Thursday, 19 April 2007

An extract from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.


The gracious green stranger tilted his head and lifted his hair

for all to see his neck laid bare white in the light of the hall.

Left foot forward, Gawain gripped the axe, gathered it high

and down like lightening he slashed that naked neck,

slicing asunder the bones with his blade, the fair flesh of his nape

sheared in two as if the steel that rang on the floor of the hall

had sliced through the finest fat and not that striking Knight.

That heavenly head fell fast to the earth as the fellow’s feet

flicked and kicked at it as it rolled around the room.

The blood burst from the body blackening all that was green,

yet he never faltered, nor fell forward, not for one beat

but this stout Knight moved surely on his sturdy legs and

roughly he reached out among the crowded Camelot ranks,

seizing his wonderful head and raising it for all to stare at.

He stepped to his steed and brought the bridle to his hands,

slipped into his stirrups and stood astride his beast whilst

his missing head was held by the hair, then settled into his

saddle until he was steady as if he had had no mishap, despite

his having no head.

He swung his body about

that bled and ugly trunk

and many felt the dread

by the time he’d had his say.

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