair,
Mourned sore for his woe, yet the foemen to part might she little dare.710
Then Parzival bade him rise up, and speak to his lady bright
The words of peace and of pardon; and thus quoth the vanquished knight,
'Lady, since this my shaming in strife hath been for thy sake,
So be it, the kiss of forgiveness from my lips shalt thou herewith take.
Thro' thee have I lost much honour—What boots it? I pardon sware!'715
Then swift from her steed on the meadow sprang the lady with white limbs bare,
Tho' the blood that ran from his nostrils had dyed his mouth with red,
Yet she kissed him e'en as he bade her, so was Parzival's bidding sped.
Then the three rode on together till a hermit's cell they saw
In the rocky wall, and our hero his bridle was fain to draw; 720
For he saw there a shrine so holy, and a spear with fair colours blent
Stood beside the shrine; 'twas the dwelling of the hermit Trevrezent.
There Parzival dealt with honour—On the relic an oath he sware,
Himself laid the oath upon him, and he spake and they hearkened fair;
'If I have worth or valour, as 'seemeth a gallant knight— 725
If I have it or not let those witness who have looked on my shield in fight;
Yea, let them approve my knighthood, for knighthood's power may claim,
As the shield-bearer oft shall tell us, high guerdon of praise and fame,
And the name of knight is honoured—My body to shame for aye
Will I give, and my fame and honour henceforth shall be put away; 730
(With these words I my bliss would pledge here in the Hand that shall highest be,
And that Hand is God's Hand, I think me)—All loss, bitter mockery,
In this life and the next be my portion from His power, if this lady fair
E'er did thee wrong when it chanced her that the clasp from her robe I tare—
(Of a token of gold I robbed her)—A fool and no man was I, 735
Not yet had I waxed to wisdom—And sore did she weep thereby,
[Pg 152] And anguish and grief she suffered; yea, guiltless was she that day—
And forfeit my bliss and mine honour if the words be not truth I say!
Now see, dost thou hold her guiltless thou shalt give her her ring again,
From the clasp I in such wise parted that my folly must bear the blame!'740
Then the Duke took the ring, and the blood-stains he wiped from his lips away,
And he kissed her, his heart's best treasure—And a covering she won straightway;
The ring he placed on her finger, with his surcoat her shame would hide,
Tho' hewn by the hand of hero, of rich silk was it fashioned wide.
But seldom in coat emblazoned mine eyes have a woman seen, 745
And this one was marred in combat. No war-cry was hers, I ween,
That should summon the knights to Tourney, and never a spear she brake
Whatever her garb—In Tourney far better the part they'ld take,
Lambekein, methinks, and the good squire, if together they thought to fight—
But now was the lady pardoned, and her sorrow had taken flight. 750
Quoth Orilus, 'Now, thou hero, the oath thou didst freely swear,
Great joy and small grief hath brought me; tho' shaming I needs must bear,
Yet gladness therefrom I win me—In all honour I will repay
This lady true for her sorrow when I put her in shame away.
And since all alone I left her she was guiltless did aught betide; 755
Yet so did she speak of thy beauty, methought there was more beside.
But now may God reward thee, thou hast shown her from falsehood free,
I have done her a wrong—Thro' the young wood have I ridden in search of thee
Afar from Briziljan's forest.' Then Parzival took the spear,
Wild Taurian, Dodine's brother, erewhile had he left it here. 760
Now say where the heroes rested, or how they would pass the night—
Helmet and shield had suffered, they were shattered and hewn in fight.
Then Parzival to the lady, and her husband, a farewell bade;
The Duke to his hearth would bid him, 'twas in vain howsoe'er he prayed.
So here, as the venture telleth, they parted, those heroes twain, 765
And the Prince Orilus he sought him his pavilion and folk again.
And glad were his faithful people with one mind when at last they saw
Their lord and his gracious lady dwell in peace and in love once more.
Nor longer was there delaying, the Duke he aside would lay
[Pg 153] His arms, and the rust and blood-stains from his face did he wash away;770
By her hand he led the Duchess where atonement he fain would make,
Weeping she lay beside him for joy, not for sorrow's sake.
For such is the way of women, know ye not the saying well?
'Tearful eyes make sweet lips,' of such lore methinks I yet more might tell!
For Love knoweth joy as sorrow, and he who the twain would weigh 775
In a balance shall find them equal an he testeth the scales alway!
At peace were they now, full surely, forthwith to the bath they went,
Twelve fair maidens they waited on her, with them had she shared her tent,
They had tended her since, all guiltless, the wrath of her love she bare;
(At night might she lie well covered, tho' by day she ill-clad must fare)780
And joyful they bathed their lady—But now are ye fain to hear
How Orilus won him tidings that King Arthur would now draw near.
For thus spake a knight to his master, 'On a grassy plain I saw
In fair and knightly order a thousand tents, yea, more,
For Arthur the noble monarch, the King of the Breton's land 785
With a wondrous fair host of maidens his court holdeth nigh at hand;
Methinks scarce a mile are they distant, nor shout of knights shall fail,
On either side Plimizöl's waters their camp lies adown the vale.'
Then the Duke in haste and gladness forth from his bath he stept—
Would ye know how she fared, Jeschuté? No longer the lady wept, 790
But she went, the fair and gentle, from her bath to her couch straightway,
And far fairer, I ween, her garments than she ware for many a day.
And closely they clung together, the prince and the princess wise,
And Love came to the aid of gladness, and joy here hath won the prize.
Then the maidens they clad their lady, but the knights their lord's armour brought,795
And much had ye praised the vesture of Jeschuté, 'twas fairly wrought
And birds caught in snares they brought them, on their couch did they sit the twain,
And joyful they ate; many kisses from her lord did Jeschuté gain!
Then they brought to the lovely lady a palfrey, so strong and fair,
'Twas bridled, and richly saddled, and a lady right well might bear,800
[Pg 154] And they lifted her to the saddle, with her brave lord she hence would ride;
But his charger was armed, as for battle the knight would his steed bestride,
And the sword he that morn had wielded hung the saddle-bow before.
Then from foot to head well armèd he came forth to his steed once more,
And there, where his lady waited, to the saddle he sprung, the knight,805
He would ride forth without delaying, with Jeschuté his lady bright.
But his folk should fare back to Lalande, save one knight who should show the way
To the camp and the court of King Arthur, so he counselled his folk that day.
Soon came they anear King Arthur, and his tents they right well espied,
For the space of a mile they stretched them adown by the water's side.810
The knight who had led him hither he bade to his folk repair,
No comrade he'ld have save Jeschuté, his lady so true and fair.
And Arthur, the brave and humble, he sat where at eve he'ld eat,
On a plain with his vassals round him, in order due and meet.
Duke Orilus rode to their circle, and none might his blazon know, 815
So hewn were both shield and helmet—'twas Parzival dealt such blow!
From his horse sprang the gallant hero, Jeschuté she held his rein;
Swift sprang the squires to aid them, and thronged close around the twain,
And they spake, 'We will care for the horses,'—Orilus, on the grass he laid
His shield so marred and splintered, and he asked of the gracious maid820
For whose sake he had ridden thither, and they showed him the lady's seat,
Kunnewaaré she was of Lalande, and her mien for a maid was meet.
Then, armed, he drew near unto them—King and queen bade him welcome fair,
He thanked them, and to his sister his pledge was he fain to swear,
But the maiden, right well she knew him by the golden dragon's shine,825
And she spake, 'Thou art sure my brother, Orilus, or Lähelein,
And pledge will I take from neither, for both of ye aye were fain
To render to me such service as I from your hands would gain.
I were dead to all truth and honour if I dealt with thee as a foe,
My courtesy sure were shamèd by my own hand, and laid alow.' 830
Then the prince knelt before the maiden and he spake, 'Thou the truth hath said,
I am Orilus thy brother; the Red Knight this oath hath laid
[Pg 155] On me that my pledge I yield thee, for so must I buy my life,
Wilt thou take it, then have I done that which I sware after bitter strife.'
Then his pledge, who had borne the dragon, in her white hand the maid must take,835
And she set him free, and he rose up, and thus to his sister spake:
'Now to sorrow shall faith constrain me, alas! who hath smitten thee?
The blows perforce must wound me—He who lusted thereto might see,
If this were the hour for vengeance, that grief I with thee must share;
And the bravest of men mourneth with me that ever a woman bare, 840
He calleth himself the Red Knight—O king! he doth bid me greet
Both thee and the queen thy lady, he doth offer ye service meet,
As he fain would serve this my sister—His service ye will repay,
If ye kindly entreat this maiden that her shaming be put away.
And I, too, had fared far better at the hand of this dauntless knight,845
Had he known the maid for my sister, and her blows on my heart must light.'
Now Kay, he hath earned fresh hatred from all who would there abide,
Both knights and gentle ladies, by Plimizöl's flowing tide,
From Iofreit the son of Idöl, from Gawain, and the vanquished king
Klamidé, of whose sore peril I of yore unto ye would sing. 850
And from many another hero whose names I right well had told,
But o'er-long would it be my story—So they thronged round the hero bold,
And, courteous, he took their service—his wife would they nearer bring,
She sat as yet on her palfrey, and they welcomed her, queen and king.
Then the women they kissed each other, and thus spake the king so true,855
'Thy father, King Lac of Karnant, for a gallant man I knew,
For his sake I mourned thy sorrow when first men the tale did bear,
Methinks that thy lord should have spared thee for the sake of thy face so fair!
For the prize was thine at Kanedig thro' the light of thy beauty's ray,
And the hawk didst thou win for thy fairness, on thine hand did it ride away.860
If Orilus wrong hath done me, yet I wished unto thee no ill,
And never I liked his judgment; and so doth it please me still
To see thee restored to favour, and clad in these garments fair,
As fitting thy state, O Lady! since woe thou o'er-long didst bear.'
[Pg 156] And she quoth, 'Now may God reward thee, O Sire! for these words so true,865
That thy fame may wax the higher, and may blossom and bloom anew!'
Then Jeschuté and her husband, the twain, she took by the hand,
And forth from the circle led them, the maiden of fair Lalande.
And near to the royal pavilion, where a stream from the meadow sprung,
Stood her tent on the plain, and above it a wingèd dragon hung; 870
Half an apple it held in its clutches, and four ropes did it draw on high,
E'en as if the tent it lifted, and aloft to the clouds would fly.
And Orilus thereby knew it, for the self-same arms he bare,
And beneath it would they disarm him—Then his sister so true and fair,
She gave him due care and honour, and the vassals, each one they spake,875
How the Red Knight's valour dauntless would Fame for its comrade take.
As thus aloud men praised him, in Kingron's ear spake Kay,
And he bade him do Orilus service—(Well he might, whom he thus did pray,
For oft had he done such service for Klamidé in Brandigan.)
And for this Kay would give his office to the hand of another man, 880
His ill-star had bid him smite her, the prince's sister fair,
So hard with his staff, 'twas fitting from their service he should forbear.
Nor pardon she found for his trespass, this maiden of royal race;
But viands he sent, and Kingron, he set them before their face.
Kunnewaaré, the wise and gentle, with her slender hands and white, 885
Would cut the food for her brother, at his side sat his lady bright.
And Jeschuté of Karnant bare her with courteous and comely mien,
And Arthur the King forgat not, for fain he the twain had seen,
And he came where they sat together, and ate with right friendly will,
And he spake, 'Be good service lacking, then for sure it shall please me ill,890
For ne'er hath a host received ye, I trow, with a will so good,
And a heart so free from falsehood!' And he spake in kindly mood,
'My Lady Kunnewaaré, see thou well to this gallant knight,
And the blessing of God be on ye, and keep ye till morning light!'
Then Arthur to rest betook him, and a couch for the twain they spread,895
And till daylight in peace they slumbered, and sorrow afar had fled.

[Pg 157]


[Pg 158]


Book VI. tells how King Arthur sought for the Red Knight; and how he took an oath of his heroes to refrain from fighting. Of the blood-stained snow, and the love-trance of Parzival; and how, unknowing, he overthrew Segramor, and took vengeance on Kay. How Gawain led Parzival to the court of King Arthur; and how he was made a knight of the Round Table. Of the coming of Kondrie, and Kingrimursel, and the shaming of Parzival and Gawain. Of Parzival's wrath and despair, and how he rode forth to seek the Grail. How the knights went forth to the venture of Château Merveil; and how Gawain rode to Askalon; and of the scattering of this goodly company.

[Pg 159]



