the lord of the land rides late and long,
Hunting the barren hind over the broad heath.
He had slain such a sum, when the sun sank low,
Of does and other deer, as would dizzy one's wits.
Then they trooped in together in triumph at last,
And the count of the quarry quickly they take.
The lords lent a hand with their liegemen many,
Picked out the plumpest and put them together
And duly dressed the deer, as the deed requires.
Some were assigned the assay of the fat:
Two fingers'-width fully they found on the leanest.
Then they slit the slot open
and searched out the paunch,
Trimmed it with trencher-knives and tied it up tight.
They flayed the fair hide from the legs and trunk,
Then broke ipen the belly and laid bare the bowels,
Deftly detaching and drawing them forth.
And next at the neck the neatly parted
The weasand from the windpipe,
and cast away the guts.
At the shoulders with sharp blades
they showed their skill,
Boning them from beneath, lest the sides be marred;
They breached the broad breast and broke it in twain,
And again at the gullet they began with their knives,
Cleave down the carcass clear to the breack;
Two tender morsels they take from the throat,
Then round the inner ribs they rid off a layer
And carve out the kidney-fat, close to the spine,
Hewing down to the haunchm that all hung together,
And held ut up whole, and hacked it free,
And this they named the numbles,
that know such terms of art.
They divide the crotch in two,
And straightway then they start
To cut the backbone through
And cleave the trunk apart.
With hard strokes they hewed off the head and neck,
Then swiftly from the sides they severed the chine,
And the corbie's bone they cast on a branch.
Then they pierced the plump sides, impales either one
With the hock of the hind foot, and hung it aloft,
To each person his portion most proper and fit.
On a hide of a hind the hounds they fed
With the liver and the lights, the leathery paunches,
And bread soaked in blood well blended therewith.
High horns and shrill set hounds a-baying,
Then merrily with their meat
they make their way home,
Blowing their bugles many a brave blast.
Sir Gawain and
the Green Knight
translation by Marie Borroff
copyright 1967, W.W. Norton & Co.