The Dream Of the Rood
Anglo Saxon English
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, freondas gefrunon, 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 id, 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 am 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 symble, þær is singal blis, ond me þonne asette þær ic syþþan mot wunian on wuldre, well mid þam halgum dreames rucan.
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.
Listen, I will recount the best of dreams, which came to me in the middle of the night, after speech-bearers turned to rest. It seemed to me that I saw a most wondrous tree, the brightest of rood-trees, raised aloft, encircled by light. That beacon was completely covered with gold; studded with beautiful jewels at its base and with five upon the shoulder-beam.
All those made pure through eternal decree, looked upon the Lord’s angel there. Nor was it a criminal's cross; but holy spirits, men over the earth, and all this famous creation gazed upon it. Wondrous was the tree of victory, whilst I was stained with sin, badly wounded with iniquity. I saw the tree of glory, richly clothed, shining joyfully, adorned with gold. Jewels covered splendidly the Lord's tree.
But still through that gold I could sense the ancient hostility of the wretched ones, as it had immediately begun to bleed on the right side. I was engulfed in sorrow; fearful because of that beautiful vision. I saw that shining beacon change covering and colour; sometimes it was drenched with blood, soaked with blood's flow, sometimes adorned with treasure.
I lay there a long time gazing at the Healer’s troubled tree, until I heard it call out. The best wood then began to speak words: "That was years gone by, I still remember, that I was hewn down at the forest's edge, cut out of my tree trunk. Strong foes took me there and made me into a display for themselves, ordered me to hoist up their criminals. Warriors carried me on shoulders, until they set me up on a hill; many foes fastened me there.
Then I saw mankind's Lord hasten with great zeal; he wished to climb on me. I dared not contradict the Lord’s will when I saw the earth’s surface trembling. I could have slayed all the foes, but I stood firm. The young Healer stripped himself (that was God Almighty) strong and resolute. He stepped up onto the high gallows, brave in the sight of many, where he would set mankind free. I shook when the warrior embraced me. I didn’t dare to bow down to the earth, fall to the ground. I was raised as a cross! I raised the King aloft, the Lord of heavens, I dared not bend.
Then they pierced me with dark nails. The wounds were visible on me, open vicious wounds. But I didn’t dare harm any of them. They mocked the two of us together. I was drenched all over with blood, flowing from the man’s side, after he had released his spirit. Many cruel fates I endured on that hill. I saw the God of hosts severely stretched out. A shadowy darkness covered the Lord’s corpse with clouds, its shining radiance; a darkness crept over it, black under the sky. All creation wept, lamented the fall of the king. Christ on the cross.
And then, from afar came the eager ones to the Prince. I beheld it all. I was filled with deep sorrow, yet I bent down to the hands of those men, humbly and with great zeal. Then they took the Almighty God and lifted him from that terrible torment. Those warriors then left me, standing, sprinkled with moisture, punctured all over with tiny arrows. They lay the exhausted Lord down there and stood by his body’s head, watching over the heaven’s Ruler. And he rested there a while, weary after that great battle.
And then, before me his slayer, those brave warriors began to build an earth mound, carved out of the brightest of stone, and placed into it the Lord of Victories. When they had done this, they began to sing a dirge, mournful in the evening hour. They then wearily took their leave of the glorious Prince, he rested alone. But we, standing there fixed, wept a good while until the voices of the warriors had faded away. The corpse cooled, fair dwelling of the soul.
And then a man felled us all to the ground. That was a dreadful fate! One of them buried us in a deep pit. However, the Lord’s thegns, friends, sought me out and adorned me with gold and silver. Now you might have heard, my beloved hero, of that which I have suffered at the hands of evil doers, painful and grievous this was. But now is the time that I should be revered throughout the world and all men from far and wide should pray to this beacon.
On me did God’s son suffer for a time. For this, I now tower in glory under the heavens and can heal all those who hold me in awe. In olden days I was made the harshest of punishments, hateful to people, before I showed them, the speech bearers, the true path to life. Behold, the Lord of Glory, heaven’s guardian, honoured me over the forest trees, just as he, Almighty God, also honoured his mother, Mary herself, for all men, over all womankind. Now I call on you my beloved warriors that you speak of this vision to all mankind, reveal with words that it is the tree of glory on which Almighty God suffered for mankind’s many sins and Adam’s deeds of old. Death he tasted there, but the Lord rose again with his mighty power to help all mankind. Then he ascended into heaven. And he will come again to this middle earth to seek out mankind on judgement day, the Lord himself, Almighty God, and his Angels with him, that he will then judge, he who wields the right to judge, everyone according to what they have earned during this transitory life.
Nor should anyone be unafraid of the words the ruler will speak. He will ask before the multitudes where is the person willing to taste bitter death for the sake of the Lord’s name, as he did beforehand on that tree. But they will be afraid and not know what to say to Christ. But there will be no need to be afraid for any of those who bear before them in their hearts the best of signs. But through the cross shall every soul who desires to dwell in the Lord come to the kingdom from the earthly path.
I prayed to the cross with a joyful heart, with great zeal, there where I was alone with little company. My spirit was inspired with longing to seek the path to the next world, that for which it has yearned for so long. It is now my life’s joy that I might seek the victory tree alone more often than others to honour it well. This desire is strong in my soul and my hope of protection is directed to that cross.
I don’t have many powerful friends on this earth, for they have passed on from the joys of this world, sought for themselves the king of glory and are living now in heaven with the High Father, dwelling in glory. And I myself long for that day when the Lord’s cross, which I beheld here on earth, will take me from this transitory life and bring me to where there is great bliss, joy in heaven, where the Lord’s people are seated at the feast, where there is perpetual bliss, and then place me where I can for evermore dwell in glory with the holy ones in bliss.
May the Lord be a friend to me, he who suffered that time on the gallows-tree here on earth for the sins of men. He liberated us and gave us life, a heavenly home. Hope was restored with glory and with joy those who had suffered burning there. The Son was victorious in that journey, mighty and swift, when he came with the hoards, the company of souls, into God’s kingdom, the Almighty Ruler, to the joy of Angels and all the holy ones who dwelt in heaven before, who dwelt in glory, when their Ruler came, Almighty God, there his homeland was.