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The Green Knight finds a new voice

Sir Gawain and The Green Knight is one of the strangest stories ever told, horrifying, festive, and erotic. The landscape is ancient Britain, where 'the sky's wild winds wrestle with the sun', and the cries of hunting dogs are heard as 'the bugle blast rebounds between the trunks of trees'.

The poem was written by a Brit of whom we know almost nothing except that he lived around 1400. Since his language is Middle English, modern poets have tackled translations. In the Guardian, Chloe Todd Fordham reviews the latest, by Simon Armitage. She says that Armitage has retained the alliteration that is “the heartbeat” of the work, and has created a “middle-modern” language for this story which begins with a headless marvel in King Arthur's court.

There is something wonderfully suggestive about the way medieval English literature continues to cast the aura of middle earth into the modern world. People are tested in these realms, and readers respond.

Note: The hunting scenes are not for the faint of heart.

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