Old English

The Dream of the Rood

Hwæt! Ic swefna cyst     secgan wylle, 
Lo! I will tell of the best of dreams,
hwæt me gemætte     to midre nihte, 
what I dreamed in the middle of the night,
syðþan reordberend      reste wunedon!  
after the speech-bearers were in bed.
Þuhte me þæt ic gesawe     syllicre treow 
It seemed to me that I saw a very wondrous tree
on lyft lædan,     leohte bewunden, 
lifted into the air, enveloped by light,
beama beorhtost.     Eall þæt beacen wæs 
the brightest of trees. That beacon was all
begoten mid golde.     Gimmas stodon 
covered with gold. Gems stood
fægere æt foldan sceatum,     swylce þær fife wæron 
beautiful at the surface of the earth, there were five also
uppe on þam eaxlegespanne.     Beheoldon þær engel dryhtnes ealle, 
up on the central joint of the cross. All those fair through eternal decree gazed
fægere þurh forðgesceaft.      Ne wæs ðær huru fracodes gealga, 
[on] the angel of the Lord. [It] was certainly not a wicked person’s gallows there,
ac hine þær beheoldon     halige gastas, 
but holy spirits, men over the earth,
men ofer moldan,     ond eall þeos mære gesceaft.  
and all this famous creation gazed on him.
    Syllic wæs se sigebeam,     ond ic synnum fah, 
Wondrous was that tree of victory, and I stained with sins
forwunded mid wommum.     Geseah ic wuldres treow, 
wounded sorely with defects, I saw the tree of glory,
wædum geweorðode,     wynnum scinan, 
honoured with garments, shining joyously,
gegyred mid golde;      gimmas hæfdon 
adorned with gold. Gems had
bewrigene weorðlice     wealdendes treow. 
splendidly covered the Lord’s tree.
Hwæðre ic þurh þæt gold     ongytan meahte 
I was able, however, to perceive through the gold,
earmra ærgewin,     þæt hit ærest ongan 
the ancient hostility of wretched ones, [that] it first began
swætan on þa swiðran healfe.      Eall ic wæs mid sorgum gedrefed, 
to bleed on the right side. I was all troubled with grief,
forht ic wæs for þære fægran gesyhðe.      Geseah ic þæt fuse beacen 
I was afraid in the presence of that beautiful sight. I saw that noble beacon
wendan wædum ond bleom;     hwilum hit wæs mid wætan bestemed, 
change its coverings and colour; sometimes it was drenched with moisture,
beswyled mid swates gange,      hwilum mid since gegyrwed. 
soaked with the flow of blood, sometimes adorned with treasure.
Hwæðre ic þær licgende     lange hwile 
Nevertheless, I, lying a long time there,
beheold hreowcearig     hælendes treow, 
gazed troubled at the Saviour’s tree,
oððæt ic gehyrde     þæt hit hleoðrode.  
until I heard it speak.
Ongan þa word sprecan     wudu selesta: 
The most excellent tree then began to speak the words:
   "Þæt wæs geara iu,     (ic þæt gyta geman), 
It was years ago (that, I still remember),
þæt ic wæs aheawen     holtes on ende, 
that I was cut down from the edge of the forest,
astyred of stefne minum.      Genaman me ðær strange feondas, 
removed from my foundation. Strong enemies seized me there,
geworhton him þær to wæfersyne,     heton me heora wergas hebban.  
they made me into a spectacle for themselves, commanded me to lift up their criminals.
Bæron me ðær beornas on eaxlum,     oð ðæt hie me on beorg asetton, 
Men carried me there on their shoulders, until they set me on a hill,
gefæstnodon me þær feondas genoge.     Geseah ic þa frean mancynnes 
many enemies secured me there. Then I saw mankind’s Lord
efstan elne mycle     þæt he me wolde on gestigan.  
hasten with great zeal, that he wished to climb upon me.
