“That he dares to stoutly exchange one stroke for another...And I will stand still for your stroke, steady on the floor,/ Providing you honor my right, when my inning comes,/ to repay.”
One day at the Round Table, a green knight walks in. The Green Knight asks the knights to play a game with him.
“I myself am the weakest, of course, and in wit the most feeble;/ My life would be least missed, if we let out the truth..And since I have asked for it first, let it fall to me.”
King Arthur steps up to accept the game, but Sir Gawain tells him that he is more worthless and then proceeds to accept the game.
“Sir Gawain laid hold of the ax and he hefted it high,/ His pivot foot thrown forward before him on the floor,/ And then, swiftly, he slashed at the naked neck.”
Sir Gawain accepts the Green Knight’s ax and chops off the Green Knight’s head. The Green Knight carries his head away and leaves.
“She swiftly unfastened the sash that encircled her waist...And she pressed the sash upon him and begged him to take it,/ And Gawain did, and she gave him the gift with great pleasure/ And begged him, for her sake, to say not a word,/ And to keep it hidden from her lord. And he said he would.”
(Lines 211, 241-244)
Sir Gawain goes to fill his half of the deal and stays at a lord’s castle for a few days. The wife of the lord gives him a sash that will protect his life. Sir Gawain does not tell the lord of this.
“He raises that ax up lightly and flashes it down,/ And that blinding bit bites in at the knight’s bare neck-/ But hard as he hammered it down, it hurt him no more/ Than to nick the nape of his neck, so it split the skin.”
The Green Knight strikes Gawain, but he barely cuts his neck.
“That sash you wear by your scabbard belongs to me; My own wife gave it to you, as I ought to know./ I know, too, of your kisses and all your words/ And my wife’s advances, for I myself arranged them. It was I who sent her to test you.”
The Green Knight speaks of how he tested Gawain and how he passed it except for keeping the secret of the sash. They make amends and part ways.