The Merchant Ship: What Is Near, One Seeks from Afar

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 Merchant Ship: What Is Near, One Seeks from Afar

Scripture Reference:

Description: In the foreground, one large merchant ship sails on the sea. Two other ships can be seen in the background. The coast is on the right. 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 Proverbs 3:13-14.

He who departs for the best realm,
Fetches the best Wares, to his shore.

So the Ship sails away,
To the strange and faraway land,
To bring varied Merchant’s Wares,
To that and this shore.
One dares to take a share in that,
Hoping for an easy profit,
Based on the Merchant’s judgment and assurance,
Who often doesn’t aim for the least.
Even though it has to contend with danger,
From Waves, Robber, sand and reef,
Threatened from above and below,
One still finds Outfitters for the Ship.
They dare to risk dear money,
Even on such a gamble,
Thus sweet pleasure draws,
Thus it’s all done for profit:
But the Ship that Christ contracts,
From his poor brotherhood,
Almost no one feels like outfitting that,
And if it comes, it’s only inadequate.
The country is for him too far,
The Sea is for him too deep and wide,
Although profit and great blessing,
Have been promised him clearly;
And not as uncertain as the other,
Where it depends on luck or misfortune:
O Nimble man, though thou art clever,
Here emerges the irrational part:
Thou dost dare risk Chance,
And not the most Faithful God,
Think how one day it will appear,
When this action will be ridiculed.

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

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