A selection of the classic Old English poem “Dream of the Rood” is up at the Episcopal Cafe. This is a tremendous poem, and one of my personal favorites in any language. The entry at Wikipedia is informative, but I must confess I disagree with the gender-based interpretation section there; my reading is that the cross is depicted as one of Christ’s own warriors.
The full Old English text can be found here, and it’s best experienced by reading along with Dr. Michael Drout as he reads it out.
For those whose Old English may be a little rusty, here’s a full translation into Modern English.
It is a wonderful and awesome work.
I might make a niggling complaint about two or three translations, but the powerful dynamic is a poetic thrust seen often in the works of medieval mystics (notably, of course, Julian of Norwich) — that all nature suffered in the crucifixion of their Lord. Here the wood of the cross expresses its suffering (and its later glorification), and speaks further of the rock of the grave suffering by being hewn out for the tomb.
Julian’s mention of the tradition of the solar eclipse (experienced by Dionysius!) and the earthquake at the death of the Lord is part of a long and insightful poetic tradition — one that shows itself again in the ecological concerns of our own day!
Thanks for the reminder.
That’s wonderful, Derek. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.