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Featured Poem: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Written by Isobel Lobo, 12th September 2022

This week's Featured Poem is read by Adam and features an extract taken from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, translated by Bernard O'Donoghue.

For September, all our Featured Poems will be extracts taken from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The epic poem tells the tale of Sir Gawain, a knight of King Arthur’s Round Table, as he accepts a bargain from a mysterious stranger who identifies as the ‘Green Knight’. The Green Knight challenges any person in the court to strike him with an axe, and he, in turn, will return the strike in a year.

This text features on this year’s The Reader Bookshelf, which focuses on the theme of Light & Darkness. To find out more about the Bookshelf a link can be found here.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (extract)

After Christmas comes shrivelling Lent

that tries the body with fish and dry bread.

Then the earth’s weather weakens the winter:

The cold shrinks underground, the clouds draw up


The bright rain falls in warming showers,

straight on to the ground so that flowers appear.

Both meadows and fields are covered in green;

birds hurry to build and sing with excitement

out of joy at the summer that follows so sweetly

all over the hills.

Blossoms swell and bloom

in dense, reckless array,

and rich notes, unpausing,

are heard throughout the wood.

After the soft breeze of the summer season

and the west wind that fan seeds and grasses,

the growth is abundant that issues all round,

when the soaking dew drops off the leaves

with the touch of heaven that the warm sun brings.

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