The King and the Duke
De doet kumpt to my
Ach, mochte ick yd set-
ten myt öm in dage,
Hundert yar unde meer
scholde yd staen,
Eer he my eyn yawo-
rd scholde aff gaen.
Al mynes rykes raet,
rydders unde manss
Neen gheyt vor my
in dessen dantz.
Dyt hadde ik ernstlik
De my susz hadde to-
Men nu moth ik heb-
Wente my wroget seer
De doet kumpt heer
Ick moth vort, yd sy
lucke efte effentür.
De doet tome konninck
Her konninck, hochghe-
boren, eddel und ryk,
Dantze myt, du werst
nu myn ghelyk.
Dyt behoret dyneme
stathe, merke my,
Rechtferdich to wesen,
barmhertich dar by.
Isset so van dy unde
den dynen ghescheen,
So wert dy God gne-
De doet tome hertogen
ge van eddelem slechte -
Sus hebben di heten di-
ne ridders unde knechte -
Men ik wil dy anders
Holth an, ik wil dyn
De denne is rede, heft
Wan he ön esschet,
salich is de knecht.
N.B.: The book should be read from right to left: First Death's admonition, then the answer of the dying person.
The translation below is presented in the proper (logical) sequence.
The Low German text in the "book" above has been modernized to make it more readable.
Click here to read the original text.
Death to the king
Mr King - highborn, noble and rich;
dance along - you'll now become my equal.
It's a part of your station - mark my [words] -
to be fair - and merciful besides.
Has it happened thus for you and yours
then God will look mercifully at you.
Death to the duke
Highborn duke of noble lineage,
so have they called you - your knights and servants,
but I will speak differently to you:
Hold on! I will break your heart.(1)
since it is ready - God has said [so].
When he asks him - the servant is blessed.
Death comes to me without question.
Alas, might I postpone it with him.
A hundred years and more it should take
before he should get a yes-word of me.
All my kingdom, counsel, knights and men
No one goes before me in this dance.
This I had earnestly often avenged
[those] that had spoken thus to me.
But now I must have patience
for my conscience blames me much.
Death comes here very unruly.
I must [go] forth - be it luck or danger.
Death is quoting the book "Zwiegespräch zwischen Leben und Tod" from ca. 1484:
Neen, ik wyl dy noch anders spreken,
Ick wil dy dyn herte thobreken.