The Dream of the Rood (A Prose Version)

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The multitude marched. A war-song howled The wolf in the wood, war-secret concealed not; The dew-feathered eagle uplifted his song On the trail of his foes. Hastened quickly 30 O'er cities of giants [3] the greatest of war-hosts In bands to battle, such as king of the Huns Of dwellers-around anywhere might, Of city-warriors, assemble to war.

The realm of the Romans they wished to oppress, 40 With armies destroy. The band was in motion. The horn-bearers blew, [5] the heralds called, Steed stamped the earth. The host assembled 55 Quickly for contest. Heart-sorrow bore The Romans' ruler, of realm he hoped not For want of force; had warriors too few, Trusty comrades, 'gainst th' overmight Of the brave for battle. Effulgent it seemed him, in form of a man, White and hue-bright, some one of heroes More splendid appeared than ere or since He saw 'neath the heavens.

From sleep he awaked 75 With boar-sign bedecked. The messenger quickly, Bright herald of glory, to him made address And called him by name the night-veil vanished : "To thee, Constantine, bade King of the angels, Wielder of fates, his favor grant, 80 The Lord of Hosts. Fear not for thyself, Though thee the strangers threaten with terror, With battle severe. Look thou to heaven, To the Lord of glory: there help wilt thou find, A token of victory.


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He saw bright with gems Fair rood of glory o'er roof of the clouds Adorned with gold: the jewels shone, 90 The glittering tree with letters was written Of brightness and light: "With this beacon thou On the dangerous journey [8] wilt the foe overcome, The loathly host let. He bade then at dawn with break of day His warriors rouse and onset of battle, The standard raise, and that holy tree Before him carry, 'mid host of foes God's beacon bear.

The trumpets sang Aloud 'fore the hosts.

The raven rejoiced, [10] The dew-feathered eagle beheld the march, Fight of the fierce cries, the wolf raised his howl, The wood's frequenter. War-terror arose.

Easter Sunday – Anglo-Saxon Poetry Review: “The Dream of the Rood” – The Warden's Walk

There was shattering of shields and mingling of men, Heavy handstroke and felling of foes, After in arrow-flight first they had met. On the fated folk showers of darts, Spears over shields into hosts of foes, Sword-fierce foemen battle-adders With force of fingers forwards impelled. Then standard was raised, Sign 'fore the host, song of victory sung. The golden helmet, the spear-points glistened On field of battle. The heathen perished, Peaceless they fell. Forthwith they fled, The folk of the Huns, when that holy tree The king of the Romans bade raise on high, Fierce in the fight.

The warriors became Widely dispersed. Some war took away; Some with labor their lives preserved Upon that march; some half-alive Fled to the fastness and life protected Behind the stone-cliffs, held their abode Around the Danube; some drowning took off In the stream of the river at the end of their life. The ash-darts flew, Battle-adders. The heap was destroyed, [11] Shield-band of foes. Very few came Of the host of the Huns home again thence. Went helmet of hosts home again thence, In booty rejoicing the battle was ended , Honored in war.

Came warriors' defence With band of his thanes to deck the strong shield, [12] War-renowned king, to visit his cities. Bade warriors' ward the wisest men Swiftly to synod, who wisdom's craft Through writings of old had learnt to know, Held in their hearts counsels of heroes.

So with cunning of mind in secrets of soul They said to the victor as they by Sylvester [14] Instructed had been. To him was new joy Inspired in his soul; greatest of comforts And highest of hopes was heaven's Defence. Then gan he God's law by day and by night Through gift of the Spirit with zeal proclaim, And truly himself devoted he eagerly, Gold-friend of men, to the service of God, Spear-famed, unfaltering. Helena would not On that expedition be slow to start, Nor that joy-giver's command neglect, Her own [dear] son's, but soon she [17] was ready For the wished-for journey, as the helmet of men, Of mail-clad warriors, her had commanded.

Gan then with speed the crowd of earls Hasten to ship. Then plainly was known the voyage of the lady, When the welling of waves she sought with her folk. They severally hastened Over the mark-paths, band after band, And then they loaded with battle-sarks, With shields and spears, with mail-clad warriors, With men and women, the steeds of the sea. Then they let o'er the billows the foamy ones go, The high wave-rushers.

The hull oft received O'er the mingling of waters the blows of the waves. The sea resounded. Not since nor ere heard I On water-stream a lady lead, On ocean-street, a fairer force. There might he see, who that voyage beheld, Burst o'er the bath-way the sea-wood, hasten 'Neath swelling sails, the sea-horse play, The wave-floater sail. The warriors were blithe, Courageous in mind; queen joyed in her journey. The spear-warriors were, Men 'round victor-queen, prepared for the march, Brave war-heroes.

