The Nut: It’s about the Core

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 Nut: It’s about the Core

Scripture Reference:

Description: A man sits at a table in a gazebo and shows a nut to a woman standing next to him; discarded shells lie on the ground in front of him. The woman has gathered more nuts which she holds in her apron. In the background a man uses a stick to knock nuts from a tree which are gathered by a woman. 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 Luke 16:13.

Each one who considers it well,
Takes the essence instead of the Shell.

The mouth desiring to taste the Kernel,
Must first crack the Nut’s shell;
When that is discarded on the ground,
Then the kernel comes into thy mouth.
He who wants to choose the inside,
Must discard the outside.
The outside of the true good,
Is the coarse part of flesh and blood,
And all the world with its things,
Which delight the earthly life.
If thou dost crack that with its desire,
Then thou dost obtain the kernel of the Soul’s rest.
Therefore crack and throw down the hulls,
Thou wilt in return receive the best,
As thy Heart will taste the sweetness,
Of that which thou dost forsake for God.
But if thou didst wish to keep both,
Thou couldst only observe the outside,
And the inside that is not seen by the eye,
Remains for thee, as if it didn’t exist.
How so many things teach us,
(Though they are small and trifling)
That from the destruction of one,
Another better thing emerged!
We must then apply that to the biggest,
And, therefore, crack and smash,
The hard and large World-nut,
So that we obtain the heavenly bread.

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

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