Building and Ploughing: Some Connections between T. S. Eliot’s The Rock and William Langland’s Piers Plowman
Outlines some connections between T. S. Eliot’s The Rock choruses of 1933, a commission from the Forty-Five Churches Fund of the Diocese of London, and PPl. For example: the Rock, Eliot’s protagonist, is like Piers in exhorting his listeners via agricultural metaphors. Images of sowing and harvesting are replaced by the central image of building, as in PPl. Both works equate building with writing and emphasize the rewards of community life. The ‘wasters’ of PPl are akin to the ‘Unemployed’ of The Rock. While there are no direct allusions to PPl in Eliot’s first attempt at dramatic verse, L’s achievement underlies The Rock, which attests to ‘the extraordinary coherence between Eliot’s poems and his critical ideas’ (p. 115).
New Literatures of Old: Dialogues of Tradition and Innovation in Anglophone Literature, ed. by José Ramón Prado-Pérez and Dídac Llorens-Cubedo (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2008), pp. 105–15.