On My Many and Varied Misfortunes

As many as the hedgehog’s quills must be the weapons
that protect me everywhere against capricious fortune
and stem the wounding hand’s assault on virtue.
Each hour and moment I must face this foe
that bristles like the hedgehog with its pricks and tricks.
For virtue’s sake I must defiantly confront
all fortune’s change and mutability.
While it plagues me, it chokes on its own pleasure.

For only a short while I must contend with fortune,
then I will triumph; defeated, it will follow me in chains.
If now, for virtue’s sake, I am despised and taunted,
I pay no heed, if only I may do my work.
If God is pleased, my pain will be repaid a thousandfold,
whether on earth or at his throne of bliss.

Click here to read this sonnet in the original German.

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