The Emperor

Figuren, Figuren: Emperor

    Der doit
HEr keyser nü komment yß ist zyt
Uwer maicht geet durch all dye werlt wijt.
Hette vwer keyserlychs swerdt
Dye heyden betzwungen vnd bekert
Frieden gemacht vnd nach recht gestanden
In steten in allen landen
So würde uch aůch nü gegeben
Goittes hulde vnd ewiges leben.

Mr. Emperor, now come, it's time.
Your power reaches all over the wide world.
[If] your imperial sword had
subjugated and converted the heathens,
created peace and stood for justice
in cities [and] in all countries,
then you would also now be given
God's mercy and eternal life.


    Der kaiser
SAll vnd můß ich nü sterben
Vnd keynen vertzüg von dyr erwerben
Groiß gůt vnd ere hain ich besessen
Was badt mych min groß vermessen
Ich meynet du soltest schonen
Keyserlichs applas(1) vnd myner kronen
So des nyt en ist dar vmb ůff erden
Keyn mentsch mag dyn entragen werden.

    The Emperor.
Shall and must I now die
and not get any delay from you?
Great property and honour have I possessed.
What does my great boldness help me?
I believed you should spare
imperial apple(1) and my crown.
That's not how it is, therefore on earth
no human can evade you.

The emperor's last line is problematic. "Enttragen" with a double T means to take away / carry away, like the Danish word "unddrage", which most of all means to deprive somebody of something, but can also be used reflexively in the sense evade (duty) / avoid (punishment).

In the 1520-edition the line instead says »vertragen«, related to the Danish "fordrage". Vertragen has a lot of meanings including "tolerate" and "get along with".

In Zimmern's dance of death the line is rewritten: »So das nit ist aüf erden hie / Von dier entran kain mensche nie«. Entrinnen means to run away / escape.

Footnotes: (1)

applas . . .: That's how the word is spelled in the 1488- and 1492-editions, in Kassel's manuscript it's spelled »aplaiß«, while it's absent from the 1520-edition.

However, there's no doubt that it's not a reference to indulgences (modern Germen: Ablass), which the emperor is not involved in, but rather to the imperial apple, the Globus Cruciger, that he is holding in his hand.

Compare with the dance at St. Paul's Cathedral: »ȝowre appil rounde«.