The Coffin: That Is for Someone

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 Coffin: That Is for Someone

Scripture Reference:

Description: On a street that runs along a canal, a family watches two workmen carry a coffin; large houses and a church are seen across the canal. 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 49:16-17 [Psalm 49:17-18].

Do not make thy dwelling here too large,
When thou dost measure this little House.

He who sees this little house of four planks,
And calls this abode to mind,
Should not build such a large Space,
For his fleshly senses:
For whoever confines his body here,
So that his Spirit might find space,
When one puts the Flesh into the grave,
Shows that he loved wisdom.
What is the End of flesh and blood,
That enclosed in a wooden coffin,
Must rot in the dark grave,
Rejected from house, garden and all!
Formerly flattered and celebrated,
Honored and crammed with luxury,
Hung and adorned all over.
Like a Doll with which a child played.
Alas! when one sees it later,
In digging up the Grave of the dead,
It is worth shedding tears about,
So very hideous and so sordid!
Therefore one puts his mind off that,
In order to favor the Noble Spirit above it,
So that, when the body falls into the Grave,
The Soul may spread out its wings,
And fly, where it finds rest,
Welcomed and loved by God.

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

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