The Tortoise: Never Away from Home

Book Title: De bykorf des gemoeds : honing zaamelende uit allerly bloemen / vervattende over de honderd konstige figuuren ; met godlyke spreuken en stichtelyke verzen, door Jan Luiken

Author: Luiken, Jan, 1649-1712

Image Title: The Tortoise: Never Away from Home

Scripture Reference:

Description: In a country landscape, two travelers discuss a large tortoise that crawls in front of them. A comfortable looking house is located in the background. 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 Psalm 33:18-20.

He who takes shelter in God’s hand,
Is always at home, and never out.

The solid Shield adorning it,
Is also its house, in which it lives;
That it carries everywhere,
If it pulls in its head and feet
Then it rests to its liking,
And hides peacefully from misfortune.
O! That the defensive shield,
Would serve also as a house for us!
Which we never left behind,
But always carried to and fro,
And also took, up and down,
Then the Enemy could shoot arrows.
If the solid Shield, attentiveness,
Guides thereto the enclosed heart,
Covered from below and from above,
And crawls with that through the valley,
So as not to crack in a fall,
That would be admirable and laudable.
O Naked human! who yearns to hide,
Put thy house under thy Shield,
Of living in the fear of God,
So that thou in time of need,
Art not found, naked and bare,
But surrounded by a Soul’s shield.
Many hide under the world’s goods,
Yet that is clay for the foot,
Of the Enemy’s hard and heavy steps;
But that which is revealed above,
Is powerful against his might,
So the soul remains in peace.

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

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