Now perchance it were well I should tell ye, how, as this his folk did pray,
From Karidöl and his kingdom, King Arthur had ridden away.
And now the venture telleth, on his own and on stranger ground
For eight days long had they ridden, nor yet had the Red Knight found.
For in truth 'twas for him they were seeking, to honour his hand were fain,5
From sorrow had he released them, who had erst Prince Ither slain;
And Klamidé the king, and Kingron, in a welcome hour had sent
To the court of the Breton Monarch: for on this was King Arthur bent,
He would make him one of his circle, a knight of the Table Round,
No labour too great he counted, so the hero at last he found! 10
Thus o'er mountain and vale they sought him—All who knightly shield might bear,
King Arthur now called around him, and in this wise he bade them swear:
What deeds so e'er of knighthood they should see, by this their oath,
They should on no conflict venture, but faithful still keep their troth,
As they sware unto him, their monarch, and fight but as he thereto 15
Should give them leave—He spake thus, 'Now, 'tis well! Since we needs must go
Thro' many a stranger country, where many a stranger spear,
And many a gallant hero are waiting us, I fear,
If ye, like hounds untrainèd whose leash shall have slipped the hand
Of him who was late their master, shall roam free o'er all the land,20
[Pg 160] Much evil might there befall ye, and such chance should but please me ill,
And by this your oath, I think me, such rashness I best may still.
Be ye sure and need ariseth, your king ne'er will say you Nay,
Till then, as I here command ye, ride peaceful upon your way.'
Now the oath, ye shall well have heard it—Now hear ye how Parzival,25
The Waleis, rode near unto them: thro' the night did the snow-flakes fall,
Light they fell, yet lay thickly on him, yet if well I the tale may know,
And the singer aright hath sung it, it was never the time of snow;
For whate'er men have sung or spoken of King Arthur, at Whitsuntide,
Or when May-blossoms deck the meadow, these marvels did aye betide. 30
For sweetly the springtide bloometh, and many a garb, I ween,
Shall it bear this song of my singing, tho' snow-clad it now be seen.
The falconers from Karidöl, as the shadows of evening fell,
Rode, hawking, by Plimizöl's waters, when an evil chance befell,
For the best of their hawks flew from them, nor stooped to the lure again,35
But all night in the dusky shadows of the woodland it did remain.
With Parzival it sheltered; to the twain was the woodland way
A road unknown, sharp the frost stung, in the far east uprose the day,
And, lo! all around the hero, the snow-flakes lay thick and white:
Thro' the forest paths untrodden, in ever waxing light, 40
Rode our hero by hedge or thicket, by rock and by fallen tree,
Till clear grew the shadowy woodland, and its depths he well might see,
And a mighty tree of the forest had fallen where he would ride,
(The falcon yet followed after) 'mid its clustering boughs he spied
A flock of wild-geese from the Northland, their hissing he first had heard,45
Swift swooped the falcon upon them and struck to the earth a bird:
And scarce might it fly the clutches of its foe, and fresh shelter take
'Neath the shade of the fallen branches; in its flight from the wounds there brake
Three blood-drops, all glowing crimson, and fell on the spotless snow,
As Parzival's eyes beheld them, swift sorrow his heart must know! 50
Now hear ye his love so loyal—As he looked on these blood-drops bright,
That stained with a stain of crimson the snow-flakes that lay so white,
[Pg 161] He thought, 'Say what hand hath painted these colours that here I see?
Kondwiramur, I think well, these tints sure shall liken thee!
And white snow and blood-drops crimson, do ever thy likeness share, 55
For this favour I praise God's working, and the world he hath wrought so fair!
For in this wise I read the vision,—in this snow that so spotless lies,
'Gainst the blood-drops, that ruddy-gleaming, glow crimson beneath mine eyes,
I find ever thy face so gracious, my lady, Kondwiramur,
Red as blood-drops and white as the snowdrift, it rejoiceth me evermore!'60
Then her sweet face arose before him, in that night she first sought his side,
When on each cheek a tear-drop glistened, and a third to her chin did glide.
And so true was his love and steadfast, little recked he of aught around,
But wrapped round in love and longing, saw naught but the blood-stained ground.
Frau Minne with force constrained him, as here on his wife he thought,65
And by magic of colours mystic, a spell on his senses wrought.
So held he him still, as sleeping—Would ye know who found him there?
The squire of fair Kunnewaaré would forth unto Lalande fare,
And as on his way he journeyed, by the woodland green he saw
A helmet all battle-dinted, and a shield which yet traces bore 70
Of many a bitter conflict that was foughten for lady fair;
And a knight there abode in armour, and his lance he aloft did bear
As one who here patient waited the joust that he fain would ride.
The squire swiftly turned his bridle and back to the camp he hied.
Yet in sooth had he seen the stranger, and his lady's champion known,75
He had ne'er been so swift to decry him, nor had wished he were overthrown,
Nor e'en as he were an outlaw, set the heroes upon his track:
The squire he of queen unfaithful, small wonder he knighthood lacked!
And in this wise he called upon them, 'Fie! Fie! on ye, coward knights!
Hold ye not Gawain for a marvel? Have ye not in a hundred fights 80
Won honour and fame as heroes, who fight for a hero king?
Know now that ye stand dishonoured, and broken your goodly ring!'
Ah! then there arose a clamour, and none but was fain to know
Of the deed of knightly prowess, that should shame their honour so.
When they heard how but one knight dared them, that but one knight a foe did wait,85
[Pg 162] Then sorely they mourned the promise that they sware to their king of late.
Then Knight Segramor sprang swiftly from amid the angry throng,
He ran, for in sooth he walked not, and ever his heart did long
To be in the midst of conflict, where conflict might chance to be,
An they failèd with cords to bind him, in the thick of the fight was he!90
And nowhere the Rhine's swift waters may flow so strong and wide,
Tho' the stream should run swift between them, an men fought on the further side,
He stayed not to test the waters, if the current be hot or cold,
But straightway the stream he breasted, as fitted a swimmer bold!
Swift-foot to the tent of the monarch, the eager youth he sped, 95
For the day was but yet in its dawning, and the king he lay yet abed.
Then straight thro' the lists he hied him, and he gat him thro' the door,
And the covering all of sable, with hasty hand he tore
From the twain who lay warm beneath it, and slumbered a slumber deep,
Yet his haste moved them but to laughter, tho' he waked them from out their sleep!100
And loudly he cried on his cousin—'Queen, Lady, Guinevere,
Since the world knoweth well our kinship, thou must do me this service here,
Speak thou for me to thine husband, and pray thou of him this grace,
Since a knightly venture nears us, my lot first the foe to face!'
Yet Arthur spake, 'Now bethink thee of the oath thou didst swear to me,105
In all things my will to follow, nor rashly to venture thee;
For if thou a joust now ridest, hereafter shall many a knight
Crave leave at mine hand to ride forth, and seek for fame in fight,
And 'twere ill thus our force to weaken, for know thou that near at hand,
Anfortas of Monsalväsch with a mighty host doth stand. 110
This wood of his he guardeth, and since we but little know
Where he and his force shall hold them, such chance well might work us woe!'
Yet Guinevere wrought so wisely Segramor was well-nigh fain
To die of joy, from King Arthur, his lady this grace did gain.
[Pg 163] And on fame and honour only was the gallant youth intent, 115
Nor for gold had he sold the venture on which his heart was bent.
Now the hero young and beardless, well armed his steed bestrode,
And over the fresh young greensward his charger at full speed rode;
And the bushes were bent beneath him, and the golden bells rang clear
On trapping alike and armour; and I deem well an need were here 120
To seek for the magic pheasant mid thicket and thorny brake,
He who fain this knight had followed, the bells for his guide might take!
Thus rashly rode the hero, to him whom Frau Minne's spell
Fast fettered in magic fetters, and no blow at the first there fell,
For the peace by his word was broken—There held fast by threefold might,125
And the power of red blood-drops threefold stood ever the stranger knight.
(Yea, well I myself have known this, how Frau Minne with power may hold,
And holding, the senses scatter, and with passion of grief untold
Shall fill the heart to o'erflowing—'Twas a woman who wrought this ill,
And vanquished, she doth condemn me, and refuseth me comfort still.130
Thus draweth she guilt upon her, for the sin shall be hers, I ween,
And afar must I fly from the presence, that of old time my joy hath been.)
Thus Segramor quoth unto him, 'Now it seemeth but ill to me
That thus near our army lieth, and our presence rejoiceth thee!
And thou holdest his fame too lightly, whom with pride we may hail our king,135
And 'tis meet thou for this do penance,—or the death-chime for me shall ring!
Thus armed, all too near thou ridest; yet first would I courteous pray
That thou yield thee at this my bidding, or my wrong will I here repay,
And my blow shall be swift, and thy falling shall scatter these snow-flakes white!
And I call on thee here to yield thee, ere I put thee to shame, Sir Knight!'140
Yet Parzival still kept silence—for Frau Minne, so fair and young,
In a sorer conflict held him—Then his steed Segramor swung
Aside, as for jousting ready, round wheeled him the war-horse good
On whose back the gallant hero yet sate in mystic mood,
[Pg 164] And ever he gazed on the blood-drops; as his charger turned him round145
Awhile from his eyes they vanished, and fame in their stead he found!
For swift as the blood-drops crimson thus passed from his dazzled sight,
He hearkened the voice of the foeman, and braced him anew for fight.
Then as Segramor rode against him, Parzival sought afresh the spear
That he found by the woodland chapel, with blazon of colours clear;150
For tough was the shaft, and he gripped it, and he held the point full low,
As his foeman dashed fair against him, his shield rang with the ringing blow.
Then he spurred him anew to the onslaught, and the joust he so well repaid,
That the knight in his golden armour was low in the snowdrift laid!
Yet still was the spear unsplintered, tho' it bare him from off his horse;155
And Parzival still kept silence, and he wheeled him upon his course,
And his eyes sought once more the blood-drops, and e'en as they met his sight
Frau Minne with fetters bound him, and held him in cords of might,
And he spake never word, nor question, but gazed ever upon the ground,
And, dreaming, he lost the knowledge which he for a space had found!160
But affrighted, the gallant charger had fled back into its stall,
And its rider arose, little comfort might he find, though he soft might fall!
Outstretched had he lain in the snowdrift, in such wise e'en as men shall go
To rest, yet but ill he sleepeth, who sleepeth on couch of snow!
And such bed had sorrow brought me! for he to whom ill betides 165
Hath but mocking for his bedfellow, but the lucky doth God's hand guide.
So near was King Arthur's army, that right well might Parzival
Be seen of all men, and the wonders, and the conflict that then befell.
The victor by Love was vanquished, by Love that in days of old
Did the king of all kings the wisest, King Solomon, captive hold! 170
Short space, then, ere back to the army once more Knight Segramor came,
An with praise or with blame they should greet him, he counted it still the same.
And sharp words he flung among them, with mocking tongue and bold,
Tho' vanquished, yet not dishonoured, must they ever the hero hold!
And he quoth, 'Have ye never heard this, that strife bringeth loss as gain?175
And never a joust, I wot me, but the victor doth one remain,
[Pg 165] While one aye shall be the vanquished: The best ship in storm may sink,
And I wot that ye ne'er have heard me to speak, for I ne'er did think,
An he knew of my shield the blazon, he had faced me not as a foe!
Much evil, in sooth, hath he wrought me, and yet doth he wait below180
All those who would ride against him, for he seemeth for conflict fain,
An a knight should in joust o'erthrow him, such chance might he count for gain.'
Then straightway unto King Arthur Sir Kay did the tidings bring,
How his knight, Segramor, had fallen, and his victor, without their ring,
A young knight, for jousting ready, yet waited with ill intent— 185
'Nay, I think an this stranger warrior of so many unpunished went,
A burden both sore and shameful on our honour such lack would lay;
Now, my king, an thou hold me worthy, do thou grant me this grace, I pray,
I would ride hence to ask his meaning, who thus in the presence fair
Of our Queen Guinevere and her maidens his lance-point aloft doth bear;190
But if thou shouldst this boon refuse me, then know, not another hour
I abide here as this thy servant; for I hold that the knightly power
And the fair fame of thy Round Table are stainèd if we delay
To arm ourselves 'gainst the stranger who dareth our strength to-day!
Now, I prithee, give leave to fight him—For tho' blind and deaf were we,195
Yet 'tis time that we should defend us'—'As thou willest, so let it be!'
Then swift did the seneschal arm him, and I ween in fierce anger's fire
A woodland he fain had wasted 'gainst the foe, who with strong desire
And love was thus sorely burdened; for Frau Minne a magic spell
Had wrought with the snow-flakes spotless, and the blood-drops that crimson fell.200
And his knighthood he sorely shamèd, who thought here to work him harm,
Since he faileth true Love to honour, who denieth of Love the charm.
Frau Minne, say, why dost thou make glad the souls that mourn
With bliss that too swiftly fleeting, but leaveth them more forlorn?
And how canst thou, Frau Minne, true worth and knightly fame, 205
And manly strength and courage, thus vanquish and put to shame?
For the least is to thee as the greatest, and the earth shall no hero boast,
Who thinketh to scorn thine empire, but he learneth unto his cost
[Pg 166] That thou canst, an thou wilt, o'erthrow him; yea, all men thy power obey,
For thy sceptre we own as mighty, and wide as the world its sway. 210
Yet this one thing it doth thee honour, tho' thou rulest all else but ill,
Joy maketh her dwelling with thee, and for this would I praise thee still!
Frau Minne, alas! of old time full false were thy ways, I ween,
Nor hast thou thy dealings mended, nor to-day hast thou truer been,
Thou hast many a maiden shamèd, who love forbidden sought; 215
Thro' thy dealings, upon the vassal, his lord hath sorrow brought;
And the friend shall false and faithless to the friend of his bosom prove,
And the servant betray his master; such deeds do but shame thee, Love!
And I would that it were far from thee, the body to yield to lust,
In such wise that the soul ashamèd is stricken with sorrow's thrust,220
And that with force compelling, the young thou makest old,
Though their years but few be counted, this must we for treason hold!
Such speech, I ween, beseems not the man who in serving thee
Hath comfort found! If succour thine hand ever brought to me,
I had been less slow to praise thee, but sorrow and loss alone 225
Hast thou counted to me as guerdon, and such glamour thine art hath thrown
O'er mine eyes, that, methinks, henceforward I trust thee never more,
Though small profit it brought unto thee, the bitter grief I bore!
And yet too high above me art thou, that whate'er my wrong,
I should e'en as a fool upbraid thee with bitter words and strong: 230
For thy spear too sharply pierces, and scarce may we bear the weight,
Thou layest at will upon us—Methinks he who sang of late,
'Neath a tree, of thy mystic dealings, and thy wondrous ways of old,
Had better done had he told us how we thy grace might hold!
(Heinrich of Veldeck was he, and he taught us, I ween, right well 235
Of the winning of Love, of its guarding, alas! he failed to tell.)
For oft one thro' folly loses the prize that he late did win;
Yea, to me hath such fate befallen, yet Frau Minne, thine was the sin!
Since all wisdom shall be thy portion, since against thee nor spear, nor shield,
Nor charger, nor guarded fortress their vaunted power can wield, 240
I know not what shall withstand thee, nor on earth, nor on the sea!
He who feareth to face thy conflict, say whither shall he flee?
'Twas thy mystic power, Frau Minne, that dealt thus with Parzival,
[Pg 167] And reft him awhile of knowledge, and wrought with him as a fool.
For fair was the queen and gracious who reigned in far Pelrapär, 245
And she thought on her lord and husband, and she made thee her message bear.
And for this cause Kardeiss her brother, hast thou for thy payment slair,
And since thou such tribute askest, 'tis well that I ne'er have ta'en
From thine hand aught of good, since in such wise thou dost for thy debtors care—
This I spake for the sake of all men—List ye now how Sir Kay did fare:250
Now he rode forth in knightly armour to the strife that he sore did crave,
And Gamuret's son, right willing, to his wish fulfilment gave.
And wherever fair maids compelling, their voices uplift in prayer,
And the grace they shall ask be granted, let them pray here for his welfare,
Since it was thro' a woman's beauty, that the spell of a woman wrought255
Love's magic, of senses robbed him—Then his charger to halt Kay brought;
And he spake to the gallant Waleis, 'Sir Knight, since thou thus our king
Hast shamed, thou shalt hear my counsel, for wisdom perchance 'twill bring;
Thou shalt hang thee a hempen halter around thy neck straightway,
For so may I lightly lead thee, and take thou with me thy way. 260
Nor think thou, thou canst escape me, but with me unto my lord
Shalt thou go, as befits a captive, else worse may be thy reward!'
By love constrained, the Waleis nor word nor answer spoke,
Kay gripped his spear-shaft tightly and he smote with a mighty stroke
On the hero's head, till the helmet rang loudly beneath his hand; 265
And he quoth, 'Now will I awake thee! Dost think here to take thy stand,
And standing sleep unsheeted? Nay, other shalt thou fare,
Low on the snow I'll lay thee! The ass that is wont to bear
The sack from the mill would rue it, did one smite him in such wise,
As here I think now to smite thee, and thy sloth and thy sleep chastise!'270
Frau Minne, now bethink thee, for sore this shameth thee,
For an one should wrong a peasant, in this wise his speech will be,
'My lord will sure repay thee!' Vengeance from thee he'ld seek
Methinks, this gallant Waleis, an thou wouldst let him speak!
[Pg 168] Now let him from out thy circle, and loose him from thy ban, 275
This stranger guest shalt prove him, a true and valiant man!
Swift rode Sir Kay unto him, and he turned his bridle round,
And no more his longing glances their joy and their sorrow found,
The white snow and blood-drops crimson, that mystic likeness bare
To the queen of his love and his longing, the Lady of Pelrapär; 280
He knew all that passed around him—His charger Sir Kay addrest
To jousting, he spurred him onward, and his spear he laid in rest.
In the joust, that which Kay had aimed at he smote, for his spear did pierce
The Waleis' shield, yet swift payment was his, for in onslaught fierce
The seneschal of King Arthur fell prone on the fallen tree, 285
Where the geese erewhile had hid them, and hurt full sore was he,
And dead lay his gallant charger—''Twixt a stone and the saddle-bow,
Right arm, and left leg had he broken—so mighty his overthrow
That all that had decked his charger, girths, saddle, bells of gold,
By the force of the fall were shattered, thus the stranger his payment told,290
And with one blow, for twain repaid him—the one that erst for his sake,
A maiden had borne and the other, which he from Kay's hand must take.
Thus he who knew naught of falsehood was guided of truth to know
Her message in blood-drops threefold, on the white of the drifted snow.
'Twas tear-drops, not blood, that he saw there, and well might his senses fail,295
And the thoughts of his heart wax heavy, as he mused on the wondrous Grail,
And sorely the semblance grieved him that spake of his wife and queen.
Yet tho' o'er the twain he sorrowed, the greater woe, I ween,
Was the woe that Frau Minne wrought him, for there liveth not heart so strong,
But longing and love united break its power, ere the time be long. 300
Count we here those twain as ventures? Nay, 'twere better methinks to hold,
That they were naught but pain and sorrow, that vanquished the hero bold.
Now ye unto whom I tell this, I rede ye to mourn Kay's woe,
For full oft as his manhood bade him, he many a strife did know.
[Pg 169] And in many a land they speak thus, that Kay, Arthur's seneschal, 305
Was a firebrand, hell-born, yet I wot well far other the tale I'ld tell.
From reproach would I gladly free him, tho' few but should say me nay,
Yet a gallant man and a worthy, I swear was this knight, Sir Kay.
And my mouth to this truth beareth witness, and more would I tell to thee;
Unto Arthur's Court came strangers in many a company, 310
And their manners and ways were diverse, nor all there might honour claim,
But Kay an he saw false dealing, he counted such ways as shame,
And his face he turned from the sinner, yet he who dealt courteously,
And true man with true men would hold him, Kay served him right heartily.
And one who fall well discernèd the manner of men was Kay, 315
Thus he did to his lord good service, for his harsh words drave far away
The men who would falsely vaunt them good knights and true to be,
Ill was he to them as a hailstorm, sharp as sting of an angry bee.
Small wonder that these deny him his honour and knightly fame,
True servant and wise they found him, and for this cause upon his name320
Their hatred doth still heap slander—Prince Herman, Thuringia's lord,
Thou with vassals that crowd around thee, and strangers who seek thy board,
Good service might Kay have done thee, since so free art thou aye of hand,
That true men and men dishonoured, side by side in thine hall they stand;
And therefore Knight Walter singeth, 'Now greeting to all I bring, 325
Men evil and good!' And I trow well, where a singer such song may sing,
There the false are too highly honoured—Nay, far other Sir Kay had taught,
(Yea, and Heinrich of Rispach also)—Now hearken ye in what sort
On Plimizöl's plain men bare them; from the field Sir Kay was borne
To the tent of his king, and around him, o'er his ill-fate his friends did mourn;330
And maiden and knight they stood there; to the tent where his comrade lay
Came Gawain, and he quoth in sadness, 'Alas! for the woeful day
That so ill a joust was ridden that hath robbed me of a friend!'
Then out spake Kay in his anger, 'Now make of thy moan an end,
If comfort thou here wouldst bring me, do not as the women do, 335
Since thou art my monarch's nephew! I would do to thee service true,
As of free heart I ever did it, in the day that God gave me power,
Nor long for my aid hadst thou prayed me! There cometh, perchance, an hour
[Pg 170] When I, as of old, may serve thee: now cease thou thy moan I pray,
For tho' mine be the pain, yet my monarch shall ne'er find another Kay,340
And I wot that for mine avenger art thou all too nobly born;
An yet hadst thou lost a finger I had counted myself forsworn
An I risked not mine head to pay it! Let that be as it may,
Believe me or not, as shall please thee, yet sooth are the words I say!'
'No joust shalt thou ride at my urging, for roughly he greets his foe,345
Who holdeth without his station, and rideth nor swift nor slow.
And I think me, of maidens' tresses, tho' frail be such cord and fair,
Enough from such strife to bind thee, the chain of a single hair!
And the man who shall show such meekness, he well doth his mother love,
Since his sire would fain in the conflict his knightly mettle prove.350
But follow thou aye thy mother, Sir Gawain, list well her rede.
Turn thou pale at the glancing sword-blade, and shrink from the manly deed!'
And thus on the gallant hero the bitter words he spake
Fell sharply, he looked not for them, nor on Kay might he vengeance take,
Full seldom a knight may do so, since shame on his lips setteth seal,355
But they who thus speak discourteous, such shame shall they never feel.
Then Gawain he quoth in answer, 'Where men knightly sword might bear,
And have foughten, and I fought with them, then no man beheld me there,
And saw that my cheek waxed paler at sight of wound or blow.
I was ever thy friend—'twas needless that thou shouldst reproach me so!'360
Then he strode from the tent, and he bade them bring hither his charger good,
Nor spur on his heel he buckled, unarmed he his steed bestrode.
So came he unto the Waleis (whose sense was of love held fast),
And his shield to all eyes bare witness of three spears thro' its circle passed,
For three jousts of late had he ridden, and he rode them with heroes twain,365
Of Orilus too was he smitten—Then gently uprode Gawain,
And he spurred not his steed to gallop, nor conflict nor strife he sought,
For he rode but in love and in kindness, to seek him who here had fought.
Fair spake Gawain the stranger, to greeting deaf was he,
[Pg 171] Frau Minne yet held him captive, how other might it be? 370
True son of Herzeleide, to this lot was he born,
To lose himself for love's sake; such passion as had torn
The hearts of these his parents, afresh in his heart awoke,
And but little his ear might hearken what the mouth of Gawain spoke.
Quoth King Lot's son unto the Waleis,' Sir Knight, here thou doest ill375
In that thou withholdest greeting—tho' patient I wait thy will
Far otherwise can I bear me! Know thou that to friend and king,
Yea, to all whom I count my fellows, thy deed doth dishonour bring,
And our shame ever waxeth greater; yet prayed I for thee this grace,
The king of free heart forgives thee, if now thou shalt seek his face.380
So hearken, I pray, my counsel, and do thou as I shall say,
And ride thou with me to King Arthur, nor too long shalt thou find the way.'
Nor threatening nor prayer might move him, this fair son of Gamuret:
Then the pride of King Arthur's knighthood his memory backward set,
And he thought of Frau Minne's dealings, and the time when the knife's sharp blade385
He drave thro' his hand unwitting, thro' the love of a gracious maid.
And that time when from death's cold clutches, a queen's hand had set him free,
When of Lähelein was he vanquished, and captive in joust was he,
And a queen in the day of his danger must pledge her fair life for his,
And her name shall of men be praisèd, Queen Ingus of Bachtarliess. 390
Thought Gawain, 'It may be Frau Minne dealeth so with this goodly man,
As she dealt with me of old time, so claspeth him in the ban
Of her magic spells fair-woven, that his spirit within the snare
She holdeth fast entangled'—Then his eyes on the snow-flakes fair
He cast, and he knew the token, and swift from the spell-bound sight395
With cloth of fair silk and sendal, he covered the blood-drops bright.
The blood-stained snow was hidden, nor longer its spell was seen,
And his sight and his sense unclouded she gave him, his wife and queen;
Yet his heart did she hold in her keeping, and its dwelling was Pelrapär,
And he cried aloud in his sorrow thro' the silent summer air; 400
[Pg 172] 'Alas! who of thee hath robbed me, who erewhile wast my queen and wife,
For thy love, thy crown, and thy kingdom my right hand hath won in strife.
Say, say, am I he who saved thee from Klamidé the warrior king?
Yea, sorrow and bitter sighing, and grief that the heart doth wring
Are the guerdons I won in thy service, and now from mine eyes be-dazed405
Art thou reft, and thy place I know not, tho' but now on thy face I gazed.'
Then he quoth, 'Now, where shall my spear be, since I wot well I brought it here?'
Quoth Gawain, 'A joust hast thou ridden, and splintered shall be thy spear.'
'With whom should I joust?' quoth the Waleis, 'thou bearest nor sword nor shield,
And little had been mine honour, an thou to my hand didst yield! 410
Yet bear I awhile thy mocking, nor will I thy friendship pray,
Tho' many a joust have I ridden, yet my saddle I kept alway.
An thou be not for jousting minded, and I find not in thee a foe,
Yet the world lieth wide before me, and hence on my way I go;
For labour and strife am I seeking and fain would I win me praise, 415
Be anguish or joy my portion; nor unfruitful shall be my days.'
Quoth Gawain, 'What I spake aforetime I spake of true heart and free,
Nor my thoughts were the thoughts of evil, for well would I deal with thee;
And the boon that I crave will I win me, my monarch with many a knight
Lieth here at hand with his army, and with many a lady bright, 420
An it please thee, Sir Knight, to betake thee to our goodly company,
From all strife shall this right hand guard thee, and gladly I'll ride with thee.'
'I thank thee, Sir Knight, fair thou speakest, yet say ere with thee I ride,
Who the monarch may be whom thou servest? and who rideth here at my side?'
'A man do I hail as master, thro' whose fame much fame I won, 425
Nor here shall my mouth keep silence on the things he for me hath done.
For dear hath he ever held me, and as true knight did me entreat:
(His sister King Lot hath wedded, and the twain I as parents greet.)
And the good gifts God gave unto me, to his service I yield them all,
For my hand and my heart he ruleth, whom men do King Arthur call. 430
Nor mine own name need here be hidden, nor a secret shall long remain,
[Pg 173] For the folk and the lands that know me, they call on me as Gawain:
And fain would I do thee service, alike with my hand and name,
If thou turnest here at my bidding, nor bringest upon me shame!'
Then he quoth, 'Is it thou, O Gawain? too little I yet have done 435
That thou shouldst as a friend entreat me; yet hast thou this honour won
That all men thou gently treatest—and thy friendship I here will take,
Yet not for mine own deserving, but repayment I fain would make.
Now say where thine army lieth, since so many tents I see
That stand fair by the brink of the river? If King Arthur in truth shall be440
So near, then must I bemoan me, that in honour I may not dare
To enter his royal presence, or look on his queen so fair.
Since 'tis meet that I first avenge me of a foul and discourteous blow,
For which, since the day I left them, I sorrow and shame must know.
For a maiden as she beheld me, laughed sweetly, the seneschal 445
For my sake smote the maid so sorely, 'twas a wood that upon her fell.'
'Rough vengeance thou here hast taken! (Gawain to the Waleis spake)
Since thou in a joust hast felled him, and right arm and left leg he brake.
Ride here, see his charger lifeless, that lieth the stone below;
On the snowdrift behold the splinters of the spear that hath dealt the blow!450
'Tis the spear thou but now wast seeking!' Then the truth knew Sir Parzival,
And straightway he spake unto Gawain, 'Now, if this be the seneschal,
And the man who so sorely shamed me, if thou swear me that this was he,
Thou mayst ride where thou wilt, and gladly will I ride in thy company!'
'Nay, never a lie do I tell thee,' quoth Gawain, 'thou hast overthrown455
Segramor, who ere now in battle was ever as victor known,
He fell ere yet Kay had met thee: great deeds hast thou done to-day,
Since o'er two of our bravest heroes the prize thou hast borne away.'
So rode they, the one with the other, the Waleis and Knight Gawain,
And the folk, both afoot and on horseback, with honour would greet the twain,460
Gawain and his guest the Red Knight, this did they of courtesy,
And the twain to his fair pavilion they gat them right speedily.
And the lady, fair Kunnewaaré, whose tent by Gawain's did stand,
[Pg 174] Rejoiced, and she joyful greeted the hero, whose strong right hand
Had failed not to wreak stern vengeance for the ill that Kay wrought that day;465
Then her brother and fair Jeschuté she led by the hand straightway,
And Parzival looked upon them as the three to his tent drew near,
And his face, thro' the rust of his armour, it shone ever fair and clear,
As roses dew-dipped had flown there: his harness aside he laid,
And he stood before Kunnewaaré, and thus spake the gentle maid: 470
'To God shalt thou first be welcome, as welcome thou art to me,
Since thy manhood thou well hast proven, and the faith that I had in thee!
Ere the day that my heart beheld thee, nor laughter nor smiles I knew,
And Kay, who in that hour smote me, with stern hand my gladness slew.
But now hast thou well avenged me! With a kiss I thy deed would pay,475
If I of thy kiss were worthy!' 'Nay, so had I thought to-day
To crave of thy lips my payment,' quoth Parzival, 'if thou still
Wilt give me such gracious greeting, right gladly I'll do thy will!'
Then she kissed him, and down they sate them, and the princess a maiden sent
And bade her to bring rich raiment; so sped she unto the tent; 480
And the garments they lay there ready, of rich silk of Nineveh,
For her prisoner, King Klamidé, had she fashioned them cunningly.
Then the maiden who bare the garments, full sorely must she bewail
That the mantle was yet unfinished, since the silken cord did fail.
Then the lady, Kunnewaaré, from her side drew a silken band 485
From the folds of her robe, in the mantle she wove it with skilful hand.
Then courteous her leave he prayed him, the rust would he wash away,
And fair shone his face, and youthful, and his lips they were red that day.
And robed was the gallant hero, and so bright and so fair was he,
That all men who there beheld him, they sware he for sure must be 490
The flower and the crown of manhood, a knight without shame or fear;
And they looked upon him, and they praised him and his colour waxed bright and clear,
[Pg 175] And right well did his garb become him; an emerald green and rare,
The gift of fair Kunnewaaré, as clasp at his neck he bare;
And a girdle beside she gave him, all wrought in a cunning row 495
With mystic beasts, bejewelled, that burnt with a fiery glow,
And its clasp was a red-fire ruby—How think ye the beardless youth
Was seen when thus richly girded? Fair was he in very sooth,
For so the story runneth—the folk bare him right goodwill,
Men and women who looked upon him, they counted him worthy still. 500
Forthwith, as the Mass was ended, came Arthur the noble king,
And the knights of his Table with him, a goodly following.
No man there whose lips spake falsehood. Yea, all heard the word that day,
'With Gawain the Red Knight dwelleth!' the king thither took his way.
Then the knight who so sore was beaten came swiftly, Sir Antanor, 505
For, fain to behold the Waleis, his feet sped the king before,
And he asked, 'Art thou he who avenged me, and the lady of fair Lalande?
Now vanished shall be Kay's honour, for it falleth unto thine hand,
And an end hast thou made of his threatening, and the days of his strife are o'er,
For his arm it is weak, and his vengeance I fear for it never more!'510
And so fair was the knight and radiant, that all men beheld his face
As an angel from heaven, that wingless, abideth on earth a space.
And well did King Arthur greet him, and his knights were no whit behind,
And all they who looked upon him, naught but love in their hearts might find,
And their lips to their heart made answer, and all spake to his praises, 'Yea,'515
And no man gainsaid the other, so lovely his mien that day!
Then Arthur spake fair unto him, 'Thou hast wrought me both joy and pain,
Yet ne'er from the hand of a hero such honour I thought to gain
As the honour that thou hast brought me! yet no service I did to thee,
An I did, then thy fame had repaid it, tho' no other thy deeds should be520
Than the deed thou hast done in the winning for Jeschuté her husband's grace!
Nor Kay's guilt had been unavengèd, if ere this I had seen thy face
[Pg 176] Myself had, unasked, chastised him.' Then Arthur in this wise spake,
'Since so far they had come, and their journey had they taken but for his sake,
They all with one voice did pray him, to swear to them brotherhood,525
And be one of the gallant Table, a comrade both true and good.'
And their prayer it seemed good unto him, and joyful at heart was he,
And he sware them the oath that they asked for, and their knight would he gladly be.
Now hear ye, and speak the verdict, if on this day the Table Round
Its right, and its due observance had here, as aforetime found; 530
Since for many a day King Arthur in this wise had ruled his court,
No knight should break bread before him, if there came of fair venture naught.
But enough should have chanced this morning, and to Table they well might go,
Though from Nantes might they never bear it, yet they here would its semblance show.
Wide enow was the flowery meadow, nor hindered them tree or tent, 535
As they did here their monarch's bidding—for this was his heart's intent,
Fair honour to give the Red Knight, and his valour, as meet, reward—
Then a silk in Acraton woven, they laid on the grassy sward,
'Twas brought from far lands of paynim, and 'twas shapen both wide and round;
For ever this courteous custom mid these gallant knights was found,540
No high seat had they of honour, but all men were equal there;
And thus had King Arthur willed it, both the knights and their ladies fair
At the Table Round were welcome, yea, an they might honour claim,
Knight, lady, or gentle maiden, at his court all should fare the same!
And there, with her maiden following, came fair Guinevere the queen,545
And many a noble princess amid her train was seen,
And none but was fair to look on, and the ring it was spread so wide
That within, without strife or crowding, each maid sat her knight beside.
And Arthur, who ne'er knew falsehood, led the Waleis by the hand,
And Kunnewaaré she walked beside him, the lady of fair Lalande, 550
From sorrow the knight had freed her—Then, with kind and friendly eyes,
Looked Arthur upon the hero, and he spake to him in this wise:
'My queen will I bid to kiss thee, who art fair both of form and face,
For ne'er, in this court, of lady I ween wouldst thou crave this grace,
[Pg 177] Since from Pelrapär thou hast ridden, and wert thou on kissing bent555
From lips of all lips the fairest, hast thou there thy full heart's content!
Yet this one grace will I pray thee, if ever there dawn the day
That I find 'neath thy roof abiding, this kiss I may then repay!'
'In sooth, will I do thy bidding,' quoth the Waleis, 'both there and here!'
Then unto the gallant hero stepped the Lady Guinevere, 560
And fair on the lips she kissed him, and she quoth, 'Here I pardon thee
The ill thou aforetime didst me, and the sorrow thou gavest me.
Thou didst leave me sorely grieving, when from hence thou didst ride away.
By thy hand and thy dart my kinsman Prince Ither was slain that day!'
And all tear-bedewed were the eyelids of the Lady Guinevere, 565
For Prince Ither's death wrought sorrow unto many a woman dear.
Now must King Klamidé seat him, on the bank by Plimizöl,
And beside him sate Iofreit, who was son unto King Idöl;
And 'twixt Klamidé and Gawain must the Waleis have his place—
And they know who tell the venture, none sate here of royal grace, 570
None who woman's breast had suckled, whose fame stood so high and fair,
For courage and youthful beauty did the Waleis, as jewels, wear.
And they owned, who there looked upon him, that many a maiden bright
Saw herself in a darker mirror than the lips of this fair young knight.
And on cheek and on chin his colour might well as fetters be 575
For those who should need such fetters, whose fancy flitteth free.
Here might there be naught of changing—(of women my rede I trow
For some they are ever wavering, and ever new friendships know!)
But his look ever constant held them, till I wot well that thro' their eyes
His entry he gained triumphant, and made of their hearts his prize!580
Thus maiden and man beheld him, and his honour all men did praise,
Till he found here the goal of sighing, and the end of his joyous days.
For hither came one I must tell of, and faithful was she in truth
Tho' discourteous her ways, and for sorrow, I ween, had she little ruth!
And the folk for her message sorrowed—Now hear how the maid must ride,585
Her mule it was tall as a war-horse, and branded on either side;
And its nostrils were slit as is custom in the far land of Hungary,
Yet her harness and bridle were costly, with rich work broidered cunningly.
Soft and slow paced her mule, yet the maiden was not as a maid, I trow.
What sought she? She came as 'twas fated, and sorrow must Arthur know.590
And of wisdom forsooth this maiden might boast her a wondrous store,
[Pg 178] No tongue but she spake, French, Latin, and Paynim: in all such lore
As men read in the highest heavens, Dialectics, Geometry,
In all was she courteous trainèd, and her name it was called Kondrie.
'The sorceress' did men name her, nor her speech halted on its way,595
Too ready her tongue, since rejoicing she smote into grief that day.
This maiden, so rich in wisdom, bare little of maiden grace,
No lover e'er praised her beauty, no tongue spake her fair of face.
A tempest she, joy destroying, yet of bridal cloth from Ghent
Did she wear a mantle, bluer than azure the soft tints blent. 600
As a cap was it fairly fashioned, such as maidens in France shall wear,
And beneath it, around her body, a silken robe she bare.
And a hat of the English peacock, with silk of orient lined,
And new was the hat, and the fastening, and it hung low the maid behind.
And like to a bridge her message, that sorrow o'er joy had crossed,605
And shame enough did she bring them, till laughter in tears was lost.
In a thick plait above her headgear had she flung her tresses back,
And adown on the mule were they hanging, so long, and so coarse, and black,
Nor softer to touch than the bristles, which swine on their backs shall show.
And her nose as a dog's was shapen, and from out her mouth did grow610
Two tusks as had 'seemed a wild boar, a hand's-breadth long were they;
And above her eyes the eyebrows as thick as plaits they lay.
And I speak but the truth, as I needs must, tho' my words lack in courtesy
Since I speak of a maid, yet, for such cause, none other reproacheth me.
And ears as a bear had Kondrie, and never the eye might trace 615
A shy glance of love, or of longing, I ween in that wondrous face.
And a scourge did she bear, and the handle was a ruby, of silk the cord;
And the hands of this winsome maiden like a lion's were sharply clawed,
And the skin as an ape's was dusky, and the nails they were not too light,
And I ween, for her maiden favours, but seldom would heroes fight! 620
So rode she unto the circle, and her coming did sorrow bring,
And fair joy did she put in peril—Then turned she unto the king,
(And Kunnewaaré sat beside him, his table-mate was she,
And fair Guinevere, his consort, a queen bare her company.)
Thus in royal state King Arthur as monarch sat that day— 625
[Pg 179] To the Breton king rode Kondrie, and in French did she speak alway;
And tho' I in another language than hers shall the venture tell,
Yet I rede ye to wit that the telling it pleaseth me none too well!
'Thou son of high Pendragon, thyself, and thy Breton host,
By thy deed hast thou shamed—From all lands the noblest that they might boast630
Once sat here a gallant circle, but poisoned is now their fame,
And thy Table Round dishonoured by traitor, and brought to shame.
King Arthur, o'er all thy fellows, thy praises of old stood high,
But it sinketh now, thy glory, and thy fame, that did swiftly fly,
Henceforward goeth halting; thine honour doth seek the ground 635
Since it showeth stain of falsehood—The fame of thy Table Round
It suffered for the friendship ye with Parzival did swear,
Tho' I wot well the outward token of a spotless knight he bear.
"The Red Knight" ye here do call him, the name of one who lay
Dead before Nantes, yet I tell thee unlike in their life are they! 640
For no mouth hath read of a hero whose fame knew nor fault nor flaw,
As his!' From the king she turned her, and did rein by the Waleis draw,
And she quoth, 'Now sore shalt thou rue it, since I, for thy sake deny
My greeting unto King Arthur, and the knights of his company.
May thy fair face be dishonoured, and thy manhood I look on here. 645
Of forgiveness and joy were I merchant, in sooth shouldst thou buy them dear!
And I deem thou art but a monster, and myself shall far fairer be!
Speak, Sir Parzival, as I bid thee, and this riddle read thou to me,
When thou sawest the fisher sit there, joyless, of comfort reft,
Why didst thou not loose his sighing? Why was he in bondage left?' 650
'For he showed thee of his sorrow—Oh! thou false and faithless guest,
For hadst thou had pity on him, his anguish had gotten rest.
I would that thy mouth might perish, yea, the tongue thy mouth within,
For e'en as the heart the tongue is, in thine heart is the root of sin.
To Hell shalt thou be predestined, by the Ruler of Heaven high, 655
And this be on earth thy portion, that true men thy face shall fly.
And ban hast thou won for blessing, and for bliss shalt thou find but bale,
[Pg 180] For too late dost thou strive for honour, and thy striving shall naught avail.
And so feeble shall wax thy manhood, and thy fame it shall be so weak,
That never shall soul's physician the promise of healing speak. 660
An one to the oath should drive me, on thine head were I fain to swear,
That never a darker treason was wrought by a man so fair.
Thou hook in fair feathers hidden, bright serpent with poisoned fang,
Who ne'er of the sword was worthy, which thine host at thy side did hang!
The goal of thy sins, this thy silence, of Hell's horde art thou now the sport,665
And dishonour upon thy body, Sir Parzival, hast thou wrought.
Saw'st thou not how they bare before thee the Grail, and the bleeding spear,
And sharp silver? Thy joy's destruction, and thy shelter from grief were here!'
'Yea, hadst thou but asked at Monsalväsch; afar, in a heathen land,
Rich o'er all earthly riches, doth the town of Tabronit stand; 670
Yet the riches thy speech had won thee had been greater far, I ween—
And with gallant strife of knighthood the hand of that country's queen
Feirefis Angevin hath won him: no fear doth his manhood stain;
One father, I ween, hath borne ye, yet unlike shall ye be, ye twain.
And thy brother is strange to look on, for both white and black his face,675
And at Zassamank he reigneth o'er the folk of his mother's race.'
'And my thoughts to thy sire are turning; his country was fair Anjou,
And he left thee far other heirdom (for his heart never falsehood knew,)
Than the heritage thou hast won thee, and the crown of an evil fame!
And could I but think thy mother had wrought here a deed of shame 680
I had said that his child thou wert not! Yet her faith it but wrought her woe,
And of her naught but good be spoken! And thy father, as all men know,
In his manhood was true and steadfast, and in many a distant land
He won for him meed of honour, and his praise o'er all men did stand.
For great heart and little falsehood as a roof did defend his breast,685
A dam 'gainst the flood of evil, and a home for his love to rest.
And in manly strength and courage was his honour for aye held fast,
But thy truth it is turned to falsehood, and thine honour to earth is cast!
Alas! for the day I heard it, alas! for the mournful tale,
That the child of fair Herzeleide in knighthood and faith should fail.'690
She herself was the prey of sorrow, and her hands did she wring amain,
[Pg 181] While the teardrops they chased each other down her cheeks like a shower of rain.
And her eyes they gave faithful witness to the grief that her bosom filled,
For of true heart she spake, the maiden, nor e'en then was the sorrow stilled.
Then unto the king she turned her, and she spake 'Is there here a knight695
Who yearneth for love's rewarding, and for honour and fame would fight?
For I know of four queens, and maidens four hundred, and all are fair,
In Château Merveil is their dwelling; and like to the empty air
Shall be all knightly ventures to the venture that Burg within,
Yet he who shall face its peril, from true love shall his guerdon win.700
And tho' far be that Burg and distant, and weary and rough the way,
Its walls must I seek if haply I reach them ere close of day.'
And sad was the maid, not joyful, nor courteous she bade farewell,
But weeping she gazed around her, and she cried as the teardrops fell,
'Ah! woe unto thee, Monsalväsch, thou dwelling and goal of grief, 705
Since no man hath pity on thee, or bringeth thy woe relief!'
Thus had the sorceress Kondrie, that maiden fierce and proud,
Wrought evil upon the Waleis, and his fame to the earth had bowed.
Naught they helped him, his bold heart's counsel, his manhood and knightly fame,
And high o'er all other virtues, the virtue of knightly shame. 710
(For falsehood he ne'er had hearkened,) and true shame doth rewarding bring,
And it crowneth the soul with honour as the circlet doth crown a king.
And he who true shame doth cherish his work shall for ever stand—
Then she lifted her voice o'er the maidens, the maiden of fair Lalande,
And she wept for the words of Kondrie, and the sorrow of Parzival, 715
For the fairest of men did she deem him; and swiftly the teardrops fell
From the eyes of many a woman, for the sake of that hero bold,
And they sorrowed at heart, and their weeping must many a knight behold!
Now sorrow had Kondrie brought them; and e'en as her way she went
Another must ride towards them on a warlike errand bent; 720
A knight of a haughty bearing, and his harness was fair to see,
From his foot to the goodly helmet, and royal its cost must be,
[Pg 182] And richly plumed was the helmet; and, e'en as the man, the steed
Was clad in such glittering armour as serveth for knightly need.
And he found them, both man and maiden, heavy and sad at heart, 725
As he rode nigh unto the circle; hear ye how he bare his part—
Tho' his mien it was high and haughty, yet his heart it was full of woe,
Of the twain shall ye learn the reason; thro' his manhood he pride must know,
Yet grief to his heart taught mourning—Thus rode he unto the ring,
Were it well he should come within it? Then squires to his aid did spring,730
And the gallant knight they greeted, yet were he and his shield unknown,
Nor he doffed from his head the helmet, and sorrow was his alone;
And his hand bare a sword unsheathèd, and he asked for those heroes twain,
'Where are they whom I fain would speak with, King Arthur and Knight Gawain?'
Then straight thro' the ring he passed him, and a costly coat he bare,735
And 'twas wrought of silk all shining, in Orient woven fair;
And before the host he halted as he sate there within the ring,
And he spake aloud, 'God's favour be on thee, thou gracious king,
And upon these knights and ladies—To all whom mine eyes here see,
I offer, in greeting, service, yet be one from my greeting free;740
For ne'er will I do him service, nay, rather I choose his hate,
If ill-will he beareth to me, mine ill-will with his may mate!'
'And 'twere well that I name him to ye. Alas! alas! woe is me!
My heart he so sore hath wounded, mine anguish o'er-great shall be!
And here doth he sit, Sir Gawain, whom all men were wont to praise,745
High standeth his fame, yet dishonour it ruleth, methinks, his ways;
Since avarice to this betrayed him, in greeting my lord he slew,
The kiss once by Judas given, it taught him such guile anew.
Many thousand hearts hath he wounded—'Twas murder base, abhorred,
And he, upon whom he wrought it, erewhile was my dearest lord. 750
An Sir Gawain would here deny it, true answer our strife shall yield,
Forty days from to-day shall he meet me, and face me on battlefield,
Before Askalon's king and ruler, in the city of Schamfanzon;
Thus I bid him in honour face me, and for conflict his armour don.'
'And this grace shall he not refuse me, but thither his shield shall bear;755
And yet further shall he bethink him, by the helmet he weareth fair,
[Pg 183] And the life that a knight beseemeth, who two treasures in pledge doth hold,
True shame, and a faith unwavering, and their fame shall be new, as old.
But from shame may Gawain ne'er free him, if a knight of the Table Round,
Whose heroes stand here before me, he thinketh he may be found. 760
For its honour and fame are vanished, if false knight sit its board beside—
Methinks ye have heard mine errand, and ye know I came not to chide,
For here would I not blame, but battle, and death shall my guerdon be,
An it be not a life of honour, that Good Fortune shall hold for me!'
Then sad was the king and silent, yet answer at last he gave, 765
'Know, Sir Knight, that Gawain is my nephew, and myself would the conflict brave
Ere his bones should lie dishonoured—If Good Fortune by Gawain stand
In strife shalt thou well acknowledge, 'neath the might of his strong right hand
That his body in faith he keepeth, and falsehood afar doth hold.
If another hath done thee evil methinks art thou over-bold, 770
His shame dost thou speak too loudly, who never hath done thee ill—
If he winneth, perchance, thine homage, and thou ownest him guiltless still,
Yet hast thou in short space spoken such words of a blameless knight
As have shamèd for aye thine honour, if this folk read the thing aright!'
Then upsprang the proud Knight Beaucorps, brother to Gawain he, 775
And he spake in his wrath, 'Wouldst thou fight him? Then myself his pledge will be,
For thou speakest false of Gawain; and know that thy words of shame
Have kindled anew within me fierce wrath's devouring flame.
An thou speakest not Gawain guiltless of all dishonour, I
Stand here to fight his battle, and to be his surety. 780
Think not by thy words of scorning to lower his lofty fame,
Unstainèd is Gawain's honour, and thy words are but words of shame!'
Then he turned him to his brother, and he spake of true heart and free,
'Bethink thee now, my brother, of all thou hast done for me,
Thou hast helped me unto the winning of fame, for thy toil's reward785
Bid me here to be hostage for thee, and bid me thine honour guard.
If Good Fortune be here my portion, and I win here my meed of fame,
Then thine be the crown of honour, and thy foeman hath naught but shame.'
By his knighthood and love as a brother he besought him right earnestly;
[Pg 184] Quoth Gawain, 'Now in sooth, my brother, too wise shall I surely be790
To hearken to thee, and to grant thee what thou askest of right good-will;
What meaneth this strife, I wot not, and of fighting have had my fill,
Of good-will would I ne'er deny thee what boon thou from me shouldst crave,
Yet shame must I bear for ever if this conflict I fail to brave!'
Yet Beaucorps he prayed him straitly—then out spake the stranger knight,795
'A man whom I ne'er have heard of now lusteth with me to fight!
I spake not of him, and no evil, methinks, hath he done to me.
Strong, gallant, and fair to look on, and faithful and rich is he,
And well might he be my hostage, yet against him no wrath I bear—
My lord and my kinsman was he for whose death I this strife declare,800
And brothers twain were our fathers, as comrades and kinsmen true;
And were he a crownèd monarch against whom my sword I drew,
By my birth might I give him battle, and vengeance of right demand,
Of a royal race, and a princely, was I born in a distant land.
And Askalon is my country, I am Landgrave of Schamfanzon, 805
Kingrimursel do they call me; if Gawain's fame be not outrun
No otherwise may he free him, but conflict with me must dare.
Yet safe-conduct throughout my kingdom, from all save my hand, I swear,
In peace may he ride, and safety, to the field where I vengeance claim;
God keep in His grace those I leave here, save one, and ye know his name!'810
So passed he, the gallant hero, from the plain of Plimizöl,
And e'en as his name was namèd, all men knew Kingrimursel,
For the fame of this knight so valiant was known thro' the far lands wide,
And it seemèd them well that to Gawain might ill thro' this strife betide
When they thought of the strength and the manhood of this knight who rode swift away.815
And many must sorely vex them that no honour he won that day;
Yet full often a message cometh, I myself shall such venture know,
Of such wise, that the guest who bears it, of his host must ungreeted go!
From Kondrie they heard the tidings of Parzival's name and kin,
How a queen, she had been his mother, and his sire was an Angevin. 820
And they spake—''Twas at fair Kanvoleis, and the story we know full well,
He served her with deeds of knighthood, and many a joust befell,
[Pg 185] And there by his dauntless manhood he won him that lady bright;
And the noble Queen Anflisé, she taught him, that gallant knight,
Such courtesy as befitted a hero of lineage high; 825
And no Breton but shall rejoice him, that his son now draweth nigh,
For of him, e'en as of his father, may this tale of a truth be told
That honour is his yoke-fellow, as she was of his sire of old.'
Thus joy alike and sorrow came to Arthur's host that day,
And mingled, the life of the heroes, since the twain they must have their way.830
Upstood they all as one man, and all with one voice they wept,
And the bravest knights among them within the circle stept,
And they looked on Gawain and the Waleis where each by the other stood,
And they wove them fair words of comfort to pleasure the heroes good.
But Klamidé the king bethought him that the loss which should be his share835
Was greater than that of another, and too sharp was his pain to bear,
And to Parzival he quoth thus, 'If the Grail thee for lord must own,
Yet still would I mourn my sorrow, and of true heart my woe make known.
For the kingdom of Tribalibot, and Kaucasus' golden strand,
Whatsoe'er shall be writ of riches in Christian or paynim land, 840
Yea, even the Grail and its glory, they had failèd the hurt to cure
Which at Pelrapär was my portion, or the grief that I here endure!
Ah me! Of all men most wretched am I since thy valiant hand
Of joy and of blessing robbed me!—See the princess of fair Lalande,
Know thou that this noble lady she keepeth such faith with thee, 845
That no service else she craveth, and none other knight will she;
Yet well might she crown his service who served her for love alone!
And that I am so long her captive, methinks may she well bemoan.
If my joy thou to life wouldst quicken, then give me thine aid, I pray,
And teach her herself to honour in such wise that her love repay 850
In a measure the ill thou didst me, and that which thro' thee I lost,
When the goal of my joy fled from me and my pathway by thee was crossed,
But for thee, I, methinks, had reached it, and if thou art foeman true
Thou wilt help me with this fair maiden, and my gladness shall wax anew!'
'Right gladly will I,' quoth the Waleis, 'if so be she will grant my prayer,855
For fain would I bring thee comfort, since mine is that maiden fair
For whose sake thou sore didst sorrow, my wife and my queen is she,
Kondwiramur, the fairest of all women on earth that be!'
Then the heathen Queen of Ianfus, King Arthur, and Guinevere,
[Pg 186] Kunnewaaré of Lalande, and Jeschuté of Karnant, who these words must hear,860
Came near with sweet words of comfort—what would ye they should do more?
Kunnewaaré they gave to Klamidé, who yearned for her love so sore,
And he gave her, as her rewarding, himself, his body fair,
And a queenly crown and golden henceforth on her head she bare!
Quoth the heathen unto the Waleis, 'Kondrie a man hath named, 865
Whom thou as in truth thy brother, rejoicing, might well have claimed;
For far and wide he ruleth in the power of a double crown,
And alike by land and water men in fear to his hand bow down.
And Assagog is one kingdom, Zassamank shall the other be,
Two mighty lands and powerful from fear and from weakness free. 870
And naught shall be like his riches save those the Baruch doth own,
Or those of far Tribalibot, he is worshipped as God alone!
A marvel his skin to look on, and like unto none his face,
For 'tis black, and 'tis white, as his parents, who sprang of a diverse race.
Thro' one of his lands I journeyed as hither I took my way, 875
And full fain had he been my wanderings in a far-off land to stay.
Yet but little his will prevailèd, tho' I am his near of kin,
The cousin unto his mother, and he is a mighty king!
Yet hear thou more of his prowess; his saddle no man may keep
Who rideth a joust against him, and fame doth he richly reap. 880
And no gentler knight or truer e'er lay on a mother's breast,
And falsehood it fleeth from him, and truth in his heart doth rest.
Yea, true and fair in his dealings is Feirefis Angevin,
And women he serveth duly, tho' he pain thro' his service win!'
'Tho' all men to me were strangers, yet hither I came to know 885
What ventures of gallant knighthood a Christian land might show;
And of all Heaven's gifts the highest, I ween, shall thy portion be,
And Christendom winneth honour thro' the praise it doth give to thee.
And thine is a noble bearing, and fair is thy form and face,
And in thee beauty mates with manhood, and strength doth thy youth embrace!'890
(Both rich and wise was the heathen, and of wisdom she token gave,
In the French tongue her speech was holden.) Then out spake the hero brave,
[Pg 187] And he quoth, 'God reward thee, Lady, who thinkest to comfort me,
Yet sorrow it fast doth bind me, and the cause would I tell to thee,
For the shame that has here befallen think not I shall lightly bear,895
And here many sin against me, who give to my plaint no ear,
The while I must list their mocking!—No joy shall my portion be
Or long or short be my wanderings, till the Grail once again I see!
For my soul's unrest constrains me, and it driveth me on my way,
Nor so long as my life endureth shall my feet from their wanderings stay!'900
'If a courteous and knightly bearing but bringeth rewarding still
In shame, and in this world's mocking, then methinks I was counselled ill!
For 'twas Gurnemanz who bade me of questions rash beware,
And from words and ways unfitting a courteous knight forbear.
Here standeth full many a hero, I pray ye give counsel true, 905
By your courtesy and knighthood, that your grace I may win anew.
Here hath judgment been passed upon me with bitter words and strong—
Who withholdeth from me his favour, I deem not he doth me wrong;
If perchance, in the days hereafter, fame and honour my lot shall be
Then according to those my dealings, I pray ye to deal with me; 910
But now must I haste far from ye—An oath have ye sworn me here
While I stood in the strength of mine honour; of that oath do I hold ye clear
Till the day I have won me payment for my fresh joy waxed wan and pale;
And my heart shall be home of sorrow, nor tears to mine eyes shall fail,
For the day that at far Monsalväsch my labour I left undone, 915
And myself from all joy I severed, and woe for my guerdon won.
Ah God! they were fair, those maidens! and ne'er was there wonder tale
That men told, but as naught its marvels to those of the wondrous Grail!
Yet torment so sore, and sighing, are the lot of Its king, alas!
Small good hath my coming done thee, thou hapless Anfortas!' 920
Nor longer the knight might linger, but part they must alway,
So turned he unto King Arthur, and leave he fain would pray
Of him, his knights, and ladies, with their favour would he depart,
And none, I ween, but sorrowed that he rode hence sad at heart.
Hand in hand King Arthur sware him, if henceforth his land should bear925
Such woe as Klamidé brought him, then the shame he with him would share,
[Pg 188] And he spake that full sore it grieved him that crowns and kingdoms twain,
With the riches that were their portion, Lähelein from the knight had ta'en.
And service both true and faithful many sware unto him that day,
Ere yet from the court of King Arthur, sorrow-driven, he passed away.930
Then the fair maid Kunnewaaré, she took the hero bold,
And hence by the hand she led him, and in this wise the tale is told,
Sir Gawain he turned and kissed him, and he spake out in manly wise
To the hero strong and gallant: 'Now thou ridest in warlike guise,
And thy feet shall be swift to battle—God guide thee upon thy way,935
And give me such strength to serve thee as my heart shall be fain alway.'
But Parzival cried, 'Woe is me! Who is He, this mighty God?
Had He power, then methinks our portion had ne'er been this shame abhorred!
Small power shall be His! I served Him from the day I first knew His grace,
Henceforth I renounce His service; doth He hate me, His hate I'll face!940
And, friend, in thine hour of peril, as thy shield may a wife's love stand,
Dost thou know her for pure and holy, then the thought of her guide thine hand,
And her love from all evil guard thee,—as I wish, may it be to thee,
For little I wot of the future, if thy face I again may see!'
And their parting it brought them sorrow, for comrades in ill were they.945
With the maiden Kunnewaaré, to her tent must he take his way.
And she bade them bring his harness; with her hands so soft and white,
She bound the armour on him who had served her as faithful knight.
And she spake, ''Tis my right to do this, since it is thro' thy deed alone
That Brandigan's gallant monarch now claimeth me as his own. 950
For otherwise thy valour but bringeth me grief and pain,
Art thou not against sorrow armèd, then thy loss shall outweigh my gain!'
For battle decked was his charger, and his sorrow must wake to life,
And fair was the knight to look on; and the harness he bare for strife
Knew never a flaw, but was costly, and as sunshine 'twas white and fair,955
And radiant with gold and jewels the corslet and coat he ware,
But the helmet alone was lacking—ere he bound it upon his head,
In the self-same hour he kissed her, Kunnewaaré, the gracious maid.
And this of the twain was told me, that the parting was sore to see
[Pg 189] 'Twixt those two who loved each other in all honour and loyalty. 960
So hence let him ride, our hero, and what ventures a man may tell
He shall measure them not with the ventures that to Gamuret's son befell.
Yet hear ye awhile of his doings, where he journeyed and whence would ride—
He who loveth not deeds of knighthood, if counsel he take of pride
For awhile will forget his doings—On thee, Kondwiramur, 965
On thy fair face and lovely body, thy lover thought evermore.
What ventures he dared in thy service as knightly the Grail he sought!
Nor tarried he in the seeking but onward his way he fought,
The child of fair Herzeleide, and knew not that he was heir
To the glories that he rode seeking, to the Grail and Its palace fair!970
Then forth went full many a vassal on a toilsome and weary way,
To gaze on the wondrous castle where in magic fetters lay
Four hundred gracious maidens, and four queens, right fair to see.
Château Merveil was the castle; and no hate shall they earn from me,
I grudge them naught they may win there! No woman rewardeth me, 975
For she to whom I do service, from payment hath set me free!
Then out spake the Greek, Sir Klias, 'Yea, there was I overthrown!'
(And thus in the ears of all men did he frankly the truth make known)
'For the Turkowit he thrust me from my charger unto my shame;
And four queens who there lie captive the knight unto me did name; 980
And old are the twain, and the others as yet they shall children be,
And the first maid is called Itonjè, and the second shall be Kondrie,
And the third she is named Arnivè, and Sangivè the fourth is hight!'
Then fain to behold the wonders of that castle was many a knight,
Yet their journey brought little profit, for sorrow o'ertook them there.985
Yet I mourn not o'ermuch for their sorrow; for he who would labour bear,
And strife, for the sake of a woman, for guerdon shall gladness know,
Tho' grief shall be mixed with his gladness, and his joy shall be crossed with woe.
And I know not the which shall be stronger, or if sorrow shall joy outweigh,
But so runneth the world for ever, where Frau Minne she holdeth sway!990
Now Gawain he must make him ready, and he girded his armour on,
[Pg 190] For the strife that afar should wait him, in the kingdom of Askalon.
And sad was many a Breton, and ladies and maidens fair
Of a true heart did they bemoan them that Gawain must to conflict fare.
And orphaned and reft of glory henceforth was the Table Round. 995
Then Sir Gawain he well bethought him, since victor he would be found,
And he bade the merchants bring him good shields both hard and light,
And little he recked their colour so they served his need in fight.
On laden mules they brought them, and methinks that they sold them dear;
And three did he take as his portion—and the hero he chose him here1000
Seven chargers well fit for battle, and he chose him as friends so good
Twelve spears of sharp steel of Angram, and the hilts were of hollow wood.
They were reeds grown in heathen marshlands, Oraste Gentesein their name.
Then Gawain he prayed leave, and rode forth, dauntless, to seek him fame,
And with royal hand, for his journey, King Arthur he gave the knight1005
Red gold, and rich store of silver, and jewels gleaming bright,
And heavy the weight of his treasure—Then the hero rode swift away,
And I ween 'twas towards sore peril that his pathway must lead that day.
Then she sailed to her distant kingdom, the young Queen Ekuba,
I speak of the heathen princess; and they scattered to lands afar 1010
The folk who awhile abode there, on the fair plain of Plimizöl;
And King Arthur and all his courtiers they gat them to Karidöl.
Yet first they prayed leave, Klamidé and Kunnewaaré of fair Lalande,
And Duke Orilus and his lady, Jeschuté of Karnant.
Yet till the third day with Klamidé in the plain did the twain abide,1015
And the marriage-feast was holden ere yet from the place they ride.
Yet small was the pomp; in his kingdom, I ween, should it greater be.
And free was his hand and knightly, and he dealt right courteously,
For many a knight at his bidding henceforth must his man remain,
And many a wandering minstrel did he gather within his train, 1020
And he led them into his kingdom, and in honour, rich gifts, and land
He gave unto them, nor churlish would any refuse his hand.
Now Duke Orilus and Jeschuté, to Brandigan the twain would fare
For the love that unto Klamidé and Kunnewaaré they bare.
For they thought them that fitting honour to their sister they scarce had done1025
Till as queen they had seen her crownèd, and set on the royal throne.
Now I know well if wise the woman, and true of heart she be,
[Pg 191] Who seeth this story written, of a sooth will she own to me
That better I speak of women than I spake of one erewhile;
For true was fair Belakané, and free from all thought of guile, 1030
For dead was her love, yet lifeless he still o'er her heart did reign.
And a dream filled fair Herzeleide with torment of fear and pain.
And Queen Guinevere bewailed her full sorely for Ither's death,
(And little I grudge her mourning, for no truer knight e'er drew breath).
And I wot when King Lac's fair daughter rode forth such a shameful ride1035
Then sorely I mourned the sorrow that, guiltless, she must abide.
Sore smitten was Kunnewaaré, and torn was her golden hair;
Now the twain they are well avengèd, and glory for shame they bear!
And he who doth tell this story, he weaveth his ventures fair,
And he knoweth right well to rhyme them, in lines that break and pair.1040
And fain were I more to tell ye, an she give to my words good heed
Who treadeth with feet far smaller than the feet that shall spur my steed!

[Pg 192]
[Pg 193]


[Pg 194]


The poet will now for a while recount the adventures of Gawain; whom many have held to be as valiant a knight as Parzival.

Book VII. tells how Gawain fell in with the army of King Meljanz of Lys, who would fain avenge himself on Duke Lippaut, whose daughter had scorned his love. How Gawain came to the beleaguered city of Beaurosch; how Obie scorned him; and how Obilot besought him to be her knight. How the heroes fought before the walls of Beaurosch, and of the valiant deeds of Gawain and the Red Knight. How Gawain took Meljanz of Lys captive; how Obilot made peace betwixt Obie and Meljanz, and how Gawain rode forth from Beaurosch.

