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An Arthurian Miscellany at




On Trinitye Mondaye in the morne,
   &This sore battayle was doom'd to bee,
Where manye a knighte cry'd, Well-awaye!
   &Alacke, it was the more pittìe.

Ere the first crowinge of the cocke,
   &When as the kinge in his bed laye,
He thoughte Sir Gawaine to him came,
   &And there to him these wordes did saye:

"Nowe, as you are mine unkle deare,
   &And as you prize your life, this daye
O meet not with your foe in fight;
   &Putt off the battayle, if yee maye.

"For Sir Launcelot is nowe in Fraunce,
   &And with him many an hardye knighte:
Who will within this moneth be backe,
   &And will assiste yee in the fighte."

The kinge then call'd his nobles all,
   &Before the breakinge of the daye;
And told them howe Sir Gawaine came,
   &And there to him these wordes did saye.

His nobles all this counsayle gave,
   &That earlye in the morning, hee
Shold send awaye an herauld-at-armes,
   &To aske a parley faire and free.

Then twelve good knightes King Arthur chose,
   &The best of all that with him were,
To parley with the foe in field,
   &And make with him agreement faire.

The king he charged all his hoste,
   &In readinesse there for to bee;
But noe man shold noe weapon sturre,
   &Unlesse a sword drawne they shold see.

And Mordred, on the other parte,
   &Twelve of his knights did likewise bringe,
The best of all his companye,
   &To hold the parley with the kinge.

Sir Mordred alsoe charged his hoste,
   &In readinesse there for to bee;
But noe man sholde noe weapon sturre,
   &But if a sworde drawne they shold see.

For he durste not his unkle truste,
   &Nor he his nephewe, sothe to tell;
Alacke! it was a woefulle case,
   &As ere in Christentye befelle.

But when they were together mette,
   &And both to faire accordance broughte,
And a month's league betweene them sette,
   &Before the battayle sholde be foughte,

An addere crept forth of a bushe,
   &Stunge one o' th' king's knightes on the knee;
Alacke! It was a woefulle chance,
   &As ever was in Christentìe.

When the knighte found him wounded sore,
   &And sawe the wild-worm hanginge there,
His sworde he from his scabberde drewe;
   &A piteous case, as ye shall heare.

For when the two hostes sawe the sworde,
   &They joyned battayle instantlye;
Till of soe manye noble knightes,
   &On one side there were left but three.

For all were slain that durst abide,
   &And but some fewe that fled awaye:
Ay mee! it was a bloodye fielde,
   &As ere was foughte on a summer's daye.

Upon King Arthur's own partyè,
   &Onlye himselfe escaped there,
And Lukyn Duke of Gloster free,
   &And the king's butler Bedevere.

And when the king beheld his knightes
   &All dead and scattered on the molde,
The teares fast trickled downe his face;
   &That manlye face in fight so bolde.

"Nowe reste yee all, brave knights," he said,
   &"Soe true and faithful to your trust:
And must ye then, ye valiant hearts,
   &Be lefte to moulder into dust!

"Most loyal have yee been to mee,
   &Most true and faithful unto deathe:
And, oh! to rayse yee up againe,
   &How freelye could I yield my breathe!

"But see, the traitor's yet alive!
   &Lo where hee stalkes among the deade!
Nowe bitterlye he shall abye:
   &And vengeance fall upon his head."

"O staye, my liege," then sayd the duke;
   &"O staye for love and charitìe;
Remember what the vision spake,
   &Nor meete your foe, if it may bee."

"O staye mee not, thou worthye wight,
   &This debt my loyal knights I owe:
Betide my life, betide me death,
   &I will avenge them of their foe."

Then straite he grasp'd his trustye speare,
   &And on his horse then mounted hee:
As his butler holpe him to his horse,
   &His bowels gushed to his knee.

"Alas!" then sayd the noble king,
   &"That I should live this sight to see!
To see this good knight here be slaine,
   &All for his love in helping mee!

He put his speare into his reste.
   &And to Sir Mordred loud gan crye:
"Nowe sette thyself upon thy guarde,
   &For, traitor, nowe thy death is nye."

Sir Mordred lifted up his sworde,
   &And fierce to meet the king ran hee:
The king his speare he through him thrust,
   &A fathom thorow his bodìe.

When Mordered felt the stroke of death,
   &And found that he was wounded soe,
He thrust himselfe upon the speare,
   &And strucke the king a deadlye blowe.

Then grimmlye dyed Sir Mordered,
   &Presentlye upon that tree:
And bloody streames ranne from the kinge,
   &Ere to the duke returned hee.

Sir Lukyn then he thus bespake:
   &"Sir Knighte, thou hast been faithfulle tryde;
Nowe take my sworde Excalibar,
   &That hangs so freelye by my syde;

"O take my sword Excalibar,
   &And there into the river throwe:
For here, henceforth, benethe this tree,
   &All use of weapons I forgoe.

"And fare thee well, thou trustye sword,
   & A better neer had valiant knighte;
With thee full ofte, and many a daye,
   &Have I withstood my foe in fighte.

   &With this good fauchion in my hande,
   &Oft have I reapd the bloody feelde:
But nowe the fatalle houre is come,
   &That never more I may thee weelde."

The duke to the river side he went,
   &And there his owne sword in threwe he;
But he kept back Excalibar,
   &He kept it back in privitie.

For all of coleyne was the blade,
   &And all the hilte of precious stone:
"And ever alacke!" then sayd the knighte,
   &"Must such a sword awaye be throwne?"

Then backe he came unto the kinge,
   &Who sayd, Sir Lukyn, what did yee see?"
"Nothing, my liege, save that the winde
   &Blewe oer the waters faire and free."

"O goe againe," then said the kinge,
   &"O good Sir Lukyn, goe againe:
Into the rivere throwe my sword,
   &Nor keepe me lingering here in paine."

The duke then to the river went,
   &And the kings scabberd in threwe hee;
But he kept backe Excalibar,
   &And hid it undernethe a tree.

Then backe he came to tell the kinge,
   &Who sayde, "Sir Lukyn, sawe ye oughte?"
"Nothinge, my liege, save that the winde
   &Nowe with the angrye waters fought."

"O Lukyn, Lukyn," said the kinge,
   &"Twice haste thou dealt deceytfullye:
Alacke, whom may wee ever truste,
   &When suche a knighte soe false can bee!

"Saye, wouldst thou have thy master dead,
   &All for a sword that wins thine eye?
Now goe againe, and throwe it in,
   &Or here the one of us shall dye."

The duke, all shent with this rebuke,
   &No aunswere made unto the kinge;
But to the rivere tooke the sworde,
   &And threwe it far as he coulde flinge.

A hande and an arme did meete the sworde,
   &And flourishd three times in the air;
Then sunke benethe the renninge streme,
   &And of the duke was seene noe mair.

All sore astonied stood the duke,
   &He stood as still, as still mote bee;
Then hastened backe to telle the kinge,
   &But he was gone from under the tree.

But to what place he cold not tell,
   &For never after hee did him spye;
But hee sawe a barge goe from the land,
   &And hee heard ladyes howle and crye.

And whether the kinge were there or not,
   &Hee never knewe, nor ever colde,
For from that sad and direfulle daye,
   &Hee never more was seene on molde.

Next: King Ryence's Challenge, by Bishop Thomas Percy [1765]