The Dream of The Rood | Summary, Analysis, Literary Devices, Structure and Meaning

The Dream of The Rood: One of the earliest works in the corpus of English literature is ‘The Dream of the Rood.’ It is the first great example of the Christian dream poetry genre. This poem is preserved in the Vercelli Book (in north Italy) and is considered one of the earliest physical pieces of evidence of Old English Literature.

The ‘Dream vision’ or ‘visio’ way in which this religious poem is written as a standard framing device in the English literature of the early medieval times. The ‘Dream Vision’ types of poetry are the ones where the poet or the narrator receives knowledge or learns about the truth while he/she is asleep.

‘The Dream of the Rood’ is the precursor to later works in English literature like the Piers Plowman by Pearl and Langland written in the fourteenth-century and many more. ‘The Dream of the Rood’ poem is about the encounter of a pious man with the talking ‘Crucifix’ or the Cross on which Jesus was crucified.

Students can also check the English Summary to revise with them during exam preparation.

Summary of the Poem ‘The Dream of the Rood’

In ‘The Dream of the Rood’ poem, the narrator dreams about the Cross on which Jesus was crucified. In his dream, the poet narrates that at night, he saw the Cross was “treasure adorned” for it was covered in gems and gold, and the ‘Rood’ or the ‘cross’ was hovering in the air.

The poet also described the Cross to have a “wretched hostility” and on the right side a little blood other than its golden beauty. Later in the poem, the poet describes that the appearance of the Cross changed with passing time. The dreamer saw the well-adorned ‘Rood’ transform into one filled with blood.

In the second part of the poem, the dreamer seems to be speaking himself but from the perspective of the ‘Rood’ and in relation to what the ‘cross’ had experienced prior. The poem unveils the complete story of the Cross, i.e., from how it was created and how it became a symbol of humankind’s salvation.

The Rood was carved out from a tree and was put on a hill where Jesus was crucified and pinned to the limbs of the Rood. In the poem, the Rood also described that it fought along with Jesus for the salvation of people by not bending down and not fighting the wicked ones.

After that, the Rood further narrated how Christ’s lifeless body was detached from him and later buried into the land. This event was followed by the Rood’s ascend into the heaven where he was all “treasure adorned” for to be seen by everyone.

The poet ends the narration by describing how he is again back to the present time and relayed what he saw in his dream in detail. Lastly, he praised the Almighty and his Son, Jesus Christ, and hoped for eternal life.

Meaning of Poem ‘The Dream of the Rood’

The old English form of the word ‘rod’ is ‘Rood,’ which is synonymous with ‘pole’ or, more importantly, ‘crucifix.’ This poem is about the dream that the poet saw in the middle of one night. The dream was about the Rood on which Jesus accepted his death.

Structure and Form of the poem ‘The Dream of the Rood’

The Dream of the Rood poem is written in alliterative verse, which is a form that commonly appears in the old literature of Germanic languages. Some examples of poetry where alliterative verse has been used are- Beowulf, Sir Gawain, and the Green Knight, Piers Plowman, Morte d’ Arthur, etc.

Literary Devices Used in the Poem ‘The Dream of the Rood’

‘The Dream of the Rood,’ being one of the earliest Christian poems, is written in alliterative verse like most other Old English poetry. The poet has also used similar literary devices like assonance and consonance. Some phrases of the poem which are an example of alliteration and consonance are “brightest of beams,” “garnished with gold,” etc.

Apart from the mentioned literary devices, the poet has also used metaphors like “speech-bearers” that refer to humankind. While describing the Rood, the poet has also used hyperbole.

And in the lines of the poem, “Then I saw that streaking beacon warp its hue, its hangings…at times it was steamy with bloody wet, stained with coursing gore”- the poet used paradox. However, throughout the poem, literary devices like metonymy, synecdoche, and simile have been used as well.

Themes in ‘The Dream of the Rood’

The various themes that emerged throughout the poem ‘The Dream of the Rood’ are similar to any other Old English poetry, which reflect ‘timeless values’ in their themes. The themes that emerged in this poem are heroism, honor, courage, life and death, good and evil, Christian religious aspects, and pagan symbols.

Analysis of the Poem ‘The Dream of the Rood’

Lines 1-12

“What I wish to say of the best of dreams,

what came to me in the middle of the night

after the speech-bearers lie biding their rest!

It seemed to me that I saw the greatest tree

brought into the sky, bewound in light,

the brightest of beams. That beacon was entirely

garnished with gold. Gemstones

prominent and proud at the corners of the earth—

five more as well blazoned across the span of its shoulders.

