Dream of the Rood
Listen, I’ll tell the loveliest of dreams,
what I dreamt in the dark of night
after reason-bearers lay at rest.
It seemed I saw a wondrous tree
led aloft, wound in light,
the brightest of beams. That beacon was
all covered with gold. Gems stood
fair at the ground’s surface; likewise there were five
up at the crossbeam. All beheld there the Angel of the Lord,
fair through eternal decree. There was no felon’s gallows there,
but holy spirits beheld him,
people of earth and all this glorious creation.
Rare was this victory-beam, and I stained in sins,
mauled by misdeeds. I saw glory’s tree,
graced with garments, shine with joy,
girded with gold. Gems had worthily covered the tree of the wild.
Yet through that gold I could glimpse
the old war of wretched ones, for it first began
to bleed on its right side. I was all driven with sorrows;
afraid I was of the fair vision. . . .
I have few friends
powerful on earth, since they have departed
from the world’s joys, sought wonder’s King,
and live now in heaven with the high Father,
dwell in glory. And every day
I look for that time when the Lord’s cross,
which I once beheld here on earth,
will fetch me in this fleeting life
and bring me where the bliss is great,
joy in heaven, where the Lord’s hosts are
seated at the banquet. Endless bliss is there.
It will set me where forever I will
dwell in wonders, taste well
happiness with the holy. May the Lord be my friend,
he who earlier suffered here on earth,
on this gallows tree for our trespasses.
He redeemed us and returned our lives,
gave us a heavenly home. Hope was renewed
among blessings with bliss for those who suffered burning there.
The Son, mighty and successful, was victorious
in that quest, when he came with many,
a host of spirits into God’s glorious kingdom,
the almighty ruler, to the bliss of angels
and all the saints who earlier dwelt in glory
in heaven, when their Creator came,
almighty Lord, back to the land of his home.
From “The Dream of the Rood,” quoted in Anglo-Saxon Spirituality: Selected Writings, translated and introduced by Robert Boenig, in the Classics of Western Spirituality series (Paulist Press, 2000).
[EDIT: Derek also has a post up about this, and links to the full version of the poem. (Old English fans can find their version here - and listen to it being read here!)]