Audelay’s Marcolf and Solomon and the Langlandian Tradition
Although James Simpson is right to note that both PPl on Audelay’s Marcolf and Solomon show a reluctance to express criticisms of the church too strongly, nevertheless Audelay differs from L in expressing undisguised admiration for the friars’ way of life. On the question of endowment the two poets are diametrically opposed, L being against and Audelay for it; Audelay does not engage in the anticlericalism of the Langlandian tradition. The two poems share many alliterative phrases, but they are part of the common stock of the alliterative tradition. Pearsall contends that the Langlandian feel of Marcolf and Solomon is known by intuition, not solid textual evidence—other than that provided by Audelay’s reference to Meed. These similarities show not that L influenced Audelay, but that both poets drew upon a common tradition. The reference to Meed in Marcolf and Solomon may only be the result of the attainment of Piers the Plowman and his story of a place in popular mythology. Pearsall’s goal is not to deny that Audelay might have known PPl, but to provide a fresh explanation of the relations between PPl and Marcolf and Solomon.
In My Wyl and My Wrytyng: Essays on John the Blind Audelay, ed. by Susanna Fein (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2009), pp. 138-52.