The Salmon: Turn Around, Turn Around

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 Salmon: Turn Around, Turn Around

Scripture Reference:

Description: In the right foreground, a fisher tries to sell a large salmon to a woman accompanied by her child; behind them is a fisherwoman and further behind are houses. On the left is a large river with an artificial waterfall over which a salmon tries to jump. 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 11:5-6.

Although wealth enters the mouth,
In the end it gives a deep wound.

The Salmon, desiring fresh streams,
Tries constantly to get farther,
Till he finally is stopped in front of a barrier;
But as his desire pushes him still further on,
He instinctively jumps over it,
Since he judges there to be more streams.
Though, it would have been better, to turn around,
And not follow his desires so much,
Since, cunning Deceit has made a flat piece of land there,
To cleverly deceive his undertaking,
(As his jump cannot not fly over that,)
On which he falls, and so gets caught.
O Poor Soul! now having swum long enough,
So that thou wouldst steadily taste,
The luxury-stream, of worldly pleasure.
If thou dost feel like stopping before God’s judgment,
Then, do not begin with a reckless decision,
(Because thy desire, dost see still further pleasure)
To jump over that with courage,
But seek much sooner to restrain thyself,
To turn back thoughtfully,
And so, as desired, preserve thy life,
And be free of the evil in that which is good,
So that thy Soul can nourish itself with joy.
Or otherwise, if thou wouldst not turn around,
Thou wouldst reach woe and misery,
If thou didst find thy jump with him too short,
And wouldst alas be grasped by a hand,
Which would drag thee away forcefully and wretchedly,
From the world’s flat ground to the mouth of hell.

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

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