Anon: Lovers Tree
Published Amsterdam late 17th Century
Koninklijk Genootschap voor Oudheidkunde, inv No. KOG Atlas Z & G Port.XIXa
HIER STAAN DE BOOMEN MET VRUCHTEN BEHANGEN, DAAR VRYERS EN VRYSTERS NAAR VERLANGEN.
The picture says it all really. But you'll be glad to know that playing the lute puts you well up in the marriage market! A somewhat sexist range of attributes but then this is a thoroughly practical approach, as you can see from the figures weeding and watering. You've got to work at these things says the legend below.
The word vryer means a man who is courting and vryster a woman who is courting, there isn't really an English equivalent, my Dutch dictionary gives vryster as meaning spinster.
I'm grateful to William Wright and Greet Schamp who have both written about the words "VRYER" and "VRYSTER". Apparently although these seem to have started out as neutral words, by now they have acquired a rather pejorative tone, somewhat like the way in English "spinster" has acquired the overtone of old maid. Apparently there is a similar word "Freier" in German which starts with the meaning of suitor, or one who goes courting, but has also acquired the decidedly pejorative meaning of "customer of a prostitute".
In fact there are some words at the bottom as well which I left out because I couldn't find half of them in the current dictionary and my Dutch friends were all out when I rang. But now Greet Schamp has kindly suggested a translation.
The missing words are:
Greet writes: "a lover or spinster for this fruit, suddenly once may sigh" would be the translation I guess, allthough I'm not a linguist .The word "altemets" is in the dialect of east flanders still used in this meaning but you won't find it in a dutch dictionary. Best wishes, Greet Schamp
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Copyright 1999 by David Van Edwards