The stanza pattern used in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a Middle English chivalric romance, is called the “Bob and Wheel.” This pattern occurs when a short line (“the bob”) is followed by internally rhymed longer lines (“the wheel”).
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is one of the most famous poetic romances written in medieval England. It is one of the well-known stories connected to the legendary King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The poem’s plot focuses on Sir Gawain. He accepts a challenge from a legendary Green Knight during a Christmas feast. Throughout the story, he faces trials and overcomes temptations.
The combination of tradition and novelty describes the romance dated back to the late 14th century. One such example is the use of a particular stanza structure while following the norms of alliterative poetry. The romance uses the “Bob and Wheel” pattern. It is a section of five lines consisting of a short line comprised of two syllables (“the bob”) followed by “the wheel”, internally rhymed longer lines.
Let’s take a look at the example. In the given part, the bob is written in green, and the wheel is in red. You can also see the rhyming components in bold.
“And fer over the French flod Felix Brutus
On mony bonkkes ful brode Bretayn he settes with wynne,
Where werre and wrake and wonder
Bi sythes has wont therinne,
And oft bothe blysse and blunder
Ful skete has skyfted synne.”
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight survives in the only manuscript – Cotton MS Nero A X. It is preserved in the British Library. The author of the romance remains unidentified. However, scientists believe that “The Gawain poet” was from Cheshire in the North-West Midlands region of England. The romance contains many Old Norse words and forms characteristic for the northern dialect of Middle English.