First Poetry Friday of 2022: A Hunt!

Sir Gawain is feted by a Lord who is very generous with his table. There is much revelry, much laughter, the whole night long. Then, at break of dawn, mass (!), followed by a hunt.

The stags of the herd with their high-branched heads
and the broad-horned bucks were allowed to pass by,
for the lord of the land had laid down a law
that man should not maim the male in close season.
But the hinds were halted with hollers and whoops
and the din drove the does to sprint for the dells.
Then the eye can see that the air is all arrows:
all across the forest they flashed and flickered,
biting through hides with their broad heads.

To be shot by arrows is a particularly gruesome way to die, which self grew to appreciate after watching The Revenant. A forest ambush — the arrowheads were so substantial that self felt ill whenever one entered a human target.

While the lord is at the hunt, the lady of the house attempts to seduce Gawain. But even though she has bolted the door to his chambers, and has him pinned to the bed, he grants her no more than a kiss. In the movie, the lady of the house is played by Alicia Vikander. Self remembers sitting in the theater and being very confused.

Next, a scene of the gutting of the deer, which thank the lord was not in the movie (An excerpt: “Next they lopped off the legs and peeled back the pelt/and hooked out the bowels through the broken belly”). It seems to go on forever, every part of the deer is described, including the offal.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Language

Whiplash yet again!

Self is now parsing each word and phrase in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. For instance, this passage:

He strides to him swiftly and seizes his arm;
the man-mountain dismounts in one mighty leap.

How self adores that hyphenated word, “man-mountain”!

And It’s Back to the Challenge!

So who has the gall? The gumption? The guts?
Who’ll spring from this seat and snatch this weapon?
I offer the axe — who’ll have it as his own?

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: A New Verse Translation by Simon Armitage

Sentence of the Day, First Saturday of 2022

Yet for all that metal he still made it to mass,
honored the Almighty before the high altar.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a new verse translation by Simon Armitage

A Knightly Exchange

The Green Knight:

“Now grasp that gruesome axe
and show your striking style.”

Sir Gawain:

“Since you ask,”
and touched the tempered steel.

(Just flying through this!)

There is a certain rhythm achieved by the alternating of short with long lines. Now follows a very GRUESOME section, so self must put a

TRIGGER WARNING: Graphic Depiction of Violence

The cleanness of the strike cleaved the spinal cord
and parted the fat and the flesh so far
that the bright steel blade took a bite from the floor.

(Self is wondering if the medieval author would have used precisely those terms — i.e. “spinal cord” — nevertheless the specificity does hold the attention)

The Green Knight

A look of lightning flashed
from somewhere in his soul.
The force of that man’s fist
would be a thunderbolt.

Yet he wore no helmet and no hauberk either,
no armored apparel or plate was apparent,
and he swung no sword nor sported any shield,
but held in one hand a sprig of holly —
of all the evergreens the greenest ever —
and in the other hand held the mother of all axes,
a cruel piece of kit I kid you not.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: a new verse translation by Simon Armitage

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