The Physician

Figuren, Figuren: Physician

    Der doit.
HErr artzt yr kont den luden woll gesagen
Wie yr den dot wolt von yn veriagen
Kont yr finden ichts vor den doit
Suchet her vor das ist uch noit
Ir habent ander lude gesunt gemacht
Vnd vwer selen(1) kleyn geacht
Wie mag vwer selen(1) radt werden
Ir hant gekurtzet manchem syn leben.

Mr. Physician, you are good at telling people,
how you will drive Death away from them.
Can you find something against Death,
then find it out. You have to do this.
You have made other people healthy,
and not paid attention to your soul.(1)
How can your soul(1) be remedied?
You have shortened many people's life.


    Der artzt
IN aller artzedye konde ich rat geben
Czü verlengen des mentschen leben
Sünder widder den doit tzů disser fart
Finden ich keyn krůdt das mych verwart.
Och gotliche barmhertzikeyt
Myn sunde syn myr leyt
Dyn grůndelose güte dye bied myr
Wand alle myn heyll(2) steet an dyr.

    The Physician.
In all medicine I can give remedy
about prolonging human life.
Only against Death, for this [last] journey,
I find no herb that can preserve me.
Oh, divine mercy,
I am tormented by my sins.
I pray for your unfounded goodness
for all my salvation(2) is with you.

Footnotes: (1) (2)

Strictly speaking, "soul" is written in plural and could be read as "your souls", as if the physician was supposed to have improved both his own and his patients' souls. Medieval German used the 2nd person in the polite form, so "your" could either refer to one or more people (like in modern English).

On the one hand, such a task does not normally fall within a physician's responsibilities, and the pope refers to his own, single, soul as: »myner selen«.

On the other hand, the physician in Des Dodes Dantz is reproached in the last line for not having "roused the sick to God".

heyll . . .: Normally "Heil" means health, but in this context it's clearly a reference to "Seelenheil", i.e. salvation of the soul.

This double meaning of the word fits well with the fact that the physician has just been blamed for not being concerned with the health of the soul.