A Good Tale of Ipomadon
12th century, Anglo-Norman French, Hue de Rotelande | 15th century Middle English verse translation at Chetham's Library Manchester.
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'Sir, how do you know my name!' 'We were once friends,' replied Ipomadon. 'Yesterday I jousted here in white and today I am in red.'
The Queen of Calabria told her cousin Jason to go out onto the field and help with his lances the knight who seemed to him to be performing the best; and to do this for the full three days. And as a reward, she promised to knight him on the third day. So Jason carried a lance to Ipomadon; and as though he had never seen him before in his life, Ipomadon said: 'Sir, who are you?'
'I am my lady's cousin, Sir.'
Jason did not recognise Ipomadon at all, although he had been friends with him less than three years before. 'Sir,' said the white knight, 'take this prisoner to your lady. I would like her to hold him. And take also this horse, and tell her that I sent it, along with the prisoner.'
The lady was very happy to receive her prisoner, but later she said to her maiden-in-waiting: 'By all that I can see, this whole thing is going terribly badly! I cannot see my love anywhere and if he was here somewhere Jason would have recognised him by now.'
But Jason has not recognised Ipomadon, whose true name nobody at court has ever known, and the following day the white knight who did so well at the tournament the previous day seems to have disappeared as well. A red knight, however, is doing marvellously well. As the day ends, the red knight approaches Jason:
'Jason! Greet your lady for me.'
'Sir, how do you know my name!'
'We were once friends,' replied Ipomadon.
Yesturday Iuste I here in white, to day in rede, ys not to hyde – Yesterday I jousted here in white and today I am in red.'
'Ah! Sir! For Christ’s pity! My lady dies for love of you! And you will leave her?'
'Jason, I cannot stay.
All my folke vnder younde hill abydys me hoveand thare. – All my people under the hill over there are waiting for me. Goodbye! Greet your lady well for me – greet her a thousand times and tell her that I shall speak with her when I can.'
Ipomadon rode off and Jason lost him in the crowd, so he made his way wearily back to his lady. 'Madam,' he said, 'I cannot help but weep, for today we have lost the best knight that was ever born!'
'Which, cousin? The red knight?'
'Did you learn who he was?'
'He is the same knight who fought in white yesterday, and he is the 'Curious young man' whom you love.'