[Pg 195]



Awhile shall this venture follow the knight, who to fly was fain
From shame, nor with guile had dealings, that hero bold, Gawain.
For many a one hath held him for as brave, yea, for braver knight
Than Parzival, who the hero of this wonder-tale is hight.
Yet he who his friend would ever with his words to the heavens upraise5
Is slow to speak well of another, or to yield him his meed of praise;
But him shall the people follow whose praises with truth are wrought,
Else whatever he speak, or hath spoken, shall ne'er under roof be brought.
Who shall shelter the word of wisdom if wise men their aid withhold?
But a song that is woven of falsehood is best left in the outer cold,10
Homeless, upon the snowdrift, that the mouth may wax chill and sore
That hath spread for truth the story—such rewarding hath God in store
As all true folk must wish him whose guerdon in toil is told—
Who is swift to such deeds, I wot me, but blame for reward shall hold,
And if good men and true shall praise him, then folly doth rule their mind;15
He will flee such who true shame knoweth, and in knighthood his rule would find.
And true of heart was Sir Gawain, for courage as sentinel
Had guarded his fame, nor shadow of cowardice across it fell.
But his heart in the field of battle was strong as a mighty tower,
Steadfast in sharpest conflict, yet foremost in danger's hour. 20
And friend and foe bare witness to the fame of his battle-cry;
Fain was Kingrimursel to rob him of his glory thus waxen high—
Now far from the court of King Arthur for many a weary day,
I know not their tale to tell ye, did the valiant Gawain stray;
So rode he, the gallant hero, from out of a woodland shade, 25
[Pg 196] And his folk they were close behind him as he wended adown the glade,
And there on a hill before him he was 'ware of a goodly sight
That would teach him fear, yet fresh courage it brought to the gallant knight.
For the hero he saw full clearly how a host on their way would fare
With pomp of warlike pageant, and banners borne high in air. 30
Then he thought, 'I too far have journeyed this host in the wood to wait'—
And he bade them prepare the charger that was Orilus' gift of late,
And red were its ears, and Gringuljet, I think me, they called its name,
Without a prayer he won it—The steed from Monsalväsch came,
Lähelein, in a joust he took it, when lifeless its rider fell 35
By the Lake of Brimbane—Hereafter Trevrezent would the story tell.
Thought Gawain, 'He who cowardly flieth ere the foe on his track shall be
Flieth all too soon for his honour—this host would I nearer see
Whatever may then befall me; they have seen me ere this I trow,
And, for aught that may chance unto me, wit shall counsel me well enow.'40
Then down he sprang from his charger as one who his goal hath found.
Countless I ween the army that in troops was toward him bound,
And he saw many robes fair fashioned, and shields with their blazon bright,
But he knew them not, nor the banners that danced on the breezes light.
'Strange shall I be to this army,' quoth Gawain, 'strange are they to me,45
If they count this to me for evil then a joust shall they surely see,
And a spear will I break with these heroes ere yet on my way I ride!'
Gringuljet too was ready when his master would strife abide,
In many an hour of peril he the hero to joust had borne,
As Gawain had well bethought him when the steed he would ride that morn.50
There Gawain saw many a helmet, costly and decked full fair,
And new spears white, unsplintered, in sheaves to their goal they bare;
To the pages hands were given those blazoned with colours clear,
And the badge might ye read on the pennons that floated from every spear.
And the son of King Lot, Sir Gawain, he saw there a crowded throng, 55
There were mules with harness laden; heavy wagons with horses strong,
And they hasted them, fain for shelter; and behind them a wondrous store
Of goods, borne by travelling merchants as was ever the way of yore.
And women were there in plenty, and of knightly girdle bright
[Pg 197] The twelfth might some wear, the payment and pledge of love holden light.60
Not queens were they hight, I think me, Vivandierès was their name—
And young and old behind them a rabble onward came,
And they ran till their limbs were weary; and a rope had fit guerdon been
For many who swelled this army, and dishonoured true folk I ween!
So they rode, and they ran, that army, and Gawain stood beside the way,65
So it chanced they who saw the hero deemed him part of their host that day.
And never this side of the water, or in lands that beyond it lie,
So gallant a host had journeyed, great their strength and their courage high.
And close on their track there followed, spurring his steed amain,
A squire of noble bearing, with a led horse beside his rein; 70
And a fair new shield he carried, and ever his spurs he plied,
Nor thought to spare his charger, but swift to the strife would ride,
And his raiment was fairly fashioned—Then Gawain his pathway crossed,
And, greeting, he asked him tidings, who was lord of this goodly host?
Quoth the squire, 'Sir Knight thou mockest, were I lacking in courtesy,75
And have chastisement earned, then I pray thee that my penance shall other be
That shall wound not so sore mine honour—For God's sake lay thine hate aside,
Methinks thou right well shalt know them, these knights that before us ride,
Why askest thou me? Of a surety to each other shall ye be known
As well, nay, a thousand times better, than I unto thee had shown!' 80
Then many an oath he sware him, he knew not the race or name
Of the folk who went there before him, 'My journey hath won but shame,
Since in truth must I make confession that never before to-day
Mine eyes have beheld these heroes, tho' mine aid men right oft would pray!
Then the squire he quoth unto Gawain, 'Sir Knight, mine the wrong hath been,85
Thy question I should have answered, here my wisdom hath failed I ween!
Now pass judgment on me, I pray thee, of thy friendly heart and true,
Hereafter I'll gladly tell thee, first must I my folly rue.'
'Then, lad, by thy words of repentance, sure token of courtesy,
The name of this gallant army I prithee to tell to me!' 90
[Pg 198]
'Sir Knight, he who rides before us, and no man his way doth bar,
Is King Poidikonjonz; and beside him Duke Astor he rides to war,
Of Lanveronz is he ruler—and there rideth beside the twain
One whose roughness and ways discourteous Love's payment have sought in vain.
He beareth the brand unknightly, Meljakanz that prince is hight, 95
He wooeth nor wife nor maiden, but their love will he take with might,
And, methinks, men for that should slay him—Poidikonjonz' son is he,
And here will he fight with his army, and he fighteth right valiantly,
And dauntless his heart; but such manhood it profiteth naught, I trow—
An ye threaten, perchance, her sucklings, she fighteth, the mother sow!100
And never a voice shall praise him whose strength lacketh knighthood fair,
And methinks to the truth of my speaking many men will their witness bear.'
'Now hearken to greater marvels, and mark thou the words I say,
One with a mighty army doth follow upon our way
Whom folly doth drive to battle—The young King Meljanz of Lys, 105
Scorned love wrought in him fierce anger, and pride vexed him needlessly,'
And courteous he spake to Sir Gawain. 'What I saw, I Sir Knight will say:
The sire of the young King Meljanz, as he on his death-bed lay,
He bade them draw near unto him, the princes from out his land,
For his gallant life lay forfeit, a pledge in stern Death's cold hand,110
And to Death he needs must yield him—In grief o'er his coming end
To the faith of the princes round him his son would the king commend,
And he chose out one from among them, the chief of his vassals true,
And his faith was proved and steadfast, and from false ways afar he flew.
And he gave the lad to his keeping, and he quoth, 'Now, with hand and heart,115
True service henceforward show him, bid him aye act a kingly part
To vassal alike and stranger; bid him list to the poor man's prayer,
And freely give of his substance.' Thus he left him unto his care.'
'And Prince Lippaut did as his monarch, dying, of him did pray,
Nor failed in aught, but true service he did to his lord alway. 120
And he took the lad to his castle, and the prince had two children fair,
He loved them well, and I think me, e'en to-day they his love shall share.
One maiden in naught was lacking, save in age, that a knight might crave
Her love for his love's rewarding; Obie was the name they gave
[Pg 199] To this maid; Obilot, her sister; and the elder maid, I ween, 125
Hath wrought ill, for she, and none other, the cause of this strife hath been.'
'It so fell that one day the young king for his service reward would pray,
'Twas an ill thought, she quoth, and she asked him why his wits he had cast away?
And she spake unto him, 'I think me, e'en if thou so old shouldst be,
That 'neath shield thou the hours hadst counted that in worthy strife might flee;130
With helmet on head hadst mingled in knightly venture bold,
Till the tale of thy days, if reckoned, full five years more had told;
If there thou hadst won thee honour, and hither hadst come again,
And bowed thyself to my bidding, if a yea I to speak were fain
To that which thou now desirest, all too soon should I grant thy prayer—135
Thou art dear, I will ne'er deny it, as Galoes to Annora fair;
For death did she seek, and I think me that her seeking was not in vain,
When she lost him, her well belovèd, and her knight in a joust was slain.'
'Now sore doth it grieve me, Lady, that love worketh so in thee,
That thine anger with words of scorning thus venteth itself on me. 140
For true service,' quoth he, 'winneth favour, an love thus be well approved;
O'er-weening thy pride thus to taunt me that madness my speech had moved!
Small wisdom in this thou showest, 'twere better thou hadst bethought,
How thy father is but my vassal, and save of my grace hath naught!'
'For that which he holds can he serve thee,' she spake, 'higher is my aim,145
For fief will I hold of no man, none shall me as vassal claim!
And so high do I prize my freedom that no crown it shall be too high,
That an earthly head e'er weareth!' Then he spake out wrathfully,
'Methinks thou hast been well tutored, that thy pride shall have waxed so great,
An thy father such counsel gave thee, then penance on wrong shall wait—150
'Tis meet that for this I arm me, some wounded shall be, some slain,
An they call it or war, or Tourney, many spears shall they break in twain!'
'Thus in anger he left the maiden, and all did his wrath bemoan,
Yea, full sore it grieved the lady—Her father must well atone,
Tho' he sware as his lord reproached him, guiltless of wrong was he,155
(Or straight were his ways or crooked, his peers should his judges be,
[Pg 200] All the princes in court assembled)—that he to this strait was brought
Thro' no sin of his own—And eager the prince from his lord besought
His favour and love as of old time, but in vain he for peace might pray,
For anger it ruled the monarch, and his gladness was reft away.' 160
'Tho' hasty the prince they counselled a prisoner to make his lord,
His host had he been, and such treason of a true knight were aye abhorred.
Farewell, the king ne'er bade him, but he rode forth in wrath and pride,
And his pages, the sons of princes, aloud in their sorrow cried.
Long time with the king they dwelt there, and goodwill they to Lippaut bare,165
For in truth did he aye entreat them, nor failed them in knighthood fair.
'Tis my master alone who is wrathful, tho' he, too, Lippaut's care might claim,
A Frenchman, the lord of Beauvais, Lisavander they call his name.
And the one alike and the other, ere a knight's shield they thought to bear,
Must renounce the prince's service, and war against Lippaut swear; 170
And some shall be prince's children, and some not so highly born,
Whom the king to the ranks of knighthood hath lifted, I ween, this morn.'
'And one who in strife is skilful and bold doth the vanguard lead,
Poidikonjonz of Gros, and with him hath he many an armed steed.
And Meljanz is son to his brother; and haughty of heart the twain, 175
The young as the old, I think me discourtesy here doth reign!'
'Thus these two kings, moved by anger, will forth unto Beaurosch ride,
Where with toil he would win the favour that the maid to his love denied.
And there with thrust and onslaught shall be broken many a spear;
Yet so well is Beaurosch guarded that, tho' twenty hosts were here,180
Each one than our army greater, it ne'er to our force would yield!
The rear-guard knoweth naught of my journey, from the others I stole this shield,
Lest perchance my lord should find here a joust, and with onslaught fierce
And clash of the meeting chargers the spear thro' his shield might pierce.'
Then the squire he looked behind him, and his lord on his track did ride,185
Three steeds and twelve spears unsplintered sped onward his rein beside.
And I ween that his haste betrayed him, he would fain in the foremost flight
The first joust for his own have challenged, so read I the tale aright.
[Pg 201]
Then the squire he spake unto Gawain, 'Thy leave I, Sir Knight, would pray,'
And he turned him again to his master—What should Gawain do alway 190
Save see how this venture ended? Yet awhile he doubted sore,
And he thought, 'If I look on conflict, and fight not as aye of yore,
Then methinks shall my fame be tarnished; and yet if I here delay,
E'en tho' it may be for battle, then in sooth is it reft away,
My meed of worldly honour—To fight not, methinks, were best, 195
First must I fulfil my challenge.' But afresh doubt vexed his breast,
For he deemed that his warlike errand but little might brook delay,
Yet how could he take his journey thro' this army that barred his way?
And he quoth, 'Now God give me counsel, and strengthen my manhood's might,'
And on to the town of Beaurosch rode Gawain as gallant knight. 200
So before him lay Burg and city; fairer dwelling no man might know;
Already it shone before him with its turrets in goodly row,
The crown of all other castles—Before it the army lay
On the plain 'neath the walls of the city; thro' the lines must he take his way,
And right well he marked, Sir Gawain, many tents in a goodly ring, 205
And strange banners waved beside them, which strange folk to the fight would bring;
And doubt in his heart found dwelling, by eagerness cleft in twain—
Then straight thro' the host encamped there rode the gallant knight Gawain.
One tent-rope it touched the other, tho' the camp it was long and wide,
And he saw how they lay, and he noted the task which each one there plied.210
Quoth they, 'Soit bien venu' then 'Gramercy' the knight for an answer gave—
And troops from Semblidag lay there, hired soldiers both strong and brave;
And closely they camped beside them, the archers from Kahetei—
And strangers are oft unfriendly; As King Lot's son he passed them by
No man of them all bade him tarry, so he rode o'er the grassy plain,215
And toward the beleaguered city Sir Gawain he turned his rein.
Then he thought,'Must I e'en as a smuggler, in hiding-place bestow
My goods, then the town is safer, methinks, than the plain below,
Nor on gain shall my thoughts be turnèd, for this be my care alone,
An Fate will so far befriend me, to guard that which is mine own!' 220
To the city gate he rode thus, and he found that which worked him woe,
[Pg 202] None too costly the Burgers deemed it, but their portals against the foe
Had they walled up; well armed the watch-towers, and he saw on each rampart high
Archers, with cross-bow bended that their bolts 'gainst the foe might fly.
For defence and defiance ready on the battlements they stood. 225
Up the hillside toward the castle he turned him, that hero good.
Tho' little he knew the pathway to the Burg came the gallant knight,
And straightway his eyes beheld them, full many a lady bright,
For the prince's wife had come there, from the hall abroad to gaze,
And daughters twain stood by her, bright as the sunlight's rays. 230
Then they spake in such wise as Gawain right well their words might hear—
'Now, who is this,' quoth the mother, 'who doth to our aid draw near?
Where goes he with pack-horse laden?' Spake the elder daughter fair,
'Nay, mother, 'tis but a merchant!' 'Yet he many a shield doth bear.'
'Such shall oft be the wont of merchants!' Then the younger sister spake,235
'Thou sayest the thing that is not, and shame to thyself shouldst take,
For surely he is no merchant! My knight shall he be straightway,
If his service here craveth guerdon, such debt I were fain to pay!'
Now the squires they saw how a linden and olive-trees stood fair
Beneath the walls, and they thought them how a welcome shade were there.240
What would ye more? Then King Lot's son he straight to the ground did spring
Where the shade was best, and his servants, they swift to their lord would bring
A cushion fair and a mattress, and the proud knight he sat thereon;
From on high gazed a crowd of ladies—Then, as he his rest had won,
They lift adown from the pack-steeds the chests, and the harness bright,245
And beneath the trees they laid them who rode here with the gallant knight.
Spake the elder duchess, 'Daughter, what merchant think thou would fare
In such royal guise? Thou wrongest his rank who now sitteth there!'
Then out quoth the younger sister, 'Discourteous she aye shall be,
With pride and scorn did she treat him, our king, Meljanz of Lys, 250
[Pg 203] When her love he besought—unseemly such words and ways I trow!'
Then spake Obie, for anger moved her, 'I see naught in that man below!
There sitteth, methinks, a merchant, and he driveth a goodly trade;
He would that they well were guarded, the chests that his steeds do lade,
And like to a brooding dragon, O foolish sister mine, 255
O'er his treasure-chest he watcheth, this gallant knight of thine!'
And each word that they spake, the maidens, fell clear on Gawain's ear—
Leave we their speech, of the city and its peril ye now must hear.
A water that ships had sailed on 'neath a bridge of stone flowed past,
And the land here was clear of foemen, nor its flood held their armies fast.260
A marshal came swiftly riding 'fore the bridge on the plain so wide,
And a goodly camp had he marked out ere his lord to the field should ride.
And he came e'en as they were ready, and with him came many more—
I will tell ye their names who, for truth's sake, and the love they to Lippaut bore,
Here rode to his aid—His brother, men called him Duke Marangliess,265
And two swift knights came with him from the land of Brevigariez;
King Schirniel, the gallant monarch who ware crown in Lirivoin,
And with him there rode his brother, the monarch of Avendroin.
Now when the Burgers saw well that help drew anigh their wall
They deemed that an evil counsel which aforetime seemed good to all—270
Then out spake their lord, Duke Lippaut, 'Alas! for the woeful hour
That Beaurosch must seal its portals against the foeman's power!
Yet if I against my master in open field had fought,
Then mine honour, methinks, were smitten, and my courtesy brought to naught.
His grace would beseem me better, and gladden me more, I ween, 275
Than the hatred which now he showeth, of such hate have I guiltless been.
A joust that his hand had smitten but little would grace my shield.
Or if his of the sword bare token that I 'gainst my king would wield.
Methinketh, tho' wise the woman, she were shamed an she praised such deed—
Yea, say that my king were captive in my tower, I my lord had freed,280
And myself had become his prisoner—what had pleased him best to do
Of evil, I'ld gladly bear it, as befitted a vassal true,
[Pg 204] And I thank my God of a true heart that I here, a free man, stand,
Tho' spurred by love and anger my king doth invade my land!'
Then he quoth again to the Burgers, 'Now may wisdom with ye be found285
To counsel me in the perils that compass my path around.'
Then many a wise man answered, 'Thou hast wrought in no wise amiss,
Might innocence win its guerdon, then thou never hadst come to this.'
Then all with one voice they counselled that the gates be opened wide,
And that he should bid their bravest forthwith unto jousting ride. 290
And they quoth, 'So to fight were better than thus our ramparts high
To defend 'gainst our king, and the armies twofold that around us lie,
For the most part they are but children who ride with their king to-day,
And 'twere easy to take a hostage, so wrath oft is turned away.
And the king he shall be so minded, that if here knightly deeds be done,295
He shall free us perchance from our peril, and the ending of wrath be won.
Far better in field to seek them than forth from our walls be brought
As their captives—Nay, e'en to their tent-ropes, methinks, we with ease had fought
Were it not for the King Poidikonjonz, 'neath his banner the bravest fight;
And there is our greatest peril, the captive Breton knights, 300
Duke Astor it is who leads them, and foremost in strife are they;
And the king's son is there, Meljakanz; higher his fame to-day
Had Gurnemanz been his teacher! Yet never he feareth fight;
But help have we found against them,'—Now their rede have ye heard aright.
Then the prince he did as they counselled, the portals he open brake,305
And the Burgers who ne'er lacked courage their way to the field would take.
Here one jousted, and there another; and the armies they made their way
With high courage towards the city, right good was their vesper-play.
On both sides the troops were countless; manifold was their battle-cry,
And Scotch and Welsh might ye hearken, for in sooth here I tell no lie.310
And stern were their deeds of knighthood as fitting so stern a fight,
And bravely those heroes battled, till weary each gallant knight.
And they were little more than children who with the king's army came,
And they took them as pledge in a corn-field, who thought there to win them fame,
[Pg 205] And he who had ne'er won token of love from a lady fair, 315
Might never more costly raiment on his youthful body bear;
Of Meljanz the venture telleth that in harness bright he rode,
On high flamed his youthful courage—A charger the king bestrode
That Meljakanz won when in jousting his foe from his steed he swung,
'Twas Kay, and so high he smote him that aloft from a bough he hung;320
There Meljakanz won the charger that Meljanz would ride that day,
And foremost of all the heroes he strove in the knightly fray.
And Obie beheld his jousting, and watched him with eager eye,
As she stood there among her maidens, and gazed from the palace high.
So quoth she unto her sister, 'See, sister mine, thy knight 325
And mine, unlike do they bear them, for thine hath no will to fight,
He thinketh for sure this city and castle we needs must lose.
An here we would seek defenders, other champion we needs must choose!'
And the younger must bear her mocking—then she spake, 'Yet I trust my knight,
He hath time yet to show his courage, and thy mockery put to flight.330
For here shall he do me service, and his gladness shall be my care,
An thou holdest him for a merchant, with me shall he trade full fair!'
As with words they strove, the maidens, he hearkened, the Knight Gawain,
Yet he made as tho' he heard not as he sat on the grassy plain.
And if knightly soul should hearken, nor feel in the hearing shame,335
'Twould but be that death had freed him from burden of praise or blame.
Now still lay the mighty army that Poidikonjonz had led,
Save one gallant youth with his vassals, who swift to the combat sped,
And Lanveronz was his dukedom—Here came Poidikonjonz the king,
And the old man wise one and other again to the camp would bring, 340
For the vesper-play was ended—In sooth had they fought right well,
And for love of many a maiden full many a deed befell.
Then out spake the King Poidikonjonz to Lanveronz' gallant knight,
''Twere fitting to wait for thy leader, an thou lusted for fame to fight.
Dost think thou hast borne thee bravely? See the brave Knight Lahduman,345
And here is my son Meljakanz,—Came these two in the van,
And I myself, then, I think me, that a fair fight thou sure shouldst see
Wert thou learnèd enow in combat to know what a fight should be!
I come not again from this city till of strife we have had our fill,
[Pg 206] Or man and woman yield them as prisoners to my will!' 350
Quoth Duke Astor, 'The king, thy nephew, O sire fought before the gate
With his army of Lys—Should thine army here slumber o'er-long and late
The while these others battled? Say when didst thou teach such lore?
Must I slumber while others battle then I'll slumber as ne'er of yore!
Yet believe me, had I not been there then the Burgers had won them fame,355
And a fair prize their hand had taken—I have guarded thee here from shame;
In God's Name be no longer wrathful! Such valour thy folk have shown,
They won more than they lost,—I think me fair Obie the same will own!'
Yet Poidikonjonz was wrathful with his nephew, Meljanz the king,
Tho' of many a joust the token the young knight from the field must bring,360
And youthful fame ne'er mourneth such pledge of strife, I ween—
Now hear ye again of the maiden who the cause of this strife had been.
Hate enow did she bear to Gawain who was guiltless of ill intent,
And shame would she bring upon him—A servant the maiden sent
Below, to Gawain as he sat there, 'Now ask thou, without delay, 365
If his steeds be for sale—In his coffers, perchance, he doth bear alway
Goodly raiment that we may purchase; say thou if it so shall be,
Then we ladies above in the castle will buy of him readily.'
So the serving man went, and his greeting was wrath, for Sir Gawain's eye
Taught fear to his heart, and in terror the lad from his face would fly,370
And he asked not, nor gave the message his lady had bid him bear.
Nor Gawain held his peace, 'Thou rascal, from hence shalt thou swiftly fare,
For many a blow will I give thee if again thou dost dare draw near!'
Then the lad hied him back to his lady; what she did shall ye straightway hear:
For she bade one speak to the Burg-grave, Scherules they called his name,375
Saying, 'This shall he do at my bidding for the sake of his manly fame;
'Neath the olive-trees by the Burg-moat stand seven steeds, I trow,
In them shall he find his guerdon, and riches beside enow.
A merchant will here deal falsely—I pray he prevent such deed.
I trust in his hand; none shall blame him, if the goods he doth hold for meed.'380
[Pg 207]
The squire went below as she bade him, and his lady's plaint he bare;
'From knavery must we guard us,' quoth Scherules, 'I forth will fare.'
So he rode where Gawain was seated whose courage might never fail,
And he found there all weakness lacking, high heart that for naught would quail,
And a face so fair to look on—Scherules he saw him well, 385
And his arms and hands so skilful that a knightly tale might tell.
And he spake, 'Thou art here a stranger, Sir Knight, sure good wit we need
Since here thou hast found no lodging; as sin shalt thou count such deed.
I will now myself be marshal, folk and goods, all I call mine own
That freely shall do thee service; nor host to his guest hath shown390
Such favour as I would show thee.' 'Thy favour,' quoth Knight Gawain,
'As yet shall be undeservèd, yet to follow thee am I fain.'
Then Scherules, of honour worthy, he spake of a true heart free,
'Since the office hath fallen to me, thy guardian 'gainst loss I'll be,
If the outer host would rob thee, thou shalt call to thine aid mine hand,'395
Then, smiling, he spake to the servants whom he saw round their master stand,
'Now load ye again your harness that never a piece shall fail,
For hence must we ride, and shelter shall ye find in the lower vale.'
With the Burg-grave he rode, Sir Gawain, nor Obie her wrong would own,
But she sent a minstrel maiden whom her father right well had known,400
And she bade her bear the tidings, a false coiner had passed that way,
'And goodly and rich is his lading; by his knighthood my father pray,
Since many a hireling serves him for steed, and garb, and gold,
That he here let them take their payment, 'twere enow, were they sevenfold.'
To the prince did she tell, the minstrel, all that his daughter said—405
Now to win so rich a booty that his hirelings may be well paid,
The need right well he knoweth who hath ridden forth to war,
And Lippaut, the prince so faithful, by his soldiers was pressed full sore—
Then he thought, 'I must win this treasure or by love or by force to-day.'
And swiftly he rode; but Scherules, he met him upon his way, 410
'Now whither dost ride so swiftly?' 'A knave would I here pursue,
A false coiner is he, I think me, if the tale I have heard be true!
Now guiltless in sooth was Gawain, 'twas but thro' his steeds and gold
[Pg 208] That suspicion on him had lighted—Then loud laughed the Burg-grave bold,
And he quoth, 'Nay, sire, they misled thee, they lied who thus told the tale415
Were it wife, or man, or maiden—Nor knighthood my guest shall fail,
Far otherwise shalt thou judge him, no die he methinks shall hold;
Ne'er bare he the purse of the changer, if the tale shall aright be told.
Look thou on his mien, and hearken his word, in my house is he,
An knighthood aright thou readest then thou knighthood in him shalt see,420
And ne'er was he bold in falsehood—Whoever hath done him wrong,
An my child it were, or my father; whose wrath waxeth fierce and strong,
An my kinsman it be, or my brother, then the rudder of strife shall turn
'Gainst myself, for I will defend him from the wrong that he ne'er did earn,
If I with thy will may do so. The knight's garb would I gladly change425
For the hermit's robe of sackcloth, and afar thro' the wide world range
In a land where none may know me, than here thou shouldst reap thee shame!
Methinks it would better fit thee to welcome such guests as came,
Who have heard the tale of thy sorrow, than to rob them of goods and gold;
'Twould better beseem my master as treason such deed to hold!' 430
The prince spake, 'I fain would see him.' 'Methinks 'twill not harm my guest.'
So he rode where he looked on Gawain, and two eyes and a heart confessed
(The eyes and the heart of Lippaut) that the stranger was fair to see,
And knighthood and manly virtue the mate to his mien should be.
Whosoe'er, by true love constrainèd, hath felt of true love the pain,435
Then his heart, as right well ye know it, doth forfeit to Love remain,
And so doth she change and rule it that no mouth can the wonder speak,
Be it heart of man or of maiden on which she her will would wreak,
And the wise doth she bend to folly. Now the twain they were lovers true,
King Meljanz and maiden Obie—His anger ye needs must rue, 440
Since in wrath he had ridden from her; of sorrow such load she bare
That her spirit was moved to anger unfitting a maiden fair.
And, guiltless, must Gawain suffer, and others must feel her pain;
She had womanly ways forsaken when she gave to her wrath the rein.
Whene'er she beheld the hero as a thorn was he to her sight, 445
[Pg 209] For her heart was fain that Meljanz be held for the bravest knight,
And she thought, 'Doth he bring me sorrow, then sorrow I'll gladly bear,
O'er all the world do I love him, my hero, so young and fair,
And my heart for his love aye yearneth.' Oft anger from love doth grow,
Nor blame ye o'er-much the maiden if her love she by wrath would show.450
Now list how he spake, her father, as he looked on the Knight Gawain
And bade him a kindly welcome—In this wise he spake again,
'Sir Knight, it may be that thy coming the dawn of our bliss hath been;
Thro' many a land have I journeyed, but no face have I ever seen
So fair to mine eyes as thy face. In this our day of grief 455
Thy coming shall bring us comfort, thro' thee may we find relief.'
Then he prayed him take part in the conflict—'If harness shall lack to thee
All thou needest will I prepare thee, so here thou wilt fight for me.'
Then out quoth the gallant Gawain, 'That would I of right goodwill,
I am strong, and well armed for battle, yet from strife must I hold me still,460
Nor fight till the hour appointed; or else would I gladly fare
As thou farest, the fate of battle with thee were I fain to share.
But now must I needs forego it, for 'tis fitting I first should fight
With the foeman to whom I pledged me on mine honour as faithful knight.
By the favour I claim from all true knights my fame must I there defend465
Or die on the field—To this conflict, Sir Knight, I my way would wend!'
Then a grief were his words to Lippaut, and he quoth, 'By thy knightly fame,
And thy courtesy, do thou hear me, for free shall I be from blame.
Two daughters have I, and I love them, and dear to my heart are they,
In the joy God in them hath given would I live to my dying day. 470
Yea, well is me for my children, tho' sorrow thro' them I win,
And the one of my two fair daughters methinks hath her share therein,
And unlike, tho' alike, we share it—for thro' Love doth my lord and king
Work sorrow to her, and thro' Hatred his forces 'gainst me would bring.
And thus do I read the riddle, my lord worketh ill to me, 475
Since a son I lack, but I wot well that my daughters shall dearer be.
What, then, if for them I suffer? Then my woe do I count for weal—
Who hath never an heir save his daughter, tho' the sword ne'er her grip may feel,
[Pg 210] Yet other defence may she bring him, she may win him a son and heir;
And such is my hope!'—Quoth Gawain, 'God grant thee this favour fair!'480
Then Lippaut he sorely pressed him, 'In God's name give thy pleading o'er,'
Spake the son of King Lot, 'I pray thee, of thy courtesy ask no more,
Nor let me betray mine honour—Yet this will I do, Sir Knight,
I will think the thing o'er, and my answer shalt thou have ere it draw to night.'
Then he thanked him, the prince, and he rode forth; in the courtyard he found alway485
His child with the Burg-grave's daughter; with rings did the maidens play.
'Now, daughter mine, whence camest thou?' thus to Obilot he spake,
'Father, I came from the castle, to the strange knight my way I'ld take,
I would pray him as knight to serve me, methinks he will hear my prayer,
And do for my sake such service as winneth rewarding fair!' 490
'Nay, I fear me, my little daughter, for he saith me nor yea, nor nay,
But plead thou as I have pleaded.' To the guest did she run straightway.
So came she to Gawain's chamber, he greeted her courteously,
At her fairy feet he sat him, and thanked her that, maidenly,
She spake for him to her sister; and he quoth, 'Now if ever a knight495
Had fought for so small a maiden, I were ready for thee to fight!'
Then the little maiden tender spake out so frank and free,
'Sir Knight, as God is witness, the first man thou aye shalt be
With whom I have held free converse; if in this my maiden shame
And my courtesy I wrong not, then joy as reward I claim! 500
For ever my mistress taught me how speech is the crown of thought,
And I pray thee, Sir Knight, to help us—Thro' sorrow thine aid I sought;
An thou wilt, all our need I'll tell thee, nor do thou be wroth with me,
For I do as befits a maiden, and my prayer to myself shall be.
For altho' our name be diverse, yet methinks that thou art I,505
Take thou my name, and maiden and knight art thou verily.
This grace from us both do I pray here, and if I from hence must go
Ashamed, and my prayer unanswered, then, Sir Knight, I would have thee know
That thy knightly fame must answer to thy knightly courtesy,
Since my maidenhood sought for shelter in vain in thy chivalry. 510
[Pg 211] But if thou indeed wilt hearken, and do me this thing I ask,
With a true heart true love I'll give thee as rewarding for knightly task.'
'And art thou true man and courteous, then surely thou'lt do my will,
For see, wilt thou serve a maiden, I am worthy thy service still.
'Tis true that my father kinsman and cousin for help hath prayed, 515
But for that shalt thou not refuse us, for my love shalt thou give thine aid!'
Then he quoth, 'Thy lips, sweet maiden, would bid me my word forswear,
Wouldst have me my pledge to forfeit? On my knightly honour fair
I pledged my word—An I fail me, 'twere better methinks to die.
Yet, e'en an I did thee service for thy love, still long years must fly590
Ere yet thou shalt be a woman, and my service might well approve.'
Then he thought how Parzival trusted less in God than in woman's love,
And the words he spake bare the message of the maid unto Gawain's heart;
And he vowed to the little lady to bear arms on her father's part,
And, laughing, he spake, 'My sword-blade thy little hand must guide,525
If my foeman a fair joust seeketh, then thou must against him ride;
And for me shalt thou strive in conflict, for tho' men think they see me fight
Yet thou in my stead shalt have battled,—so keep I my pledge aright.'
Then she spake, 'That will I, right gladly, thy shelter and shield I'll be,
Thine heart, and thine heart's best comfort, since from grief thou hast set me free.530
Thy friend will I be and comrade, and whatever chance betide,
A roof 'gainst misfortune's stormcloud, safe dwelling wherein to hide.
True peace this my love shall give thee, Good Fortune to thee I'll bring;
That-thy strength may by naught be vanquished, I'll guard thee 'gainst host and king.
Host am I alike and hostess—To combat I'll ride with thee, 535
An thou keepest my words in remembrance strength and bliss shall thy portion be.'
Then out quoth the gallant Gawain, 'Yea, maiden, the twain I'll share,
Since my life I vow to thy service, thy love and thy comfort fair.'
And the hand of the little maiden the while in his strong clasp lay—
Then she quoth, 'To fulfil mine office I must hence to the Burg away,540
[Pg 212] Wouldst thou fare forth without my aiding, and without my token fight?
Nay, for that all too dear I hold thee—My part will I play aright,
And my token I will prepare thee, and if thou my pledge shalt bear
Then I wot well that o'er all others thy glory shall blossom fair.'
Then they went forth, the little maidens, and Gawain, the stranger guest,545
They thanked with sweet words and kindly, and thus he his speech addrest,
'When older ye twain shall be waxen, were they spears, every woodland bough,
And the forest bare naught but spear-shafts, then too poor were the crop, I trow!
If your childhood shall thus be powerful, what then of your maidenhood?
For your favour brave knights shall shatter both strong shield and spear-shaft good!'550
Then forth sped the little maidens, and their hearts they were glad and gay;
And she spake, the Burg-grave's daughter, 'Lady, I prithee say
What wilt give to thy knight for a token, since naught but our dolls have we?
An mine were but somewhat fairer I would give it right willingly
Nor be wroth with thee for the taking, we should strive not o'er that I ween!'555
Then Lippaut the prince o'ertook them half-way on the hillside green,
And he saw Obilot and Clauditté, as up towards the Burg they sped,
And he bade them stand still, and await him, and his daughter towards him fled.
'Father, I never needed thy help as I do to-day,
Now give me I pray thy counsel, for the knight he hath said me yea.'560
'Whate'er be thy will, little daughter, an I may, I will give it thee,
For happy the day whose dawning brought thee, a fair gift to me,
Then Good Fortune smiled sweetly on me.' 'I will tell thee, my father dear,
But the thing that so sore doth vex me thou must it in secret hear,
So hearken, and do as I pray thee!' Then he bade them to lift the maid565
On his charger, 'But what of my playmate?' Many knights round their leader stayed,
And they strove which of them should take her, for each one well pleased would be,
Then one as his prize he claimed her, for Clauditté was fair to see.
Then riding, he spake, her father, 'Now Obilot tell to me
[Pg 213] How dost thou need my counsel? What is it that vexeth thee?' 570
'I have promised my knight a token, and my wits were I ween astray,
If nothing I find to give him then worthless my life to-day;
Since he vowed unto me his service then in sooth must I blush for shame,
If I give him naught—Never hero truer love from a maid might claim!'
Then he quoth, 'Trust to me, little daughter, and thy token I will prepare,575
If service from him thou winnest thou shalt give him his payment fair,
If thy mother she too be willing—God grant he may bring us aid,
That gallant knight and worthy; what trust I on him have laid!
Tho' never a word to the hero had I spoken before to-day,
Yet last night in a dream I saw him, as asleep on my couch I lay.' 580
Then Lippaut he sought the Duchess, and with him he led the maid,
And he quoth, 'Now lady, help us, for we twain sorely need thine aid;
And my heart would shout for gladness that God gave me this maiden fair,
And parted me from the sorrow that I all guiltless bare.'
Then out spake the Duchess, 'Tell me, what wilt thou of my grace?' 585
'Lady, since thou wilt hearken, this maid craves a better dress,
And she deems she of right may ask it, since a knight will her token bear,
And he asketh her love, and he offers to do for her service fair.'
Then out spake the maiden's mother, 'Ah, good and gallant knight!
Of the stranger I ween thou speakest, as May-tide his glance of light.'590
Then samite of Ethnisé the wise mistress she bade them bear
And rich stuffs as yet unsevered, and silk of Tabronit fair
From far Tribalibot's kingdom—Red the gold on Kaucasus' strand,
And fair is I ween the raiment which the heathen, with cunning hand,
Wrought from silk, with the gold inwoven—And Lippaut, the prince, he bade595
That therefrom for his little daughter fitting garments should straight be made.
Nor the best would he grudge to the maiden, and they shaped her a garment fair,
Of silk that with gold was heavy; but one white arm they left yet bare,
And a sleeve that the arm had covered from the vesture they cut away,
This should Gawain win for his token and badge in the coming fray. 600
So this was the gift that she gave him, a rich silk of Orient bright,
[Pg 214] That was brought from the land of the paynim, and had covered her arm so white.
But they sewed it not to the garment, nor wrought it at all with thread,
And Clauditté to Gawain bare it, when home from the Burg she sped.
And free from all care was the hero; and three were his shields so bright,605
And on one straightway he bound it, and glad was the gallant knight;
And fairest thanks he gave her, and oft would he praise the road
On which the maid had trodden when she sought him in his abode,
And so gently bade him welcome, and with sweet words and maiden wile
Had made him rich in gladness, and made joy on his path to smile. 610
Now the daylight had waned, and the night fell,—many valiant knights and good,
A mighty force, lay on each side,—the besiegers were e'en a flood.
Were they less, for the folk of the city their army enow should be.
And now by the light of the moonbeams they would fain to their outworks see;
Nor terror nor cowardice moved them, they were ready ere break of day,615
Twelve breast-works wide, and a deep moat before every earth-work lay.
Thus they shielded them well from onslaught, and to every earth-work wide
Were barbicans three, that the army might forth to the conflict ride.
And at four of the gates the Marshal, Kardefablet of Jamore,
With his army bravely battled, as men well at the dawning saw. 620
And the rich Duke fought full knightly; he was brother to Lippaut's wife,
And stronger in heart than others who yet bear them well in strife,
And for men of war are reckoned—In conflict he grief would bear—
With nightfall his host drew nearer, from far land would he hither fare,
For but seldom from stress of battle or conflict he turned aside, 625
And four of their gates he guarded right well in his warlike pride.
The force from beyond the river passed o'er it ere morning light,
And entered the walls of Beaurosch, as Lippaut should deem it right.
But they of Jamore had ridden o'er the bridge before the gate,
And every door was guarded, and warlike their foes they wait, 630
Ere ever the day had dawnèd—Scherules one door would ward,
Which he and the brave Knight Gawain would let not from out their guard.
And there had ye heard lamentation from the lips of many a knight,
[Pg 215] And the best they were who mourned thus, they had failed here to see the fight,
For the vesper-play was ended ere yet they a joust might share. 635
Yet needless their lamentation, for countless they proffered there
To all who had lust for battle, and to joust in the field would ride.
In the streets saw ye many a hoof-track, and there drew in on every side
Full many a tossing banner by the light of the moonbeam's ray.
And many a costly helmet would they wear in the joust that day, 640
And spears with bright colours blazoned—A Regensburg silk, I ween,
Had been held of little value 'fore Beaurosch on the meadow green.
For many a coat emblazoned had ye looked upon that day,
Whose goal had methinks been higher in the cost that its lord would pay.
And the night, as of old her custom, had yielded her place to day, 645
Nor by song of the lark might they know it, for they hearkened far other lay,
Whose voice was the voice of warfare with the crash of the splintered spear,
As a cloud that is cleft and riven when the thunderbolt falleth near.
And the King of Lys' young army sought the host of Lirivoin,
And there, with his warriors, battled the monarch of Avendroin; 650
And many a joust rang loudly, e'en as when one is wont to throw
Chestnuts within the furnace that burst in the fiery glow.
Ah, me! how they strove together that morn on the grassy plain,
How the knights spurred their steeds to jousting, and the Burgers they fought amain.
Now Gawain, and his host the Burg-grave, since it health to their souls might bring,655
And yield them a meed of blessing, bade a priest a Mass to sing;
And he sang unto God and the heroes—And the prize of their fame waxed fair,
For this was their pious bidding—Then they would to their post repair,
But their rampart ere this was guarded by many a gallant knight,
The followers they of Scherules, and well would those heroes fight.660
And what should I tell ye further? Poidikonjonz was proud I ween,
And he came with such host, if in Schwarzwald each bough had a spearshaft been
[Pg 216] I had looked on no greater forest than here on this field ye saw.
And six banners they bare, and early to battle would nearer draw,
With ringing blasts of trumpet e'en as thunder that wakeneth fear, 665
And drums strove amain with the trumpets, and smote on the listening ear.
If a grass blade were left untrampled by the conflict I knew it not—
E'en now shall the Erfurt vineyards show such tokens of strife, I wot!
Then hither he came, Duke Astor, and he fought with the men of Jamore,
And for sharp joust the spears they whetted, and many a knight they bore670
From his saddle down on the meadow, and for combat they aye were fain;
And clear rang the stranger war-cries—And masterless o'er the plain
Sped many a gallant charger, and afoot went the fallen knight,
For I ween he had learnt the lesson how one oft is o'erthrown in fight.
Then he saw, the gallant Gawain, how out on the plain afar 675
The host of both friend and foeman were mingled in deadly war;
And he spurred him swift towards them; nor 'twas light in his steps to tread,
Tho' little they spared their chargers, those knights who behind him sped,
Scherules and his vassals—Gawain gave them pain, I trow,
Ah, me! for the spears he shivered and the knights that he laid alow.680
Had God given him not such valour, this knight of the Table Round,
Then in sooth had one made petition for the fame that he there had found.
'Twas all as one, both armies, 'gainst the twain did he set his hand,
That of Gros as of Lys—Many chargers did he win from each knightly band,
And straightway the hero brought them where his host's banner waved on high,685
And he asked who was there who should need them? And many swift reply;
Then he gave them e'en as they answered, and rich were they all, I trow,
Thro' this brother-in-arms whose friendship they here for a space should know.
Then there came a knight fast spurring, nor spears did he think to spare
The Lord of Beauvais and Gawain they rode 'gainst each other there,690
And the young knight, Lisavander, midst the flowers of the field he lay,
From his saddle behind his charger did Gawain thrust the prince that day.
For the sake of his squire shall this grieve me, who yestreen so courteous spake,
And told to Gawain the tidings, and whence all this woe did wake.
[Pg 217] He dismounted, and bent o'er his master, and Gawain he knew his face,695
And he gave him the steed he had won there, and the squire thanked his hand of grace.
Now see ye how Kardefablet himself on the ground doth stand
From a joust that was ridden against him, and aimed by young Meljanz' hand;
From the ground his warriors lift him, and loud rings the battle-cry
'Jamore!' and the clashing sword-blades to the challenge make swift reply.700
And closer the fight draws round him, onslaught on onslaught pressed,
And the blows ring loud and deafening that fall on each knightly crest.
Then Gawain called his men around him, and swift to his aid he sped,
And he covered the knight with the banner of his host that flew high o'erhead,
And many brave knights had been felled there—Tho' witness I never knew,705
Yet in sooth ye may well believe me for the venture it telleth true!
Then the Count of Montane rode 'gainst Gawain, and a goodly joust they ran,
And behind his horse, on the meadow, lay the brave Knight Lahduman,
And the hero, proud and gallant, his pledge unto Gawain gave.
And nearest of all to the ramparts fought Duke Astor with heroes brave,710
And many a joust was ridden, and many a spear was crossed;
'Nantes! Nantes!' came the war-cry pealing, the cry of King Arthur's host,
Firm they stood, and no whit they yielded, the captive Breton knights,
And hirelings from Erec's kingdom and men spake of their deeds of might—
The Duke of Lanveronz led them—So well did they fight that day 715
That Poidikonjonz well might free them, since his captives they were alway;
At the mountain Cluse from King Arthur, in the days that were long gone by,
As his prisoners did he win them, when they stormed him right valiantly.
And here, as was aye their custom, where'er they might chance to fight,
They shouted 'Nantes' as their war-cry, 'twas the way of these men of might;720
And many had waxed grey-bearded, and on every Breton breast
Or high on their helmet gleaming stood a Gampilon for their crest.
For as Ilinot's arms they bare it, who was Arthur's gallant son—
And Gawain he sighed as he saw it (small fame he 'gainst these had won).
And his heart awoke to sorrow for the blazon right well he knew, 725
[Pg 218] And it filled him again with anguish for the death of his kinsman true.
And his eyes ran o'er with tear-drops, and he passed them upon the field,
Nor with them would he fight—Thus to friendship a hero full oft shall yield!
Then he rode on to Meljanz' army, whom the Burgers with might withstood,
And their rightful meed of honour they won from the warriors good; 730
Tho' perforce 'gainst o'ermastering numbers they had failed to hold the field,
And backward within their trenches awhile to the foe must yield.
And he who the Burgers challenged his harness glowed red as flame,
'The Nameless Knight' they called him for none knew from whence he came;
And I tell it to ye as I heard it, to Meljanz he rode, this knight,735
But three days back, and the Burgers must mourn it in coming fight
That he swore his aid to their foeman—Twelve squires unto him he gave,
To serve him as meet in the jousting, and to follow to onslaught brave.
And the spears their hand might proffer those spears he right swiftly brake,
And clear rang his joust o'er the tumult, when he did as his captives take740
King Schirniel and his brother; nor he would from his pledge release
The knight whom he here had vanquished, the Duke of Marangliess.
And bravely they fought mid the foremost, and he vanquished them as they stood,
Yet their folk still held them valiant tho' reft of their leaders good.
And there fought the young King Meljanz, and all were they friend or foe,745
They owned greater deeds of valour a young knight might seldom show;
By his hand were the strong shields cloven—Ah! the spears that he brake in twain
As the forces together mingling dashed swift o'er the battle-plain.
And his young heart for conflict lusted, and none gave him of strife his fill.
And it vexed him sore, till Gawain would joust with him at his will.750
Then Gawain took a spear of Angram, that he won him at Plimizöl,
And twelve were those spears—The war-cry of Meljanz was 'Barbigöl!'
Of his kingdom of Lys 'twas chief city—Gawain aimed his joust so true,
And Oraste Gentesein taught sorrow to the king since it pierced him thro'
[Pg 219] That strong shaft of reed; his shield piercing, it brake in his arm of might—755
And a fair joust again was ridden, and Gawain smote the King in flight;
And the hinder bow of the saddle it brake, and those heroes twain
They stood on their feet, and valiant, they battled with swords amain.
'Twere more than enough such labour for two churls on the threshing-floor,
And each one bare the sheaf of the other, and each smote the other sore.760
And a spear must Meljanz carry that had smitten him thro' the arm,
And thro' conflict fierce the hero in blood and sweat waxed warm.
Then Gawain by force he drave him within a portal wide,
And he bade him his pledge to swear him, nor the young king his will defied;
Were he not so sorely wounded then so swiftly he ne'er were known, 765
To yield himself to a foeman, but his prowess had longer shown.
Then Lippaut the prince, the land's host, his valour might not restrain
With the monarch of Gros he battled; and alike must they suffer pain,
Both man and steed from the bow-shots, for their skill they were fain to show,
They of Semblidag, and Kahetines, for they fled as they bent the bow.770
And the Burgers must well bethink them the foe from their lines to hold,
But foot-soldiers had they, and sheltered by their ramparts they battled bold.
And he who of life was forfeit for the wrath of a maid must pay,
For her folly and scorn on her people brought sorrow enow that day.
But what part therein had Lippaut? I think me his lord of old, 775
King Schaut, ne'er had thus beset him! Now faint waxed those heroes bold.
But Meljakanz still fought bravely—Do ye think it was whole, his shield?
Not a hand's-breadth wide was the fragment—Then he bare him across the field
Duke Kardefablet, and I think me the Tourney it came to stand
On the meadow fair and flowery, for fast locked was either band. 780
Then Gawain he rode swiftly to them, and he pressed Meljakanz so sore,
E'en Launcelot, gallant hero, ne'er wrought him such grief afore
When the sword bridge he crossed to battle—Her captivity pleased him ill,
The Queen Guinevere, and he thought him by the sword-blade to free her still.
King Lot's son he rode full gallop—Meljakanz, what could he do 785
[Pg 220] But spur his steed towards him? And many that joust must view.
Who lay there behind his charger? He whom the gallant knight
Of Norroway had smitten to earth with his spear of might.
And many a knight and lady they looked on this joust so fair,
And they spake in praise of Gawain, and his fame would aloud declare.790
And the maidens right well might see it as they looked from the hall on high.
Underfoot was Meljakanz trampled; many steeds did o'er him fly,
And tare with their hoofs his surcoat, who fodder might taste no more,
And they covered the prostrate hero with rain of sweat and gore.
'Twas a day of doom for the chargers, but the vultures at will might feast;795
And Duke Astor he came to the rescue, and from them of Jamore released
Meljakanz, or else was he captive, and he raised him from off the ground—
And the Tourney was o'er, and the combat methinks had its ending found.
Now who had as knight best ridden, or best for a maiden fought?
Nay, I know not, an I would name them small leisure such task had brought.800
For Maid Obilot's sake with the townsfolk a knight valiant deeds had dared;
Without, a Red Knight fought bravely, and the fame 'twixt those two was shared.
When the guest of the outer army had learnt he no thanks might win
From the king he had served, since Meljanz was captive the town within,
He rode where his squires were waiting, and thus to his prisoners spake,805
'Sir Knights, ye your word have pledged me; ill-chance doth me here o'ertake,
For King Meljanz of Lys is captive—Now if ye such grace can find
With his captors, that for your freedom his fetters they will unbind,
Such service I'ld gladly do him!' To the King of Avendroin
He spake, and to Duke Marangliess, and King Schirniel of Lirivoin. 810
And this oath must they swear unto him, ere they rode the walls within,
To loose Meljanz, or if they failed here, to help him the Grail to win.
But never a word could they tell him of where It was hid, the Grail,
Save 'twas guarded by King Anfortas, but further, their lore must fail.
When thus they spake, quoth the Red Knight, 'Then if it shall still betide
That my wish find not here fulfilment, ye to Pelrapär shall ride,
[Pg 221] And unto the fair queen yielding say, "He who in days of yore
Faced Kingron for her and Klamidé, for the Grail now sorroweth sore,
As he yearneth for her, his lady, and after the twain in thought
And deed is he ever striving." To her be this message brought 820
And ye heroes bear it truly, and as on your way ye ride
God have ye in His safe keeping, for the world and its ways are wide.'
Then they prayed his leave, and they rode hence—And the knight to his squires he spake,
'Here is booty none may gainsay us, of these steeds ye at will may take;
But leave me one for my riding, since sore wounded mine own shall be.'825
Spake the Squires, 'Sir Knight, we must thank thee for the grace thou hast shown us free,
For our lifetime hast thou enriched us.' Then he chose in his charger's stead,
With the close-cropped ears, Ingliart, the same that from Gawain fled,
When Meljanz he made his captive, and the twain they must fall in field,
And the Red Knight's hand had caught it, when hewn was many a shield.830
Then Farewell the hero bade them—Full fifteen steeds they tell,
To the squires he left, unwounded, in sooth might they thank him well.
And they prayed him to linger with them, and abide with them yet a space,
But far hence lay the goal he was seeking, and the road he was fain to trace.
So he turned him about, the hero, to where ease should be bought full dear835
For naught but strife was he seeking—In the days that ye read of here
No knight e'en as he had battled—Then the outer host would ride
To where they might find a lodging, and in peace for a space abide.
And within, Lippaut spake, and asked them how matters had gone that day?
That Meljanz was taken captive, that tale did he know alway. 840
And all was as he would have it, and comfort the hour would bear—
And Gawain loosed the sleeve full gently from his shield, lest perchance it tear,
For he deemed it o'er good for tearing, and Clauditté she held it fast,
And 'twas slashed in the sides and the centre with the spears that had thro' it passed;
And he bade her to Obilot bear it, and glad was the little maid, 845
On her bare white arm soft-rounded the tattered sleeve she laid,
[Pg 222] And spake, 'Who hath done this for me?' whene'er she her sister saw,
And wrathful her elder sister her maiden mischief bore.
Then, as weariness it bade them, the knights they craved for rest—
Then Scherules took Count Lahduman, and Gawain his gallant guest 850
And many a knight whom he found there, whom Gawain with valiant hand
Had o'erthrown on the field of battle tho' strife they might well withstand.
And the Burg-grave rich he bade them to sit them in order fair,
And he and his wearied vassals would stand 'fore their monarch there
Till Meljanz his fill had eaten—And they treated him courteously, 855
But Gawain, o'er-much he deemed it, and he spake out, frank and free,
'Methinks an the king allow thee, Sir Host, thou shouldst take a seat.'
Thus spake Gawain in his wisdom, as his courtesy found it meet.
But the host gave his prayer denial, 'The king's man is that gallant knight
My master, this were his office if the king had but deemed it right860
To take, as of old, his service—My lord thro' his courtesy
Will not see the face of his monarch while exiled from grace is he.
An it pleaseth God of friendship to sow here the seed once more,
Then joyful we'll do his bidding with one will, as in days of yore.'
Then spake the youthful Meljanz, 'Yea, courteous knights and true 865
Were ye, when I dwelt among ye, nor your rede did I ever rue.
An I now had thy counsel followed, this even had seen me glad;
Now give me thine aid Count Scherules, for the trust that I ever had
In thy faith, with this knight my captor, and with him my second sire
Duke Lippaut—for well I think me they will do as thou shalt require—870
Yea, pray them to show me favour, for friends had we been to-day
Had not Obie such jest played on me as no maiden I ween should play!'
Then out spake the gallant Gawain, 'Afresh shall be knit a band
That naught but death can sever'—Then they came whom the Red Knight's hand
Without had taken captive, on the height would they seek their king,875
And they told him all that befell them; and Gawain must list the thing,
And they told of the arms of the hero, how their strength before his must fail,
And how he their pledge had taken, and had bidden them seek the Grail;
And he thought how the knight of this venture was none other than Parzival,
And his thanks uprose to high Heaven that no evil did there befall,880
[Pg 223] But that God apart had held them, and they met not in strife that day.
And courteous I ween were those heroes that they tore not the veil away,
But both of them there were nameless, and none knew from whence they came,
Yet I wot well the world around them rang fair with their warlike fame.
To Meljanz he spake, Scherules, 'Now, Sire, wilt thou list to me? 885
Look thou again on my master, and such rede as is given to thee
By friends on both sides shalt thou hearken, and thine anger shalt thou recall;'
And all deemed it good, the counsel, so they rode to the royal hall,
The inner force of the city, as the Marshal was fain to pray.
Then Gawain took the Count Lahduman, and the captives he made that day,890
And he gathered them all around him, and the pledge that to him they gave
When he erst on the field o'erthrew them, must they yield to the Burg-grave brave,
And gladly they did his bidding—To the palace the heroes fare,
And rich garments as fit for a monarch did the wife of the Burg-grave bear;
And a veil did she give unto Meljanz that should serve him for a sling895
For the arm that Gawain had wounded, when his spear smote the youthful king.
And Gawain by the mouth of Scherules, Obilot his lady prayed;
Fain would the hero see her, his life in her hand he laid,
And would crave from her lips dismissal—and further the hero spake,
'I leave the king here, her captive, and I pray her such thought to take900
That she may in such wise entreat him, that her honour shall wax apace!'
And Meljanz spake, 'Well I know this, Obilot is of maiden grace
And maiden worth the glory; and joyful am I at heart
If her captive I be, for in gladness methinks shall I have my part,'
Then out quoth the gallant Gawain, 'Her prisoner art thou alone, 905
'Tis she who hath captive made thee, and my glory is here her own.'
Before them rode Scherules—As was fitting for royal court,
Nor man was there nor maiden but had robed them in such sort
That one, in poor guise and scanty, might scarce have been seen that day—
They who sware their pledge to the Red Knight with Meljanz must take their way.910
[Pg 224] And there in the hall of the castle they sat in their order four,
Lippaut, his wife, and his daughters, as the guests passed within the door.
Up sprang the host and hastened his lord and king to greet,
And close pressed the crowd around them as friend with foe did meet;
By Gawain's side stood Meljanz. 'Now, an it were here thy will, 915
Thy friend of old, the Duchess, with kiss would she greet thee still.'
And Meljanz to his host made answer, 'Two ladies I think to see
From whom I'll take kiss and greeting—but the third naught shall win from me.'
And the parents wept; but the maiden, Obilot, was glad and gay,
And they greeted their king with kisses; and two beardless kings that day920
They kissed, with the Duke of Marangliess, and the gallant Knight Gawain.
And they brought him his little lady, and the fair child he clasped again,
And e'en as a doll he held her so close to his manly breast,
As joy and delight constrained him, and to Meljanz his speech addrest:
'Thine hand hath surety pledged me, of that shall thou now be free,925
In my right arm I hold my lady, her captive thou now shalt be.'
Then Meljanz he stept him nearer, and she held fast to Gawain's hand,
And she took the pledge of her monarch mid the knights who did round them stand.
'Sir King, 'twas ill-done I think me, if a merchant he be my knight
As my sister hath said, to yield thee as his captive on field of might!'930
Thus spake Obilot, the maiden; then to Meljanz she gave command,
He should yield his pledge to her sister, and swear it hand clasped in hand;
'Thou shalt have her for Love, for thy knighthood, as her Love and her Lord art thou
Henceforward, of true heart gladly, and ye twain to my will shall bow!'
God spake by the lips of the maiden, her will it was done straightway,935
And Frau Minne with power and wisdom again o'er their hearts held sway,
And knit afresh the meshes, and fettered the twain anew;
From the folds of her flowing mantle her small hand Obie drew,
And she touched the arm of her lover, and weeping, her lips so red
Kissed the wound he had won in jousting, since it was for her sake he bled.940
And his arm was bathed in the tear-drops that flowed from her eyes so bright—
[Pg 225] How waxed she thus bold 'fore the people? 'Twas Love bade her claim her right;
And fulfilled was the wish of Lippaut, and naught of his bliss should fail,
Since God had willed that his daughter henceforth as his queen he hail!
How the wedding feast was holden, ask them who took their share 945
Of wedding gifts, or wandering, to Beaurosch had thought to fare.
If they fought, or were fain to rest them, of that I no word may tell,
But they say in the hall of the palace Sir Gawain would bid farewell
To her for whose leave he came there, and sore wept the little maid
And spake, 'Now take me with thee,' but Gawain her wish gainsaid, 950
And scarce might her mother tear her from the knight—leave he prayed them there,
And Lippaut he proffered service for the good-will he towards him bare.
And his gallant host, Scherules, with his folk he would not delay
To ride awhile with the hero; and he wended a woodland way,
And they gave him guides for his journey, and food lest he ill should fare,955
And he bade them farewell, and sorrow Gawain for the parting bare.

