Gawain Matters

Simon Armitage

It is almost fifty years ago that I first gained some acquaintance with the wonderful 14th century poem called ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’.

Since that time I have grown to love and respect its wonderful wit and craftsmanship more deeply.

Those of us who are lucky enough to gain experience of the subtlety of its ‘song’ necessarily become guardians of it; and we should then, as trully and faithfully as we may, bring others to an appreciation of the poem’s charms.

When I first read Mr. Simon Armitage’s version of ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ I found it poor, silly and unmannerly. This has prompted me to at last make my own translation of it, and to record the poem both in translation and in the original Middle English.

I am now ready to present my full opinion as to the unmannerliness and silliness of Mr Armitage’s version, and to question the seemingly uncritical regard and acclaim that it has since received.

A critical essay and videos concerning Simon Armitage’s 2007 translation of Sir Gawain and The Green Knight may be found here:

‘Oh! What a Splendidly Silly Sprig of Holly!!’ – ESSAY