Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (1375)

The Gawain Poet

Oxford English Dictionary (OED) Links On

This is the original text as written by The Gawain Poet in the North West Midland dialect of Middle English. You may wish to recite this or alternatively to recite the modern translation by Simon Armitage, available in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Simon Armitage, published by Faber and Faber Ltd. This is the only alternative translation which may be used for the competition.

Mony klyf he ouerclambe in contrayez straunge,
Fer floten fro his frendez fremedly he rydez.
At vche warþe oþer water þer þe wy3e passed
He fonde a foo hym byfore bot ferly hit were,
And þat so foule and so felle þat fe3t hym byhode.
So mony meruayl bi mount þer þe mon fyndez,
Hit were to tore for to telle of þe tenþe dole.
Sumwhyle wyth wormez he werrez and with wolues als,
Sumwhyle wyth wodwos þat woned in þe knarrez,
Boþe wyth bullez and berez and borez oþerquyle,
And etaynez þat hym anelede of þe he3e felle;
Nade he ben du3ty and dry3e and dry3tyn had serued,
Douteles he hade ben ded and dreped ful ofte.
For werre wrathed hym not so much þat wynter was wors,
When þe colde cler water fro þe cloudez schadden,
And fres er hit falle my3t to þe fale erþe;
Ner slayn wyth þe slete he sleped in his yrnes
Mo ny3tez þen innoghe in naked rokkez,
Þer as claterande fro þe crest þe colde borne rennez,
And henged he3e ouer his hede in hard ysse ikkles.
Þus in peryl and payne and plytes ful harde
Bi contray cayrez þis kny3t tyl krystmasse euen,
Al one;
Be kny3t wel þat tyde
To mary made his mone,
Þat ho hym red to ryde
And wysse hym to sum wone.

Learn more about the language of this poem in the
Oxford English Dictionary:

mo  wrathed [wrath]  wone, v.  knar, n.  eten | ettin, n.