A New Verse Translation

Simon Armitage (Translator, Oxford)

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Overview | Formats

Winner of the 2017 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation 

From the acclaimed translator of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a spellbinding new translation of this classic allegory of grief and consolation.

One of our most ingenious interpreters of Middle English, Oxford Professor of Poetry Simon Armitage is celebrated for his “compulsively readable” translations (New York Times Book Review). A perfect complement to his historic translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl reanimates another beloved Medieval English masterpiece thought to be by the same anonymous author and housed in the same original fourteenth-century manuscript. Honoring the rhythms and alliterative music of the original, Armitage’s virtuosic translation describes a man mourning the loss of his Pearl—something that has “slipped away.” What follows is a tense, fascinating, and tender dialogue weaving through the throes of grief toward divine redemption. Intricate and endlessly connected, Armitage’s lyrical translation is a circular and perfected whole, much like the pearl itself.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • February 2017
  • ISBN 978-1-63149-254-9
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 160 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverPearl: A New Verse Translation


Endorsements & Reviews

“[Armitage] conveys that feeling of the almost-but-not-quite comprehensible, the feeling that can make medieval art at once eerie and wonderful ….Strange art of this kind can give voice to the inarticulable…[By] the end of the poem, via Armitage’s translation (“longing for her”) and the unfolding of the allegory, that sad phrase—literally, love-longing—makes emotional sense. Across centuries, across languages, from dreams into waking life: the speech of the heart invites translation of many kinds.” — The New Yorker

“As ever, what makes Armitage’s work so inviting is his approachable turn of phrase…this is an emotional and religious meditation…Armitage continues to contribute the same service to culture as Carson, Heaney, Hughs and Graves; he gives blood transfusions to the texts which deserve preservation.” — Huffington Post, UK

“To a modern reader, the simple clarity of the medieval cosmos – with its binary oppositions of saved and damned, flawless and flawed, pearl and dust – is striking. The medieval narrative is therefore not unclear, but instead layered, recursive, ornamented…Re-presenting a simpler eschatology, polishing and burnishing it for today’s reader: this is Armitage’s great success as jeweller.” — The London Magazine

“[An] expert translation. . . . Armitage successfully and exquisitely translates this classic poem, providing readers with a clear and complete version that honors the original.” — Library Journal

“With his new translation of Pearl, Armitage again makes a medieval classic sing for a new audiences.” — ABC, Australia

Also by Simon Armitage All

  1. Book CoverThe Death of King Arthur: A New Verse Translation


  2. Book CoverThe Odyssey: A Dramatic Retelling of Homer's Epic


  3. Book CoverSir Gawain and the Green Knight

    A New Verse Translation / Paperback

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