The Dream of the Rood
Hwæt! Ic swefna cyst secgan wylle,
hwæt me gemætte to midre nihte,
syðþan reordberend reste wunedon!
þuhte me þæt ic gesawe syllicre treow
on lyft lædan, leohte bewunden,
beama beorhtost. Eall þæt beacen wæs
begoten mid golde. Gimmas stodon
fægere æt foldan sceatum, swylce þær fife wæron
uppe on þam eaxlegespanne. Beheoldon þær engel dryhtnes ealle,
fægere þurh forðgesceaft. Ne wæs ðær huru fracodes gealga,
ac hine þær beheoldon halige gastas,
men ofer moldan, ond eall þeos mære gesceaft.
Syllic wæs se sigebeam, ond ic synnum fah,
forwunded mid wommum. Geseah ic wuldres treow,
wædum geweorðode, wynnum scinan,
gegyred mid golde; gimmas hæfdon
bewrigene weorðlice wealdendes treow.
Hwæðre ic þurh þæt gold ongytan meahte
earmra ærgewin, þæt hit ærest ongan
swætan on þa swiðran healfe. Eall ic wæs mid sorgum gedrefed,
forht ic wæs for þære fægran gesyhðe. Geseah ic þæt fuse beacen
wendan wædum ond bleom; hwilum hit wæs mid wætan bestemed,
beswyled mid swates gange, hwilum mid since gegyrwed.
Hwæðre ic þær licgende lange hwile
beheold hreowcearig hælendes treow,
oððæt ic gehyrde þæt hit hleoðrode.
Ongan þa word sprecan wudu selesta:
"þæt wæs geara iu, (ic þæt gyta geman),
þæt ic wæs aheawen holtes on ende,
astyred of stefne minum. Genaman me ðær strange feondas,
geworhton him þær to wæfersyne, heton me heora wergas hebban.
Bæron me ðær beornas on eaxlum, oððæt hie me on beorg asetton,
gefæstnodon me þær feondas genoge. Geseah ic þa frean mancynnes
efstan elne mycle þæt he me wolde on gestigan.
þær ic þa ne dorste ofer dryhtnes word
bugan oððe berstan, þa ic bifian geseah
eorðan sceatas. Ealle ic mihte
feondas gefyllan, hwæðre ic fæste stod.
Ongyrede hine þa geong hæleð, (þæt wæs god ælmihtig),
strang ond stiðmod. Gestah he on gealgan heanne,
modig on manigra gesyhðe, þa he wolde mancyn lysan.
Bifode ic þa me se beorn ymbclypte. Ne dorste ic hwæðre bugan to eorðan,
feallan to foldan sceatum, ac ic sceolde fæste standan.
Rod wæs ic aræred. Ahof ic ricne cyning,
heofona hlaford, hyldan me ne dorste.
þurhdrifan hi me mid deorcan næglum. On me syndon þa dolg gesiene,
opene inwidhlemmas. Ne dorste ic hira nænigum sceððan.
Bysmeredon hie unc butu ætgædere. Eall ic wæs mid blode bestemed,
begoten of þæs guman sidan, siððan he hæfde his gast onsended.
Feala ic on þam beorge gebiden hæbbe
wraðra wyrda. Geseah ic weruda god
þearle þenian. þystro hæfdon
bewrigen mid wolcnum wealdendes hræw,
scirne sciman, sceadu forðeode,
wann under wolcnum. Weop eal gesceaft,
cwiðdon cyninges fyll. Crist wæs on rode.
Hwæðere þær fuse feorran cwoman
to þam æðelinge. Ic þæt eall beheold.
Sare ic wæs mid sorgum gedrefed, hnag ic hwæðre þam secgum to handa,
eaðmod elne mycle. Genamon hie þær ælmihtigne god,
ahofon hine of ðam hefian wite. Forleton me þa hilderincas
standan steame bedrifenne; eall ic wæs mid strælum forwundod.
Aledon hie ðær limwerigne, gestodon him æt his lices heafdum,
beheoldon hie ðær heofenes dryhten, ond he hine ðær hwile reste,
meðe æfter ðam miclan gewinne. Ongunnon him þa moldern wyrcan
beornas on banan gesyhðe; curfon hie ðæt of beorhtan stane,
gesetton hie ðæron sigora wealdend. Ongunnon him þa sorhleoð galan
earme on þa æfentide, þa hie woldon eft siðian,
meðe fram þam mæran þeodne. Reste he ðær mæte weorode.
Hwæðere we ðær greotende gode hwile
stodon on staðole, syððan stefn up gewat
hilderinca. Hræw colode,
fæger feorgbold. þa us man fyllan ongan
ealle to eorðan. þæt wæs egeslic wyrd!
Bedealf us man on deopan seaþe. Hwæðre me þær dryhtnes þegnas,
ond gyredon me golde ond seolfre.
