The Dream of the Rood

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The Dream of the Rood
Anonymous
The Dream of the Rood is one of the earliest Christian poems in the corpus of Anglo-Saxon literature and an intriguing example of the genre of dream poetry. Like all Old English poetry, it is written in alliterative verse. Rood is from the Old English rōd "pole", specifically "crucifix". Preserved in the 10th century Vercelli Book, the poem may be considerably older, even one of the oldest works of Old English literature.
For a translation into Modern English, see The Dream of the Rood (translation).

Hwæt! Ic swefna cyst secgan wylle,
hwæt[1] mē gemǣtte tō midre nihte,
syðþan reordberend reste wunedon.
Þūhte mē þæt ic gesāwe syllicre trēow
on lyft lǣdan, lēohte bewunden,  5
bēama beorhtost. Eall þæt bēacen wæs
begoten mid golde; gimmas stōdon
fægere æt foldan scēatum, swylce þǣr fīfe wǣron
uppe on þām eaxlgespanne[2]. Behēoldon þǣr engel dryhtnes ealle
fægere þurh forðgesceaft; ne wæs ðǣr hūru fracodes gealga,  10
ac hine þǣr behēoldon hālige gāstas,
men ofer moldan, ond eall þēos mǣre gesceaft.

Syllic wæs se sigebēam, ond ic synnum fāh,
forwundod mid wommum. Geseah ic wuldres trēow,
wǣdum geweorðode, wynnum scīnan,  15
gegyred mid golde; gimmas hæfdon
bewrigene weorðlīce Wealdendes[3] trēow.
Hwæðre ic þurh þæt gold ongytan meahte
earmra ǣrgewin, þæt hit ǣrest ongan
swǣtan on þā swīðran healfe. Eall ic wæs mid sorgum[4] gedrēfed,  20
forht ic wæs for þǣre fægran gesyhðe. Geseah ic þæt fūse bēacen
wendan wǣdum ond blēom; hwīlum hit wæs mid wǣtan bestēmed,
beswyled mid swātes gange, hwīlum mid since gegyrwed.

Hwæðre ic þǣr licgende lange hwīle
behēold hrēowcearig Hǣlendes trēow,  25
oð ðæt ic gehȳrde þæt hit hlēoðrode;
ongan þā word sprecan wudu sēlesta:
"Þæt wæs gēara iū, – ic þæt gȳta geman –
þæt ic wæs āhēawen holtes on ende,
āstyred of stefne mīnum. Genāman mē ðǣr strange fēondas,  30
geworhton him þǣr tō wǣfersȳne, hēton mē heora wergas hebban;
bǣron mē ðǣr beornas on eaxlum, oð ðæt hīe mē on beorg āsetton,
gefæstnodon mē þǣr fēondas genōge. Geseah ic þā Frēan mancynnes
efstan elne micle, þæt hē mē wolde on gestīgan.
Þǣr ic þā ne dorste ofer Dryhtnes word  35
būgan oððe berstan, þā ic bifian geseah
eorðan scēatas. Ealle ic mihte
fēondas gefyllan, hwæðre ic fæste stōd.
Ongyrede hine þā geong hæleð, – þæt wæs God ælmihtig! –
strang ond stīðmōd. Gestāh hē on gealgan hēanne,  40
mōdig on manigra gesyhðe, þā hē wolde mancyn lȳsan.
Bifode ic þā mē se beorn ymbclypte. Ne dorste ic hwæðre bugan to eorðan,
feallan tō foldan scēatum, ac ic sceolde fæste standan.
Rōd wæs ic ārǣred; āhōf ic rīcne Cyning,
heofona Hlāford; hyldan mē ne dorste.  45
Þurhdrifan hī mē mid deorcan næglum; on mē syndon þā dolg gesīene,
opene inwidhlemmas; ne dorste ic hira ǣnigum sceððan.
Bysmeredon hīe unc būtū ætgædere. Eall ic wæs mid blōde bestēmed,
begoten of þæs guman sīdan, siððan hē hæfde his gāst onsended.

Feala ic on þām beorge gebiden hæbbe  50
wrāðra wyrda: geseah ic weruda God
þearle þenian. Þȳstro hæfdon
bewrigen mid wolcnum Wealdendes hrǣw,
scīrne scīman, sceadu forð ēode,
wann under wolcnum. Wēop eal gesceaft,  55
cwīðdon cyninges fyll: Crīst wæs on rōde.
Hwæðere þǣr fūse feorran cwōman
tō þām Æðelinge; ic þæt eall behēold.
Sāre ic wæs mid sorgum[5] gedrēfed, hnāg ic hwæðre þām secgum tō handa,
ēaðmōd elne mycle. Genāmon hīe þǣr ælmihtigne god,  60
āhōfon hine of ðām hefian wīte; forlēton mē þā hilderincas
standan stēame bedrifenne; eall ic wæs mid strǣlum forwundod.
Ālēdon hīe ðǣr limwērigne, gestōdon him æt his līces hēafdum;
behēoldon hīe ðǣr heofenes Dryhten, ond hē hine ðǣr hwīle reste,
mēðe æfter ðām miclan gewinne. Ongunnon him þā moldern wyrcan  65
beornas on banan gesyhðe; curfon hīe ðæt of beorhtan stāne,
gesetton hīe ðǣron sigora Wealdend. Ongunnon him þā sorhlēoð galan
earme on þā ǣfentīde, þā hīe woldon eft sīðian,
mēðe fram þām mǣran Þēodne; reste hē ðǣr mǣte weorode.
Hwæðere wē ðǣr grēotende[6] gōde hwīle  70
stōdon on staðole, stefn[7] up gewāt
hilderinca; hrǣw cōlode,
fæger feorgbold. Þā ūs man fyllan ongan
ealle tō eorðan; þæt wæs egeslic wyrd!
Bedealf ūs man on dēopan sēaþe; hwæðre mē þǣr Dryhtnes þegnas,  75
frēondas gefrūnon,
gyredon mē golde ond seolfre.

