Todt zum Apt:
HErr Apt ich zieh euch die Yfflen ab,
Deßhalb nutzt euch nicht mehr der Stab:
Sind ihr g'wesen ein guter Hirt
Hie ewrer Schaff, die Ehr euch wird.
Death to The Abbot|
Mr. Abbot, I'm pulling your cap off.
Therefore your staff no longer avails you.
Have you been a good shepherd
for your sheep here, [then] the honour will be yours.
ICh hab mich alß ein Apt erhebt,
Und lang in hohen Ehren g'lebt:
Auch satzt sich niemand wider mich,
Dennoch bin ich dem Todt geleich.
I have raised myself [above the crowd] as an abbot
and lived long in high honour.
And there was nobody who opposed me.
Yet I'm Death's equal.
Line drawing after Büchel
Etching after Büchel
Death uses the word "Yfflen". The cap kan be spelled yfelen, ynfel, infel, inful etc., and the word goes back to Latin, "infula".
By the way, the verb "Infeln" means to put on a cap - i.e. to install a bishop/abbot in his office. Death is in the process of doing the exact opposite.
The strange part is that according to Merian's copperplates (above) Death himself wears a bishop's mitra. Death wasn't wearing a mitra in Kleinbasel (picture to the left), and he didn't do it in Basel when Büchel made his watercolours in 1773 (picture to the right).
The bishop's mitra was evidently a product of Merian's imagination.