Þa com þer in are tiden an oht mon riden, 1. "Elf" meant "creature with preternatural powers," not a tiny critter with pointed cap and long ears. 2. "Franchise": Mordred offered them, not an Appleby's, but freedom from certain royal taxes and other prerogatives. See the OED, "franchise n." 2.a: "A legal immunity or exemption from a particular burden or exaction, or from the jurisdiction of a particular tribunal, granted to an individual, a corporation, an order of persons, etc. In early use also collective or in generalized sense: The immunities, freedom of government, etc., belonging to a municipality, etc." 3. Guenivere became a nun. "Taking the veil" was a major component of the actual ceremony and becomes a shorthand way of referring to the whole process of becoming a nun. La3amon must imagine that, under these circumstances, the formalities were kept to a minimum. 4. The text as we have it in the two surviving manuscripts does not quite make sense here and editors suspect a line or two may have been lost. The idea seems to be that most people did not know whether she had died or whether (like Arthur) she had somehow disappeared into the sea.
There came there at one time a brave man riding
And brohte tidinge Arðure þan kinge
And he brought tidings to Arthur the king
From Moddrede his suster sune; Arðure he wes wilcume:
About Mordred, his sister's son; he was welcome to Arthur:
For he wende þat he brohte boden swiðe gode.
For he thought that he brought very good news.
Arður lai alle longe niht and spac wið þene 3eonge cniht, 5
Arthur lay all the long night and spoke with the young knight,
Swa nauer nulde he him sugge soð hu hit ferde.
[but] in such a way that he would never tell him how it fared.
Þa hit wes dæi a mar3en and du3eðe gon sturien,
When it was day in the morning and men began to stir,
Arður þa up aras, and strehte his ærmes.
Arthur then rose up, and stretched his arms.
He aras up and adun sat, swulc he weore swiðe seoc.
He rose up, and down he sat, as if he were very sick.
Þa axede hine an uæir cniht: 'Lauerd, hu hauest þu iuaren toniht?' 10
Then a fair knight asked him, "Lord, how have you fared this night?"
Arður þa andswarede, a mode him wes uneðe:
Arthur then aswered, he was uneasy in his disposition:
'Toniht a mine slepe, þer Ich laei on bure,
"Tonight in my sleep, as I lay in my bedroom,
Me imætte a sweuen; þeruore Ich ful sari æm.
I had a dream; on account of it I am very sorry.
Me imette þat mon me hof uppen are halle,
I dreamed that someone heaved me up upon a hall,
Þa halle Ich gon bistriden swulc Ich wolde riden. 15
The hall I then bestrode as if I wanted to ride it.
Alle þa lond þa Ich ah, alle Ich þer ouersah;
All the land which I own, I overlooked it all;
And Walwain sat biuoren me; mi sweord he bar an honde.
And Gawain sat before me; he bore my sword in hand.
Þa com Moddred faren þere mid unimete uolke;
Then came Mordred traveling there with immeasurable folk;
He bar an his honde ane wi-ax stronge.
He bore in his hand a war-ax strong.
He bigon to hewene hardliche swiðe, 20
He began to hew extremely fiercely,
And þa postes forheou alle þa heolden up þa halle.
And he hewed to bits all the posts which held up the hall.
Þer Ich iseh Wenheuer eke, wimmonnen leofuest me;
There I saw Guenivere also, of women the most beloved to me;
Al þere muche halle rof mid hire honden heo todroh.
All that great hall's roof she pulled apart with her hands.
Þa halle gon to hælden and Ich hæld to grunden,
The hall began to tumble and I tumbled to the ground,
Þat mi riht ærm tobrac. Þa seide Modred: "Haue þat!" 25
So that my right arm broke. Then Mordred said: "Have that!"
Adun ueol þa halle, and Walwain gon to ualle,
Down fell the hall, and Gawain went falling,
And feol a þere eorðe; his ærmes breken beine.
And he fell to the earth; both his arms broke.
And Ich igrap mi sweord leofe mid mire leoft honde
And I gripped my beloved sword with my left hand
And smæt of Modred is hafd þat hit wond a þene ueld.
And smote off Mordre's head so that it rolled in the field.
And þa quene Ich al tosnaðde mid deore mine sweorede 30
And the queen I cut apart entirely with my dear sword
And seoððen Ich heo adun sette in ane swarte putte.
And afterwards I set her down in a dark pit.
