Emotion of the Rood

Having already read this poem was very helpful, since I already understood that it was about the Holy Cross. The narrator was actually being shown its journey from tree to cross through a dream vision. The poem is full of emotions, like pride as well as woe. The rood is proud to have been chosen to serve as a religious icon. It is even called the “victor-tree” early on in the story. The cross describes its grief for the pain that Christ had to endure, but it “needs stand firm” trying to be strong for Him when He was weak. After Christ’s death, the cross speaks of how “on me the Son of God suffered a little time; wherefore in glory now I tower up beneath the sky.” Though I had read this previously, I never really focused on just how prevalent the emotional aspects were because the last time I read it, I was translating it from Old English and focused instead on the linguistic aspects of the poem.

1 thought on “Emotion of the Rood

  1. I can expand upon the accurate description that Arianna gives for this poem. It is, indeed, a story about a journey that a tree takes to becoming the cross that holds Jesus Christ. I agree that this poem is full of emotions that I did not catch onto so easily when I first read this a few years ago in an earlier English class. I think that these emotions are pulling against each other. I want to expand on what Arianna said about emotions.

    In preparing for my upcoming paper, I came across the concept of “honor/shame code” of chivalry. I find that some of the contradicting emotions in this story fall into this code. Throughout the poem I found contradictory, or, at least, opposite feelings to the experiences. The story began with the description of a “most wondrous tree” that was bathed in light of gold and gems. Lines later, the author uses “guilt” and “glory” in the same sentence, and I think that begins to pave the way for further opposites. A few lines later, the narrator “beg[ins] to see an ancient wretched struggle” (18-19) but this wretched struggle was then later compared to an honorable thing. We see honor in the narrator’s speaking of how “the Lord of mankind eagerly hastened when he wanted to ascend upon [the tree]. ” Later on the narrator says he was reared as a cross and dared not lie down. While highlighting the raising of the cross and thereby highlighting Christ’s death, the narrator still heightens the sense of HONOR in that act.

    A few more spots where the emotions are contradicting or opposite is the line 65-67 “I was beset with sorry yet I sank into their hands, humbly” – this line is again showing the honor AND shame of the chivalry code.

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