I was listening to a BBC podcast with Simon Armitage describing Sir Gawain And The Green Knight: A New Verse Translation. Recently, my sister has been reading some classics novels from the 19th Century. I thought it would be funny to beat her by going back another 500 years. Sir Gawain And The Green Knight is a late 14th-century poem written by an unknown British (Welsh) poet. This poem is written in Middle English, which is why it needs to be translated into modern English. Armitage felt previous translations lost the lyrical feel of the poem.
What little I know about poetry is they should either rhyme or have a meter. This poem introduced me to poetry using Alliteration. Armitage’s translation was fun to read. I repeated many lines out-loud. I also found myself rhyming the lines by adding or substituting words, which gave the poem a Dr. Suess-like feel.
The poem deals with a pilgrimage King Arthur’s knight: Sir Gawain takes from Camelot to uphold a bargain he made with the Green Knight. An odd bargain involving cutting off the knight’s green head?!
On his quest, Sir Gawain finds comfort in another king’s court, far from Camelot. He finds comfort in the arm’s of that king’s wife, and deals with temptation, chivalry and honor.
Amazon Book Preview of “Sir Gawain And The Green Knight“