Piers Plowman - Prologue

William Langland

In a somer seson
Whan softe was the sonne,
I shoop me into shroudes
As I a sheep weere,
In habite as an heremite
Unholy of werkes,
Wente wide in this world
Wondres to here;
Ac on a May morwenynge
On Malverne hilles
Me bifel a ferly,
Of fairye me thoghte.
I was wery forwandred
And wente me to reste
Under a brood bank
By a bournes syde;
And as I lay and lenede,
And loked on the watres,
I slombred into a slepyng,
It sweyed so murye.
Thanne gan I meten
A merveillous swevene,
That I was in a wildernesse,
Wiste I nevere where,
And as I biheeld into the eest
An heigh to the sonne,
I seigh a tour on a toft
Trieliche ymaked,
A deep dale bynethe,
A dongeon therinne,
With depe diches and derke
And dredfulle of sighte.
A fair feeld ful of folk
Fond I ther bitwene,
Of alle manere of men,
The meene and the riche,
Werchynge and wandrynge,
As the world asketh.

Piers Plowman is one of the greatest early English poems. Its conjectured author, William Langland, is thought to have been born in the West Midlands, perhaps in Worcestershire. The dialect of the poem is similar to that of the area, and these opening lines of the poem, set on the Malvern Hills, suggest a familiarity with the area.