The merchant

The merchant

Death to the merchant

Her kopman wat gy ghvmmen nu hastych synt
gy sparet noch reghenweder edder wynt
de market ys doch seker hier all gedan
gy muthen enquantzwys met my dantzen gan
vorueret jw nicht legget aff dy sparen
wente sterven is jw ok an ghebaren

Mr Merchant, goodman, how hasty you are now.
You don't spare [yourself for] rainy weather nor wind.
Still, the market here is certainly all done.
You must, for the sake of appearances(?) go dancing with me.
Do not be terrified; lay off the spurs
because you were also born to die.

The merchant

Och gude doet wu kome gy my dus hastich an
wol dat ik byn ghewesen eyn thur kopman
doch is myne rekenschop noch gar unclar
dat klaghe ik dy criste al apenbar
wultu se nu clar maken des hefst du macht
ik hebb seker nicht vele up dy dacht

Oh good Death, why are you coming so hastily to me?
Though I have been an expensive merchant -
yet my reckoning(1) is still totally unfinished.
This I lament to you, Christ, quite openly.
Will you now finish it - you have the power for that.
I certainly haven't thought much about you.

The merchant without spurs
The merchant without spurs, Berlin

In Lübeck the merchant and craftsman has swapped positions in the dance. This is probably because craftsman is "Amptman" in Low German, while High German "Amtmann" means civil servant. That also explains why there is an "embitzmand" in Copenhagen's dance of death. See the notes for Lübeck.

Here in Berlin, the sequence is intact, and the "Kopman" comes before the "Amptman". There's also a confirmation, that it's the merchant who's wearing the spurs, when Death tells him: "legget aff dy sparen".

Judging from the pictures above and to the right, the merchant has already laid off his spurs, but the fresco doesn't always follow the text as mentioned in the notes on the previous page.

Footnotes: (1)

reckoning...: The dead were expected to present a factual report of their life, works, duty, actions, & accomplishments. Compare with Romans 14:12: "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God" and 1st Peter 4:5: "Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead".

The merchant is troubled that he hasn't finished his accounts and a very similar concern was voiced by the merchant in Lübeck.