Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Time Quotes Page 4
How we cite our quotes:
Then comes the summer season with gentle winds,
When Zephirus blows sofly on seeding grasses and plants,
Beautiful is the growth that springs from the seed,
When the moistening dew drips from the leaves
To await a joyful gleam of the bright sun.
(516 - 520)
Like Spring’s, Summer’s description focuses on new growth. In this case, though, the growth probably refers to that of food crops, in anticipation of the autumn harvest. Here, the wind is the power behind the transformation rather than the rain.
But then autumn comes quickly and urges it on,
Warns it to ripen before winter’s approach.
Dry winds of autumn force the dust to fly
From the face of the earth high into the air;
Fierce winds of heaven wrestle with the sun,
Leaves are torn from the trees and fall to the ground,
And all withered is the grass that was green before.
Then all ripens and rots that had sprung up first,
And in so many yesterdays the year wears away.
(521 - 529)
Here again, wind is the precipitating factor for the defining events of autumn: it causes dust storms and falling leaves. Here, however, the focus is not on new growth but upon decay: "all ripens and rots that had sprung up first." This idea echoes the one with which the passage began, of time bringing change in its wake.
And winter comes round again, as custom requires,
Until the Michaelmas moon
Brought hint of winter’s frost;
And into Gawain’s mind
Come thoughts of his grim quest.
(530 - 535)
The turning of the season from fall to winter is what causes Gawain to remember this quest. In this way, his life is made to seem bound up with that of the natural world. The seasons dictate what he must do, like they do for flowers, birds, or harvest plants