Two ships crossing: Hybrid poetics in the dream of the Rood

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Although the theological and aesthetic relevance of the term holmwudu ("sea-wood") in line 91 of The Dream of the Rood has been demonstrated, many editions and pedagogical texts still insert the emendation holtwudu ("forest-wood"). I argue against the emendation because holmwudu belongs to an ongoing characterization of the Holy Cross as a sea vessel that occurs throughout the body of the poem, not just after line 91. Moreover, I claim that The Dream of the Rood uses a modified version of the Sea Voyage type-scene in the talking cross's tale of the crucifixion. My reading of The Dream of the Rood shows the productive interplay of two poetic strategies: the literate and the oral traditional. The poem combines the Christian metaphor of navis crucis, drawn from patristic theology, and an oral-related type-scene, both of which portray the rood as the vehicle by which one may reach heaven.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-255
Number of pages15
JournalEnglish Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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