The Snail: It Speaks for Itself

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 Snail: It Speaks for Itself

Scripture Reference:

Description: In a basement two men view with abhorrence the trail that is left behind by the snail that crawls on the floor. 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 1 Peter 3:12.

The abhorrent ugly Object,
Leaves Signs, where it went.

As the Snail betrays itself,
Through the paths that it travels,
By which the eye perceived its trails;
Thus the Godless multitude leaves,
In its wake the filthy trail,
Of evil deeds and words.
Which Cleanliness sees with sorrow,
As well as the all-seeing Eye,
So that He finds such a Wicked-person,
And with the hand that separates everything,
Clears him out of his clean dwelling,
So the Dung-pool swallows him.
He who then does not wish to be a Snail,
Should cleanse himself through virtue;
He should wash his dirty mouth and heart,
So that his course would be no longer,
The nasty trail of Disgust,
Otherwise it will cause him Eternal pain.
O World! large, substantial Dwelling,
How the pure eye is a cross,
That thou art so grievously crept upon,
By the Snail’s heart, that ugly skin,
Which from the caves of Hell,
Runs along all the corridors!
But still, one should be patient,
Until the hour is fulfilled,
That He, in the Holy cleanliness of Heaven,
(The Dwelling and Inheritance of the Pious,
That is the New Earth and Heaven,)
Will live in Eternal purity.

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

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