The Negligence

Book Title: De onwaardige wereld : vertoond in vyftig zinnebeelden, met godlyke spreuken en stichtelyke verzen / door Jan Luiken

Author: Luiken, Jan, 1649-1712

Image Title: The Negligence

Scripture Reference:

Description: Four men, who find the World in front of a narrow gate at the entrance to the narrow path ascending to Heaven, rest by leaning against it [the World] instead of pushing the obstruction aside. The Dutch artist and poet Jan Luiken (1649-1712), whose initials are at the lower right, was responsible for drawing and etching this emblem and for the poem that accompanies it (below). The attendant scripture text is Acts 14:22.

Though the Gate to Heaven is open,
The Earth is in your way,
There stop many full of hope,
And find the walkway does no good.
But meanwhile the hours pass,
Which are granted to each one,
And will not last forever,
But hasten to their end.
Lift up then your soft hands,
Whoever begins to see the needed work,
Before the greatest shame befalls you,
Lift up then your indolent knees.
It’s better to now forget the resting,
And put the flesh to the plow,
To let it toil and sweat,
And do what is necessary.
So that one moves this lump,
And rolls it out of the entrance,
Before it obstructs us so long,
That the Gate to Heaven closes.
That would be a loss, not to be recouped,
A most stubborn regret,
That would descend in the Soul,
Like a Worm that sharply bites.

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

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