The Windlass: Do Not Turn Around

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 Windlass: Do Not Turn Around

Scripture Reference:

Description: A ship is pulled by a windlass over a dike from lower into higher water. A man with his dog watches in the foreground. 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 Hebrews 6:11-12.

Should something come against thy bow,
One should see how to proceed.

Although one cannot carry it by hand,
When one happens upon the Dike,
One does not let oneself be deterred,
And turn back with the Boat:
O Dexterous, nimble and clever life,
In all Things of this Time,
How wise and motivated thou art,
In thy Interest and Profit!
The Journey, that thou hast planned,
Must proceed, be it what it may,
Thou dost set out to get across it,
Do not let Comfort overtake thee there:
Where then do those weak folks remain,
In the vessel of their flesh and blood,
On the world’s water with those Boats,
As if they had neither reason nor courage,
To raise the cumbersome flesh and blood,
Where it needed to be across,
So that each will carry out his Journey,
And at the end find no malice?
Here the intellect does not wish to learn wisdom,
The Dam of Penance, Suffering and Struggle,
Causes many Boats to turn back,
Since it does not easily slide.
So one sees that earthly things weigh heavier,
Than the Heavenly Everlasting Good,
But whoever has obtained Wisdom,
He makes sure that he does it differently.

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

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