I wrote a poem. It was for my literature class, but I wrote it in the same style and verse as that of “the Pearl Poet.” Also known as the anonymous poet who wrote the medieval romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
I got an A on this assignment for my Medieval Literature class, so I thought I’d share it with you all as I’m rather proud of it and really enjoyed writing it (in fact, I’ve been writing a lot of little poems lately that I am considering letting you all read).
If you aren’t familiar with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, this poem may not make a lot of sense. But, for those of you that are familiar with it, this is a poem I wrote to kind of fill a gap between two parts of the poem: this poem of mine takes place on the night before Sir Gawain leaves to fulfill his promise to the Green Knight. I explore his emotions, relationship with Arthur, and consider the motives of Gawain, Arthur, and the Green Knight.
My goal in this assignment was to imitate the style of “The Pearl Poet.” Specifically, this poet used the bob and wheel in their poetry, which I also imitate (the bob and wheel is five lines rhyming “a b a b a” at the end of the stanza; it is a technique only used by The Pearl Poet).
I was super excited at having written this, and my professor enjoyed it quite a bit – if I have any medieval literature fans among my readers, I hope you will enjoy this, too. Please let me know what you think! I’ll be archiving this in the “Stories, Poems, & Fanfics” page.
Just so you know, this poetry doesn’t rhyme (until you get to the bob and wheel).
I hope you all enjoy.
The Eve of Departure
(FITT ii, between lines 565-566)
Gawain was well prepared, a knight to defend his good king’s name.
That night in his chambers, apart from the fray, he let the green knight’s game
rattle his mind with thoughts and perplexities
of what would come in the morning. Having readied his head and
stilled his heart, he was determined what he needed
was a moment alone. Ventured he to the church,
where to Mary he prayed—that sweet Mother who bore the hope of the world.
To her he offered his supplications with a heart most assiduous.
Never was there such a pious, saintly knight—
full of earnest, and with a heart full of chivalry. He was prepared for the worst,
but his stout heart held out against the weight straining to crush it.
As gallantly as he could, he relayed his fears
to Our Lady with humility and strength, reverently asking for
a tranquil conclusion.
Oh Gawain, despair not!
Let not these emotions prove an obtrusion
lest they boast “we quickly caught
and killed his knightly resolution!”
In enters Arthur, astute and aghast at the sight
of his fair cousin on bended knee, offering his heartiest supplication
to the fair Blessed Mother. Arthur approaches, silently he
speaks “Sir Gawain, you are not well. Pray, come
and be merry before you must away. Merriment easily beds the anxious.
Put away your frowns and come cherish the night. Or, if you feel compelled,
tell me the thing which has you so agitated. An ear to listen am I,
and you may tell me that which has settled as a burden
bearing upon your gallant breast. Confide, my knight, my cousin, my friend.”
Gawain is wary—he wants not to offend, but to harbor
his thoughts would oppose his king’s wish. The knight breathed deep,
daring to admit, yet dangerously divulged his pure heart’s contents:
“My lord, I am weary of fear and dread, the thought of
that green daemon’s axe upon my neck moves me to shudder.
But to serve you, my king, and the upholding of my honor shall drive
me to this fate: if fate be kind to me, then may God do with me what He will.
His servant I am: both His and yours.” They fell on each other and heartily kissed,
both as brothers embracing beautifully. Arthur speaks
with a heart of gratitude:
“God reward you, Gawain,
your heart is one the devil shan’t preclude.
Upon your honor is not one stain,
and nothing shall inhibit your valorous attitude.”
In a cave far removed, in a hill abhorred by God
lurked the knight bathed in green. He knew the hour,
and of Sir Gawain’s doom—the thought of that spot upon
Arthur’s fair court brought a hideous hilarity upon his viridescent hue.
Long had he laughed at, made light of and leered at the court
of the boy king, at Arthur himself. This chivalry of the court,
which everyone praised long, was about to be tested, teased,
and skeptically tonged. This emerald fellow laughed aloud,
turning each event with pleasure in his head: the traps he had laid and the
nets he had set for the sir called Gawain and
his stout heart of bravery. Surely it would crumble,
his stout heart would quake, and his chivalric reputation
would not stand his convoluted tasks. The green one maliciously hoped—
nay, believed—that Gawain’s fate was set
and his honor’s life at an end. He would not withstand the blow,
for his life he loved dearly and would never allow
to be cut so from him. Not only the knight would he end,
but Arthur’s unblemished court as well, and once fallen,
it would never rise after so drastic a demise. The hulk of a man
delighted in his scheme.
His plans for poor Gawain
were far from just a dream.
The brute was quite sure he could not contain
The excitement within which flowed like a stream.
Well, there it is! My little medieval poem. What did you all think? I hope you enjoyed it.
Also, I would like to let you all know that I officially have TEN chapters of my fanfic available to read on Wattpad and Fanfiction.net. I am going to go back to normal posting on here, but I’ll still archive the chapters on the fanfic page so you can read them there as well. Please check them out and vote for them! So far, it’s gotten great reviews and is ranking really high on Wattpad.
I’d appreciate your feedback! Here are those links for the story on Wattpad and Fanfiction.net.
Also, it might be worth saying that I was attempting to complete my part two of the Europe Chronicles post today (which is all about Paris, so please stay tuned), but I have studying to do for my midterms, and I am fighting a cold (which feels like death). Is that overstating things? Probably, but I’m an English major, and I enjoy being dramatic.
6 thoughts on “A Poem Featuring Sir Gawain, Arthur, and the Green Knight”
Oh, Emily, this is wonderful!!! We’re studying “Beowulf” right now as a family, so the non-rhyming, epic poem of medieval times isn’t nearly so foreign to me as it used to be. Thank you so much for pointing out the “bob and wheel,” though! I had a lot of fun picking it out at the end of each stanza.
And now excuse me, for I am rushing posthaste to Fanfiction.net to read the new chapters of the Adlock story, haha XD
Hey Maribeth! Thanks so much! I just read Beowulf in class! It’s so fun, isn’t it? I loved it! You and your family should do Sir Gawain next,- it is so wonderful! So glad you enjoyed the poem – and yes, I loved making the bob and wheels!
Ooh *squeals* so glad you’re gonna check out the new chapters! Let me know what u think! 😄
Ahh, Emily, I loved this!!! King Arthur stories were some of my favorites when I was younger (our abridged anthology of King Arthur stories was one of the books I read the most! 🙂 ). Wonderful job!
Thanks so much, Amelie! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Arthurian legends are my favorites, too!
I stole my brother’s edition of Gawain and the Green Knight some months back. This poem makes a nice edition to the story!
Thank you so much! I am glad you enjoyed it! Stealing other family member’s books is always the way to go 😂😂