Every angel of the Lord warded it there,

a brilliant sight of a universe to come.

Surely it was no longer the gallows of vile crime

in that place—yet there they kept close watch,

holy spirits for all humanity across the earth,

and every part of this widely famous creation.”

The accompanying examination of ‘The Dream of the Rood’ fixates on the interpretation of the content accessible on the site of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. The eminent researcher Faith H. Patten in his “Design and significance in The Dream of the Rood” (1968), partitions the sonnet into three sections, in light of the speaker: Introductory Section (lines 1–26), Speech of the Cross (lines 28–121), and Closing Section (lines 122–156). This line-by-line examination of this sonnet likewise follows the example given by Patten.

The sonnet’s principal individual speaker (that makes it an illustration of a verse sonnet also) portrays the “best of dreams” that came to him in an evening. It showed up after the “speech-bearers” went sleeping. This expression is a diversion of the straightforward word “humans”. From there on, the storyteller portrays the “greatest tree” or the rood that turns into the place of-center in the following segment of the sonnet.

In his vision, the “brightest of beams”, embellished in divine beams, transcending near the sky (an exaggerated articulation or can be valid as it showed up in the speaker’s fantasy). That signal was embellished with gold and gemstones. Five a greater amount of them blazoned across the range of its shoulders.

The speaker appeared that each holy messenger of the Lord (a reference to God) warded it there. It planned to turn into a splendid sight later on. From that point, the speaker says it was no detestable criminal scaffold. In contemporary times, the roods were utilized while executing hoodlums. Nonetheless, that Cross was an extraordinary one. Thus, blessed spirits kept a nearby watch on it as it held significance for all people.

Lines 13-27

“Surpassing was this victory-tree, and I splattered with sins—

struck through with fault. I saw this tree of glory,

well-worthied in its dressing, shining in delights,

geared with gold. Gemstones had

nobly endowed the Sovereign’s tree.

Nevertheless I could perceive through all that gold

a wretched and ancient struggle, where it first started

to sweat blood on its right side. I was entirely perturbed with sorrows—

I was fearful for that lovely sight.

Then I saw that streaking beacon warp its hue, its hangings —

at times it was steamy with bloody wet, stained with coursing gore,

at other times it was glistening with treasure.

Yet I, lying there for a long while,

beheld sorrow-chary the tree of the Savior

until I heard that it was speaking.

Then the best of wood said in words:”

In this segment of ‘The Dream of the Rood’, the speaker feels embarrassed for his evil life. In contrast with him, the tree was triumphant and advantageous. The tree was sublime in its enhancement, sparkling in enjoyments, and to wrap things up outfitted with gold.

Sacred spirits liberally blessed gemstones to the “Sovereign’s tree”. Here, Christ is contrasted with a sovereign or ruler. Nonetheless, in the midst of such splendid things, there was a “wretched and ancient struggle.” This old battle is a reference to the execution of Christ.

The speaker saw the rood sweating profusely on its correct side. At the point when Christ was executed, the troopers previously fixed the nail to his heart. Henceforth, in his fantasy, he saw the Rood was seeping on the right side.

Be that as it may, it was Christ who was seeping on this rood. Seeing this sight, the storyteller got annoyed with distresses and afraid for that “lovely sight”. Here, the artist utilizes a mystery. Besides, the speaker saw the Cross changing its appearance. On occasion, it was stained with blood in any case. Simultaneously, it changed its appearance and again showed up as sparkling with treasures like previously.

From that point, the storyteller says he was lying there for quite a while watching “the tree of the Savior.” Then abruptly, he heard the cross-talking. In the accompanying segment, the writer records what the “best of wood said in words.”

Lines 28-34

“It happened long ago—I remember it still—

I was hewn down at the holt’s end

stirred from my stock. Strong foes seized me there,

worked in me an awful spectacle, ordered me to heave up their criminals.

Those warriors bore me on their shoulders

until they set me down upon a mountain.

Enemies enough fastened me there.

I saw then the Lord of Mankind

hasten with much courage, willing to mount up upon me.”

This long segment of ‘The Dream of the Rood’ contains what the Cross told the speaker in his fantasy. Here, the artist depicts the Cross as a co-victim with Christ during the torturous killing. The embodied rood alludes to Christ’s execution that happened quite a while past.

It was slashed down and seized from the woods to utilize it as an instrument to torture the friend in need. The officers requested him to hurl up the crook and bore him on their troopers. From that point, they put him down on a mountain and affixed him to the ground immovably.