Þær ic þa ne dorste     ofer dryhtnes word 
There, I did not dare break to pieces or bow down
bugan oððe berstan,     þa ic bifian geseah 
against the Lord’s words, when I saw the surface
eorðan sceatas.      Ealle ic mihte 
of the earth tremble. I was able to destroy
feondas gefyllan,     hwæðre ic fæste stod. 
all the enemies, nevertheless, I stood firmly.
Ongyrede hine þa geong hæleð,     (þæt wæs god ælmihtig), 
The young hero stripped himself then (that was God Almighty),
strang ond stiðmod.      Gestah he on gealgan heanne, 
strong and resolute. He ascended onto the high gallows,
modig on manigra gesyhðe,     þa he wolde mancyn lysan.  
brave in the sight of many, there, [since] he wished to release mankind.
Bifode ic þa me se beorn ymbclypte.      Ne dorste ic hwæðre bugan to eorðan, 
I trembled when the man embraced me. However, I dared not bow down to the earth,
feallan to foldan sceatum,     ac ic sceolde fæste standan.  
fall to the surface of the earth, but I had to stand fast.
Rod wæs ic aræred.      Ahof ic ricne cyning, 
I was raised [as a] cross. I lifted up the mighty king,
heofona hlaford,     hyldan me ne dorste. 
the lord of the heavens; I dared not bend down.
Þurhdrifan hi me mid deorcan næglum.      On me syndon þa dolg gesiene, 
They pierced me with dark nails. On me, the scars are visible,
opene inwidhlemmas.      Ne dorste ic hira nænigum sceððan.  
open malicious wounds. I did not dare injure any of them.
Bysmeredon hie unc butu ætgædere.      Eall ic wæs mid blode bestemed, 
They mocked both of us, together. I was all drenched with blood,
begoten of þæs guman sidan,     siððan he hæfde his gast onsended.  
covered from the man’s side, after he had sent forth his spirit.
Feala ic on þam beorge     gebiden hæbbe 
I endured many cruel events
wraðra wyrda.      Geseah ic weruda god 
on that hill. I saw the Lord of Hosts
þearle þenian.      Þystro hæfdon 
severely stretched out. Darkness
bewrigen mid wolcnum     wealdendes hræw, 
had covered the bright radiance
scirne sciman,     sceadu foro ēode, 
of the Lord’s corpse with clouds, a shadow went forth,
wann under wolcnum.      Weop eal gesceaft, 
dark under the sky. All of creation wept,
cwiðdon cyninges fyll.      Crist wæs on rode. 
they lamented the king’s death. Christ was on the cross.
Hwæðere þær fuse      feorran cwoman 
Nevertheless, eager ones came there from afar
to þam æðelinge.      Ic þæt eall beheold. 
to the prince. I beheld all that. 
Sare ic wæs mid sorgum gedrefed,      hnag ic hwæðre þam secgum to handa 
Grievously I was afflicted with sorrow, yet I bowed to the hands of the men,
eaðmod, elne mycle.      Genamon hie þær ælmihtigne god, 
humble, with great zeal. There they took God Almighty,
ahofon hine of ðam hefian wite.      Forleton me þa hilderincas 
they lifted him up out of the oppressive torment. The warriors abandoned me
standan steame bedrifenne;      eall ic wæs mid strælum forwundod.  
to stand, covered with moisture; I was wounded very badly with arrows.
Aledon hie ðær limwerigne,      gestodon him æt his lices heafdum, 
They laid him down there, weary-limbed; they positioned themselves at his body’s head,
beheoldon hie ðær heofenes dryhten,     ond he hine ðær hwile reste, 
there they gazed at the Lord of heaven, and he, rested himself there for a while,
meðe æfter ðam miclan gewinne.     Ongunnon him þa moldern wyrcan 
weary after the great battle. The men began to make a sepulcher for him
beornas on banan gesyhðe;     curfon hie ðæt of beorhtan stane, 
in the sight of his slayer; they carved it out of bright stone;
gesetton hie ðæron sigora wealdend.      Ongunnon him þa sorhleoð galan 
they put him, the Lord of Victories, therein. The wretched began to sing him a song of sorrow
earme on þa æfentide,    þa hie woldon eft siðian, 
in the evening-time, then they wanted to go again,
meðe fram þam mæran þeodne,     reste he ðær mæte weorode.  
wearily from the glorious prince. He rested there with little company.
