Saturday, May 25, 2019
Narrative on `The Dream of the Rood`
As the first known dream poem in English literature, The Dream of the Rood has stood as one of the most celebrated and profound works in verse around the world. Along with a penetrating, mystical vision of Christian spirituality and light up Biblical allusion, the poem offers a diverse and divine form and expression to match its powerful theme and images. The Dream of the Rood is best understood as an imaginative re-enactment of a private penitential experience This critically acclaimed, dramatic Old English poem is the first dream-vision in English, and its most enduring features are a startling use of language, powerful prosopopoeia, and salient(ip) imagery. (Butcher)Along with religious imagery which overtly signals the spiritual and penitential themes of the poem, The Dream of the rood extends truly original diction and meter to propel its impact. The basic story of the poem may have been drawn from earlier sources, poems which utilized the same theme an older poem describing the agony of Jesus which may possibly have been written by Caedmon or one of his school, and which Cynewulf took up and worked at in his own fashion, adding to it where and how he pleased, and changing its expressive style of presentation making it, for instance into a dream, and adding the personification of the Tree. (Brooke 438)Using the theme of Christs crucifixion allowed the poet to soar into inventiuve language and word-choice, to establish poetry which intercommunicate the spiritual and religious impulses of the Anglo Saxon world More explicitly in what is perhaps the most famous of the Anglo-Saxon Christian poems, The Dream of the Rood, the poet represents the Crucifixion as a physically active and heroic act. (Crafton 214)This basic story is both straightforward and mystical the speaker tells of his swefna cyst, best of dreams, in which he sees the cross of the crucifixion, diverge nately bejeweled and bloody, in the sky. The cross then speaks, giving its own first p erson account of the Passion of Christ, and encouraging the dreamer to spread the message of the cross to his contemporaries. (Dockray-Miller) In order to capture the luminous and exalted feeling of inspiration and religious intoxication which permeate the poem, the poet engaged in the use of language which is both striking and deeply connotative.In generating the narrative of the poem, the poet resorted to the use of gender-charged or gender-specific language, to personify and attribute qualitites to the elements of the poem which would enable its message to emerge powerfully.Particularly concerned with how language could be used to signal a status of power, the poet of The Dream of the Rood used masculine- and feminine-coded language to signal a change in the status of power-figures. (Hawkins)Evidence of controlled and inspired diction is obvious from the poems opening lines the poet announces he will recount the swefna cyst, or best of dreams, the first-time reader thinks nothing of the phrase except that it signifies truth in dreaming, perhaps however, on second and third passes through the poem, the reader becomes aware that this diction deserves close scrutiny the poet is establishing that both his narrators dream and the corner in that dream are the best that is to say, they are ultimate truth. (Butcher).Likewise, the tree, described first in the poems fourth line as syllicre tr?eow, an infrangible use of the comparative syllicre, meaning a tree more marvelous than any other tree. Syllic is a variation of the adjective seldlic, from which our seldom comes. Thus, syllicre tr?eow can similarly be translated rarest tree. Immediately, the poet has established the exceptional nature of his subject. (Butcher).Works CitedBrooke, Stopford A. The History of Early English Literature Being the History of English Poetry from Its Beginnings to the Accession of magnate Aelfred. New York Macmillan, 1892.Crafton, John Michael. 11 Epic and Heroic Poetry. A Companion to Old and Middle English Literature. Ed. Laura Cooner Lambdin and Robert Thomas Lambdin. Westport, CT Greenwood Press, 2002. 210-229.Dockray-Miller, Mary. The Feminized Cross of The Dream of the Rood.. philological Quarterly 76.1 (1997) 1+.Hawkins, Emma B. Gender, Language and Power in The Dream of the Rood. Women and Language 18.2 (1995) 33+.Butcher, Carmen Acevedo. The Dream of the Rood and Its Unique, Penitential Language 1+www.carmenbutcher.com 2-5-07.