The Marriage of Sir Gawaine

The ballad version from the Percy Folio MS, c 1635, via Hales and Furnival, Bishop Percy's Folio Manuscript, I, p. 105, 1867, (partially modernized in Child, #31).
A ballad version of the tale of Sir Gawaine and Dame Ragnell (click on below).
Kinge Arthur liues in merry Carliele, 
& seemely is to see,
& there he hath with him Qqueen Genever [1
The bride soe bright of blee.

And there he hath with Queene Genever,
that bride so bright in bower,
& all his barons about him stoode,
that were both stiffe and stowre.

The king kept a royall Christmasse,
Of mirth & great honor,
& when..... [half page missing]

"And bring me word what thing it is
that a woman most desire;
this shalbe thy ransome, Arthur" he sayes,
"For Ile haue noe other hier."

King Arthur then held vp his hand,
According thene as was the law;
he tooke his leaue of the baron there,
& homward can he draw.

And when he came to Merry Carlile,
to his chamber he is gone,
& ther came to him his Cozen Sir Gawaine [2 cousin 
as he did make his mone.

And there came to him his cozen Sir Gawaine,
that was a curteous knight;
"why sigh you soe sore, vnckle Arthur," he said,
"or who hath done thee vnright?"

"O peace, O peace, thou gentle Gawaine,
that faire may thee befall,
for if thou knew my sighing soe deepe,
thou wold not meruaile att all;

"ffor when I came to tearne wadling,
a bold barron there I fand,
with a great club vpon his backe,
standing stiffe and strong;

"And he asked me wether I wold fight,
or from him I sshold begone,
o[r] else I must him a ransome pay
& soe depart him from.

"To fight with him I saw noe cause,
methought it was not meet,
for he was stiffe & stong with-all,
his strokes were nothing sweete;

"Therefor this is my ransome, Gawaine,
I ought to him to pay,
I must come againe, as I am sworne,
vpon the New yeers day.

"An I must bring him word what thing it is
...[half page missing]

Then king Arthur drest him for to ryde
in one soe rich array
toward the fore-said Terne wadling,
that he might keepe his day.

And as he rode over a more,
hee see a lady where shee sate
betwixt an oke & a greene hollen
She was cladd in red scarlett.

Then there as shold haue stood her mouth,
then here was sett her eye,
the other was in her forhead fast
he way that she might see.

Her nose was crooked & turnd outward,
her mouth stood foule a-wry;
a worse formed lady than shee was,
neuer man saw with his eye.

To halch vpon him, King Arthur,
this lady was full faine,
but King Arthur hd forgott his lesson,
what he shold say againe.

"What knight art thou," the lady sayd,
"that will not speake to me?
Of me be thou nothing dismayd
tho I be vgly to see;

for I haue haldhed you curteously,
& you will not me againe,
yett I may happen Sir Knight," shee said,
"to ease thee of thy paine."

"Giue thou ease me, lady," he said,
or helpe me any thing,
thou shalt have gentle Gawaine, my cozen,
& marry him with a ring."

"Why, if I help thee not, thou noble King Arthur,
Of thy owne hearts desiringe,
of gentle Gawaine........[half page missing]

And when he came to the tearne wadling
the baron there cold he finde,
with a great weapon on his backe,
standing stiffe and stronge.

And then he tooke king Arthurs letters in his hands
& away he cold them fling,
& then he puld out good browne sword,
& cryd himselfe a King.

And he sayd, "I have thee & thy land, Arthur,
to doe as it pleaseth me,
for this is not thy ransome sure,
therfore yeeld thee to me."

And then bespoke him Noble Arthur,
& bad him hold his hand,
"& giue me leaue to speake my mind
in defence of all my land."

He said, "as I came over a More,
I see a lady whee shee sate
betweene and oke & a green hollen;
shee was clad in red scarlett;

"And she says 'a woman will haue her will,
& this is all her chee desire':
doe me rightm, as thou art a baron of sckill,
this is thy ransome & all thy hyer."

He sayes "an early vengeance light on her!
she walkes on yonder more;
it was my sister that told thee this;
& she is a misshappen hore!

