Some more of that good old fashioned literature

These actually aren't my favorite lines in Gawain and the Greene Knight. But he's right, they are fabulous to read out loud. This poem (and there's a good facing-page translation available now) is what landed me in a series of medieval lit classes--and I have the giant green cardboard horse and ax to prove it. They're around here somewhere. I think. Actually, I think it was a halberd. Yup, definitely a halberd--funny looking ax with a point on the top and a little hook at the back.

And, to keep the Monty Python references coming, keep in mind that knight is, in fact, pronounced "kuhnikt" in the poem. It'll come in handy when you go read the whole thing, just to find out how it ends. (What? You should. It's great, there's a beheading and an enchanted belt, a party and a deep dark forest, and betrayal, and honesty, and seduction, and another attempt at beheading, and all kinds of fun. It's like D&D without the pesky dice. Plus Gawain was the medieval equivalent of the strong, silent type. Except for that whole murder rap. I still think he was framed.)

How can you not fall in love with a poem that begins:

SIÞEN þe sege and þe assaut watz sesed at Troye,
Þe bor3 brittened and brent to bronde3 and askez,
Þe tulk þat þe trammes of tresoun þer wro3t
Watz tried for his tricherie, þe trewest on erþe:
Hit watz Ennias þe athel, and his highe kynde,
Þat siþen depreced prouinces, and patrounes bicome
Welne3e of al þe wele in þe west iles.
Fro riche Romulus to Rome ricchis hym swyþe,
With gret bobbaunce þat bur3e he biges vpon fyrst,
And neuenes hit his aune nome, as hit now hat;
Tirius to Tuskan and teldes bigynnes,
Langaberde in Lumbardie lyftes vp homes,
And fer ouer þe French flod Felix Brutus
On mony bonkkes ful brode Bretayn he settez
wyth wynne,
Where werre and wrake and wonder
Bi syþez hatz wont þerinne,
And oft boþe blysse and blunder
Ful skete hatz skyfted synne.

And that's just the preview. Off to read some more (and I promise the lowdown on the methodology question, plus some more poetry, later. But not right now. Gotta go hang with Gawaine.)


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