Reading Prophecy / Reading Piers
The prophecy uttered by Clergy in B.10.331-35, interpreted by L’s sixteenth-century readers as a prediction of the dissolution of the abbeys, is an internal reference rather than a historical one. It forecasts the attack of Antichrist in passus 20, the reference to the coming of Caym in the prophecy fulfilled by the appearance of the four orders of friars: Carmelites, Augustinians, Iacobites (Dominicans), and Minorites (Franciscans). Modern criticism of PPl too often reflects Victorian modes of reading, seeking to recuperate the poem as referring to historical reality, without sufficient regard for the internal mapping the poem provides for itself. These directives must be taken into greater account in order to construct a reading practice for the poem.
YLS 12 (1998): 153-57.
Hanna, Ralph, III