Nū ðū miht gehȳran, hæleð mīn se lēofa,
þæt ic bealuwara weorc gebiden hæbbe,
sārra sorga. Is nū sǣl cumen  80
þæt mē weorðiað wīde and sīde
menn ofer moldan and eall þēos mǣre gesceaft,
gebiddaþ him tō þyssum bēacne. On mē Bearn Godes
þrōwode hwīle; for þan ic þrymfæst nū
hlīfige under heofenum, and ic hǣlan mæg  85
ǣghwylcne ānra þāra þe him bið egesa tō mē.
Iū ic wæs geworden wīta heardost,
lēodum lāðost, ǣr þan ic him līfes weg
rihtne gerȳmde, reordberendum.
Hwæt, mē þā geweorþode wuldres Ealdor  90
ofer holmwudu, heofonrīces Weard,
swylce swā hē his mōdor ēac, Marīan sylfe,
ælmihtig God for ealle menn
geweorðode ofer eall wīfa cynn.

Nū ic þē hāte, hæleð mīn se lēofa,  95
þæt ðū þās gesyhðe secge mannum,
onwrēoh wordum þæt hit is wuldres bēam,
se ðe ælmihtig god on þrōwode
for mancynnes manegum synnum
ond Adomes ealdgewyrhtum.  100
Dēað hē þǣr byrigde, hwæðere eft dryhten ārās
mid his miclan mihte mannum tō helpe.
Hē ðā on heofenas āstāg. Hider eft fundaþ
on þysne middangeard mancynn sēcan
on dōmdæge Dryhten sylfa,  105
ælmihtig God and his englas mid,
þæt hē þonne wile dēman, se āh dōmes geweald,
ānra gehwylcum swā hē him ǣrur hēr
on þyssum lǣnum līfe geearnaþ.
Ne mæg þǣr ǣnig unforht wesan  110
for þām worde þe se Wealdend cwyð:
frīneð hē for þǣre mænige hwǣr se man sīe,
se ðe for Dryhtnes naman dēaðes wolde
biteres onbyrigan, swā hē ǣr on ðām bēame dyde.
Ac hīe þonne forhtiað, ond fēa þencaþ  115
hwæt hīe tō Crīste cweðan onginnen.
Ne þearf ðǣr þonne ǣnig anforht[8] wesan
þe him ǣr in brēostum bereð bēacna sēlest;
ac ðurh ðā rōde sceal rīce gesēcan
of eorðwege ǣghwylc sāwl,  120
sēo þe mid Wealdende wunian þenceð."

Gebæd ic mē þā tō þām[9] bēame blīðe mōde,
elne mycle, þǣr ic āna wæs
mǣte werede. Wæs mōdsefa
āfȳsed on forðwege, feala ealra gebād  125
langunghwīla. Is mē nū līfes hyht
þæt ic þone sigebēam sēcan mōte
āna oftor þonne ealle men,
well weorþian. Mē is willa tō ðām
mycel on mōde, and mīn mundbyrd is  130
geriht tō þǣre rōde. Nāh ic rīcra feala
frēonda on foldan, ac hīe forð heonon
gewiton of worulde drēamum, sōhton him wuldres Cyning,
lifiaþ nū on heofenum mid Hēahfædere,
wuniaþ on wuldre; and ic wēne mē  135
daga gehwylce hwænne mē Dryhtnes rōd,
þe ic hēr on eorðan ǣr scēawode,
on þysson lǣnan līfe gefetige
ond mē þonne gebringe þǣr is blis mycel,
drēam on heofonum, þǣr is dryhtnes folc  140
geseted tō symle, þǣr is singāl blis,
ond mē[10] þonne āsette þǣr ic syþþan mōt
wunian on wuldre, well mid þām hālgum
drēames brūcan. Sī mē Dryhten frēond,
se ðe hēr on eorþan ǣr þrōwode  145
on þām gealgtrēowe for guman synnum;
hē ūs onlȳsde ond ūs līf forgeaf,
heofonlicne hām. Hiht wæs genīwad
mid blēdum and mid blisse þām þe þǣr bryne þolodan.
Se Sunu wæs sigorfæst on þām sīðfate,  150
mihtig and spēdig, þā hē mid manigeo cōm,
gāsta weorode, on Godes rīce,
Anwealda ælmihtig, englum tō blisse
and eallum ðām hālgum þām þe on heofonum ǣr
wunedon on wuldre, þā heora Wealdend cwōm,  155
ælmihtig God, þær his ēðel wæs.

Notes[edit]

  1. MS hæt
  2. MS eaxlegespanne
  3. MS wealdes
  4. MS surgum
  5. Sorgum supplied by editors; not in MS
  6. MS reotende
  7. MS syððan
  8. MS unforht
  9. MS þan
  10. MS he