For thagh men ben mery quen they han mayn drynk

I don’t properly know Middle English.  I can mostly get through it with a crib translation, but my grammar is too hazy to come out on top in some alliterative clusters where the context alone doesn’t make the different roles clear – as is the case in line 4 of the below excerpt from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which has stumped me for a while now.

The original:
Gawan watz glad to begynne those gomnes in halle,
Bot thagh the ende be hevy, haf ye no wonder;
For thagh men ben mery quen they han mayn drynk,
A yere yernes ful yerne, and yeldez never lyke;
The forme to the fynisment foldez ful selden (495-499)

The Simon Armitage poetic rendering (Norton, 2007):
And Gawain had been glad to begin the game,
but don’t be so shocked should the plot turn pear-shaped:
for men might be merry when addled with mead
but each year, short lived, is unlike the last
and rarely resolves in the style it arrived

The James Winny mostly literal rendering (Broadview, 1992):
Gawain was glad enough to begin those games in the hall,
But if the outcomes prove troublesome don’t be surpised;
For though men are light-hearted when they have strong drink,
A year pass swiftly, never bringing the same:
Beginning and ending selom take the same form.

My literal but illiterate rendering:
Gawain was glad to to begin those games in the hall,
but that the conclusion was harsh, have no wonder;
For though men become merry when they have many a drink,
A year seeks fulfillment swiftly but never yields the same [kind of year],
The [initial] appearance full seldom agrees with the conclusion.

I take “A yere yernes ful yerne” as:
yere – year (subject)
yernes – desire (verb)
But I’m using the poorly attested secondary meaning from the Univerity of Michigan Middle English Dictionary entry for yernen
yerne – swiftly (adv)

I think there are two problems here.  First – ‘yernen’ has to be taken with a rare secondary sense and the translators I’ve looked at appear – understandably – to glide over this difficulty by giving preference to dictates of context.  Second – I think the poet’s image itself lacks full logical continuity.  The situation in lines 1-2 (Gawain begins his task lightly but concludes in different manner) is supposed to be clarified by a parallel example in lines 3-4.  The import of both examples is then summed up by the gnomic line 5.  Easy enough.  But the shift in focus from 3-4 (men are happy when they drink/ but a year passes quickly..) is so violent that the intended elaborating power feels lost to me.  I can still only guess what 3-4 ‘needs’ to mean by setting it aside what precedes and what follows.  Now it’s lunch and I’ve earned my ‘mayn drynk’

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