Dream of the Rood

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The Dream of the Rood is taken from the Vercelli Book. It is 156 lines long and describes the Passion of Jesus in the language of the Germanic heroic code.

The original poem

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 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.