Title Background

Trajan the Dreamer and Recklessness in <i>Piers Plowman</i>, the Dreamer and Recklessness in <i>Piers Plowman</i>

Trajan the Dreamer and Recklessness in Piers Plowman, the Dreamer and Recklessness in Piers Plowman

Editors of PPl disagree about who speaks lines 153–318 in B.11: Schmidt assigns the whole of this passage to Trajan, who enters the poem at B.11.140, declaring ‘baw for bokes!’, and continues to speak until B.11.318; in Kane-Donaldson, however, Trajan stops speaking at B.11.152, and the rest of the passage is spoken by the dreamer. Burrow argues, with Schmidt, that Trajan speaks the whole passage. These lines unfold a coherent argument as spoken by Trajan, but they offer an account of salvation that is at odds with the dreamer’s understanding at this point in the poem. All editors of PPl assign the corresponding lines in the C text to Recklessness, who takes over from Trajan at C.12.90. Burrow, however, argues that Trajan speaks these lines too. The long speech ending at C.12.128 has little in common with Recklessness’s other speech in this version of the poem, which is a tirade against learning. When the dreamer says ‘Thus Rechelesnesse in a rage aresenede Clergie […]’ at C.13.129, he refers back to the earlier tirade, and does not identify Recklessness as the speaker of the preceding lines.


Yearbook of Langland Studies, 31 (2017), 73–86.


Burrow, John