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Over the coming year, Open Letters will be proud to serialize Adam Golaski’s innovative translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, presenting each new part on its completion. The following section, beginning the first of the poem’s four fits, immediately precedes the first appearance of the Knight. – The Editors

first fit, first part

{an histoire of the great kings of Bretayn}

Since ceased th’siege + assault upon Troye,

bones brok’nd brittled t’bronz’nd ashes,

that soldier who trod treason o’er th’plots’v

his enemies was tried f’r treachery tho

agile Ennias, of th’truest on Earth, of high kind,

haunted by shade Dido, was worth th’wonder

wealth’v all th’west isles——

From rich milk’v wolf-mother Romulus

rose Rome’nd’n its captured riches Romulus was

swath’d. W/ arrogance he built his name

upon a hill + took Palatine t’Romulus t’Rome——

Tirius traveled t’Tuscany he built beginnings,

Langaberde’n Lombardy left us houses,

+ far o’er th’French floods Felix Brutus

on many full banks built Bretayn + sits

w/ one

where war’nd wreck’nd wonder

by surprise has went therein,

+ oft both bliss’nd blunder

fool hope shifted t’sin.

When Bretayn was built by Baron Felix Brutus rich,

brethren bold were born therein that loved t’fight, in-

deed ten times’nd more of warring much was written.

Marvels have fallen + unfolded here more often

than’n’any other country I know, since that early time.

But of all the kings I’ve read what is written,

Arthur is the most chivalrous in Bretayn.

|| Forthwith a wonder’v adventure I’ll attempt to show,

a selly in th’sight’v some (I’m not w/holding),

An outrageous adventure, an Arthur-wonder­——

If you will listen t’this lay but f’r’a little while,

I shall tell it, as it, as I intend’t t’be heard——

{ of the Round Table on New Year’s Eve }

Arthur——

this king lay at Camylot upon Christmastime

w/ many lovely lord’nd ladies’v th’best.

Reckon th’brethren’v th’Round Table all

rich mirth, rich feasting’nd reckless reveling,

their tournaments taken by turn, harmoniously,

jousting, joyously, these gentle-knights, these jolly

knights

set forth t’th’court they carry carols t’make

merry

for there th’feast lasts a full fifteen days

w/ all th’meat + th’mirth that men could envision.

——All

th’wealth’v th’world + they wanted kin familiar,

those most kind knights under Christ’s sacrifice, under His salvation,

+ th’loveliest look’n ladies ever that lived

+ th’most chivalrous king th’court s ev’r had.

The happiest under Heaven,

under king’nd kingly will;

his knights now the greatest known,

th’hardiest upon th’hill

+

th’queen,

the comeliest to describe

w/ eye that glinted gray,

that any other looked like her

no man would ever say.

While th’New Year was so young that it was

now——

Now Arthur would not eat till all were served.

He was so jolly’nd joyful, + child-geared

his life liked him + he loved the least’v’t.

Another might lounge long or long sit,

but Arthur’s young blood hurried him’nd his wild mind

now——

+ also another custom kept:

he’d neither quench his thirst nor would ever eat

upon such a dear day till described to him was

some adventurous thing, an incredible tale’v

some miracle that must be believed,

of elders, of armies, or of other adventures now——

waiting

thus, there stood stalled th’stalwart king himself,

talking’v trifles before the high table t’those at hand:

good Gawain Gwenore

Agrauayn

Bishop Bawdewyn

Ywan, Vryn’s son

+ many noble knights——

Such gaiety’nd glee glorious + right;

dear din all day’nd dancing upon th’night.

{ th’feast }

+ w/ th’crackling’v trumpets th’first courses came, +

w/ many a banner bright’nd full, hung there by +

now w/ drum noise + noble pipes, pipes that pipe w/

wild trills + w/ strong sounds woke words

all

that heard were touched + raised drink’nd clamor + rose

they rose

w/ delight + w/ delight were drawn forthwith to a

a table full’v dear meat,

abundant eating, copious fresh dishes so full,

so much served a place could scarcely b’set f’r

th’silver vessels’v soup t’rest upon

th’cloth.

Each led as he loved himself

t’take gladly w/out loathe;

Every two had dishes twelve,

good beer and bright wine both.

|| Of their service I’ll now say no more.

Each, you well wit, had not a thing to want for——

____
Adam Golaski is the author of the story collection Worse Than Myself (Raw Dog Screaming Press, 2008) and of Color Plates (Rose Metal Press, 2009). Adam co-edited A Sing Economy, the latest anthology from Flim Forum Press, and he is the editor of New Genre, a journal that promotes craftsmanship and innovation in horror and science fiction. He teaches literature and writing at the University of Connecticut.

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