The toad and spider once would try the might
Of either’s poison in a single fight.
The lists were drawn, spectators throng about;
Long time the victory remained in doubt.
By equal valor, the field was dyed in blood;
The combat long in equilibrium stood.
The people’s minds, a conflict had within,
As not agreeing which they would have win.
Some would compose, some made the difference wider,
Some took the toad’s part, others took the spider’s.
So when one gallant hath impeached the other
Of highest treason, then in rage the other
Calls him base traitor, giving him the lie.
By single duel they, the truth, do try,
Each vowing to prove innocent or die.
The multitude in sundry passions shook;
Some pray for Mowbray, some for Bollingbroke:
So they in factions now divided be,
The valiant spider and the toad to see.
The toad first fainted and aside did go,
And plaintain ate; then turned upon his foe
With greater vigor, which, when the people spied,
They took the plaintain up; then straight he died.
So have I, in our English tiltyard, seen,
Two courtiers running ’fore the king and queen.
One, fearing to be foiled, made his address
Unto his lady, who could do no less
Than throw a favor to her carpet knight.
Then, with new courage he returns to fight,
But missing of his thrust, he comes again
To sue to her; she, not being in the vein,
Instead of throwing of a favor down,
Answered his supplications with a frown.
He, troubled with the scorn of this proud flirt,
Ran once again, but tumbled in the dirt.
Who lives by th’influence of a lady’s eye
Will like this gallant fall and helpless lie.
Then let these sad examples warn all those
That do on worldly vanities repose:
If on subsolarytoys they trust,
They build a fabric of dry sand or dust.
Like little children in their pretty plays,
High pigeon houses up of cards will raise;
But like our earthly hopes, they build in vain;
If they but laugh, they blow them down again.
Then let no man on human hopes repose,
Lest like this toad their hopes and lives they lose.
Then, O my soul, on Heaven alone rely;
So shalt thou live, although thy body die.