The Dream of the Rood
 

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Now we must honor heaven’s warden,
the power of the Creator, and his purpose—
work of the father of glory, as he of every miracle,
the everlasting Lord, established the beginning.
He first shaped for the sons of the earth,
heaven for the roof. The holy Creator,
mankind’s warden, then Earth,
the everlasting Lord afterward adorned
the earth for people, the master almighty.

--Caedmon's Hymn

 

 

Listen! I wish to declare the best dream!

Listen! I mused in mid-night

while speech-bearers slept in their beds.

It seemed to me that I saw a splendid tree

lifted into the air, enveloped by light,

brightest of beams. All of that beacon was covered with gold; beautiful gems shone

fair from the corners of the earth; likewise         there were five

up on the shoulder-clasp. There angels               beheld the Lord, all

fair for forever— certainly the gallows of             the feckless one were not there—

but the holy ghosts beheld  them there,

men over the mould and all this majestic           creation.

The victory tree was wonderful; I, stained         by sin,

wounded sorely with wickedness. I saw             a tree of wonder

adored with a drape delightfully shine,

garnished with gold. They had gems

which worthily covered the Ruler’s tree.

Yet through that gold I might grasp

 

the wretcheds’ former strife—that it first           began

to sweat blood from the right side. I was             all afflicted with sorrows;

I was frightened by the fair sight! I saw               that beacon, fain for death,

change coverings and color: at times it               was drenched with wet blood,

soaked with a flow of sweat even while              adorned with treasure.

Nevertheless I there lay a long while.

Sorrowful, I studied the Savior’s tree,

until I heard that it spoke;

the noblest wood began to speak these               words:

‘It was years ago—that I still remember—

that I was felled from the edge of the                   forest,

removed from my root. Strong fiends                 seized me there,

They made a spectacle of me there,                     commanded me to raise up their                   criminals.

Men bore me there on their shoulders               until they set me on a butte;

the many fiends fastened me there. I saw           the Lord of mankind

hasten with great heroism, so that he                 would mount me.

There I dared not—over the Lord’s                   word—

to bend or break, when I saw

the earth’s surfaces tremble. All the fiends

I might have felled when I stood fast!

They then stripped the young hero that             was God Almighty.

Strong and steadfast, he climbed onto the         dispised gallows,

noble in the sight of many when he would         redeem mankind.

I trembled then when the warrior                       embraced me; I did not dare to topple         to the earth,

to fall to the surfaces of the groud, but I             had to stand fast.

I was reared up as a cross. I raised the                 great king,

Lord of heaven; I did not dare to bend.

They pierced me with dark nails; the                   wounds were scars on me,

open, malicious wounds—I did not dare to       injure any of them.

They insulted us both together; I was all             soaked with blood

begotten from this man’s side after he had         sent forth his ghost.

‘On that hill I have experienced

fierce fates: I saw the God of hosts

severely stretched out; the darkness of                 heaven,

the Ruler’s corpse covered with clouds;

 

 a shining spleandour; a shadow go                   forth,

dark under the clouds. All of creation                 wept,

they lamented the king’s fall: Christ was             on the cross.

However, there the fervid came from afar

      to the Lord; I that beheld all.

I was sore, oppressed with sorrow, I                     bowed down to the hands of the                   soldiers

humble, with great heart. There they                     grabbed Almighty God,

they raised him from the weighty torment;           the warriors then left me

to stand covered with sweat; I was all                   wounded with shafts.

The laid the bone-weary one down there.           They stood themselves at his body’s                 head.

They beheld there heaven’s Lord and he               rested there a while,

tired after a terrible battle. Then they                   began to wreak him a tomb;

the soldiers within view of the slayer carved         it from shining rock,

They fixed therein the Ruler of victories.               They then began to sing a funeral song

sorrowful at sundown, then they                           afterwards would again set forth,

weary, away from the wonderful Lord; he             rested there with wanting company.

Yet we there grieving a good while

stood still. A shout went up

from the champions. The corpse grew               cold,

that lovely lifehouse. Then the man began         to lop us down

all to the earth. That was an awful fate!

The man burried us in the roted pit where           the thanes of the Ruler—

his friends—found out,

adorned me with gold and silver.

Now you may hear, my hero, the beloved,

 

that I have endured evil doer’s work

 

of tender trouble. The time is now come

that they worship me wide and far

men over the mould, all this majestic                 creation,

beseech themselves to this beacon. On me         the Son of God

suffered a while; therefore I, sublime, now

tower under the heavens. I may heal

each one of them who is in awe of me.

Once I was made hardest of mulcts,

most loathsome to men, until I for them           the way of life

rightly opened for the voice-bearers.

Lo! he then worshiped me, the Lord of               wonders,

over the wood of the forest, that Ward of           the Kingdom of Heaven.

just as did his mother, Mary herself,

 

Almighty God, for all men,

honored above all man’s kin.

‘Now I command you, my dear champion,

that you speak this sight to men,

reveal the words that it is a wondrous               beam

on which the Almighty God suffered

for mankind’s many sins

and Adam’s old deeds—

he tasted death there. Yet the Defender               again arose

with his majestic might to help man.

He ascended into heaven. From hither he           will hurry back

into this Middle-Earth to seek mankind

on Doomsday, the Defender himself,

Almighty God with his angels,

so that then he will judge, he who has                     control of judgment

of each and every one as he already here

        earned in this fleeting life.

There, no one will be unafriad

of the word that the Warden will say;

there, he will ask the multitude where the         man would be will be

willing of death for the Defendor’s name,

bitter to taste, as he previously died on the         beam.

And then they will shudder and scarely             think

what they could begin to say to Christ.

No one need be afraid there,

they who already bear the best beacon in         their breasts

may, through the cross, seek the Kingdom

from the earthly way—every soul

that would live with the Lord.’

I besought myself to that beam with a                 blithe heart,

great strength. There I was solitary,

a small host. My spirit was

impelled into marching forth, many in all         experienced

longing. The hope of my life is now for             myself

that I may visit the wood of victory

more often alone and then with all men,

to worship well. It is my will for the

hearty in heart and my hope of protection         is

centered on that cross. I have not a                     kingdom with many

friends on this earth, yet they forth from           here—

went from the world of joy, sought the

      wonderous King for themselves;

they live now in heaven with the High             Father,

they abide in honor. I expect

each day when the cross of the Lord,

 

which here on Earth I already beheald,

will fetch me from this fleeting life,

and bring me then into great bliss,

 

the dream in heaven. There is the                     Defender’s folk

seated to feast—there is bliss forever.

And he then would set me there since I           afterwards might

abide in honor, ably with the saints

 

to enjoy the dream. The Lord is a friend to       me

who here on earth already suffered

on the gallows-tree for mankind’s sins;

he liberated us and gave us life

in our heavenly home. Hope was renewed.

The Son was victorious in the sojourn

mighty and successful, when he came             with a multitude,

with a host of souls into the Kingdom of         God,

Sovereign Almighty. Angels of bliss

and all the holy ones who were already in         heaven

abided in honor, then their Warden came,

 

Almighty God, there his home was.