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The Dream of the Rood

            We must agree that one of the things that make the dream of the rood so interesting is the personification of the Cross. But the poet seems also to have another way of making the moment of the crucifixion or the meaning of the Cross dream and a way which is much more immediate than personification. The poet connects the crucifixion with the second coming of Christ and eternal life. By examining several passages in the Bible dealing with eschatology particularly the new Jerusalem and the bride of Christ passages we can see that the poet is able to underscore the significance of the crucifixion by looking forward to the Day of Judgment and the mystical marriage of Christ and the Church. In the vision the Cross is seen in the air enveloped in light brightness is its most startling characteristic and visible at the corners of the earth which the Cross reaches as it stretches across the sky. Moreover, the Cross is beheld by the host of angels and by men throughout the world. In Matthew the disciples press Christ for more information about the last days particularly for the sign of the end. He replies that temporal signs will be tribulation on earth.
             If one substitutes Christ for the Cross in lines 4-12 he will see how closely this vision follows that of the second coming. The gold and the gems with which the cross is adorned may have their origin in another account of the second coming, the description of the New Jerusalem in Revelation. The city descending from heaven with brilliant light "like unto a stone most precious" is of "pure gold," and its twelve foundations are each of a different gem. The difference between the Cross of Calvary and the Cross or between the old and the New Jerusalem is one of glorification the transmutation which takes place on Judgment Day.
             The Rood not only reminds us of the New Jerusalem but also of the bride of Christ as the poet develops his imagery along familiar scriptural lines.

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