Basel: The Empress

The Empress
Basel's dance of death, The empress

Todt zur Keyserin:
ICh tantz euch vor Fraw Keyserin,
   Springen hernach, der Tantz ist mein:
Euwr Hofleut sind von Euch gewichen,
   Der Todt hat euch hie auch erschlichen.

Death to The Empres
I dance before(1) you, Mrs. Empress,
Dance after, the dance is mine.
Your courtiers have left you,
Death has here sneaked up on you too.

Die Keyserin.
VIel Wollüst hat mein stoltzer Leib,
   Ich lebt alß eines Keysers Weib:
Nun muß ich an diesen Tantz kommen,
   Mir ist all Muth vnd Frewd genommen.

The empress.
My proud body had much pleasure.
I lived as an emperor's wife.
Now I must come to this dance.
All spirits and joy have been taken from me.

The dialogue between Death and the empress is very reminiscent of Heidelberg's block book and other versions of the high German dance of death.

English translation from Beck, 1852
Death to the Empress.The Empress' reply.

Empress, for you I lead the way,
The dance is mine, come quick, I pray;
Your ladies leave you all alone
And death now claims you as his own.

I've led a most luxurious life,
Because I was an Emperor's wife;
But now I'm forced to such a dance
All joy and gladness sink at once.

Translation from Hess, 1841
Death to the Emperess.Answer of the Emperess.

I dance to you, lady emperess fine,
Leap after me, the dance is mine,
Of your courtiers you are forsaken,
And by death you are, overtaken.

My body had much luxurious pride,
I lived as a hight emperor's wife.
Now I am forced to this dance,
All mirth and spirit goes at once.


Various Artists

Merian (1621)
Merian 1621: Empress
Chovin (1744)
Chovin 1744: Empress
Büchel (1768)
Büchel 1768: Empress
Büchel (1773)
Büchel 1773: Empress
Girardet (1786)
Girardet 1786: Empress
Feyerabend (1806)
Feyerabend 1806: Empress
Hess (1841)
Hess 1841: Empress
Beck (1852)
Beck 1852: Empress
Stuckert (1858)
Stuckert 1858: Empress

Footnotes: (1)

dance before. . .: German "Tanzen vor" means to execute the steps of the dance, so the partner or the audience can learn the dance.