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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

A New Verse Translation


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"Compulsively readable. ... Simon Armitage has given us an energetic, free-flowing, high-spirited version."—Edward Hirsch, New York Times Book Review

One of the earliest great stories of English literature after ?Beowulf?, ?Sir Gawain? is the strange tale of a green knight on a green horse, who rudely interrupts King Arthur's Round Table festivities one Yuletide, challenging the knights to a wager. Simon Armitrage, one of Britain's leading poets, has produced an inventive and groundbreaking translation that "[helps] liberate ?Gawain ?from academia" (?Sunday Telegraph?).


“Drives the force of the old poem through the green Armitrage fuse. Highly charged work.” — Seamus Heany, Nobel Prize-winning translator of Beowulf

“Simon Armitrage's luscious version of ?Sir Gawain and the Green Knight? continues the tradition of great poet-translators such as Edward FitzGerald, Arthur Waley, and Seamus Heaney. Like them, he has taken an artifact from a remote era and made it his own, while simultaneously restoring it to itself.” — John Ashbery

“Brilliantly orchestrated.... Armitrage has produced a brilliantly well-tuned modern score for one of the finest surviving examples of Middle English poetry.” — Poetry Review

“[Armitrage's] version inventively recreates the original's gnarled, hypnotic muscle, its vivid tableaux and landscapes, its weird, unsettling drama.” — Mark Ford, Financial Times

“A free and wonderfully offbeat version of this unusual masterpiece... fresh and startling, as though it had been written yesterday; it is rough-knuckled and yet it sings.... From start to finish, Mr. Armitrage has clearly had great fun; each of his words has been tasted with gusto.” — Eric Ormsby, New York Sun

“Full of make-believe and festivity, this wonderful narrative poem possesses a Mozartean lightness and wit. Luckily, several modern versions, particularly those by W.S. Merwin and Simon Armitrage, deftly replicate much of the feel and rhythm of the Middle English original.” — Michael Dirda, Wall Street Journal

“I enjoyed it greatly for its kick and music; its high spirits, its many memorable passages. I enjoyed it because, like the Gawain poet, Armitrage is some storyteller.” — Kevin Crossley-Holland, The Guardian

“Armitrage makes it utterly, even compulsively readable, and as fresh as it must have been in 1400.” — Brian Morton, Sunday Herald


Winner — New York Times Notable Selection, 2008

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