The Nemean Lion’s hide
Too tough for any arrow;
I stunned and strangled the lion -
And then wore the skin.
Hydra, the nine-headed snake,
Could grow two heads for any one lost;
I sliced them all off and Iolaus
Cauterised the wounds.
Artemis loved the Cerynian Hind;
I stalked that gold-horned deer
For a year and then carried it away,
Without harming it.
The Erymanthian Boar terrorised people;
I chased it up Mount Erymanthus
Into a snowdrift, and trapped it.
King Eurystheus hid in fear.
Thousands of cows lived
In the Augean stables,
Which hadn’t been cleaned for years;
I bent two rivers so they flowed
Through those stinking stables.
I scared the Stymphalian Birds
From their nests;
(as I’d previously dipped
My arrows in Hydra’s blood),
I shot the birds
With the poisoned arrows.
King Minos had a fire-breathing bull;
I wrestled that Cretan Bull to the ground,
But King Eurystheus freed it.
King Diomedes fed humans to his horses;
I killed the king and his men
And fed them to those horses,
Thus taming the beasts.
Queen Hippolyte promised me her girdle;
But Hera told the Amazons
That I was an enemy,
And so I had to steal that golden belt.
A giant and a two-headed dog
Guarded the monster Geryon’s cattle;
I killed Geryon and the guards
And led the cattle away.
The Hesperides’ Apples were guarded
By a dragon; I held the earth
As Atlas picked the golden apples
From his daughters’ garden.
The dog Cerberus followed me
From the underworld,
After I wrestled its three heads;
I later returned it.
Jack Horne is married and lives in Plymouth, where he works for the local theatre.
Many of his short stories, poems and articles have been published in magazines, anthologies
and ezines, and also read out on the radio. He's had some competition success.