The Pearl Recitals

Recently I had one of the most important artistic experiences of my life. It was subtle but powerful, and took the form of the rediscovery of some works that I had already known. These were the poems of the fourteenth century writer who is known only as the Pearl/Gawain poet. Like many students, I had read them, mainly in translation, thought them surprisingly good, and then passed on.

Firstly, I had assumed as many do, that the archaic language and impossible spelling of the text made a 'translation' an essential tool for the modern reader. For the modern reader that may be the case, but for the modern listener that is most certainly not true, as these poems were intended to be read aloud. As soon as I did this the extraordinary music of the poetry became apparent, and the alliterations which had seemed so cumbersome on the page fulfilled their true function. Nothing was mindless. The climaxes and cadences fell just right, so as to hold the attention of an audience and add a new dimension to the poetry, which was beautiful as music alone. The sense of drama is electrifying.

 Scene from the Pearl Trilogy

Pearl Audio readings [Mp3]:

St. Erkenwald : 625kb
Noah's Flood 1 : 545kb
Noah's Flood 2 : 273kb
Noah's Flood : 720kb
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