The Capstan: Gradually Closer

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 Capstan: Gradually Closer

Scripture Reference:

Description: On a shipyard, two men pull in a huge beam with the use of a capstan on land. 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 1 Peter 5:10.

Even though it seems the Work of Dim ones,
What is Desired must nevertheless come.

The Capstan, through continual turning,
Can gradually pull in the huge bulk;
That, the Man does alone with his Mate:
But otherwise through gripping with the hands,
To take the heavy piece onto its teeth,
It could not be done by fifty men.
O Capstan of Belief and Hope,
So we must walk steadily around thee,
To achieve progress of the heaviest piece,
For which the human power alone would succumb,
And arrange to retreat discouraged,
Yet, on which depends our Eternal Happiness.
We must tie the Rope of Help into ourselves,
And wind it through Prayer continually around our heart,
While Day and Night turn round like a Capstan,
As we do not see the way of the path to the end,
But steadily turn and turn ourselves,
That way one does indeed that greatest deed.
We remain with all our coming and going,
(Where no result is observed by the eye,)
Standing in the revolving of this earth,
But, meanwhile, (though others do not perceive it,
And regard the work of the Pious as lost)
The Pious draw gently so the Heaven closer.

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

Click here for additional images available from this book.

Request a high-resolution file (fees apply)

Rights Statement: The online edition of this work in the public domain, i.e., not protected by copyright, has been produced by Pitts Theology Library, Emory University.
Rights Status: No Copyright - United States
Pitts Theology Library provides copyright information as a courtesy and makes no representation about copyright or other legal status of materials in the Digital Image Archive.