Of hercules, the sovereyn conquerour,
Syngen his werkes laude and heigh renoun;
For in his tyme of strengthe he was the flour.
He slow, and frate the skyn of the leoun;
He of centauros leyde the boost adoun;
He arpies slow, the crueel bryddes felle;
He golden apples rafte of the dragoun;
He drow out cerberus, the hound of helle;
He slow the crueel tyrant busirus,
And made his hors to frete hem, flessh and boon;
He slow the firy serpent venymus;
Of acheloys two hornes he brak oon;
And he slow cacus in a cave of stoon;
He slow the geant antheus the stronge; Page 191
He slow the grisly boor, and that anon;
And bar the hevene on his nekke longe.
Was nevere wight, sith that this world bigan,
That slow so manye monstres as dide he.
Thurghout this wyde world his name ran,
What for his strengthe and for his heigh bountee,
And every reawme wente he for to see.
He was so stoong that no man myghte hym lette.
At bothe the worldes endes, seith trophee,
In stide of boundes he a pileer sette.
A lemman hadde this noble champioun,
That highte dianira, fressh as may;
And as thise clerkes maken mencioun,
She hath hym sent a sherte, fressh and gay.
Allas! this sherte, allas and weylaway!
Envenymed was so subtilly withalle,
That er that he had wered it half a day,
It made his flessh al from his bones falle.
But nathelees somme clerkes hire excusen
By oon that highte nessus, that it maked.
Be as be may, I wol hire noght accusen;
But on his bak this sherte he wered naked,
Til that his flessh was for the venym blaked.
And whan he saugh noon oother remedye,
In hoote coles he hath hymselven raked,
For with no venym deigned hym to dye.
Thus starf this worthy, myghty hercules.
Lo, who may truste on fortune and throwe?
For hym that folweth al this world of prees,
Er he be war, is ofte yleyd ful lowe.
Ful wys is he that kan hymselven knowe!
Beth war, for whan that fortune list to glose,
Thanne wayteth she her man to overthrowe
By swich a wey as he wolde leest suppose.