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The Dream of the Rood

The purpose of this research is to examine The Dream of the Rood, an anonymous poem in Old English variously thought to have been composed in the eighth, ninth, or tenth centuries. The history of the poem's thematic and rhetorical development has been charted according to three major lines: the mingling of Germanic and Christian influences for the production of narrative form and content, the heroic tradition prevalent in the English culture at the time the poem was composed, and doctrinal influences on the content of the poem. These lines are not mutually exclusive, but they illustrate how the poem has been analyzed.

The influence of both Germanic and Christian culture on The Dream of the Rood has been noted by Diamond, who says that the heroic quality of Christ as described by the Rood in the poem is a motif of central European literary traditions that has been turned on its head. "Our poet seems to have reversed the softening tendency which so often creeps into heroic poetry: for example, in the Serbian heroic song of the Battle of Kossovo, the hero rejects an earthly kingdom in favor of the heavenly kingdom" (Diamond 4). The through line of action in The Dream of the Rood, however, is a description of Christ as a hero, which "displays in some passages a seemingly atavistic reversion to the heroic spirit" (Diamond 4). Diamond attributes this tendency in The Dream of the Rood to the probability that the author composed the poem pursuant to the phenomenon of the medieval minstrel, or "a kind of oralformulaic diction," which reflected the narrative compositional techniques of the justpreceding age. Diamond cites the Germanicheroic environment of the biblical book of Judith, which is a bloody, lurid adventure story, as well as the AngloSaxon poet Cynewulf's poem about Saint Juliana, which has, as Diamond notes, "a succession of lurid

events" (Diamond 5). He also refers to the fact that the medieval society into whic...

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The Dream of the Rood. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 20:03, June 19, 2019, from