The Vermin: Cleanse Thee

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 Vermin: Cleanse Thee

Scripture Reference:

Description: An old man shows a basket of picked fruit to two young men and a child. To the right a woman and a man are in the process of picking fruit from a tree that has lost a number of its leaves. 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 4:9.

Destruction is very nearby,
May each one then be adroit.

If growth reaches the peak of its bloom,
Promising an abundance of fruit,
The spoil-worm attacks it,
And makes the good prospect sigh.
It stands in the beginning as a crown,
Freely released from winter’s bonds;
The little leaf green, the little flower beautiful,
But alas! erelong it is damaged.
So blooms the human Youth,
That miraculous tree of the most beautiful fruits;
That he would be, if he grew up virtuous,
But he exceeds that wish too much.
The little worm that damages his blossom,
Born with him like as a burden,
In the bud of the heart and there nearby,
Appears soon out of its hiding place.
What a pity, that that Beautiful blossom,
The messenger of desired fruits,
So soon decays from its glory,
And gives reason for woe and sighs!
O little Tree from the Creator’s hand,
In the garden of his miracles,
Planted for his pleasure and delight,
Moistened with the sap of reason,
Thou art grounded in a deeper foundation,
To thee has been given a higher measure,
Than the one that grows yet does not feel nor know,
Thou art the truly intelligent life.
Use then thy Nobility,
So as not, with stupid and dumb things,
To stand still before an evil accident,
That wrests thy worthiness from thee.
But shake thy branches of deliberation,
Attacked by the Vermin of sins,
And scatter the wicked and damaging evil,
Down from thy crown.
So that thou willt be beautiful and fertile,
To the honor, praise and approval
From the very Highest Majesty,
And so bear the eternal fruit before him.
For if thou because of the destructive creature,
Wert counted among the spoilt trees,
Then the eternal fire would threaten thee,
And thou wouldst be taken out of the garden.
Rise then little tree of the heart,
Move thy branches and thy limbs,
To be cleansed, for the fruit of the good,
So no axe will cut down thy livelihood.

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

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