Some Awesome People

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Dream of the Cross

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

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