translated by David Swensen (from the unattributed Anglo Saxon)
Hwæt! Ic swefna cyst secgan wylle,
on lyft lædan, leohte bewunden,
beama beorhtost. Eall þæt beacen wæs
begoten mid golde. Gimmas stodon
fægere þurh forðgesceaft. Ne wæs ðær
huru fracodes gealga,
Syllic wæs se sigebeam,ond ic synnum
wædum geweorðode, wynnum scinan,
swætan on þa swiðran healfe.Eall ic
wæs mid sorgum
oððæt ic gehyrde þæt
astyred of stefne minum.Genaman me
ðær strange feondas,
Bæron me ðær beornas on eaxlum,ðæt
hie me on beorg asetton,
þær ic þa ne dorste ofer dryhtnes
feondas gefyllan, hwæðre ic fæste
strang ond stiðmod. Gestah he on
Rod wæs ic aræred Ahof ic ricne cyning,
heofona hlaford, hyldan me ne dorste.
Eall ic wæs mid blode bestemed, begoten of þæs guman sidan,
siððan he hæfde his gast onsended.
Feala ic on þam beorge gebiden hæbbe
wann under wolcnum.Weop eal gesceaft,
hwæðre þam secgum to handa, eaðmod elne mycle.
Genamon hie þær ælmihtigne god, ahofon hine of
ðam hefian wite.Forleton me þa
meðe æfter ðam miclan gewinne.
Ongunnon him þa moldern wyrcan
Hwæðere we ðær greotende
stodon on staðole, syððan stefn
Bedealf us man on deopan seaþe.
Hwæðre me þær dryhtnes þegnas,
Nu ðu miht gehyran, hæleð min se
sarra sorga. Is nu sæl cumen
þrowode hwile. Forþan ic þrymfæst nu
hlifige under heofenum, ond ic hælan
Hwæt, me þa geweorðode wuldres ealdor
Nu ic þe hate, hæleð min se leofa,
ond Adomes ealdgewyrhtum.
Deað he þær byrigde, hwæðere eft
on domdæge dryhten sylfa,
þæt he þonne wile deman, se ah domes
Ne mæg þær ænig unforht wesan
se ðe for dryhtnes
naman deaðes wolde
Ac hie þonne forhtiað, ond fea þencaþ
ac ðurh ða rode sceal rice gesecan
of eorðwege æghwylc sawl,
afysed on forðwege, feala ealra gebad
mycel on mode, ond min mundbyrd is
geriht to þære rode.Nah ic ricra
wuniaþ on wuldre, ond ic wene me
þe ic her on eorðan ær sceawode,
dream on heofonum, þær is dryhtnes
se ðe her on eorþan ær þrowode
mid bledum ond mid blisse þam þe þær bryne þolodan.
Se sunu wæs sigorfæst on þam siðfate,
wunedon on wuldre, þa heora wealdend
Behold! How often the best of visions come
Drenched and dreamt in darkness long after
Folk to the dwellings of their dreams have gone!
It seemed to me that I beheld a marvelous tree
Being raised into the air, light arched round its
Bark in bright beams, with symbols in all their
Enigmatic prowess, firm beside the gold and
Jewels encrusted on that Cross. Above the crossbeam
Floated a host of angels, all fair by virtue of creation
None those rogue felons of the gallows; yet
The cross beheld and possessed that holy spirit
Of man upon earth and all his glorious creation.
The tree of victory was wondrous, and I, stained
With sin, wounded by my own transgression.
Yet, as I saw the glory tree, with shimmering garments
Of gold and gem joyfully adorning it, I could perceive
The wretchedness of other men, the blood which dripped
and blemished its side. I was fearful in the face of such
Transformation, for the tree at times showed gold
and shimmered, and then was soaked in the flow
of its of its own black blood. Nevertheless, lying
quietly, I gazed in the heat of vision upon the Savior’s
cross, until I heard it speak. The cross then began to utter
words whose excellence I can only repeat:
“It was long ago (but I still remember), way down
At the forests edge I was hacked from my own
Precious roots, moved from my blessed trunk
By powerful enemies, who berated me as a spectacle
Then commanded me to bear on my back the weight
Of their criminal. Men carried me on their shoulders
Then, until laying me down on a hill. Vast enemies
Held me there, until I saw the Lord. He was hastening
With great zeal, to climb upon me! I did not dare rise
Against the Lord’s command, by bending or breaking
When I felt the quaking of the earth’s surface. I could
Have fallen every enemy then and there, but I stood
My ground. He then stripped himself, the young hero
Who was almighty God, strong and resolute as he
Mounted my lofty beams, bravery never wavering
Under the scrutiny of all, since it was mankind he would redeem.
