Füssen, The merchant

The merchant
Hiebeler, Merchant

Death to the merchant

    [der todt.]
Lasab kauffman von deinem werben,
Die Zeit ist hie ietz muest duch(1) sterben.
Hast du schon ghabt vil sießer gschleckh,
Ietz wierts dier saur du muest hinweckh.

    [Death.]
Merchant, leave your trade.
The time is here; now you(1) must die.
Even if you have had much sweet candy,
it will go sour for you now. You must away.

The merchant

    der Kauffman,
Mein haus thet ich fürsehen wol,
Mein küsten vnd kasten steckt ich vol.
Ietz so ich bin zum besten drin,
Mueß ich in disen todten ring.

    the Merchant.
I had taken good care of my house.
I have filled my chests and boxes.
Now, that I'm in the best position,
must I go into this ring of Death?

Basel: Merchant.
Büchel, Merchant
Holbein: Merchant.
Holbein Proofs, Merchant

The first two lines of Death's speech and the first two of the merchant's are from the merchant in Basel. Death's last two lines (talking about sweet candy) are from Death to the cook in Basel.

The painting shows the merchant standing at the harbor in front of barrels and packages with a ship in the background. This is perhaps the image most reminiscent of Holbein's woodcut (right). On the other hand, the merchant also stands in front of a package in Basel (pictured left), and he has his wallet ready (unlike Holbein's merchant). That is why Death in Basel says: »Death takes neither money nor goods«.

The expression »the ring of Death« is original, but probably alludes to the dance being a ring dance. In Bern, Death says to the pope: »Jhr tantzen auch an diesem Ring«: and to the abbot: »Springen mit mir an diesen Kreiß« (this circle). At the end of Des dodes dantz and the start of Dodendantz, Death says: »Komet alle heer in mynen kreyt« (come all here into my circle).

Footnotes: (1)

duch . . .: Most commentators treat "duch" as an odd variant of "du". Vogt writes "du" in his transcription, »mueßt du sterben«, and this is also what it said in Oberstdorf.

Massmann instead writes, "doch".