5 Mar Home /; Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Simon Armitage was born in West Yorkshire and is Professor of Poetry at the University of Leeds. To celebrate the release of a new revised edition of Simon Armitage’s retelling of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, accompanied by beautiful screen-print. 31 Jan Simon Armitage explores Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and reflects on how he approached his own translation of the poem.

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A large amount of critical debate also surrounds the poem as it relates to the bi-cultural political landscape of the time. The Gawain poet uses a North West Midlands dialect common on the Welsh—English border, potentially placing him in the midst of this conflict.

These appear at first to be unconnected. Looking back, I see that I began work grwen the translation while I was in Argentina.

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The farmer told me he’d had bison here as well, and other creatures of the prairies and steppes. Medieval Institute Publications, Inc. The poem then lay dormant for over years, not coming to light until Queen Victoria was on the throne, thus leapfrogging the attentions of some of our greatest writers and critics.

Written in stanzas of alliterative verseeach of which ends in a rhyming bob and wheel[1] it draws on WelshIrish, and English stories, as well as the French chivalric tradition.

Without the space they open up, there would be no poem to speak of. He turns to face Bertilak with his back to the ravine, prepared to fight.

The theme of masculinity is present throughout. Several geeen have made exactly the opposite interpretation, reading the poem as a comic critique of the Christianity of the time, particularly as embodied in the Christian chivalry of Arthur’s court. Views Read Edit View history.

Tambling, “A More Powerful Life: Naturally, to the trained medievalist the poem is perfectly readable in its original form; no translation necessary. I always intended this to be a translation not only for the eye, but for the ear and the voice as well, and that ambition was tested to the full when Ian McKellen recorded the poem for BBC Radio 4.

While the Lady is being forward and outgoing, Gawain’s feelings and emotions are the focus of the story, and Gawain stands to gain or lose the most.


Other scholars, however, argue armitsge historically much Welsh blood was shed well into the 14th century, creating a situation far removed from the more friendly hybridisation suggested simoon Ingham.

Lancelot is given a beheading challenge in the early 13th-century Perlesvausin which a knight begs him to chop off his head or else put his own in jeopardy.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – Wikipedia

Retrieved on 22 September What follows is a test of courage and a test of his heart, and during the knlght episodes, which span an entire calendar year, Gawain must steel himself against fear and temptation. Among many other reasons, it is partly this anonymity that has made the poem so attractive to latter-day translators.

The question of politeness and chivalry is a main theme during Gawain’s interactions with Bertilak’s wife. Angrily Gawain tells him to deliver his blow and so the knight does, causing isr a slight wound on Gawain’s neck.

But the man whose calligraphy we ponder – a jobbing scribe, probably – was not the author.

The Gteen PeriodVol. Such a theme is strengthened by the image of Troya powerful nation once thought to be invincible which, according to the Aeneidfell to the Greeks due to pride and ignorance. The poet broke the alliterative lines into variable-length groups and ended these nominal stanzas with a rhyming section of five lines known as the bob and wheelin which the “bob” is a very short line, sometimes of only gree syllables, followed by the “wheel,” longer lines with smion rhyme.

To support this argument further, it is suggested that the poem creates an “us versus them” scenario contrasting the knowledgeable civilised English with the uncivilised borderlands that are home to Bertilak and the other monsters that Gawain encounters.

Boars were and are much more difficult to hunt than deer; approaching one with only a sword was akin to challenging a knight to single combat. Bertilak dismounts and in the ensuing fight kills the boar. Gren, as he may otherwise die the next day, Gawain accepts it, and they exchange three kisses. Not all poems are stories, but Sir Gawain and the Green Knight most certainly is.

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The earliest known story to feature a beheading game is the 8th-century Middle Irish tale Bricriu’s Feast. Although nothing explicitly suggests that all four poems are by the same poet, comparative analysis of dialect, verse form, and diction have pointed towards single authorship. As he continues his journey, Gawain once again faces anguish regarding his inevitable encounter with the Green Knight. Gawain, however, is successful in parrying her attacks, saying that surely she knows more than he about love.


The next day the lady comes again, Gawain again courteously foils her advances, and later that day there is a similar exchange of a hunted boar for two kisses. For a good number of years this has been thought of by many as the definitive poetic translation. To a contemporary poet, one interested in narrative and form, and to a northerner who not only recognises plenty of the poem’s dialect but detects an echo of his own speech rhythms within the original, the urge to blow a little warm breath across that layer of frosting eventually proved irresistible.

But on second thoughts, I’m thrilled. The BBC broadcast a documentary presented by Simon Armitage in which the journey depicted in the poem is traced, using what are believed to be the actual locations. Green Knight Lady Bertilak.

Poemchivalric romanceArthurian and alliterative verse. The fifth five is Gawain himself, who embodies the five moral virtues of the code of chivalry: Then, with a single cut from throat to groin, they opened it up. See for example W. Notable translators include Jessie Westonwhose prose translation and poetic translation took many liberties with the original; Theodore Bankswhose translation was praised for its adaptation of the language to modern usage; [] and Marie Borroffwhose imitative translation was first published in and “entered the academic canon” inin the second edition of the Norton Anthology of English Literature.

Its similarity to the word gome manwhich appears 21 times, has led some scholars to see men and games as centrally linked. Similarly, Gawain finds the Lady’s advances in the third seduction scene more unpredictable and challenging to resist than her previous attempts.

The manuscript of Gawain is known in academic circles as Cotton Nero A. Interpretations range from sexual in nature to spiritual.