Saturday, July 24, 2021

Piers Plowman and the 'Hood

Nope, never read Piers Plowman, written in the late 1400's.  But many have, and there's a new translation (from Middle English) available.

This reviewer notes that the author, a fellow named Langland, knew human nature very well. is in Langland’s analysis of human nature that some of his most insightful, perennially relevant observations are visible. He notes that “wedlock sustains the world, if you want to know the truth”—a recognition that stable, pious families serve as a bulwark against all manner of threats to human flourishing. He warns that sexual immorality results in all manner of personal and societal ills, and that those conceived outside of loving marriages often become “graceless, loveless, and worthless.”...

and: and women must eschew “the luxuries of Lust with Lucifer to languish in the estates of sloth” (wow!). They must fight sin so that it does not “overthrow conscience.” They must remain wary, lest sin lead men “to lose their lands and their lives both.” They must “work such works that pleasingly repay him [God]….and live life lawfully—almighty God likes that.” ...

"Dark Ages?"  I'd say not.

1 comment:

Grim said...

I can read Middle English without a translation, and with a little work you probably can as well; the trick is to sound out the words rather than trying to read them silently. At first it looks like gibberish, but if you sound it out you'll realize you actually know what most of them are. The only additional part is learning which words have changed meaning, and a small additional vocabulary that has fallen out of use.

But Middle English wasn't spoken in the Dark Ages, which is said to be the period after the Fall of Rome (following Petrarch, himself a Medieval of the 1300s). Middle English only arises after the Norman Conquest of 1066, well beyond Charlemagne's restoration of what he called the 'Holy Roman Empire.'