Timelines to Visualize History

A Project by the Department of Medieval English Literature and Historical Linguistics, University of Düsseldorf

Begin End Event Description Keywords Related Events
1375 1400

Pearl / Gawain Poet

The Pearl-Poet or Gawain-Poet probably lived in the second half of the 14th century. Not much is known of this author, except that he wrote Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Patience, Cleanness, and Pearl. These four poems are preserved in a unique manuscript, the BL Cotton Nero A.x.. The Pearl-Poet might possibly also be the author of St. Erkenwald, which shows structural and stylistic similarities with the other texts. Tests of phonology, syntay, accidence, rhyme and vocabulary place the poet in the Northwest Midlands area.

The Pearl-Poet's most famous works are Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Pearl.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is an Arthurian poem that centers around the titular character Sir Gawain. He accepts the challenge of a beheading game from the mysterious Green Knight that appears at the court of Arthur. Sir Gawain sets out to find the knight and eventually stays at the castle of Sir Bertilak. Eventually, he discovers that Sir Bertilak was the Green Knight and that the whole challenge was a scheme by Morgan Le Fay.

Pearl is a dream vision in which a father laments his lost daughter. When he falls asleep he sees her grown up and they discuss many topics such as for example faith.

Both poems are alliterative and meticulously constructed. The structure of Pearl, for example is completely circular – like a pearl.
Literature, Middle English Period, Poetry