At that point came the greatest occasion when the Cross saw the “Lord of Mankind” hurrying with fortitude and mounting up energetically to accept his passing. Christ was not dormant and unfortunate to acknowledge his passing. There was a more prominent reason behind his quiet acknowledgment, nor without gallantry. It needs the mental fortitude to acknowledge what is terrible in itself. Also, Christ was adequately bold!

Lines 35-45

“There I dared not go beyond the Lord’s word

to bow or burst apart—then I saw the corners of the earth

tremor—I could have felled all those foemen,

nevertheless I stood fast.

“The young warrior stripped himself then—that was God Almighty—

strong and firm of purpose—he climbed up onto the high gallows,

magnificent in the sight of many. Then he wished to redeem mankind.

I quaked when the warrior embraced me—

yet I dared not bow to the ground, collapse

to earthly regions, but I had to stand there firm.

The rood was reared. I heaved the mighty king,

the Lord of Heaven—I dared not topple or reel.”

Likewise, the Cross realized he planned to notice the most offensive demonstration at any point that occurred on earth. In any case, he tried not to go past his Lord’s assertion. On the off chance that he wished he could bow or blast separated. Be that as it may, he kept his quiet as was Christ.

At that point, he saw the ground shuddering when Christ planned to rise on him. Christ, “the young warrior”, stripped himself and scaled onto the high scaffold. A sublime sight it was! For what reason could it not be so? He had the reason for reclaiming humanity. The torment he was enduring was nothing in contrast with his extraordinary sense.

In any case, when the fighter Christ accepted the speaker, he convulsed. However, he tried not to bow to the ground or breakdown to the ground. He needed to stand firm there. His motivation was to stand firm on that day.

The Cross was bound to hurl the heaviness of the strong ruler, the “Lord of Heaven.” Here, the writer presents one of the components of the Anglo-Saxon gallant code. It is dedication. Consequently, the rood says he challenged not to bring down or reel.

It was his dependability to Christ. Like a liegeman must be honest and loyal to his ruler, the rood was faithful and reliable to Christ. Thusly, the writer imbues the components of agnosticism and Christianity perfectly.

Lines 46-56

“They skewered me with dark nails, wounds easily seen upon me,

treacherous strokes yawning open. I dared injure none of them.

They shamed us both together. I was besplattered with blood,

sluicing out from the man’s side, after launching forth his soul.

“Many vicious deeds have I endured on that hill—

I saw the God of Hosts racked in agony.

Darkness had covered over with clouds

the corpse of the Sovereign, shadows oppressed

the brightest splendor, black under breakers.

All of creation wept, mourning the king’s fall—

Christ was upon the Cross.”

From there on, in ‘The Dream of the Rood,’ the Cross comments the warriors pierced him with dim nails. The injuries of Christ were effortlessly seen upon him. The writer figuratively alludes to the imprints on the Cross as “treacherous strokes yawning open.”

However, the Cross tried not to harm any of them regardless of whether they were deriding the two of them, the Cross and Christ. He was scattered with Christ’s blood, sluicing out from his side after he dispatched forward his spirit to paradise.

On that hill, he had persevered through numerous horrible deeds. He saw Christ, the “God of Hosts”, racked in anguish. Foreboding shadows covered the sky upon the body of the “Sovereign”. Shadows mistreated the most brilliant wonder of the occasion that was “black under breakers.” Seeing the occasion, the entirety of the creation sobbed in nauseate and misery. They grieved over the fall of Christ—his carcass upon the Cross.

Line 57-69

“However people came hurrying from afar

there to that noble man. I witnessed it all.

I was sorely pained with sorrows—yet I sank down

to the hands of those men, humble-minded with much courage.

They took up there Almighty God, lifting up him up

from that ponderous torment. Those war-men left me

to stand, dripping with blood—I was entirely wounded with arrows.

They laid down the limb-weary there, standing at the head of his corpse,

beholding there the Lord of Heaven, and he rested there awhile,

exhausted after those mighty tortures.

“Then they wrought him an earthen hall,

the warriors within sight of his killer. They carved it from the brightest stone,

setting therein the Wielder of Victories. Then they began to sing a mournful song,

miserable in the eventide, after they wished to venture forth,

weary, from the famous Prince. He rested there with a meager host.”

The followers of Christ came fast from afar for that noblemen when the soldiers left that place. The Rood noticed everything happening. He was also sorely gloomy with sorrows. Therefore, he sank to the hands of those men, modest-minded with much courage and bravery.

