The Big Fish: It’s Monstrous

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 Big Fish: It’s Monstrous

Scripture Reference:

Description: A man is about to throw his harpoon at a whale; he is standing in the front of a whaleboat with a large number of rowers. 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 1 Thessalonians 5:3.

He who desires a profit,
Should make sure to catch the right one.

Though the Monster is huge,
It’s man who kills it,
His cunning can master all:
But the Monster of sins’ desire,
Man leaves in peace and quiet,
To brave the red Sea of blood.
Yet, if he following wisdom’s teaching,
Would resist that Monster-animal with courage,
He would obtain a greater prize,
Than a hundred thousand barrels of Oil,
Gained through hunting and conquering
The captured Whale.
It would not be any stinking oil
In the lamp, to give evening-light
For the temporal face;
But in the lamp of his heart,
A sweet smelling oil, that feeds,
The Eternal light of the Blessed life.
Though he is normally bold and sly,
Here he is dull, fearful and scared,
To miscalculate his profit,
Since his convinced Mind,
Fears the battle with the Animal of sins,
Thus, he must then miss the profit.
Yet, even the careless lack of scruples, knows,
That such a monster that eats Souls,
Does not live in Greenland’s regions,
Or elsewhere, far from home,
So that it would not bother thee in the least,
Like the evil that has far retreated,
But this monster, of great harm,
Is so near to the life of man,
That its danger cannot be avoided;
Since fed by thine own hand,
It lives in flesh and blood,
And can reach thy poor Soul.
May a large profit then not tempt thee,
To catch and kill that.
See before thee that thou art not in the end,
With body and soul and in totality
Swallowed up through its mouth,
And it hastens with you to the abyss.

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

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