The Ivy: Help Yourself

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 Ivy: Help Yourself

Scripture Reference:

Description: A man contemplates a tree trunk that is totally covered with ivy. On the background left a village and a horse-drawn cart. On the right, a farmhouse with a façade that is covered with ivy; in front of the farmhouse are several people and farm animals, including pigs. 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 15:24.

Everyone who grows on the Earth,
Should hold on to Heaven.

Ivy doesn’t need fastenings or ties,
But holds on with its own hands.
Though formerly where it stood,
It had to creep along the ground, according to its nature,
For the lengthy growth of thin tendrils,
So that feet would tread on its green shoots:
But while it now fastens itself and goes upward,
It decorates the place it covers beautifully;
And does not restrain the upward guiding of branches,
All to extend higher and wider:
Do look dull man, who conducts much so lightly,
With little force, and feeble compassion,
Shalt thou henceforth remain on earth?
Where the dumb plant surpasses thee with adhering,
That is not, like thou, endowed with understanding,
And yet raises itself so with its hand.
If thou dost not also want to be trodden on by feet,
Then thou should at least, save thyself.
Be thou too tender, to stand by thyself,
Fasten with the Ivy, thy hands somewhere,
Thy hands of sincere God-desire,
And lay hold of the trunk of Christ our Lord;
Climb up thereby, to the joy of all Angels,
And fashion a jewel of various virtues,
By maintaining what He has offered,
Thus thou wilt stand in splendor before God.

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

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