This designation of our temporary habitat is a frequent one in Old and Middle English literature. J.R.R. Tolkien removed it from its proper place in Reality to his fictional fantasy-land of the Hobbits. He did no favor to us by that displacement. We need to get re-situated in Real Middle Earth. Here is a very good description of it by the 14th century English poet William Langland, in his Dream-Vision of Piers Plowman.
“And I dreamt a marvelous dream – I was in a Wilderness, I could not tell where, and looking Eastward I saw a tower high up against the Sun, and spendidly built on top of a hill – and far beneath it was a great gulf, with a Dungeon in it, surrounded by deep, dark pits, dreadful to see. But between the Tower and the Gulf I saw a smooth plain, thronged with all kinds of people, high and low together, moving busily about their worldly affairs.”
After a great deal more concerning the vast plain full of all kinds of people, plus a great horde of rats, and with them, more than a thousand little mice, who present a drama telling how to deal with the Cat, who is a tyrant. “And what this dream means, you folk must guess for yourselves, for I haven’t the courage to tell you…” That is the Prologue. Book One begins with “The Teaching of Holy Church” who promises to show us the meaning of the Mountain, the Dark Valley, and the Plain full of people. This is Middle Earth.
The Tower on the hill is the home of Truth, and He would have you obey His Word. For He is the Father of Faith, who created you all, giving you a body and five senses with which to worship Him while you dwell below…
Then I begged Her in God’s Name to tell me the meaning of the fearful Dungeon in the dark Abyss. That is the castle of Sorrow. Whoever enters there may well curse the day he was born. In it there lives a creature called Wrong, who begat Falsehood, and first founded the Dungeon. It was he who persuaded Adam and Eve to sin, who tempted Cain to murder his brother, and enticed Judas with the Jews’ silver and then hanged him on an elder tree. He thwarts love and deceives everyone: those who trust in his riches are the first to be betrayed….
There are twenty Books or Chapters of this kind of vivid, true to life, brilliantly colored and lively characters with Abstract Names, such as Pride, Lechery, Envy, Anger, Avarice, Gluttony, Sloth, but decked out in the most lively animation, bringing these seven deadly sins, and all other such human faculties as Thought, Intelligence, Study and Learning with the necessary virtues in holy array! What a wonderful Theater of the Real for our jaded, decadent, perdition-prone Society!
Highly Recommended! Surely available at a Library near you or from Amazon.com
P.S. Harry Potter opens wide the Door to Hell.