Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight




The Green Knight
This is not the original poem, it is an homage to the 14th century Middle English chivalric romance.
The original is lengthy, and in an older English than most of us can decipher. Tolkien did. And his can be purchased from Amazon. Or you could read it here:

Here is another translation:




Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight
By Yvor Winters


The head dropped clean; he rose and walked
Reptilian green the wrinkled throat,
Green as a bough of yew the beard;
He bent his head, and so I smote;
Then for a thought my vision cleared.

The head dropped clean; he rose and walked;
He fixed his fingers in the hair;
The head was unabashed and talked;
I understood what I must dare.

His flesh, cut down, arose and grew.
He bade me wait the season’s round,
And then, when he had strength anew,
To meet him on his native ground.

The year declined; and in his keep
I passed in joy a thriving yule;
And whether waking or in sleep,
I lived in riot like a fool.

Her beauty, lithe, unholy, pure...
He beat the woods to bring me meat.
His lady, like a forest vine,
Grew in my arms; the growth was sweet;
And yet what thoughtless force was mine!

By practice and conviction formed,
With ancient stubbornness ingrained,
Although her body clung and swarmed
My own identity remained.

Her beauty, lithe, unholy, pure,
Took shapes that I had never known;
And had I once been insecure,
Had grafted laurel in my bone.

And then, since I had kept the trust,
Had loved the lady, yet was true,
The knight withheld his giant thrust
And let me go with what I knew.

I left the green bark and the shade,
Where growth was rapid, thick, and still;
I found a road that men had made
And rested on a drying hill.


From, The Collected Poems of Yvor Winters (Swallow Press, 1978)

The Green Knight



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