The Old One: O Precious Time

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 Old One: O Precious Time

Scripture Reference:

Description: A middle-aged man talks to two old men sitting on a bench in front of an old age home. A third old man walks bent over leaning on a walking stick under a tree. 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 Psalm 71:18.

Motto: The tree that grows, And firmly takes root.

O Old Age, of many years,
Hast thou gathered the Treasure of virtue,
That is thy crown of grey hairs,
Then thou art wise, and calm.
But hast thou thy entire long life,
Built the field of vanity,
Then thou art childish, and stunted in thy growth,
Even if thou wert one hundred years old.
And instead of the light of honors,
The darkness of scorn overcomes thee,
Like those who do not learn,
At the place where one obtains wisdom.
Thy place to learn was on the earth,
Thy time, from thy childhood on,
Where thou became so often one year older,
Until, thou hast one foot in the grave.
Thou hast drunk and eaten,
Thou hast worked, or procured,
And thou hast forgotten the right order of things,
And hast been suffocated under earthly business.
Thou hast practiced and read,
Thou hast learned a foreign language,
So that one would always be wise,
A wisdom that the world honors.
All that may not profit the Soul,
One calls thy kind of wisdom cunning,
As, in all thine activities,
Thou hast missed the beginning of wisdom.
But worthy Old age of virtue,
Thou hast built a fertile ground,
So that thou dost harvest, eternal joy,
And thy life would become old in honor.
Thine Old age shall grow young again,
Even more beautiful than the fresh youth,
So that thy praise is never fully sung,
O New sprout out of old virtue!
Thine inability shall vanish,
The wrinkle from thy face,
Thy crookedness, thy weakness, and thy pains,
Like the Night before the Morning-light.
O Man! born to eternal Salvation,
Make sure that thou in old age,
Hast not lost thy beautiful time,
In which one may please God.

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

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