The rose plant grew thorns because it was tired of being eaten;
And chrysanthemums produce poison to kill predators;
The bougainvillea bush shreds the hands of an unwary pruner.
But the lily fears conflict, and is trodden under foot.
Who among us has the courage to speak, despite the threat of the shearers?
Just as a barnacle can slow a ship in its path,
And as a louse jumps away from the sweeping comb,
So, too, are the parasites who fail to act, for fear of reproach:
They halt sapient progress and frustrate their fellows.
What does it profit a person to avoid conflict?
His nerves grow thin, and his hair falls out;
He can’t stand to see the face of whom he fears,
And runs at the appearance of an olive branch.
When he sees a quill and paper presented,
He assumes it’s a sword and shield;
And at the first sign of disagreement,
He abandons the peace treaty.
How many battles have we fought out of fear to negotiate?
The hands of the fearful are streaked with blood,
And the mind of the coward waxes crimson.
He sits in his war-room, planning for his defense,
And sends brave soldiers to die in his stead.
Still, the heart of the cowardly is bold with contempt.
It induces its wearer to make dogmas;
It convinces the gullible that avoidance is the only way,
And shuns forthright conversation.
Have pity on he who speaks of blind pacifism,
And have pity on the friends of the fearful,
For the burden is theirs, who turned their eyes from Poland,
And the ashes of Jews call their names.
But to the courageous is this boon:
Although you may be shorn,
Your petals are sought by many,
And your home is a fragrant garden.
Will the lily stand tall, or the tender grass bear seed?
These only thrive in isolation.
But perhaps, one day, the grass will learn to make grain,
And a farmer will protect it with his rifle.