THE DREAM OF THE ROOD
This is among the Fast Christian poems within the body of the Anglo Saxon literature and also a very fascinating case of the variety of the dream poetry. This poem is by a dreamer who dreams while talking to the cross where Jesus was crucified. It is categorized in three sections with the first part concerning the dreamer’s image of the cross; part two is when the dreamer and the cross are conversing about Christ’s crucifixion and part three is when the dreamer is commanded by the cross to go and spread significance of Jesus’ suffering. Although according to the Bible, “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 3:18), man’s reflection of Jesus has been changing throughout.
The Dream of The Rood which is an Anglo- Saxon poem describes Jesus’ death and His burial in a way that is very different from the biblical accounts. Sequentially, the poem emphasizes the crucifixion of Christ by depicting Him as a violent warrior who firmly confronts sins and defeats them. The line; “…the warrior embraced the cross” (The Dream of The Rood, lines 36-39), shows that the poet honored Jesus and did not call Him Christ but instead called Him warrior or young hero which creates a vibrant image of Jesus. The dreamer also shows a hero- like image of Jesus by revealing Christ boisterously getting ready for combat instead of passively being taken to the cross. The bible, (Matthew 27:28), affirms that “they [the Roman soldiers] stripped him” while on the other hand, the poem shows that it is the hero who boldly stripped himself before the battle.
There is a tone of acting when the cross utters “the Lord of all mankind hastened with eager zeal that he might mount upon me.” (The Dream of the Rood lines 34-36). The term fus has been used repeatedly in the poem to show that Jesus is eager, dying, ready, willing and hastening which is very different from the words in the bible which states “Passover lamb that has been sacrificed”( 1st Corinthians 5:7); the poem also shows the willingness of Jesus to undertake the crucifixion.
Both the poet and Beowulf have the same attitude in expressing that daring spirit Jesus has when He is approaching the cross. This is further proved by what is shown as Beowulf prepares to battle Grendel’s mother in that “he is unanxious for his life,”(The Dream of the Rood line 1442) and also utters “I am eager to begin!”(The Dream of the Rood line 1473). This is similar to what is shown in the poem that Jesus confidently rushes and mounts the cross. The poem endows Jesus with heroic bravado and jubilance as the great warriors to show that Christ’s image has been changing in accordance to the present culture.
It should therefore be noted that Jesus posses so many qualities which no mankind can have. These qualities include;
Boldness- shown by His firmness in confronting and defeating sins
Caring- shown by His willingness to save mankind by mounting the cross
Readiness shown by His preparedness to die on the cross
All the above qualities make Jesus be termed as a hero and warrior.
Cook Albert S. (1905) The Dream of the Rood: An Old English Poem Attributed to Cynewulf, Oxford, Clarendon Press,
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