Notice and consider, all you people
The dance ends with a full-page woodcut, which is reminiscent of the two introductory scenes,
the unprepared dead.
This woodcut was missing in the 1520-edition, so in that edition
the woodcut with
the unprepared dead was used once more.
The text follows on the opposite page:
Merckent vnd gedenkent yr mentschen gemeyn
Hye lygent gebeyne groiß vnd kleyn
Welchs syn man frauwe ritter oder knecht
Hye hait sych tzů lygen yederman recht
Der arme bij dem rychen der knecht bij dem herrn
Vnd dürffent sych nyt vijlle dar vmb eren
Welches sy vnden oder oben an
Es ist eynes glych als das ander gethain
Her vmb so nement alle eben ware
Wyr můßent allesampt in dye erde gar
Vnd vberhebe sich nyemant syns adels oder gewalt
Synes rychtůms oder syner schonen gestalt
Wand wyr mußen alle werden dyßen glych
So wyr scheyden von dyßem ertrich
Want wyr synt in sunden entpfangen
Vnd von mütter lybe nacket uß gegangen
Also mußent wir scheyden nacket von hynnen
So wirt eyner den andern in dem kerner fynden
So schauwe dan eynes das ander ane
Welches sy das schonste vnder yne gethan
Oder welcher do sy der edelst oder richst vnder yne
Der soll da haben güten gewynne
Welcher auch sy der geweltigst an synem gewallt
Der drett herfůre er sy iůng oder alt
Ach wie ist yß so gar eyn krang dyng vmb vnßer leben
Das wir doch můßen so vngestalt werden(2)
Ach wye synt wyr so rechte blyndt
Daz wir nyt ansehen eyn solych grüßlych dyng
Das ye eynes nach dem andern hynnen schlychet
Vnd ye eyns zů dem andern in den kerner wichet
Nü buwe aůch eyn yederman off dyssze werlt
Vnd sehe an yr süberlychs vnd snodes(3) getzellt(4)
Der kerner ist yß genant
Dar inn so kommen wyr gar tzü hant
Goit woille das wyr also dar in kommen
Das yß komme vnßeren selen tzu frommen
Notice and consider, all you people.
Here lie bones, big and small,
who are man, woman, knight or servant.
Everyone has the right to lie here;
the poor by the rich, the servant by the lord,
and here no one has to exchange many pleasantries about
who might be below or above.
One is made equal to the other.
Therefore, everyone should pay close attention:
We all have to go into the earth
and no one is exempted [on account of] his nobility or power
his wealth or his beautiful shape,
for we must all be like these,
so we depart from this earthly kingdom.
Because we are conceived in sin(1)
and have come out naked from mother's womb.
Thus, we must also depart naked from here.
Then one will find the other in the ossuary.
Then one looks at the other,
who could be the most beautiful among them,
or who may be the noblest or richest among them=
He will benefit greatly from this.
Also who might be most powerful in his power
let him step forward whether he is young or old.
Alas, how our life is a grim thing,
that we must become so misshapen.
Alas, how we are so blind,
that we cannot see such a terrible thing.
that one sneaks after another
and each gives way to the other in the ossuary.
Now everybody, build on this world
and look at your immaculate and despicable(3) tent.(4)
It is called the ossuary.
We'll get in there right away
God grant that we thus come in,
that it will be for the good of our souls.
The picture of the ossuary illustrates the present text.
Max Rieger has pointed out that this afterword originates from the so-called "Spiegelbuch":
A small collection of texts, of which we know about seven copies today.
The picture on the left is a copy from 1467.
"Spiegelbuch" by Zimmern.
Zimmern's dance of death
One of the seven "Spiegelbuch"s is to found in
Count Wilhelm Werner von Zimmerns "Book of Transience", which means that this book contains two versions of
"Merckent vnd gedenkent": one in the section with "Spiegelbuch" (to the left), and one at the conclusion of the dance of death (picture to the right).
leben / werden . . .:
these words do not rhyme,
but in the Rhine-area "geben" can be used to mean "werden", so maybe the original text said "geben
and was changed to the more conventional "werden
" in later copies?
The newest "Spiegelbuch" is the one by Count Zimmern, and he has changed the text in another way to restore the rhyme:
»Ach wie ist es so ain zergengklich ding vff diser erden
So wier alle müsen so vngestalt vnd zw nichten werden«.
snodes . . .:
The German word "schnödes" means vile, disdainful, despicable and contemptible,
which doesn't fit with the context of the previous word, "säuberleich", which means pure, lovely and faultless.
This is probably a distortion, because the other versions of the "Spiegelbuch" say
"schönes" instead of "schnödes".
Maybe the editor didn't see the irony in calling an ossuary
a spotless and lovely residence?
getzellt . . .:
maybe the word "tent" together with all the mentions of nakedness
is an allusion to Paul, who calls our earthly bodies a tent?
1. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
2. For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling--
3. if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked.
4. For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
(2 Corinthians 5)