The Dream of the Rood, lines 1-156 [all]

One of the most admired poems in the Anglo-Saxon corpus, The Dream of the Rood tells the story of Christ’s crucifixion from the point of view of the Cross itself.

Soul and Body I, lines 88-166 [end]

The debate between the soul and the body concludes.

Soul and Body I, lines 1-87

This is the first half of a poem in which the soul returns to the body to berate it for its behavior during life.  There is a gory depiction of worms eating the body.

A very similar poem, creatively named Soul and Body II, is found in booklet III of the Exeter Book.

Homiletic Fragment I [all]

This poetic fragment of 47 lines exhorts people to be better so that, at the end of life, they are able to see heaven and the angels.

The Fates of the Apostles, lines 1-122 [all]

This poem contains one of the famous runic “signatures” that indicates that Cynewulf was the author. A passage towards the end of the poem uses runes to spell out letters that can be re-arranged to spell “Cynwulf.” This is possible because Anglo-Saxon runes had names as well as phonetic values; for example, the rune “wyn” (which looks somewhat like a “p” with a triangle instead of a half-circle loop) means “joy” and also the sound “w.” (so using runes in writing was the Anglo-Saxon equivalent of text-message speak: Where R U, U R L8 works the same way).  Runic Cynewulf signatures are also found in Elene (also in the Vercelli Book) and Christ II and Juliana (in the Exeter Book).

The poem itself tells of the fates of the apostles after the death and resurrection of Christ and is thus a simplified martyrology. It is particularly notable for the similarity between its introductory passage and that of Beowulf (which you can listen to if you buy Beowulf Aloud). The Fates of the Apostles is most aesthetically appealing at the end of the poem, where Cynewulf implores the reader who has been pleased by the poem to pray for the poet’s soul.

Andreas, lines 1659-1722 [end]

The people are upset that Andreas is leaving, so God Himself appears to Andreas and tells the saint to stay an additional seven days.  Andreas then returns to Myrmedonia, where he continues to instruct the people in the Christian faith.

After seven days, Andreas prepares to return to Achaia.  The people of Myrmedonia lament, but the saint goes onto a ship and sails away.  The people proclaim the glory and power of God, concluding that “He is a noble King.”

Andreas, lines 1554-1658

After the destruction by fire and water, the evil ones are weeping. One man says that now they understand that their mistreatment of Andreas was wrong. He suggest releasing him immediately. The sea rises up to the people’s chests and shoulders. Andreas walks out of the prison and immediately a path through the waters appears. The sea subsides, and then Andreas causes a chasm to open up in the earth into which pour the waters and the worst of the enemies.

The people declare that they now see that God has more strength.

Andreas tells them not to fear, that, although God killed the worst men, for the survivors, heaven is revealed. Andreas then intercedes with God to bring back to life the young men killed by the waters.

These young men are baptized, and then they, at Andreas’ command, build a church at the spot where the flood began. Baptism and all the rites of Christianity are instituted, and Andreas consecrates one particularly wise man, named Platan, as a bishop for the people.

Now Andreas is ready to leave, and he tells the people that he will seek a ship.

Andreas, lines 1446-1553

Andreas looks back and sees not the trail of blood he must expect, but instead flowering trees. Andreas praises God for this.

The crowd of evil ones puts Andreas in prison for a fourth time. Now God comes into the prison and speaks with Andreas, telling him that he will no longer suffer pain from the enemies. He is immediately healed of his wounds.

A new section (section XIV) begins with a “Hwæt!” and the poet explains what he has been doing (praising the saint). He then recounts what he calls an old legend, about how Andreas noticed some marble pillars and spoke to them, calling forth a spring from the marble. A stream rushes out of the stone and begins to rush through the town, washing away the evil warriors. They try to flee the city, but an angel prevents them by spreading fire around the city. Inside, the water drowns many and the fire burns others.

Andreas, lines 1335-1445

The crowd rushes to seize Andreas, but they stop when they perceive the cross of Christ upon his face.

Satan asks this warriors what is wrong, and one answers that they cannot now harm Andreas.  “Do it yourself,” he suggests, but then argues that they should insult the trussed-up Andreas rather than attack him directly.

Satan says that Andreas has deceived many people and that for this he deserves punishment.  “Who on earth will free you?” he asks.

Andreas replies that God can easily free him, just as God easily exiled and chained up Satan.

