Title Background

The Liturgical Perspectives of <i>Piers Plowman</i> B XVI-XIX., XVI-XIX.

The Liturgical Perspectives of Piers Plowman B XVI-XIX., XVI-XIX.

[Has escaped earlier bibliographical notice] Argues that the many liturgical allusions of B.16-19 form a coherent perspective upon the events of those passus, and that such a perspective must influence our view of the Dreamer, since the liturgy offers an enactment of the central myths of a culture and “incontrovertibly asserts its absolute relevance” to the present. The second dream-within-a-dream establishes the Dreamer, in his desire to know and taste the apple, as participating in a re-enactment of Adarn’s sin. The following dreams, based on the liturgy, allow his participation in the re-enactment of the Resurrection. The three dreams of B.16-19 are linked to specific days in the liturgical calendar: the Samaritan episode with Mid-Lent Sunday and Passion Sunday; the Harrowing of Hell with Palm Sunday, Holy Week and the Annunciation; and the vision of the resurrected Christ with Easter Sunday. just as Septuagesima commemorates the time during which mankind departed from the true service of God, so Lent, in commemorating the Exilic wandering, implies the call to salvation. The narratives presented in the Lenten liturgy and B.16-19 are likewise concerned with conversion and transition. Although the general movement is from sin to grace, the Dreamer still falls asleep at Easter Mass; there has been no Easter Confession or Easter Communion. The Dreamer fails to recognize the risen Christ in Piers “peynted al blody” (19.6). He must still learn an active mode of belief (i.e., love) which lives his faith. The final dream insists on the importance of the Church, its liturgy and sacraments.

Volume

Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History ns 3 (1980): 87-155.

Author

Vaughan, M. R.