Friday, July 17, 2009

the knight with the two swords

Thought there was too much about business on pp. Wondered whether readers knew of Vinaver's edition of Malory (published by Oxford University Press). Here's an extract from Balin or the Knight with the Two Swords, from the Book of Merlin:

So whan the kynge was com thidir with all his baronage and logged as they seemed beste, also there was com a damoisel the which was sente frome the grete Lady Lyle of Avilion. And whan she com before kynge Arthure she told fro whens she com, and how she was sente on message unto hym for thys causis. Than she lette hir mantell falle that was rychely furred, and than was she gurde with a noble swerde, whereof the kynge had mervayle and seyde,

'Damesel, for what cause ar ye gurte with that swerde? Hit besemyth you nought.'

'Now shall I telle you,' seyde the dameselle. 'Thys swerde that I am gurte withall doth me grete sorow and comberaunce, for I may nat be delyverde of thys swerde but by a knyght, and he must be a passynge good man of hys hondys and of hys dedis, and withoute velony other trechory and withoute treson. And if I may fynde such a knyghte that hath all these vertues he may draw oute thys swerde oute of the sheethe. For I have bene at kynge Royns, for hit was tolde me there were passyng good knyghtes; and he and all his knyghtes hath assayde and none can spede.'

[Arthur tries to draw the sword and fails. All of Arthur's knights try to draw the sword and fail. Balin, who has been held captive in Arthur's prison, asks to be given the chance to draw the sword.]

'Damesell, I pray you of youre curteysy suffir me as well to assay as thes other lordis. Thoughe that I be pourely arayed yet in my herte mesemyth I am fully assured as som of thes other, and mesemyth in myne herte to spede right welle.'

Thys damesell than behelde thys poure knyght and saw he was a lyckly man; but for hys poure araymente she thought he sholde nat be of no worship withoute vylony or trechory. And than she seyde unto that knyght,

'Sir, hit nedith nat you to put me to no more payne, for hit semyth nat you to spede thereas all thes othir knyghtes have fayled.'

'A, fayre damesell,' seyde Balyn, 'worthynes and good tacchis and also good dedis is nat only in araymente, but manhode and worship ys hyd within a mannes person; and many a worshipfull knyght ys nat knowyn unto all peple. And therefore worship and hardynesse ys nat in araymente.'

'Be God,' seyde the damesell, 'ye sey soth. Therefore ye shall assay to do what ye may.'

Than Balyn toke the swerde by the gurdyll and shethe and drew hit oute easyly, and whan he loked on the swerde hit pleased hym muche. Than had the kynge and all the barownes grete mervayle that Balyne had done that aventure; many knyghtes had gret despite at hym.

'Sertes,' seyde the damesell, 'thys ys a passynge good knyght and the beste that ever y founde, and most of worship without treson, trechory or felony. And many mervayles shall he do. Now, jantyll and curtayse knyght, geff me the swerde agayne.'

'Nay,' seyde Balyne, 'for thys swerde woll I kepe but hit be takyn fro me with force.'

'Well,' seyde the damesell, 'ye ar nat wyse to kepe the swerde fro me, for ye shall sle with that swerde the beste frende that ye have and the man that ye most love in the worlde, and that swerde shall be your destruccion.'

'I shall take the aventure,' seyde Balyne, 'that God woll ordayne for me. But the swerde ye shall nat have at thys tyme, by the feythe of my body!'

'Ye shall repente hit within shorte tyme,' seyde the damesell, 'for I wolde have the swerde more for your avauntage than for myne; for I am passynge hevy for youre sake, for and ye woll nat leve that swerde hit shall be youre destruccion, and that ys grete pité.'

Vinaver's edition available on, here. Couldn't find a link on Lots of other editions of Malory, but with modernized spelling. The horror.

No comments: