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helenliz

helenliz

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - Unknown, Simon Armitage I adore this. I have to admit to cheating slightly, in that it was in translation and not in the original middle English, but I think that's allowed. Poetry of this vintage is very different to that we're used to - there's nothing even resembling the usual iambic pentameter, and the end of the lines don't even begin to rhyme. Instead the rhythm comes from the alliteration of the stressed sylables within a line. It seems to lend itself to being read aloud - maybe an indication of the transition from an aural to a written tradition. The poem itself is a tale of king Arthur's court, with a challenge being issued by a stranger at the Christmas court, and the bulk of story being played out at the following year's end. It has everything - chivalrous knights, the splendour of court, lovely ladies, but it also has dark overtones - there's sex, blood and gore of the hunt (both beast and man). There's also the threat of nature to the ordered life of the court and to an individual against it. It's not very long, no more than 115 pages, but it has so much packed into it that it goes by in a flash.