The Ostrich: Foolish!

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 Ostrich: Foolish!

Scripture Reference:

Description: A large ostrich stands in an open landscape and is viewed by a couple with a child. 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 Matthew 16:26.

Many wear feathers, like the Ostrich,
But wisdom is not present in the head.

He who stores the body in money and goods,
And everything that serves the soft and easy life,
So it is always fed,
And always surrounded by a nest:
And meanwhile leaves the largest part,
Through which the human is truly called human,
The Eternal Soul, that all important,
So thoughtlessly forgotten:
He acts, like the Ostrich,
Who in the wild woods, or on the open fields,
Now skittish from a Hunt’s rustling sound,
While man and horse were set upon his life,
Hides his head in hedge and bush,
And gives no thought to the large remainder,
So that he dives with the least,
And leaves, alas! the whole body exposed.
Well then, o human! who makes fun of this,
And considers that such behavior and comical ways,
Only belong to a stupid animal,
That cannot manage its small intellect any better;
If thou dost not see thy Soul’s danger,
As thou hast hidden the flesh in wellbeing,
Then thou dost not think about its harm,
So, the animal’s mind leads thee alas! astray.
Think, how the hellish Hunter laughs,
When he finds only thy flesh concealed,
And thou dost then consider thee hidden,
Although the soul can be seen from all sides,
And stands bare for his sharp point,
Which he has aimed at thee.

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

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