The Blind Man

The Blind Man
Basel's dance of death, The blind man

Todt zum Blinden:
DEin Wegzeiger schneid ich dir ab,
   Tritt sittlich fallst mir sonst ins Grab,
Du armer blinder alter Stock,
   In deinem bösen bletzten Rock.

Death to The Blind Man
I cut you off from your guide.
Tread carefully or you'll fall into the grave.
You poor, blind, old geezer
in your miserable patched coat.

Der blind Mann:
EIn blinder Mann ein armer Mann,
   Sein Muß vnd Brodt nicht g'winnen kan,
Köndt nicht ein Tritt gehn ohn mein Hund:
   GOtt sey g'lobt, daß hie ist die Stund.

The Blind Man.
A blind man; a poor man,
cannot win his mush and bread.
I cannot walk a step without my dog.
God be praised, that the hour is here.
Kleinbasel, Blind man.
Büchel, Blind man
Holbein's dance of death, The old man.
Holbein Proofs, Old man

If we compare the blind man with the corresponding picture in Kleinbasel (to the left), the scene was originally far less dynamic: Death simply fetches the blind man like he does with all the other participants.

The change was probably introduced by Hans Kluber, when he renovated the mural in 1568. Kluber has presumably taken a peek at Holbein's dance of death, where Death is luring the old man down into the open grave (picture to the right). See also the initial W.

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

Here I cut off your leader small,
Hold short, else in the ditch you'll fall;
You poor, blind, old and useless one
With your worn coat, torn, patched & done.

A poor blind man I must be led,
And cannot earn my daily bread;
Without my dog I'm stuck quite fast,
Thank God my hour has come at last.

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

Thy leader now I cut thee off,
Take care o'er in this grave thou'll drop,
You poor, and old blind stock,
In thy bad and pached coat.

A blindman is a poor man,
Who for his food no work do can
N'ere could I go without my hound,
God be praised, that my hour does sound.


Various Artists

Merian (1621)
Merian 1621: Blind man
Chovin (1744)
Chovin 1744: Blind man
Büchel (1768)
Büchel 1768: Blind man
Büchel (1773)
Büchel 1773: Blind man
Feyerabend (1806)
Feyerabend 1806: Blind
Hess (1841)
Hess 1841: Blind man
Beck (1852)
Beck 1852: Blind man
Stuckert (1858)
Stuckert 1858: Blind man
Curmer (1858)
Curmer 1858: Blind