I trembled when the warrior clasped me, yet dared
Not bend down to the soil, or collapse in the dust spun
Earth. The cross was raised up as I heaved the powerful
King, Lord of the heavens, and bend I didn’t dare.
They pierced me with dark nails, leaving wounds which are
Still visible, open in deep black gashes, Yet still I dared
Not harm any of those men. As they mocked both of us
I was drenched in the blood from the side of the lord
Which came after his spirit was sent forth.
On that hill I experienced many cruel events. I saw
The God of hosts severely stretched, the clouds of
Darkness covered the ruler’s corpse , a bright radiance
And a shadow came forth and ducked under the sky
All of creation wept-lamenting the death of the king:
Christ was on the cross.
Yet, others came hastening from abroad to the prince.
I was sorely oppressed with sorrows and distress,
Yet I bowed to these men’s hands; humble, but with
Strength and fervor. They took hold of almighty God
And rose him out of his heavy wooden torture. Yet,
They left me as a standing as a battle warrior, covered
In the thick red moisture of blood, still with my wounds.
They laid down the weary limbed man, stood at his head,
And stared upwards awestruck at the rested lord of heaven,
Exhausted after his great struggle. They then began to carve
Him a tomb, cutting it out of shining stone to place him within;
That Lord of victories. As they began their song of lament
That dark and wretched evening, they began to depart; worn
From the sufferings of the Prince. He remained there with
Little company as we wept and heard the sounds of the song
Of a warrior’s lament departing with the wind. Then the corpse
Grew cold, that fair dwelling place of the spirit. One by one
We were cut down and they tossed us into the ground.
O! dreadful fate, we were buried deep into a dank pit.
But friends and the Lord’s servants found me
And adorned me with gold and silver.
Now, hear me, my dear man-
Evil men have worked to inflict pain on me,
I have endured suffering and grievous anxiety.
Now the time has come for people far and wide on
All corners of the earth honor me:
Men through all the glorious created earth
Bend down to their knees to honor me and worship
This sign. It was on me that God’s son suffered, and it
Is because of his suffering that I now tower into the heavens
And may save every one of those who are in awe.
Once, I was dealt the cruelest of punishments-I was
a symbol of hate, until I opened the way for mankind.
O, Lo the honorable and glorious prince
Held above the forests of trees, towards the lords Kingdom,
Just as he had honored his mother before him,
As he would honor Mary, for the sake of all women.
Now, my dear friend, I command you to tell
This vision to all mankind, to reveal that the word
Of this tree is true, and that is was on this tree
That the almighty God suffered, for the many sins
Of man, and the former actions of Adam.
He had tasted death, but again the Lord arose
With great fervor and might to help all men.
He then ascended to the heavens, yet will return
To earth again as mankind seeks him on
The day of doom. The Lord himself, almighty God,
And his angels with him hold the power of judgment,
And they will judge the people as themselves
On their gained merit in this transitory life.
Not a single soul shall be unafraid in the face
Of that great Ruler’s uttered word.
As he asks in the presence of the multitudes:
‘Where is that man who would be willing to taste
The bitter dram of death as he once did on that
Shimmering, wounded cross?’ And they will be
Afraid, and know little of how to begin to speak
To Christ. But there will be no need then for anyone
Who already carries on his breast the best sign;
Because through that very cross every soul which
Intends to dwell with his ruler shall be carried from
The soiled paths of the earth, upwards into the kingdom”
Then, with great zeal I prayed in a tender and joyful spirit
To that tree, where I was alone with little company.
There my mind urged me forward on a journey outward;
I know many have endured this tune of longing.
As for me, I pray that I will return to that victorious tree,
Seek it; alone and more often then all men,
To honor it in its glory. To those ends the desire
grows great in my heart, and I put my hope of protection
in the hands of the cross. I do not have many powerful
friends on earth; yet they have all departed from the world
seeking joy for themselves in the radiance of the Lord,
and now they live in heaven with God the Father,
dwelling in his deep light—and for myself, I hope
each day for the hour when the Lord’s cross
which I beheld with my very eyes, here, on earth,
will bring me out of this transitory life,
to a place where bliss abounds,
that joy we call heaven, where all the Lord’s folk
sit at the everlasting banquet,
and I may then have a place to dwell
in the utmost glory with all the saints,
and enjoy that final happiness.
May the lord be a friend to me,
He who formerly suffered on the
Gallows tree for the sins of men.
He who redeems, gives life, and gives
That heavenly home. Hope was renewed
With glory and with bliss, where once
The Lord’s people had suffered burning.
The Son was triumphant on his journey,
Mighty and enduring, when he came with the multitude
To lift souls into heaven, Sovereign and almighty,
To the glory of all the angels and saints who have
Dwelled in heavens, waiting for their Ruler, the
almighty God, to return to his home.