Can you help me with some analysis of the poem "The Dream of the Rood" from the Old English and teach me how to analyze the poem and get the theme and everything, please?  I need to know how to...

Can you help me with some analysis of the poem "The Dream of the Rood" from the Old English and teach me how to analyze the poem and get the theme and everything, please?  

I need to know how to analyze poems because I'm taking a Literature course in the university and I'm actually kind of lost in the class and can't get anything about analyzing and themes from the Old English, so please help me as soon as possible! Thanks!

Asked on by almok

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The analysis of a translated poem will depend upon the translator's motivation. If the translator is trying to preserve the verse form (poetic form and structure), the word order may seem odd and if it is a literal translation, the word choices may seem odd. The best way to approach this is to read the poem, look up secondary sources (such as the links below) which comment on themes and poetic devices, and then read the poem again. The following is a thematic analysis of the poem in prose form.

The major poetic device in "The Dream of the Rood" is personification. The Dreamer dreams of a glorious tree who speaks to him (Dreamer) in his dream. The tree becomes the Rood: literally and figuratively, a conversion. The use of personification here shows how the Rood (Cross) was a participant in Christ's suffering, death, and resurrection. This is to parallel Christ's followers (using the Dreamer as an example) who, like Him and the Rood, will suffer in life and be rewarded in heaven. Note that the Rood bleeds from the same side as Christ did. The Rood is the Cross personified. Those who follow Christ would likewise support him in his suffering and literally/figuratively "lift him up."

The poem is obviously dominated by Christian themes. One interpretation is that this is a poem about conversion. The Rood began as a common tree and became the glorious Cross by supporting Christ. Much emphasis is placed on the faith of the Cross, who claimed, "I was raised up, a cross; I lifted up the Mighty King, Lord of the Heavens: I dared not bend." The Dreamer begins, "stained with sins," hears the Rood's story, and then is given hope. In other words, the Dreamer (like the Rood) is converted from something common to something filled with hope and glory.

For it my heart's desire is great, and my hope of protection is directed to the Cross. I do not possess many powerful friends on earth, but they have gone hence from the delights of the world, sought for themselves the King of Glory.

The Rood is a personification, a human-like model to which the Dreamer can aspire. The Rood is therefore an allegory and a metaphor for faith and perseverance. The Rood suffered in life, supported Jesus, and is therefore eternally honored. The Dreamer concludes that he too can be so redeemed.

My heart's thoughts were urged on the way hence. I endured many times of longing. Now is there hope of life for me, that I am permitted to seek the tree of triumph, more often than other men honor it well, alone.

Sources:

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