Todt zur Königin:
Death to The Queen|
Mrs. Queen, your joy has ended,
dance with me into the death-house.
Neither beauty, gold nor money will help you.
I'm dancing with you into the next world.
Oh woe and alas, oh woe for ever.
Where is now my band of maids(1)
with whom I had many pleasures?
Oh Death, take it easy, don't hurry with me.
If you look at the same position in the dance of death in Klein-Basel there's not a queen, but a cardinal (see picture to the left). This is because the queen is a new addition: In Groß-Basel the cardinal has moved one step to the right and replaced the patriarch, after which the old cardinal was painted over and replaced by a queen.
In the museum in Basel there was a fragment of the mural with the queen. When the newest layers of paint were removed, the original cardinal appeared (picture to the right). Notice, how the placing of arms and cross are like in Kleinbasel.
This change is presumed to have been made by Hans Kluber in 1568 as a part of the efforts to reduce the number of Catholic clerics.
Notice that Death, quite exceptionally, is of female gender. But as the picture from Klein-Basel shows, this detail is of a recent date.
Büchels watercolour is somewhat different from Merian's copperplates: The serpent around Death's neck is shorter, but on the other hand there's one more snake crawling out of her bursted breasts. The big question is of course, whether Merian is a bad witness, or whether the mural was changed in the 150 years that separate Merian and Büchel.
|English translation from Beck, 1852|
|Death to the Queen.||The Queen's reply.|
O Queen! for joy there's no more room,
Alas! Alas! now woe is me!
|Translation from Hess, 1841|
|Death to the Queen.||Answer of the Queen.|
Lady queen, your joy is out,
O woe! o ah! o woe! and ever,