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YALE STUDIES IN ENGLISH
ALBERT S. COOK, EDITOR
THE CROSS IN THE LIFE AND
WILLIAM O. STEVENS, PH.D.
A Portion of a Thesis presented to the Philosophical Faculty
of Yale University in Candidacy for the
Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY
The Lord Baltimore (Press
The Old English poems, Elene, the Dream of the Rood, and the Doomsday Vision in the Christ, express a remarkable spirit of veneration for the Cross. The purpose of this study is to furnish a setting for these poems with respect to this devotion to the Cross. It is to find what were the ideas of the Cross inherited with Christianity; how much these ideas entered into the life and thought of the AngloSaxons; whether, in brief, this sentiment must be regarded as peculiar to Cynewulf and the poet of the Dream of the Rood, or whether it was more or less characteristic of the civilization to which these poems belong. It is also to discover whether this spirit found expression in forms other than poetry, whether it was more predominant at one time than another, and to account, if possible, for its existence.
These questions, and others suggested by them, will be taken up in the following pages; and, in attempting to provide a background for the Old English poetry of the Cross, I hope that some light may be thrown on the cultural history of this early and comparatively obscure period.
The translations of Old English prose that I have used are frequently quoted direct from the versions that accompany the texts in the editions cited. In the case of the poetry I have used Garnett's translation of the Elene, Whitman's of the Christ, and the Translations from Old English Poetry, edited by Cook and Tinker, which includes a translation of the Dream of the Rood by Miss Iddings.