6. A Sea Voyage in The Dream of the Rood
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6 A Sea Voyage in The Dream of the Rood The proposition that a version of the sea-voyage typescene occurs in The Dream of the Rood seems unconventional at first. Where are the watery expanses and a curve-prowed ship speeding across the waves? Furthermore, how could previous scholars, cognizant of oral theory, have missed the presenceofacommontypescene?Noonewouldexpectanoral-connected typescene for a hero’s sea-crossing in a narrative lacking sea voyages. Yet, in The Dream of the Rood this typescene represents another example of Anglo-Saxon hybrid poetics, which manifests here in an oral-connected idiom whose presence elicits both metonymic (oral-traditional) and metaphorical (literate) interpretation.1 The chapter’s journey begins with a much emended word, holmwudu (sea-wood or ship) and then explores the broader vistas afforded by an analysis of a metaphorical version of the sea-voyage typesceneinTheDreamoftheRood.As a typescene, rather than a theme, the oral-traditional sea-voyage follows a chronological sequence. The same can be said of the metaphorical sea voyage explored here. Holmwudu and Lignum Maris The compound word holmwudu (sea-wood or ship) here has been seen as a crux in The Dream of the Rood: Hwæt, me þa geweorðode  wuldres Ealdor ofer holmwudu,  heofonrices Weard, o 114 · Signs that Sing swylce swa he his modor eac,  Marian sylfe, ælmihtig God,  for ealle menn geweorðode  ofer eall wifa cynn. (90–94) Listen, the Lord of glory, the Guardian of heaven’s realm, then honored me above sea-wood, just as he, the almighty God, also honored before all people his mother, Mary herself, above all women-kind.2 Becausethetermholmwuduseemsunorthodox,ithasoftenbeenemended with holtwudu (forest-wood).Holtwudu caststheCross as a species oftree, rather than a type of vessel.3 Carl Berkhout’s 1974 article “The Problem of Holmwudu” demonstrated that it was both theologically appropriate and aesthetically meaningful to translate holmwudu as “sea-wood” or “ship,”4 and some subsequent publications of the poem have returned to holmwudu.5 Berkhout calls the implication that the Holy Cross is a navis a “fresh, sudden image, but repeatedly implied throughout the poem, which helps to focus the eschatological meaning of the way of the Cross for both the dreamer and the reader” (433). Despite the evidence Berkhout draws from patristic sources and the poem, holtwudu still appears in many present -day editions and Old English language manuals.6 Because holmwudu resonates with patristic imagery—particularly Augustine of Hippo’s lignum maris (wood of the sea) concept—it should not be emended. I argue , furthermore, that the epithet “sea-wood” reflects the poem’s use of the sea-voyage typescene. The lignum maris concept and the sea-voyage typescene complement each other, both supporting the idea that the Holy Cross transports its hero (or Hero) and his followers from mortality to immortal life. Berkhout presents compelling evidence for the presence of the lignum maris concept in The Dream of the Rood. He observes that holmwudu alludes to the patristic lignum maris (or navis crucis) topos, which depicts the Cross as a ship or the mast of a ship that guides Christian believers to salvation.7 It is a patristic commonplace that a mast may symbolize the Holy Cross of the Church, but evidence survives in Anglo-Saxon culture for the ship itself representing the Cross. The image is linked to Noah’s ark, which was understood to typologically precede the Cross, both being wooden “vehicles” chosen by the Christian deity to save humankind. Berkhout cites Augustine’s comparison of the Holy Cross with a ship (In Iohannis Evangelium tractatus 2.i.2–4) and a similar image in one of his ser- A Sea Voyage in The Dream of the Rood · 115 mons (Sermo 75; see Patrologia Latina).8 Sandra McEntire has also shown that the association of the Ark and the Cross appealed to Anglo-Saxon ecclesiastical culture. She finds the lignum maris concept in Genesis A, as well as the iconography of the Armagh Cross and the broken cross at Kells and the illustration of a ship with the crucified Christ at its helm (rather than mast) in an eighth-century manuscript illumination.9 The sea-vessel metaphor also resonates with the “journey to the eternal homeland” imagery in the latter half of The Dream of the Rood. According to Berkhout (431–32), the representation of the Cross as spiritual convoy, which one finds in Augustine’s description of the via ad patriam, recurs: in the lifes weg passage...


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