The European Sky -God. 341
to the root of viridis ' : ^ it might be literally rendered the Green Man.
Nor need we be surprised if the Green Knight bears a branch of holly, not (like Curoi, his Irish analogue) a branch of oak. For we have seen already that the peculiar mining population in the oak-forest of Dean swear by a stick of holly." And in one story connected with Gawain we seem to catch the actual transition from oak to holly. A fragmentary poem on the Marriage of Sir Gawaine} printed by Sir Frederic Madden from the text of the Percy MS. as given in Dr. Percy's Reliqiies of Ancient English Poetry ed. 1794 iii. 350, tells how one Christmas King Arthur came to Tearne-wadling in Cumberland, where a bold baron with a great club upon his back challenged him to fight, or pay a ransom, returning for the purpose on New Year's Day. When he rode out to keep his appointment, he met a hideous hag sitting
' Betwixt an oke and a greene hollen,'
who made love to him. He extricated himself by pro- mising that Gawain should wed her, and passed on to keep his tryst with the baron, who claimed to be a king and brother of the beldame. Gawain, to fulfil King Arthur's promise, sought out the woman where she sat
' Vnderneath a greene holly tree ' :
but on the marriage night he found her as beautiful as she had before been ugly. She offered him the choice, whether he would have her beautiful by night or by day. He left it courteously to her — an act, which broke a spell laid on her by a step-mother, and enabled her to regain her good looks permanently.
To Mr. A. Nutt* belongs the credit of setting this
^ lb. xvi. 291 n. 2 /^_ xvii. 54.
^ Sir F. Madden Syr Gawayne p. 288 ff. •* The Academy April 30, 1892, p. 425 f.