‘Dream of the Crown’ is a poem that pays homage not only to the Christ who suffered the crown of thorns or the crown itself but medieval dream poetry. Specifically, ‘Dream of the Crown’ echos a pivotal piece of English Literature that was composed early on in the medieval period, circa 1,300 years ago, ‘Dream of the Rood.’ As was natural to the Old English tongue, ‘the Rood’ is a poem written in alliterative meter; likewise, this poem plays on alliteration. But more importantly, ‘the Rood’ is a powerful relic of an age long past in which men knew reality to be more than we can see or quantify. In such a world, dreams were known to be more than subconscious yearnings or a clue to the “pathology of the dreamer.”[1]

To the medieval mind, dream poetry delivered a message of truth that could not be experienced in the conscious world, though it was no less true for that fact. It is hard for the modern mind to understand this for, as Malcolm Guite states, “One measure of the gulf between our age and those that preceded it is the complete change in what we believe about dreams.”[2] Therefore, I have written ‘Dream of the Crown’ in honor of our medieval ancestors, their art, and their faith, and as a means to help reinstate the power of truth that cannot be quantified.

Seeking in sleep a sobering truth,

I came to caress a holy crown.

Flowering from its fragrant band

A song of sweet suffering rang out.

Breaking, crack, the soft red bract—

Waning, wilting, in my warm hand—

Damned and praised the deathly task

He pricked upon the Righteous Man:

“Here, adorned upon a hill, a brow

Clinging to Salvation, covered in blood,

My Maker-King. Mocked, motley friend,

Please pardon my needle-point prods.

Against adamant will, I anoint you now.

Yet, I do declare this happy fact,

An honor one other on earth does know

(The raised Rood—The tree at your back):

Once deemed damned, now standing blessed,

I touch the temple’s flesh and tear the veil.

The sharp sole thistle, the thorn of a throne—

A cross. The crux which rights all wrongs.

Looking down, fated lots lobbed in vain;

Cast by crooked, corrupt, crude men

That fail fully to lay fair claim

To this One who will wash away sin.

Tilted toward taciturn glory,

Dark heavens high above the mount,

Sacred eyes seeking a Father to speak.

Forsaken. Derelict. ‘Forgive them,’ He pleas.

Deep breath, He takes His bow—Exhale:

Finished. My friend, He is finished and free.

The Father replies with a furious fault,

Renting the religious veil in twain for thee.

Blameless, He bleeds. Water and blood

Testify to His pure path, truth, and life.

As one, we rest. Rent down from the rood

We part ways: I to paradise, He to grave.

Soon the tomb’s stone will steadily roll

And He will rise to revel. We will unite,

Transform together. Trading time for eternity.

The New Man married with His new crown.”

Then the readied crown wrapped around

The Holy One’s honored, happy brow—

Redeemed. The delightful dream was done.

I woke with wonder, longing to praise

The atoning work the torturing thorns

Endured, converting sinners to saints.

In sleep I saw this sobering truth:

A crown of thorns crested as a crown of gold.

Citation Information

Donald W. Catchings, Jr., “The Dream of the Crown,” An Unexpected Journal 3, no. 3. (Fall 2020), 195-198.

Direct Link: https://anunexpectedjournal.com///dream-of-the-crown/

[1] Malcolm Guite, Faith, Hope and Poetry: Theology and the Poetic Imagination (London: Routledge, 2016), 31.

[2] Ibid.