The Dream of the Rood

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What are the characteristics of the first speaker in The Dream of the Rood based on his relationship with the Rood?

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The Dream of the Rood is a poem in which there are two first-person narrators—the unknown author and the Rood (Cross) itself. The first speaker is the author, who describes a vivid vision or dream of a most extraordinary Cross that is garnished with gold and gemstones yet is also "at times steamy with blood wet."

What are some characteristics we can attribute to the speaker based on his relationship with the Rood? The way that he both sees and listens to the Rood tells us that he is powerfully connected both the Christian message of redemption and to nature itself.

First of all, his ability to describe the vision of the Rood so vividly and with such reverence and passion tells us that the story of Jesus Christ's suffering and death on the Cross (Rood) hold great meaning for him. He is clearly a devoted Christian who believes it is important to share the story of the "great warrior" Jesus.

There is something else we can learn about the speaker based on his relationship with the Rood. Recall that this poem was written in the 800s, when Christianity was new to the British Isles. Older, pre-Christian religious beliefs, such as Celtic veneration of nature and trees, were still part of a culture that was beginning to embrace the the new religion of Christianity.

The human speaker's relationship with the Rood also suggests that he has a great reverence not only for the sacred symbol that it is but for the living tree from which it was hewn.

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