Dream of the Rood Commentary




First Line: Hw(ae)t! Ic swefna cyst   secgan wylle

Last Line: forht ic w(ae)s for (th)(ae)re f(ae)gran gesyh(th)e.  Geseah ic (th)(ae)t fuse beacen

  • Language of dreaming in first person perspective
  • Heavenly linkages of the Tree (L6 beama beorhtost)
  • Hypermetric Lines (L8,9,10)
  • Repetition w/ inversion of word order: (L8 + 10) (L9 + 11) (L10+12)
  • Hapax Legomena: reordberend/eaxlegespanne
  • Specifying Variation--> Tree and Persp beholding one another
  • L13: VSSV opposites emphasised
  • Dramatic Shift between L14-17: Beauty to Gore, repetition, wordplay and later imagery
  • HW(AE)(TH)RE holds paradoxes together
  • Hypermetricity L18-19
  • Water Imagery (dative plurals)
  • L21-23 calling back to language of 15,16,17
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Key elements: 

First Line: wendan w(ae)dum ond bleom;   hwilum hit w(ae)s mid w(ae)tan bestemed,

Last Line:Bifode ic (th)a me se beorn ymbclypte.  Ne dorste ic hw(ae)(th)re bugan to eor(th)an,

  • L22: Subtle personification, hint towards L15
  • Switching tenses- escatological (end of times), uniting past, present and future through parad.
  • L25: Shift from seeing to hearing, and in dominant syntactical structure, INT RHYME
  • L30: Hypermetric Lines, emphasis on actions of enemies, tree a passive force, no deixis
  • Links to 14b and 21b Cross seeing Christ--> dreamer's lang inf by Christ
  • Active Christ Paradox: passive as it happens to him, active as God, choosing this
  • L39 Heroic language
  • L42: switched syntax
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Key Elements:

First Line: feallan to foldan sceatum,   ac ic sceolde f(ae)ste standan.

Last Line:Aledon hie (th)(ae)r limwerigne,  gestodon him (ae)t his lices heafdum,

  • L43 Double alliteration, use of oppositions, language of the Dreamer, links to L37
  • Chiasmus (L44), NVVN, Double alliteration
  • L46 parallels of Christ and the Cross, then decreasing unity--> switch back to 'I'
  • focus on Cross' experience
  • Clashing Verbs
  • L55 Formulaic poetic syntax
  • L56 Bold Static Image: 'Crist w(ae)s on rode.'
  • L60: Start of envelope, nouns reinforcing Christ's immortality
  • L63: Syntactical Structuring
  • 63-64 Patterning encloses Christ in the tomb
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Key Elements: 

First Line: beheoldon hie (th)(ae)r heofenes dryhten,  ond he hine (th)(ae)r hwile reste,

Last Line: (th)rowode hwile.  For(th)an ic (th)rymf(ae)st nu

  • L66: Paradoxical
  • L70: Expectation of Biblical knowledge
  • 300 year jump, interchangability of tense--> L76 Hypermetric/Broken line
  • L77: End of Narratio, switch to Explanatio
  • L78: Homiletic form of address, themes of speaking/hearing
  • L81: Rhyming (highly rare in AS Literature)
  • L83-4: Parallels with L12, language of cross influenced by lang. of dreamer
  • Shift in characterisation, to third person
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Key Elements: 

First Line: hlifige under heofenum,  ond ic h(ae)lan m(ae)g

Last Line: on domd(ae)ge                dryhten sylfa

  • Past suffering, CAUSE + EFFECT for present
  • Broadening concern within narrative (L86)
  • Ambiguity created by difficulty of translation with 'egesa'
  • L87 superlative 'heardost'
  • L92, Parallels b/w the Cross and Mary: Enunciation on the Crucifixion (learnt of pregnancy)
  • L95 Halfway through section: hearing turns into responsibility to tell/preach
  • L97 no longer just temporal connections (MORAL), switch to 3rd person
  • 'ealdgewyrhtum'--> all humankind inherits sin
  • L101: 'Byrigde'- deliberate ambiguity of tasted/conquered, Adam/Christ
  • L103: 'Hider eft funda(th)', 1st person, unpoetic? Specifying variation over next few lines
  • Christian Doctrine via complex sentence
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Key Elements: 

First Line:  (ae)lmihtig god,  ond his englas mid, 

Last Line: langunghwila.       Is me nu lifes hyht

  • L107: Expansion of Purpose
  • L110: Martyrdom
  • Words as the root of power
  • L110-115: Fear of Doomsday switches then to hope/vision of unity
  • L115: Shift in certainty, temporal connections
  • L118: Sound play/Alliteration
  • L121: End of narration, shift back to verb openings/metrical/dense in poetic language
  • L122-23: Christ ascending the Cross/.The Cross setting Christ down
  • Hapax Legomenon: langunghwila (periods of longing)
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Key Elements: 

First Line: (th)(ae)t ic (th)one sigebeam      secan mote

Last Line: He us onlysde                             ond us lif forgeaf,

  • L129: Patristic/Intelligence--> open desire for God/Grace- Paradox
  • L135: Unity/partnership of the Lord/Cross/Dreamer
  • L138-9: Reiteration of same point from different perspectives--> FETCH + BRING
  • L140: Anaphora (chant like)
  • Cross becoming increasingly active-> ambig. of 'symle' as feast vs always
  • L145: Harrowing of Hell, simultaneously depicting the end of time
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Key Elements: 

First Line: heofonlicne ham.   Hiht w(ae)s geniwad

Last Line: (ae)lmihtig god,      (th)(ae)r his e(th)el w(ae)s.

  • L148: Formulaic Half Line- 'hiht w(ae)s geniwad'
  • L156: Christ specific terms w/ much overlap


  • Temporal and spatial adverbs
  • Normalised syntax
  • Connections: Longer sentences
  • Metrically different- more traditional
  • Harking back to beginning
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