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And alle her tayles he togider bond;
And sette the foxes tailes alle on fuyre,
For he in every tail hath knyt a brond ;
And thay brent alle the cornes of that lond,
And alle her olyvers and vynes eeke.
A thousand men he slough eek with his hond,
And hadde no wepen but an asses cheeke.
Whan thay were slayn, so thursted him that he
Was wel ner lorn, for which he gan to preye
That God wolde of his peyne have som pité,
And send him drynk, and elles most he deye.
And out of this asses cheke, that was so dreye,
sprong anon a welle,
Of which he dronk y-nough, schortly to seye ;
Thus halp him God, as Judicum can telle.
By verray fors at Gasan, on a night,
Maugré the Philistiens of that cité,
The gates of the toun he hath up plight,
And on his bak caried hem hath he,
Heigh upon an hil, wher men might hem se.
O noble almighty Sampson, leef and deere,
Haddest thou nought to wommen told thy secré,
In al the world ne hadde be thy peere.
This Sampson neyther siser dronk ne wyn,
Ne on his heed com rasour noon ne schere,
By precept of the messager divyn,
15533—at Gasan. The Harl. MS. reads, by an evident mistake of the scribe, of Algason.
15541—neyther siser. Sicera; a general term for other intoxicating drinks than wine. The Lansd. MS. reads sither. Tyrwhitt has substituted sider.
For alle his strengthes in his heres were.
And fully twenty wynter, yer by yere,
He hadde of Israel the governaunce.
But soone he schal wepe many a teere,
For wymmen schuln him bringe to meschaunce.
Unto his lemman Dalida he tolde
That in his heres al his strengthe lay;
And falsly to his foomen sche him solde,
And slepyng in hir barm upon a day
Sche made to clippe or schere his heres away,
And made his foomen al his craft espien.
And whan thay fonde him in this array,
They bound him fast, and put out bothe his yen.
But er his heer clipped was or i-schave,
Ther was no bond with which men might him bynde;
But now is he in prisoun in a cave,
Ther as thay made him at the querne grynde.
O noble Sampson, strengest of al mankynde !
O whilom jugge in glory and in richesse !
Now maystow wepe with thine eyghen blynde,
Sith thou fro wele art falle to wrecchednesse ?
Thend of this caytif was, as I schal say,
His foomen made a fest upon a day,
And made him as here fool biforn hem play;
And this was in a temple of gret array.
But atte last he made a foul affray ;
15546—Israel. I have substituted this from the other manuscripts, in place of Jerusalem, which is the reading of the Harl. MS.
15560-at the querne grynde. Et clausum in carcere molere fecerunt. Jud. xvi, 21.
For he two pilers schook, and made hem falle,
And doun fel temple and al, and ther it lay,
And slough himsilf and eek his fomen alle ;
This is to sayn, the princes everichon ;
And eek thre thousand bodies were ther slayn,
With fallyng of the grete temple of stoon.
Of Sampson now wil I no more sayn ;
Be war by these ensamples, olde and playn,
That no man telle his counseil to his wyf,
Of such thing as he wold have secré fayn,
If that it touche his lymes or his lif.
Of Ercules, the sovereyn conquerour,
Singen his werkes laude and heigh renoun;
15581-Of Ercules. The account of the labours of Hercules is almost literally translated from Boethius, De Consol. Philos., lib. iv, metr. 7, though he has changed the order of some of them.
Herculem duri celebrant labores :
Ille Centauros domuit superbos ;
Abstulit sævo spolium leoni ;
Fixit et certis volucres sagittis ;
Poma cernenti rapuit draconi
Aureo læva gravior metallo ;
Cerberum traxit triplici catena ;
Victor immitem posuise fertur
Pabulum sævis dominum quadrigis;
Hydra combusto periit veneno;
Fronte turpatus Achelous amnis
Ora demersit pudibunda ripis;
Stravit Antheum Libycis arenis;
Cacus Evandri satiavit iras,
Quosque pressurus foret altus orbis
Setiger spumis humeros notavit.
Ultimus cælum labor irreflexo
Sustulit collo, pretiumque rursus
Ultimi cælum meruit laboris. I restore the names from the Lansdowne MS., as they are very incorrectly written in the Harl. MS.
For in his tyme of strength he bar the flour.
He slough and rafte the skyn fro the leoun;
He of Centaures layde the bost adoun ;
He Arpies slough, the cruel briddes felle ;
The gold appul he raft fro the dragoun ;
He drof out Cerbures the fend of helle; ;
He slough the cruel tyrant Buserus,
And made his hors to frete him fleisch and boon ; 14590
He slough the verray serpent veneneus ;
Of Achiloyus tuo hornes he raft oon;
He slough Cacus, in a cave of stoon;
He slough the geaunt Anteus the stronge ;
He slough the grisly bore, and that anoon ;
And bar the hevene upon his necke longe.
Was never wight, siththen the world bigan,
That slough so many monstres as dede he ;
Thurghout the wide world his name ran,
What for his strengthe and for his bounté,
roialme went he for to se;
He was so strong, ther might no man him lette.
15588_drof, drew. The Land. MS. reads drouhe.
15595 — bore. Substituted from the Land. MS. for leoun, the reading of the Harl. MS.
15596—hevene. I have retained Tyrwhitt's reading, which he found in other MSS., because it represents the Latin of Boethius, as quoted above, and which, in Chaucer's prose version of that writer, is translated thus,“ And the last of his labors was, that he susteined the heven upon his necke unbowed." The Harl. and Lansd. MSS. read the heed, evidently supposing it refers to the head of the bore; the printed editions, with the same notion, read, “and bare his hed upon his spere longe."
longe. It may be observed that the final e marks the adverbial form of the word: it is not“ upon his long neck," but“ long upon his neck." One of the MSS. used by Tyrwhitt contains the Latin marginal gloss diu.
At bothe the worldes endes, as saith Trophé,
In stede of boundes he a piler sette.
A lemman hadde this noble campioun,
That highte Dejanire, freissh as May ;
And as these clerkes maken mencioun,
Sche hath him sent a schurte fresch and gay.
Alas! this schirt, allas and wailaway!
Envenymed was subtily withalle,
That er he hadde wered it half a day,
It made his fleisch al fro his bones falle.
But natheles som clerkes hir excusen,
By oon that highte Nessus, that it makyd.
Be as be may, I wil nought hir accusyn;
But on his bak he wered this schirt al naked,
Til that his fleisch was for the
And whan he saugh noon other remedye,
In hote colis he hath himself i-raked ;
For no venym deyned him to dye.
Thus starf this mighty and worthy Ercules.
Lo! who may truste fortune eny throwe?
For him that folweth al this world of pres,
Er he be war, is oft y-layd ful lowe.
is he that can himselven knowe!
Be war, for whan that fortune lust to glose,
Than waytith sche hir man to overthrowe,
By suche way as he wolde lest
suppose. De rege Nabugodonosor. The mighty trone, the precious tresor,
15603—Trophé. It is not clear to what writer Chaucer intended to refer under this name. In the margin of one of the Cambridge MSS., collated by Tyrwhitt, we find the gloss, Ille vates Chaldæorum Tropheus.