God sprickt myt synem hilgen munde:
Wat lanth, wat lanth schal ick nu wanderen?
Int besluth sprickt de dot alsus
God speaks with His holy mouth:
Watch and pray - at all times!
Death does not send you any letter
he comes sneaking just like a thief.(2)
Therefore journeyman, hold on to the hand,
you must along into another land.
Nurse! come here with the child;
I take the host [together] with the servants
the sister, the brother with all the guests;
old, young, bad and also the best.
God, who lives in the highest throne
will reward everybody justly [according to their] labour.
What land? What land shall I now wander [to]?
I came straight from the west from Flanders.
Now you come, Death, rushing forth with force;
I had not thought of you yet.
I would rather go to inns with my companions -
to The White Owl or to The Red Rooster.(3)
Alas, terrible Death - spare this child
whom I here wrap in the sheet.
Alas, I would quite well like to keep the child.
Alas, spare me too - I poor girl.
Alas, let me live still,
what could it hurt or benefit you?
Step all here, clergymen, also you laymen;
I will mow you all down
with this scythe - great and small -
with right earnest I mean you all.(4)
My strike is with great haste
so whom I get hold of, I hold on to.
Dance along - I'll lead the song....
The journeyman appears to be widely traveled. In medieval Europe it was normal for young craftsmen who had completed their apprenticeship to wander around from country to country, "on the walz", for two or three years. The English word journeyman might refer to this custom, but it is also possible that "journey" in this case means "a day's work".
There's no picture of the journeyman. In Des dodes dantz the picture of the journeyman was the same as that of the nobleman (picture to the left).
Due to the jumbled layout of Dodendantz one might get the impression that the journeyman is the last dancer. However there is little doubt that the nurse and child are the last: Firstly because the child is always the last, secondly because Dodendantz is supposed to be read from right to left, and thirdly because the journeyman's thoughts go the taverns that he's already longing after: The White Owl and The Red Rooster. You can't let a moral play end with the last dancer reminiscing about pubs.
In Copenhagen's dance of death the Danish translator has become confused by the layout and placed the child before the journeyman. As a result the translator has "censured" the journeyman's lines, so the last dancer's last words isn't on the subject of pubs.
Footnotes: (1) (2) (3) (4)
God sprack mit synem hilgen munde:
Waket unde bedet to aller stunde,
De dod sendet ju neynnen breff,
Mer he kummet slikende alse eyn deff.
See also this note about Death as a sneaking thief.
Historical maps mark a "Roter Hahn" in Fleischhauerstraße (between Breitestraße and Königstraße).
"To der Wytten Ulen" has probably no relation to Bierbar UHU, which is located next to Lübeck's central railway station.