The Profitable Removal

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 Profitable Removal

Scripture Reference:

Description: Two men converse next to a dunghill, on which a pig lays and on which the World has also been placed. Behind right a farmhouse; in the farther left background, a dung-cart. 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 Luke 12:33-34.

The dung lies in a heap,
And gives nothing but a foul smell,
But on the field it’s a blessing,
And bears a pleasing fruit.
If many unwise people were mindful of this,
With respect to their Piles of money,
And brought those to poverty’s land,
They would get a fertile field.
But each one is in cunning wits,
Not equally wise and equally adroit,
To gain so much with little,
One finds ignorance in the masses.
Rabble can such people be called,
In uneducated stupidity,
Who do not enjoy the fruit from their dung,
Because it was not spread out.
Dung is the things of the earth,
Dung is the world’s money and goods,
Kept by itself without value,
And without benefit to the Soul.
If only the conceited and the educated,
Who works at nothing, like he does the stomach,
Would turn to the Farmers’ Labor,
And would learn the useful practice,
Of riding with the dung cart,
On the meager, poor and barren land,
So that it might bear him fruit,
In hundredfold in his hand.
Many are called wise and educated,
And are further known,
To have studied in Christ’s School;
But if he only free of any shame,
He who boasts of this wisdom,
And still doesn’t know the lessons,
Clearly taught to him by God’s wisdom,
How to spend the earthly goods:
So that it would allow, through proper usage,
The well-educated and wise Soul,
To pick the fruit of heavenly goods,
And obtain the Whole in return for the Part.

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

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