The Chamomile Field: Precious from Grief

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 Chamomile Field: Precious from Grief

Scripture Reference:

Description: In the right foreground a man in a gazebo watches a second man treading on the flowers in the grass in order to elicit their fragrance. A well laid-out garden is 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 Job 5:17-18.

The Oppressed Heart is more fragrant,
When it stands in the world’s bloom.

When the tender herb is trodden upon,
Then its fragrance rises from below:
When the human heart is oppressed,
It smells better than when in luxury,
When freedom gave it peace,
And success on earth.
What kind of feet are they,
That must tread upon this soil?
Those are the feet of the spirit;
When they step on the heart of flesh,
And make it break and crack,
Then its virtue smells most fragrantly:
Then arise sighs and prayers,
And heavenly considerations,
As if from a fragrant Incense-vessel;
As the utterances of the Martyrs
Also clearly interpret for us,
The fragrance contained in their oppression.
Well, does oppression bring such a blessing?
How then is one so often at a loss,
To stand in tranquil rest,
And through much arranging and flattering,
Avoid the pressure of flesh and blood,
So that things might still go well for him?
That is done by those senses of the flesh,
Which love the body above the Spirit,
And look at what is visible;
More at the appearance than at the fragrance,
So that the most noble quality,
Remains hidden, as if it did not exist.

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

Click here for additional images available from this book.

Request a high-resolution file (fees apply)

Rights Statement: The online edition of this work in the public domain, i.e., not protected by copyright, has been produced by Pitts Theology Library, Emory University.
Rights Status: No Copyright - United States
Pitts Theology Library provides copyright information as a courtesy and makes no representation about copyright or other legal status of materials in the Digital Image Archive.