The Hen: Not Barren

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 Hen: Not Barren

Scripture Reference:

Description: A woman throws food into a chicken coop while a number of chickens and chicks peck at the food and a cock crows. 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 Luke 13:34.

Motto: Receiving, Must also include giving.

The little hen takes and gives, sustenance is disbursed to her,
And from her fertility sustenance is again enjoyed:
Where does man remain, so long housed and fed.
With daily provisions, of all kinds of goods?
He scratches, eats and drinks, and only knows to consume,
And does not give fruit on the table of his lord.
The fruit that he gives, his master does not receive;
He brings it outside into the nest called World.
He cackles a lot, acts the master, and pecks at the good ones
Who are useful and grateful for the lord’s yard and feed,
And should one find a form of equal taking and giving,
It is only fine appearance, an empty shell full of air.
Barren man-child; there are then good reasons,
To step from this moment forward into a better state,
Before the hand of death prepares itself against thee,
And the sharp knife cuts thy life’s throat.
How thou hast devoured food in thy barrenness!
Having found feeding by day and a nest at night,
There is time to change for the better, through thy Lord’s long patience,
Whose mercy has filled thy measure.
Reform thyself, to give good fruit from now on,
So thou dost become loved and worthy and wilt live in abundance.

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

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