Nu ðu miht gehyran, hæleð min se leofa,
þæt ic bealuwara weorc gebiden hæbbe,
sarra sorga. Is nu sæl cumen
þæt me weorðiað wide ond side
menn ofer moldan, ond eall þeos mære gesceaft,
gebiddaþ him to þyssum beacne. On me bearn godes
þrowode hwile. Forþan ic þrymfæst nu
hlifige under heofenum, ond ic hælan mæg
æghwylcne anra, þara þe him bið egesa to me.
Iu ic wæs geworden wita heardost,
leodum laðost, ærþan ic him lifes weg
rihtne gerymde, reordberendum.
Hwæt, me þa geweorðode wuldres ealdor
ofer holmwudu, heofonrices weard!
Swylce swa he his modor eac, Marian sylfe,
ælmihtig god for ealle menn
geweorðode ofer eall wifa cynn.
Nu ic þe hate, hæleð min se leofa,
þæt ðu þas gesyhðe secge mannum,
onwreoh wordum þæt hit is wuldres beam,
se ðe ælmihtig god on þrowode
for mancynnes manegum synnum
ond Adomes ealdgewyrhtum.
Deað he þær byrigde, hwæðere eft dryhten aras
mid his miclan mihte mannum to helpe.
He ða on heofenas astag. Hider eft fundaþ
on þysne middangeard mancynn secan
on domdæge dryhten sylfa,
ælmihtig god, ond his englas mid,
þæt he þonne wile deman, se ah domes geweald,
anra gehwylcum swa he him ærur her
on þyssum lænum life geearnaþ.
Ne mæg þær ænig unforht wesan
for þam worde þe se wealdend cwyð.
Frineð he for þære mænige hwær se man sie,
se ðe for dryhtnes naman deaðes wolde
biteres onbyrigan, swa he ær on ðam beame dyde.
Ac hie þonne forhtiað, ond fea þencaþ
hwæt hie to Criste cweðan onginnen.
Ne þearf ðær þonne ænig anforht wesan
þe him ær in breostum bereð beacna selest,
ac ðurh ða rode sceal rice gesecan
of eorðwege æghwylc sawl,
seo þe mid wealdende wunian þenceð."
Gebæd ic me þa to þan beame bliðe mode,
elne mycle, þær ic ana wæs
mæte werede. Wæs modsefa
afysed on forðwege, feala ealra gebad
langunghwila. Is me nu lifes hyht
þæt ic þone sigebeam secan mote
ana oftor þonne ealle men,
well weorþian. Me is willa to ðam
mycel on mode, ond min mundbyrd is
geriht to þære rode. Nah ic ricra feala
freonda on foldan, ac hie forð heonon
gewiton of worulde dreamum, sohton him wuldres cyning,
lifiaþ nu on heofenum mid heahfædere,
wuniaþ on wuldre, ond ic wene me
daga gehwylce hwænne me dryhtnes rod,
þe ic her on eorðan ær sceawode,
on þysson lænan life gefetige
ond me þonne gebringe þær is blis mycel,
dream on heofonum, þær is dryhtnes folc
geseted to symle, þær is singal blis,
ond me þonne asette þær ic syþþan mot
wunian on wuldre, well mid þam halgum
dreames brucan. Si me dryhten freond,
se ðe her on eorþan ær þrowode
on þam gealgtreowe for guman synnum.
He us onlysde ond us lif forgeaf,
heofonlicne ham. Hiht wæs geniwad
mid bledum ond mid blisse þam þe þær bryne þolodan.
Se sunu wæs sigorfæst on þam siðfate,
mihtig ond spedig, þa he mid manigeo com,
gasta weorode, on godes rice,
anwealda ælmihtig, englum to blisse
ond eallum ðam halgum þam þe on heofonum ær
wunedon on wuldre, þa heora wealdend cwom,
ælmihtig god, þær his eðel wæs.
The Dream of the Rood
Listen, the best of dreams let me tell you
that I met with near midnight
when the spear-bearers were sleeping.
I thought I saw a sparkling tree
lifted on high, laden with light,
the brightest of trees. All the beacon was
gilded with gold; gems gripped it
gleaming across all earth, and five of them
were on the cross-beam. I saw an angel chorus,
beautiful creation; no cruel gallows this:
holy spirits beheld it there,
men throughout the world and this wondrous creation.
Sublime, the tree was, and I was foul with sin,
wounded and filthy. I saw the wondrous tree
become more beautiful, bound with streamers,
wound with gold; gems gathered
nobly covering the King's tree.
But through the gold I could glimpse,
though buried by sinfulness, that it began
to bleed on its right side. I was racked with sorrow,
afraid before that fair sight; I saw that fine beacon
change its colours; it was moisture coated,
furled in flows of blood, then folded in treasure.