And al mi uolc riche sette to fleme,
And all my powerful folk took to flight,
Þat nuste Ich under Criste whar heo bicumen weoren.
So that, by Christ, I didn't know what was become of them.
Buten miseolf Ich gon atstonden uppen ane wolden,
By myself I took up a position upon a hillside,
And Ich þer wondrien agon wide 3eond þan moren. 35
And I began to wander widely through the moors.
Þer Ich isah gripes and grisliche fu3eles.
There I saw griffens and grisly fowels.
Þa com an guldene leo liðen ouer dune,
Then a golden lion came travelling across the hillside,
Deoren swiðe hende þa ure Drihten makede.
Most gracious of animals which the Lord made.
Þa leo me orn foren to and iueng me bi þan midle
Then the lion ran up before me and seized me by the middle
And forð hire gun 3eongen and to þere sæ wende. 40
And went forth with me and traveled to the sea.
And Ich isæh þæ vðen i þere sæ driuen
And I saw the waves rushing in the sea
And þe leo i þan ulode iwende wið me seolue.
And the lion went into the flood with me.
Þa wit i sæ comen, þa vðen me hire binomen.
When the two of us came into the sea, then the waves took me from her.
Com þer an fisc liðe and fereden me to londe.
Then there came a fish traveling and carried me to land.
Þa wes al Ich wet and weri of sor3en and seoc. 45
Then was I all wet and weary with sorrow and sick.
Þa gon Ich iwakien, swiðe Ich gon to quakien.
Then I woke up and began to shake severely.
Þa gon Ich to biuien swulc Ich al furburne,
Then I began to tremble as if I were all on fire,
And swa Ich habbe al niht of mine sweuene swiðe iþoht.
And thus I have all night thought furiously about my dream.
For Ich wat to iwisse agan is al mi blisse.
For I know for certain that all my bliss is gone.
For a to mine liue sor3en Ich mot dri3e. 50
For the rest of my live I must endure sorrow.
Wale þat Ich nabbe here Wenhauer mine quene!'
Alas that I do not have here Guenivere my queen!"
Þa andswarede þe cniht: 'Lauerd, þu hauest unriht;
Then the knight answered: "Lord, you are wrong;
Ne sculde me nauere sweuen mid sor3en arecchen.
One should never interpret a dream in an unhappy way.
Þu ært þe riccheste mon þa rixleoð on londen
You are the most powerful man who rules upon earth
And þe alrewiseste þe wuneð under weolcne. 55
And the wisest of all who dwell under the heavens.
3if hit weore ilumpe---swa nulle hit ure Drihte---
If it were to happen--and may Our Lord not wish it so!--
Þat Modred þire suster sune hafde þine quene inume
That Mordred your sister's son had taken your queen
And al þi kineliche lond isæt an his a3ere hond,
And placed all your royal land into his own hand,
Þe þu him bitahtest þa þu to Rome þohtest,
Which you entrusted to him when you set out for Rome,
And he hafde al þus ido mid his swikedome; 60
If he had all this with his treachery;
Þe 3et þu mihtest þe awreken wurðliche mid wepnen
Nevertheless you would be able to avenge yourself appropriately with weapons
And æft þi lond halden and þine leoden walden
And hold your land again and rule your people
And þine feond fallen þe þe ufel unnen,
And fell your enemies who had offered evil to you,
And slæn heom alle clane, þet þer no bilauen nane.'
And slay them all completely, so that none were left."
Arður þa andswarede, aðelest alre kinge: 65
Then Arthur answered, noblest of all kings:
'Longe bið æuere þat no wene Ich nauere
Long may it ever be that I not suspect
Þat æuere Moddred mæi mi þat man is me leouest
That Mordred my kinsman, who is to me the dearest of men,
Wolde me biswiken for alle mine richen,
Would betray me for all my kingdom,
No Wenhauer mi quene wakien on þonke;
Nor Guenivere my queen weaken in her affection;
Nulleð hit biginne for nane weorld-monne.' 70
She would not want to do that for any man in the world."
æfne þan worde forðriht þa andswarede þe cniht:
In response to those words the [messenger] knight answered:
'Ich sugge þe soð, leofe king, for Ich æm þin vnderling.
"I tell you the truth, dear king, for I am subject to you.
Þus hafeð Modred idon: þine quene he hafeð ifon,
Thus has Mordred done: he has taken your queen,
And þi wunliche lond isæt an his a3ere hond.
And placed your pleasant land into his own hand.
