The Barrel: The Louder the Barrel, the Less the Liquid

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 Barrel: The Louder the Barrel, the Less the Liquid

Scripture Reference:

Description: In a cellar with steps leading up to the street a number of barrels are stored. One man kneels down and knocks on an empty barrel to let a second man hear the sound that emanates from it. A couple views this scene from the city street. 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 Ecclesiastes 9:17.

The Ear can taste, without the mouth,
What is still hidden from the Eye.

He who loved the noisy Barrel,
Would find himself deceived with that:
One should then forsake the World,
That hums and rumbles, with many promises,
(Surpassing the Barrel of Salvation,)
But at the end gave nothing but wind.
The quiet, pious, Devout life,
Will finally give from its fullness
That very sweetest wine,
Of Eternal rest and happy days,
That is the Barrel of good pleasure,
Compared to which all Barrels are empty.
Do then no longer lend thine ears,
To listen for a big noise,
And do not take the shell instead of the kernel,
But open the barrel’s faucet,
And see from what runs out,
What is contained under the cover.
So the clear Eye will find,
From the Barrel that all men love,
(That great hollow World-Vat,)
After a few drops of sweetness,
Only Wind, from top to bottom,
And a sour drop on the Heart.
But the Heavenly Barrel will flow Eternally,
And wax eternally to fullness,
So that the blessed Soul and Spirit,
Which loved the quiet Barrel as if the fullest,
Will also find divine, what it sought,
A Drink that quenches Eternal Thirst.

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

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