The Gilded Calf: While the Misery Approaches

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 Gilded Calf: While the Misery Approaches

Scripture Reference:

Description: A large crowd watches as a fattened calf, hung with garlands, is pulled on a sled through the town to the slaughterhouse; the procession is led by a drummer. 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 Philippians 3:19.

Do not make another happy,
To the grief of thyself.

The Gilded-calf, fattened through gluttony,
Hung, and covered with garlands,
Draws the eye of everyone, while he laughs in a friendly way,
And eagerly waits for tasty morsels.
Dost thou intend, O Guest, and Butcher of Souls
Who art diligent in killing and destroying,
To act likewise with us, according to thy desire?
To feed us like cattle till we are fat,
And otherwise to serve and celebrate,
And to decorate to delight for the eyes,
And to give us thus a share of the World,
That to please the open mouth of Hell,
And as a fat catch to fish for us with thy hook?
That shall thy appetite, and cunning miss.
Unless we turned away from God,
And came so to an animal’s understanding,
And had lost the light of rationality,
Like an animal, that has been born without knowledge.
So be a Human being, who uses his eyes,
And protects himself from naked grief.
He does not wish to be a cow, nor a calf, nor a pig,
That knows neither fear nor dread,
But is led dumb and stupid to slaughter.
He is a human being who avoids the life of an animal.

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

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