He is king and heo is quene, of þine kume nis na wene: 75
He is king and she is queen, there is not thought of your return:
For no weneð heo nauere to soðe þat þu cumen a3ain from Rome.
For she never thinks, in truth, that you will come again from Rome.
Ich æm þin a3en mon, and iseh þisne swikedom,
I am your own man, and have seen this treachery,
And Ich æm icumen to þe seoluen soð þe to suggen.
And I have come to you yourself to tell you the truth.
Min hafued beo to wedde þat isæid Ich þe habbe
I offer my life as a pledge that what I have told you
Soð buten lese of leofen þire quene 80
Is truth without lie concerning your dear queen
And of Modrede þire suster sune, hu he hafueð Brutlond þe binume.'
And concerning Mordred your sister's son, how he has deprived you of Britain.
Þa sæt hit al stille in Arðures halle.
Then it was all quite still in Arthur's hall.
Þa wes þer særinæsse mid sele þan kinge.
Then there was sympathy for the good king.
Þa weoren Bruttisce men swiðe vnbalde uor þæn.
Then British men were very dispirited because of it.
Þa umbe stunde stefne þer sturede: 85
Then, after a while, stirred there:
Wide me mihte iheren Brutten iberen,
Widely one could hear the clamor of Britons,
And gunne to tellen a feole cunne spellen,
And they began to speak in many kinds of utterances,
Hu heo wolden fordeme Modred and þa quene
How they intended to condemn Mordred and the queen
And al þat moncun fordon þe mid Modred heolden.
And destroy all those people who held with Mordred.
Arður þa cleopede, hendest alre Brutte: 90
Arthur then cried out, most bradious of all Britons:
'Sitteð adun stille, cnihtes inne halle,
Sit ye down still, knights, in the hall,
And Ich eou telle wulle spelles vncuðe:
And I will tell you a story never heard before:
Nu tomær3e þenne hit dæi bið--and Drihten hine sende-
Now tomorrow when it is day--if the Lord send it--
Forð Ich wulle bu3e in toward Bruttaine,
I intent to hasten off in the direction of Britain,
And Moddred Ich wulle slæn and þa quen forberne 95
And I intend slay Mordred and burn the queen to death
And alle Ich wulle fordon þa biluueden þen swikedom;
And I intend to destroy all those who subscribed to that treachery.
And her Ich bileofuen wulle me leofuest monne:
And here I intend to leave the man most beloved to me:
Howel, minne leofue mæi, hexst of mine cunne,
Howel, my dear kinsman, highest of my kin,
And half mine uerde Ich bilæfuen a þissen ærde,
And I will leave half my army in this country,
To halden al þis kine-lond þa Ich habbe a mire hond; 100
To hold all this kingdom which I have in my hand;
And þenne þas þing beoð alle idone a3an Ich wulle to Rome
And when these things have all been done I intend to go to Rome
And mi wunliche lond bitæche Walwaine mine mæie
And to entrust my pleasant lang to Gawain my kinsman
And iuorþe mi beot seoððe, bi mine bare life!
And to carry out my promise afterwards, by my very life!
Scullen alle mine feond wæi-sio make3e.'
All my enemies shall have to undertake a woefull journey."
Þa stod him up Walwain, þat wes Arðures maei, 105
Then Gawain stood himself up, who was ARthur's kinsman,
And þas word saide--þe eorl wes abol3e:
And said these words--the nobleman was enraged:
'ældrihten Godd, domes waldend,
"Almighty God, wielder of judgment,
Al middelærdes mund, whi is hit iwurðen
Protector of all this world, why has it happened
Þat mi broðer Modred þis morð hafueð itimbred?
That my brother Morderd has contrived this destruction?
Ah todæi Ich atsake hine here biuoren þissere du3eðe, 110
But today I renounce him here before this troop of men,
And Ich hine fordemen wulle mid Drihtenes wille.
And I want to condemn him, according to the Lord's will.
Miseolf Ich wulle hine anhon haxst alre warien;
I myself want to hang him, highest of all criminals;
Þa quene Ich wulle mid Goddes la3e al mid horsen todra3e:
The queen, I want to drag apart with horses, according to God's law:
For ne beo Ich nauere bliðe þa wile a beoð aliue,
For I will nbever beT happy while she is alive,
And þat Ich habbe minne æm awræke mid þan bezste.' 115
And until I have avenged my uncle in the best way possible."
