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- Playful Poems - 5/35 -


His father was a man full free, And of that country lord was he, Enjoyed by holy grace.

3. Sir Thopas was a doughty swain, Fair was his face as pain de Maine, His lips were red as rose; His ruddy cheeks like scarlet grain; And I tell you in good certaine, He had a seemly nose.

4. His hair and beard like saffron shone, And to his girdle fell adown; His shoes of leather bright; Of Bruges were his hose so brown, His robe it was of ciclatoun - He was a costly wight:

5. Well could he hunt the strong wild deer, And ride a hawking for his cheer With grey goshawk on hand; His archery filled the woods with fear, In wrestling eke he had no peer, - No man 'gainst him could stand.

6. Full many a maiden bright in bower Was sighing for him par amour Between her prayers and sleep, But he was chaste, beyond their power, And sweet as is the bramble flower That beareth the red hip.

7. And so it fell upon a day, Forsooth, as I now sing and say, Sir Thopas went to ride; He rode upon his courser grey, And in his hand a lance so gay, A long sword by his side.

8. He rode along a forest fair, Many a wild beast dwelling there; (Mercy in heaven defend!) And there was also buck and hare; And as he went, he very near Met with a sorry end.

9. And herbs sprang up, or creeping ran; The liquorice, and valerian, Clove-gillyflowers, sun-dressed; And nutmeg, good to put in ale, Whether it be moist or stale, - Or to lay sweet in chest,

10. The birds all sang, as tho' 'twere May; The spearhawk, and the popinjay, {32} It was a joy to hear; The throstle cock made eke his lay, The wood-dove sung upon the spray, With note full loud and clear.

11. Sir Thopas fell in love-longing All when he heard the throstle sing, And spurred his horse like mad, So that all o'er the blood did spring, And eke the white foam you might wring: The steed in foam seemed clad.

12. Sir Thopas eke so weary was Of riding on the fine soft grass, While love burnt in his breast, That down he laid him in that place To give his courser some solace, Some forage and some rest.

13. Saint Mary! benedicite! What meaneth all this love in me, That haunts me in the wood? This night, in dreaming, did I see An elf queen shall my true love be, And sleep beneath my hood.

14. An elf queen will I love, I wis, For in this world no woman is Worthy to be my bride; All other damsels I forsake, And to an elf queen will I take, By grove and streamlet's side.

15. Into his saddle be clomb anon, And pricketh over stile and stone, An elf queen to espy; Till he so long had ridden and gone, That he at last upon a morn The fairy land came nigh.

16. Therein he sought both far and near, And oft he spied in daylight clear Through many a forest wild; But in that wondrous land I ween, No living wight by him was seen, Nor woman, man, nor child.

17. At last there came a giant gaunt, And he was named Sir Oliphaunt, A perilous man of deed: And he said, "Childe, by Termagaunt, If thou ride not from this my haunt, Soon will I slay thy steed With this victorious mace; For here's the lovely Queen of Faery, With harp and pipe and symphony, A-dwelling in this place."

18. Childe Thopas said right haughtily, "To-morrow will I combat thee In armour bright as flower; And then I promise 'par ma fay' That thou shalt feel this javelin gay, And dread its wondrous power. To-morrow we shall meet again, And I will pierce thee, if I may, Upon the golden prime of day; - And here you shall be slain."

19. Sir Thopas drew aback full fast; The giant at him huge stones cast, Which from a staff-sling fly; But well escaped the Childe Thopas, And it was all through God's good grace, And through his bearing high.

20. Still listen, gentles, to my tale, Merrier than the nightingale; - For now I must relate, How that Sir Thopas rideth o'er Hill and dale and bright sea-shore, E'en to his own estate.

21. His merry men commandeth he To make for him the game and glee; For needs he must soon fight With a giant fierce, with strong heads three, For paramour and jollity, And chivalry so bright.

22. "Come forth," said he, "my minstrels fair, And tell me tales right debonair, While I am clad and armed; Romances, full of real tales, Of dames, and popes, and cardinals, And maids by wizards charmed."

23. They bore to him the sweetest wine In silver cup; the muscadine, With spices rare of Ind; Fine gingerbread, in many a slice, With cummin seed, and liquorice, And sugar thrice refined.

24. Then next to his white skin he ware A cloth of fleecy wool, as fair, Woven into a shirt; Next that he put a cassock on, And over that an habergeon, {35} To guard right well his heart.

25. And over that a hauberk went Of Jews' work, and most excellent; Full strong was every plate; And over that his coat armoure, As white as is the lily flower, In which he would debate.

26. His shield was all of gold so red, And thereon was a wild boar's head, A carbuncle beside;


Playful Poems - 5/35

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