Magazine March 23, 2009, Issue

Gawain the Green Knight

(cineuno/Getty Images)

Imagine that huge ogre glaring green
Burst in this Christmas, snorting on a charger,
Flashing a hatchet, holding a bright sprig
Of holly, thundering his cold steel challenge.

Comic almost but terrible to face
This guest, especially when all glows pleasant
Around the blazing tree so snug and green
While outside everything grips white with freezing.

Crying your lineage, “Gawain, Gawain . . .” Sir,
Accept the dare: Decapitate the monster,
Witness his black sap spurting, sticking like
Molasses on the faces of your children.

Time will not prove you braver or more strong
Than you stand at this moment; in the death grapple
Finally you shall abide his sequel blow
After black siege in …

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