Bruttes þa andswarede, mid baldere stefne:
Britons then answered, with bold voice:
'Al ure wepnen sunden 3arewe; nu tomar3en we scullen uaren.'
"All our weapons are ready; now tomorrow we shall move."
A mar3en, þat hit dæi wes and Drihten hine senden,
In the morning when it was day and God did sent it,
Arður uorð him wende mid aðelen his folke.
Arthur set out with his noble folk.
Half he hit bilæfde, and half hit forð ladde. 120
He left half of it behind, and he led half away.
Forð he wende þurh þat lond þat he com to Whitsond.
He went off through that land till he came to Wissant.
Scipen he hæfde sone, monie and wel idone;
He quickly had ships, many and well equipped;
Ah feowertene niht fulle þere læi þa uerde,
And for fourteen whole nights that army camped there,
Þeos wederes abiden, windes bidelde.
Waiting on the weather, deprived of wind.
Nu was sum forcuð kempe in Arðures ferde; 125
Now there wan a certain nefarious soldier in ARthur's army;
Anæn swa he demen iherde of Modredes dede,
As soon as he heard judgment passed on Morders's deeds,
He nom his swein aneouste and sende to þissen londe,
He took his servant quickly and sent him to this land,
And sende word Wenhaueren heou hit was iwurðen,
And sent word to Geunivere how things had been happening,
And hu Arður wes on uore mid muclere ferde,
And how Arthur was en route with a great army,
And hu he wolde taken on and al hu he wolde don. 130
And how he intended to proceed and all that he intended to do.
Þa quene com to Modred, þat wæs hire leofuest monnes,
The queen came to Mordred, who was to her the dearest of men,
And talde him tidende of Arðure þan kinge--
And told him tidings of Arthur the king--
Hu he wolde taken an, and al hu he wolde don.
How he intended to proceed and all that he intended to do.
Modræd nom his sonde and sende to Sexlond
Mordred took his messenters and sent to Germany
After Childriche, þe king wes swiðe riche, 135
For Childeric, who was a very powerful king,
And bæd hine cume to Brutaine---þerof he bruke sculde.
And bad him come to Britain--he should have some of it.
Modræd bad Childriche, þene stronge and þene riche,
Mordred bad Childeric, the strong and the powerful,
Weide senden sonde a feouwer half Sexlonde
To send messengers widely to the four corners of Germany
And beoden þa cnihtes alle þat heo bi3eten mihte
And urge all the knights they he might get
þat heo comen sone to þissen kinedome, 140
That they come immediately to this kingdom,
And he wolde Childriche 3eouen of his riche
And he would give Chbilderic of his kingdom
Al bi3eonde þere Humbre, for he him scolde helpe
All that which lay beyond the Humber,
To fihten wið his æme Arðuren kinge.
To fight against his uncle, Arthur the king.
Childrich beh sone into Brutlonde.
Childric went immediately into Britain.
Þa Modred hafde his ferde isomned of monnen, 145
When Mordred had collected his army of men,
Þa weoren þere italde sixti þusende
There were counted sixty thousand
Here-kempen harde of heðene uolke,
Hard battlllle warrrions of heathen folk,
Þa heo weoren icumen hidere for Arðures hærme,
Those who had come hither to harm Arthur,
Modred to helpen, forcuðest monnen.
To help Mordred, most infamous of men.
Þa þe uerde wes isome of ælche moncunne, 150
When the army was gathered from every race,
Þa heo weoren þer on hepe an hundred þusende,
Then there were all together a hundred thousand,
Heðene and cristene, mid Modrede kinge.
Of heathens and Christians, with Mordred the king.
Arður lai at Whitsond, feouwertene niht him þuhte to long,
Arthur lay at Wissant, fourteen nights seemed to him too long,
And al Modred wuste wat Arður þær wolde:
And Mordred knew all that Arthur intended there:
æche dæi him comen sonde from þas kinges hirede. 155
Each day a messenger came to him the the king's encampment.
Þa ilomp hit an one time muchel rein him gon rine,
Then one day it came to pass that much rain begain to fall,
And þæ wind him gon wende, and stod of þan æst ende,
And the wind changed for them, and stood our of the east,
And Arður to scipe fusde mid alle his uerde
And Arthur hastened to ship with all his army
And hehte þat his scipmen brohten hine to Romerel,
And ordered his ship borne men brought to Romney,
Þer he þohte up wende into þissen londe. 160
From where he thought to go up into this land.