Those who went there took up “almighty god” from that “ponderous torment.” Furthermore, the rood remarks that the soldiers left him to stand there drenched with the blood of Christ. He was also wounded with arrows, with christ.

Although, when they took christ away from the rood, they laid him down. When they saw his corpse, they became so tormented that they could even stand on their feet. Therefore, the author uses the reference “limb-weary.” Moreover, they stood surrounding the head of his corpse, beholding the “Lord of Heaven.” To the narrator there, it seemed that Christ rested for a while, being tired after all those powerful tortures.

After that, they wrought him an “earthen hall,” which is a metaphor for an earthen grave. The warriors were within the view of his killer. Nevertheless, they carved the grave of the “wielder of Victories” from the shiniest stone available at that place. After that, they began to sing a mournful song that sounded more gloomy in the evening. Thereafter they wished to move forth, with a heavy heart after seeing the “famous Prince” in that state. Afterward, they departed, christ rested there with the “meager host,” which is a metaphor used for the rood.

Lines 70-77

“However, weeping there, we lingered a good while in that place,

after the voices of war-men had departed.

The corpse cooled, the fair hall of the spirit.

Then someone felled us both, entirely to the earth.

That was a terrifying event! Someone buried us in a deep pit.

Nevertheless, allies, thanes of the Lord, found me there

and wrapped me up in gold and in silver.”

Throughout this section of the poem, the rood says that they cried there together and stayed there for a good while after the voice of war-men had departed. The dead body of the christ cooled down the “fair hall of the spirit.”

In this line, the poet graciously refers to the corpse of Christ as a “fair hall of the spirit.” Afterward, someone felled them totally on the ground. It was a terrifying event, according to the Cross. Then someone else buried them in a bottomless pit.

Although, the loyal “thanes of the Lord” found the Cross there and wrapped him up in silver and gold. The phrase “gold and silver” contains metonymy and refers to the valuable objects used to adorn the Cross. The poet here resorts to the vocabulary of Heroic poetry, for example, “allies” and “thanes.”

Lines 78-94

“Now you could hear, my dear man,

that I have outlasted the deeds of the baleful,

of painful sorrows. Now the time has come

that men across the earth, broad and wide,

and all this famous creation worthy me,

praying to this beacon. On me, the Child of God

suffered awhile. Therefore I triumphant

now tower under the heavens, able to heal

any one of them, those who stand in terror of me.

Long ago I was made into the hardest of torments,

most hateful to men, until I made roomy

the righteous way of life for them,

for those bearing speech. Listen—

the Lord of Glory honored me then

overall forested trees, the Warden of Heaven’s Realm!

Likewise, Almighty God exalted his own mother,

Mary herself, before all humanity,

over all the kindred of women.”

Afterward, the recap of the event, the Cross shares his message to the narrator of the poem. The Cross outlasted the “deeds of the baleful” sadly. Now the time has arrived for the narrator and the humans on the earth.

Now he has become a beacon of humankind, as he suffered on the hill. Furthermore, the rood says on him the “Child of God” suffered for a while, and hence they were triumphant.

The rood can cure any one of them those who remain afraid of his divine powers. A long time ago, people used the Cross as an instrument to impose the “most hateful to men.” Yet, when he decided to suffer along with Christ for the sake of humanity, he became the holiest symbol of Christianity.

Additionally, the rood says the “Lord of Glory” honored him all the forest trees and made him the “warden of Heaven’s Realm.” Christ also dignified his mother, Virgin Mary, before all humanity and before all the “kindred of women.” Similarly, the rood was glorified for remaining faithful to Christ on the day of crucifixion.

Lines 95-109

“Now I bid you, my dear man,

to speak of this vision to all men

unwrap it wordfully, that it is the Tree of Glory,

that the Almighty God suffered upon

for the sake of the manifold sins of mankind,

and the ancient deeds of Adam.

The death he tasted there, yet the Lord arose

amid his mighty power, as help to men.

Then he mounted up into heaven. Hither he will come again,

into this middle-earth, seeking mankind

on the Day of Doom, the Lord himself,

Almighty God, and his angels with him,

wishing to judge them then—he that holds the right to judge

every one of them—upon their deserts

as they have earned previously here in this life.”

Throughout this section of the poem, the Cross instructs the narrator to speak of this vision to everyone. The narrator should unwrap it in a proper way. He has to tell others about the “Tree of Glory” on which the powerful god suffered upon for the manifold sins of mankind and the ancient deed of Adam. Christ tasted bereavement here on earth, and yet he rose for his mighty power as a redeemer of humankind. After that, he mounted up into heaven like a winning king.

