I've been really impressed with the medieval literature we've had to read for English so far. Beowulf was very good and did remind me of The Lord of the Rings - especially the Rohirrim. Actually, we're going to watch some of LOTR at the beginning of our next English class. ;D
We've also read two poems that are very beautiful, especially the first one - "Dream of the Rood" and "The Wanderer". I'm going to share "Dream of the Rood" with you today. :) This isn't the exact translation I read, but hopefully it's still gives the same beautiful meaning.
I will disclose the deepest vision
that came in a dream at night's center
when all human voices rested in sleep.
It seemed I beheld the tree of the Mystery
rise in the heavens, spinning out rays
of perfect light. That beacon glowed
spattered with gold, shining with jewels,
clear to earth's corners: five gems
defined the crossbeam. All God's angels were witness,
splendid throughout eternity. This was no common gallows.
Many observed it: both angelic hosts
and men on earth: it ran through creation.
The victory wood was a marvel, and I, stained with my sins,
cut with my shame, saw the glory tree
robed in its honor, radiating splendor,
decked with gold, magnificently cased
in precious stones, the axle of power.
Yet through that radiance I could witness
the primal agony when it first began
to bleed on its right side. I was overwhelmed with sorrow,
afraid of this terrible vision. I saw the moving beacon
change the nature of its raiment: sometimes it was soaked through,
drenched with heavy blood, sometimes it blazed with treasure.
But I lay there a measureless time
watching in pain the Savior's tree,
until I heard the words of the cross.
The greatest of trees began to speak:
"It was long ago, but still I remember
the day I was cut at the forest's edge,
severed from my roots, taken by demons,
forced to amuse them as a rack for their criminals;
they carried me on their shoulders and placed me up on the hill:
there the fiends planted me. Then I saw the Redeemer
stride forward in confidence, ready for His ordeal.
There I dared not, against the Lord's will,
bend or break, as I saw the world's edges
tremble around me. I could have dropped,
let myself fall and crushed all those fiends
with my mighty arms, but I dared not move
without the Lord's consent. The resolute Hero,
who was God Almighty, cast off His cloak
and climbed the high gallows, brave in the sight of many,
eager to ransom mankind. I shook as the Warrior gripped me,
not daring to bend to the ground, fall to the earth's face.
I had to stand fast. The Cross was raised.
I lifted the King, the Lord of Heaven.
They drove nails through my skin; the wounds are still there,
the hate-opened gashes. I dared not move.
They mocked us together. I was covered with blood
shed from the Man's side after His spirit ascended.
It was my cruel fate to endure it all there on the mount.
I felt the God of hosts
stretched on the wrack. Darkness fell,
the sky veiled the Ruler's corpse;
the Light of the world was hidden in shadow,
dark under clouds. All creation wept,
lamented the King's fall. Christ hung on the Cross.
Yet zealous people came from all around
to the Prince of Peace. I witnessed it all.
I was torn with anguish yet bowed to the men's hands,
much humbled in strength. They brought Almighty God
down from His place of trial. The soldiers left me there
standing spattered with blood, all wounded with spikes.
They laid Him down, weary of limb, and stood around His body;
they watched over heaven's Lord during His hour of rest,
weary from the cosmic struggle. They began to fashion his tomb
in the sight of His killers: they carved it from shining stone,
and there placed the victorious Lord. They began to sing his dirge
in the sad evening before they left,
exhausted by the King of kings. He rested in the small congregation.
We wept long in that desolate place
fixed in the silence after the warriors' voices
had faded away. The body cooled,
the great Spirit's home. Men brought us
down to the ground and buried us there
as providence ordained. Yet the Lord's servants,
His friends had heard [. . . ]
they dressed me up in gold and silver.
Now you may know, dear warrior,
that I have endured the scourge of the fiends,
the anguish and torment. The time has come
for me to be honored from kingdom to kingdom
by men over earth; the whole glorious creation
worships this beacon. On me God's Son
suffered his trial. Now I am exalted,
towering under Heaven, and I can save
every person who looks to me.
Long I was used as an instrument of torture,
hated by everyone, until I opened
life's true path to those who seek it.
Yes, He blessed me, the Prince of Glory,
the Kingdom's Master, more than all trees,
as He had His mother, Mary herself,
the one most blessed among all women
by Almighty God for the sake of mankind.
Now I command you, dear warrior,
reveal to the world this holy vision,
deliver this message: that on the glory tree
Almighty God sustained His torment
for all mankind's innumerable sins
as well as Adam's ancient crime.
Death He there tasted, but then the Lord rose
in His infinite power to guide humanity.
He ascended to Heaven. God Himself,
the Lord of Creation, will come again
to this our world and visit mankind
on the day of judgement, along with His angels:
then will He judge, will pass His verdict
on every soul as it deserves,
what each has earned in this flickering life.
No one then will be without fear
of His just sentence, the word of the Lord.
He will ask the multitude where is the man
who in God's name would willingly find
death's bitterness as He did on the tree.
Then the thoughtless will shudder with fear
for what they can say to Christ for themselves.
But none of those need fear His wrath
who clasp in their hearts this highest of beacons.
For through the Cross every soul
that crosses earth's path may arrive in the Kingdom
if with the Lord they wish to abide."
I prayed to the tree, glad in spirit,
strong in zeal, though I was alone,
small in my solitude. Then my soul
urged me forward; I had to endure
my hour of longing. Now my life's hope
is to seek out that triumphant wood
as a lone pilgrim so that all souls
may fully adore it. This is my hope,
the strength of my heart: my purpose comes
straight from the Cross. I have few friends
here in earth's kingdoms: for they have departed,
left the joys of this world, seeking the King of Glory;
they live in Heaven with God the Father,
abiding in splendor; thus I wait
day after day for the Lord's Cross
to come here on earth as I formerly saw it
in this hollow life, this vain passage,
and take me away to the place of gladness,
the delights of Heaven - there God's people
sit at His banquet in joy everlasting;
and establish me there where I may always
live in splendor, sharing delight
along with the saints. May the Lord be merciful,
who here on earth once endured
the tree of torment for your sins and mine.
He redeems us and gives us life
and a home in Heaven. He grants renewal
with blessings and with pleasure to those who pass through the fire.
His Son was triumphant on His lonely mission,
the Almighty Sovereign: strong and sure
He brought the myriads, the multitude of souls,
into God's Kingdom, to bliss with the angels
and all the saints that live in Heaven,
abiding in glory: the Ruler came,
God Himself, into His homeland.
Translation by Karl Young