[Pg 226]
[Pg 227]


[Pg 228]


Book VIII. tells how Gawain came to Schamfanzon, and how King Vergulacht committed him to the care of his sister Antikonie. How Gawain wooed the maiden, and of the wrath of her people. Of the adventure of the chess-board, and how Kingrimursel came to the help of Gawain. How Antikonie reproached King Vergulacht, and how the nobles counselled their monarch. Of the oath Gawain sware to the King, and how he rode forth to seek the Grail.

[Pg 229]



Whosoe'er at Beaurosch had battled, methinks that Gawain had won
The highest fame in both armies, save but for one knight alone;
And none knew his red harness glowing, and none knew from whence he came,
But high as a banner waveth, so high did it rise, his fame.
Yet of honour alike and good fortune had Gawain in full his share— 5
Now hence must he ride, for the moment of strife which he sought drew near,
And far and wide stretched the woodland thro' which he must wend his way—
No conflict he shunned, tho' all guiltless of the sin men on him would lay.
But, alas! his charger failed him, Ingliart, with the close-cropped ear,
In the land of the Moors at Tabronit no better the steeds they rear.10
And diverse the wood around him, here a bush and there a field,
And so narrow at whiles, that pathway, it scarcely a space might yield
For tent, or for knight's pavilion. Then fair dwellings met his eye,
'Twas Askalon, and he prayed them if Schamfanzon at hand did lie?
But many a marsh and moorland and many a steep hillside 15
Must he traverse, ere fair before him in the setting sun he spied
A fortress stand so stately, it gleamed in the sunlight's rays,
And he turned his steed towards it who rode here on unknown ways.
Now list ye awhile the venture, and mourn ye awhile with me
The sorrow that fell on Gawain—And if old ye shall chance to be 20
Or young, yet of this your friendship I pray you his grief to weep;
Alas! were it best to tell ye, or silence a space to keep?
Nay, better to tell the story, how he whom Good Luck did call
[Pg 230] Her friend, was by her forsaken, and how grief to his lot must fall.
So proudly uprose the fortress that never did Carthage seem 25
So fair to the eyes of Æneas, when Dido, as failed her dream
Of love, turned to death and, seeking, found rest in his cold embrace.
Would ye know what countless turrets those stately halls did grace?
Scarce more had Akraton boasted, that city whose walls so wide,
An man may believe the heathen, with Babylon only vied; 30
So high rose the circling ramparts, and where to the sea they fell
No storm might they fear, but defiance could they bid to their foes right well.
'Fore the city a plain outstretching lay fair for a mile or more.
As Sir Gawain rode across it, five hundred knights he saw,
Yet one, o'er all the others, gallant and fair to sight; 35
Gaily they rode towards him all clad in raiment bright,
For so the venture telleth—With their falcons soaring high
Would they chase the crane, or other fair game that should wingèd fly.
A tall steed from Spain's far kingdom, King Vergulacht bestrode,
And his glance was as day in the night-time—Aforetime his race abode40
Where Mazadan reigned as monarch, by Fay Morgan's mystic mount,
And amid the roll of his fathers he many a fay might count—
And even as in the spring-tide the May blossom bloometh fair
So rode the king in his beauty, and Gawain he bethought him there,
As he saw him ride so stately, 'twas another Parzival, 45
Or Gamuret, as he came to Kanvoleis, as this venture erewhile did tell.
Now into a pond so marshy a heron had taken flight
As it fled from before the falcon, and the king, as beseemed a knight,
Sought not for the ford but followed as he saw his falcon's need,
And wet he won in the aiding, and lost was his gallant steed, 50
And lost too his royal raiment, tho' safe was I ween the bird.
The falconers took his garments, for this, so the tale I've heard,
Was their right, and they needs must have them, and no man might say them nay.
Another horse they brought him, for lost was his own for aye,
And fresh garments they put upon him, since such was the chance of fate55
That his falconers won the vesture that had decked their king of late.
[Pg 231]
Then Sir Gawain, he rode towards them, and knightly and worshipful
The greeting they gave unto him, not such as in Karidöl
Once fell to the lot of Erec, when after his well-fought fight
He had fain drawn near to King Arthur, and with him his lady bright,60
Fair Enid, who graced his coming—But the dwarf Maliklisier
With a scourge full hardly smote him, 'neath the eyes of Queen Guinevere.
At Tulmein he took his vengeance, where, within the ring so wide
To win the hawk, the heroes in deeds of valour vied.
'Twas Idêr, the son of Noit, a hero true and bold 65
Whom he else had slain, whom Erec did there in surety hold.
But leave we all other venture, and hearken awhile to me,
For in sooth never fairer welcome shall it fall to your lot to see.
Yet, alas! for ill it wrought him, Gawain, King Lot's brave son—
An ye will I will cease my story ere the tale to its end be run, 70
And for pity's sake keep silence—Yet perchance it were best to tell
The ill that thro' others' treason on a gallant spirit fell.
And if I yet further pray ye this story strange to heed
Then in sooth, e'en as I, right truly will ye mourn for its hero's need.
Quoth the king, 'Sir Knight, thus I think me, thou shalt to the castle ride,75
Thine host will I be right gladly, tho' scarce may I be thy guide;
Yet if this on my part shall vex thee the chase will I gladly leave!'
Quoth Gawain, 'As it best may please thee, that do, nor for my sake grieve,
Whate'er thou shalt do shall be well done—No grudge do I bear thee, Sire,
But of right good-will I gladly will do as thou shalt require.' 80
Quoth the king of Askalon further, 'Schamfanzon thou well mayst see
Sir Knight, there my sister dwelleth, who as yet but a maid shall be;
And she hath in fullest measure such beauty as poets sing—
An thou as a grace shalt hold it, my knights unto her shall bring
Such word she shall well entreat thee in my stead, till I come again.85
And whenever I come, I think me, 'twill be sooner than thou art fain
To look on my face, for gladly wilt thou spare me when thou shalt see
My sweet sister, nor e'er bemoan thee, tho' my coming o'er late shall be!'
'Nay, gladly again I'll see thee, and gladly thy sister greet,
Tho' as host never queen has done me such service as host finds meet'90
[Pg 232] Thus spake the gallant Gawain—Then a knight bare the king's behest
To his sister, that she, as fitting, should so care for the stranger guest
That however long his absence the hours should as minutes fly—
(An ye will, I will cease my story that now runneth but mournfully!)
Nay, further I'll tell the venture,—Steed and pathway the hero bore95
Where as one were both Burg and palace, and he held him before the door.
And he who shall e'er have builded a house, he shall better know
To tell of this mighty castle, and the strength of its walls to show.
Yea, indeed 'twas a Burg, none better might this earth on its bosom bear
And around it, far outstretching, the ramparts towered high in air.100
Leave we the praise of the castle, and speak of the castle's queen,
A maiden fair, for of women I shall better speak I ween,
And as fitting I'll sing her praises—Was she fair to the eye? 'Twas well;
Was she true of heart? Then gladly will men of her praises tell.
And so both in mind and manner might she vie with that lady true, 105
The Margravine, who from Heitstein afar o'er her marches threw
A light,—Well for him who dwelleth as friend in her presence fair,
Such pastime as there his portion he findeth not other-where!
For I praise but a woman's virtue, as I see, and shall surely know,
True and pure must she be, the maiden, on whom I shall praise bestow.110
And he whom this venture singeth is a gallant man and true,
For no dealing have I with falsehood, or with one who his deeds shall rue,
As repentance, slowly piercing, but turneth his bliss to bale,
And his soul knoweth wrath and sorrow, or ever his life-days fail.
To the castle court rode Gawain, and the goodly company 115
To whom the king had sent him, who shamed for his sake should be.
Then the knight to his lady led him, as she sat in her beauty's glow,
Queen Antikonie—Could the merchants a woman's fame bestow,
Of such goods had she made rich purchase; 'gainst falsehood she set her face,
And hers was the crown of honour, and a maiden's maiden grace. 120
Ah! woe's me for him of Veldeck, that death thus cut short his days,
None is there of all men living who so well could have sung her praise.
Then Gawain, he looked on the maiden, and the messenger spake the word
E'en as the king had bade him, and the queen his message heard.
[Pg 233] Then gently she spake to the hero, 'Come thou near unto me, Sir Knight,125
Thyself shalt be my master in courtesy, as is right;
And gladly I'll do thy bidding—If well it shall please thee here,
'Twill be even as thou shalt order—Yea, since my brother dear
Hath bid me well entreat thee, I'll kiss thee, if so I may.
I'll do, or leave it undone, e'en as thou the word shalt say!' 130
Courteous she stood before him, quoth Gawain, 'Thy lips so red
In sooth were made for kissing, be kiss and greeting sped!'
So full and warm and rosy were the lips that Gawain pressed,
No stranger sure had kissed her as kissed this stranger guest.
Unchecked he sat him by her, and sweet words passed between, 135
Soft spake they to each other; and oft renewed, I ween,
His prayers and her denials, yea, sorely grieved was he,
And fain to win her favour—Then she spake as I tell to ye:
'Bethink thee, Sir Knight, thou art wise else, with this I enough have done,
For I ween at my brother's bidding mine uncle Gamuret won 140
Less welcome from Queen Anflisé than the welcome I gave to thee,
An our tending were weighed together methinks hers would lighter be.
Nor know I, Sir Knight, whence thou comest, nor e'en what shall be thy name,
That, after such short approving, thou shouldst to my love lay claim!'
Then out spake the gallant Gawain, 'Then know here assuredly 145
O! queen, of my father's sister the brother's son am I;
Wilt thou give me sweet love's rewarding, for my birth shalt thou not delay,
Hand in hand, and to equal measure, it paceth with thine alway!'
The maiden who filled the wine-cup she had passed from out the hall,
And the women who sat beside them must now to their mind recall 150
The task that elsewhere did wait them; nor longer the knight stood there
Who erst to the queen had brought him—As Gawain was now aware
That no man was here beside them, he thought how a mighty bird
Is oft trapped by a little falcon—nor further he spake a word,
But he passed his arm around her beneath her mantle's fold, 155
And love laid such stress upon them, the maid and the hero bold,
That belike a thing had chanced there, an no eye had been there to see,
Of one mind were the twain—yet heart-sorrow drew near to them speedily.
[Pg 234]
For straight stepped within the doorway an old and grey-haired knight,
And loudly he called on Gawain, and shouted a shout of might, 160
For well did he know the hero, and fiercely his cry did ring,
'Alas! alas! woe upon us, since the hand that hath slain our king
Is fain now to force his daughter!' At the sound of his battle-cry
The folk that within the castle abode to the hall did hie,
So it fell out—Then quoth Sir Gawain to the queen, 'Now, Lady mine,165
Say thou how we best may ward us 'gainst this wrathful folk of thine,
For sure they will come against us—An I had but my sword at hand!'
Then out spake the gentle maiden, 'Their might shall we best withstand
An we to yon tower betake us that riseth my bower beside,
Perchance they will then bethink them, and the storm shall we override.'170
Here a knight, and there a merchant, already the maid must hear,
With the cry of the angry townsfolk, as the twain to the tower drew near;
And sore was her friend beset there, tho' she prayed them from strife to cease,
So loud rose the angry tumult none hearkened her words of peace.
'Gainst the portal the foe pressed onward, Gawain stood within the door,175
And held off the angry rabble; an iron bolt he tore
From its fastenings wherewith to arm him, and before his strong right hand
Full oft fled his evil neighbours, they durst not his blows withstand.
While the queen, with flying footsteps, hither and thither sought
To find, perchance, some weapon 'gainst the foe that so fiercely fought.180
At length did she chance on some chess-men, and a chess-board, wide and fair,
That hung by a ring of iron; to Gawain she brought it there,
As a shield four-square it served him; yea, many a game was played
On that board ere 'twas hewn in battle—Now hear of the royal maid;
Were it king, or queen, or castle, she hurled them against the foe,185
Heavy and large the chess-men, and in sooth I would have ye know
They who by her shaft were stricken must ever a fall abide.
Right bravely the queen so gracious now fought by her hero's side,
And she bare herself so knightly, that never the Burger maids
Of Tollenstein at Shrove-tide such dauntless skill displayed. 190
And yet they but fight for folly, and weary themselves for naught—
An a woman bear trace of battle, on her womanhood shame is brought,
[Pg 235] (For I know what befits a woman,) unless love shall have bid her fight
To prove her faith—Now faithful and true was that lady bright,
As Schamfanzon might bear witness—Yet, tho' high of heart was she,195
Many tears that conflict cost her; for in sooth shall it ever be
That Love is brave as steadfast, yet tender and true of heart—
Would ye know how in such fierce conflict Sir Gawain would bear his part?
When the strife but leisure gave him to gaze on the maid aright,
Her lips so red and glowing, her eyes so soft and bright— 200
More slender was she and shapely than ever a lowland hare
That ye truss on the spit, so graceful her limbs, and her form so fair;
Full well might her charms awaken desire in the heart of man.
And smaller, I ween, the maiden, where her golden girdle ran
Around her waist, than ants are, and their slender shape ye know— 205
The sight wrought in Gawain courage his foemen to overthrow,
For she shared his need; his chastising none other than death should be,
And help was there none—Then his anger flamed high and wroth was he
As he looked on that gentle maiden, and no fear was his but hate,
And sorely his foemen rued it who met at his hand their fate. 210
Came King Vergulacht, and he saw well how his folk 'gainst Gawain did fight;
Nor do I in this deceive ye, nor can I account him right
That not as a host he bare him, when he saw his gallant guest
Thus stand, as one man against many—But straight thro' the throng he pressed,
In such wise, I must mourn for Gandein, the monarch of Anjou fair, 215
That his daughter, so true a lady, so faithless a son must bear.
From the strife his folk he called not, short space must they stay their hand
While the king would don his armour, he lusted to lead the band.
Too mighty the force for Gawain, nor I ween shall ye count it shame
That he closed the door upon them—Then in wrath and haste there came220
The knight who to battle bade him 'fore Arthur at Plimizöl
But short time back—They called him the Landgrave Kingrimursel,
And sore did Gawain's need vex him, he wrung his hands amain,
For in sooth had he pledged his honour his foe should in peace remain
Till one man alone o'ercame him—Old and young from the tower he drave,225
Yet the portal would they force open, as their king commandment gave.
[Pg 236]
Then the Landgrave he cried on Gawain, 'Sir Knight, I would in to thee
As a friend, that this bitter conflict I may share, if it so must be,
For then must my monarch slay me, or leave thee in life to-day.'
Peace Gawain would swear unto him, and he made to the tower his way—230
Then doubtful, the foemen thronging, their hand for a space must hold,
For their Burg-grave he was, and his bidding had they hearkened both young and old.
Then, as ceased the noise of battle, thro' the doorway he sprang, Gawain,
And the Landgrave, he stood beside him, swift and bold were those heroes twain.
Quoth King Vergulacht, 'Why tarry? Why stand we here as on guard, 235
When of foemen but two shall dare us, and none other the tower gates ward?
Much my cousin doth take upon him, when he dareth to shield my foe,
Yea, himself should wreak vengeance on him, if his faith he were fain to show!'
Of true heart then they chose a true man, and unto the king he spake,
'Now, Sire, upon our Landgrave no vengeance we think to take, 240
Nor shall harm at our hand befall him—May God so turn thy mind
That, instead of shaming, honour thou shalt from this venture find.
For shame shall it bring upon thee, and an ending to thy fair fame,
If he who as host doth hail thee shall here at thine hand be slain.
And thy kinsman is he, this other who hath brought him into this land;245
So, lest cursing and shame be thy portion, we pray thee to stay thine hand,
And grant thou a truce thro' the daylight, and the fleeting hours of night,
Then bethink thee for shame or honour, and do as shall seem thee right!'
'And our queen who hath ne'er known falsehood, thy sister, Antikonie,
See there as she standeth by him and weepeth full bitterly. 250
Canst thou see such sight without rueing, since one mother bare ye both?
And bethink thee, sire, thou art wise else, thou didst send him, nothing loth,
Alone to this gentle maiden, nor further a guardian gave;
For her sake it were well to spare him!' Then the king bade those warriors brave
To call a truce—He'ld bethink him how vengeance he best might take255
For his father's death—Yet all guiltless Gawain, for another's sake,
Must he bear the shame; with a lance-thrust by Ekunât was he slain
As to Barbigöl Prince Iofreit, a prisoner, he would have ta'en,
[Pg 237] Who had ridden erewhile with Gawain—In such wise the chance befell
That they deemed that Gawain had slain him—So men do the venture tell.260
And scarce was the truce bespoken ere of men was the field bereft,
Each betook him unto his lodging, nor one on the ground was left.
Then the queen threw her arms around him, and with many a kiss so sweet
She gave to her gallant cousin such rewarding as seemed her meet,
Since so bravely he stood by Gawain, and sheltered the twain from wrong,265
And she spake, 'Now art thou my cousin, nor unfaith shall to thee belong.'
Now hearken and I will read ye that word which I spake of late,
How a true heart sore was darkened—I ween 'twas an evil fate
That led Vergulacht to Schamfanzon; such deed he ne'er did learn
From sire or aye from mother, with shame did the young knight burn,270
And torment sore and suffering his better self must know
As his sister 'gan upbraid him, small mercy the maid would show.
And thus spake the noble maiden, 'Now had it but been God's will,
That I, a man born, might sword bear, and knightly tasks fulfil,
To strive with me hadst thou come here, methinks thou hadst come too late,—275
But now am I all defenceless, a maiden, and no man's mate.
And yet a shield I carry, and fair its device shall be,
And honoured of all—Its blazon would I read here, Sir King, to thee,
That thou henceforth mayst know it—Pure heart and upright mind,
That true man beneath its cover a shelter may ever find. 280
And that, o'er the gallant hero whom thou sentest unto my care,
Did I hold, and 'gainst thee, his foeman, I did, as beseemed me, bear,
For none other armour had I—And if thou repent the ill
Thou hast done to thy guest, me, thy sister, hast thou wronged more deeply still;
For this is the right of woman, so ever 'twas told to me, 285
That if ever unto the shelter of a maiden a knight shall flee,
Then they who as foemen follow shall straightway leave their chase—
In such wise they ever bear them who would not their shield disgrace—
Now, Sir Vergulacht, that thy guest fled to me as his hope of life,
Hath loaded with shame thine honour, since thou aided, nor checked, thestrife!'290
[Pg 238]
Then Kingrimursel quoth sternly, 'Yea, Sire, 'twas at thy command,
That on Plimizöl's plain I bade him, Sir Gawain, to seek this land.
On thy royal word safe conduct I sware him, that should he ride
Hither we twain were pledged him no evil should here betide,
Save but from one foeman only—Now, Sire, thou hast here done ill295
In that, spite of thine oath so knightly, thy word thou didst not fulfil.
And here shall my fellows hearing give judgment betwixt us twain,
If thus thou wrongest princes, what as king mayst thou hope to gain
From us of faith and honour?—If honoured thou fain wouldst be,
Then, courteous, make confession that near of kin are we; 300
True cousin am I, no bastard, and e'en if such chance had been,
Even then, in this thy dealing, thou hadst done me a wrong, I ween!
A knight am I in whom no man hath found a taint of shame,
And I think me that free from falsehood, yea, to death will I guard my fame,
For in God have I ever trusted, and, methinks, He holds not in store305
Such fate for the days of the future as I knew not in days of yore.
Yet they who shall hear the story, how the nephew of Arthur rode
To Schamfanzon 'neath my safe-conduct, where'er shall be his abode—
An he come from the land of the Breton, or from France, or from Provence fair,
Burgundian he, or Gallician, or the arms of Punturtois bear— 310
When he hear of the grief of Gawain then my fame shall be swiftly sped,
And shame be my meed for the danger that threatened that knightly head.
At the tale of this strife shall my glory wax narrow, and blame grow wide;
And, as joy in the past dwelt with me, so henceforward shall shame abide.'
As he made an end of speaking stood a vassal the king before, 315
And, as Kiot himself hath told us, Liddamus was the name he bore.
And I speak here of Kiot the singer, and so sweet was I ween his song
That none wax of the hearing weary, tho' the days of their life be long.
And I rede ye to wit that Kiot of old was a Provençal,
Who found writ in a book of the heathen this story of Parzival. 320
And in French again he sang it, and I, if no wit shall fail,
Would fain in his footsteps follow, and in German would tell the tale.
Quoth the Prince Liddamus in his anger, 'Now say, what doth he do here
In the house of my lord, who his father hath slain, and hath brought anear
[Pg 239] The brand of shame? My king's courage is known thro' many a land, 325
'Twould better beseem his honour to avenge him with his own hand;
One death for the other payeth—and the need waxeth here as there.'
And Gawain he stood in sore peril, and fear for his life must bear.
Quoth Kingrimursel, 'Who to threaten is swift, he as swift should be
To mingle in strife, yet but lightly thy foeman he holdeth thee! 330
An wide were the field or narrow, yet Sir Liddamus, I know well
This man were safe from thine onslaught e'en tho' shame at his hand befell,
For ne'er wouldst thou dare to avenge it, who yet dost so loudly boast—
And swifter were we to hearken if ever in battle host
We had seen thee ride the foremost! But strife ever wrought thee pain,335
And afar from the field of battle to linger thou aye wast fain.
Yea, more hast thou learnt—The beginning of strife didst thou ever see,
Then hence wouldst thou fly as swiftly as a maiden is wont to flee.
And the prince who thy counsel hearkens, and doeth as thou shalt say,
Shall find that the crown he weareth but loosely shall sit alway!' 340
'And fain, in a joust so knightly, were I to have faced Gawain,
Nor feared me aught, for such combat had we sworn fast betwixt us twain.
And here had we fought, as fitting, 'neath the eye of the king my lord,
And wroth am I now, for dearer, methought, had he held his word!
Now swear thou to me, Sir Gawain, when a year from this day be past,345
To meet me again in combat—If thou 'scape my lord's wrath at last,
And thy life for a prey he leave thee, yet we twain must fight our fight.
At Plimizöl first I bade thee; at Barbigöl, if it seem thee right,
Before Meljanz, the youthful monarch, the strife shall methinks be fought;
And around my heart till the day come shall sorrow's wreath be wrought,350
And gladly I'll hail that dawning, and face thee, thou hero bold,
Tho' the guerdon be but of sorrow, that shall there by thine hand be told.'
So there, as the Landgrave bade him, the hero Gawain swore,
And his oath, and his pledge so knightly, he plighted as erst of yore.
But Duke Liddamus, he bethought him of words that he fain would say,355
And with cunning skill and wisdom his speech did he weave that day.
Thus he spake for all men to hear him, for the time of speech was come,
'Now if strife ever call upon me, if the battle be lost or won,
[Pg 240] If I fight as beseems a hero, or fly as a coward flies,
If the meed of my warlike bearing be honour in all men's eyes, 360
Then reward me I pray, Sir Landgrave, with rewarding as I shall win;
But if honour or praise be withholden I count it not me for sin!'
Nor here did his speech find ending. 'If Turnus thou fain wouldst be,
Then good, thou shalt find me Tranzes; thou mayst well wreak thy will on me,
If so be thou hast aught against me, but 'tis thou who dost boast too loud,365
Yea, e'en an thou wert the highest of my peers, these princes proud;
For Prince am I too, and Landgrave, and I have in Galicia's land
Many Burgs so fair and stately that e'en far as Vedrun stand.
And tho' thou and this Breton stranger were minded to work me ill,
Yet not even a fowl for thy threatening would fly, but abide thee still!'370
'He came from the land of the Breton whom thou hither for strife didst hale.
Take thou vengeance for king and kinsman, if such vengeance may aught avail;
With him, not with me, thy quarrel, avenge thou thine uncle's life
On him who of life hath robbed him, it toucheth me not, this strife,
For I wot well in naught I wronged him, and none for such wrong makes moan.375
What need to bewail thine uncle? His son sitteth on his throne,
And I ask for no higher ruler, since Fleurdamur, the queen,
Was his mother, his sire Kingrisein, and his grandsire Gandein hath been.
And still in my mind it dwelleth how Galoes and Gamuret,
Those heroes twain, were his uncles, nor lie I, nor truth forget. 380
And I think me that in all honour my castles and lands so wide
I may take from his hand, with their banners, and serve him whate'er betide!'
'Let him fight who hath lust for fighting, for weary of strife am I,
Tho' I know well who fame in battle doth win, for his victory
Hath reward from the lips of women, yet for never a maiden's sake 385
Will I evil entreat this body, or bid it such ill-road take.
Nay, why should I be a Wolfhart? Since barred is the battle way,
And no lust of strife hath beguiled me that I know not the thing I say.
If thou shouldst for aye despise me, yet Rumolt I'll take as guide,
Who gave counsel unto King Gunther, ere yet to the Huns he hied. 390
[Pg 241] For he bade him in Worms abide still, where was plenty and e'en to spare,
And content his soul with the flesh-pots and the riches of Rhineland fare!'
But ready of wit was the Landgrave, and he spake, 'Yea, the tale be told
E'en to day, and no man shall marvel, for we know well thy ways of old.
Thou wouldst urge me to strife, yet thy counsel is e'en what a cook once gave395
To the Nibelung lord, little recked he such counsel, the hero brave.
For he and his, little doubting, went boldly to meet their fate,
And avenged was the death of Siegfried, and sated was Kriemhild's hate!
And Sir Gawain, I ween, must give me my death, or himself must feel
The weight of my bitter vengeance as we battle for woe or weal!' 400
'Thou dost well,' Liddamus made answer, 'yet I think me of treasure fair,
All that Arthur might hold, or India, if one such to my feet should bear,
And say 'twas mine own, he might have it ere I fought e'en for such a prize.
An thou wilt, win thee fame and honour, I, I think me, am all too wise.
God knoweth, no Segramor am I, whom men must with fetters bind 405
So keenly for strife he lusted, far other was aye my mind.
Yet mine be my monarch's favour, for Sibech ne'er drew a sword,
But ever he fled with the flying, yet men hearkened well his word;
And many for counsel prayed him, and great gifts and lands enow
The hand of Ermenrich gave him, tho' no helmet e'er felt his blow. 410
And Sir Kingrimursel, I rede thee, thou shalt mark me with never a scar!'
Then out spake King Vergulacht sternly, as he ended their wordy war:
'Peace, peace, nor so loudly wrangle, Sir Knights, all too bold are ye,
For too near is your monarch's presence, and of speech are ye both too free;
And that thus ye should strive before me, tho' your strife be of word, not deed,415
Ill beseemeth both king and vassal, so hearken my word, and heed.'
This befell in the hall of the palace, 'neath the eyes of his sister fair,
And Gawain stood beside the maiden, and heroes and knights were there.
Quoth the king to his gentle sister, 'Now take thou with thee thy guest
And the Landgrave, while I bethink me the word that shall 'seem me best.420
And all ye who wish well unto me, shall follow and give me rede.'
Quoth the maid, 'Of good faith seek counsel, for better 'twill serve thy need!'
Gat the king to his council-chamber; the king's daughter had comrades three,
[Pg 242] Cousin, and guest, and beside them black care bare them company.
Gawain, as right well beseemed her, by the hand to her bower she led.425
And she quoth, 'Now shall all lands rue it if here thou shalt be ill-sped!'
And the son of King Lot, Sir Gawain, with the maiden went hand in hand,
And none thought them shame, for so gracious was the custom of that fair land.
So passed they unto her chamber, the queen and those heroes twain,
And that none 'gainst her will should enter was the care of her chamberlain.430
Only her bower maidens as befitted them there might be,
And the queen, in all love and honour, her guest tended royally.
And the Landgrave in naught gainsaid her, for belike did he bear a part
In the fear for her guest's well-doing that lay dark on the maiden's heart.
So the twain with the queen abode there till the strife of the day was o'er,435
And the night and the hour of feasting had come in their course once more.
Then the slender maidens bare them sweet drinks, and the wine so red,
And with fish and fowl in plenty, I ween, was the table spread.
Fair and white was the bread to look on, and the Landgrave and Knight Gawain,
Who had passed thro' such deadly peril, to taste of the food were fain.440
And each as the queen might bid him ate that which should please him best,
And no lack did they find, for right queenly the maid did entreat her guest,
And vainly the heroes prayed her to cease from her kindly care.
Of the many who knelt before them no maid but was young and fair;
Yea, fair with the opening beauty of the rose that is yet unblown, 445
And soft lay their locks as the feathers of a falcon the knight hath flown.
Now list, ere they close the council, to the rede they would rede the king
And wise were the men who, wisely, good counsel in need should bring;
And each spake as his mind should bid him, and that which his heart deemed best,
And they turned the thing hither and thither, till the king thus his speech addrest:450
And he spake, 'One of late fought with me, as on venture bent I rode
In the wood Læhtamreis—too proudly, perchance, I my steed bestrode,
For a knight, who o'er great my fame deemed, in joust smote me such a blow
That, behind my gallant charger, on the greensward he laid me low.
And this oath must I swear unto him, in search of the Grail to ride,455
[Pg 243] And my knightly pledge I gave him, were it other, I there had died.
Now give me, I pray, your counsel, for 'gainst death was no other shield
But to swear as my victor bade me, and, as knight, to a knight to yield!'
'Yea, mighty and strong that hero,—nor sware I that oath alone,
But he bade me, as true man truly, when a year should have come and gone,460
And the Grail I still were seeking, to ride unto Pelrapär
To the queen who the crown there weareth, the child of King Tampentäre.
And there, as I looked upon her, I should yield me unto her grace;
And from him should I bear this message in the day that I sought her face.
He would say, "An she thought upon him 'twas his joy and his labour's meed,465
His hand from the King Klamidé aforetime her land had freed."'
Then the speech to the end they hearkened; and Liddamus spake this word,
'Give me leave to speak, ye shall follow, Sir Knights, when my rede is heard,
For the oath that perforce thou swarest, its fulfiller shall be Gawain,
And he, captive, his wings shall flutter in the snare wherein thou wast ta'en.470
For here, where we stand to hearken, shall he swear us the Grail to win,
And then of free will let him ride hence; for I deem men would count it sin
Were he slain in thine house—Nay, me-seemeth 'twere better to let him live,
For but ill would it please thy sister an thou didst not her knight forgive!
Sore stress at our hands hath he suffered, and he now to his death shall ride;475
For far as the far sea's water shall circle the earth so wide
There standeth no Burg so mighty as Monsalväsch, its towers shall fear
No foeman, and strait the pathway that wendeth its walls anear,
And sore dangers that road encompass—Let him slumber in peace this night,
And the word that we deem the wisest shall be told him with morning light!'480
Right well did the counsel please them, and ended, I ween, the strife,
And Gawain, so the venture telleth, thus won at their hands his life.
So they tended the dauntless hero right well thro' the hours of night;
From the Mass came the folk on the morrow when the noontide hour waxed bright,
And the hall was thronged and crowded with townsfolk and warriors good,485
When before the king, as they counselled, his foeman, Sir Gawain, stood.
To naught other would he compel him than to that which ye late did hear.
Now see ye the gentle maiden as she drew with her knight anear,
[Pg 244] And her uncle's son came with her, and many a hero brave
Of the king's men were fain to follow, and thus fair escort gave. 490
Then the queen led Gawain to her brother with slender hand and white,
And a chaplet of fair flowers woven she bare on her locks of light,
Fair the flowers, yet the maid was fairer, and no blossom around her head
But waxed pale and dim, if 'twas mated with her lips of glowing red.
And he whom of true heart gently she kissed, as beseemed a maid, 495
Such lances for her had broken as had wasted a woodland shade.
Now hearken to me and heed me, as with gracious words I'ld greet
Antikonie, free from falsehood, a maiden pure and sweet.
In such wise did she ever bear her that never a doubting word,
Were one fain to sing her praises, from the lips of men was heard; 500
For no heart but wished her gladness, and no mouth but spake her free
From all thought of guile—Far-reaching, as a falcon's eye can see,
Shone the light of her gracious presence, as the light of a balsam rare
That burneth, and sheddeth perfume, and sweeteneth the scented air.
And her will was ever gracious, as the will of a maid should be, 505
And she spake to her royal brother of a true heart right maidenly:
'I bring here to thee, my brother, the guest thou didst bid me tend,
And I would thou shouldst well entreat him, as befitting my knight and friend—
For better shall that become thee, to bear thee as brother true,
Than to feel the world's hate, or to teach me to hate thee, who hate ne'er knew.'510
Quoth the king, 'Nay then, my sister, an I may, so stands my will,
Thou shalt give me here thy counsel, for I think me I did but ill,
And stained thereby mine honour, and dimmed my knightly fame;
And I deem me but little worthy that thou shouldst me as brother claim.
E'en if all lands should do my bidding at thy prayer would I yield them all,515
Lest that sorrow of sorrows greatest, thine hatred, on me should fall!
And honour and joy were ended an I said to thy pleading, Nay—
Sir Gawain, I here entreat thee, since for fame thou didst ride this way,
An thou knightly fame wouldst honour, so help me, that I may win
Anew from my sister favour, and forgiveness for this my sin. 520
Far liefer were I to pardon the wrong thou hast done to me
[Pg 245] Than to lose her, my sweetest sister—Now list what thy task shall be,
Do thou swear to me here that truly thou wilt strive, as I erst was fain
To strive, for the Grail's fair kingdom, and the honour thou there shalt gain.'
In such wise the strife was ended, Sir Gawain far hence must ride, 525
And with sword and spear do battle, and woe for the Grail abide.
And the Landgrave forgave his monarch the wrong that he did his word
When he brake his pledge unto Gawain—and no prince of the land but heard.
Then their swords they ungirt, and they hung them in their place on the castle wall—
And the squires of Gawain came swiftly, and, joyful, he hailed them all,530
For not one in strife was wounded—for a man of the Burger folk,
Ere the battle waxed hot, had claimed them, and wise were the words he spoke,
And their peace he prayed from the foemen, and he held them awhile in ward,
Were they French, or from land of the Breton, till again to their rightful lord
He might send them in peace—Some were children, and some were lads strong and young—535
And glad were their hearts when they saw him, and awhile on his neck they hung,
And weeping they kissed Sir Gawain, yet no sorrow I ween was there,
But from joy sprang the crystal tear-drops that ran o'er their faces fair.
And one came from the land of Cornwall, Count Laiz he, and Tinal's son;
And a noble lad was with him whose father his death had won 540
At Schoie-de-la-Kurt, Gandelus, the son, and Gurzgrei, the sire—
(Thro' that venture full many a maiden must weep for her heart's desire)
And his aunt was the maid Liassé, and fair was the lad of face
And of feature, for Love had touched them, and had wrought them with hand of grace,
And fain were all men to see him—Six were there those twain beside,545
Eight lads, all of noble bearing and birth, with Gawain did ride.
And as kinsmen right well they loved him, and they served him for payment fair;
What payment gave he? Meed of honour their guerdon, and tender care!
Then Gawain quoth unto the children, ''Tis well, for I now have seen,
[Pg 246] Fair kinsmen, that ye had mourned me, if slain I perchance had been,550
(And well might he see their sorrow, for as yet they mourned full sore,)
Where were ye in hour of battle? Much sorrow for ye I bore.'
Then they answered, and none spake falsely, 'As thou sat'st in the high hall place
A hawk flew astray, and we ran thence, and joined for awhile the chase.'
Then all they who sat or stood there, nor ceased for awhile their gaze,555
Saw well that Gawain was a true knight, and a man whom all men might praise;
Then the king gave the leave he prayed for, and he spake unto all farewell,
Save the queen alone, and the Landgrave, he whom men called Kingrimursel.
For the queen took the twain, and the children who followed as Gawain's squires,
And she led them where gentle maidens should serve as she should require,560
And in peace, as became fair maidens, each maid did her lady's will,
And fair were the hands and gracious that did gracious tasks fulfil.
Straightway when the meal was ended Gawain from the feast uprose,
Thus Kiot hath told the story—and as blossom from root up-grows,
So afresh from a true heart's true faith did sorrow spring forth amain—565
Quoth the hero unto the maiden, 'Now, Lady, an God be fain
To leave to me life and wisdom, wherever my way I take
True service, true knight befitting, will I do for thy gentle sake.
The rede did I hear and hearken that spake thee of falsehood free,
And thy fame o'er the fame of all maidens shall high as the heavens be.570
And Heaven Itself shall bless thee, and thy gifts all be gifts of God!
Now, Lady, thy leave I crave here, since 'tis time on my way I rode.
Give me leave, then, and let me ride hence, for I ween for the future days
Shalt thou be thine own best defender, and thy virtue shall crown thy praise!'
Then sorrow of heart was her portion that the knight thus her side must leave,575
Sore she wept, and her gentle maidens awhile with her grief must grieve.
And the queen she spake out freely, 'An more I had done for thee,
Then my joy had o'ercome my sorrow, yet better it might not be;
[Pg 247] Little peace for thee here might blossom—but, believe me, be ill thy share,
Or should deeds of knighthood lead thee where sorrow thou needs must bear,580
Then, Sir Gawain, my heart findeth portion in thy lot, be it loss or gain!'
On his mouth, with her red lips glowing, the maiden she kissed Gawain.
Then joy fled afar from the hero, and sorrow hath pierced his heart,
Too early the twain they deemed it, from each other for aye to part.
Meantime had his squires bethought them, and his steed to the palace brought,585
Where the boughs of a mighty linden might shadow the outer court;
And the Landgrave's folk they sought him, and together they took their way
Without the walls; ere they parted this grace would Sir Gawain pray,
Since his squires might no more fare with him, that the Landgrave with them in ward
Should ride forthwith unto Beaurosch, 'There Scherules the Burg doth guard,590
Thou shalt pray him that these fair children to Dianasdron he bring
Where many a Breton dwelleth, and shall yield them unto the king
Or to Guinevere, his Lady'—So sware him Kingrimursel,
And, with kindly words and courteous, to Sir Gawain he bade 'Farewell.'
Short the space ere both steed and rider were clad in their mail of might,595
Kinsmen and squires, he kissed them, and alone rode that gallant knight,
For, as this his oath had bade him, to the Grail must his pathway wend,
And many a pain and peril must he know ere his task should end.

