On the Persecuted Though Irrepressible Virtue

It is the greatest honor to be unconquerable
and like Hercules oppose misfortune.
Against resistant steel the sword is honed to boldness,
gains edge, acquires that heroic glow.
The laurel leaf defies fire and thunderbolt.
Virtue will not be harmed by malice;
no! Much more it kindles pure astonishment.
Misery and misfortune become virtue's wonder-shrine.

What adorns Cyrus's victory? Weapons of resistance.
Through wars alone Philip's son wins the world,
and Caesar gains the sceptre only after battle.
Crown and throne are not for lazy victors. Therefore,
meet misery with defiance! Let nothing turn you back!
The crown already hovers over you, held in God's hands.

Click here to read this sonnet in the original German.

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