The Cow: Shy for Less Apparent Evil

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 Cow: Shy for Less Apparent Evil

Scripture Reference:

Description: A cow grazes in a meadow while a bird sits in front of her. Two women and more cows are in the distant meadow across a pond; a church can be seen in the far distance. 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 Genesis 2:19.

The innocent surrounds the Harmful,
And retreats from the smaller and less massive.

Where the Cow eagerly grazes and munches,
There the bird goes and feeds,
And catches its flies, without fear;
But from Man it flies away,
On its wings through the sky,
Why would that be so different?
What could it be, stay still,
And regard man attentively,
Whether he is not a Wolf of the animals,
Who grasps everything with his hand,
And bites everything with his tooth,
Like the Wolves and the Vultures!
Since, when he still in Paradise,
Did not shed blood, nor eat any meat,
Then it was indeed not necessary,
(When all that received the spirit of life,
Played and sang for him in peace)
That they fled from their King.
But the Evil that still continues,
Is that Man, through sinful mischief,
(Those hands, which reach for everything,
With which he smothers the good,
And kills Virtue in his heart,)
Makes God’s Angels retreat from him.
Since at the wicked Self-will,
There the good Spirit does not stand still,
The Holy separates itself from the vile:
Whoever perceives this, should repair his situation,
So that he takes another path,
And the good no longer hides from him.

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

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