William Langland Poems

Poems » william langland

William Langland
Langland's Dreamer: from an illuminated initial in a Piers Plowman manuscript held at Corpus Christi College, OxfordWilliam Langland is the conjectured author of the 14th-century English dream-vision Piers Plowman. The attribution of Piers to Langland rests principally on the evidence of a manuscript held at Trinity College, Dublin (MS 212). This directly ascribes 'Perys Ploughman' to one 'Willielmi de Langlond', son of 'Stacy de Rokayle, who died in Shipton-under-Wichwood, a tenant of the Lord Spenser in the county of Oxfordshire'. Other manuscripts also name the author as 'Robert or William langland', or 'Wilhelmus W.' (most likely shorthand for 'William of Wichwood'). The poem itself also seems to point towards Langland's authorship. At one stage the narrator remarks: 'I have lyved in londe...my name is longe wille' (B.XV.152). This can be taken as a coded reference to the poet's name, in the style of much late-medieval literature (see, for instance, Villon's acrostics in Le Testament). Although the evidence may appear slender, Langland's authorship has been widely accepted by commentators since the 1920s. It is not, however, entirely beyond dispute, as recent work by Stella Pates and C. David Benson has demonstrated.

There was a whispering in my hearth,
A sigh of the coal,
Grown wistful of a former earth... [read poem]
He sat in a wheeled chair, waiting for dark,
And shivered in his ghastly suit of grey,
Leg... [read poem]
piers plowman: the prologue
In a somer sesun, whon softe was the sonne,
I schop me into a shroud, as I a scheep wer... [read poem]
strange meeting
It seemed that out of battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
... [read poem]
dulce et decorum est
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sl... [read poem]
the parable of the old man and the young
So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And ... [read poem]
Move him into the sun--
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields uns... [read poem]

Happy are men who yet before they are killed
Can let their veins run cold.
Wh... [read poem]
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