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  • Writer's pictureS.D. Evans

Scooped with a ladle

The third of them took from the folds of her gown a sickle-shaped knife, which she sharpened on a stone. The old woman scooped with a ladle from the pot and gave from the potion to Gawain to drink.


Sir Gawain and the Green Maiden

Image: The Magic Circle by John Williams Waterhouse


Sir Gawain and the Green Maiden tells the story of a young man, Mark Thomas, living in a remote corner of Wales at the end of the fourteenth century, who finds himself conflicted: should he leave home for a life of adventure -- scholarship, study and travel -- or settle down and marry the woman who's set her sights on him for her husband? Matters become complicated when a travelling bard, one of the last of his kind, comes to the town. Over four nights the poet tells the tale of Gawain and the Green Maiden, seemingly affecting the would-be scholar's decision to leave. His girlfriend knows she must act if she is to keep him.

The tale told by the bard is an imagined sequel to the great medieval poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and is presented here as though in modern prose translation (though the very opening is in verse) from Middle English. The poem echoes the form of the original and sees Gawain journey into Wales to meet the challenge given by the mysterious and other-worldly Green Maiden. Mark Thomas’ tale of the progress and development of his relationship is told in his own words from the journal that he keeps while the poet is with them. Strangely, Mark Thomas faces life choices that bear comparison with those of Sir Gawain: how much obedience must a man show to the woman he loves? ​

Sir Gawain and the Green Maiden includes the full text of the poet's new tale as though translated into modern English, and provides an enthralling narrative of how it was finally delivered. The story of the end days of a generation.

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