The Dream of the Rood is a poem touted by academicians as the most suitable illustration of the theme of crucifixion in ancient English poetry. The poem, though having more ancient English decorations, it is one of its kind as it clearly describes the Cross perspective with a dream vision as the benchmark. The qualities therefore bring out the poem as more philosophical. The dream of the rood illustrates how a poet with little fame comes across a fine looking tree whose name is rood. The tree happens to be the one used to crucify Jesus Christ. Though it is festooned with valuable materials, the poet notices the scars left on it by previous events. The rood recounts the injuries it too sustained at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion despite its present shiny nature done by mankind.
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Importance of the poem:
The Dream of the Rood poem is of great significance to the readership today as it gives vivid descriptions of the ancient literature in relation to the Bible. The dream vision expressed in the poem shows the use of tough, virile pictures of Christ if only to penetrate all individuals who form the culture of the Anglo-Saxon warriors. The community preferred to employ physical power over humility. The Christian concept is seen as a well calculated move arrived at, to woo pagans to embrace Christian moral values and principles. It also shows how the Christ’s moral values were conceived or viewed by different people practicing divergent lifestyles.
Though Hebrews affirms that Christ does not change, the notion shared by humans about the Christ’s likeness has not remained constant. According to Pelican every generation depicts Jesus according to its nature. The poem thus deviates from the biblical version explaining Jesus’ life owing to its Anglo-Saxon background. And in emphasizing the historical victory the Christ won, the poet portrays Christ as a forceful fighter who bravely tackles and overcomes sin, an illustration of honor and audacity which played a key role in the ancient times.
According to Pelikan (1985), the description about the approach taken by Jesus in the poem is fully explicit on the poet’s soft spot for Christ. He is portrayed as a fighter against sin, who does not badge in his war against the vice and other anomalies in the society. For instance, the poet christens Jesus many great names such as the youthful hero, the warrior, the heroic young knight who embraces fairness and the brave King of the mankind. The wording and descriptions employed by the poet depics Christ as hero admired by many and who very few would live without. In this context, various evils come out in the open and only Christ is seen as the definitive remedy.
In view of this, the poet in addition, portrays Christ as a combatant-like figure, who energetically gets ready for battle, knocking the wind out of the notion that Jesus is helplessly forced to carry the cross on which to be crucified. Samuels who is a medievalist says the ancient words repeatedly used when addressing Christ, bear varying connotations. Key among them include; the prepared one, the anxious, the one who steps up, the keen and the vanishing. The terms expose a totally different image in the Bible that Jesus cuts, when he willingly struggles hauling the cross for his crucifixion.
The approach given by the poet about Christ when he comes close to his cross is akin to the bold daring guts of Beowulf, an imaginary Anglo-Saxon icon who got ready for a duel against the mother of Grendel. In the meantime, he does not display any sign of anxiety about whether he puts his life on the line. Instead, he exudes confidence saying he is ready for the duel. The similarity between the poem and the Bible comes to the open; Beowulf enthusiastically throws his hat into the ring just as Christ does when he begins to scale the cross ready for crucifixion, (Pelikan 1985).
The reality that the poet has kind words for Christ who is triumphant and superhuman in boldness which was only displayed by medievalist warriors of immense power demonstrates that Christ’s image has evolved with time to the point of fitting the present people’s way of life. According to Irving, the German society was devoted to forceful manners and the clear goodness of individual honor. By laying more emphasis of Christ's bravado and courage with little regard for his more obedient character traits, the poet cultivates the picture of Christ that explains the happenings in the period of middle ages.
The poet's cchoice of statement in the account of the last moment of the life of Jesus also illustrates Christ’s image as a conqueror. Whereas it is written that Jesus lowered his head and lost his spirit, the poem concurs that Christ sent his spirit forth. The subtle dissimilarity separating the two proclamations is important since The Dream of the Rood poet does not mean that Christ silently passed over his spirit. Instead he vehemently and intentionally terminated his life, to control the circumstance up to the very last moments of his life. In such a circumstance, Christ demonstrated his medievalist image by opting to die bravely. Jesus suffered countless times so as to relieve sinners of their sins. Those who had false-hearts chastised Him, ridiculed Him with sacrilege, spat in His visage, and insulted Him; and subjected him to all manner of injustices including hell-doomed individuals who unknowingly tortured Him, forcibly placing a thorny crown on his head. And in spite of the mistreatment, he forgave them, intending to return to earth so as take with Him those who have received salvation and have strong belief in Him, (Hammer, 1970).
The Christ’s image in the poem The Dream of the Rood is an indication of the hopeful approach in which Christians in the past viewed the crucifixion. On the contrary, the rather cynical perception of the problems Jesus encountered on the cross in which mankind is projected to feel culpable about the death of Christ; the view toward Christ’s woes in the poem is optimistic and encouraging. The Christ successes thereafter when he resurrects suggests Christ defeats death. Though In death Christ is accorded a short humble burial ceremony befitting a villain, it turns out to be a decent burial befitting a martyr, complete with a dirge. At long last His remains are interred in precious stone.
The Dream of the Rood poem is very important in the Christian way of life today. It outlines the ancient Christian values derived from the Christ’s teachings as envisaged in the Bible. The poet vividly describes the sufferings that Jesus underwent in his quest to have a morally upright society devoid of evil. Throughout the poem, Jesus Christ is portrayed as brave warrior who does not get distracted by sideshows erected on his path by his foes. The rood that had been nailed, having shared the agony with Jesus ultimately gets a reprieve as it is well decorated by mankind, with valuable minerals to improve its appearance. The rood decorations turn out to be done by the same mankind who opted for its suffering. This reveals how forgiveness should be upheld by the society.
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