Dream of the Rood – A Passion Story
How does the structure of Dream of the Rood contribute to the meaning of the poem? Dream of the Rood can be divided into three sections: part one (lines: one through twenty-seven), part two part (lines: twenty-eight through one-hundred and twenty-one), and part three (lines: one-hundred and twenty-two through one-hundred and fifty-six). These three sections mirror The Passion story. The first portion of the poem includes the description of the tree: “It seemed that I saw a most wondrous tree
Raised on high, circled round with light,
The brightest of beams. All that beacon was
Covered in gold: gems stood”
“I saw the tree of glory
Honored in garments, shining with joys,
Bedecked with gold; gems had
Covered worthily the creator’s tree.”
The rich imagery used to describe the tree seems positive here, and the author’s tone appears to be of amazement. All of the gold and gems that are referenced bring about connotation of royalty, and perhaps subconsciously trying to convey the message that Jesus is like a king. Another indication of Jesus’ royal status is the following line: “Raised on high,” which brings about the image of a king high upon his thrown. Upon taking a closer look at the lines within this first section we can see that things are not as they seem.
The narrator confesses straight away that it “seemed” like the most “wondrous tree,” therefore even though the tree looked aesthetically pleasing that is not its true self. The following lines support this theory:
“And yet beneath that gold I began to see
an ancient wretched struggle, for it first began
to bleed on the right side. It was all best with sorrows,
fearful for that fair vision; I saw that eager beacon
change garments and colors – now it was drenched,
stained with blood . . .”
The true description of the cross is actually a description of...
Cited: "The Dream of the Rood." The Broadview Anthology of British Literature: The Medieval Period. 2nd ed. Vol. 1. Toronto: Broadview, 2009. 31-34. Print.
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