Water: Alone It Is Transparent

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: Water: Alone It Is Transparent

Scripture Reference:

Description: A standing woman pours water from a small container into a large one on the ground; a second woman sitting next to her comments on the transparency of the stream as the water is being poured. In the background is a river. 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 Isaiah 44:3–4.

Motto: Without Soil, High in value.

Water, the sweet Element,
To which the thirst of all things,
Turns with vast desire,
To receive refreshment:
That moderates and cools everything,
Pinched from dryness,
That cleanses, washes and rinses everything,
Of which dirt had laid hold,
That all grass and herbs seek,
That all Fields long for,
That makes all fruit grow,
So that food is received,
That is humble and gentle,
And always seeks the lowest place,
And with its cool refreshment,
Constantly runs downward:
May it arouse us and point us forward,
To one day obtain its source,
As the living have already heard,
That such has been received from Jesus,
That spring and living Fountain,
That has offered itself freely,
So that we will never be thirsty,
In the land to which his Call invites us.


Water, single and alone,
And not mixed with other things
Is pure, clear and unique
And can please the viewing eye:
But if it is mixed with earth,
Then it has lost its Nobility,
And is contemptible and unworthy,
Its name of Mud is born
O Soul! earlier so clear,
So pure when flowing from God’s spring,
How the hellish and worldly spirit,
Has poured black earth into thee!
O Water! of the worthy soul,
So clear in simplicity,
Do not mix thee with worldly goods,
That black earth here below,
So that thou art a pleasure
For the very clearest and worthiest eyes,
And art a desire to taste,
So thou wilt increase his favor,
To be in Paradise,
In the middle of the Heavenly trees,
A spring and living Fountain,
Of eternal Peace and streams of joy:
Avoid then the mixture (that is made,)
Of hellish dust and earthly dust,
That makes thee detestable to God,
And unworthy in his eyes,
So that thou not as dirt and mud,
Art cast away in the dark kingdom.

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

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