Todt zur Edelfrawen:
Vom Adel Fraw laßt euwer Pflantzen,
Ihr müsset jetzt hie mit mir tantzen,
Ich schon nicht euwers geelen Haar:
Was seht ihr in den Spiegel clar?
Death to The Noblewoman|
Noble woman, stop styling your hair.
You must now dance with me here.
I don't spare your yellow hair.
What do you see in the clear mirror?
O Angst und Noth wie ist mir b'schehen,
Den Todt Hab ich im Spiegel g'sehen:
Mich hat erschreckt sein grewlich G'stalt,
Daß mir das Hertz im Leib ist kalt.
Oh fear and distress, what has happened to me?
Ì have seen Death in the mirror.
His awful figure has terrified me,
so the heart in my body is cold.
Death asks the noblewoman, »What do you see in the clear mirror?«, and what does she see? Death prancing around in the most em-bare-assing way, of course. That's precisely a part of the humour in the dances of death that Death doesn't care about people's high standing: Death drags people away, tears the hat off the councilman, the abbot and the peasant, peeks under the abbess' dress, grabs the mother's breasts, and tugs at the Jew's beard. Therefore it's only to be expected that he flaunts his naked derrière in front of the genteel noblewoman.
The noblewoman answers that she has »seen Death in the mirror«, and so she has - quite literally.
A dance of death is not just a mirror of society, but also a mirror of the transitory nature of each person. Therefore Death delights in showing the (vain) women, how little their beauty is worth (example to the right).
At the museum in Basel there's still a fragment of this painting. The dance of death may be gone, but Death's posterior has been conserved for posteriority. Reminding us that the end is neigh.
|English translation from Beck, 1852|
|Death to the Lady.||The Lady's reply.|
My lady, leave your toilette's care,
Oh! horror! What is this? Alas!
|Translation from Hess, 1841|
|Death to the Lady.||Answer of the Lady.|
Noble lady let your planting,
O trouble! o grief! what happened to me?