Hwæðere we ðær greotende     gode hwile 
Nevertheless, we stood in a fixed position,
stodon on staðole, syððan     stefn up gewat 
weeping for a good while, after the voice of the warriors
hilderinca.      Hræw colode, 
went up. The corpse cooled,
fæger feorgbold.      Þa us man fyllan ongan 
beautiful dwelling of the soul. Then they began to cut us all
ealle to eorðan.     Þæt wæs egeslic wyrd!  
down to the earth. That was a dreadful event!
Bedealf us man on deopan seaþe.      Hwæðre me þær dryhtnes þegnas, 
We were buried in a deep pit. However, the Lord’s disciples,
freondas gefrunon, 
friends, discovered me there,
ond gyredon me     golde ond seolfre.  
and adorned me [with] gold and silver.
   Nu ðu miht gehyran,     hæleð min se leofa, 
Now you can hear, my beloved hero,
þæt ic bealuwara weorc g    ebiden hæbbe, 
what work of the evildoers that I have experienced,
sarra sorga.      Is nu sæl cumen 
the painful grief. The time is now come
þæt me weorðiað     wide ond side 
that men over the earth and all this illustrious creation
menn ofer moldan,     ond eall þeos mære gesceaft, 
far and wide honour me,
gebiddaþ him to þyssum beacne.     On me bearn godes 
they pray to this sign. On me, God’s son
þrowode hwile.      Forþan ic þrymfæst nu 
suffered a time. Therefore, now I rise up
hlifige under heofenum,     ond ic hælan mæg 
glorious under the heavens, and I am able to heal
æghwylcne anra,     þara þe him bið egesa to me. 
each one of those who hold me in awe. 
Iu ic wæs geworden      wita heardost, 
Formerly, I was the most fierce of torments,
leodum laðost,     ær þan ic him lifes weg 
most hateful to people, before I opened the right
rihtne gerymde,     reordberendum.  
path of life to them, the speech-bearers.
Hwæt, me þa geweorðode     wuldres ealdor 
Lo, the prince of glory, the guardian of the kingdom of the heavens,
ofer holmwudu,     heofonrices weard!  
honoured me over all the trees of the forest!
Swylce swa he his modor eac,     Marian sylfe, 
Just as he, Almighty God, before all men,
ælmihtig god     for ealle menn 
honoured his mother also, Mary herself,
geweorðode     ofer eall wifa cynn.  
over all womankind.
Nu ic þe hate,     hæleð min se leofa, 
Now I command you, my beloved warrior,
þæt ðu þas gesyhðe     secge mannum, 
that you tell this vision to men,
onwreoh wordum     þæt hit is wuldres beam, 
reveal in words that it is the tree of glory,
se ðe ælmihtig god     on þrowode 
on which Almighty God suffered
for mancynnes     manegum synnum 
for mankind’s many sins
ond Adomes     ealdgewyrhtum.  
and Adam’s deeds of old,
Deað he þær byrigde,     hwæðere eft dryhten aras 
He tasted death there. However, the Lord arose again
mid his miclan mihte     mannum to helpe.  
to help men with his great power.
He ða on heofenas astag.      Hider eft fundaþ 
Then he ascended into the heavens. Hither again, the Lord, Himself,
on þysne middangeard     mancynn secan 
will set out into this world
on domdæge     dryhten sylfa, 
to seek mankind on the day of judgement,
ælmihtig god,     ond his englas mid, 
Almighty God and His angels with Him,
þæt he þonne wile deman,     se ah domes geweald, 
since He who has power of judgement, He then will sentence
anra gehwylcum     swa he him ærur her 
each one, just as he shall have earned
on þyssum lænum     life geearnaþ. 
for himself here in this temporary life.
