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Lent Poems: Good Friday - The Dream of the Rood translated by Richard Hammer

I have previously given a shout out to Jim Deeds my fellow "Wonderful Wanderer" for the beautiful little hand cross he carved from cherry wood from my native east Belfast, (which I subsequently learned came from a tree colloquially named by after a fellow pupil in my eldest son's class at school by her family because it usually blossomed on her birthday - making it even more precious, reminding me of many different connections between family and friends.) It has subsequently inspired me to both write a poem and carve a linocut, and it is a constant source of grounding to me as I have grasped it in difficult Zoom meetings over the past month or so. It has spoken to me in many ways.

Anglo-Saxon and medieval literature is peppered with pieces that give voice to all manner of creatures and inanimate objects in ways that seem almost surreal, but is probably grounded in the greater awareness then of people's connection with the physical world around them that we could do with rediscovering.

The poem I have selected for today's reading is actually reckoned to be one of the earliest pieces of poetry we have in English, or rather its Anglo-Saxon precursor, coming from the 8th century, preceding the Irish ,St. Patrick's "Lorica" or "The Deer's Cry" that I mentioned earlier in Lent. I'm no more an expert in Anglo-Saxon than I am in Irish, so I am indebted to those who are, and I love this translation of what is a much longer poem (they loved a long ballad to wile away the dark nights by the fire) by Richard Hammer. It gives an interesting perspective on perhaps an over-familiar scene...



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