Gawain full grimly then did say
'Well thresh on, man, you threaten me too long
I think thy heart doth awe thyself',
'For truth' then said the freak 'You speak so strong
I'll hesitate no more to speed your end'
Then took his stance to strike
And furled his lip and brow
No wonder he did dread
Who hoped of no rescue
The axe he lightly lifted and he let
It fall upon Sir Gawain's naked neck
Though hard it fell to home it hardly hurt
Merely a glancing blow that split his skin:
The blade cut through his flesh and his white fat;
Blood spurted from his shoulder to the earth.
And when he saw his blood bleak on the snow
Gawain leaped forward, one spear throw
He stuck his helmet on his head
Turned, and from his shoulders shook his shield,
And brandished his bright sword
- Since he leapt from his mother's body
Never had he been so full of joy -
'Strike me no more!
I took thy cut, and I did not resist
But if you reach for me again
I shall return thee
Blow for blow in full.
But one stroke is due
By that true covenant
We made in Arthur's hall
And so our game is through.'
The giant man stepped back,
And leaned upon his axe,
The blade in hand.
The lord before him on the open ground
So doughty, dreadless and undaunted stood
Armed and courageous;
He liked him in his heart.
Then he called out in ringing voice:
'Bold knight, be not so grim upon this field
I have not treated thee untrue
Nor broke the promise that I made to you
I promised you a stroke, which you have had
Consider yourself well paid.
If I had struck at you with all my force
I could have wounded thee, in anger, worse.
'My first blow was a feint, which left no mark
That did not wound thee - this I did
Because on our first night together, you
Kept faith with me and gave me all
As any good man should.
'The second blow was harmless
Because I remembered the morning
You kissed my lovely wife
And rendered up the kisses then to me.
'For passing these two tests I held it back
And left you all unscathed
- For a true man must be true
And you should fear me not -
But the third night's test you failed
And so, at third, I gave you - just a tap!
'For you stole my magic belt
The one my own wife weaved
I know your kisses and your conduct too
I planned it all, I sent her to test you.
You are the most perfect man that ever walked.
As a pearl among white peas
Is Gawain among men.
But you fell short; you did not keep your word
But not for evil ends, and not for love
But only that you feared to die
And so I blame thee less.'