The Canterbury tales
Geoffrey Chaucer
F.N. Robinson

Hercules

Of hercules, the sovereyn conquerour,
     2095
Syngen his werkes laude and heigh renoun;
     2096
For in his tyme of strengthe he was the flour.
     2097
He slow, and frate the skyn of the leoun;
     2098
He of centauros leyde the boost adoun;
     2099
He arpies slow, the crueel bryddes felle;
     2100
He golden apples rafte of the dragoun;
     2101
He drow out cerberus, the hound of helle;
     2102
He slow the crueel tyrant busirus,
     2103
And made his hors to frete hem, flessh and boon;
     2104
He slow the firy serpent venymus;
     2105
Of acheloys two hornes he brak oon;
     2106
And he slow cacus in a cave of stoon;
     2107
He slow the geant antheus the stronge; Page  191
     2108
He slow the grisly boor, and that anon;
     2109
And bar the hevene on his nekke longe.
     2110
Was nevere wight, sith that this world bigan,
     2111
That slow so manye monstres as dide he.
     2112
Thurghout this wyde world his name ran,
     2113
What for his strengthe and for his heigh bountee,
     2114
And every reawme wente he for to see.
     2115
He was so stoong that no man myghte hym lette.
     2116
At bothe the worldes endes, seith trophee,
     2117
In stide of boundes he a pileer sette.
     2118
A lemman hadde this noble champioun,
     2119
That highte dianira, fressh as may;
     2120
And as thise clerkes maken mencioun,
     2121
She hath hym sent a sherte, fressh and gay.
     2122
Allas! this sherte, allas and weylaway!
     2123
Envenymed was so subtilly withalle,
     2124
That er that he had wered it half a day,
     2125
It made his flessh al from his bones falle.
     2126
But nathelees somme clerkes hire excusen
     2127
By oon that highte nessus, that it maked.
     2128
Be as be may, I wol hire noght accusen;
     2129
But on his bak this sherte he wered naked,
     2130
Til that his flessh was for the venym blaked.
     2131
And whan he saugh noon oother remedye,
     2132
In hoote coles he hath hymselven raked,
     2133
For with no venym deigned hym to dye.
     2134
Thus starf this worthy, myghty hercules.
     2135
Lo, who may truste on fortune and throwe?
     2136
For hym that folweth al this world of prees,
     2137
Er he be war, is ofte yleyd ful lowe.
     2138
Ful wys is he that kan hymselven knowe!
     2139
Beth war, for whan that fortune list to glose,
     2140
Thanne wayteth she her man to overthrowe
     2141
By swich a wey as he wolde leest suppose.
     2142