The Caterpillar: It Will Be Transformed

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 Caterpillar: It Will Be Transformed

Scripture Reference:

Description: In a garden, two women contemplate two enormous caterpillars each crawling on a large leaf from a nearby tree. Two butterflies fly above them. A narrow gate is located in the distance. 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 2 Corinthians 5:10.

A Thing that really must change,
Changes best, from evil into good.

The Caterpillar moves first, like a Worm of the earth,
And eats the leaf of trees in the garden,
Until it finally buries itself,
For a long time, as if bound in cloth,
And with a coffin of spider’s web tightly wrapped,
Resembles death and is neither fed, nor refreshed.
Then it arises again, as out of a grave,
Very differently constructed, changed, and reborn,
Spotted, stained, with a variety of adornments:
It spreads its wings, so as to float in the air,
And not to live like a worm on the earth,
And also is no longer satiated with coarse food:
But it flies in all sorts of gardens,
And, if the flower delights it, that pleased it from above,
Out of the One into the Other, like the Bee,
To feed its enjoyment from the blossom,
(By the sunshine of sweet Summer-times)
Through which it is then invisibly nourished.
So the Human is also like a Worm on earth,
And seeks his food, that is coarse, in worthlessness,
Until he dies and falls in the dark grave.
There he then lies, until the world’s End,
When God’s hand will turn life around again,
Virtue to be rewarded, and Vice to be punished.
Then he will again, (if he was pious,)
Appear changed and renewed,
In glory like God’s Angels;
And no longer eat the earth, or that born from it,
But Angels’ bread, of which we here know nothing,
And float in God’s glorious Heaven.
But if he is not previously born of God,
Then his situation becomes even worse than before.

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

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