The Camel: To Lighten the Load

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 Camel: To Lighten the Load

Scripture Reference:

Description: Three heavily loaded camels are led by their masters down a hill. 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 Matthew 11:28-30.

Motto: Willingly carrying, Freed from blows.

The Camel so big and strong,
Allows itself to be controlled for the work,
Of being loaded with heavy burdens,
And follows its master docilely
Along a broad path, up and down the mountain,
Satisfied with scanty rations.
O Neck and Back of flesh and blood
If thou wert so tame, so gentle and good,
As to bear the entire burden of the cross,
In the service of the soul and the spirit,
While thou art its own beast,
That would be a delight and pleasure.
For in that large and heavy burden,
That fits thee so well to carry,
Lies a rich profit for thy master,
Who sells his things of this Time
For the Gold of Eternity,
Which wise Merchants covet.
Thou wouldst still even on this journey
Where thou didst convey his goods,
Also find decent food,
If only thou according to the camel’s nature,
Wert satisfied with plain and simple,
Till the end would release thee.
O Servant of the Souls, flesh and blood
Kneel as the camel does;
O master of the Body, teach it manners,
And do not fear its power and wildness,
As thou dost see from the Merchant,
How he tames those large Animals.
So that thou with thy entire belongings,
And the advantage that entailed,
(Driven forward too carelessly and slowly,
While the advantage that spoke to thee,
Elapsed as it took too long,)
Might not be left behind.

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

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