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But he on rood that bleeding died,By innocence and not by right.
Whose hands the nails did harshly smite,
Grant you may pass, when you are tried,
—Anonymous, "The Pearl", tr. JRR Tolkien.
One of the oldest (may have been written as early as in the 8th century) and most famous English poems (even though not exactly English), a description of a dream vision about the tree out of which was made the Christ's Cross. The tree, alternately glittering with gold and gems and streaming with blood, tells the story of the crucifixion of Christ, in which Christ is presented as an ideal of Anglo-Saxon warrior - beautiful, tough and courageous even in the face of death. The poem can be read as a literary fossil documenting the transitional stage from Germanic Pagan religion to full-fledged Christianity. JRR Tolkien was certainly familiar with the text, as it is one of the most important samples for the Old English scholars, so it is interesting to note that it contains the word 'middangeard', a linguistic ancestor of 'Middle-Earth'.
Exemplifies the following tropes:
- Added Alliterative Appeal: it is written entirely in alliterative form, just like Beowulf or The Battle of Maldon.
- Back From the Dead
- Blood Splattered Warrior
- Crucified Hero Shot: Played as straight as possible.
- The Day of Reckoning: Foretold in the end of the poem, in a rather optimistic way.
- Dream Sequence: The vision takes place in a dream (but this does not prevent the dreamer from believing in it).
- Everything's Better with Sparkles: medieval people were REALLY convinced that this is true - when they wanted to make something beautiful, they used to coat it with a lot of gold and gems. And they usually succeeded.
- Gem-Encrusted: Because this is the 8th century, and Everything's Sparkly with Jewelry.
- Gold Makes Everything Shiny
- God Is Good: Most probably Author Tract.
- Good Hurts Evil: Si vis pacem, para bellum.
- Heaven Seeker: The receiver of the vision. In the poem it seems to be guaranteed that he will also be Heaven Finder.
- Heroic Sacrifice: A classic.
- Hot God
- Jesus Saves
- Kung Fu Jesus: An Ur Example.
- The Legions of Hell: A cameo appearance. They are not that important in the poem.
- The Low Middle Ages
- Narrative Poem
- Plant Person: A speaking tree.
- Power Glows
- Rousing Speech: Well, in a way.
- Wise Tree: Come on, this tree speaks Old English in meter!