The Youth: He Who Half-Way Turns Back Does Not Go Astray

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 Youth: He Who Half-Way Turns Back Does Not Go Astray

Scripture Reference:

Description: A youth hurries past a couple while waving his hat at them. In the background are a two-horse carriage, a horse with a rider and various people. 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 Ecclesiastes 12:1.

Well to him who avoids evil,
In time.

Stand still, stand still, restrain thy foot,
Having already walked that path far enough,
That thou must yet return,
If one wishes to hope for something good.
Which path? The path of enchantment,
Strewn with roses and violets,
That Trap of woeful temptation,
That Court of erring and wandering.
While ruin arranges its arrows,
And hidden under the laughing and swarming,
Takes aim at thy heart,
So that thou mightest feel the blow.
They fell to the left, they fell to the right,
Those who before thee started on this path.
Their beauty turned into something bad,
Away flew their wished-for things,
Thus be warned where thou goest,
And let not thine ears ring,
To the neglect of good advice,
Like thy vain companions.
Step out, step out, and withdraw thy youth,
From the path of a wretched end,
And walk on the trail of virtue,
To which all wise men turn.
Thou art, it’s true, a fresh blossom,
And dost rest in the bloom of thy life,
But in the evening the wind takes thy glory,
Who knows where thou art stuck!
It is vanity, it is nothing,
Illusion deceives thine eyes,
Bait invites thee into the trap,
To deceive thee miserably.
Now a fair chance still invites thee,
Now there is still time to win the prize,
Gain a beautiful garland for thy head,
Now is the hour of beginning.
Who is meant to have a great treasure,
Who leads the journey, merely for the gleaning,
And postpones the vigilant approach,
With those, who trifle away their chance?
O Young one and healthy youth,
Direct thy senses to calm down,
And choose Virtue as thy companion,
With that thou wilt thrive eternally.
O Virtue, that so enriches life,
That all things of high value,
Retreat before thy greater value,
How wise are they who labor with thee.

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

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