The Horse: The World’s Reward

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 Horse: The World’s Reward

Scripture Reference:

Description: One horse lies in the grass, while another grazes. Behind them on the left a worker uses a whip to urge on a horse pulling a cart with a big load. 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 Psalm 147:10-11.

O Man, my friend,
See whom thou dost serve.

The proud and spirited Horse, possessed with power and courage,
That in the service of men, has worn off its bloom,
Grown emaciated and old, and now displeases everyone,
Is from the stable and field merely driven to the dike.
Thou who dost serve the world, with thy life’s forces,
Mayst at the end of thy labor also expect such a reward;
As this Master, when thou art old and lame,
Will drive thee from his stable, to the valley of Eternity:
There thou mayst roam, and view what thou canst find,
That is the world’s reward from faithless friends.
But he who gives his service to God, the Almighty,
Has Eternal sustenance, in full abundance.
He will after a few labors of fighting against the flesh,
Graze, unencumbered by the pressing Yoke, totally unconcerned,
In green meadows, where no master’s hand,
Comes to fetch and hitch him in front of the wheel of toil,
But eternal rest is provided as his reward:
May this service then please everyone’s heart.
So as not to be like a dumb animal,
And be servile in the service of the worldly spirit.
The human origin may befall a nobler state,
That through its reasoning permits one to choose.
He encounters the choice through God’s mercy,
Before shameful neglect gnaws and hurts him miserably.

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

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