The Bone: Tiring, without Benefit

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 Bone: Tiring, without Benefit

Scripture Reference:

Description: In the foreground two men watch a large dog gnaw on a bone. The background consists of a city view. 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 Isaiah 55:2.

One sees, how Foolishness,
Spends its Golden Time without benefit.

He certainly gnaws greedily and eagerly,
Yet has nevertheless an empty stomach,
At which human opinion laughed,
While reason said disdainfully,
How the stupid beast wears out his teeth,
On such an object of contempt.
The world, in General,
And in Parts, is like that barren bone,
At which so many hungry stomachs,
(Through animal-like ignorance),
Greedily, with hand and tooth,
Gnaw their whole life long:
And remain however unsatisfied,
And because of their thinness despised,
When looked at by enlightened eyes.
O Thin and pale Soul,
That fell so upon barren bones,
How thou dost finally stand deceived!
Since thou didst wear out thy teeth,
And with thy effort accomplished nothing,
Since all temporal affairs,
However eagerly one chews on those,
Do not satisfy the Eternal life,
In Eternity.

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

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