The Ice: Better on Land

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 Ice: Better on Land

Scripture Reference:

Description: Two men who have fallen through the ice are being rescued by others with the use of a ladder and a large pole. A number of people are watching from the bank of the frozen canal and several people are skating in the background. 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 adapted this image from one used in an earlier work, which may be found in the Digital Image Archive under the call number 1699Weig. The attendant scripture text is Job 37:9-10.

Motto: Although it seems solid, One will be surprised.

O Hollanders, beyond measure,
Exuberant with a vain delight of the Ice,
Why dost thou risk, for little pleasure,
Thy young and most beloved life,
(That thou wouldst not give for money or goods,)
As if thou wert not aware of any harm.
Thou createst delight in the fast flying,
And dost let thyself stray from reflection;
One does not consider any threat of danger,
But driven by idle winds,
One is content to enjoy oneself,
And beneath gapes the cold death.
Though one sees the disaster before one’s eyes,
That someone has been suddenly deceived,
And descends to the dismal bottom,
And appears again with pale cheeks,
Yet the idle pleasure goes on its way,
As if one did not understand the danger.
O Thin bark; of earthly pleasures,
That frozen over hell’s kingdom,
As smooth as bright tin,
By stretching thyself broadly and wide,
Thus dost cover a deep abyss,
How easily dost thy thinness break!
Still one perceives little avoidance,
But many desire to ride on thee,
While the heart plays in luxury,
But it is scary even for thoughts,
That consider the idle delight,
In which the downfall is imagined.
It is a wonder, that so many people,
Who otherwise wish for wellbeing
With respect to earthly activities,
Do not consider better in the heart,
How very important,
Is the life of the eternal body.
Calm down, rejoicing earthlings,
Lost in soon decaying things,
On the slippery ice of this Time;
Let thyself no longer be charmed,
But bring forth in thy heart,
The deep ground of Eternity.

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

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