The Undertaker’s Announcer: Surprising

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 Undertaker’s Announcer: Surprising

Scripture Reference:

Description: An announcer brings a death certificate to family members of the deceased while two bystanders look on. In the background of this city scene is a carriage with two horses. 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 144:3-4.

Today Yours,
Tomorrow Mine.

There comes a certificate, the Man is dead.
Is it possible; what is the human life!
He who recently still lived without distress,
Closely surrounded by activities!
He was healthy, and strong and young,
I saw him lately still with my own eyes,
Where he went and stood with others,
Or am I deceived by a Dream?
So says he with surprise who hears it.
But stood he still and thought about it,
And took it to heart,
And if he called to Mind:
That this message and rumor,
That came through his eye and ears,
(Like a final fruit of life,)
Some one else would also hear about Him;
And therefore sought to raise the heaviest thing,
And the worthiest thing,
So that it might strike him not as misfortune,
But as a great fortune!
So it hits him, who well prepared,
Keeps the End of his life in mind,
And pays attention to God’s Commands,
To follow those according to his ability:
Who is here in this World,
Not for his senses and pleasure,
But as in a Prison,
From which he would gladly be released.
But, he who has loved the World,
And this wretched worm-ridden life,
For him Death does not come as a Friend,
Yet he must surrender himself to it.

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

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