[Pg 248]
[Pg 249]


[Pg 250]


Book IX. In the opening the spirit of adventure craves admission to the heart of the poet, who would fain learn from her tidings of Parzival. The venture telleth how the hero had ridden long in doubt and despair, and knew not the days of his wanderings. How he met again with Siguné and came to the forest of Monsalväsch, where he fought with a Knight of the Grail. How, on Good Friday, Parzival met with a pilgrim knight who reproached him for bearing arms at that Holy Tide, and bade him seek the hermit Trevrezent.

How Parzival came to the hermit's cell, and spake of his wrath against God, of his sorrow for his wife, and of his search for the Grail. How Trevrezent told him wherein he had sinned, and showed him the way of salvation.

How the hermit farther revealed to him the mysteries of the Grail, of the Bleeding Lance, and the knives of silver; how he told him of the wound of Anfortas, of the race of the Grail Kings, and how Parzival himself was nephew to Anfortas and Trevrezent. How Parzival confessed that it was he who came to the Grail Castle and failed to ask the question; how Trevrezent spake to him words of comfort and counsel, and absolved him from his sin; and how the two parted in sorrow.

[Pg 251]



'Ope the portal!' 'To whom? Who art thou?' 'In thine heart would I find a place!'
'Nay! if such be thy prayer, methinketh, too narrow shall be the space!'
'What of that? If it do but hold me, none too close shall my presence be,
Nor shalt thou bewail my coming, such marvels I'll tell to thee!'
Is it thou, then, O Dame Adventure? Ah! tell me of Parzival, 5
What doeth he now my hero? whom Kondrie, to find the Grail
Hath driven, with words sharp-pointed, and sore wept the maidens fair
That the path of his far wayfarings the knight from their side must bear.
So he passed from the court of King Arthur, where shall he abide to-day?
Ah! hasten the tale to tell us, where now shall his footsteps stray?10
Say, if fame to himself he winneth, or be ever of joy bereft,
Shall his honour as fair and spotless as of old so to-day be left?
His renown is it broad as aforetime, or waxeth it small and thin?
Ah! tell us, nor stay the story, of the deeds that his hand shall win.
Hath he seen once again Monsalväsch, and Anfortas, the mournful king,15
Whose heart was with sorrow laden? Of thy pity swift comfort bring,
And say if his woe be ended—Speak, speak for we tidings pray
Of him whom alike we serve here, dwells Parzival there to-day?
Declare unto me his doings, how fares it with Gamuret's son,
And the child of fair Herzeleide, is the tale of his wanderings done?20
Since he rode from the court of King Arthur has joy been his lot, or woe?
He hath striven, but rides he ever thro' the wide world nor rest doth know?
Or loveth he now, outwearied, to linger o'er-long at ease?
I were fain to know all his doings, so speak thou, as thou shalt please!
And this hath the venture told me—He hath ridden many a land, 25
[Pg 252] And hath sailèd many a water; and ever, before his hand,
Were he man of the land or kinsman who would joust with him, he fell,
Nor abode his mighty onslaught, and all men of his praises tell.
And ever when in the balance the fame of his foe must lie,
'Twas outweighed by his fame, and his glory uprose to the stars on high,30
And all others paled before it—In many a mighty strife
With sword and lance was he victor, and guarded full well his life.
And they who would fame win from him, for such thinking they paid full dear—
The sword that Anfortas gave him, as ye once in this tale did hear,
Sprang asunder onewhile, yet 'twas welded afresh in the mystic spring35
By Karnant, and much fame and honour the blade to its lord did bring!
Who believeth me not, he sinneth, for now doth the venture tell
How adown a woodland pathway, on his way rode Sir Parzival,
(But the hour of his riding I wot not, if in waxing or waning light,)
When a hermitage, newly builded, uprose to his wondering sight, 40
And a stream flowed swift beneath it, for 'twas built o'er the brooklet's wave
Then in search of some worthy venture to its door rode the hero brave,
Nor knew that of grace 'twas the portal, and his footsteps of God were led.
But the dweller therein was a maiden, and the days of her joy were sped,
For the love of God had she offered her youth, and the joys of earth,45
And the root of her old-time sorrow brought ever fresh grief to birth.
For he found here Schionatulander, and Siguné, his faithful love,
Dead and buried he lay, the hero, and the maid wept his tomb above.
Tho' but seldom Siguné the Duchess might hearken the Holy Mass,
All her life was a prayer, in God's service her nights as her days she'ld pass.50
And her lips, erst so red and glowing, had faded as life-joys fade,
And alone would she mourn such sorrow as never had mourned a maid.
Thus denial of love's fulfilling made Love, with her love, to die,
And dead, as she living loved him, did she cherish him tenderly.
And in sooth had she once his wife been, then ne'er had Lunete braved55
Her wrath, and had given such counsel, as she once to her lady gave.
And today may we look upon women, who never a willing ear
Had turned to Lunete, and such wisdom but little had brooked to hear.
For this do I know, that a woman who, for love of her lord alone,
[Pg 253] And thro' virtue of gentle breeding, doth never strange service own,60
But aye, while her husband liveth, shall be to him wife as true,
Heaven giveth in her such blessing as bloometh for ever new!
And never shall prayer or fasting robe her with a robe as fair!
And I, if the time were fitting, this word naught but truth would swear.
Be he dead, she may do as best please her, but if faithful she still abide,65
Then far fairer such faith than the circlet she beareth at feasting tide!
Shall I joy compare with the sorrow that her faith to Siguné brought?
Nay, 'twere better I speak not of it—O'er rough stones, and a road unwrought
Rode Parzival to the window (he deemed well he rode too near).
He would ask of the woodland pathway, and the goal of its windings hear.70
And he thought him, perchance, the hermit might tell of the unknown way,
'Doth one dwell here?' the voice of a maiden it was that made answer,'Yea!'
As he knew 'twas the voice of a woman, swift turned he his steed aside
On the greensward beside the pathway, for he deemed he too near did ride,
And sooner had he dismounted had he known that a maiden dwelt 75
Within such a lowly dwelling, and shame, as was meet, he felt.
Then his horse and his shield, all splintered, he bound to a fallen tree,
And he loosed his sword from beside him, for a courteous knight was he.
Then he stepped him unto the window, and asked of the place and road,
And the cell of all joy was empty, and bare, as 'seemed grief's abode.80
He spake, would she come to the window? and the maiden from prayer arose,
She was tall as a virgin lily, and pale as a faded rose,
And he deemed not as yet that he knew her—A shirt woven rough of hair,
Next her skin, 'neath a flowing garment of grey, did the maiden wear,
And sorrow was her heart's treasure, and fallen her courage high, 85
And the guerdon she won for her service must be paid her in many a sigh!
Then the maiden she stepped to the window and the knight did she courteous greet,
In her hand did she hold her psalter, and her voice it was low and sweet.
And Parzival saw on her white hand the gleam of a ring of gold,
For truly she bare the token she won from true love of old. 90
And the stone set within the circlet was a garnet, whose slumbering light
Flashed red mid the dusky shadows, as mid ashes the sparks glow bright.
And the band that her head encircled was black as a mourning band—
[Pg 254] Then she spake, 'Sir Knight, 'neath the window a bench shalt thou see to stand,
Thou canst sit there, an it so please thee, and thy journey will brook delay,95
God reward thee for this thy greeting Who hath led thee to me this day!'
Then the hero did as she bade him, and he sat 'neath the window small,
And he prayed her, 'Sit thou within there!' 'Nay! ne'er did such chance befall
That here by a man I sat me!' Then he asked her, what did she here?
That, so far from the home of men-folk, thou dost dwell in this desert drear100
Seemeth me all too great a wonder, say, Lady, how shalt thou live,
Since no man abideth by thee who succour or food can give?'
Then she quoth, ''Tis the Grail that doth feed me, and It feedeth me well I ween,
From Its marvels the sorceress Kondrie, (of her own will the task hath been,)
Doth bring me each Sabbath vigil what serveth me for the week.' 105
A little space she kept silence, then further the maid did speak:
'An it otherwise were with me as I would, I need little care
For the food, since the Grail doth feed me I never too ill shall fare!'
But he deemed that she lied unto him, and with false words would speak him
fair, And, mocking, he spake,'Now, who gave thee that ring which I see thee wear?110
For ever 'twas told unto me that hermit, or man, or maid,
Must forswear all love!'—'Now I think me, if in truth thou these words hast said,
For false maiden thou sure dost hold me! Yet if falsehood I ever learn,
And thou shalt be near to witness, 'twere time then with wrath to burn!
God knoweth, ill ways I hated, and falsehood I never knew; 115
This troth plight that here thou seest I had from a lover true,
Tho' never was love's fulfilment our portion while he might live,
'Twas the heart of maiden bade me the love of a maiden give.
And he lieth in death beside me, and his token I ever wear
Since the day that Duke Orilus slew him—and grief for his sake I bear—'120
'And true love will I truly give him, thro' my sorrow-laden days,
Such love as I sware unto him, when he, whom, all knights must praise,
With sword, and shield, and helmet, and prowess of knightly deed
Sought my love, and in true love's service won death for his glory's meed!
Yet tho' ever a spotless maiden, my husband he, in God's sight, 125
[Pg 255] Shall be, and if thoughts God counteth as deeds then is woven aright
The bond that shall ever bind us, true husband and wife as true,
For his death wrought my life such sorrow as waxeth for ever new.
And this ring shall, I ween, be my witness when I stand in the sight of God
Of a marriage vow and the tear-drops that bedew it are tears of blood.'130
'Yea, 'tis I indeed, and none other, and the hero who here doth lie
Is my knight, Schionatulander, and the maid of his love am I!'
Then he knew 'twas the maid Siguné, and her sorrow it wrought him pain,
And he lifted his helmet's visor ere he spake to the maid again.
And she saw his head uncovered, and she saw his face gleam white 135
Thro' the rust of the iron harness, and she spake to the gallant knight:
'Is it thou, Parzival, my kinsman? Dost thou seek for the Grail to-day?
Or its mighty power hast thou proven? Say, whither dost wend thy way?'
Then he spake to the noble maiden, 'Alas! for my joy is fled,
And the Grail hath but wrought me sorrow, and mischance in fair fortune's stead.140
For the land that as king had crowned me must I leave, and yet more, I ween,
The fairest of wives, and the sweetest, that ever a man hath seen.
For no lovelier form I think me on earth of mankind was born,
And I yearn for her tender greeting, and full sore for her love I mourn!
And yet know I a deeper sorrow and I strive for a higher prize, 145
For the day when the Burg of Monsalväsch, and the Grail shall rejoice my eyes!
Now, Siguné, dear my cousin, thou wast all too wroth with me,
For heavy indeed my sorrow, yet thou fain wouldst my foeman be!'
And she quoth,'From henceforth, my cousin, mine anger will I forswear,
For too much of thy joy lieth forfeit since the question thou didst forbear!150
And I would not too sorely grieve thee—Alas I that thou didst withhold
The word that had brought thee honour, and the tale of his griefs had told
Who sat there as thine host beside thee—nor thine host alone was he,
Anfortas, for joy and blessing his presence had brought to thee!
And thy question great bliss had brought thee, and thy silence had wrought thee woe,155
And thy spirit shall fail, and heart-sorrow as thy comrade thou well shalt know.
And yet had it been far from thee, nor, a stranger, had sought thy side,
[Pg 256] Hadst thou asked of that Burg the marvels, and what ill did its host betide!'
'Yea, I did there as one who wrongeth himself; yet my cousin dear
I prithee here give me counsel, since in sooth are we kinsmen near.160
And tell me, how fares it with thee? I would sorrow for this thy woe
Were my sorrow not all too heavy! Greater grief man may never know!'
Then she quoth, 'May His Mercy help thee, Who knoweth of all men's woe,
Perchance it may yet befall thee that His finger a way shall show
That shall lead thee once more to Monsalväsch, and thine heart's bliss afresh shall spring.165
'Tis but short space since Kondrie left me, and I would I could tidings bring
Of whither she went, but I asked not if she rode to the Burg again,
Or passed elsewhere; but when she cometh by that streamlet she draweth rein,
Where, from cleft in the high rock riven, the waters flow fresh and clear.
It may be, if thou follow swiftly, that she rideth as yet anear, 170
And, perchance, thou shalt overtake her.' Then the knight he made no delay
But farewell did he bid to the maiden; and he followed the woodland way,
And fresh were the tracks before him, but such pathway the mule must choose
Thro' the depths of the dusky thicket that its traces he soon must lose.
As the Grail he had lost of aforetime, so he lost It again to-day, 175
And joy and delight fled with It—Yea, had he but found the way,
And reached once again Monsalväsch, for better than erst of old
Had he known how to ask the question—thus in sooth is the venture told.
So now let him ride, but whither? Lo, a knight with uncovered head,
And blazoned coat o'er his shining harness, full swiftly towards him sped!180
And to Parzival thus quoth he, 'Sir Knight, I must deem it ill
That thus thro' the woods of my monarch thou takest thy way at will!
Begone! or receive such token thou shalt wish thyself far from here!
Monsalväsch doth never brook it that men ride thus its walls anear,
And here must thou strive in battle, and win here a victor's fame, 185
Or such penance be thine, as without there, in the open, men Death shall name!'
And he bare in his hand a helmet, and its bands were of silken sheen,
[Pg 257] Sharp-pointed his spear, and the spear-shaft was of wood new and strong I ween!
And wrathful he bound his helmet on his head, not in vain should be
His threat, for his blows should enforce it! Now ready for joust was he;190
But many a spear as goodly had splintered 'fore Parzival,
And he thought, 'Now, it well had chanced me, that death to my lot should fall
If I rode thro' the corn upstanding—then reason had he for wrath,
But now hath he none, since I ride here on naught but a woodland path,
And I tread here but fern and heather! An mine hand shall not lose its skill195
I will leave him such pledge for my journey as, I think me, shall please him ill!'
Then they rode at full speed their chargers, and they urged them with spur and rein,
As the bolt from the bow of the archer so swift flew those heroes twain,
And the first joust they rode unwounded; but many a knightly fray
Unscathed had Parzival ridden, and e'en so should it chance to-day.200
(Unto skill and the lust of battle must his father's son be heir.)
His lance-point upon the fastening of his foeman's helm struck fair,
And it smote him where men in jousting their shield are wont to hold,
And down from his gallant charger did he bear him, the Templar bold.
And the knight of the Grail fell headlong down the side of a rocky dell,205
Tho' couch he had found, I think me, he slumbered not over well.
But the victor's steed sped onward, and in vain would he check its flight
Ere it fell, and well-nigh in falling had borne to his death the knight.
A cedar o'erhung the chasm, its bough Parzival gripped fast,
(Nor think ye scorn of my hero, that, as chanceth a thief at last, 210
He hung, for none spake his judgment, he hung there by his own hand)
His feet, for a foothold seeking, on the rock found at last their stand:
Far out of his reach, beneath him, his gallant steed lay dead,
Up the further side of the valley the Templar for safety fled.
Think ye that he much might pride him on his token from Parzival? 215
Far better at home in Monsalväsch had he fared with the wondrous Grail!
To the plain once more climbed our hero, there the steed of the Templar stood,
[Pg 258] For down to the ground hung the bridle and fettered the war-horse good.
As the knight in his flight forgat it so it stood where its master fell,
Swift Parzival sprang to the saddle, such booty might please him well.220
Of a truth his spear had he shattered, yet more than he lost he won—
Nor Lähelein, nor Kingrisein a better joust e'er had run!
Nor King Gramoflanz nor Count Laskoit (the son he of Gurnemanz).
Onward he rode, yet wandering, nor further befell mischance,
Nor strife, from the knights of Monsalväsch, yet one grief must vex his soul,235
He found not the Grail—Ever further he rode, further fled the goal!
Now he who my song will hearken, he shall hear that which yet befell,
Tho' the tale of the weeks I know not, that had flown since Sir Parzival
Had met with the maid, and had ridden on venture as aye before—
One morning the ground was snow-clad, and tho' thin was the cloak it bore230
Yet so thick it was that men, seeing, had deemed it the time of frost;
As he rode thro' the depths of a woodland by a knight was his pathway crossed,
And old was the knight, and grey bearded, yet his face it was bright and fair,
And his lady who walked beside him like mien to her lord did bear.
And each on their naked body wore a garment of horse-hair grey, 235
For penance and pilgrimage minded they wended afoot their way.
And their children, two gentle maidens, such as men's eyes are fain to see,
In like garments they followed barefoot, e'en as pilgrims are wont to be.
Then our hero the old knight greeted as he passed on his lowly way,
And good was the rede, and holy, that he heard from his lips that day.240
And a prince of the land he seemed him—By each maiden a brachet ran,
And with humble mien and reverent paced master alike and man.
For both knight and squire they followed on this holy pilgrimage,
And some, they were young and beardless, and some were bent low with age.
But Parzival, our hero, he was clad in far other wise, 245
In fair raiment, rich and costly, he rode in right knightly guise,
And proudly he ware his harness, and unlike were the twain I ween,
The old man in his robe of penance and the knight in his armour's sheen!
Then swiftly he turned his bridle and held by the pathway side,
[Pg 259] For fain would he know of their journey, and friendly the knight replied.250
But a sorrow the old man deemed it that one to this Holy Tide
Should have failèd to give due honour, but in warlike gear should ride.
For better would it befit him unarmèd this day to greet,
Or like them to walk barefooted, and in garb for a sinner meet!
Quoth Parzival, 'Nay, I know not what the time of the year may be, 255
Or how men the tale may reckon of the weeks as they swiftly flee,
How the days shall be named I know not, long have I forgot such lore!
Of old time I served a master, and God was the name He bore.
But He bare unto me no favour, and for guerdon He mocking gave,
Tho' ne'er had my heart turned from Him—Men said, 'If from God ye crave260
For succour, He sure will give it;' but I deem well they spake a lie,
For He who they said would help me, did help unto me deny!'
Quoth the grey-haired knight, 'Dost thou mean Him who was once of a Maiden born?
Dost believe that a Man for men's sake He died on the cross this morn,
And this day for His sake we hallow? Then such garb becomes thee ill!265
For to-day all men call Good Friday, and the world it rejoiceth still
O'er the day that her chains were riven; tho' she mourneth her Saviour's pain.
Speak, knowest thou of faith more faithful than the faith God hath kept with men,
Since He hung on the cross for men's sake? Such woe as He bare for thee,
Sir Knight, sure must work thee sorrow, since baptized thou shalt surely be!270
For our sin His life was forfeit, or else had mankind been lost,
And Hell as his prey had held us, and Hell's torments had paid sin's cost.
Sir Knight, if thou be not heathen, thou shalt honour this Holy Day—
So do thou as here I counsel, ride thou on this woodland way,
For near here a hermit dwelleth, as thy speech, so his rede shall be,275
And if ruth for ill deed thou showest of thy sin will he speak thee free!'
Then out quoth the old man's daughter, 'Nay, father, but speak not so,
For too chill and cold is the morning, thou shalt bid him no further go.
Far better to bid him warm him his steel-clad limbs, for strong
And fair shall he be to look on, and the way is both cold and long.280
Methinks were he thrice as mighty he would freeze ere his goal he reach,
And here hast thou tent for shelter, and viands for all and each.
Came King Arthur and all his vassals thou wouldst still have enough I trow,
[Pg 260] So do thou as host so kindly, and good-will to this young knight show!'
Quoth the grey-haired sire, 'My daughters, Sir Knight, here give counsel good,285
Each year, with tent of pilgrim, I wend thro' this lonely wood.
If warm or cold be the season I care not, as year by year
The time of our dear Lord's Passion draweth once more anear,
He rewardeth His servant's service—Sir Knight, what I, for His sake,
Brought here, as my guest, right willing, I pray thee from me to take!'290
And kindly they spake, the maidens, and they bade the knight to stay,
And with gracious mien they prayed naught might drive him from them away.
And tho' cold was the frost and bitter, and it wrought not as summer's heat,
Yet Parzival saw their lips glow so red, and soft, and sweet.
(Tho' they wept for the death of the Saviour, such sorrow became them well.)295
And here, had I cause for vengeance, an such happy chance befell,
I never would speak them guiltless, but a kiss should their penance be,
Nor against their will would I take it, of good-will should they give it me!
For women shall aye be women, and tho' brave be the knight, and strong,
Yet I ween is he oft the vanquished, nor the strife it endureth long!300
With sweet words, and ways so gentle, they ever the knight would pray,
Children alike and parents, and fain would they have him stay:
Yet he thought, 'It were best I leave them, for e'en if I turn aside
All too fair methinks are these maidens, 'twere unfitting that I should ride
While they by my side walk barefoot—And 'tis better that we should part,305
Since ever I bear Him hatred Whom they worship with lowly heart,
And they look for His aid, Who ever hath turnèd His face from me,
Nor from sorrow hath He withheld me, but hath wrought with me heavily!'
'Knight and Lady,' he quoth, 'I think me 'twere better I leave should pray,
May good fortune be yours, and blessing, and fulness of joy alway, 310
And may you, ye gentle maidens, find reward in your courtesy,
Since so well ye had thought to serve me, fair leave would I pray from ye!'
He greeted them, low they bowed them, and greeted the knight again,
Nor might they withhold their sorrow, for parting aye bringeth pain!
So the son of Herzeleide rode onward, well taught was he 315
In all manly skill and courage, in mercy and purity;
[Pg 261] And his mother had aye bequeathed him her faithful heart and true—
Yet ever his soul waxed sadder, and there sprang up thoughts anew
Of the might of the Maker of all things, Who hath made this earth of naught,
How He dealeth with all creation, and still on His power he thought320
'How might it yet be if God sent me that which brought to an end my woe?
If ever a knight He favoured, if ever a knight might know
His payment for service done Him—if He thinketh His aid they earn
Who dauntless shall wield their weapons, and ne'er from a foeman turn,
Let Him aid me, who bear unstainèd shield and sword as befits a man,325
If to-day be His Day of Redemption, let Him help me, if help He can.'
Backward he turned his bridle on the road he had ridden before,
And the knight and his children stood there, and mourned for the parting sore.
And the maidens, true and gentle, gazed after the passing knight,
And his heart spake, he fain had seen them once more those maidens bright.330
Then he spake, 'Is God's power so mighty that He guideth upon their way
The steed alike and the rider, then His hand may I praise to-day!
If God sendeth help from heaven, then let Him my charger show
The goal which shall bless my journey, so shall I the token know.
Now, go thou as God shall lead thee!' and bridle and bit he laid 335
Free on the neck of his charger and spurred it adown the glade.
Towards Fontaine-Sauvage the road led, and the chapel where once he sware
The oath that should clear Jeschuté—A holy man dwelt there,
And Trevrezent men called him, and ever on Monday morn
Poor was his fare, and no richer it waxed as the week wore on. 340
Nor wine nor bread he tasted, nor food that with blood was red,
Fish nor flesh, but his life so holy on the herb of the ground was fed.
And ever his thoughts, God-guided, were turning to Heaven's land,
And by fasting the wiles of the Devil he deemed he might best withstand.
And to Parzival the mystery of the Grail should he now reveal— 345
And he, who of this hath asked me, and since silence my lips must seal
Was wroth with me as his foeman, his anger might naught avail,
Since I did but as Kiot bade me, for he would I should hide the tale,
[Pg 262] And tell unto none the secret, till the venture so far were sped
That the hidden should be made open, and the marvel of men be read.350
For Kiot of old, the master whom men spake of in days of yore,
Far off in Toledo's city, found in Arabic writ the lore
By men cast aside and forgotten, the tale of the wondrous Grail;
But first must he learn the letters, nor black art might there avail.
By the grace of baptismal waters, by the light of our Holy Faith, 355
He read the tale, else 'twere hidden; for never, the story saith,
Might heathen skill have shown us the virtue that hidden lies
In this mighty Grail, or Its marvels have opened to Christian eyes.
'Twas a heathen, Flegetanis, who had won for his wisdom fame,
And saw many a wondrous vision, (from Israel's race he came, 360
And the blood of the kings of old-time, of Solomon did he share,)
He wrote in the days long vanished, ere we as a shield might bear
The cross of our Holy Baptism 'gainst the craft and the wiles of Hell,
And he was the first of earth's children the lore of the Grail to tell.
By his father's side a heathen, a calf he for God did hold, 365
How wrought the devil such folly, on a folk so wise, of old?
And the Highest Who knoweth all wonders, why stretched He not forth His Hand
To the light of His truth to turn them? For who may His power withstand!
And the heathen, Flegetanis, could read in the heavens high
How the stars roll on their courses, how they circle the silent sky,370
And the time when their wandering endeth—and the life and the lot of men
He read in the stars, and strange secrets he saw, and he spake again
Low, with bated breath and fearful, of the thing that is called the Grail,
In a cluster of stars was it written, the name, nor their lore shall fail.
And he quoth thus, 'A host of angels this marvel to earth once bore,375
But too pure for earth's sin and sorrow the heaven they sought once more,
And the sons of baptized men hold It, and guard It with humble heart,
And the best of mankind shall those knights be who have in such service part'
Then Kiot my master read this, the tale Flegetanis told,
And he sought for the name of the people, in Latin books of old, 380
[Pg 263] Who of God were accounted worthy for this wondrous Grail to care,
Who were true and pure in their dealings and a lowly heart might bear.
And in Britain, and France, and Ireland thro' the chronicles he sought
Till at length, in the land of Anjou, the story to light was brought.
There, in true and faithful record, was it written of Mazadan, 385
And the heroes, the sons of his body, and further the story ran,
How Titurel, the grandsire, left his kingdom to Frimutel,
And at length to his son, Anfortas, the Grail and Its heirdom fell:
That his sister was Herzeleide, and with Gamuret she wed
And bare him for son the hero whose wanderings ye now have read. 390
For he rideth upon a journey that shall lead him a road unknown,
Tho' the grey knight but now had wended his way from the fountain lone.
And he knew again the meadow, tho' now the snow lay white
On the ground that erst was blooming with flowers of springtide bright.
'Twas before the rocky hillside where his hand must wipe away 395
The stain from Jeschuté's honour, and her husband's wrath allay.
Yet still the road led onward, to Fontaine-Sauvage, the name
Of the goal that should end his journey and his hermit host he came.
Then out spake the holy hermit, 'Alas, why doest thou so,
Sir Knight? at this Holy Season 'tis ill thus armed to go. 400
Dost thou bear perchance this harness thro' strife and danger dared?
Or hast thou unharmèd ridden, and in peace on thy way hast fared?
Other robe had beseemed thee better! List not to the voice of pride,
But draw thy rein here beside me, and with me for a space abide.
Not all too ill shalt thou fare here, thou canst warm thee beside my fire.405
Dost thou seek here for knightly venture, and dost guerdon of love desire,
If the power of true Love constrain thee, then love Him who Love may claim!
As this day to His Love beareth witness, be His service to-day thine aim,
And serve for the love of fair women, if it please thee, another day;
But now get thee from off thy charger, and awhile from thy wanderings stay.'410
Then Parzival, e'en as he bade him, sprang lightly unto the ground;
Humbly he stood before him, as he told how he folk had found
Who had told of the hermit's dwelling, and the counsel he wisely gave,
And he spake, 'I am one who hath sinnèd, and rede at thy lips I crave!'
As he spake the hermit answered,'Right gladly I'll counsel thee, 415
[Pg 264] But, say, what folk hast thou met with? Who showed thee thy way to me?
'In the wood I met with an old man grey-headed, and fair he spake,
And kindly, I ween, were his people, he bade me this road to take,
On his track my steed came hither.' Then answered the hermit old,
''Twas Kahenis, and his praises shall ever by men be told. 420
A prince of the land of Punturtois, and his sister Kareis' king
Hath taken to wife—Fairer maidens no mother to earth did bring
Than those maidens twain, his daughters, who met thee upon thy road,
Of a royal house, yet yearly he seeketh this poor abode!'
Then Parzival spake to the hermit, 'Now say, when thou saw'st me here,425
Didst thou shrink from my warlike coming, didst thou feel no touch of fear?'
Quoth the hermit,'Sir Knight, believe me, far oftener for stag or bear
Have I feared than I feared a man's face, in sooth shalt thou be aware
I fear me for no man living! Both cunning and skill have I,
And tho' I were loath to vaunt me, yet I ne'er to this life did fly430
For fear, as beseems a maiden! For never my heart did quail
When I faced as a knight my foeman, and ne'er did my courage fail,
In the days when such things became me, in the days when I too might fight,
I was armèd as thou art armèd, like thee did I ride, a knight!
And I strove for high love's rewarding, and many an evil thought 435
With the pure mind within me battled, and ever my way I wrought
To win from a woman favour! All that was in time of yore,
And my body, by fasting wasted, remembereth those days no more.'
'Now give to mine hand the bridle, for there 'neath the rocky wall
Thy steed shall abide in safety, and we, ere the night shall fall, 440
Will gather of bough and herbage, since no better food may be,
Yet I trust that both thou and thy charger fare not all too ill with me!'
But Parzival deemed that surely 'twas unfitting a hermit old
Should thus lead his steed, and the bridle he would fain from his hand withhold,
'Now courtesy sure forbids thee to strive 'gainst thine host's good-will,445
Let not haste from the right path lead thee, but follow my counsel still.'
In this wise spake the old man kindly, as he bade him, so did the knight,
And the charger he led 'neath the hillside where but seldom did sun-rays light.
[Pg 265] In sooth 'twas a wondrous stable where the hermit the steed would stall,
And thro' it, from heights o'erhanging, foamed ever a water-fall. 450
The snow lay beneath our hero, no weakling was he, I ween,
Else the frost and the cold of his harness o'er-much for his strength had been.
To a cavern the hermit led him where no breath of wind might blow,
And a fire of coals had warmed it, and burned with a ruddy glow.
And here might the guest refresh him by the fire and a taper's light,455
(Well strewn was the ground with fuel,) then swiftly the gallant knight
Laid from off him his heavy armour, and warmed his limbs so cold,
And his skin in the light glowed ruddy, and his face might the host behold.
He might well be of wandering weary, for never a trodden way
Nor a roof save the stars of heaven had he known for many a day. 460
In the daylight the wood had he ridden, and his couch, it had been the ground:
'Twas well that he here a shelter, and a kindly host had found!
Then his host cast a robe around him, and he took him by his right hand,
And he led him into a cavern where his Missal did open stand.
And as fitted the Holy Season the Altar was stripped and bare; 465
And the shrine—Parzival must know it, 'twas the spot where he once did swear
With true hand, true oath and faithful, that ended Jeschuté's woe,
And turnèd her tears to laughter, and taught her fresh joy to know!
Quoth Parzival, 'Well I know it this chapel and shrine! Of yore,
As hither my wanderings led me, an oath on that shrine I swore; 470
And a spear, with fair colours blazoned, that did here by the altar stand
I bare hence, and in sooth, I think me, right well did it serve my hand!
Men say it much honour brought me, yet I wot not if it be so,
For in thoughts of my wife had I lost me, and naught of the thing I know.
Yet, unwitting, two jousts had I ridden, and two foemen I overthrew,475
In those days all men gave me honour, nor sorrow nor shame I knew.
Now, alas! is my sorrow greater than ever to man befell!
Say, when did I bear the spear hence? The days of my wanderings tell!'
'It was Taurian,' quoth the hermit, 'who his spear in my care did leave,
And much did he mourn its losing, and I with the knight must grieve.480
[Pg 266] And four years and a half and three days shall have passed since we lost the spear,
Sir Knight, an my word thou doubtest, behold! it is written here!'
Then he showed unto him in the Psalter how the time it had come and gone,
And the weeks and the years he read him that silent and swift had flown.
And he spake, 'Now first do I learn them, the days that I aimless stray,485
And the weeks and the years that have vanished, since my joy hath been reft away.'
And he spake, 'Now indeed me-seemeth that my bliss it was but a dream,
For heavy the load of sorrow that so long hath my portion been!'
'And, Sir Host, I yet more would tell thee, where cloister or church shall be
And men unto God give honour, there no eye hath looked on me, 490
And naught but strife have I sought me, tho' the time as thou sayst be long,
For I against God bear hatred, and my wrath ever waxeth strong.
For my sorrow and shame hath He cherished, and He watched them greater grow
Till too high they waxed, and my gladness, yet living, He buried low!
And I think were God fain to help me other anchor my joy had found 495
Than this, which so deep hath sunk it, and with sorrow hath closed it round.
A man's heart is mine, and sore wounded, it acheth, and acheth still,
Yet once was it glad and joyous, and free from all thought of ill!
Ere sorrow her crown of sorrow, thorn-woven, with stern hand pressed
On the honour my hand had won me o'er many a foeman's crest! 500
And I do well to lay it on Him, the burden of this my shame,
Who can help if He will, nor withholdeth the aid that men fain would claim,
But me alone, hath He helped not, whate'er men of Him may speak,
But ever He turneth from me, and His wrath on my head doth wreak!'
Then the hermit beheld him sighing, 'Sir Knight, thou shalt put away505
Such madness, and trust God better, for His help will He never stay.
And His aid to us here be given, yea, alike unto me and thee.
But' twere best thou shouldst sit beside me, and tell here thy tale to me,
And make to me free confession—How first did this woe begin?
What foe shall have worked such folly that God should thine hatred win?510
Yet first would I pray thee, courteous, to hearken the word I say,
For fain would I speak Him guiltless, ere yet thou thy plaint shall lay
[Pg 267] 'Gainst Him, Who denieth never unto sinful man His aid,
But ever hath answered truly, who truly to Him hath prayed.'
'Tho' a layman I was yet ever in books might I read and learn 515
How men, for His help so faithful, should ne'er from His service turn.
Since aid He begrudged us never, lest our soul unto Hell should fall,
And as God Himself shall be faithful, be thou faithful whate'er befall;
For false ways He ever hateth—and thankful we aye should be
When we think of the deed, so gracious, once wrought of His love so free!520
For our sake the Lord of Heaven in the likeness of man was made,
And Truth is His name, and His nature, nor from Truth shall He e'er have strayed.
And this shalt thou know most surely, God breaketh His faith with none.
Teach thy thoughts ne'er from Him to waver, since Himself and His ways are One!'
'Wouldst thou force thy God with thine anger? He who heareth that thou hast sworn525
Hatred against thy Maker, he shall hold thee of wit forlorn!
Of Lucifer now bethink thee, and of those who must share his fall,
Bethink thee, the angel nature was free from all taint of gall,
Say, whence sprang that root of evil which spurred them to endless strife,
And won its reward in Hell's torments, and the death of an outcast life?530
Ashtaroth, Belcimon, and Belat, Rhadamant, yea, and many more!
Pride and anger the host of Heaven with Hell's colours have painted o'er!'
'When Lucifer and his angels thus sped on their downward way,
To fill their place, a wonder God wrought from the earth and clay:
The son of His hands was Adam, and from flesh of Adam, Eve 535
He brought, and for Eve's transgression, I ween, all the world doth grieve.
For she hearkened not her Creator, and she robbed us of our bliss.
And two sons sprang forth from her body, and the elder he wrought amiss,
Since envy so worked upon him that from wrath there sprang disgrace,
And of maidenhood did he rob her who was mother of all his race! 540
Here many a one doth question, an the tale be to him unknown,
How might such a thing have chancèd? It came but by sin alone!'
Quoth Parzival, 'Now, I think me that never such thing might be,
And 'twere better thou shouldst keep silence, than tell such a tale to me!
[Pg 268] For who should have borne the father, whose son, as thou sayest, reft545
Maidenhood from his father's mother? Such riddle were better left!'
But the hermit again made answer, 'Now thy doubt will I put away,
O'er my falsehood thou canst bemoan thee if the thing be not truth I say,
For the Earth was Adam's mother, of the Earth was Adam fed,
And I ween, tho' a man she bare here, yet still was the Earth a maid.550
And here will I read the riddle, he who robbed her of maidenhood
Was Cain the son of Adam, who in wrath shed his brother's blood:
For as on the Earth, so stainless, the blood of the guiltless fell,
Her maidenhood fled for ever! And true is the tale I tell.
For wrath of man and envy, thro' Cain did they wake to life, 555
And ever from that day forward thro' his sin there ariseth strife.'
'Nor on earth shall aught be purer than a maiden undefiled,
Think how pure must be a maiden, since God was a Maiden's Child!
Two men have been born of maidens, and God hath the likeness ta'en
Of the son of the first Earth-Maiden, since to help us He aye was fain.560
Thus grief alike and gladness from the seed of Adam spring,
Since He willed to be Son of Adam, Whose praises the angels sing.
And yet have we sin as our birthright, and sin's pain must we ever bear,
Nor its power may we flee! Yet pity He feeleth for our despair,
Whose Strength is aye linked with Mercy, and with Mercy goes hand in hand,565
And for man, as a Man, He suffered, and did falsehood by truth withstand.'
'No longer be wroth with thy Maker! If thou wouldst not thy soul were lost—
And here for thy sin do penance, nor longer thus rashly boast,
For he who, with words untamèd, is fain to avenge his wrong,
His own mouth shall, I ween, speak his judgment ere ever the time be long.570
Learn faith from the men of old-time, whose rede ever waxeth new,
For Plato alike and the Sibyls in their day spake words so true,
And long years ere the time had ripened His coming they did foretell
Who made for our sin's Atonement, and drew us from depths of Hell.
God's Hand from those torments took us, and God's Love lifted us on high,575
But they who His love disdainèd, they yet in Hell's clutches lie!'
'From the lips of the whole world's Lover came a message of love and peace,
(For He is a Light all-lightening, and never His faith doth cease,)
[Pg 269] And he to whom love He showeth, findeth aye in that Love his bliss,
Yet twofold I ween is the message, and His token some read amiss; 580
For the world may buy, as it pleaseth, God's Wrath or His Love so great.
Say, which of the twain wilt thou choose here, shall thy guerdon be Love or Hate?
For the sinner without repentance, he flieth God's faith and Face,
But he who his sin confesseth, doth find in His presence grace!'
'From the shrine of his heart, who shall keep Him? Tho' hidden the thought within,585
And secret, and thro' its darkness no sunbeam its way may win,
