Greiffenberg’s inspiration for this sonnet apparently came from observing the night sky. Sagittarius is one of the constellations of the (western) zodiac; its pictorial emblem is a centaur with a bow and arrow. The reference to the Old Testament story of Gideon comes from Judges 6:36-40.
Strike, oh strike the target in my Fortune’s Wheel,
you heavenly inspiration, love-inflamed archer!
My mouth shoots out your praise and honour
like arrows from a bow.
Let no misfortune’s wind deflect their flight.
Grant sun-like steadiness to stay on course,
and when the weakened bow of my body breaks,
I won’t care as long as I’m resolved in my intent.
O bless now what is new in this New Year.
The devil has prepared a thousand arrows—
screw them into his heart! Instead,
let hosts of grace and help always attend me.
As rain on Gideon’s fleece, let blessings fall on me.
Appear with your new help in this New Year.
Click here to read this sonnet in the original German.