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þe endeles knot

November 30, 2012

gawain

schelde,
of schyr goulez
of pure golde hwez.

a syngne
in bytoknyng of trawþe, vmbelappez
and loukez

is endelez;
acordez cler
ay faythful

Gawan as golde pured,
Voyded of vylany

þe pentangel
tale, gentylest
most trwe.

…..

The Endless Knot

shield
of shining gules
in pure gold hues

a sign
in token of truth, overlaps
and locks

is endless
accords bright
forever faithful –

Gawain, as purified gold
void of villainy

the pentangle,
trust,
gentlest,
most true.


For dVerse Poets Meeting the Bar hosted by Anna Montgomery, this is erasure poetry – words extracted from an original text to form a new poem. http://wp.me/p1GTyJ-1fD

THEN þay schewed hym þe schelde, þat was of schyr goulez
Wyth þe pentangel depaynt of pure golde hwez.
He braydez hit by þe bauderyk, aboute þe hals kestes,
Þat bisemed þe segge semlyly fayre.
And quy þe pentangel apendez to þat prynce noble
I am in tent yow to telle, þof tary hyt me schulde:
Hit is a syngne þat Salamon set sumquyle
In bytoknyng of trawþe, bi tytle þat hit habbez, [folio 99v]
For hit is a figure þat haldez fyue poyntez,
And vche lyne vmbelappez and loukez in oþer,
And ayquere hit is endelez; and Englych hit callen
Oueral, as I here, þe endeles knot.
Forþy hit acordez to þis knyȝt and to his cler armez,
For ay faythful in fyue and sere fyue syþez
Gawan watz for gode knawen, and as golde pured,
Voyded of vche vylany, wyth vertuez ennourned
in mote;
Forþy þe pentangel nwe
He ber in schelde and cote,
As tulk of tale most trwe
And gentylest knyȝt of lote.

The original is the Middle English text ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ in translation here: http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/English/GawainAndTheGreenKnight.htm#_Toc178583489
And in the original here:
http://quod.lib.umich.edu/c/cme/Gawain/1:2?rgn=div1;view=fulltext

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17 Comments
  1. Wow, just… wow! I am feeling deeply embarassed now at my efforts. This is outstanding – I remember reading this at university and you have so effortlessly conveyed all that is wonderful about it.

    • Thank you! Great to hear that this condensed snippet works on some level.. what an interesting exercise! I read it at uni as well and have recently read Simon Armitage’s new and excellent poetic English version – he uses a lot of Yorkshire idiom and it really captures the sounds of the original.

  2. Cool to use Middle English — and a very pleasant extraction.

  3. wow…that would be really cool to hear you read this…middle english…maybe like some of the old german…sounds so strange to the ear and so intriguing

    • Yeah.. would be a lot like Old German I think – very heavy on consonants and strong emphasis on alliteration for this poem. Might think of reading it 🙂

  4. nicely done…the middle english is way cool…and great story to choose to take from as well….your extraction is def enchanting as well becky….love the title you have given it as well…

  5. Becky, this is just beautiful! I love the poem that resulted and the picture it presented of Gawain.

  6. Oh, I knew I was in for a treat :D. This shines with your sparkling poetic sensibility, speaking in a new, yet very influenced by your excellent craft, voice. I think you mind melded with the text. Utterly wonderful!

  7. jasmine calyx permalink

    Becky, this makes me so happy! I adore Middle and Old English. Fantastic idea. Your visual accompaniment is such a pleasure to the eyes. Oh, the memories this returns to me.

    I love your poem. Every word is exquisitely placed. And the meaning is so touching; it makes me think of my husband and his genuine goodness. Thank you for sharing this, Becky.

    ~Shawna

    • What a touching response – thank Shawna and great to see you out on the trail again in your new incarnation. I got a real kick from reading the Middle English again after all these years.

  8. I loved it; and appreciated the other comments. How clever and how deft this rendering is.

  9. I am so impressed that you were able to dip into middle English. I love listening to it read aloud and sometimes am able to pick up a few images. Am taking a course right now (on CD–The Teaching Company) by a professor of Medieval Languages and History. Although not on that subject, she dips into it from time to time. Your work shines, Becky.

  10. It takes some efforts to understand Old English. But it’s fascinating. Nicely done becky!

    Hank.

  11. Thanks for all your appreciative comments – was a lot of fun to experiment with ‘erasure’ 🙂

  12. So much fun – I like the middle English version especially, the modern too. Well done. k.

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