The Trap: Consider, before Thou Dost Begin

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 Trap: Consider, before Thou Dost Begin

Scripture Reference:

Description: A bird trap hangs on a tree with its doors open while a number of birds fly in, out and around it. An onlooker lies on the grass underneath the trap; in the background two travelers walk along the bank of a lake on which a sailboat can be seen. 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 Psalm 141:8-9.

If thou seest not the evil ahead of time,
The downfall gives no warning.

The House where another lives,
That looks so pleasant,
Is just not good to also acquire;
As the Bird finds,
Which, blinded by ignorance,
Lets itself be caught from its wide sky.
Let each then depend on himself,
And not just follow someone else,
So as not to be deceived.
He who thinks of the Blind as an Example,
Falls with the blind into the canal,
Each should use his own eyes.
The beautiful House, called World,
In which one sees the heart of man,
As in a chosen dwelling,
Where the heart joyfully hops and jumps,
Eats and drinks well, and cheerfully sings,
Makes a good show for the eye:
But the Heart of a wise Spirit,
That loves Freedom, and fears bonds,
Keeps away from beautiful appearance,
Following the Noble human idea,
And guards against the cunning trap,
To avoid the heart’s Eternal sorrow.

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

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