"But heer Ile make mine avow to god
to doe her an euill turne,
for an euer I may thate fowle theefe gett
in a fyer I will her burne,"
[~ 9 stanzas missing]

The 2d Part.

Sir: Lancelot & Sir Steven bold
they rode with them that day,
and he formost of the company
there rode the steward Kay

Soe did Sir Banuer & Sir Bore,
Sir Garrett with them soe gay,
soe did Sir Tristeram that gentle knight,
to the forrest fresh & gay.

And when he came to the greene forrest,
vnderneath a greene holly tree
their sate that lady in red scarlet
that vnseemly was to see.

Sir Kay beheld this Ladys face,
& looked vppon her smire, [neck
"whosoeuer kisses this lady," he sayes
"of his kisse he stands in feare."

Sir Kay beheld the lady againe,
& looked vpon her snout,
"whosoeuer kisses this lady," he saies,
"of his kisses he stands in doubt."

"Peace cozen Kay," then said Sir Gawaine,
"amend thee of thy life;
for there is a knight amongst vs all
that must marry her to his wife."

"What! wedd her to wiffe!" then said Sir Kay
"in the diuells name anon,
gett me a wiffe where-ere I may,
for I had rather be shaine!" [slain or shamed

Thne some tooke vp their hawkes in hast,
& some tooke vp their hounds,
& some sware they wold not marry her
for Citty nor for towne.

And hen be-spake him Noble king Arthur,
& sware there by this day,
"For a litle foule sight & misliking
....[half page missing]

Then shee said "choose thee, gentle Gawaine,
truth as I doe say,
wether thou wilt haue me in his likenesse
in he night or else the day."

And then bespake him Gentle Gawaine,
with one soe mild of Moode,
sayes, "well I know what I wold say,
god grant it may be good!

"to haue thee fowle in the night
when I with thee shold play;
yet I had rather, if I might,
haue thee fowle in the day."

"What! when Lords goe with their seires," shee said,
"both to the Ale & wine;
alas! then I must hyde my selfe,
I must not goe withinne."

And then bespake him gentle gawaine,
said, "Lady, thats but a skill;
And because thou art my owne lady,
thou shalt haue all thy will."

Then she said, "blessed be thou gentle Gawain
this day that I thee see,
for as thou see me at this time,
from hencforth I wilbe:

"My father was an old knight,
& yet it chanced soe
that he marryed a young lady
that brought me to this woe.

"Shee withced me, being a faire young Lady,
to the grene forrest to dwell,
& there I must walke in womans likenesse,
Most like a feend of hell.

"She withced my brother to a Carlist B..
[half page missing]

"Come kisse her, Brother Kay," then said Sir Gawaine,
"& amend hee of hy liffe;
I sweare this is the same lady
that I marryd to my wiffe."

Sir Kay kissed that lady bright,
standing vpon his feete;
he swore, as he was trew knight,
the sice was neuer soe sweete.

"Well, Cozen Gawaine." sayes Sir Kay,
"thy chance is fallen aright,
for hou has gotten one of the fairest maids
I euer saw with my sight.

"It is my fortune," said Sir Gawaine;
"for my vnckle Arthurs sake [2 
I am glad as grasse wold be of raine,
great Ioy that I may take."

Sir Gawaine tooke the ladu by one arme,
Sir Kay tooke her by the tother,
they led her straight to King Arthur
as they were brother & brother.

King Arthur welcomed tham thare all,
& soe did lady Geneuer his queene,
with all the knights of the round table
most seemly to be seene.
King Arthur beheld that lady faire
that was soe faire and bright,
he thanked christ in trinity
for Sir Gawain that gentle knight;

Soe did the knights, both more and lesse,
reioyced all that day  
for the good chance that hapened was
to Sir Gawaine & his lady gay. ffins.   

1: Welsh-Gwenwhyfar, much younger than Arthur, and not his first
wife, or mother of most of his progeny.]
2: From 'Culwych and Olwen', Gawaine was the son of Arthur's half
sister (on his mother's side), and son of his uncle (on his
father's side), so is Arthur's nephew and cousin.
The earlier (non-ballad) version.
Click for The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell.