The Duck Decoy: Be on Your Guard

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 Duck Decoy: Be on Your Guard

Scripture Reference:

Description: On the right of the image is a large duck cage in which a tame duck swims. About six wild ducks swim in front of the cage, while a large flock of ducks is in the process of descending from their flight. A pair of ducks with ducklings sits on a nest built on a small island in the left foreground. The whole scene is set in a water landscape. 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 James 4:4.

Although the world seems pretty,
It is a Duck cage.

He who wants to view the enemy’s cunning deception,
Should see himself in this Bird-cage,
Which, green and gracefully covered,
With alluring pleasure of fresh water-ponds,
Where the tame one’s plunging and washing,
Attracts the flight of the wild ones.
So that they enticed, eager, together
Descend from the open sky and flight,
And adjoin closer by.
Although gradually, with watching and fear,
Whether harm is anywhere perceived,
They finally join.
Those bring them, by example, further inside,
In the green vault, where cunning spins its web,
And makes the entire act treacherous,
Till they having flown up surprised and skittish,
See themselves miserably deceived in the snare,
That will cost all of them their neck.
The earthly arbor of worldly pleasure,
Attracts many, as they regarded it so pleasing,
And where company plays and sings,
That makes them descend from freedom,
So as to also pick the fruit of their delight,
In which pretense had a part.
But if they held the Mirror clearly before their eyes,
They would see that pretense deceives and has deceived many,
And that company leads them astray,
They would then not trust a beautiful show,
But protect their Soul from the devil’s cunning,
And remain eternally shielded.

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

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