Ne mæg þær ænig     unforht wesan  
Nor can there be any unafraid there
for þam worde     þe se wealdend cwyð.  
because of the words which the Lord shall say:
Frineð he for þære mænige     hwær se man sie, 
He shall ask before the multitude, where the man might be,
se ðe for dryhtnes naman     deaðes wolde 
who for the name of the Lord would taste
biteres onbyrigan,     swa he ær on am beame dyde.  
bitter death, as He did before on the cross.
Ac hie þonne forhtiað,     ond fea þencaþ 
But then they fear, and few think of
hwæt hie to Criste     cweðan onginnen.
what to begin to say to Christ.  
Ne þearf ðær þonne ænig     anforht wesan 
None needs to be afraid [of]
þe him ær in breostum bereð     beacna selest, 
of [he] who already bears on his breast the best of signs,
ac ðurh ða rode sceal     rice gesecan 
but through the cross, each soul must seek
of eorðwege     æghwylc sawl, 
the kingdom from the earthly way,
seo þe mid wealdende      wunian þenceð.”
those who intend to dwell with the Lord.
   Gebæd ic me þa to þan beame     bliðe mode, 
Then I prayed to the cross with friendly spirit,
elne mycle,     þær ic ana wæs 
with great zeal, where I was alone
mæte werede.      Wæs modsefa 
with little company. My mind was
afysed on forðwege,     feala ealra gebad
impelled on the way hence, it experienced very many 
langunghwila.      Is me nu lifes hyht 
times of longing. Now this is my life’s joyous expectation
þæt ic þone sigebeam     secan mote 
that I may seek the tree of victory
ana oftor     þonne ealle men, 
and honour [it] well
well weorþian.      Me is willa to ðam 
most often of all men. The desire for that is
mycel on mode,     ond min mundbyrd is 
great in my heart, and my patronage is
geriht to þære rode.     Nah ic ricra feala 
directed to the cross. I do not have many
freonda on foldan,     ac hie forð heonon 
powerful friends on earth, since they departed away hence
gewiton of worulde dreamum,      sohton him wuldres cyning, 
from the joys of the world, they sought the King of Glory;
lifiaþ nu on heofenum     mid heahfædere, 
now they live in the heavens with God the Father.
wuniaþ on wuldre,     ond ic wene me 
They dwell in glory, and each day
daga gehwylce     hwænne me dryhtnes rod, 
I look forward to the time when the cross of the Lord
þe ic her on eorðan     ær sceawode, 
that I previously saw here on the earth,
on þysson lænan     life gefetige 
in this temporary life, will fetch me,
ond me þonne gebringe     þær is blis mycel, 
and will then bring me to where great bliss is,
drēam on heofonum,     þær is dryhtnes folc 
joy in the heavens, where the Lord’s people are
geseted to symble,     þær is singal blis, 
seated at the feast, where perpetual joy is;
ond me þonne asette     þær ic syþþan mot 
then it may set me, where afterwards I might
wunian on wuldre,     well mid þam halgum 
dwell in glory, with the saints
dreames rucan.     Si me dryhten freond, 
to enjoy bliss well. May the Lord be a friend to me,
se ðe her on eorþan     ær þrowode 
who suffered here on earth before
on þam gealgtreowe     for guman synnum.  
on the gallows-tree for men’s sins;
He us onlysde     ond us lif forgeaf, 
he redeemed us and gave us life,
heofonlicne ham.       Hiht wæs geniwad 
a heavenly home. Joy was restored
mid bledum ond mid blisse     þam þe þær bryne þolodan.  
with blessings and with bliss, for those who endured the fire there.
Se sunu wæs sigorfæst     on þam siðfate, 
The Son was triumphant on that expedition,
mihtig ond spedig,     þa he mid manigeo com, 
mighty and successful, when he came with the multitude,
gasta weorode,     on godes rice, 
the host of souls, into God’s kingdom,
anwealda ælmihtig,    englum to blisse 
the Lord Almighty, to the delight of the angels,
ond eallum ðam halgum     þam þe on heofonum ær 
and of all the saints, who in the heavens before
wunedon on wuldre,     þa heora wealdend cwom, 
dwelled in glory, when their Ruler, the Almighty
ælmihtig god,     þær his eðel wæs.
God came, where his homeland was.