The Dream of the Rood is early Christian poems those ever existed in the era of Old English literature. The authorship of the poems is still debated until now. Probably, the author is between Cynewulf (770-840 AD) and Caedmon (658-680 AD). Old English poems are hard to date. The poem was first discovered on the Ruthwell Cross, a large stone carving dating to the early eighth century. Eighteen verses of The Dream of the Rood were carved into the cross in runic lettering. This was all that was known of the work to scholars until the complete poem was discovered, in 1822, in the tenth-century Vercelli Book in northern Italy (Esser, 2000).
In The Dream of the Rood, an unknown poet dreams that he encounters a beautiful tree. It is the “rood,” or cross, on which Jesus Christ was crucified. It is gloriously decorated with gold and gems, but the poet can discern ancient wounds. The rood tells the poet how it had been forced to be the instrument of Christ’s death, describing how it, too, experienced the nails and spear thrusts along with the savior. The rood goes on to explain that the cross was once an instrument of torture and death, and is now the dazzling sign of mankind’s redemption. It charges the poet to tell of his vision to all men, so that they too might be redeemed of sin.
The Dream of the Rood is widely regarded as one of the finest short religious poems in the Old English period. The poem has been the subject of literary and historical study for generations and has been interpreted in a variety of ways. The Dream of the Rood also provides a valuable window into early Christian England.