Dream of the rood

Daily Reading for September 15 • Holy Cross Day

Listen, I’ll tell the loveliest of dreams,

what I dreamt in the dark of night

after reason-bearers lay at rest.

It seemed I saw a wondrous tree

led aloft, wound in light,

the brightest of beams. That beacon was

all covered with gold. Gems stood

fair at the ground’s surface; likewise there were five

up at the crossbeam. All beheld there the Angel of the Lord,

fair through eternal decree. There was no felon’s gallows there,

but holy spirits beheld him,

people of earth and all this glorious creation.

Rare was this victory-beam, and I stained in sins,

mauled by misdeeds. I saw glory’s tree,

graced with garments, shine with joy,

girded with gold. Gems had worthily covered the tree of the wild.

Yet through that gold I could glimpse

the old war of wretched ones, for it first began

to bleed on its right side. I was all driven with sorrows;

afraid I was of the fair vision. . . .

I have few friends

powerful on earth, since they have departed

from the world’s joys, sought wonder’s King,

and live now in heaven with the high Father,

dwell in glory. And every day

I look for that time when the Lord’s cross,

which I once beheld here on earth,

will fetch me in this fleeting life

and bring me where the bliss is great,

joy in heaven, where the Lord’s hosts are

seated at the banquet. Endless bliss is there.

It will set me where forever I will

dwell in wonders, taste well

happiness with the holy. May the Lord be my friend,

he who earlier suffered here on earth,

on this gallows tree for our trespasses.

He redeemed us and returned our lives,

gave us a heavenly home. Hope was renewed

among blessings with bliss for those who suffered burning there.

The Son, mighty and successful, was victorious

in that quest, when he came with many,

a host of spirits into God’s glorious kingdom,

the almighty ruler, to the bliss of angels

and all the saints who earlier dwelt in glory

in heaven, when their Creator came,

almighty Lord, back to the land of his home.

From “The Dream of the Rood,” quoted in Anglo-Saxon Spirituality: Selected Writings, translated and introduced by Robert Boenig, in the Classics of Western Spirituality series (Paulist Press, 2000).

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