(For thought is a secret chamber, fast locked, tho' no lock it bear,)
Yet, tho' against man it be closèd, God's light ever shineth there.
He pierceth the wall of darkness, and silent and swift His spring,
As no sound betrayed His coming, as no footstep was heard to ring, 590
So silent His way He goeth—And swift as our thoughts have flown,
Ere God passed of our heart the threshold, our thoughts unto Him were known!
And the pure in heart He chooseth; he who doth an ill deed begin,
Since God knoweth the thoughts of all men, full sorely shall rue his sin.
And the man who by deeds God's favour doth forfeit, what shall he gain?595
Tho' the world count him honour-worthy, his soul seeketh rest in vain.
And where wilt thou seek for shelter if God as thy foeman stand,
Who of wrath or of love giveth payment, as men serve Him, with equal hand?
Thou art lost if thy God be against thee—If thou wouldst His favour earn,
Then away from thy wrath and thy folly thy thoughts to His goodness turn!'600
Quoth Parzival, 'Here I thank thee, from my heart, that such faithful rede
Thou hast given of him who withholdeth from no man his rightful meed,
But evil, as good, requiteth—Yet my youth hath been full of care,
And my faith hath but brought me sorrow, and ill to this day I fare!'
Then the hermit he looked on the Waleis, 'If a secret be not thy grief,605
Right willing thy woe I'll hearken, I may bring thee perchance relief;
Of some counsel may I bethink me such as yet to thyself dost fail!'
Quoth Parzival, 'Of my sorrows the chiefest is for the Grail,
And then for my wife—none fairer e'er hung on a mother's breast,
For the twain is my heart yet yearning, with desire that ne'er findeth rest.'610
Quoth his host, 'Well, Sir Knight, thou speakest, such sorrow is good to bear;
[Pg 270] If thus for the wife of thy bosom thy heart knoweth grief and care,
And Death find thee a faithful husband, tho' Hell vex thee with torments dire
Yet thy pains shall be swiftly ended, God will draw thee from out Hell-fire.
But if for the Grail thou grievest, then much must I mourn thy woe,615
O! foolish man, since fruitless thy labours, for thou shalt know
That none win the Grail save those only whose names are in Heaven known,
They who to the Grail do service, they are chosen of God alone;
And mine eyes have surely seen this, and sooth is the word I say!'
Quoth Parzival, 'Thou hast been there?' 'Sir Knight,' quoth the hermit, 'Yea!'620
But never a word spake our hero of the marvels himself had seen,
But he asked of his host the story, and what men by 'The Grail' should mean?
Spake the hermit, 'Full well do I know this, that many a knightly hand
Serveth the Grail at Monsalväsch, and from thence, throughout all the land,
On many a distant journey these gallant Templars fare, 625
Whether sorrow or joy befall them, for their sins they this penance bear!'
'And this brotherhood so gallant, dost thou know what to them shall give
Their life, and their strength and their valour—then know, by a stone they live,
And that stone is both pure and precious—Its name hast thou never heard?
Men call it Lapis Exilis—by its magic the wondrous bird, 630
The Phœnix, becometh ashes, and yet doth such virtue flow
From the stone, that afresh it riseth renewed from the ashes glow,
And the plumes that erewhile it moulted spring forth yet more fair and bright—
And tho' faint be the man and feeble, yet the day that his failing sight
Beholdeth the stone, he dies not, nor can, till eight days be gone,635
Nor his countenance wax less youthful—If one daily behold that stone,
(If a man it shall be, or a maiden 'tis the same,) for a hundred years,
If they look on its power, their hair groweth not grey, and their face appears
The same as when first they saw it, nor their flesh nor their bone shall fail
But young they abide for ever—And this stone all men call the Grail.'640
'And Its holiest power, and the highest shall I ween be renewed to-day,
[Pg 271] For ever upon Good Friday a messenger takes her way.
From the height of the highest Heaven a Dove on her flight doth wing,
And a Host, so white and holy, she unto the stone doth bring.
And she layeth It down upon It; and white as the Host the Dove 645
That, her errand done, swift wingeth her way to the Heaven above.
Thus ever upon Good Friday doth it chance as I tell to thee:
And the stone from the Host receiveth all good that on earth may be
Of food or of drink, the earth beareth as the fulness of Paradise.
All wild things in wood or in water, and all that 'neath Heaven flies,650
To that brotherhood are they given, a pledge of God's favour fair,
For His servants He ever feedeth and the Grail for their needs doth care!'
'Now hearken, the Grail's elect ones, say who doth their service claim?
On the Grail, in a mystic writing, appeareth each chosen name,
If a man it shall be, or a maiden, whom God calls to this journey blest.655
And the message no man effaceth, till all know the high behest,
But when all shall the name have read there, as it came, doth the writing go:
As children the Grail doth call them, 'neath its shadow they wax and grow.
And blessèd shall be the mother whose child doth the summons hear,
Rich and poor alike rejoiceth when the messenger draweth near, 660
And the Grail son or daughter claimeth! They are gathered from every land,
And ever from shame and sorrow are they sheltered, that holy band.
In Heaven is their rewarding, if so be that they needs must die,
Then bliss and desire's fulfilment are waiting them all on high!'
'They who took no part in the conflict, when Lucifer would fight 665
With the Three-in-One, those angels were cast forth from Heaven's height.
To the earth they came at God's bidding, and that wondrous stone did tend,
Nor was It less pure for their service, yet their task found at last an end.
I know not if God forgave them, or if they yet deeper fell,
This one thing I know of a surety, what God doeth, He doeth well! 670
But ever since then to this service nor maiden nor knight shall fail,
For God calleth them all as shall please Him!—and so standeth it with the Grail!'
Quoth Parzival, 'So, since knighthood may conquer, with spear and shield,
[Pg 272] Both the fame of this life, and the blessing which Paradise shall yield,
Since my soul ever longed for knighthood, and I fought where'er strife might be,675
And my right hand hath neared full often the guerdon of victory,
If God be the God of battles, if He know how a man should fight,
Let Him name me as one of His servants, of the Grail let Him make me knight!
They shall own that I fear no danger, nor from strife would I turn aside!'
But the hermit made answer gently, 'First must thou beware of pride,680
For lightly may youth mislead thee; and the grace of humility
Mayst thou lose, and the proud God doth punish, as full surely is known to me!'
And tears filled his eyes to o'erflowing, and his sad thoughts awhile did turn
To a story of old, and our hero he bade from its lesson learn.
And he quoth, 'Sir Knight, at Monsalväsch a king reigned in days of yore,685
His name all men know as Anfortas, and I weep for him evermore.
Yea, and thou too shalt mourn his sorrow, for bitter the woe, I ween,
And the torment of heart and body that his guerdon from pride hath been.
For his youth and his worldly riches they led him an evil road,
And he sought for Frau Minne's favour in paths where no peace abode.'690
'But the Grail all such ways forbiddeth, and both knight alike and squire
Who serve the Grail must guard them from the lust of untamed desire.
By meekness their pride must be conquered, if they look for a heavenly prize,
And the brotherhood holdeth hidden the Grail from all stranger eyes:
By their warlike skill and prowess the folk from the lands around, 695
They keep afar, and none knoweth where the Grail and Its Burg are found
Save those whom the Grail shall summon within Monsalväsch' wall—
Yet one, uncalled, rode thither and evil did then befall,
For foolish he was, and witless, and sin-laden from thence did fare,
Since he asked not his host of his sorrow and the woe that he saw him bear.700
No man would I blame, yet this man, I ween, for his sins must pay,
Since he asked not the longed-for question which all sorrow had put away.
(Sore laden his host with suffering, earth knoweth no greater pain.)
And before him King Lähelein came there, and rode to the Lake Brimbane.
Libbèals, the gallant hero, a joust there was fain to ride, 705
And Lähelein lifeless left him, on the grass by the water-side,
[Pg 273] (Prienlaskors, methinks, was his birthplace) and his slayer then led away
His charger, so men knew the evil thus wrought by his hand that day.'
'And I think me, Sir Knight, thou art Lähelein? For thou gavest unto my care
A steed that such token showeth as the steeds of the Grail Knights bear!710
For the white dove I see on its housing, from Monsalväsch it surely came?
Such arms did Anfortas give them while joy yet was his and fame.
Their shields bare of old the token, Titurel gave it to his son
Frimutel, and such shield bare that hero when his death in a joust he won.
For his wife did he love so dearly no woman was loved so well 715
By man, yet in truth and honour,—and the same men of thee shall tell
If thou wakenest anew old customs, and thy wife from thine heart dost love—
Hold thou fast to such fair example lest thy steps from the right path rove!
And in sooth thou art wondrous like him who once o'er the Grail did reign,
Say, what is thy race? whence art thou? and tell me I pray thy name!'720
Each gazed for a space on the other, and thus quoth Parzival,
'Son am I to a king and hero who through knightly courage fell,
In a joust was he slain—Now I pray thee, Sir Hermit, of this thy grace,
That thou, in thy prayers henceforward, wilt give to his name a place.
Know, Gamuret, did they call him, and he came from fair Anjou— 725
Sir Host I am not Lähelein; if ever such sin I knew
'Twas in my days of folly, yet in truth have I done the same,
Here I make of my guilt confession, and my sin unto thee I name,
For the prince who once fell a victim unto my sinful hand
Was he whom men called 'the Red Knight,' Prince Ither of Cumberland.730
On the greensward I lifeless stretched him, and as at my feet he lay,
Harness, and horse, and weapons, as my booty I bare away!'
Spake the host as his words were ended, (the tale he ill pleased must hear,)
'Ah! world, wherefore deal thus with us? since sorrow and grief and fear
Far more than delight dost thou give us! Say, is this thy reward alone?735
For ever the song that thou singest doth end in a mournful tone!'
And he spake, 'O thou son of my sister, what rede may I give to thee?
Since the knight thou hast slain in thy folly, thy flesh and thy blood was he!
If thou, blood-guiltiness bearing, shalt dare before God to stand,
For one blood were ye twain, to God's justice thy life shall repay thine hand.740
Say, for Ither of Gaheviess fallen, what payment dost think to give?
[Pg 274] The crown he of knightly honour! God gave him, while he might live.
All that decketh man's life; for all evil his true heart did truly mourn,
True balsam was he of the faithful, to honour and glory born.
And shame fled before his coming, and truth in his heart did dwell,745
And for love of his lovely body many women shall hate thee well!
For well did they love his coming, and to serve them he aye was fain,
But their eyes that shone fair for his fairness he ne'er shall rejoice again!
Now, may God show His mercy to thee whose hand hath such evil wrought,
Herzeleide the queen, thy mother, thou too to her death hast brought—'750
'Nay! Nay! not so, holy father! What sayest thou?' quoth Parzival,
'Of what dost thou here accuse me? Were I king o'er the wondrous Grail
Not all Its countless riches would repay me if this be sooth,
These words that thy lips have spoken! And yet if I, in very truth,
Be son unto thy sister, then show that thou mean'st me well, 755
And say, without fear or falsehood, are these things true that thou dost tell?'
Then the hermit he spake in answer, 'Ne'er learnt I to deceive,
Thy mother she died of sorrow in the day thou her side didst leave,
Such rewarding her love won for her! Thou wast the beast that hung
On her breast, the wingèd dragon that forth from her body sprung, 760
That spread its wings and left her: in a dream was it all foretold
Ere yet the sorrowing mother the babe to her breast did hold!'
'And two other sisters had I, Schoisianè she was one;
She bare a child—Woe is me, her death thro' this birth she won!
Duke Kiot of Katelangen was her husband, and since that day 765
All wordly joy and honour he putteth from him away.
Siguné, their little daughter, was left to thy mother's care:
And sorrow for Schoisianè in my heart do I ever bear!
So true was her heart and faithful, an ark 'gainst the flood of sin.
A maiden, my other sister, her pure life doth honour win, 770
For the Grail she ever tendeth—Repanse de Schoie, her name,
Tho' none from Its place may move It whose heart showeth taint of shame,
In her hands is It light as a feather—And brother unto us twain
Is Anfortas, by right of heirship he king o'er the Grail doth reign;
And he knoweth not joy, but sorrow, yet one hope I ween is his, 775
That his pain shall at last be turnèd to delight and to endless bliss.
[Pg 275] And wondrous the tale of his sorrow, as, nephew, I'll tell to thee,
And if true be thine heart and faithful his grief shall thy sorrow be!'
'When he died, Frimutel, our father, they chose them his eldest son
As Lord of the Grail and Its knighthood, thus Anfortas his kingdom won,780
And of riches and crown was he worthy, and we were but children still—
When he came to the years of manhood, when love joyeth to work her will
On the heart, and his lips were fringèd with the down of early youth,
Frau Minne laid stress upon him who for torment hath little ruth.
But if love the Grail King seeketh other than he find writ, 785
'Tis a sin, and in sorrow and sighing full sore shall he pay for it!'
'And my lord and brother chose him a lady for service fair,
Noble and true he deemed her, I say not what name she bare;
Well he fought in that lady's honour, and cowardice from him fled,
And his hand many a shield-rim shattered, by love's fire was he venture led.790
So high stood his fame that no hero in knightly lands afar
Could he brook to be thought his equal, so mighty his deeds of war,
And his battle-cry was "Amor," yet it seemeth unto me
Not all too well such cry suiteth with a life of humility.'
'One day as the king rode lonely, in search of some venture high 795
(Sore trouble it brought upon us,) with love's payment for victory,
For love's burden lay heavy on him, in a joust was he wounded sore
With a poisoned spear, so that healing may be wrought on him nevermore.
For thine uncle, the King Anfortas, he was smitten thro' the thigh
By a heathen who with him battled, for he jousted right skilfully. 800
He came from the land of Ethnisé, where forth from fair Paradise
Flow the streams of the River Tigris, and he thought him, that heathen wise,
He should win the Grail, and should hold It—On his spear had he graven his name,
From afar sought he deeds of knighthood, over sea and land he came.
The fame of the Grail drew him thither, and evil for us his strife,805
His hand joy hath driven from us and clouded with grief our life!'
'But thine uncle had battled bravely and men praised his name that day—
With the spear-shaft yet fast in his body he wended his homeward way.
[Pg 276] And weeping arose and wailing as he came once again to his own,
And dead on the field lay his foeman, nor did we for his death make moan!'810
'When the king came, all pale and bloodless, and feeble of strength and limb,
Then a leech stretched his hand to the spear-wound, and the iron he found fast within,
With the hilt, wrought of reed, and hollow, and the twain from the wound he drew.
Then I fell on my knees, and I vowed me to God, with a heart so true,
That henceforward the pride of knighthood, and its fame, would I know no more,815
If but God would behold my brother and would succour his need so sore.
Then flesh, wine, and bread I forswore there, and all food that by blood might live,
That lust might no longer move me my life I to God would give,
And I tell thee, O son of my sister, that the wailing arose anew
When my weapons I put from off me and ungirded my sword so true, 820
And they spake, 'Who shall guard our mysteries? who shall watch o'er the wondrous Grail?'
And tears fell from the eyes of the maidens, but their weeping might naught avail!
'To the Grail, then, they bare Anfortas, if Its virtue might bring relief;
But, alas! when his eyes beheld It yet heavier waxed his grief
As the life sprang afresh within him, and he knew that he might not die;825
And he liveth, while here I hide me in this life of humility,
And the power of the Grail, and Its glory, with their monarch have waxen weak.
For the venom, his wound that poisoned, tho' the leeches their books did seek
Yet found they nor help nor healing—Yea, all that their skill might learn
'Gainst the poison of Aspis, Elkontius, of Liseis, and Ecidemon, 830
All spells 'gainst the worm empoisoned, 'gainst Jecis or Meàtris;
Or all that a wise man knoweth of roots or of herbs; I wis
Naught was there in all might help him; nor rede I a longer tale
Since God willeth not his healing what man's skill may aught avail?'
'Then we sent to the mystic waters, in a far-off land they rise, 835
Pison, Gihon, Tigris, Euphrates, the rivers of Paradise,
[Pg 277] And so near they flow that the perfumes which breathe from its scented air
Shall yet to their streams be wafted—If their waters perchance might bear
Some plant from the wondrous garden that might succour us in our woe,
But vain thought, and fruitless labour, fresh sorrow our heart did know!'840
'Nor here did we end our labour, for again for the bough we sought
Which the Sibyl unto Æneas as a shield 'gainst Hell's dangers brought.
'Gainst the smoke and the fire of Phlegethon, and the rivers that flow in Hell
Would it guard, and for long we sought it, for we thought, if such chance befell
That the spear in Hell-fire was welded, and the poison from Hell did spring845
That thus of our joy had robbed us, then this bough might salvation bring!'
'But Hell, it knew naught of the poison! There liveth a wondrous bird
Who loveth too well her fledglings—Of the Pelican's love we heard,
How she teareth her breast and feedeth her young with the quickening food
Of her own life-blood, and then dieth—So we took of that bird the blood,850
Since we thought that her love might help us, and we laid it upon the sore
As best we could—Yet, I wot well, no virtue for us it bore!'
'A strange beast, the Unicorn, liveth, and it doth in such honour keep
The heart of a spotless maiden that it oft at her knee will sleep.
And the heart of that beast we took us, and we took us the red-fire stone855
That lies 'neath its horn, if the king's wound might its healing virtue own.
And we laid on the wound the carbuncle, and we put it the wound within,
Yet still was the sore empoisoned nor aid from the stone might win!'
'And sore with the king we sorrowed—Then a magic herb we found,
(Men say, from the blood of a dragon it springeth from out the ground,)860
With the stars, and the wind, and the heaven, close-bound, doth it win its power,
Lest perchance, by the flight of the dragon, when the stars bring the circling hour,
And the moon draweth near to her changing, (for sorer then grows the pain,)
The herb might our grief have aided—Yet its magic we sought in vain!'
'Then the knights of the Grail knelt lowly, and for help to the Grail they prayed,865
And, behold! the mystic writing, and a promise it brought of aid,
[Pg 278] For a knight should come to the castle, and so soon as he asked the king
Of the woe that so sorely pained him his question should healing bring.
But let them beware, man or maiden, or child, should they warn the knight
Of his task, he no healing bringeth, greater waxeth the sorrow's might.870
And the writing it ran, 'Ye shall mark this, forewarning shall bring but ill,
And in the first night of his coming must the healer his task fulfil,
Or the question shall lose its virtue; but if at the chosen hour
He shall speak, his shall be the kingdom, and the evil hath lost its power.
So the hand of the Highest sendeth to Anfortas the end of woe, 875
Yet King shall he be no longer tho' healing and bliss he know.'
'Thus we read in the Grail that our sorrow should come to an end that day
That the knight should come who the meaning of the grief that he saw should pray—
Then salve of Nard we took us, and Teriak, and the wound we dressed,
And we burnt wood of Lignum Aloe for so might the king find rest. 880
Yet ever he suffereth sorely—Then fled I unto this place,
And my life little gladness knoweth till my brother hath gotten grace.
And the knight, he hath come, and hath left us, and ill for us all that day,
(But now did I speak of his coming,) sorrow-laden he rode away,
For he saw his host's woe and asked not, 'What aileth thee here, mine host?'885
Since his folly such words forbade him great bliss shall he there have lost!'
Then awhile did they mourn together till the mid-day hour drew near,
And the host spake, 'We must be seeking for food, and thine horse, I fear,
As yet shall be lacking fodder; nor know I how we shall feed
If not God in His goodness show us the herbs that shall serve our need,890
My kitchen but seldom smoketh! Forgive thou the lack to-day,
And abide here, so long as shall please thee, if thy journey shall brook delay.
Of plants and of herbs would I teach thee much lore, if so be the grass
Were not hidden by snow—God grant us that this cold may be soon o'erpast—
Now break we yew-boughs for thy charger, far better its fare hath been895
Erewhile 'neath the roof of Monsalväsch than shall here be its lot I ween!
Yet never a host shall ye meet with who rider alike and steed
Would as gladly bid share of his substance as I, had I all ye need!'
Then the twain they went forth on their errand—Parzival for his steed had care,
[Pg 279] While the hermit for roots was seeking since no better might be their fare;900
And the host his rule forgat not, he ate naught, whate'er he found,
Till the ninth hour, but ever hung them, as he drew them from out the ground,
On the nearest shrub, and there left them; many days he but ill might fare
For God's honour, since oft he lost them, the shrubs which his roots did bear.
Nor grudged they aught of their labour: then they knelt by the streamlet's flow,905
And the roots and the herbs they washed there, and no laughter their lips might know.
Then their hands they washed, and the yew-boughs Parzival together bound
And bare them unto his charger ere the cavern again he found;
Then the twain by the fireside sat them, nor further might food be brought,
Nor on roast nor on boiled they fed them, nor found in their kitchen aught.910
Yet so true was the love and the honour Parzival to the hermit bare
That he deemed he enough had eaten, and no better had been his fare
With Gurnemanz of Graharz, or e'en in Monsalväsch hall,
When the maidens passed fair before him and the Grail fed them each and all.
Then his kindly host quoth, 'Nephew, despise not this food, for know915
Lightly thou shalt not find one who shall favour and kindness show,
Of true heart, without fear of evil, as fain would I show to thee.'
And Parzival quoth, 'May God's favour henceforward ne'er light on me
If food ever better pleased me, or I ate with a better will
What a host ever set before me, such fare doth content me still.' 920
Their hands they need not wash them for such food as before them lay,
'Twas no fish, that their eyes had harmèd as men oft are wont to say.
And were I or hawk or falcon I had lent me to the chase,
Nor stooped to the lure unwilling, nor fled from my master's face,
But an they no better fed me than at noontide they fed, these twain,925
I had spread my wings right swiftly, nor come to their call again!
Why mock at this folk so faithful? 'Twas ever my way of old—
[Pg 280] Yet ye know why, forsaking riches, they chose to them want and cold,
And the lack of all things joyful, such sorrow and grief of heart
They bare of true heart, God-fearing, nor had they in falsehood part;
And thus from the hand of the Highest they won payment for grief and woe,930
And alike should the twain God's favour, as of old, so hereafter know.
Then up stood they again, and they gat them, Parzival and the holy man,
To the steed in its rocky stable, and full sadly the host began
As he spake to the noble charger, 'Woe is me for thy scanty fare, 935
For the sake of the saddle upon thee and the token I see thee bear!'
When their care for the horse was ended, then sorrow sprang forth anew,
Quoth Parzival, 'Host and uncle, my folly I needs must rue,
And fain would I tell the story if for shame I the word may speak;
Forgive me, I pray, of thy kindness, since in thee do I comfort seek,940
For sorely, I ween, have I sinnèd; if thou canst no comfort find
No peace may be mine, but for ever the chains of remorse shall bind.
Of true heart shalt thou mourn my folly—He who to Monsalväsch rode,
He who saw Anfortas' sorrow, he who spake not the healing word,
'Twas I, child and heir of misfortune, 'twas I, Parzival, alone, 945
Ill have I wrought, and I know not how I may for such ill atone!'
Spake the hermit, 'Alas! my nephew, thou speakest the words of woe,
Vanished our joy, and sorrow henceforth must we grasp and know,
Since folly of bliss betrayed thee: senses five did God give to thee,
And methinks, in the hour of thy testing, their counsel should better be.950
Why guarded they not thine honour, and thy love as a man to men,
In the hour that thou satst by Anfortas? Of a truth hadst thou spoken then!'
'Nor would I deny thee counsel; mourn not for thy fault too sore,
Thou shalt, in a fitting measure, bewail thee, and grief give o'er.
For strange are the ways, and fitful, of mankind, oft is youth too wise955
And old age turneth back to folly, and darkened are wisdom's eyes,
And the fruit of a life lieth forfeit, while green youth doth wax old and fade—
Not in this wise true worth shall be rooted, and payment in praise be paid.
Thine youth would I see fresh blooming, and thine heart waxing strong and bold,
[Pg 281] While thou winnest anew thine honour, nor dost homage from God withhold.960
For thus might it chance unto thee to win for thyself such fame
As shall make amends for thy sorrow, and God thee, as His knight, shall claim!'
'Thro' my mouth would God teach thee wisdom; now say, didst thou see the spear,
In that wondrous Burg of Monsalväsch? As ever the time draws near
When Saturn his journey endeth—(that time by the wound we know, 965
And yet by another token, by the fall of the summer snow)
Then sorely the frost doth pain him, thy king and uncle dear,
And deep in the wound empoisoned once more do they plunge the spear,
One woe shall help the other, the spear cure the frost's sharp pain,
And crimson it grows with his life-blood ere men draw it forth again!'970
'When the stars return in their orbit, then the wailing it waxeth sore,
When they stand in opposition, or each to the other draw.
And the moon, in its waxing and waning, it causeth him bitter pain—
In the time that I erst have told thee then the king little rest may gain;
His flesh thro' the frost it groweth colder than e'en the snow, 975
But men know that the spear sharp-pointed doth with fiery venom glow,
And upon the wound they lay it, and the frost from his flesh so cold
It draweth, and lo! as crystals of glass to the spear doth hold,
And as ice to the iron it clingeth, and none looseth it from the blade.
Then Trebuchet the smith bethought him, in his wisdom two knives he made,980
Of silver fair he wrought them, and sharp was the edge and keen—
(A spell on the king's sword written had taught him such skill I ween,)
Tho' no flame on earth can kindle Asbestos, as men do tell,
And never a fire may harm it, if these crystals upon it fell
Then the flame would leap and kindle and burn with a fiery glow 985
Till th' Asbestos lay in ashes, such power doth this poison know!'
'The king, he rideth never, nor yet may he walk, or lie,
And he sitteth not, but, reclining, in tears his sad days pass by.
And the moon's changes work him evil—To a lake they call Brimbane
[Pg 282] They bear him full oft for fishing that the breezes may soothe his pain.990
This he calleth his day for hunting, tho' what booty shall be his share,
And he vex himself to gain it, for his host 'twould be meagre fare!
And from this there sprang the story that he should but a Fisher be,
Tho little he recked the fable, no merchant I ween was he
Of salmon or aye of lamprey, he had chosen far other game 995
Were he freed from the load of sorrow and the burden of bitter pain.'
Quoth Parzival, 'So I found him; the king's skiff at anchor lay,
And for pastime, e'en as a fisher, the even he wore away;
And many a mile had I ridden that day, since from Pelrapär
When the sun stood high in the heaven, at noontide I forth must fare;1000
And at even I much bethought me where my shelter that night might be,
Then my uncle did fair entreat me, and my host for a space was he.'
'A perilous way didst thou ride there,' spake the host, 'one that well they guard
Those Templars, nor strength nor cunning brings a traveller thro' their ward,
For danger full oft besets him, and oft he his life shall lose, 1005
Life against life is their penance, all quarter these knights refuse.'
'Yet scatheless I passed that woodland in the day that I found the king
By the lake,' quoth the knight, 'and at even his palace with grief did ring,
And sure, as they mourned, I think me, no folk ever mourned before!
In the hall rose the voice of wailing as a squire sprang within the door,1010
And a spear in his hand he carried, and to each of the walls he stept,
Red with blood was the spear, as they saw it, the people they mourned and wept.'
Then answered the host, 'Far sorer than before was the monarch's pain,
In this wise did he learn the tidings that Saturn drew near again,
And the star with a sharp frost cometh, and it helpeth no whit to lay1015
The spear on the sore as aforetime, in the wound must it plunge alway!
When that star standeth high in heaven the wound shall its coming know
Afore, tho' the earth shall heed not, nor token of frost shall show.
But the cold it came, and the snow-flakes fell thick in the following night
Tho' the season was spring, and the winter was vanquished by summer's might.1020
As the frost to the king brought sorrow and pain, so his people true
[Pg 283] Were of joy bereft, as the moment of his anguish thus nearer drew.'
And Trevrezent quoth, 'In sorrow that folk hath both lot and part,
When the spear thro' the king's wound pierceth, it pierceth each faithful heart.
And their love to their lord, and their sorrow, such tears from their eyelids drew1025
That, methinks, in those bitter waters had they been baptized anew.'
Spake Parzival unto the hermit, 'Five-and-twenty they were, the maids
I saw stand before the monarch, and courteous their part they played.'
And the host spake, 'By God's high counsel such maidens alone avail
For the care of this wondrous mystery, and do service before the Grail.1030
And the Grail, It chooseth strictly, and Its knights must be chaste and pure,—
When the star standeth high in the heaven then grief must that folk endure,
And the young they mourn as the aged, and God's wrath it lasts for aýe,
And ne'er to their supplication doth He hearken and answer "Yea."'
'And, nephew, this thing would I tell thee, and my word shalt thou well believe,1035
They who to the Grail do service, they take, and again they give.
For they take to them tittle children, noble of birth and race—
If a land be without a ruler, and its people shall seek God's Face
And crave of His Hand a monarch, then He hearkeneth to their prayer,
And a knight, from the Grail host chosen, as king to that land doth fare.1040
And well shall he rule that people, and happy shall be that land,
For the blessing of God goeth with him and God's wisdom doth guide his hand.'
'God sendeth the men in secret, but the maidens in light of day
Are given unto their husbands; thus none spake to his wooing, Nay,
When King Kastis wooed Herzeleide, but joyful our sister gave, 1045
Yet ne'er might her love rejoice him for Death dug at his feet a grave.
But in life had he given thy mother both Norgals and fair Waleis,
Those kingdoms twain and their cities, Kingrivals and Kanvoleis.
'Twas a fair gift, and known of all men—Then they rode on their homeward way,
But Death met them upon their journey, and he made of the king his prey,1050
[Pg 284] And over both Waleis and Norgals Herzeleide, as queen, did reign,
Till Gamuret's right hand valiant won the maid, and her kingdoms twain.'
'Thus the Grail Its maidens giveth, in the day, and the sight of men,
But It sendeth Its knights in the silence and their children It claims again,—
To the host of the Grail are they counted, Grail servants they all shall be,1055
So the will of God standeth written on the Grail for all men to see.'
'He who would to the Grail do service, he shall women's love forswear:
A wife shall none have save the Grail king, and his wife a pure heart must bear,
And those others whom God's Hand sendeth, as king, to a kingless land—
But little I recked such counsel, to love's service I vowed my hand,1060
As the pride of my youth constrained me, and the beauty of woman's eyes,
And I rode full oft in her service, and I battled for knighthood's prize.
Fain was I for wild adventure, on jousting no more I thought,
So fair shone the love-light on me ever fiercer the strife I sought.
And thro' far-off lands and distant, in the service of love I fared,1065
And to win sweet love's rewarding right valiant the deeds I dared.
If heathen my foe or Christian, what mattered it unto me?
The fiercer the strife that beset me, the fairer my prize should be!'
'And thus, for the love of woman, in three parts of the earth I fought,
In Europe, and far-off Asia, and in Afric' I honour sought. 1070
If for gallant jousting I lusted I fought before Gaurivon;
By the mystic Mount of Fay-Morgan I many a joust have run.
And I fought by the Mount Agremontin, where are fiery men and fierce,
Yet the other side they burn not tho' their spears thro' the shield can pierce.
In Rohas I sought for ventures, and Slavs were my foemen then, 1075
With lances they came against me and I trow they were gallant men!'
'From Seville I took my journey, and I sailed o'er the tideless sea
Unto Sicily, since thro' Friant and Aquilea should my journey be.
Alas! alas! woe is me, for I met with thy father there,
I found him, and looked upon him, ere I from Seville must fare. 1080
For e'en as I came to the city he there for a space abode,
And my heart shall be sore for his journey, since thence to Bagdad he rode,
And there, as thyself hast spoken, in a knightly joust he fell,
And for ever my heart must mourn him, and my tongue of his praises tell!'
'A rich man shall be my brother, nor silver nor gold would spare 1085
[Pg 285] When in secret I forth from Monsalväsch at his will and his word did fare;
For I took me his royal signet, and to Karkobra I came,
Where Plimizöl to the wide sea floweth, and the land, Barbigöl, they name.
And the Burg-grave he knew the token, ere I rode from the town again
Of horses and squires, as failed me, he raised me a gallant train,1090
And we rode thence to wild adventures, and to many a knightly deed,
For nothing had he begrudged me of aught that might serve my need.
Alone came I unto the city, and there at my journey's end
Did I leave those who had fared thence with me, and alone to Monsalväsch wend.'
'Now hearken to me, my nephew, when thy father first saw my face 1095
Of old in Seville's fair city, there did he such likeness trace
To his wife, fair Herzeleide, that he would me as brother claim,
Tho' never before had he seen me, and secret I held my name.
And in sooth was I fair to look on, as ever a man might be,
And my face by no beard was hidden; and sweetly he spake to me, 1100
When he sought me within my dwelling—Yet many an oath I swore
And many a word of denial, yet ever he pressed me more
Till in secret at last I told him, his kinsman was I in truth,
And greatly did he rejoice him when he knew that his words were sooth!'
'A jewel he gave unto me, and I gave to him at his will; 1105
Thou sawest my shrine, green shall grass be, yet that shineth greener still,
'Twas wrought from the stone he gave me—and a better gift he gave,
For his nephew as squire he left me, Prince Ither, the true and brave.
His heart such lore had taught him that falsehood his face did flee,
The King of Cumberland was he, who, thou sayest, was slain by thee.1110
Then no longer might we delay us, but we parted, alas! for aye.
He rode to the land of Baruch, unto Rohas I took my way.
'In Celli three weeks I battled, and I deemed 'twas enough for fame,
From Rohas I took my journey and unto Gandein I came,
('Twas that town from which first thy grandsire, his name of Gandein did take,)1115
And many a deed did Ither, and men of his prowess spake.
And the town lieth near the river, where Graien and Drave they meet,
And the waters I ween are golden,—there Ither found guerdon sweet,
[Pg 286] For thine aunt, Lamire, she loved him, she was queen of that fair land,
Gandein of Anjou, her father, he gave it unto her hand. 1120
And Lamire was her name, but her country shall be Styria to this day—
And many a land must he traverse who seeketh for knightly fray.'
'It grieveth me sore for my red squire, men honoured me for his sake,
And Ither was thy near kinsman tho' of that thou small heed didst take!
Yet God He hath not forgotten, and thy deed shall He count for sin,1125
And I wot thou shalt first do penance ere thou to His peace shalt win.
And, weeping, this truth I tell thee, two mortal sins shall lie
On thine heart, thou hast slain thy kinsman, and thy mother, thro' thee, must die.
And in sooth shalt thou sore bewail her; in the day thou didst leave her side,
So great was her love, and faithful, that for grief at thy loss she died.1130
Now do thou as here I rede thee, repent thee and pay sin's cost,
That thy conflict on earth well ended thy soul be not ever lost.'
Then the host he quoth full kindly, 'Nephew, now say the word,
Whence hast thou yon gallant charger? Not yet I the tale have heard!'
'In a joust, Sir Host, did I win it, when I rode from Siguné's cell1135
In a gallop I smote the rider and he from the saddle fell,
And the steed was mine, I rode hence,—from Monsalväsch he came, the knight.'
Quoth the host, 'Is the man yet living who thus with thee did fight?'
'Yea, I saw him fly before me, and beside me stood his steed.'
'Nay, if thou in such wise dost bear thee thou art scant of wit indeed!1140
The Grail-knights dost thou rob, and thinkest their friendship thereby to win?'
'Nay, my uncle, in strife I won it, and he who shall count it sin
Let him ask how the thing hath chanced thus, 'twas a fair fight we fought, we twain,
Nor was it for naught that I took it, for first had my steed been slain!'
Quoth Parzival, 'Who was the maiden who the Grail in her hands did bear,1145
Her mantle, that eve, she lent me?'—Quoth the hermit, 'That lady fair
Is thine aunt, if her robe she lent thee of the loan shalt thou not be vain,
For surely she deemed that hereafter thou shouldst there as monarch reign.
And the Grail, and herself, yea and I too, should honour thee as our lord:
[Pg 287] And a gift didst thou take from thine uncle, for he gave thee, I ween, a sword,1150
And sin hast thou won in the wearing, since thy lips, which to speak are fain,
There spake not the mystic question which had loosened his sorrow's chain,
And that sin shalt thou count to the other, for 'tis time that we lay us down.
Nor couches nor cushions had they, but they laid them upon the ground,
And for bedding the rushes served them—too humble, I ween, such bed1155
For men of a race so noble, yet they deemed they were not ill-sped.
Then twice seven days he abode there, with the hermit his lot did share,
And the herb of the ground was his portion—yet he sought not for better fare,
Right gladly he bare such hardness that should bring to him food so sweet,
For as priest did his host absolve him, and as knight gave him counsel meet!1160
Quoth Parzival to the hermit, 'Say who shall he be, who lay
Before the Grail? grey was he, yet his face it was as the day!'
Spake the host, 'Titurel thou sawest, and he shall grandsire be
To thy mother, first king and ruler of the Grail and Its knights was he.
But a sickness hath fallen on him, and he lieth, nor findeth cure,1165
Yet his face on the Grail yet looketh, by Its power shall his life endure!
Nor his countenance changeth colour, and his counsel shall aye be wise—
In his youth he rode far and jousted, and won to him valour's prize.'
'An thou wouldst that thy life be adornèd with true worth as thy crown of fame,
Then ne'er mayst thou hate a woman, but shall honour, as knight, her name,1170
For women and priests, thou knowest, unarmèd shall be their hand,
Yet the blessing of God watcheth o'er them, and as shield round the priest doth stand;
For the priest, he careth for thee, that thine end may be free from ill,
So treat thou no priest as a foeman, but serve him with right good will.
For naught on the earth thou seest that is like to his office high,1175
For he speaketh that word unto us which our peace and our life did buy;
[Pg 288] And his hand hath been blest for the holding of the pledge on the altar laid,
To assure us of sin's forgiveness, and the price for our pardon paid.
And a priest who from sin doth guard him, and who to his Lord shall give
Pure heart and pure hand for His service, say, what man shall holier live?'1180
Now this day was their day of parting—Trevrezent to our hero spake,
'Leave thou here thy sins behind thee, God shall me for thy surety take,
And do thou as I have shown thee, be steadfast and true of heart!'
Think ye with what grief and sorrow the twain did asunder part.

