I have seen Charity sometimes in silk, sometimes in homespun; in sober grey, and in rich furs.
Will the poet sets out to roam the world in search of marvels. Lying down to rest, he falls asleep and so begins a wondrous cycle of dreams in which he makes a strange and visionary pilgrimage in search of Truth. On his travels he sees the Seven Deadly Sins mending their ways, encounters the spirit of the Soul, comes to the borders of Hell and witnesses the assaults of the Antichrist. At the heart of Will's dreams is the figure of Piers—Christ's ploughman, who alone can lead the way to Salvation. Blending highly imaginative symbolism, Christian prophecy and humor, William Langland's fourteenth-century poem is a beautiful allegory of the meaning of man's life on earth in relation to his ultimate spiritual destiny.
Piers the Ploughman, a blending of prophecy and satirical comedy, is the great representative English poem of the late Middle Ages. The work of an obscure fourteenth-century cleric, it is set against a colorful background of teeming medieval life between the "Tower of Truth" and the "Dungeon of Falsehood". With an Introduction, Notes and a book-by-book Commentary on the allegory, J.F. Goodridge's modern translation of the poem captures the flavor of Langland's vivid pictures and vernacular expressions.
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