Þæ he to þere hauene com, Moddred him wes auornon.
When he came to the harbor, Mordred was there before him.
Ase þe dæi gon lihte, heo bigunnen to fihten
As the day begant to grwo light, they began to fight
Alle þene longe dæi---moni mon þer ded læi.
During all the long day--many a man lay dead there.
Summe hi fuhten a londe, summe bi þan stronde,
Some fought on land, some along the beach,
Summe heo letten ut of scipen scerpe garen scriþen. 165
Some let sharp spears fly from the ships.
Walwain biforen wende and þene wæi rumde
Gawain went in front and cleared the way
And sloh þer aneuste þeines elleouene.
And quicly slew there eleven retainers.
He sloh Childriches sune, þe was þer mid his fader icume.
He slew Childric's son, who had come there with his father.
To reste eode þe sunne; wæ wes þa monnen.
The sun went to rest; woe was then to men.
Þer wes Walwain aslæ3e and idon of life-da3e 170
There Gawain was slain and done out of his life days
Þurh an eorl Sexisne--særi wurðe his saule!
By a Saxon noble--may his soul be sorry!
Þa wes Arður særi and sorhful an heorte forþi,
Then Arthur was sad and sorrowful in heart on that account,
And þas word bodede, ricchest alre Brutte:
And utters these words, most powerful of all Britons:
'Nu Ich ileosed habbe mine sweines leofe.
"Now have I lost my beloved servant.
Ich wuste bi mine sweuene whæt sor3en me weoren 3eueðe. 175
I knew through my dream wwwhat sorrows were in store for me.
Isla3en is Angel þe king, þe wes min a3en deorling,
Angel the king [of Scotland] is slain, who was very dear to me,
And Walwaine mi suster sune. Wa is me þat ich was mon iboren.
And Gawain my sister's son. Woe is me that I was born.
Up nu, of scipen biliue, mine beornes ohte!'
Away, now, quickly from the ships, my valiant men!"
æfne þæ worde wenden to fihte
With those words went to the fight
Sixti þusend anon selere kempen 180
Immediately sixth thousand fine soldiers
And breken Modredes trume, and welneh himseolue wes inome.
And shattered Mordred's ranks, and he himself was nearly taken.
Modred bigon to fleon and his folc after teon;
Mordred was in flight and his folk took after him;
Flu3en ueondliche, feldes beoueden eke,
They fled desperately, the very fields trembled
3urnen þa stanes mid þan blodstremes.
The stones were awasy in torrents of blood.
Þer weore al þat fiht idon, ah þat niht to raðe com; 185
The whole campaign would hav ended there if night hadn't come too quickly.
3if þa niht neore, isla3en hi weoren alle.
If it were not for the night, they would all have been slain.
Þe niht heom todelde 3eond slades and 3eond dunen,
The night separated them over the valleys and hillsides,
And Modred swa vorð com þat he wes at Lundene.
And so Mordred came away and reached London.
Iherden þa burhweren hu hit was al ifaren
The city-dwellers heard how it had all gone
And warnden him in3eong, and alle his folke. 190
And refused him entry, along with all his folk.
Modred þeone wende toward Winchastre,
Mordred went from there in the direction of Winchester,
And heo hine underuengen mid alle his monnen;
And they took in him and all his men;
And Arður after wende mid alle his mahte
And Arthur followed after with all his might
Þat he com to Winchestre mid muchelre uerde
So that he arrived at Winchester with a great army
And þa burh al biræd, and Modred þerinne abeod. 195
And surrounded the city, and Mordred remained inside it.
Þa Modred isæh þat Arður him wes swa neh,
When Mordred saw that Arthur was so near him,
Ofte he hine beþohte wæt he don mahte.
He was thinking busily about what he could do.
Þa a þere ilke niht he hehte his cnihtes alle
Then in that same night he commanded all his knights
Mid alle heore iwepnen ut of burh3e wenden
With all of their weapons to go out of the city
And sæide þat he weolde mid fihte þer atstonden. 200
And he said that he wanted to make a fighting stand there.
He bihehte þere bur3ewere auermare freo la3e
He offered the city inhabitants franchise2 ever after,
Wið þan þa heo him heolpen at he3ere neoden.
In exchange for their helping him in his great need.
Þa hit wes dæiliht, 3aru þa wes heore fiht.
When it was daylight, they were ready for battle.
