The Young Man

The Young Man
Basel's dance of death, The Young man

Todt zum Jüngling:
Jüngling wo wilt du hin spacieren,
   Ein andern Weg will ich dich führen,
Allda wirstu dein Bulschafft finden,
   Das thu ich dir jetzund verkünden.

Death to The Young Man
Young Man, where will you go?
I will lead you another way
There you will find your paramour.
This I announce to you now.

Der Jüngling:
MIt Schlemmen, Demmen vnd mit Prassen,
   Deß Nachts hofieren auff der Gassen,
Darinn hatt ich mein Muth vnd Frewd,
   Gedacht wenig an den Abschied.

The Young Man.
With carousing, drinking and with feasting,
partying at night in the streets.
In this I had my joy and pleasure.
I though little of departure.

Death promises the young man that he shall be (re)united with his paramour in the realm of death. Each of us can then imagine a story where the young man meets the young woman — even if the two dancers don't follow each other immediately in the dance.

The only problem is that in our oldest sources, Death says the exact opposite. In Der Todendantz he says, »Da wirst du dein Bulschafft nit finden«. The same is true for Ludwig Iselin(1) and the coloured gouaches from ca. 1600: »Da würstu dein Buolschafft nit finden«.

English translation from Beck, 1852
Death to the young man.The young man's reply.

Tell me, o Youth, where wilt thou go?
A way you think not of I'll shew;
Where all thy comrades choice are found.
Such is my message, short and round.

In riot, lust and banquets sweet,
And nightly woings in the street,
My youth I sought in mirth to spend,
And little thought it thus would end.

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

Youngman whither wils't thou walk,
Turn thee away, this is my talk,
There thou shal thy amour find,
This I announce thee very kind.

With gluttoning an banguetting,
At night in the streets to court and sing,
I this I had my joy and pleasure,
And never thought of my departure.


Various Artists

Merian (1621)
Merian 1621: Young man
Chovin (1744)
Chovin 1744: Young man
Fragment (1805)
Fragment 1805: Young man
Feyerabend (1806)
Feyerabend 1806: Young man
Hess (1841)
Hess 1841: Young man
Beck (1852)
Beck 1852: Young man
Stuckert (1858)
Stuckert 1858: Young man

Footnotes: (1)

Iselin . . .: manuscript from 1577 by Ludwig Iselin; transcription by Mischa von Perger in Totentanz-Studien, pp. 93-132.

The two lines go: »Do wirstu din bulschafft nit findenn / Das dun ich dir ietzund uerkindenn«.