Title Background

Response to Andrew Galloway’s “<i>Piers Plowman</i> and the Subject of the Law”

Response to Andrew Galloway’s “Piers Plowman and the Subject of the Law”

The respondent reassesses a cluster of critical opinion (Middleton, Green, Galloway) on the question of law, labor, and idleness by asking about the extent to which classical antecedents on idleness, otium, shape L’s sense of poetic authority, his sense that “action, not idleness, is key.” L also associates labor with the bodily “with dung (B.4.145-48), which itself has a complex symbolic meaning involving not only labor but “satire, money, London, and upland simultaneously.” One must also make something of Reason’s bet in this passage (“And if ye werchen it in werk, I wedde myn eris”[146]), and the successive end-line links that generate a pun on “eris”and “dung.” We can begin also to think about gender by discerning how Warren Widsom and Witty’s relationship accords with that of Wit and Study, a linking that raises also the possibilities of queer reading “right where Wit winks at the dreamer.


YLS 15 (2001): 134-39

Cross Reference



Bishop, Louise M.