Arður þat bihedde; þe king wes abol3e,
Arthur took heed of that; the king was enraged,
He lette bemen blawen and beonnen men to fihten; 205
He had the trumpets blow and summon men to fight;
He hehte alle his þeines and aðele his cnihte
He commanded all his retainers and his noble knights
Fon somed to fihten and his ueond auallen,
To start fighting simultaneously and to lay low the enemy,
And þe burh alle fordon and þat burh-folc ahon.
And to destroy the city entirely and hang its citizens.
Heo togadere stopen and sturnliche fuhten.
They stepped together and fought fiercely.
Modred þa þohte what he don mihte; 210
Mordred then planned what he might be able to do;
And he dude þere alse he dude elleswhare--
And he did there jus as he did elsewhere--
Swikedom mid þan mæste, for auere he dude unwraste.
Treachery of the greatest kind, for always he acted wickedly.
He biswac his iueren biuoren Winchestren,
He betrayed his companions outside Winchester,
And lette him to cleopien his leofeste cnihtes anan,
And had summoned to himself quickly his most beloved knights,
And his leoueste freond alle of allen his folke, 215
And his dearest frieds out of all his folk,
And bistal from þan fihte---þe feond hine a3e!--
And he stole off from the fight--may the fiend have him!--
And þat folc gode lette al þer forwurðe.
And left all [the rest of] that good folk to be destroyed there.
Fuhten alle dæi, wenden þat here lauerd þer læi
They fought all day, they thought that their lord remained there
And weore heom aneouste at muchelere neode.
And was near them in their great need.
Þa heold he þene wai þat touward Hamtone lai, 220
Then he took the road that lead to Hampton,
And heolde touward hauene, forcuðest hæleðe,
And kept on it toward the harbor, most infamous of knights,
And nom alle þa scipen þa þer oht weore,
And seized all the ships there which were serviceable,
And þa steormen alle to þan scipen neodde,
And forced all the steersmen into the ships,
And ferden into Cornwalen, forcuðest kingen a þan da3en;
And journeyed into Cornwall, most notorious king of those days;
And Arður Winchestre þa burh bilai wel faste, 225
And Arthur subjected the city of Winchester to a fierce siege,
And al þe moncun ofsloh--þer wes sor3en inoh--
And slew all the people--there was plenty of grief--
Þa 3eonge and þa alde, alle he aqualde.
The young and the old, he put them all to death.
Þa þat folc wes al ded, þa burh al forswelde,
When that folk was all dead, the city all burned down,
Þa lette he mid alle tobreken þa walles alle.
Then he had the walls broken down completely.
Þa wes hit itimed þere þat Merlin seide while: 230
Then it came to pass there what Merlin had once said:
'ærm wurðest þu, Winchæstre, þæ eorðe þe scal forswal3e.'
Wretched will you become, Winchester, the earth shall swallow you up."
Swa Merlin sæide, þe wite3e wes mære.
So Merlin said, who was a famous prophet.
Þa quene læi inne Eouwerwic, næs heo næuere swa sarlic--
The queen was in York, never was she so sorrowful--
Þat wes Wenhauer þa quene, sær3est wimmonne.
That was Guinevere the queen, most sorrowful of women.
Heo iherde suggen soððere worden, 235
She heard told the very true words,
Hu ofte Modred flah and hu Arður hine bibah.
How Mordred kept fleeing and how Arthur pursued him.
Wa wes hire þere while þat heo wes on life.
Woe was to her as long as she remained alive.
Ut of Eouerwike bi nihte heo iwende
She journeyed out of York by night
And touward Karliun tuhte swa swiðe swa heo mahte.
And took her way to Caerleon as quickly as she could.
Þider heo brohten bi nihte of hire cnihten twei3e, 240
Two of her knights brought her there by night,
And me hire hafd biwefde mid ane hali rifte,
And she was covered with a holy veil3
And heo wes þer munechene, karefullest wife.
And she was a non ["monkesse"] there, most sorrowful of women.
Þa nusten men of þere quene war heo bicumen weore,
Then people did not know what might have become of the queen,
No feole 3ere seoððe nuste hit mon to soðe
And for many years afterwards no one knew for sure
Whaðer heo weore on deðe... 245
Whither she was dead [or whether] ...4
Þa heo hireseolf weore isunken in þe watere.
She herself had sunk [out of sight] into the water.