Moreover, the rood says that Christ will come again into this middle-earth looking for humankind on the Doom’s day. The Lord will get there along with his angels wishing to review humankind. According to the rood, christ holds the right to judge every human according to their acts on this earth.

Lines 110-121

“Nor can any remain unafraid there

before that word that the Wielder will speak.

He will ask before the multitude where that man may be,

who wished to taste in the Lord’s name

the bitterness of death, as he did before on the Cross.

Yet they will fear him then, and few will think

what they should begin to say unto Christ.

There will be no need to be afraid there at that moment

for those who already bear in their breast the best of signs,

yet every soul ought to seek through the Rood

the holy realm from the ways of the earth—

those who intend to dwell with their Sovereign.”

In the last part of the Cross’s speech, the rood tells that no one should not be afraid to speak in front of christ on doomsday. Then, christ, the wielder, will question before the multitude who wished to taste the bitterness of bereavement in the lord’s name as he did before on the Cross. Although some of them will be afraid of him and will think about what they should tell him.

For this reason, the Cross ensures the narrator that there will be no requirement to fear that moment. Those who already tolerate the best signs in their breast should not be afraid on that day. According to the Cross, every soul should bear the sign if they wish to enter the holy realm from the earth and intend to dwell with their sovereign, christ.

Lines 122-146

“I prayed to that tree with a blissful heart,

great courage, where I was alone,

with a meager host. My heart’s close was

eager for the forth-way, suffering many

moments of longing. Now my hope for life

is that I am allowed to seek that victorious tree,

more often lonely than all other men,

to worthy it well. The desire to do so

is strong in my heart, and my guardian

is righteous in the Rood. I am not wealthy

with many friends on this earth,

yet they departed from here from the joys of the world,

seeking the King of Glory—now they live

in heaven with the High-Father, dwelling in magnificence,

and I hope for myself upon each and every day

for that moment when the Rood of the Lord,

that I espied here upon the earth,

shall ferry me from the loaned life

and bring me then where there is great bliss,

joys in heaven, where there are the people of the Lord,

seated at the feast, where there is everlasting happiness

and seat me where I will be allowed afterward

to dwell in glory, brooking joys well amid the sainted.

May the Lord be my friend, who suffered before

here on earth, on the gallows-tree for the sins of man.”

Starting from this segment of ‘The Dream of the Rood,’ the speaker of the sonnet presents his will to follow the guidance of the rood on which Christ languished to reclaim humankind over their wrongdoings.

Here, the speaker says he petitioned the tree (another agnostic custom) with a euphoric heart and incredible boldness. He was distant from everyone else there with the vision of the “small host”.

In the wake of seeing this fantasy of the rood, he was anxious to follow the way it appeared. There was nothing that could prevent him from strolling on the way of Christ. He was languishing numerous snapshots of yearning over having the heavenly blowout with the Lord.

Presently his expect life is to look for the lessons of the successful tree. He feels more desolate than any remaining men when he contemplates how commendable the rood has become after the execution. The longing to do so is solid in his heart.

Most importantly, when he has the “Rood” as his watchman, he has nothing to stress over. Additionally, the speaker says he isn’t rich with numerous companions on this planet as they left from earth to paradise. They denied the delights of the world to look for the “king of Glory”. For their faithfulness to him, presently they live in paradise with the “High-Father” or God, staying in greatness.

From that point, the speaker says he expects himself consistently for that second when the “Rood of the Lord” that he espied in his vision will ship him from this lent life of his. At that point, the rood will carry him to where there is extraordinary joy. It is a reference to the “joys in heaven.”

Moreover, the speaker yearns to join the heavenly spirits situated at the blowout of the Lord (another agnostic specially identified with the gallant code). There is never-ending satisfaction in paradise.

He will be satisfied if the Lord permits him to join the righteous spirits who abide in brilliance and brooking delights in paradise. In conclusion, the speaker wishes to be a companion of the Lord who endured on the “gallows-tree” for the transgressions of man.

Lines 147-156

“He redeemed us and gave us life,

a heavenly home. Hope was renewed

with buds and with bliss for those suffered the burning.

The Son was victory-fast upon his journey,

powerful and able, when he came with his multitudes,

the army of souls, into the realm of God,

the Almighty Ruler, as a bliss for the angels

and all of the holy, those who dwelt in glory

before in heaven, when their Sovereign come back,

Almighty God, to where his homeland was.”

