The Vista: Always Closer

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 Vista: Always Closer

Scripture Reference:

Description: Two hikers contemplate a distant landscape consisting of a village surrounded by a river and a mountain in the background. 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 Psalm 39:4-5 [Psalm 39:5-6].

However far Sorrow and Joy may be,
For sure, it will finally come near.

The certain death, is everyone’s prospect,
While he travels life’s paths,
Which he dimly sees from afar,
Lying right on his path.
He who takes heed as if he is there,
Constantly looks at that,
While he marks how the approaching spirit,
Creates pleasure in his heart.
But he who has chosen the path on which he stands and travels,
For his pleasure and rest
And looks forward to his end, as grief and harm,
Which appears to him as threatening:
He is burdened as it shimmers before his face,
He would much rather forget that,
And make the heart light through ignoring it,
So as not to know of any burden ahead.
From it he turns his eye, to the right, or to the left,
Or downwards, with the animals:
But he who acts so, alas what will happen to him!
As he cannot avoid the rock.
All of us always go inevitably forward,
Thus the far vista comes closer,
Until we raise our eye before the gate,
And proceed to better or to worse.
It’s good, therefore, and must be necessary,
That each of us chooses a path,
Where the far vista looks pleasing in our eyes,
And makes us lose the Present,
O Certain death! and grand Eternity,
Beest thou near, as if thou dost lead before us.

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

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