Todt zum Krüppel:
HIncke auch her mit deiner Krucken,
Der Todt wil dich jetzund hinzucken:
Du bist der Welt gantz unwerth sehr,
Komm auch an meinen Tantz hieher.
Death to The Cripple|
You too, hobble over here with your crutch;.
Death will now snatch you away.(1)
You have been wholly unworthy to the world.
Come to my dance here, you too.
EIn armer Krüppel hie auff Erd,
Zu einem Freund ist niemand werth:
Der Todt aber wil sein Freund syn,
Er nimpt ihn mit dem Reichen hin.
A poor cripple here on Earth.
Not worthy of being anybody's friend.
But Death will be his friend,
he takes him away [along] with the rich.
Death heartlessly mocks the cripple by imitating his primitive prosthetic leg. Has it been like that since the mural was created around 1440? Or is it a newer element from a later renovation?
That's hard to answer because if we look at the same scene in Klein-Basel, it's impossible to see if the cripple has lost a leg — because the painting is interrupted here by a doorway at the end of the western wall. It's also impossible to tell whether Death has "dropped a leg" owing to the deteriorated condition of the mural.
The dialogue is reminiscent of Heidelberg's block book and other versions of the high German dance of death.
|English translation from Beck, 1852|
|Death to the Cripple.||The Cripple's reply.|
Limp this way now with thy old crutch,
A poor and lame man here on earth
|Translation from Hess, 1841|
|Death to the Cripple.||Answer of the Cripple.|
Upon your cruch, hopple this way,
A poor cripple upon this earth