The Chameleon: Now This Way, Then That Way

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 Chameleon: Now This Way, Then That Way

Scripture Reference:

Description: In a forest, a man shows a chameleon walking on the ground to a friend sitting under a tree. In the background are two travelers. 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 55:21 [Psalm 55:22].

Injustice, and Crookedness.
Turn with the Weathervane.

He who is truthful keeps his Color of always doing the right thing,
And does not change, like the Chameleon:
A Reflection of the Double heart, that out of self interest,
Knows how to let the Cloak or the Cape turn with the wind.
But he who with cunning deceit, through a feigned spirit,
So deceives another, deceives himself the most,
Because he cannot blind the Eternal eye through appearance,
That finally will find all the dishonest, before his Court of law,
And keep the false Yes and No from Heaven,
For a lie does never agree with the truth,
And what is not united remains separated,
Purity shoves impurity to the side.
The simple Heart, that hates crooked corners,
And stands with sincerity before God and Man,
Whose tongue is like his heart, and heart is like his tongue,
And is never through Self-interest pushed to falsehood,
Becomes an Heir of the Eternal lasting Yes,
So that he like a child will stand before his Father.
The Truth, although in the earth’s valley of sins
Not credited for its nobleness and value,
Does nevertheless overtake the false lie,
Although the lie walks ever so fast along the World’s path.
He who was now last, becomes finally the First,
He who heads for the Kingdom of Heaven, gets the farthest of all.

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

Click here for additional images available from this book.

Request a high-resolution file (fees apply)

Rights Statement: The online edition of this work in the public domain, i.e., not protected by copyright, has been produced by Pitts Theology Library, Emory University.
Rights Status: No Copyright - United States
Pitts Theology Library provides copyright information as a courtesy and makes no representation about copyright or other legal status of materials in the Digital Image Archive.