The Butcher’s Shop: A Bad Example, Makes for Straying

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 Butcher’s Shop: A Bad Example, Makes for Straying

Scripture Reference:

Description: A sheep is forcefully pulled into a butcher’s shop, whereupon the rest of the flock follows, although one sheep looks like he is about to stray from the flock. Several pieces of meat hang on hooks on the outside of the shop. A cityscape can be seen 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 Luke 6:39.

Do not just follow the footsteps of another
Whom thou, on the way, dost see before thee.

He who does not wish to crowd into the killing-pit,
Like the flock of dumb Sheep,
So as to follow the First ones, that in blindness preceded him,
With a thoughtless heart;
He should take heed, and let go ahead,
Whoever wishes to go, caught by Satan’s hand,
And is followed after by great multitudes,
But he should turn around, and take to his heels.
And even though boldness scorned him,
And took his action for timidity and foolishness,
So that he was taunted and ridiculed,
He nevertheless would win the most laudable prize.
As he sees those with throat cut and flayed
So his heart fears a similar turn,
Met by those, who before him in the wild,
Had also approved that path of blood.
How, alas! the world does walk together!
How they help each other sadly advance!
Like the dumb Cattle; the one follows the other,
Each pushes to be the first in Satan’s open Gate.
Wake up, and flee from such a human slaughter,
He sharpens his knife, it costs your best neck;
Whoever walks along; thou should prudently remain behind,
For the whole world’s appearance is only false.

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

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