Friday, 1 July 2022

The Cross Speaks' - eighth century.

    'Christ on the Cross' -woodcarving.- Michelangelo. . Venice, St Giorgio Maggiore. 




It was long ago,         I yet remember,

that I was hewn down,        at the wood’s end

torn from my place.      They took me there, strong foes,

they set me up as a gazing stock,        bade me lift on high their


Men bore me on their shoulders,        till on a hill they set me,

many foes fastened me there.        Then I saw mankind’s Lord

swiftly come with courage,        for He willed to mount on me.

Then dared I not,        against the Lord’s word,

bend or break,        when I saw

the earth trembling.        I might there

have felled all my foes, but I stood fast.

Then he stripped Himself, the young Hero,        that was God


strong and firm hearted        He mounted the mean gibbet;

noble hearted in the sight of many        He would set free mankind.

I shook when the Prince clasped me,        but I durst not bow to


fall to the ground,        but needs stand fast.

A rood I was raised aloft,        I lifted the mighty King,

Lord of Heaven,        I durst not bend.

They drove me through with dark nails,        on me the marks are


wide wounds of hate.        I durst not harm any of them.

They mocked us both together.        I was all wet with blood

poured from the Man’s side        when He had sent forth His soul.

There on the hill        I underwent

many bitter things,        I saw the God of Hosts

sorely stretched out.        Darkness there

had wrapped in clouds        the Ruler’s Body,

in fair radiance.        A shadow went forth

wan under clouds.        All creation wept,

bewailed the |King/s death,        Christ on the rood.

But there came from afar        eager nobles

to Him all alone;        I beheld that.

Sore was I troubled with sorrows, but I bent down to the hands

of the men

humbly, with hearty will.        There they took Almighty God,

lifted Him down from the heavy pain.        They left me standing

wet with blood;       I was all wounded with shafts.

They laid Him down, limb-weary;       they stood at His body’s head;

they gazed on Him, Heaven’s Lord,        and he rested there awhile,

tired from the great strife.        They began to make His grave

in the sight of His foes.        They carved it from the bright stone.

They laid in it the Lord of Hosts.        They began to sing a sorrow-


alone in the evening tide.          Then they went away,

weary away from the great crowd.        With a few He rested there.

(From the Dream of the Rood, early eighth century.)

 Ack.'The Book of the Saviour' -edited by F.J.Sheed..

Published by Sheed and Ward 1952.

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