Then was assembled from distant ways No little crowd who Moses' law Were able to tell. This one to death Ye gan adjudge, who self from death Many awakened 'mong host of men Of your own race to the former life. The purest Might Ye gan condemn, and have lived in error, In thoughts benighted, until this day. Helena spake and said 'fore the earls: "Hear, clever in mind, the holy secret, Word and wisdom. Of that ye soon wearied, And counter to right ye had contended; Ye shunned the bright Creator of all, The Lord [of Lords], [24] and followed error 'Gainst right of God.

Now quickly go And find ye still who writings of old Through craft of wit the best may know, Your books of law, that answer to me Through prudent mind they may return. Found they five hundred of cunning men, Chosen comrades, who craft of lore Through memory of mind the most possessed, Wisdom in spirit.


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They back to the hall In little while again were summoned, Wards of the city. Ne'er may after that the folk of the Hebrews, The wise in counsel, their kingdom hold, Rule over men, but their fame shall live And their dominion [be glorified ever, Gn. That is to each man Unutterable. Him may no one Upon this earth [ever] find out. Never that plan that this people framed Was I willing to follow, but I always myself Held aloof from their crimes, by no means wrought shame To mine own spirit.

The Dream of the Rood - Anglo-Saxon Old English poem - Ruthwell Cross

To them earnestly often On account of their wrong I made opposition, When the learned-in-lore counsel were taking, Were seeking in soul how the Son of their Maker, Men's Helm, [29] they might hang, the Lord of all, Both angels and men, noblest of children. They might not so foolish death fasten on him, Miserable men, as they ere weened, Afflict with pains, though he for a time Upon the cross his spirit gave up, Victor-child of God.

JAMES M. GARNETT, M.A., LL.D.,

Then afterwards was Raised from the rood the Ruler of heavens, Glory of all glories, three nights after Within the tomb was he abiding Under the darkness, and then on third day, Light of all light, he living arose, Prince of angels, and he to his thanes, True Lord of victories, himself revealed, Bright in his fame. Then did thy brother In time receive the bath of baptism, Enlightening belief.

Yet later the Lord Mercy him showed, that to many became he Of people for comfort, when the God of creation, Saviour of men, had changed his name, And afterwards he the holy Paul Was called by name, and no one than he Of teachers of faith, [no] other, was better 'Neath roof of heaven afterwards ever Of those man or woman brought into the world, Although he Stephen with stones them bade Slay on the mountain, thine own brother.

Therefore I truly, and my dear father, After believed [in the Giver of life, Gn. Therefore I teach thee through secret of song, My dearest child, that scornful words, Hatred or blasphemy, never thou work, Fierce contradiction 'gainst the Son of God.


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Now well do ye know What of that in your thought may seem to you best Plainly to tell, if us this queen Shall ask of that tree, now mine own mind And thought of heart ye [well] do know. Do as [best] seems thee, Thou wise in old lore, if thou be questioned 'Mong the host of men.

Of wisdom has need, Of wary words and sage's cunning, Who shall to the noble one answer return Before such a host among the assembly. Words waxed in speech; men counsel took On every side; some hither, some thither, Considered and thought. Then came many thanes To the people's assembly.

Of rede have ye need In the place of assembly, of wisdom of mind. Then gan the queen The Hebrew men in words address, Ask the life-weary of writings of old, How ere in the world the prophets sang, Men holy in spirit, of the Son of God, Where the Prince [of the people] his sufferings bore, True son of Creator, for love of souls. Stubborn they were, harder than stone, Would not that secret rightly make known Nor answer to her any would tell, Anger-provokers, of what she sought, But they of each word made a denial, Firm in their minds, of what she gan ask, Said that in life they any such thing Nor ere nor since ever had heard of.

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Ye may not prove that word, which ye just now in wrong Concealed 'neath heaps [30] of sins. Nor may ye hide that fate, Obscure its deepest might. To him 'tis inborn That he the answers clever may have, Knowledge in heart. Helena spake to him alone, Glory-rich queen: "For thee two are ready, Or life or death, as liefer shall be, To thee to choose.

Now quickly declare To which of the two thou wilt agree. Now many are gone, Two hundred or more, reckoned by number; I may not recount, now the number I know not.

Easter Sunday – Anglo-Saxon Poetry Review: “The Dream of the Rood”

In youth was I In later days afterwards born, A child in years. I cannot what I know not Find in my heart that so long ago happened. Ye that can well Quickly recount, how many there were In number of men in that murderous fight Of throwers-with-darts fallen in death Under the shield-hedge. Ye have the graves Under the stone-slopes, and likewise the places And the number of winters in writings set down. Of that holy tree Shall I willingly tell, now longer I may not For hunger conceal it.