Dream of the Rood is a Christian poem written in alliterative manner. It is a poem where the narrator is having a dream or a vision. The poet recounts the events of the crucification of Jesus Christ from the rood to an unnamed vision. In the dream, the narrator is seen to be conversing with the cross on which Jesus was crucified. The poem was subdivided into three parts. In the first section, the narrator has a vision of the cross. He notices that the cross is covered gems only to later realize that they were bloodstains. In the second part, it narrates about the crucifixion story as told according to the perspective of the cross. An enemy appears and seems to cut down the tree and carry it away, this symbolized the suffering that Christ went through but later resurrected from the dead. The tree symbolized the cross where Jesus was to be crucified. The lord and the cross-become one and all emerge victorious in the salvation of humankind. Christ and the cross both have piercings of nails to signify the much pain that they had undergone. In the poem, the cross is portrayed as his lords because of its unwavering loyalty. The Rood and Christ are said to be one because of the pain the all went through but upon his resurrection the tree is honored above all trees just like Christ is because upon his resurrection the tree also resurrected with Him. In the third section, the vision ends with the narrator left standing with his thoughts. He praises God for what has been revealed to him and he hopes for eternal life.
The poem exhibits many pre-Christian and Christian images. Christianity emerges victorious when reading the poem this is because it's difficult for a pre-Christian to write it down. It therefore concludes that the poem was written down by a Christian scribe when Christianity was firmly established. Although some scholars argue that there are some elements of paganism within the poem and they claim that the idea of a talking tree is animistic. They further claim that the importance of sacrifice of the tree is a pagan practice. The tree is depicted as an object of worship. Furthermore, he stresses that the tree's triumph over death is celebrated by adorning the cross with gold and jewels
The poem is based on Christian beliefs despite the pagan elements evident in the poem. The poem deals with the passion, death and the resurrection of Christ as a major victory and salvation for mankind. The word Christ has been used to symbolize his as the savior to humankind's generation. It also depicts his acts of heroism. It is also a perception that views Jesus not only as the son of God the savior of humankind but he is human who can feel and endure pain. The death of Jesus is depicted not as a usual death but one with which he sacrifices himself to save humans. The heroic significance of Christ in the poem is used to incorporate the traditional beliefs with the image of Jesus on the cross, gives the poet the chance to effectively show the importance of Christianity to the audience mainly focusing to the pagans. The poet aimed to attract its audience attention and to make the poem more interesting when he changed the story of crucifixion from the biblical version. Jesus is characterized as a brave hero who endured all the pain to save humanity. The rood is termed to be loyal by the poet because of his undying loyalty to Jesus during thee crucifixion and it also endured the pain of the nails.
The words between savior and warrior are blurred to symbolize the sufferings that Christ endured in his mission to save humanity without fighting back yet he rose victorious when he resurrected from the dead. Christ is seen as a heroic warrior who did not fight his enemies in the battle but emerged victorious.
There is paradox in the poem as the cross is set up to be the way of salvation to fulfill the will God. This is because it is through the tree that Christ is crucified and seen to rise up again from death. The poem also embraces a religious ideology in its nature that gives hope of eternal life.
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