THE DREAM OF THE ROOD 2

Posted: February 1, 2014 in Chat
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

260px-Ruthwell_002

This is a line-for-line literal translation of the whole Vercelli ms of the poem. I miss all the metrical tautness and alliteration. I hope, however, that it does give some impression of the period tone of the poem.

The Ruthwell Cross excerpts are lines 39-42, 44-45, 48-49, 56-59, 62-64

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THE DREAM OF THE ROOD

     Hwaet! Ic swefna cyst   seegan wylle

h(w)aet me gematte   to midre nihte

   sythan reordberend   reste wunedon.

Listen, I had the best of dreams – I will tell you

well I dreamed this middle night,

when word-bearers had won their rest.

I thought that I saw a wonderful tree

in the air raised, light wrapped around it

bright shining. All of that symbol was

sprinkled with gold; gems stood

fair on the earth surface, and five there were

on the tree’s axlespan. Gazed on there by angels, the Lords’ all,

fair in creation. Nor was this a felon’s gallows

but beheld there by the holy spirit

in men upon the earth and all this great creation.

Marvellous was that sign of victory, and I a guilty sinner

stained with sins. I saw glory’s tree

dressed in honour, beautifully shining

covered with gold, gems it had on it

covered magnificently, this forest tree.

However by virtue of that gold I perceived the mighty

wretched former struggle earlier, as it began

to bleed on the right-hand side. I was all with sorrow distressed

a friend I was for that beautiful vision. I saw that dressed symbol

change covering and colour; at times it was with wetness bestreamed

soaked with blood flow, at times with treasure adorned.

However I long lay there, a long while

beholding the sorrowing of the Saviour’s tree,

until, I understood, I heard it speak.

To begin with the words spoken by the wood were great:

“That was very long ago ( I still remember)

When I was hewn, at the end of the wood,

Removed from my root. Taken away by strong foes

To become then on show, bid me to bear their felon.

Bearing me on their shoulders, until on a hill they set me

Fastened on me foes. I beheld the Lord of mankind

Made haste with great strength on me to mount.

There I then durst not over the word of the Lord

Bend or break, there I saw shake

The earth surface. I might have

Struck  foes down, however I stood fast.

Stripped then they the man (that was God almighty)

Strong and resolute; he ascended the gallows

Brave in many man’s sight, that he redeem the mocked.

Trembling I was embraced by the man, nor dust I bend to earth,

Or fall to earth’s surface. But I was obliged to stand fast.

Rood was I raised up. I lifted the powerful king,

Heaven’s Lord; bend I durst not.                 45

Piercing he and me with dark nails; on me the wounds are visible,

Open malicious wounds. Nor durst I injure no one.

Mocked were we both together. I all with blood wet

Sprinkled from this man’s side, when his spirit left him.

Indeed I on the mound endured this

Cruel event. I saw God

Stretched out. Clouds had

Covered the sky altogether. The Lord’s corpse’s

Its bright radiance, overcome,

dark in shadow. All creation wept

lamenting the King’s fall. Christ was on the rood.

However, there hastened from afar coming

Followers of the Lord. I beheld all.

Sore I was with sorrow distressed, bent down to their hands

Humbled by their mighty courage.  They took away the great almighty,

The followers lifted off the heavy torment, left me a sorrowful warrior

Standing moisture drenched, as if all with arrows wounded.

They lay down the weary limbs, standing at the body’s head;

Beheld him their heaven’s Lord, then to his brief rest,

Exhausted after the mighty struggle.  They began a grave to make.

Warriors of the slain vision; cut down the bright stone,

Set him therein, the triumphant Lord. There began to sing the lament

Wretched in the evening time; then would afterwards depart

Exhausted from great joining, rested with followers.

However, they wept there a good while

Stood in position, afterwards they up and departed

Their warrior, the corpse grown cold,

Fair body. Then men cut me down again

All to earth;  that was a terrible fate!

I was buried as a man in a deep pit. Nevertheless the Lord’s followers,

His friends found me , ………………………..

Girded me with gold and silver.

Now thou might adorn, bend dearly to me

That am honoured far and wide

By men over the earth and all this great creation

Worship they my beacon. On me God’s Son

Suffered for a time. Therefore I am glorious to you

I rise up to heaven, and I may heal

Everyone who alone is in awe of me.

Evil people were before in life’s path,

The right way of is for speech-bearers.

Listen to me in this, honour the world’s Lord

On the wood on the hill, heaven’s Guardian

And there his mother, Mary herself,                                                              92

Of almighty God, for all men

And on behalf of all woman-kind.

Now, I who make these dear comments to you,

That this vision tell to mankind,

Disclose these words of a glorious tree,

Who saw almighty God as he suffered

For mankind, for people’s sins

And Adam’s former act.

Death he tasted; but afterwards the Lord arose

With his great might to help man.

He then to heaven ascended. Here afterwards to come

To this middle earth mankind to seek

On doomsday the Lord himself,

Almighty God, and with his angels

In judgement, with the power to judge the wretched

Every one , for what he earlier here

In this transitory life deserved.

Not able anymore to be afraid

Because of the word of the Lord’s lament.

He asked for many where he saw men

So in the Lord’s name would die

Tasting bitterness as He had formerly died.

Who had been afraid, and feared to think

He to Christ is to begin to declare.

No need then anymore to be afraid

He who before his heart bears this good symbol.

But he who durst the rood see reaching the kingdom

From earth each soul

With the Ruler dwells henceforth.”

Biding then by the tree made joyful

much strength there I alone strove

I of a small company. Strong  in spirit

urged on to depart, endured

a time of longing. I beheld now life’s hope

that of the tree of victory may he seek out

often alone, by all men

to be fully honoured. It was my desire though

the great heart, and protection as well,

I directed to the rood.  I possessed no great power

nor friends on earth. They were away from here

departed from the delight of the world,

they sought the glorious King,

a new life in heaven with God the Father,

to dwell in glory; and I hoped for

every day when I to the Lord’s rood,

which I here on earth formerly saw,

on this transitory life I fetched upon

that I bring from there great bliss,

joy of heaven,  of the Lord’s folk

a place at the feast, there I afterwards may

live in glory, fully with the holy

in joy partaking . To be the Lord’s friend.

he who here on earth before suffered

on the gallows tree for every man’s sins.

He us redeemed and our lives granted,

is home in heaven.  Gladness is to be renewed

with blessedness and bliss for they that endure suffering

the Son triumphant on his journey,

mighty and successful, then he among many came,

a multitude of spirits, on God’s ascent,

Lord Almighty, angels of bliss

besides all the holy, besides they in heaven before

dwelling in glory – to the Ruler came

almighty God, there his abode was.

One other important  point about the central section is it begins with the tree on the edge of the wood, cut down and taken away by enemies. The paralleling device helps us see in turn the end of the section where the tree is, in reverse, found by Friends, and put upright. Around it we glimpse a new wood, the Followers: the tree was at the edge of the wood, now becomes the Rood/Cross fronting the growing wood of Followers. The tree is a metonym as the tree of all trees, and as the growth of Christianity. There is also a deliberate supplanting of the Ash Tree of Scandinavian myth, whose roots are in Hel and crown in Asgard, in the Rood/Cross reaching up to Heaven for the believers.

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