A truer translation of the trials of Gawain than all tasked Armitage

Forgive my desire to echo the alliterative style of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, but I’m really rather excited.

You see, yesterday I made it my quest to read the entirety of Simon Armitage’s new translation of Gawain in the Chapel Perilous of St Dunstan in the East. To start, it was a gloriously sunny day. Furthermore, I cycled there from Covent Garden on a Barclays hire bike and luckily avoided a car-kiss.*

The story itself is brilliant, and if you’ve yet to read it I implore that you do. It tells the fascinating and chivalrous tale of Gawain – youngest and purest of Arthur’s Camelot. It is a tale of supernature, of temptation and of the remarkable times of its construct. I’ll refrain from discussing the plot here if you’ve yet to read it, for I’d rather not spoil its excellence. However, I’m sure myself and my other readers** will discuss this in the comments below.

Armitage’s translation is fantastic and fully captures the power and poetry of the original. Stood alongside Heaney’s Beowulf, and it more than holds its own. I’ve yet to decide which is superior – perhaps subsequent rereadings will tell.

For sure, they will occur.

Speaking of Beowulf and Gawain, the manuscripts are on display at the British Library. I cannot stress highly enough their literary importance nor their literal pricelessness. I urge you to see them.

* Forgive too the kenning.

** Who have, this week, moved into four figures. I’m lead to believe they’re Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.


A truer translation of the trials of Gawain than all tasked Armitage

4 thoughts on “A truer translation of the trials of Gawain than all tasked Armitage

  1. Byrnsweord says:

    A marvellous picture. Were I not merely a figment of someone else’s imagination, electronic detritus and pixels, I would feel a touch of jealousy.

    1. archaism says:

      It was not only a marvellous picture (which has since become my phone wallpaper), but also a marvellous day, and an exemplary poem.

  2. I used to have lunch in this spot everyday during the summer and autumn months, as I worked nearby for a few years. Great spot, really nice to mellow out in, but gets really busy (and rather noisy) at lunch in the weekdays of the warmer months.

    That said, it’s quiet and idyllic on a Sunday afternoon – my wife and I would wander over there sometimes from the Southbank and just relax/read/doze… these little spots are awesome aren’t they just.

    And to have an enjoyable read with you, almost priceless, no?

    1. archaism says:

      Without doubt. Had there not been others present, I would be scared that Bertilak might creep up on my and that I would receive a blow from his massive weapon.

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