|Random castle to set the mood. . . .|
Bright banners streamed from the vaulted ceiling in a riot of color. The Lute and Lizard Jazz Band played a mashup of medieval hits. The air was heavy with the smells of roasted stag, meat pies, and plums stewed in rosewater. It was New Year’s Day in Camelot, and King Arthur’s Court was drinking and merry-making. Arthur and Gwenivere sat at the king’s table, surrounded by knights and courtiers and a starry-eyed poet or two.
Arthur asked if anyone had an adventure to share before the feasting began. At that moment, into the Great Hall galloped a green stallion, ridden by a Green Knight — even his skin was green. In one hand, he held a battle axe; in the other, a holly bough.
Big Green issued a challenge to Arthur: "Strike me one time with this axe. If I somehow survive the blow, then you must agree to meet with me in a year and day at the Green Chapel. At that time, I will strike you."
King Arthur was on the verge of accepting this challenge, when his nephew—Sir Gawain—stepped up and accepted in the king's stead.
|Sir Gawain and the Green Knight|
Will Gawain survive his next encounter with Big Green? And who the heck is this mysterious Green Knight?
The answer to the first question will have to wait until next week when we finish the story. As for the question of the Green Knight's identity — scholars and readers have been debating that for centuries.
Some say the Green Knight is the Green Man, who appears in sculpture and architecture as a leafy face — or a face hidden among leaves — a figure frequently referenced or spoofed in literature. The Green Man is usually seen as a symbol of rebirth. Others say the Green Knight is a Christ figure. Often in Bible stories, a mysterious stranger is an angel or an incarnation of the Divine. Of course, the Pearl Poet (author of this story) may have had something else in mind than either of these.
|A Green Man sculpture|
|The Green Knight, pictured in|
The Boy's King Arthur
The plot thickens. Read Part II of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by clicking here.