Midnight: Living Death

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: Midnight: Living Death

Scripture Reference:

Description: A man sleeps in his bed, while his cat sleeps on the chair and his dog sleeps on the floor next to his bed. 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 scriptures are Psalm 4:8 and Ephesians 5:14.

Well to them, who with awakening,
Arrive in a better state.

When the Sun departs from us,
And darkness covers the Earth,
Then the tired life must sleep;
The day’s short life;
That is not allowed to live longer,
Or it must reap a new beginning,
So that with each night,
A kind of dying is expected;
Where the neat and sensible life,
With all its diligence and busyness,
That occupies it during the day,
Surrenders itself to idleness.
Then life hovers in fantasy,
As if there was neither dwelling nor body,
It is all lost and forgotten,
And it lives, as if in another Realm,
Its country and condition very different,
And it is possessed by love or grief.
But by the grace of the Lord,
It arises again in the morning,
And inherits a new time of living;
So that its calm soul,
Submits to the eternal good,
Elevated from this scattered dust:
Before the sleep, of true Death,
Ends Life’s evening,
And lets Life sail away;
That carelessly, still unprepared,
Separated from the Realm of this time,
Perhaps must live in dismalness.
Then arrives yet a Morning,
To rise again from that sleep,
And further, according to Eternal law, to inherit,
After the vessel is receptive
In the light or in the darkness,
A full possession or an empty loss.

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

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