Gawain and the Green Knight
He goaded Gringolet and made his track
Close by the rocks and down the wooded way
The rougher road deep down into the dale;
And there he waited, in a lonely spot,
And saw no shelter anywhere about,
But high banks tall on either side;
(Rough-knuckled chunks of knobbled rock
They scraped the stormclouds
Scooting through the sky)
That's where he halted, pulling up his horse
Craning about - where was this 'chapel' then? -
A place where nothing could be seen
Except, quite close, a grassy knoll
(A barrow on the bank beside the brook.
That briskly boiled and bubbled to the brim
That forked and forced the flow into a flood)
"Gee up old horse, let's go and take a look"
Lightly dismounted and he tethered up
His horse against a handy linden tree
Eyeing the barrow as he stalked about.
He had to wonder what the hell it was:
It had a hole in one end, and both sides
It was all overgrown with grassy tufts
Empty inside, a shabby cave
Just some old hole
In some old knoll
"Good God!" said Gawain
"This is the 'Chapel Green'
A chapel where a demon might
Perform his rituals in the dead of night"
It's clear - he thought - The place is derelict,
Abandoned temple, overgrown with grass;
It suits the knight who is himself all green
I know he is a demon, in my bones,
He lured me here to slaughter me.
"To this Cathedral of darkness
This temple of evil."
His helmet on his head, his spear in hand
He climbed up on the grassy knoll
And then, beyond the rocks, beyond the brook,
Upon the hillside, came an awful sound.
'Whaaa...' So loud it almost split the cliff
Like scraping scythes on grindstone
'Whaaa...' Sound churning in air
Like a millstream
'Whaaa...' Ringing through the valley
Hateful to hear
"That sound", said Gawain, "Marks my end;
He's sharpening his axe to strike me down.
God's will be done
It's out of my hands now.
I'm going to die,
But, God, I won't back down."