The Cliff: Through Carelessness

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 Cliff: Through Carelessness

Scripture Reference:

Description: A sailing ship is shipwrecked in the wild sea and its sailors are tossed overboard. 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 1 Timothy 1:18-19.

Motto: Compass and chart, Belong with sailing.

In the Sea hides the blind cliff,
That costs so many valuable ships;
In the world’s luxury and pleasant living
Hides a hard hellish Rock,
Till a frightful collision,
There so many men remained,
There so many worthy Souls have been,
Completely severed from their ships,
Through the raging of the wild waves:
Is then that danger not to be avoided?
Yes, if the Steersman would pay attention,
And sail according to his instructions.
But, if the living does not listen,
To the good advice of the eternal word,
How would that great voyage succeed?
Where vigilance does not perceive or fathom,
But before the wind only sails away,
Then his huge monster breaks apart.
Even if for that crossing there is
An accurate and well measured chart,
To instruct about the cliff and shoreline
So that thus, through caution,
The great danger would be avoided,
So as to land at the right place:
How does it help, if one thoughtlessly,
Pays no attention to that big advantage,
So as to live according to his own will,
So that one is driven from the right course,
As one’s own pleasure yielded
To the lower shore!
O Wild Sea, called world,
He who surveys thy dangers,
Has reason to outfit himself,
With things of necessity,
So that, besides wise conduct,
He sails to the blissful shores of heaven.

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

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