[Pg 289]

[Pg 290]
[Pg 291]



One of the most striking peculiarities of this version of the Perceval legend consists in the fact that the writer closely connects his hero with a contemporary princely house, and exercises considerable ingenuity in constructing a genealogy which shall establish a relationship alike with the legendary British race of Pendragon, and with the hereditary House of Anjou. Now, that Parzival should be represented as connected with Arthur is not surprising, taking into consideration the great popularity of the Arthurian legends; the English 'Sir Percyvelle' makes the relationship even closer; there, Percyvelle is Arthur's nephew, his sister's son; but it is far more difficult to account for the Angevin connection. It has been suggested that the writer of Wolfram's French source was Walter Mapes, to whom another of the Grail romances the Queste is generally ascribed; and who, as is well known, was closely attached to the Court of Henry Fitz-Empress, Count of Anjou, and King of England. Setting on one side the great difference, in style and treatment, between the Parzival and the Queste, which render it impossible to believe that the same man could have treated the same legend from two such practically opposite points of view, a close examination of the Angevin allusions found in the Parzival reveals a correspondence between the characters and incidents of the poem, and the facts, real and traditional, of Angevin history, which seems to point to a familiarity with the subject scarcely likely to be possessed by a foreigner.

The following parallels will show that this Angevin element, though strongest in the first two books (those peculiar to Wolfram's version), is to be clearly traced even in the presentment of what we know to be traditional features of the story.

[Pg 292][Pg 293][Pg 294]


Wolfram Angevin Tradition
In Book I. the origin of the Angevin family is traced to the marriage of Mazadan with the fairy Terre-de-la-schoie. The fairy origin of the race is referred to again in Books II. and VIII., the later allusion being in connection with Vergulacht, son of Gamuret's sister, and cousin to hero. Ascribes their origin to the marriage of one of the early Counts with a lady of surpassing beauty, whose demon origin was discovered by her inability to remain in church during Mass. It was to the influence of this ancestress that the uncontrollable temper of the Angevin princes was ascribed. Richard Cur-de-lion is reported to have frequently said, 'We came from the Devil, and we go back to the Devil.' (In each instance it will be noted that the supernatural element is introduced by the wife.)
Gamuret Fulk V. OF Anjou
Younger son of the King of Anjou; brought up at the court of French queen; goes to the East where he marries a Moorish queen, and becomes king of an Eastern kingdom. Son of Fulk IV. (Rechin), and Bertalda de Montfort. His mother eloped with, and married, Philip, king of France. She remained on good terms with her former husband, and, Fulk, having already an heir by a previous wife, was allowed to bring up her son at her own court. The elder brother dying, Fulk became his father's heir, and finally succeeded him. In 1129, after the marriage of his son, Geoffrey, with the Empress Maud, Fulk was invited by Baldwin, king of Jerusalem, to become his son-in-law and successor. Accordingly he resigned Anjou to Geoffrey, went to Jerusalem, where he married Melesinda, daughter and heiress to Baldwin, and, after the death of the latter, succeeded him as king, and reigned till his death in 1142. (Here again we note that, in each instance, the Eastern kingdom is won through the wife.)
Gamuret's first recorded deed of valour is the conquest, in single combat, of Heuteger, the Scotchman, who appears every morning before the gates of Patelamunt, to challenge the besieged knights. A similar incident is recorded of Geoffrey I. (Grisegonelle) who, during the siege of Paris by the Danes in 978, overthrew a gigantic Northman named Ethelwulf, who daily challenged the besieged in the manner recounted in the poem. Later historians cast doubts on the truth of this story, but it appears in all the old chronicles, and was undoubtedly firmly believed in by the writers of the twelfth century.
Herzeleide The Empress Maude
Widow, queen of two kingdoms, and marries Prince of Anjou. Widow, Empress, Lady of two Lands, England and Normandy, marries Count of Anjou.
Her son is subsequently deprived of these kingdoms by the action of one knight, Book III. p. 73, two brothers, Ibid. p. 80. This loss of two kingdoms by the action of Lähelein is insisted on throughout the poem, and the reader should note the manner in which Lähelein, though only appearing in the Second Book, is constantly referred to; which seems to indicate that the writer attached a special importance to this character, cf. Book III. pp. 86 and 87; V. pp. 150, 154; VI. pp. 171, 188; VII. p. 196; IX. p. 272. (It may be noted that in no other version of the legend is a previous marriage of the hero's mother recorded.) Her son is deprived of these two kingdoms by the action of two brothers Theobald and Stephen of Blois. Though Stephen was the principal aggressor, it must not be forgotten that Theobald, the elder brother, was invited by the Normans to become their Duke on the death of Henry I.; but on arriving in Normandy, and finding that Stephen had already seized the crown of England, Theobald resigned his claim to the Duchy and threw in his lot with that of Stephen. An English writer (such as Mapes) would probably have overlooked the part played by Theobald. An Angevin, knowing the Counts of Blois to be the hereditary foes of the House of Anjou, would hardly fail to record the fact that both brothers were concerned in the usurpation of the rights of Henry Fitz-Empress.
The Red Knight The Red Knight
The Red Knight as represented in the poem, mounted before the gates of Nantes, in red armour, with red hair. This character is of course traditional, but the special presentment of it in the Parzival seems to be owing to Angevin influence. In 1048 William of Normandy, being at war with, Geoffrey II. of Anjou and besieging Domfront, sent him the following curious challenge: 'If the Count of Anjou attempts to bring victuals into Domfront he will find me awaiting him without the gates armed and mounted, bearing a red shield, and having a pennon on my spear wherewith to wipe his face.'
Red hair was a distinguishing characteristic of the Angevin Counts. Fulk I. derived his name of Rufus from this peculiarity, which was inherited by many of his descendants, among them Fulk V., his son Geoffrey Plantagenet, and his grandson Henry Fitz-Empress. The writer of the Parzival strongly insists on Ither's red hair.
Nantes Nantes
Nantes, throughout the poem, is always treated as Arthur's chief city. Karidöl is scarcely referred to, the Round Table is kept at Nantes, and in Book X. we are told that Arthur's palace was there. This is not the case in other versions of the story. The possession of the city of Nantes was a constant source of quarrel between the Counts of Anjou and their neighbours of Brittany. Time after time the former claimed the over-lordship of Nantes, which stood just beyond their frontier, and more than once they succeeded in making themselves masters of the coveted territory. To represent Nantes as Arthur's chief city, and Ither as claiming it, would be an alteration of the legend most natural in an Angevin writer.
Book IX. relates that Kiot sought for records of the Grail race in the chronicles of Britain, France, and Ireland, and found the history at last in the chronicle of Anjou. Britain, France, and Ireland were all brought into close connection under Henry Fitz-Empress, Count of Anjou, Duke of Normandy, and King of England, the husband of Eleanor of Provence and Aquitaine, who conquered Ireland in 1172.

The peculiar presentment of the Knights of the Grail as Templars (Templeisen), having their residence in a castle surrounded by a forest, recalls the fact that a close connection between the Order of Templars and the House of Anjou had existed for some time previous to the date of this poem, a tax for the benefit of the Order having been imposed on all his dominions by Fulk V. on his return from his first pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1120. A community of Knights Templars was founded by Henry Fitz-Empress fifty years later at Vaubourg, in the forest of Roumare which became very famous. (The location of Monsalväsch in the Pyrenees hardly seems to accord with the indications of the poem, which make it only thirty-six hours' ride from Nantes.)

Finally, the name of the poet claimed by Wolfram as his authority, Kiot=Guiot=Guy, is distinctly Angevin, the hereditary Angevin princely names being Fulk, Geoffrey, and Guy.

[Pg 295]


      Gandein m. Schoettè.
        Gamuret m. (1) Belakané.
        Gamuret m. (2) Herzeleide.
        Fleurdamur m. Kingrisein.
        Lamire m. Ither of Gaheviess.
    Daughter unnamed.
      Ither of Gaheviess.
    Uther Pendragon m. Arnivè.
      Arthur m. Guinevere.
      Sangivè m. Lot of Norway.
        Gawain m. Orgeluse.
        Surdamour m. Alexander.
        Kondrie m. Lischois.
        Itonjè m. Gramoflanz.

                           PARENTS UNKNOWN.

  Gurnemanz, wife unnamed.
    Count Laskoit.
    Gurzgrei m. Mahaut.
  Daughter unnamed, m. King Tampentaire.
    Kondwiramur m. Parzival.

                             GRAIL KINGS.

    Schoysiane m. [A]Kiot of Katelangen.
    Herzeleide m. (1) Kastis.
    Herzeleide m. (2) Gamuret.
      Parzival m. Kondwiramur.
        Lohengrin m. Duchess of Brabant.
    Repanse de Schoie m. Feirefis.
      Prester John.

[A] Kiot is brother to King Tampentaire, cf. Book IV. p. 107, therefore Siguné is cousin to Kondwiramur as well as to Parzival.

[Pg 296]


One of the marked peculiarities of Wolfram's poem is the number of proper names with which it abounds, there being scarcely a character, however insignificant the rôle assigned, that is left unnamed. In the other versions of the Perceval legend this is not the case, consequently there are a vast number of names occurring in the Parzival to which no parallel can be found elsewhere, and which are no unimportant factor in determining the problem of the source from which Wolfram drew his poem. It would be impossible in a short Appendix to discuss the question in all its bearings, but the following classification, based on Herr Bartsch's article on Die Eigen-namen in Wolfram's Parzival, will give some idea of the wide ground they cover:—

I. Names belonging to the original legend, and met with, with but little variation, in all versions. To this class belong the names of Pendragon, Arthur, Guinivere, Perceval, Gawain, Kay, Segramor; and the names of such places as Karidöl=Carduel=Carlisle, Cumberland, Waleis, Norgals, Dianasdron.

II. Names derived from a French version of the story, which may be divided into two classes:

(a) Names of which we find an equivalent in existing French sources, notably Chrêtien, whose poem offers so close a parallel to the Parzival; examples of this class are Gurnemanz=French, Gornemant; Peirapär=Beau-repaire; Klamidé=Clamadex; Kingron=Aguigrenon; Trebuchet; Meljanz de Lys; Lippaut=Tiebaut; Gramoflanz=Guiromelans or Guiremelanz.

(b) Names formed by a misunderstanding of a French original: such are Soltane, from forest soutaine=solitary; Orilus de Lalande, from Li orgueillous de la lande; and similarly, Orgeluse of Logrois, from La orguelleuse de Logres; Gringuljet, the name of Gawain's horse, from Li gringalet, which is explained as meaning cheval maigre et alerte. Ligweiz-prelljus, is Li guez perellous, the Ford Perilous; and a notable instance of this class is the curious name Schionatulander, which is either 'Li joenet de la lande,' 'The youth of the meadow,' or 'Li joenet à l'alant,' 'The youth with the dog,' in allusion to the cause of the knight's death. Whence Wolfram took this name is unknown.

III. Names borrowed or quoted from other romances of the time, of those to which Wolfram alludes most frequently we know the Erec and Iwein of Hartmann von Aue; Eilhart's Tristan; Heinrich von Veldeck's Æneid, Chrêtien de Troye's Cligès, and Le Chevalier de la Charrette; and the Niebelungenlied and Dietrich Sage. He also refers to other romances which have not come down to us, such are the[Pg 297] allusions to adventures connected with Gawain in Book VI.; and to the death of Ilinot, son of King Arthur, of whom we know nothing. (The names derived from these romances are all noted, and their source given as they occur in the text.) Book I. contains some distinctly German names, such as Eisenhart, Hernant, and Herlindè, Friedebrand of Scotland and Heuteger, the source of these is doubtful, some occur in the Gudrun cycle, but it seems probable that in both instances they were derived from a common source, and, belonging as they do to a North Sea cycle, they may have reached the poem either through a French or a German medium.

IV. Names of places and people connected with Wolfram himself, such as Abenberg, Wildberg, Erfurt, the Count of Wertheim, Herman of Thuringia, etc. These were, of course, introduced by Wolfram, and could not have existed in his French source.

V. Classical and mythological names such as Antikonie=Antigone, Ekuba, Secundilla, Plato and the Sibyls, Pythagoras, etc., Jupiter, Juno, Venus, Amor, Cupid, Lucifer, Ashtaroth, and other of the fallen angels.

VI. Oriental names. In Book IV. we have the Arabic names of the seven planets, a curious coincidence, in view of the alleged Arabic source of the Grail-myth as given in Books VIII. and IX. Names of cities such as Alexandria, Bagdad, Askalon. This latter is of course equivalent to Escavalon in the French versions, and the real name is doubtless Avalon, but it is by no means improbable that the change was made not by a misunderstanding, but by one who knew the Eastern city, and it falls in with the various other indications of crusading influence to be traced throughout the poem. We may add to these the names of Oriental materials such as Pfellel and Sendal. But when all these have been classified, there still remains a vast number of names undoubtedly French in origin, yet which cannot be referred to any known source, and many of which bear distinct traces of Romance or Provençal influence. Such names are Anfortas, French, enfertez=the sick man, with Prov. ending as; Trevrezent, Prov. Treu=peace, rezems=redeemed. Schoysiane, Prov. Jauziana, her husband is Kiot of Katelangen, Guiot=Guy of Catalonia. The son of Gurnemanz, Schenteflur, is Prov. gente-flors, fair flower. The name of Parzival's wife, Kondwiramur, Bartsch derives from Coin de voire amour, Ideal of true love; an interpretation which admirably expresses the union between the two. Itonjè, Gawain's sister, is the French Idonie, in Chrêtien she is Clarissant. The knight slain by Lähelein at Brimbane is Libbèals of Prienlaskors, Libbèals being simply the old French Li-bealsle bel, and probably no more a proper name than Orilus, whilst his country seems derived from Prov. priendre las cortz, to seek the court. The long lists of conquered kings given in Book XV. contain many names of Greek or Latin origin, which have passed through a French source, and many others of distinctly Romance form. It is impossible to suppose that a German poet invented these names, and the only reasonable explanation seems to be that Wolfram drew largely, if not exclusively, from a French poem now lost, and that the language in which that poem was written partook strongly of a Provençal character, the term Provençal being applied, as Bartsch points out, not only to Provençal proper, but to the varying forms of the Langue-d'oc.

[Pg 298]
[Pg 299]

[Pg 300]
[Pg 301]



(A few Notes signed A. N. are due to Mr. Alfred Nutt.)


Introduction, lines 1-66. This introduction, which is confessedly obscure, both in style and thought, appears to have been written after the completion of the poem, and to have been intended by the writer to serve both as a key to the meaning of the poem, and as a defence of his method of treatment. That Wolfram was blamed by his contemporaries, notably by Gottfried von Strassbourg, for his lack of a polished style, and obscurity of thought, we know; and in Willehalm he speaks, in the following words, of the varying judgment passed upon his Parzival:—

'Swaz ich von Parzivâl gesprach,
des sîn aventiur mich wîste,
etzlich man daz prîste:
ir was ouch vil, diez smœthen
Und baz ir rede wæhten.

and it is evidently to these critics that the first part of the Introduction is addressed.

Lines 1-8 give the key to the whole poem: the contrast between doubt or unsteadfastness, and steadfast faith and truth, as imaged in the contrast between darkness and light, black and white. This idea runs throughout the poem, is worked out symbolically in the character and experiences of the hero, and is shown in a concrete form in the person of his brother Feirefis. The poet notes that many readers have failed, through lack of intelligence, to grasp the meaning of this parable, which is too swift and subtle for their comprehension. A parallel passage will be found in Book V. pp. 137, 138, where the figure employed is different.

The curious lines 15, 16 are explained by Bötticher as allusions to personal assaults made on the poet, which, by reason of the folly of the assailants, missed their mark, and are therefore to be treated with contempt.

Lines 29, 30 contain one of the quaint and homely similes which abound throughout the poem, and refer to the faithless man, valsch geselleclîcher muot, whose honour and steadfastness are not sufficiently strong to meet the demands made upon them.

There are three distinct divisions of the Introduction: the first, lines 1-30, is addressed to men only, and draws the contrast between the false and true knight; 31-49 does the same for women; while from 49 onwards the poet shows how the tale he is about to tell affects both sexes alike, and gives a slight sketch of the character of the hero. For the rightful understanding of this the lines 61, 62 are of great importance: 'a brave man, yet slowly wise Is he whom I hail my hero' (er küene, trâctîche wîs, den helt ich alsus grüene), and should be borne in mind by the student of the poem.

[Pg 302]

A full and minute discussion of this discussion of this Introduction will be found in Dr. Bötticher's Das Hohelied von Rittertum.

Page 5, line 67—'Now they do to-day as of old-time.' The word employed here wälsch simply means 'foreign,' but it is evident from the context that France is the country referred to. The fact was probably in the French source, the remarks upon it due to the German poet.

Page 5. line 80—'Gamuret.' The origin of this name is doubtful; in Chrêtien we find a King Ban de Gomeret mentioned, and Wolfram may have derived the name from a French source, Heinmel suggests that it comes from Gamor, the son of Anguis, a Saracen prince ruling in Denmark, according to 'Arthur and Merlin;' and that the fact of his being of the race of Anguis suggested to Kiot the possibility of making him an Angevin. In the absence of any definite knowledge as to Wolfram's source it is not possible to do more than suggest possible derivations.

Page 7, lines 136, 137—'Gylstram and Rankulat.' With regard to the first-named place, Simrock says it has been identified with 'Gustrate' in the Gudrun, and, according to Grimm, this latter is to be coupled with Gailate, 'where the sun hath its setting.' i.e. the West. In Book XI. the patriarch of Rankulat is referred to, in company with the Baruch of Bagdad and the Emperor of Constantinople, and in all probability Armenia is meant. The king's speech therefore implies, 'Didst thou come from the furthest bounds of the earth, East or West.'

Page 8, line 154—'King Gandein's son.' Cf. Book IX. p. 285, where the origin of the name Gandein is given.

Page 8, lines 159, 160.—'Then the tale it hath told a lie.' Cf. Book IX. p. 259.

Page 8, lines 169, 170—'Rich silk of Orient' Eastern materials are referred to frequently throughout the poem; the principal seem to have been, Samite, Sendal, Achmardi, Pfellel, Plialt, and Saranthasme. Of these, some were of silk only, others, notably Saranthasme of silk inwoven with gold, Achmardi, in this poem, is always green. Samite and Sendal are the two generally named in our English romances.

Page 9, line 209—'Two brothers of Babylon.' This is Babylon in Egypt, now Cairo, as is evident from its close connection with Alexandria, cf. p. 12, line 277, and Book II. p. 57, line 684, and p. 59, line 754. Though, from the passage on p. 57, it seems as if the poet confused it with Babylon in Assyria; it is possible that he was unaware of the fact that there were two cities of the name.

Page 15, line 384—'Friedebrand.' The introduction of names of distinctly northern origin such as Friedebrand, Hernant, and Herlindè, Heuteger, and Eisenhart, has been already noted in Appendix B as one of the problems of the Parzival. Two solutions have been suggested, either that they were introduced by Wolfram, or that they reached the French source through the medium of Normandy. The form in which the names occur in the Gudrun cycle seems to indicate quotation from a source known also to the writer of the Parzival, but they are not derived directly from the North Sea saga in its present form.

Page 16, line 403—'Wouldst thou know?' etc. It may be interesting to note here that beyond the colour, which the poet insists on, he apparently recognises no difference between the heathen and Christian knights and ladies. Both acknowledge the same chivalrous ideals; both are equally familiar with the eccentricities of 'Minne-dienst' (cf. line 423); and the speeches put into the mouth of Belakané, or of Rassalig, would be quite as suitable if spoken by Orgeluse, or by one of King Arthur's knights. This incident of a Christian knight marrying a Moorish princess is of frequent occurrence in Mediæval romance.

Page 16, lines 423, 424—'That which like to a hall doth stand.' The tents of the Mediæval period were constructed of far more costly fabrics than is usual now, cf. Book III. p. 74.[Pg 303] and Book XI., and their size was very great, this special tent we find, from Book II. p. 36, was 'thirty pack-steeds' burden.' San Marte quotes the description of a tent captured by the Crusaders at Antioch which was adorned with walls, towers, and ramparts, contained halls and galleries, and could lodge as many as 2000 men.

Page 22, line 620—'The chiming of sweet bells.' Bells were at one time freely used not only as ornaments to the trappings of the horses but also on the armour of the knights, cf. Book III. p. 70, and Book VI. p. 163. Gradually they disappeared from use, and the bells on the Fool's dress are the last trace left of the practice, which from this poem was evidently very general at the beginning of the thirteenth century.

Page 23, line 623—'Brave Beaucorps.' This brother of Gawain appears in Book VI. p. 183, he is the only one of Gawain's brothers mentioned in this poem. In Malory, we find Gareth called 'Beau-mains,' and it is possible that the two are identical. Beaucorps is evidently much younger than Gawain, and Gareth was the youngest of King Lot's sons.

Page 24, line 679—'Lahfilirost.' This seems to be a misunderstanding for 'Le fils du Rost,' and may be classed with the misinterpretations of a French source.

Page 25, line 700—'Frau Minne.' The word Minne is etymologically derivable from a root 'man,' and is connected with the Latin mens, English 'mind' (cf. 'to have a mind to.') The original signification was that of tender care, or thought for; in Old High German it has already taken the meaning of love in its passionate aspects; finally, in Middle High German (the original language of the Parzival), it has become the standing expression for love betwixt man and woman. We have it in various forms as a verb, Minnen; as an adjective, Minniglich. The personification of the passion of Love as 'Frau Minne' is the work of the courtly poets of the twelfth century, and seems rather to have been derived from classical analogy than to be due to a reminiscence of an early German goddess of Love. Also, with Wolfram and his contemporaries, 'Frau Minne' must be regarded less as the personification of Love in the abstract than as the embodiment of the special love-ideal of the day. This new ideal had its rise, and assumed definite shape in twelfth century France, from whence it spread throughout the knightly society of Christendom, finding its fullest literary expression in the Arthurian romances. The historic causes which led to what was at the time an entirely novel mode of considering the relations between the sexes, and the true nature and ethical import of the chivalric conception of that relation will be briefly discussed in an Appendix to vol. II. The significance of the term is fully apparent from such passages as the present, also cf. Book VI. pp. 161, 163, 165, 171; VII. 208, 224; XII. etc.—[A. N.]

Page 27, line 768.—'Morhold,' also in Book II. p. 39. This is, of course, the well-known hero in Tristan. The allusion may have been in the original French source, or introduced by Wolfram, who would know Morhold from the Tristan of Eilhart von Oberge, composed before 1180. The most famous German poem on the subject, the Tristan of Gottfried von Strassbourg, was somewhat later in date.

Page 31, lines 886, 887—Cf. Book VIII. p. 230 and note.

Page 31, line 904—'Feirefis.' Bartsch interprets the name as vair fils, 'parti-coloured son.' Other critics have suggested 'Fairy's son.' The name distinctly indicates a French origin.

Page 31, line 905—'A woodland-waster,' 'wald-verschwender,' a hyperbolical term constantly employed throughout this poem to denote one who shatters many spears in fight.

[Pg 304]


Page 35, line 16, and page 57, line 705—'Waleis and Norgals.' These, the two kingdoms of Queen Herzeleide, are located by Wolfram in Spain, but they are undoubtedly Wales and North Wales (the North galis of Malory), the Northern border-land. Parzival's title throughout the poem is der Waleis, in French versions le Gallois, an evident indication of the Celtic origin of the story.

Page 39, lines 117-160. Of the heroes taking part in the Tourney, Uther Pendragon has been mentioned, in Book I. p. 31, in the genealogy of Gamuret. The poet carefully connects his hero with the traditional royal race of Briton as well as with the princely House of Anjou. Arthur's mother, Arnivè (not Igraine as in most versions), plays a somewhat important rôle in the later part of the poem, her imprisonment in the castle of the Magician Klingsor is fully treated of, cf. from Book XI. onwards. King Lot of Norway (not of Orkney as in the English legend) is frequently alluded to as Gawain's father, but both he and Uther Pendragon are dead before the real action of the poem commences. This is the first appearance of Gawain, who, from Book VI. onward, plays a part in the poem scarcely inferior to that of the hero, Parzival. The Kings of Arragon and Gascony do not appear again, nor are they alluded to, but Brandelidelein of Punturtois we meet with in Book XV. as the uncle of King Gramoflanz. The King of Askalon must not be confused with Vergulacht, in Book VIII., this is evidently one of his predecessors. Eidegast of Logrois is frequently alluded to later on, his murder by Gramoflanz and the desire of his lady-love, Orgeluse, to avenge him, form the motif of the later Gawain episodes. This is the only occasion on which Lähelein appears personally in the poem, but he is constantly alluded to throughout the course of the story (some remarks on the manner in which he is introduced will be found in Appendix A, p. 293). Morhold, cf. note to Book I. Lambekein, cf. Book V. p. 152. Gurnemanz of Graharz plays an important rôle in the Parzival legend, he is here introduced for the first time, cf. Book III.

The Tourney. In this poem we find knightly skill in horsemanship and the use of arms displayed under three distinct forms: the Buhurd, Books XII. and XV., The Tourney, Book II., and serious Warfare as in the siege of Pelrapär, Book IV., and of Beaurosch, Book VII. The two first were simply intended as displays of knightly skill, and took their rise in the knightly sports of the ninth century. The Buhurd seems to have been the original German form, and at first was of a somewhat rough and uncivilised character, the knights riding in bodies at full gallop against each other, and the whole being a display of force rather than of skill.

The Tourney, or Tournament, took its rise in France, and here we find the knights, in full armour, singly displaying their prowess. Gradually the Buhurd changed its character, and throughout this poem we find Wolfram treating it as a formal display of skill in horsemanship, generally to do honour to some favoured guest, as in the reception of Gawain and Orgeluse by the knights of the Château Merveil, Book XII.; in honour of Feirefis, Book XV. Still the idea of force was not entirely eliminated, and we find Gawain, in Book VII. when he promises the child Obilot that he will fight for her father, telling her that she must ride the Buhurd for him, and, as noted above, the fighting here is in earnest. In the later form of Buhurd the knights wear no armour, and it is thus distinguished from the Tourney, where they were always fully armed.

The Tourney was much more complicated in its rules, and is not always easy to distinguish from the real warfare into which it not unfrequently passed. Feirefis, in Book XV., mentions five modes of attack which seem to have answered to the regular stages of a Tourney. Niedner explains them as follows: (1) An attack by one troop on another, with[Pg 305] lance in rest; (2) An attack from the side, also with lance; (3) The onslaught of one rider on a troop of horsemen, in which the aim was to strike the one selected opponent while avoiding the blows of the others; (4) The joust proper, or single combat; (5) The Damenstick, a stroke for the honour of the knight's chosen lady, which followed on the joust, and was specially challenged by knights of exceptional valour. In the Tourney at Kanvoleis (the only Tourney proper in the poem), it is the two first stages in which Gamuret takes no part, he only mingles in the fray when the time arrives to display the valour of the single champions. The joust, or single combat, was a feature of earnest, as of mimic, warfare, and it is not always easy to distinguish between the two.

In each case the great point was the display of skill in horsemanship, and the use of the lance or spear. The knights rode at full speed towards each other, and the aim of each was to strike his opponent in the centre of the shield, 'The four nails,' Book III. p. 98, or at the fastening of the helmet, Book IX. p. 257, and Book XII. In either event if the blow was well aimed, and delivered with sufficient force, the knight was thrown backward off his steed. It might happen that both knights were struck, and succeeded in keeping their seat, while their spears were shivered, then a second joust must be ridden. If either knight were thrown from his saddle, or his steed fell with him, then he was held to be vanquished, but if, as not unfrequently happened, the girth of the saddle broke, and the rider were thrown, then the joust was held to be undecided, and, in the case of real warfare, the issue was fought out with swords on foot. Cf. the combat between Parzival and Klamidé, Book IV. pp. 119, 120. In Book V. we find Parzival and Orilus fighting with swords on horseback: this is unusual. In real warfare the knights would fight till one was slain, or till the issue was indisputably decided by one being felled to the ground. We occasionally find the combat decided by sheer strength of arm, one knight clasping the other and throwing him to the ground; so Parzival conquers Orilus, Book V. p. 149, and Gawain, Lischois, Book X. Both in Tourney and real warfare the fight was generally closed by the vanquished giving his pledge or surety to the victor, who not unfrequently sent him to yield himself prisoner to some favoured lady, so Parzival sends Kingron, Klamidé, and Orilus to Kunnewaaré. If the vanquished knight refused to yield he would be slain, but this did not often happen. The death of Ither of Gaheviess is due to a mischance. Armour and horse were the prize of the victor, though in the case of the foe being slain it seems to have been thought an unknightly deed to take them, such 'robbery of the dead' was termed rêroup, and Trevrezent, Book IX. p. 273, strongly blames both Lähelein and Parzival for such action.

The Tourney would often be held simply for honour, the prize being something comparatively trifling, such as a hawk, cf. Tourney at Kanedig, alluded to in Book III. p. 77, and again in Book V. p. 155, but occasionally the guerdon was far higher, as at Kanvoleis where the band and kingdoms of Queen Herzeleide were the prize of the victor. Any disputes would be referred to a court of judges from whose verdict there was no appeal. In such Tourneys it was customary not to retain the horse and armour, but to accept a ransom fixed by the owner. This is evidently alluded to in Book II. 45, where we find these rules disregarded in the heat of conflict.

Opposed to this Tourney 'for honour' was the Tourney 'for booty,' when the aim of the knights was to capture as many steeds and make as many prisoners as possible, the ransom being fixed by the captor. Wolfram does not mention such a Tourney, but with the decay of knighthood such conflicts appear to have almost entirely displaced the nobler strife. It will be understood, of course, that though a joust or single combat might either be settled beforehand, as in the case of Kingrimursel's and Gramoflanz' challenge to Gawain, or be brought about by a chance meeting, as when Vergulacht and the knight of Monsalväsch fight with Parzival, a Tourney was carefully arranged beforehand, and the knights[Pg 306] summoned by invitation. The knights generally assembled on the Saturday, and the Tourney would be held on the Monday, the interval being employed in careful inquiry as to the claim of those present to take a part in such knightly sport. The knights were divided into two bodies of equal strength, headed by the most experienced warriors present, and single champions would not unfrequently try their skill against each other on the eve of the Tourney proper. Not unfrequently the passions of the knights were roused to such a pitch that this Vesper-spiel became a serious encounter, and the combatants were so exhausted that the Tourney could not be held, as was the case at Kanvoleis. From the abuses connected with these meetings, which not unfrequently lapsed into serious warfare, and caused wanton loss of life, they were looked upon with disfavour by the Church, and in some cases were positively forbidden.

Page 42, line 236—'Rivalein,' according to Eilhart, the father of Tristan.

Page 44, line 279—'I have named unto ye a lady.' This is the queen of France, Anflisé, whose connection with Gamuret is alluded to in Book I. p. 9. This episode was probably suggested by facts in Angevin history, cf. Appendix. A reference to their connection will be found in Book VIII. p. 233.

Page 46, lines 351-60. Galoes the king of Anjou has not been named before. The name occurs in Hartmann's Erec, and may have been borrowed from there. The name of his lady-love is given in Book VII. p. 199. The slayer of Galoes was Orilus, Book III. p. 77.

