The Fishes: The Best of the Good

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 Fishes: The Best of the Good

Scripture Reference:

Description: On the beach, two fishermen sort their catch; behind them is a man with a large basket. In the background a large number of fishermen pull in a huge net. 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 4:18-19.

Motto: Let false freedom, Become true joy.

O Great Sea, of the temporal life,
In which men to and fro,
Teem, swarm and float,
Like the Fishes in the Sea:
A fishnet lets its lines hang,
And is stretched wide along the world’s beach,
O Free little Fish, let thyself be caught,
So thou wilt fall into a good hand.
Thou wilt not die though its power,
Though thou dost leave thine Element,
But wilt inherit a better Element,
That thy foreignness dost not yet know.
Thou art taken out of turbulent salt,
That made nothing but constant waves,
And will come into the clear water,
Of a quiet and sweet Lake.
There no predator shall hunt thee,
Nor shall the scattered cunning bait,
Ever waylay thy noble freedom,
And pull thee out to a sorrowful alas.
But unconcerned thou shalt swim,
And play merrily to and fro,
In luxury and pleasure without being tamed,
In the sweet, clear and spacious Lake;
(Totally transparent with light,)
And known among thousands.
O Worthy Soul thou wilt come there,
When thou dost land in God’s net,
And that is thy true Element.

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

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