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.

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.