Modred wes i Cornwale and somnede cnihtes feole:
Mordred was in Cornwall and gathered many knights:
To Irlonde he sende aneoste his sonde;
He quickly sent his messengers to Ireland;
To Sexlonde he sende aneouste his sonde;
He quickly sent his messengers to Germany;
To Scotlonde he sende aneouste his sonde; 250
He quickly sent his messengers to Scotland;
He hehten heom to cume alle anan þat wolde lond habben
He ordered all to come quickly who wanted to have land
Oðer seoluer oðer gold, oðer ahte oðer lond.
Or silver or gold, either possessions or land.
On ælchere wisen he warnede hine seoluen;
He protected himself on all sides;
Swa deð ælc witer mon þa neode cumeð uuenan.
So does each clever person whom need comes upon.
Arður þat iherde, wraðest kinge, 255
Arthur, king most enraged, heard that,
Þat Modred wæs i Cornwale mid muchele mon-weorede
That Mordred was in Cornwall with a great troop of soldiers
And þer wolde abiden þat Arður come riden.
And intended to stay there till Arthur came riding.
Arður sende sonde 3eond al his kine-londe,
Arthur sent messengers throughout all his kingdom,
And to cumen alle hehte þat quic wes on londe,
And he ordered all to come who were alive in the land
Þa to uihte oht weoren, wepnen to beren; 260
Who were sound for bearing weapons in a fight;
And whaswa hit forsete þat þe king hete
And whosoever neglected what the king commanded
Þe king hine wolde a folden quic al forbernen.
The whould have him burned alive on the spot.
Hit læc toward hirede folc vnimete,
There sped towards court immeasurable folk,
Ridinde and ganninde swa þe rim falleð adune.
Riding and moving, like the frost covers the ground.
Arður for to Cornwale mid unimete ferde. 265
Arthur traveled to Cornwall with an immeasurable army.
Modred þat iherde and him to3eines heolde
Mordred heard about that and gathered to himself
Micl vnimete folke; þer weore monie uæie.
Great, immeasurable folk; there were many fated ones among them.
Uppen þere Tambre heo tuhten togadere.
Upon the banks of the Tambre they drew together.
Þe stude hatte Camelford; euermare ilast þat ilke weorde.
The place was called Camelford; forever will last that word.
And at Camelforde wes isomned sixti þusend, 270
And at Camelford was gathered sixty thousand,
And ma þusend þerto; Modred wes heore ælder.
And more thousands besides; Mordred was their leader.
Þa þideruard gon ride Arður þe riche
Then thitherward came riding Arthur the powerful
Mid unimete folke, uæie þah hit weore.
With measureless folk, fated though it were.
Uppe þere Tambre heo tuhte tosomne,
Beside the Tambre they drew together,
Heuen here-marken, halden togadere, 275
Heaved up battle-flags, fell together,
Luken sweord longe, leiden o þe helmen.
Drew long swords, laid blows on the helmets.
Fur ut sprengen, speren brastlien,
Fire sprang out, spears clashed,
Sceldes gonnen scanen, scaftes tobreken;
Shilds began to fail, shafts to break apart;
Þer faht al tosomne folc vnimete.
There fought altogether immeasurable folk.
Tambre wes on flode mid vnimete blode; 280
The Tambre was in flood with immeasurable blood;
Mon i þan fihte non þer ne mihte ikenne nenne kempe,
One could not single out any individual fighter in that battle,
No wha dude wurse no wha bet, swa þat wiðer wes imenged:
No one did worse, none better, so closely was that conflict joined.
For ælc sloh adunriht, weore he swein weore he cniht.
For each struck mightily, whether he was servant or knight.
Þer wes Modred ofsla3e and idon of lif-da3e,
There was Mordred slain and done out of life days,
And alle his cnihtes isla3e in þan fihte. 285
And all his knights slain in that fight.
Þer weoren ofsla3e alle þa snelle
There were slain all the bold
Arðures heredmen, heh3e and lowe,
Retainers of Arthur, the high and the low,
And þa Bruttes alle of Arðures borde,
And all the Britons of Arthur's round table,
And alle his fosterlinges of feole kineriches,
And all his foster children of many kingdoms,
And Arður forwunded mid wal-spere brade. 290
And Arthur was mortally wounded by a broad slaughter-spear.
Fiftene he hafde feondliche wunden:
He had fifteen greivous wounds:
Mon mihte i þare laste twa glouen iþraste.
One could thrust two gloves into the least of them.
