Monkey-Pleasure: Almost Forgotten

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: Monkey-Pleasure: Almost Forgotten

Scripture Reference:

Description: A number of monkeys sit on the branches that overhang both sides of a river and watch with great interest one of them drown. Two people comment on this scene from river’s edge. 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 17:26-27.

This is not only in the land of Monkeys,
But everywhere, on all sides.

The monkey jumps in the trees,
On the river’s edge,
From branch to branch, with great pleasure;
Until one of them,
Falls down,
Then it is a frightful situation.
Each one is startled, quits frolicking,
And looks down from above,
At its drowning, as long,
As possible, according to their ability,
Until it is gone, out of sight,
Then each returns to its old ways.
The Human sees this, without learning,
To turn wisely to himself,
While he on the World-tree,
Hung broadly over death and hell,
Continues to follow his old ways, Like the Monkey, without fear.
If one of his friends falls,
Through death and Burial, perhaps to Hell,
Then it causes, at first a scare,
But when it becomes somewhat more remote,
It is out of sight, out of the heart,
And life remains in its old ways.
Though one would wish from the mind of humans,
Better judgment than from the Monkey.

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

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