Satan runs away.

The crowd brings Andreas out of the prison for a third time and beats and wounds him.

Andreas cries out to God that he has never withstood a harsher fate, references Jesus’ suffering during the crucifixion, and asks if he, Andreas, might be allowed to die and thus escape these torments.

God speaks to Andreas and tells  him not to despair, that He is watching over him.  He tells Andreas to look back at the trail of his blood across the ground.

Andreas, lines 1219-1334

The crowd seizes Andreas and ties his hands. Then they proceed to drag him around the land until his bones are broken and his body is oozing blood. Andreas is then dragged to prison and left chained through the night, when a winter storm comes and freezes him. But Andreas continues to praise God.

The next day Andreas is led out of prison and scourged. He weeps and cries out to God, saying that he trusts in God not to abandon him.

Satan tells the crowd to hit Andreas in the mouth because he talks too much.

Night falls, and Andreas is led back to the prison. Then the Devil comes into the prison and speaks to the Saint. He asks Andreas why he is there and states that Jesus was able to be defeated in combat and humiliated by Herod. Satan commands his followers to kill Andreas.

Andreas, lines 1135-1218

Andreas see the crowd prepare to kill the boy, but God’s power causes their weapons to melt like wax and the boy is freed.  Then the people cry out that they are now facing a famine.

The Devil appears in front of the crowd, tells them that Andreas is the source of their problems, and encourages them to attack him. Andreas  argues back at the Devil, noting that he has already been vanquished by God. The Devil again encourages the crowd to attack Andreas, and the crowd rushes to the gates of the city with weapons.
God then speaks to Andreas, telling him that he must reveal himself.  God says that Andreas will not be killed, although he will suffer beating.  He promises to remain with Andreas.

Andreas, lines 1026-1134

The two saints pray to God and then set free all of the captives in the prison. Matthew leads the captives to safety under the cover of clouds sent by God. Andreas goes back to the city and sits down next to a pillar of brass. A crowd assembles and goes to the prison, expecting to eat the captives. They instead find the guards dead, and soon they eat them.

They also decide to choose by chance (tossing a rod), which one of them will be eaten. A high-ranking earl is selected, and he is put in bonds in preparation for being eaten. He, however, cries out and says that he will allow the crowd to eat his son, a child, instead. The child is chained in front of the crowd. He cries out for mercy, but none is forthcoming.

Andreas, lines 925-1025

God tells Andreas that now he is more aware of God’s power and ready for the next stage of the journey. He is to go into Myrmedonia and free Andrew. He can expect to be beaten and injured, but he will never be killed and is not to despair but is instead to remember the example of Christ’s Passion.

God then returns to heaven.

Andreas enters into the city. God protects him so that he is not seen, and he has almost reached the prison when he sees seven guards standing outside the door. They are suddenly killed, and the door opens to Andreas’ hand. Inside he finds Matthew. The two saints embrace.

[There is then a missing leaf from the manuscript, but the Greek source (which was not used by the poet; a now-lost Latin source was) tells us that Andreas heals Matthew of his blindness and then heals the eyes and minds of the other prisoners. ]

Andreas, lines 822-924

God then commands his angels to carry Andreas and his men, in their sleep, to their destination. They awake and note that they are now in Myrmedonia. Andreas tells his men that God himself was on the ship with them. The men tell Andreas that they slept and dreamed that they were carried through the air. They saw angels, and the patriarch David, and they saw Andreas himself in the presence of the Son.

Andreas is heartened by this vision of heaven, and pray to God, thanking him. God then reveals himself to Andreas in the form of a young man. He hails Andreas and says that He will keep watch over him and protect him from his enemies.

Andreas then asks why he was unable to recognize God a first when they were on the sea.

Andreas, lines 696-821

Andreas’ story about Jesus continues. Jesus performed many miracles and then went into the desert. Then He returned to the temple and noted that He saw marvelous carvings of his angels there. Then Jesus declares that a miracle will occur and, it does: voices come out of the hard stone and criticize the priests of the temple. The oldest priests refuse to believe the miracle and say that it is merely sorcery. So the carvings begin to walk through the streets, preaching, until they reach Mamre, where the bodies of the patriarchs were buried. The animated statue then causes Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to rise up from their graves. The people were terrified, and then honored Jesus for this.

Andreas continues to tell stories of the glory of Jesus all day long.