In the ultimate part of this sonnet, the speaker discusses his craving for unceasing life subsequent to having the Rood’s fantasy. He says Christ recovered humankind and give the honest spirits a brilliant home. The Lord reestablished trust like buds of a plant restores any desire for recovery and life.

For the individuals who endured the consuming of mortal sins, Christ favored them with his entire existence. The child of God, Christ, was successful on his excursion. He was frail and enduring during the execution. Be that as it may, he turned out to be incredible and capable a short time later when he accompanied his hoards, “the multitude of spirits”, into the domain of God the “Almighty Ruler”.

It was a happy sight for the holy messengers and the entirety of the sacred spirits who abided in sublime paradise. Afterward, the crucifixion, the Sovereign of heaven, Jesus Christ, returned to his country as it was his genuine realm. Likewise, the speaker needs to join Christ there as a genuine lord man and dedication to his genuine country in paradise.

Historical Context of The Poem ‘The Dream of the Rood’

A part of the ‘The Dream of the Rood’ poetry was first found in the Ruthwell Cross, which now stands in the parish church of Ruthwell (which is now considered in the Dumfries and Galloway Region of Scotland). And this free-standing Anglo-Saxon Cross of height about 18 feet, i.e., 5.5m, dates back to the 8th century. The Ruthwell Cross was once perhaps used as a conversion tool.

The Ruthwell Cross had carved runes at each side of the vine tracery. In the Cross’s runes, there was an excerpt written along with the scenes of the blind people being healed by Jesus, the Annunciation, and Egypt’s story.

Even though during the Protestant Revolt, the Ruthwell Cross was torn down and destroyed, but after the fear of iconography passed, it was again reconstructed as much as possible. However, during the period of religious unrest, the words on the Ruthwell Cross’s runes were also present in the Vercelli Book.

The book got that name for it was kept in the Italian city named Vercelli, and the Vercelli book dates back to the 10th century. The Vercelli book consists of 23 homilies interspersed with six poems which are the following:

  • The Dream of the Rood
  • Andreas
  • The Fates of the Apostles
  • Soul and Body
  • Elene
  • A poetic, homiletic fragment

Even though the author of the poem ‘The Dream of the Rood’ is unknown, a few possible author names have been suggested by scholars by evaluating the approximate date of the Ruthwell Cross. Some of the Anglo-Saxon poets’ names suggested by scholars for the poem ‘The Dream of the Rood’ are Cynewulf and Caedmon.

Poem Similar to ‘The Dream of the Rood’

There are many poems that include Christian elements and the speaker’s devotion to Christ, the redeemer as well. Audiences who are interested can also refer to Old English poetry like ‘The Wanderer,’ ‘The Wife’s Lament’ and ‘The Husband’s Message’ for better understanding the dominant themes of Anglo-Saxon literature.

  • Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness written by John Donne: In this sonnet, the narrator (similar to the narrator’s tone in the concluding section of ‘The Dream of the Rood’) hopes to gain entry to heaven and going around in paradise blissfully.
  • The Coronet, written by Andrew Marvell: this piece refers back to the Crucifixion story, and the poetic persona wants to make amends for the wrongdoings to Christ.
  • Battle-Hymn of the Republic written by Julia Ward Howe: throughout this sonnet, the poet talks about the Second Coming of Christ and shows him as a warrior.

What is the main message of The Dream of the Rood?

Themes and Symbolism in ‘The Dream of the Rood’

The main theme of the poem has been describing as that of a battle that is especially eloquent and apparent at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

What does the poet say about his dream in The Dream of the Rood?

In his dream, the poet narrates that at night, he saw the Cross was “treasure adorned” for it was covered in gems and gold, and the ‘Rood’ or the ‘cross’ was hovering in the air. The poet also described the Cross to have a “wretched hostility” and on the right side a little blood other than its golden beauty.

What symbolism is present in the poem Dream of the Rood?

The poem itself shows the contrast between the Pagan religion and Christianity and the overlap of religious symbols between them. It follows the crucifixion of Jesus and the dreamer’s journey to finding faith. The rood is seen as the backbone of the crucifixion and is depicted as being praised more than Christ.

What does the tree represent in The Dream of the Rood?

The tree in so doing may thus be identified with Christ himself. After all, in the poem The Dream of the Rood it is the tree that is resurrected and becomes the symbol of Christianity when the human Jesus – just as the Germanic warrior – had fought out his battle and suffered death on the Cross.