The Bellows

Book Title: Het leerzaam huisraad : vertoond in vyftig konstige figuuren, met godlyke spreuken en stichtelyke verzen / door Jan Luiken

Author: Luiken, Jan, 1649-1712

Image Title: The Bellows

Scripture Reference:

Description: A man admonishes his servant to blow air on the fire, while there is still a spark, even as the Apostle Paul admonished his churches to live by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). The attendant poem observes that what is in the heart will smolder and smoke many years and never burst into flame without air, and sometimes this deficit is due to a clogged or absent bellows. 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 wrote the accompanying poem.

Motto: While there’s still a spark.

There a little Fire smolders, give it some air,
So that it bears thee its beautiful fruit,
To serve as warmth or to cook the Food:
What lies on thy hearth,
That will surely be all right erelong,
But that, which is kept in the heart,
Smolders and smokes for many years,
And doesn’t even get started,
To burn and produce a flaming life:
That fire from the convinced heart,
That gnaws and grumbles with its fervor,
That should be given the air of life.
But no, the Bellows for the air,
Is stopped up with earthly desire,
Or lies rejected in a corner.
Something else has come into fashion,
To put the hands to work,
So its use remains forgotten.
Oh Man, give air, give air quickly,
Ere thou bewailst thy carelessness,
Blow on the Fire of thy conscience,
So that it erupts into joy,
And blazes with piety and virtue,
So wilt thou eat from the fruits.

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

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