The Earthquake: Danger from Below and Above

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 Earthquake: Danger from Below and Above

Scripture Reference:

Description: In the foreground, three people are being swallowed up into the earth, while two others narrowly escape this fate. In the background are collapsed houses and a large stream of refugees, most are walking while some are in horse-drawn coaches. 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 21:11.

Motto: Nowhere as safe, As in the sacred.

Vain and bold man what advice?
The ground is loose on which thou dost stand;
And threatens to swallow thee up,
Or to tumble the house on thy head,
While jolt upon jolt promises the fall,
Here the bold character must be terrified.
There came, from time to time earlier,
A strong and frightful report from afar,
Where Etna’s peak is located;
But it is not long ago, that the Netherlands itself,
With its neighbors experienced,
The shaking of that wonderful earth.
And also not so weak or small,
But such, that each one left his house,
To look for accommodation;
Business halted from its pace,
And, afraid for the threatening of that finger,
Everyone sought to avoid punishment.
That was like a preacher sent,
At one hour, throughout the entire country,
Who could move the nation to take notice:
But the repentance is of short duration,
Like the naughty child, freed from punishment,
Who has again received space.
But, poor man, thinkest thou not,
Though life escaped this danger,
How the deathbed does shake everyone’s ground?
An earthquake, not to be avoided,
However firmly one attempts it,
Here it costs nonetheless thy body and life.
Wish thou then to follow good advice,
Seek firmer ground,
Following Christ’s teaching.
All that thou dost see with thine eye,
Is not the unmovable being,
Thus one must step to a better one.
O Rock that in eternity,
Art so firm and immovable,
Thou art the ground for wise building.
What rests on thee will remain standing,
Thou shalt nevermore desert those,
Who through virtue have faith in thee.

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

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