Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Tradition and Customs Quotes Page 4
How we cite our quotes:
They put food for their hounds on a fine beast’s skin -
The liver and lights, the lining of the stomach,
And beak soaked in blood, mixed together.
(1359 - 1361)
One of the reasons the hounds enjoy hunting so much is that they know that they, too, will receive a portion of the butchered animal. In their case, it’s the animal’s guts, mixed with blood. The hunter lays this out on the deerskin, then calls the hounds to come eat it.
Then a man who was expert in hunting practice
Skillfully begins to dismember the boar.
First he cuts off the head and sets it on high,
And then roughly open s him along the spine,
Throws out the entrails, grills them over embers,
And rewards his hounds with them, mixed with bread.
(1605 - 1610)
The order of butchery for every animal differed in medieval hunting manuals; here, the boar loses his head before any other part. The dogs are given their portion before the butchering has finished.
Next he cuts out the boar’s-meat in broad glistening slabs,
And takes out the haslets, as properly follows;
Yet he fastens the two sides together unbroken,
And then proudly hangs them together on a strong pole.
Now with this very boar they gallop towards home;
Carrying the boar’s head before the same man
Who had killed it in the stream by force of his own
(1611 - 1618)
The point of the boar-butchery ritual seems to be to create an object for display, with the two sides of boar fastened together so they can be "proudly" carried on a pole and the head kept intact as a trophy for the man who slaughters it.