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Tony Grist

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Sir Gawain [Jun. 15th, 2011|10:13 am]
Tony Grist
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is all about aristocratic types being polite to one another. It's like Jane Austen with hauberks. The fighting- with bores (boars), bears and etains (giants)- is hurried past so we can get to the really interesting stuff- which is the paying of compliments. These guys eat a lot too. And when they want to reward themselves for some particularly fabulous act of courtesy they tuck into double portions.

I've been meaning to read this since the seventies (when I bought the copy I've been hauling from house to house.) I find I'm getting the hang of Middle English and that much of the obsolete vocabulary is guessable. They have ever so many different words for "man"-but I suppose we do too. I love the rattle of alliterative verse- and the brilliance of the scene-painting- at its best when the weather is worst.:
 
Near slain with the sleet, he slept in his irons
More nights than enough in naked rocks,
There as clattering from the crest the cold burn runs,
And hanged high over his head in hard icicles.*
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-06-16 09:35 am (UTC)

Re: Housman

I don't know a lot about Housman. He was an academic- a classics professor at Cambridge (I think-) famous for his merciless treatment of colleagues and rivals. He was also gay.
The poems were mostly written in youth- out of frustration and rejection.

Yes, you're right about Bredon Hill. She has died and the speaker is looking to follow her.

I remember hearing or reading that Housman had never actually visited Shropshire- that it was his country of the imagination- his Arcadia- but that could be nonsense.
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