Poetry at the Post: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in 101 tweets by Eric Weiskott

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, as translated by A.S. Kline

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (from original manuscript, artist unknown)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (from original manuscript, artist unknown)

Soon as the siege and assault had ceased at Troy,
the burg broken and burnt to brands and ashes,
the traitor who trammels of treason there wrought
was tried for his treachery, the foulest on earth.

Last year while reading Beowulf and googling everything I could find on the topic, I landed on a “tweet translation” by Stanford medievalist (and “text technologies”) researcher Elaine Treharne, who neatly compressed Beowulf into 100 tweets( #BEOW100)  as a way of engaging her students in a look at “Beowulf from Then ’til Now.”

Intrigued by Treharne’s endeavor, I attempted to replicate her task by tweeting Song of Roland in 291 tweets (#SOR291). It was tedious and half way through, I almost gave up. I was constantly frustrated by forcing meaty text into 140 characters yet the process gave me an inside look into this medieval classic and made me understand how difficult it is to create a “really good translation.”

So, I thought I was done with all of this “tweeting the classics stuff,”  but via the marvels of the small world over the net, I was connected with medieval specialist Eric Weiskott who now plans to continue the “tweetization’ of medieval texts with his “translation” of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Look for #SG101 in the very near future.

Lady Bertilak at Gawain's bed (from original manuscript, artist unknown)
Lady Bertilak at Gawain’s bed (from original manuscript, artist unknown)

Having never read this 14th century chivalric romance. I’ll be adding Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, to the reading list in The Global Reading Group. Send me a note if you’d like to join. And, yes, we will be looking at Weiskott’s translation along with A. S. Kline’s and others. It should be a fun read!

And when this Britain was built by this baron rich,
bold men were bred therein, of battle beloved,
in many a troubled time turmoil that wrought.

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