The Donkey: To Serve

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 Donkey: To Serve

Scripture Reference:

Description: In the right foreground, one donkey is standing and one is lying down. In the distance two donkeys are being driven alongside a steep cliff; one is carrying a woman and child, the other carries two sacks. 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 Genesis 49:14-15.

Motto: Give the load, that suits it.

The Donkey, not held in much esteem,
Is only a carrier of the load;
Yet one finds many Masters,
Who in an extraordinary way,
With great delight, yes each for reward,
Serve and honor their Donkey.
So that it deliciously eats and drinks,
And is covered with a splendid blanket,
While they, clothed in rags,
And even with the flour bag on the back,
Along street and road, through filth and muck
Come to walk behind it.
O Poor Soul! with flesh and blood,
Thou art the Man who dost the same,
Thou dost put the servant on soft feathers,
And moreover, so deprived and sordid,
Thou dost spend the night on straw in the stable,
Everything must make room for the Donkey.
If thou didst see such doings with thine eyes,
Thou wouldst find it absurd,
Yet, it was by thy doing the trivial,
That the portion of eternity,
Puts itself as servant to the portion of this Time,
Those are ridiculous things.

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

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