I just finished reading Tolkien’s translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
I’d read the story before (not really one of my favorites) but had never experienced J.R.R.’s alliterative verse before.
It’s fun to read out loud:
“At whiles with worms he wars, and with wolves also”
Thousands of lines and nearly every line has 3-5 words with the same beginning consonant.
This epic was so over-the-top though in it’s grandiose descriptions of even the smallest thing. I just didn’t get that much of a kick out of, for example, the several pages spent describing the tack on his horse. Oh well. I copied down this section where he is journeying through the forest, battling bad guys left and right with ridiculous frequency for the largely uninhabited north of Britain in the seventh century.
Many a cliff he climbed o’er in countries unknown,
far fled from his friends without fellowship he rode.
At every wading or water on the way that e passed
he found a foe before him, save at a few for wonder;
and so foul were they and fell that fight he must needs.
So many a marvel in the mountains he met in those lands
that ‘twould be tedious the tenth part to tell you thereof.
At whiles with worms he wars, and with wolves also,
at whiles with wood-trolls that wandered in the crags,
and with bulls and with bears and boars, too, t times;
and with ogres that founded him from the heights of the fells.
Had he not been stalwart and staunch and steadfast in God,
he doubtless would have died and death had met often;
for though war wearied him much, the winter was worse,
when the cold clear water from the clouds spilling
froze ere it had falled upon the faded earth.
Well-night slain by the sleet he slept ironclad
more nights than enow in the naked rocks,
where clattering from the crest te cold brook tumbled,
and hung high o’er his head in hard icicles.
Thus in peril and pain and in passes grievous
tll Christmas-eve that country he crossed all alone
The knight did at that tide
his plaint to Mary plead,
her rider’s road to guid
and to some lodging lead.