The Fire: Take Heed

Book Title: Beschouwing der wereld : bestaande in hondert konstige figuuren, met godlyke spreuken en stichtelyke verzen / door Jan Luiken.

Author: Luiken, Jan, 1649-1712

Image Title: The Fire: Take Heed

Scripture Reference:

Description: A woman sits outside tending a fire that burns high in a container, from which she turns away. Next to her are several water buckets. A second woman stands on the left also holding a container with a fire that burns high; in the distance a volcano and the sea. The Dutch artist and poet Jan Luiken (1649-1712) was responsible for drawing this emblem and composed the poem that accompanies it. The etching was executed by Jan Luiken or his son Casper Luiken (1672-1708), who had used this image in an earlier work, which may be found in the Digital Image Archive under the call number 1699Weig. The attendant scripture text is Matthew 25:41.

One must carefully learn,
To see evil from afar.

How Ice-cold the heart must be,
Because it doesn’t thaw so much,
In fear of the Eternal Fire,
After the wisest and most trusted advice!
Yet each one must admit,
If only a spark of fire touches him,
How fast he removes hand and feet,
And how he watches out for more.
O Fire! How sharp are thy teeth,
How thou bitest the being that thou takest hold of,
How thou dost put all things to shame,
And still thy hunger is not satisfied;
O Man, concern thyself with the outcome!
As thou seest in that Mirror,
That though the punishment seems bought on long credit,
It does not forget the guilty.
But finds him finally at the End,
So that he then pays and atones
With wailing, suffering and misery,
And tastes the bitter after the sweet.
As thou dost watch out for thy tender hands,
While thou dost manage the fire for useful purposes,
So that one does not burn oneself badly,
When one cooks or otherwise celebrates,
Benefit thyself so with thoughts,
By thinking of the eternal fire,
So as to guard thy Soul from that,
And so escape the highest bitterness.

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

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