Sir Gawain and The Green Knight,

A Very Imprecise Precis.

On this page is to be found a short translation of the poem Sir Gawain and The Green Knight into modern English following the translation style of the middle ages, including translator embellisments. I also included a line of french for local colour and have different length stanzas as found in the original poem.

We do not know the name of the author of the original poem. The work is exquisite and the best reason to learn middle english that I have seen. The poet had rhythm, often included alliteration in the bob and wheel, kept a good structure in the wheel, most likely spent a lifetime working on these types of poems of which only Sir Gawain and the Green Knight still exists. He often had other syllables than the chief in a line alliterated with that line's starting sound.

In the present poem, those attractions have been dropped, in most cases, to ease the creation of the poem. On the other hand, some additions have been made to provide local colour. In the first stanza, Sir Gawain addresses his lord king in French, which later in the middle ages all knights would be expected to speak. This line, by itself, attempts to replace the long descriptions of the court, Sir Gawain's courtly speech throughout the poem and the boudoir speeches with the Green Knight's Lady. For brevity's sake, Morgan the Fay is not in the story, but she is merely mentioned (twice) as the mover behind the Green Knight's works. The speeches have either been removed or reworked to shorten the story.

See Google for more info on the original poem.


One Day in December, a knight on destroyer
Rode up to Round Table, regal and stately.
Green as grass he was, and greedy for glory
Sent by a sorceress, to scare the poor queen.
Morgan so miserly, sent such a mission
Armed with an axe, arrayed as in peace.
Insulted the eaters, included King Art.
Challenged them then and there to a thing
A deed so dastardly, deadly and simple
As to knock off his noggin, at New Years it was.
In return, the renegade might release such a blow
To pay back the battler, the stroke that was borrowed,
At the Chapel of Green, glory for gory,
Three hundred sixty and six sunrises and sets
To pass in peaceful pleasure before the pain came.
The King took the crude, cruel and cross francesca
Which the witch had sent with her wicked horseman,
But glorious, good Gawain got up and demurred.
He spoke, 'A servant, I and simply your nephew
But I think it thoughtless, O throne holder king
To risk your regal, royal, ruling self.
Victoir et vertu trop visible avez vous.
You lead don't lose, Lord of Logres you are.
Do not for naught, neither nonsense nor great.
I will take the tourney and try my luck.
You stand aside and simply see the act
That your favourite, foreign, freeloving nephew
shall perform perchance upon that peasant poor.'
And shifting his shoes to show his great worth
He brought the broad blade into the body that cleaved
Into blocks
Which stood up without head.
He took it up by the locks.
"Come see me or be dead."
Then left, laughing like fox.
In awesome auburn Autumn, in cold quite awful,
After spring had sprung, and summer had sunk,
Gawain gathered his graces and griped about.
Took leave of the king and court, queen and cousins.
He followed that fell fellow of green.
Far afield he flew, through forests of fallen leaves.
Such a storm sullied him that he sought shelter.
Wild woses and wolves, woodsmen and canines
Through that and this, lousing all method
Hail and hardness, how the sun beat him,
Till he trieved a tower, tall and stately.
Up to it he rode. The reality revived him.
Around it grew grass as green as the good God grew
though Christmas had come and cruel at that
In that northern nook. He noticed it not,
but rode up to the rail, raised the porter,
Asked lodging and loaf, a location for Lancer.
They welcomed him with a will and western affection.
His host brought a banquet to beat the best
And asked him
About his quiet quest
Causing him to risk limb
At the great feast of Chrest
And why his face was grim.
Gawain greeted him, that good host of his.
He explained his passage as a penitent pilgrim,
His errant essay into England from Wales.
The host humoured him and housed his horse
Along with his own animals of anterior merit.
Thus was the lord's luxory for the lost Gawain,
His abling the errant for abbey of green.
'Now nest till New Year, O knight tired and true
The long looked for place is less than a league.'
Internal innocence of Gawain's innards should tell
Sir knight not to nooky with nobleman's Dame.
Tomorrow a test, trying to tear
Our old uncle's man from the 'unt
For ennobling knightliness, notable and nice.
The Dame did drop by, Gawain's duty to test.
She flattered his fame, fortune and tongue.
She'd heard of him here, in hinterland far
From Camelot and Caerleon, castles created
By Arthur and artliness, all austere and strong.
She craved a kiss, a courtesy of the court.
For Gawain, it got him a garland of praise
When the huntsmen hunted a huge barren dear
And returned with the rump, ready to roast.
The host paid up his part to the passing knight
For he had a game with the guest, exchange of gains.
At the end of the day, dues were dealt down.
From the gainer, Gawain got good grub
And the lord, loving lips from the illustrious lad.
On the next day, the Dame came to the drapes,
Boudwoir and bed of the battling man
To try and to test him, triumphant trophy,
And to steer him sideways away from the straight.
But naught would give Gawain, gracious and great,
but a kiss, two kisses, kindly caught from his lips
Which were passed pleasantly to their proper place
When the huntsman hauled back the hide of a boar.
The morrow mourned the midnight darkeness
As the lady lover looked in on the lad
She slipped him her sash and gave him kisses three.
The green girdle she gave was to protect
The wearer from wetting his wovens with blood.
The kisses conquered the keeper, the sash was kept
Gawain loved his life, more than leige lord
Could know
And hid the Green Girdle
Which would protect him from the blow
Launched for his neck, fertile.
Then knight could to Camelot go.
New Year's was the next day and Gawain in prayer knelt.
Then Gawain was guided to the green vale
Where the chapel and church challenged the court.
A hovel it was, had hardened hickory
Growing up green on the gown with the grass.
The knight of the north, nowhere to be noticed.
Gawain thought himself through, thrusted for uncle's throne.
But the bad one basely brought him a halt
And called for the courage he'd seen at the court.
Gawain grew gall and got off his helm
Prepared for peril, he passed the test.
Twice the troll tried him and missed.
On the third a thin thing you think
Of skin sliced from the Sir.
Gawain got back his guard, gilded and good
He refused to receive any more arrears.
The Green Knight unguarded, gave him his grace
To see that he was, one in the way,
The same seignour who saved him a stead.
Gawain, suprised and some silly, did say
'Why do you wish to whack off my head?'
'I don't wish you dead, dear Gawain of the Druid's Knot.
Morgana, my lady's mistress commisioned me
To scare Guinevere with green guts and gore.
For hate had the hag for that high lady.
Come back to the castle, the crowd cares for you,
Feasting we'll feed, for a fortnight and more.'
Gawain shook his shag, shipped him all home
For the time had been tempting, from a trial of death.
Now home called him hither. Honing all done,
He headed home for the humour of the court.
He told the tale of his tryst and betrayal.
The court allowed
He was too hard on his house
But he knelt and bowed
Asked forgiveness of mouse
While the court laughed aloud.

You have been reading a poem by Esgaroth