Þa nas þer namare i þan fehte to laue
Then there remained no more remnant of that fight
Of twa hundred þusend monnen þa þer leien tohauwen
Of two thousand ment who lay their hewed into pieces
Buten Arður þe king ane, and of his cnihtes tweien. 295
Except Arthur the king only, and two of his knights.
Arður wes forwunded wunder ane swiðe.
Arthur had been wounded in a grevious and uniquely serious way.
Þer to him com a cnaue þe wes of his cunne:
To him there came a boy who was of his kin:
He wes Cadores sune, þe eorles of Cornwaile.
He was Cador the earl of Cornwall's sun.
Constantin hehte þe cnaue, he wes þan kinge deore.
Constantine the boy was called, he was dear to the king.
Arður him lokede on, þer he lai on folden, 300
Arthur looked on him, where he lay on the ground,
And þas word seide mid sorhfulle heorte:
And spoke these words with a sorrowful heart:
'Costæntin, þu art wilcume; þu weore Cadores sone.
"Constantine, you are well come; you were Carod's son.
Ich þe bitache here mine kineriche,
I here entrust my kingdom to you,
And wite mine Bruttes a to þines lifes,
And you protect my Britons during all of your life,
And hald heom alle þa la3en þa habbeoð istonden a mine da3en 305
And keep for them all the laws which stood in my days
And alle þa la3en gode þa bi Uðeres da3en stode.
And all the good laws which stood during Uther's days.
And Ich wulle uaren to Aualun, to uairest alre maidene,
And I will travel to Avalon, to the fairest of all maidens,
To Argante þere quene, aluen swiðe sceone,
To Argante the queen, most beautiful elf1,
And heo scal mine wunden makien alle isunde,
And she shall make my wounds all sound,
Al hal me makien mid halewei3e drenchen. 310
Make me all whole with health-restoring drinks.
And seoðe Ich cumen wulle to mine kineriche
And afterwards I will come to my kingdom
And wunien mid Brutten mid muchelere wunne.'
And dwell with the Britons in great joy."
æfne þan worden þer com of se wenden
And with those words there came travelling out of the sea
Þet wes an sceort bat liðen, sceouen mid vðen,
What was a short boat, shoved along by the waves,
And twa wimmen þerinne wunderliche idihte, 315
And two women within it wonderfully decked out,
And heo nomen Arður anan and aneouste hine uereden,
And they took Arthur immediately and quickly carried him,
And softe hine adun leiden and forð gunnen hine liðen.
And softly laid him down and began to ferry him away.
Þa wes hit iwurðen þat Merlin seide whilen:
Then was it come to pass what Merlin said earlier:
Þat weore unimete care of Arðures forðfare.
That there would be immeasurable sorrow over Arthur's departure.
Bruttes ileueð 3ete þat he bon on liue 320
Britons believe still that he is alive
And wunnien in Aualun mid fairest alre aluen;
And dwells in Avalon with the fairest of all elves;
And lokieð euere Bruttes 3ete whan Arður cumen liðe.
And the Britons anticipate always when Arthur might come.
Nis nauer þe man iboren of nauer nane burde icoren,
There isn't a person born of however a special mother,
Þe cunne of þan soðe of Arðure sugen mare.
Who knows how to say more about the truth of ARthur.
Bute while wes an wite3e Mærlin ihate; 325
But once there was a prophet named Merlin;
He bodede mid worde, his quiðes weoren soðe,
He uttered with words, his sayings were true,
Þat an Arður sculde 3ete cum Anglen to fulste.
That an Arthur should yet come to support the English.
1. "Elf" meant "creature with preternatural powers," not a tiny critter with pointed cap and long ears.
2. "Franchise": Mordred offered them, not an Appleby's, but freedom from certain royal taxes and other prerogatives. See the OED, "franchise n." 2.a: "A legal immunity or exemption from a particular burden or exaction, or from the jurisdiction of a particular tribunal, granted to an individual, a corporation, an order of persons, etc. In early use also collective or in generalized sense: The immunities, freedom of government, etc., belonging to a municipality, etc."
3. Guenivere became a nun. "Taking the veil" was a major component of the actual ceremony and becomes a shorthand way of referring to the whole process of becoming a nun. La3amon must imagine that, under these circumstances, the formalities were kept to a minimum.
4. The text as we have it in the two surviving manuscripts does not quite make sense here and editors suspect a line or two may have been lost. The idea seems to be that most people did not know whether she had died or whether (like Arthur) she had somehow disappeared into the sea.