So I lay there a long while
sorrowfully staring at the sacred tree,
until I heard how it spoke;
the celestial wood was saying these words:
"It was years ago, or so I remember,
that I was torn from the trees' edge,
ripped from my root. Strong enemies gripped me,
made me a spectacle, swung their criminals from me;
I carried men on my crossbeam until I was fixed on a crag;
many enemies set me there. I saw mankind's Lord
walk boldly, quickly, eager to climb up.
There I could not, against the Creator's will,
quiver or fall, though I saw quake
the earth's surface. I was able
to slaughter all the enemies, but I stood firm.
The young man, Heaven's King, cast off his clothes,
strong and firm spirited; he stood on the gallows
bravely, beheld by many, to break mankind free.
I trembled as the man embraced me; I dared not topple to earth,
fall to the ground; I had to stand fast.
As a cross I was raised, carrying the mighty king,
heaven's lord. I could not lean away.
They drove dark nails into me; the dreadful cuts are still seen,
open, malicious wounds; I dared not harm one of them.
They insulted us both together; I was all besmeared with blood
from the man's side once he sent forth his spirit.
On that hillside I had to live through
many loathsome fates; I saw the Lord of Hosts
terribly wracked; darkness rolled over,
covering with clouds the Creator's sky;
shadow swallowed the shining light,
lowering darkness. All earth lamented,
cried out the King's fall; Christ was on the Cross.
But then friends came from far
to the prince; I perceived it all.
I was torn sorely by sorrows, but lay down, submitting
with humble spirit. They called on their high God,
lifted up their tormented burden; they left me there,
standing stained with blood; nails stabbed me.
"He had laid down his tired limbs, they stood by his lordly head;
they gazed at heaven's lord, and he rested there a while
weary after his great struggle. They began to work on a tomb
carving it from the stone in the sight of his slayer.
They set the mighty Lord inside and began to lament,
wretched as dusk fell, that they must depart again,
weary, from the renowned lord; he remained, alone.
We crosses waited there a long while
on our foundations; the voice fell still
in the man; the corpse grew cold,
the beautiful body. Then men broke us trees
all to the earth; awful fate!
We were thrown in a deep pit but the Lord's thanes,
his friends, found us
and graced me with gold and silver."
"Now you may hear, my beloved man,
how wicked men wore at me
with sore sorrows. The time has now come
when I will be honoured far and wide;
men across earth and all this glorious creation
came to this cross. On me the King's son
suffered a while; so I am now worshipped,
towering under heaven, and I can heal
everyone in awe of me.
Before, I was given the hardest blame,
loathed by all, until I life's way
could clear for mankind.
So I am honoured by the holy Lord,
heaven's guardian, over all great trees,
just as his mother, Mary herself,
all men's almighty God
honours above all womankind."
"Now I bid you, beloved man,
to voice to the world this vision,
reveal in words that this is the wondrous tree
on which the Saviour suffered
for mankind's many sins
and Adam's first act.
He tasted death; but directly arose
through his great might to help mankind
on Doomsday. The Dread Lord himself,
Almighty God with his angels
Will then judge, wielding all judgement's power,
each one according to how
he deserved in this drifting life.
None may be boldly unafraid
of the words the Lord will speak:
he will ask the many there if each man
dare, for his name, know death's
bitter taste as he did on the tree.
They will be afraid then, and have few thoughts
of what they could say to Christ.
None there need fear
if they bear in their breast the holy beacon;
through that cross heaven's kingdom
each soul will seek from earth
that is willing to worship the Lord."
Then I bowed before the tree with blissful spirit,
all eagerly, there alone
without company. I was keen
to depart this life and spent many days
in longing. It is now my life's joy
that I might seek that sacred tree
more often than all other men
to do it honour. I desire that
much in my spirit, and my protection is
the cross's rule. I have remaining
few friends on earth, but they have gone forth
careless of earth's joys to find the wondrous King;
they live now in heaven with the High Father
thinking on wonder; and I wish for
that day when the dreamed-of cross
that I saw stand before me on earth
will fetch me from this feeble life
and bring me to where there is great bliss,
joy in heaven, to join the Lord's people
always sitting in unceasing bliss.
I will sit where afterwards
I'll live in glory, amidst good men,
enjoying joy. The Just Lord is my friend
that endured before here on earth
on the cross for mankind's sins;
he redeemed us and restored our life,
and our heavenly home. Hope was renewed
with glory and bliss for those who had endured burning.
The Son was victorious on this venture,
mighty and swift. When he came with many
men's spirits to the sanctuary of God,
the Almighty Ruler, the angels rejoiced
with all the saints that had sat in heaven before,
living in glory, that God was come,
heaven's king, to where his homeland was.
Translated from the Anglo-Saxon by Mark Leech