Page 48, line 406—'No wife was she but a maiden.' Book IX. p. 283, where a full account of Herzeleide's marriage will be found, 'Herzeleide.' The modern German rendering of this name carries with it its own interpretation in the play of words familiar through Wagner's Parsifal, 'Ihr brach das Leid das Herz und Herzeleide starb.' But the original form, Herzeloyde, indicates, in Bartsch's opinion, a Southern French modification, loyde being a variant of hildis, oildis. The name Rischoydè, we know in its form of Richilda, and Herzeloyde seems to come from the same root. Professor Rhys (Arthurian Romance, p. 180) has suggested derivation from the Welsh argelwythes = 'the lady,' but the suggestion has not won general acceptance.

Page 54, line 614—'The maid and her lands he won.' Readers will doubtless remark the fact that though we meet with numerous allusions to marriages and marriage festivities throughout the poem, yet in no single instance is the marriage attended by a religious ceremony. This is an indication of the original date of the story, which testifies to a very early stage of social development. The original idea of marriage was that of a contract made by mutual consent publicly before witnesses, as we find here in the marriages of Gamuret with Belakané and Herzeleide, or later on in Book IV., the marriage of Parzival and Kondwiramur. The mutual promise being given and witnessed, the contract was complete, and the marriage might be consummated at once. The office of the Church seems at first to have been confined to conferring a benediction on a union already completed, and therefore we find that, even so late as the thirteenth century, the religious ceremony followed, and did not precede, the marriage night. San Marte, in his note on the subject, quotes more than one romance of this date where this is the case, and it was not till the idea of marriage as a sacrament had displaced that of marriage as a civil contract that the religious ceremony became essential to a valid union. The fact that Wolfram, with his high ideas of the binding nature of the marriage-vow, never once mentions the religious ceremony is a strong argument in favour of the presumption that the subject-matter of the Parzival is considerably older than his treatment of it. Marriage between a Christian and a heathen was held to be null and void, and, according to the ideas of the age, Herzeleide was fully within her rights in claiming Gamuret as her husband and in regarding his previous marriage as non-existent. The costly presents made by the bridegroom, as for[Pg 307] instance the gift of Waleis and Norgals to Herzeleide by her first husband, seem to have been a survival of the idea that the woman was property, to be bought by the intending husband. The bride, on her part, gave equally rich gifts, so we find Kondwiramur bestowing castles and lands on Parzival, and the mutual interchange of these gifts was an essential part of the marriage contract.

Page 56, line 674—'The panther.' The badge of the House of Anjou was a leopard.

Page 59, lines 744, 745. The idea that a diamond might be softened by the application of a he-goat's blood is very old. San Marte says it is mentioned by Pliny. Hartmann refers to it in his Erec, and it seems to have been a general belief in the Middle Ages.


The first two books of this poem are peculiar to Wolfram. Among the different versions of the Perceval legend which we possess there is a curious diversity of statement as to the parentage of the hero; though, as a rule, they agree in the main facts of the death of his father, either before, or shortly after, Perceval's birth, and his being brought up in the desert by his widowed mother.

With the Third Book we find ourselves on ground common to most transcribers of the legend; and in this and the following books a table of the traditional events contained in the book, with the other versions of the story in which they occur, will be given. The following are the Romances of the Grail-cycle which deal more particularly with the Perceval legend.—

Li Conte del Graal, poem by Chrêtien de Troyes; left unfinished at Chrêtien's death; it was continued by three other writers; the poem as we have it, is the work of at least four different hands.

Peredur: Welsh tale found in the Red Book of Hergest.

Perceval: A French prose romance, ascribed by many critics to Robert de Borron.

Sir Percyvelle of Galles: English metrical romance—author unknown.

Perceval li Gallois: French prose romance, also by an unknown writer.


The son of a widowed mother;
Brought up in the desert;
Meeting with knights and departure for Arthur's court.
Chrêtien: Peredur; Sir Percyvelle.
Meeting with Jeschuté. 'The Lady of the Tent.' Ibid.
Meeting with Siguné. In this place only in Perceval, later meeting in the other versions.
Arrives at Arthur's court and demands knighthood. All the versions.
Meeting with the Red Knight; slays him; and takes his armour. Chrêtien: Peredur, and Sir Percyvelle closely agree as to the meeting. All agree as to the wearing of the red armour. In Perceval, alone, hero does not kill the knight who originally owns it.
Laughter of Kunnewaaré; speech of Antanor and their smiting by Kay. Chrêtien: maiden and fool; Peredur; dwarf and companion.
Arrival at castle of old knight, who counsels hero. Chrêtien: Sir Percyvelle.

(It will be found that, from Books III. to XIII. inclusive, there is a very close parallelism between Wolfram's poem and Chrêtien's share of Li Conte del Graal.)

Introduction, lines 1-45. This introduction, like that to Book I., appears to have been written after the completion of the poem, and to have been intended by the poet as a defence of his attitude towards women; certainly the lines 12-15 presuppose certain statements which had aroused the wrath of the lady hearers of the poet. The whole passage is interesting on account of its strongly personal character. In Book VI. Wolfram refers more than once to the lady who has wronged him (pp. 163, 166, 191), and in terms that show, as here, that he bitterly resented her treatment. The line 'Born was I unto the bearing of knightly shield and spear,' is the only definite statement as to the poet's rank in life which we possess, and in the light of his lasting fame as a poet it is curious to find him holding his gift of song as of less account than his knightly deeds, which do not seem to have been more remarkable than those of his fellows.

From Book IV. p. 122, we learn that Wolfram was married, and, from the concluding lines of Books VI. and XVI., it is clear that the Parzival was composed with a view to winning, or retaining, the favour of a lady, but the only direct personal allusion throughout the entire poem is that to the Margravine of Heitstein in Book VIII. p. 232, and the passage is too vague to allow of our identifying the lady named either with Wolfram's faithless love, or with her for whose sake he composed his poem; certainly the Margravine was not his wife.

Page 67, line 61—'Soltanè's strand.' This is one of the many instances in the poem in which an adjective has been taken as a proper name. In the French source it was undoubtedly an adjective meaning 'solitary,' 'waste.' In Chrêtien we find la gaste forest soltaine; other versions speak of the woods, or the desert, none but this gives a proper name.

Page 69, line 158—'Ulterleg's Count.' Oultre-lac, 'beyond the lake,' cf. Louis D'outremer. This is again an instance of a qualifying term used as a proper name.

Page 72, line 220—'Meljakanz.' This exploit is quite in keeping with the character of the knight, cf. Book VII. p. 198. In Malory we meet with the same character, as Sir Meliagraunce; and the story of his abduction of Guinevere, and her rescue by Launcelot is there given in full.

Page 72, line 240—'For some cunning wile of woman.' It is curious to note that nothing comes of these elaborate precautions on the part of Herzeleide. Parzival's fool's dress seems to excite very little attention, nothing is said of it on his appearance at Arthur's court, nor do we hear of any one mocking him for it. The effect produced by his personal beauty is much more strongly insisted upon. There is also a decided discrepancy between the mother's anxiety to keep her son from danger and her suggestions to him to avenge the wrong Lähelein has done him.

[Pg 309]

Page 73, line 267—'Lähelein,' Cf. Appendix A, and remarks on this character. Heinzel suggests that Lähelein=Llewellwyn, a prince of South Wales who conquered North Wales in 1015. But if a parallel between the boyhood of Parzival and that of Henry Fitz-Empress be intended, as seems probable, the Welsh connection is of too early a date. The remarks in Heinzel's pamphlet, 'Ueber Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival,' as to Lähelein being undoubtedly an historical personage, are worthy of note. It is remarkable that we find no equivalent to this character in other versions of the story.

Page 74, line 287—'Briziljan's wood.' Most probably Broceliande, where so many of the adventures of King Arthur and his knights take place. Undoubtedly this wood was in Brittany, but the localities in the poem are much confused.

Page 74, line 297—'Duke Orilus of Lalande.' This name is again a misconception of a French original, 'Li Orgueillous de-la-lande,' which Wolfram has taken as a proper name. In other versions the lady is unnamed. (It may be noted that Wolfram almost invariably names his characters; and often goes to some trouble to connect them with each other, and the main thread of his story. This tendency to account for everything, sum motiviren, is a marked feature in Wolfram's writings.)

Page 76, line 365—'Thy brother, King Lac's son Erec.' An allusion to the Erec of Hartmann von Aue (founded upon Chrêtien's Erec and dealing with the same subject as found in the Welsh tale of Geraint and the late Laureate's Enid) where the tournament at Prurein is described.

Page 77, line 374—'Proud Galoes.' The slaying alike of Parzival's uncle Galoes, and of his kinsman Schionatulander (p. 80) by Orilus, Lähelein's brother, is also peculiar to Wolfram, but it is curious that the Rache-motif thus introduced is not followed up, and when Parzival overthrows Orilus it is to avenge the shaming of Jeschuté, nor, though Orilus mentions his brother as having won two kingdoms, Book V. p. 150, does Parzival connect the mention with the loss of his own heritage. This seems to indicate that the special rôle assigned in this poem to the two brothers was not a part of the original story, and has not been perfectly fitted into the framework.

The name of Orilus' wife, Jeschuté, is supposed to be derived from a misunderstanding, Wolfram having interpreted the verb gisoit, lay, as a proper name.

Page 77, line 375—'The knight Plihopleheri.' A knight of the Round Table mentioned in Hartmann's Iwein (founded on Chrêtien's Chevalier au Lyon, the subject-matter of which is the same as that of the Welsh Lady of the Fountain).

Page 78, line 409—This shaming of Jeschuté will strongly recall to English readers the story of Enid and Geraint.

Page 79, line 437—'Siguné and Schionatulander.' The loves of these two are related in Wolfram's unfinished poem of Titurel, where the full account of Schionatulander's fatal chase of the hound, or brachet, is given. The adventure with the weeping damsel occurs in other versions of the Perceval legend, but in none does she play so important a part as in the Parzival, vide Book V. p. 141; Book IX. p. 252; and Book XVI. Her parentage is given in Book IX. p. 274.

Page 79, line 466—'Thou art Parzival.' The interpretation here given of the hero's name betrays clearly its French origin, Perce-val. In the Krône of Heinrich von Türlin the writer explains Val as Thal=valley, or Furch=furrow. Wolfram seems to have understood it in this second sense, and has given the name a symbolic meaning peculiar to himself. In Chrêtien's poem no derivation or interpretation of the name is given, and the hero himself guesses his name; nor do the special terms of endearment, evidently quoted by Wolfram from a French source, occur in Chrêtien's version of the story.

Page 80, line 497—''Twas a churl.' Wolfram's aristocratic contempt for peasants may be noted in other passages, cf. Book II. p. 43, and VII. p. 219.

[Pg 310]

Page 81, line 517—'Herr Hartmann von Aue.' Hartmann von Aue was a famous German poet of the twelfth century. If not absolutely the first to introduce the Arthurian legends into Germany (Eilhart's Tristan is earlier than Hartmann's works), he was the writer who first rendered them popular in that country. His principal poems are Erec, written about 1191; and Iwein 1202, both of which are frequently referred to by Wolfram. They were founded on two poems by Chrêtien de Troyes, Erec and Le Chevalier au Lyon, but Hartmann was not a mere translator; he handled his materials with considerable skill, and with an insight into the characters and motives of his dramatis personæ which is distinctly a feature of the German presentment of these legends. Enid and her mother Karnafite are characters in the Erec. The story of another of Hartmann's poems, Der arme Heinrich, is well known to English readers through Longfellow's version of it in The Golden Legend.

Page 82, line 534—'No Kurwenal was his teacher.' Kurwenal is the friend and tutor of Tristan. In Malory we find the name 'Gouvernail,' and it seems probable that here again we have a term denoting an office converted into a proper name.

Page 82, line 549—'Ither of Gaheviess.' Ither = Welsh Idêr; Gaheviess = gas-vies, old wood. Chrêtien calls him 'de la forêt de Kinkerloi.'

Page 82, line 544—'The Red Knight.' This character is evidently one of the traditional features of the story; though the circumstances of the meeting differ, there is no version without its 'Red Knight.' In those romances of the Grail-cycle in which Perceval has been deposed from his original position as hero in favour of Galahad, we find the latter wearing the armour, and bearing the title, of the Red Knight. Here again Wolfram is the only writer who names him, but it is somewhat startling to find the king of Cumberland claiming Brittany. From Book IX. pp. 273 and 285, we learn that he was Parzival's kinsman. It may be interesting here, and may help to the better understanding of the poem, if we describe the armour of a knight at the end of the twelfth century. The principal piece of defensive armour was the Hauberk (Halsberg), a coat formed of rings of steel which reached to the knee, and had sleeves ending in iron gauntlets. Attached to this, and forming one piece with the Halsberg, was the Härsenier, a cap of chain mail which was drawn over the head below the helmet. The upper part of the face was protected by the 'Nasen-band,' a band of iron provided with eye-holes; and the lower part by the 'Fintäle,' a part of the 'Härsenier' which passed round and over the chin; above this the helmet was fastened. (The use of the word 'visor' in the translation is an anachronism, as the visor proper was not introduced till later, but there was no other word which would express what was meant with equal brevity and clearness.) Foot and leg were clad in hose of iron, and the knee and elbow were specially protected by plates of iron or schinnelier. Over this harness many knights wore the Waffen-rock, a long sleeveless garment of silk on which the badge of the knight was embroidered in gold and jewels. The sword was girt above this garment. The knight would also bear his distinguishing badge on helmet, shield, and the truncheon of his spear. The shield was of wood, strengthened with bands of metal, and often decorated with precious stones, cf. the description of Feirefis' shield in Book XV. The shield was long-shaped, three-cornered, and was held in the left hand close to the body, the spear was carried in the right, so that the horse was guided by the knee, not by the hand, of the rider. The spear was a blade of steel, set into a long heft of wood, or reed, Röhr, probably Bamboo, sometimes even the rough trunk of a young tree, as in Book IV. p. 519. Shield and spear were alike painted in the same colours as the robe of the knight, and the horse had a like covering of silk beneath the saddle and over the coat of mail with which it was protected. The description given by Wolfram of the arms and accoutrement of the Red Knight of Parzival, Book IV. p. 19, and Orilus, Book V. pp. 147-148, seq., will give a very clear idea of the appearance of a knight in full battle-array.

[Pg 311]

Page 83, line 570—'To the Table Round I came.' Here we find an allusion to two methods of laying claim to a property. There seems a difference of opinion as to the first; Simrock holds that the pouring out of the wine constituted the claim; Bartsch, that the point of the action lay in carrying off some part of the property claimed. This seems the more probable interpretation, the pouring out of the wine then, as well as the sprinkling the queen, would be accidental. In Chrêtien the indignation of king and queen at the insult is far more strongly emphasised. The burning of a wisp of straw, as a declaration of rights claimed, is mentioned by Grimm in his Deutsche Rechtsalterthümer.

Page 83, line 586—'Iwanet.' The diminutive of Iwein, the well-known hero of Hartmann's poem (the Owain, son of Urien of Rheged, of Welsh tradition).

Page 83—'Parzival at the court of King Arthur.' There are some distinctive features in Wolfram's version of this incident. Parzival's behaviour towards the King, though unconventional, is far less discourteous than that ascribed to him either by Chrêtien or by the English 'Sir Percyvelle.' In Chrêtien's poem, Perceval rides into the hall, where he finds the king and courtiers plunged in grief at the insult offered to them by the Red Knight. The king does not reply to Perceval's greeting, and the lad rides so close to him that his horse's head knocks off the king's cap. A reason for the failure of the Knights of the Round Table to avenge the insult offered by the Red Knight is suggested in the fact that they are already wounded in battle. [The student of Irish heroic saga cannot fail to recall the strange disability under which the knights of Conchobor's court suffered at times and which completely prostrated them. The province of Ulster would have lain defenceless were it not that the Cuchulainn alone was free from the disability, and single-handed defied the men of the rest of Ireland. There are many points of contrast between the enfances of Cuchulainn and those of Perceval—A.N.] The kindly feeling shown both by Arthur and Guinevere towards Ither is not paralleled in Chrêtien, where the Red Knight is represented as Arthur's deadliest foe, and Guinevere is like to die of shame and wrath at the insult offered to her. Chrêtien also places Perceval's refusal to dismount here, whereas Wolfram places it on his arrival at Gurnemanz' castle. In Chrêtien the hero tells the Red Knight of his intention to demand his armour from Arthur, and there is no trace of the courteous and poetical greeting which Ither here addresses to Parzival. The confusion of the Red Knight with the hero's own personal foe is of course due to the introduction of the Lähelein episode which is peculiar to Wolfram; but Chrêtien has a most curious passage connected with Perceval's inability to disarm his dead antagonist:

'Ains auroie par carbonées
Trestout escarbelliè le mort,
Que nule des armes enport;'

which as it stands is decidedly difficult of interpretation; while in the English Sir Percyvelle we find the hero saying:

'My moder bad me,
Whenne my dart solde brokene be
Owte of the irene brenne the tree,'

which evidently indicates the source of Chrêtien's curious remark. An examination of the different versions seems to show that, while the German is the fuller and more poetical, the French is here closer to the original form of the story.

Pages 85 and 86, lines 635, 658—'Kay the Seneschal.' The character of Kay is one of the problems of the Arthurian legends. In all the tales he is represented as filling the office of Seneschal, and in all he is represented as a man of rough manners, violent temper, and bitter tongue. The Seneschal (Senes-schalh), the oldest servant, was master of the[Pg 312] ceremonies, one of the chief personages of a royal household, and not unfrequently the trusted confidant of the king; but such a chastisement as Kay here, and in other versions, inflicts upon Kunnewaaré, was distinctly outside his office, and, taking into consideration the standing of Kunnewaaré and Antanor, quite inconceivable. Here, as in other instances, we have traces of an original tradition dating from a time when a far rougher code of manners and customs obtained. Wolfram, while adhering closely to his source, and to the traditional representation of Kay's character, was evidently extremely puzzled by the undignified and discourteous part allotted to him, and in Book VI. (p. 169) he diverges from the story in order to explain what he feels to be a difficulty, and to defend Kay at some length. The Northern French poets apparently felt the same, and as Kay is generally represented as Arthur's foster-brother they invented the fable that the unknightly traits in his character were due to his having been committed to the care of a peasant nurse when his mother took charge of the infant Arthur.

Page 85, line 652—'The maiden Kunnewaaré.' The 'laughing damsel' seems to be an archaic and misunderstood element in the Grail romances. A common incident of folk-tales is for the hero, fool, lout, or tatterdemalion, to win to wife a princess who has not laughed or spoken for years by inducing her to do either of these things. Some such incident has apparently been woven into an heroic romance, the main outlines of which were already fixed, so that the actual conclusion, marriage of the hero with the laughing damsel, has been disturbed. Note, however, the homage paid by Parzival to Kunnewaaré, and her evident affection for him (Book VI. pp. 181-185). Her name too is suggestive, it has been derived from la pucele a la gonne vaire (the maiden with the coloured robe), but in its present form it is suspiciously like Kondwiramur, and it should be noted that it is the rejected lover of this queen whom Kunnewaaré eventually marries. Is it possible that the Perceval romance from which both Chrêtien and 'Kiot' drew contained doublets of this personage? In the one case in her original, in the other in a modified form. An instructive parallel may be adduced from the saga of Cuchulainn. He is the hero of an Andromeda episode and should by rights wed the delivered heroine, but the story being already fixed before the episode was assimilated, the heroine is passed on to a companion of the hero.—[A. N.]

Page 89, line 766—'Maestricht, or e'en Cologne.' German art, in the early Middle Ages, reached its highest level in the Rhenish provinces, especially at Cologne.

Page 91, line 828—'Gurnemanz of Graharz.' The old knight who instructs the hero in knightly duties is a traditional part of the story, and belongs to most of the versions. In Peredur, he is identified with the Fisher King, Perceval's uncle. In Chrêtien his name is given as Gonemans of Gelbort; in Gerbert, Chrêtien's continuator, he is, Gornemant (one of several points of contact between Gerbert and Wolfram's source).

Page 91, line 847—'He bade them lead the guest in.' This is one of the many passages which afford an interesting glimpse of the manners and customs of a bygone age. It may be well to summarise here what we know of the reception and treatment of a guest in the Middle Ages. If a strange knight rode into the courtyard of a castle he was received by squires and pages, who held his bridle and assisted him to dismount. The guest was then conducted to a chamber where he was disarmed and provided with suitable robes. In every important household there was a Kleider-kammer, or wardrobe, presided over by a chamberlain, whose office it was to see that all guests were provided with garments fitted to their station. The preparation of these dresses was the work of the women of the household, and it can have been no light task, as even if a whole company arrived they would all expect to be provided with the requisite dress. The guest, being robed, was then conducted to the great Hall, which was in the upper story of the castle. Half-way on the staircase leading to it, he would be met, and welcomed with the kiss of greeting, by[Pg 313] both host and hostess (cf. Book IV. p. 107), and led by them into the Hall where he would receive the greeting of the assembled company. When all were seated the guest would say who he was, and whence he came, but, if he kept silence on this point, it was not etiquette to ask him till the next morning (cf. Book III. p. 95). The evening meal then followed, after which, on occasions of great festivity, such as that recounted in Book XIII. (marriage feast of Gawain and Orgeluse) there would be dancing, otherwise the time seems to have been spent in conversation till the appearance of the wine-cup, Nacht Trunk, gave the signal for separation. Then knights conducted the guest to his chamber, where pages disrobed him, and apparently waited with lighted tapers till he fell asleep. The account given here of Parzival's visit to Gurnemanz gives a very good idea of how the following day would be spent, indeed Wolfram's love for detailed description, and accuracy of statement render this poem peculiarly valuable to a student of the manners and customs of the Middle Ages.

From various hints in the Gawain episodes, notably Books X. and XI., it seems as if the privilege extended to a guest might on occasion be construed with a freedom decidedly repellent to modern ideas.

Page 96, lines 984, 985—'Full five shall thy senses be.' Cf. Book IX. p. 200.

Page 98, line 1055—'The prince bade his daughter hither.' The introduction of Gurnemanz' daughter, and her incipient love affair with Parzival is peculiar to this version. There is a curious discrepancy to be noted between the apparent susceptibility of the hero here and in Book IX. pp. 260, 261, and his indifference to feminine charms displayed elsewhere, notably in his rejection of Orgeluse's advances and neglect of the Château Merveil adventure. The latter presentment seems most in accordance with Parzival's character; is the susceptibility to be ascribed to the poet?

Page 99, line 1080—'I lose once more a son.' The sons of the old knight are mentioned in other versions, but Wolfram alone names them. The circumstances of Schenteflur's death are recounted in Book IV. p. 121; the account given of the other two sons is largely borrowed from Hartmann's Erec, where the strife for the hawk at Kanedig, and the venture, Schoie-de-la-kurt (which is not a person, but an expedition), is fully recounted. Brandigan is Klamidé's kingdom, cf. Book IV.; Mabonagrein, his cousin, Book IV. p. 123. Mahaut is another form of the name Matilda. From Titurel we learn that Gurzgrei and Mahaut were the parents of Schionatulander, Siguné's lover, cf. also Book VIII. p. 245 and note.


Arrival at besieged city; maiden of the castle beseeches the hero's aid; overthrowal of her enemies and final marriage with maiden. Chrêtien and his continuator Gerbert; Peredur; Sir Percyvelle.

Name of the maiden; Chrêtien, Blanche-fleur; Sir Percyvelle Lufamour; Peredur unnamed.

Page 103, line 17—'Who rideth astray, etc.' According to Simrock this passage in the original contains a play upon words which cannot be reproduced in translation: Slegel—schlegel, the word employed for axe here, signifying, in some parts of Germany, 'a fallen tree.'

[Pg 314]

Page 104, line 26—'The city of Pelrapär.' In Chrêtien the name of the city is 'Beau-repaire,' of which this is evidently the German rendering. The substitution of p for b is still a distinguishing mark of German pronunciation of French. In Sir Percyvelle it is 'the maiden land.'

Page 104, line 38—'The King Klamidé.' This character is named by Wolfram and Chrêtien only; in Peredur he is the Earl; in Sir Percyvelle, 'Sowdane.' Chrêtien calls him 'Clamadex,' and it is worthy of note that in Perceval li Gallois the son of the Red Knight slain by Perceval is called 'Clamadas,' evidently a variant of the same name.

Page 105, line 78—'My lord the Count of Wertheim.' Wertheim is in Lower Franconia. Bartsch thinks either Poppo I. or his son Poppo II. is referred to here. From the expression used, 'my lord,' it seems as if Wolfram had at one time been in his service.

Page 106, line 89—'Trühending.' There are three places of this name in the neighbourhood of Eschenbach: Hohen, Alten, and Wasser-Trühending. The latter is still famous for its krapfen, a kind of pancake.

Page 107, line 119—'Kiot of Katelangen (i.e. Catalonia) and Manfilot.' Kiot is the father of Siguné, and appears again in Book XVI. The account of his marriage with Schoisianè, her death, and his subsequent adoption of the life of a hermit will be found in Book IX. p. 274. From Wolfram's unfinished poem of Titurel we learn that Manfilot was his companion.

Page 107, line 133—'The twain Isoldé.' An allusion to Isoldé la Belle, the wife of King Mark of Cornwall, and mistress of Sir Tristan; and Isoldé of the white hand, Tristan's wife.

Page 109, line 208, seq.—'Till the cry of heart-sorrow woke him.' This nocturnal visit of the Lady of the castle to the hero's chamber seems to be part of the original tradition, and it is evident by the apologetic manner in which Wolfram tells the story that he is somewhat puzzled by Kondwiramur's conduct. From the Introduction to Book VII., and also from the blame he bestows on Chrêtien for having done a wrong to the story, Diese Märe unrecht gethan, we gather that Wolfram set a high value on fidelity to his source, and these and similar apologetic passages must be explained by the unwillingness of the poet to depart from the traditional form of the legend, while, at the same time, the story, representing as it did the manners and customs of an earlier and ruder period, was somewhat distasteful to him.

Page 110, line 243—'Kingron the Seneschal.' This character is Aguigrenons in Chrêtien, elsewhere he is unnamed. Mr. York Powell points out that Wolfram's form presupposes an Aguigrenons, which would either indicate that the existing MSS. of Chrêtien, or Chrêtien himself, misread u for n, or that Wolfram did not get his version by ear as he maintains (or that Wolfram was following a source other than Chrêtien).

Page 114, line 365, seq.—'The marriage night.' A similar account is given by Gerbert, one of the continuators of Chrêtien. (Chrêtien himself does not record the marriage, which takes place on a later visit of the hero to Beau-repaire.) In Gerbert's version we have an indication of later influence, as the motive-power is the recognition by both Perceval and his bride of the superiority of virginity to the married state. Wolfram's version seems far more in accordance with the character of the hero, and is probably closer to the original form of the story.

Page 116, line 420—'Galogandres, Duke of Gippones.' This character and Count Narant only appear here. Uckerland is probably a corruption of Oultreland, as noted in Book III.

Page 118, line 505—'Gringorz.' The French Gringoire—Gregory. All this account of[Pg 315] Klamidé's arms, charger, etc., is peculiar to Wolfram; whose fondness for minute and descriptive detail is a noticeable characteristic.

Page 121, line 598—'Dianasdron.' Dinaderon en Gales in Chrêtien, who does not mention Karminöl. In the roll of King Arthur's knights we find such names as Sir Dinas, Sir Dinant, Sir Dinadan; all of which seem to come from the same root. The name is probably Keltic, and belongs to the original version of the story.

Page 123, line 660—'Mabonagrein.' Cf. Book III. p. 108 and note.


Hero meets with the Fisher King; visits the Grail Castle, sees the Grail, lance, etc., but asks no question, and is therefore reproached by maiden with dead knight. Chrêtien and continuators: Peredur; Perceval; Perceval li Gallois. (Sir Percyvelle omits everything connected with the Grail.)

(The reader will find all this part of the legend, the varying forms of the visit to the Grail Castle, the Fisher King, the Grail, etc., fully discussed in Mr. Alfred Nutt's Studies on the Legend of the Holy Grail.)

Page 131, line 58—'Abenberg's field.' Castle and town of Abenberg, in the neighbourhood of Eschenbach.

Page 131, line 75—'Repanse de Schoie.' This name appears to signify 'Thought of joy.' The Grail maidens are not named in other versions.

Page 132, line 87—'Then one to the host would call him.' This was evidently the Court Jester, always a privileged person.

Page 132, lines 109, 110—'Lignum Aloe.' Bartsch holds this to be a mistake of the poet, who has misunderstood the old French word Aloer. Chrêtien has simply seces boises. 'Wildberg' was the home of the poet, who is here making allusion to his poverty, as in Book IV. p. 106.

Page 132, line 111—'And the host had bid them lay him.' 'The Maimed King' invariably figures in the Grail Romances, whether they deal only with the Quest, as here, or with the early history of the Grail. He is generally wounded through the thighs, either with a lance, or with a sword, but the circumstances under which he receives the wound vary greatly. In most of the versions he is met with while engaged in fishing, and is known as the Fisher King, or the 'Rich Fisher.'

Page 132, line 125—'The bleeding lance.' This is a feature in most of the Grail Romances, and seems to have been an original feature of the story, though it had not the close connection with the Grail, which the fully developed Christian legend has given to it. In the earlier versions of the story it is the weapon with which the Maimed King was wounded; finally, it became the spear with which our Lord's side was pierced on the cross. Wolfram, who never appears to connect the Grail with the Passion, gives it the first meaning. The visit to the Grail Castle is told in varying forms, but the King, the Grail, Sword, and Lance almost invariably appear, and the hero is either Perceval or his companion Gawain, but Perceval is, undoubtedly, the original hero of the Quest.

Page 133, line 137 and seq.—'The Grail Procession.' In Chrêtien this is much more[Pg 316] simply treated. There are two squires bearing candlesticks, and two maidens, one of whom carries the Grail, the other a silver dish, tailleor. Wolfram has evidently seized the opportunity to give play to his love of detailed description, and his account of the Grail Feast and the Grail Maidens is far more elaborate than any given elsewhere.

Page 136, line 223—'The food-supplying powers of the Grail.' In other romances of the cycle we find similar powers attributed to the Grail. Malory, who borrowed largely from the Queste and Grand S. Graal, gives a like account. There is evidently a connection between this feature of the Grail, and the food-supplying talismans which figure largely in the legendary lore of most countries.

Page 137, line 247—'A squire who a sword did bear.' Cf. p. 144, lines 472 and seq. This incident also occurs in Chrêtien, and in varying form in most of the versions. In this poem the meaning and use of the sword are somewhat inexplicable. In Chrêtien that sword will break in one peril, known only to its maker, and then can be made whole by dipping it in a lake. Wolfram's account seems to be based on a misunderstanding of a French original. In some of the other versions the sword is already broken, and can only be made whole by the achiever of the Quest. In Wolfram the sword is a very puzzling feature of the story, with which indeed it seems to have little or no connection. The sword, which breaks in Parzival's deadly combat with his unknown brother, is not this sword, but the one taken from Ither of Gaheviess.

Page 137, line 267—'The fairest of old men ancient.' Titurel, cf. Book IX. p. 287.

Page 137, line 273—''Tis a symbol good, the bowstring.' Introduction to Book I., line 9, and note.

Page 139, line 325—'The garden of Paradise.' This is one of the allusions which seem to connect the Grail in Wolfram's version with an Oriental source, cf. p. 135.

Page 141, line 371—'A hidden hand drew the rope taut.' Chrêtien has the incident of the drawbridge rising, but in no other version are the reproaches addressed to the hero immediately on his leaving the castle, they are invariably put into the mouth of the maiden with the dead knight. In the Perceval the maiden's words, 'The Lord hates thee,' recall Wolfram's Ihr sult varen der sunnen has, which Bartsch says is an ancient formula of declaring a person accurst, and unworthy of the light of day.

Page 141, line 381—'Doubled the throw of sorrow.' Cf. Book III. p. 100; Book II. p. 47. Similes borrowed from games of chance are not unusual in this poem.

Page 141, line 397—'A woman's voice make moan.' This meeting with the maiden after the visit to the Grail Castle is in most versions the only one. In Chrêtien she now tells the hero his name which he learns or guesses for the first time. It was not improbably this incident which led either Wolfram, or his source, to place a first meeting earlier in the story while still retaining one in the original position. Wolfram, with characteristic love for detail, follows up the history of Siguné far more fully than other writers of the cycle.

Page 142, line 427—'Monsalväsch.' Probably 'Mont Sauvage,' in allusion to its wild and lonely position. A full account of the Grail and its keepers is given in Book IX. pp. 270, 271.

Page 143, line 463—'Lunete.' A character in Hartmann's Iwein, from which the episode is quoted. Cf. Book IX. p. 252, and opening of Book XII.

Page 144, line 475—'Trebuchet.' This name is also given in Chrêtien; he is alluded to again p. 147, and in Book IX. p. 281, in connection with the knives of silver mentioned in line 498 of this book.

Page 147, line 595—'Tenabroc.' Also p. 133, line 146. This name is borrowed from Hartmann's Erec. Chrêtien has 'Danebroc.'

Page 147, line 601—'Beàlzenan.' According to Bartsch this name is combined from[Pg 317] Provençal, beal, fair; enan, height='the fair height,' which would suit very well with the position of Angers, the capital of Anjou.

Page 152, line 760—'Wild Taurian, Dodine's brother.' Cf. Book IX. p. 265. Taurian does not seem to have been identified, but Dodine appears, in many of the Arthurian romances, always with the title of 'Le Sauvage.' So we find him named in Malory. Wolfram seemed to have transferred the characteristic from one brother to the other.

Page 155, line 849—'Iofreit the son of Idöl.' This is the French name Geoffrey. Mentioned again in Book VI. line 168. Most critics identify this character with Chrêtien's Giflès li feus Do.


Blood drops on the snow and love-trance of hero. Chrêtien: Peredur.
Overthrows Kay and Segramor. (Perceval Li Gallois relates a similar incident of Gawain.)
Hero is cursed by Grail messenger for his failure to ask the question. Chrêtien: Peredur.
(In Perceval there is a cursing by Merlin.)

Page 159, line 2—'From Karidöl and his kingdom.' Karidöl=Carduel or Cardoile, the Anglo-Norman form of Carlisle. This is undoubtedly Arthur's original capital, but throughout this poem Nantes seems to be regarded as the royal city. Curiously enough we find the two names combined in Gautier de Doulens, one of the continuators of Li Conte del Graal, who introduces, as one of his dramatis personæ, Carduel of Nantes.

Page 160, line 29—'Whitsuntide.' An examination of the Romances will show this statement to be correct; Pentecost and Christmas seem to have been the two feasts held in especial honour at King Arthur's court.

Page 160, line 49—'Blood-drops on the snow.' Both Wolfram and Chrêtien insist only on the two colours, red and white, and the fact that they are puzzled by, and think it necessary to explain, the presence of snow at Whitsuntide shows that they are taking over the incident from an older source. As a matter of fact it is to be found in tales unconnected with the Arthurian cycle, and of varying nationality. In Peredur (Welsh) a raven has settled upon the body of a wild goose killed by a falcon, and the hero thinks of three colours (black, for hair; white, for skin; red, for cheeks); in the Fate of the Sons of Usnech, an Irish tale written down before the middle of the twelfth century, and probably centuries older, these three colours are likewise present, but it is a calf instead of a wild goose that is slain, and it is the heroine, not the hero, who is fascinated by the colours. The incident has always been a favourite one with Celtic story-tellers (cf. Argyll Tales, M'Innes and Nutt, pp. 431-34), and curiously it is the slain-bird, instead of the slain-calf version which predominates, although the Fate of the Sons of Usnech is probably the most famous of all Irish stories, and no traceable literary influence of the Welsh tale upon Irish romance is known. Those familiar with Grimm's fairy tales will remember a similar incident in the story of Snowdrop, where the queen pricks her finger, and wishes for a daughter with hair as black as the ebony window-frame, skin as white as the snow, and cheeks as red as the blood; but here, of course, the 'fascination'[Pg 318] element is absent. I have attempted to show ('the lai of Eliduc and the mürchen of Schneewittchen,'Folk Lore. iii. I), that the Gaelic version of the Schneewittchen type of story represents the earliest attainable form of the story.—[A. N.]

Page 162, line 87—'Segramor,' or Saigremors. This knight is a familiar figure in the Arthurian Romances, and the episode is quite in accordance with his general character. Chrêtien calls him 'Le Desreè' (uncurbed, impetuous). In Malory he is 'Le Desirous.' Cf. also Book VIII. p. 241.

Page 163, line 121—'To seek for the magic pheasant.' Simrock thinks this an allusion to a popular folk-tale, in which a magician, condemned to death, contrives to escape by setting his judges and executioner to seek for the fallen bird, by the irresistible strains of his magic pipe.

Page 166, line 235—'Heinrich of Veldeck.' A German poet who lived towards the end of the twelfth century. His translation of the Æneid, founded on a French version of the poem, was extremely popular, and Wolfram frequently refers to it in his Parzival.

Page 169, line 321—'Herman of Thuringia.' This Landgrave of Thuringia is well known to history as a generous patron of the literature of his day. His court at the Wartburg was the resort of all the leading poets, and it filled a place in the literary life of the twelfth century only comparable to that taken by the neighbouring court of Weimar six hundred years later. The terms in which Wolfram speaks of the guests at the Wartburg is quite in keeping with what is known of the Landgrave's lavish hospitality.

Simrock renders a passage from Walther von der Vogelweide which describes the tumultuous life of the court as follows:

'Wer in den Ohren siech ist oder krank im Haupt,
Der meide ja Thuringen's Hof, wenn er mir glaubt.
Käm er dahin, er würde ganz bethöret;
Ich drang so lange zu, dass ich nicht mehr vermag,
Ein Zug fährt ein, ein andrer aus, so Nacht als Tag,
Ein wunder ists, dass da noch Jemand höret.'

The Wartburg-krieg, a poem of the end of the thirteenth century, in which the principal poets of the age are represented as competing in song before the Landgrave, supposes this contest to take place in 1207, and is doubtless an echo of what was no unusual incident at that date. Wolfram's poem of Willehalm was composed at the wish of the Landgrave, and in it he speaks of the death of his patron. Herman died in 1216, and the brilliant life at the Wartburg came to an end; his successor Ludwig, the husband of S. Elizabeth, having little taste for literature.

Page 169, line 325—'And so Knight Walter singeth.' Walther von der Vogelweide, one of the most famous of German lyric poets, was of knightly birth but small means; he seems to have supported himself by his art, leading a wandering life at the principal courts of his day. Of his connection with Wolfram nothing is known, save the fact of their being together at the court of the Landgrave Herman in the early years of the thirteenth century. The line here quoted does not occur in any of Walther's extant poems.

Page 169, line 328—'Heinrich of Rispach.' Nothing seems to be known of the character here referred to. From the fact that there is a Rispach in the neighbourhood of Eschenbach, Bartsch conjectures that it was some one personally known to Wolfram.

Page 171, line 385—'The time when the knife's sharp blade.' Wolfram is here quoting from an unknown source. No such adventures are recorded in any Romance that has come down to us; but they are quite in keeping with Gawain's character.

Page 176, line 529—'The right of the Round Table.' This custom is alluded to in other Arthurian Romances, and we meet with it again in Book XIII. Here Wolfram seems to imply merely that the king did not eat in public with his knights, i.e. at the Round[Pg 319] Table, before they had heard of some knightly venture; in Book XIII. he speaks as if no meal might be partaken of by any of the courtiers till this came to pass. The first rendering seems to be the correct one. [The whole incident is thoroughly in keeping with the conventions of early Irish romance, in which the personages are invariably subject to strict rules and obligations, geasa, to use the Irish word.—A.N.]

Page 177, line 585—'The Grail Messenger.' This incident occurs in both Chrêtien and Peredur, but the messenger is unnamed, or simply termed 'The Loathly Damsel.' Such a damsel is met with in the Perceval, but when she reaches King Arthur's Court she is transformed into a maiden of surpassing beauty. It will be noted that one of the queens imprisoned in Château Merveil also bears the name of Kondrie (p. 189). Mr. Nutt, in his Studies on the Legend of the Holy Grail, suggests this was originally the Loathly Damsel released from the transforming spell. (It may be noted that Wagner has kept this idea, and in the first act his Kundrie is the Loathly Messenger; in the second, 'Kondrie la Belle.') Chrêtien's description of Kondrie's appearance is even more repulsive than Wolfram's. In Book X. we have a curious account of the origin of these strange people.

[The 'Loathly Damsel' is one of those personages that most clearly testify to the reliance of the romance-writers upon a traditional popular basis, and also in this instance to the specific Celtic origin of that popular basis. A commonplace of folk-tales of the 'task' class is that the hero is helped by a personage having p