Sunday 24 April 2011

The Dream of the Rood

Over on McSweeney's they have a little comedy piece about possible Easter films, including:

Good, Better, Best Friday

Musical comedy about the crucifixion of Christ—but from the point of view of the cross. Think Happy Feet meets Passion of the Christ with a dash of Showboat.

It's a ridiculous idea, it would be like doing a version of the Crucifixion as an Anglo-Saxon warrior-poem—but from the point of view of the cross. Think Beowulf meets Passion of the Christ with a dash of The Book of the Duchess.

That, of course, has already been done. It's called The Dream of the Rood. Here's a taster:

Ealle ic mihte
feondas gefyllan, hwæðre ic fæste stod.
Ongyrede hine þa geong hæleð, (þæt wæs god ælmihtig),
strang ond stiðmod. Gestah he on gealgan heanne,
modig on manigra gesyhðe, þa he wolde mancyn lysan.
Bifode ic þa me se beorn ymbclypte.

And here's a translation:

I might have
felled all the fiends; even so, I stood fast.
He stripped himself then, young hero - that was God almighty -
strong and resolute; he ascended on the high gallows,
brave in the sight of many, when he wanted to ransom mankind.
I trembled when the warrior embraced me;

Rood was the Old English word for cross. Cross is the Celtic version and was only introduced by Irish missionaries in the tenth century. Incidentally, the phrase criss-cross is only a garbling of Christ's cross, which is therefore blasphemous.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some tearful gardening to do.

And I thought my front door was unwieldy.

1 comment:

  1. Then there's the tale of the three trees... I know it as a children's book but apparently it's an old folktale. They become the manger, fishing boat and the cross. There's a reasonable text here.

    That's already been animated, which may be the inspiration.