The Small Fish: Let It Swim

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 Small Fish: Let It Swim

Scripture Reference:

Description: Two fishermen sit on the bank of a large lake; one of them takes the fishhook out of the mouth of a caught fish. 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 Amos 4:2.

And do not taste so eagerly,
What offers itself agreeably.

As the bait covers the hook,
By which the little Fish was deceived,
So that it is pulled out of its freedom,
And viewed with greed;
So covers the world’s pleasure,
(That bait for poor Souls)
The wicked enemy’s hellish hook,
To catch the poor souls.
It is better therefore to abstain
From all sweetness and beauty,
That grows on the world’s tree,
And charmingly presents itself.
One should slide wisely past it,
And remain soberly satisfied,
And thus keep his beloved life free,
In the frightful water down here:
Until one in the flood of time,
Has swum upstream so long,
Till one has arrived in Eternity,
And the water of Heaven.
All that the desire then meets there,
Is safe, not possessed with evil,
Good inside as well as outside,
And is sweet, to eat up deliciously.
O Soul! life is short here,
We must tame our desire,
So that one is not caught,
But will finally swim in eternal salvation.

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

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