The Willow Tree: Time Brings Lilies and Roses

Book Title: De Bykorf des Gemoeds : Honing zaamelende uit allerley Bloemen / Vervattende over de Honderd konstige Figuuren ; Met Godlyke Spreuken En Stichtelyke Verzen, Door Jan Luiken

Author: Luiken, Jan, 1649-1712

Image Title: The Willow Tree: Time Brings Lilies and Roses

Scripture Reference:

Description: A man standing on the bank of a river points to a water willow with its trunk hollowed out from water streaming through it. Several other water willows can be seen on the other side of the water. The Dutch artist and poet Jan Luiken (1649-1712), whose initials are at the lower right, was responsible for drawing and etching this emblem, as well as for the poem that accompanies it (below). The attendant Scripture text is James 1:12.

An ugly Appearance,
Becomes, through change, indeed attractive.

The Water willow, now often pruned,
Becoming a knobby knot,
Is ungraceful and horrible when viewed,
Grown old, hollow, flaky, dry and desolate.
Yet, as time will unlock the early growth,
From its virtue, that lives secretly in it,
It makes a jewel of young green sprouts,
With which its top becomes pleasantly crowned.
Take heart, o man! in various miseries,
Stooped, grown crooked, old and scorched,
The ripe time of the Lord shall turn it,
So that the crown will blossom on thy skull.
That one no one will prune,
But as a jewel and endless joy
And honor before God, thou shalt keep it eternally,
And from its strength thou shalt become fully rejuvenated.
O! Old trunk of human life,
Keep thee meanwhile at piety’s waterside,
Which can give thy thirst steady fluid,
Until thou art transplanted in Paradise,
When thou hast in hope and trust,
Endured the barren time of winter,
And hast so kept thy strength for new growth,
To ascend in greenness when the time has come.

(Translation by Josephine V. Brown, with editorial assistance from William G. Stryker)

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