Many years ago – the memory abides –
I was felled to the ground at the forest’s edge,
Severed from my roots. Enemies seized me,
Made of me a mark of scorn for criminals to mount on;
Shoulder-high they carried me and set me on a hill.
Many foes made me fast there. Far off then I saw
The King of all mankind coming in great haste,
With courage keen, eager to climb me…
Then the young Hero – it was God almighty –
Strong and steadfast, stripped himself for battle;
He climbed up on high gallows, constant in his purpose,
Mounted it in sight of many, mankind to ransom.
Horror seized me when the Hero clasped me,
But I dared not bow or bend down to earth.
Nor falter, nor fall; firm I needs must stand.
I was raised up a Rood, a royal King I bore,
The High King of Heaven: hold firm I must.
They drove dark nails through me, the dire wounds still show,
Cruel, gaping gashes, yet I dared not give as good.
They taunted the two of us; I was wet with teeming blood,
Streaming from the warrior’s side when he sent forth his spirit.
High upon a hill helpless I suffered
Long hours of torment; I saw the Lord of hosts
Outstretched in agony; all embracing darkness
Covered with thick clouds the corpse of the World’s Ruler,
The bright day was darkened by a deep shadow,
All its colours clouded; the whole creation wept,
Keened for its King’s fall; Christ was on the Rood.
Yet warriors from afar eagerly came speeding
To where he hung alone. All this I beheld.
Anon., translated by Helen Gardner.
I took this from Signs of your kingdom by Michael Perham.