O deser werlde weysheit kint
Oh, Children of the wisdom of this world,(1)|
all who are still alive.
Put two words in your heart
that were heard from Christ.
The one is "come here", the other "go away"(2)
Thanks to the first, the good [people] have advantage
so they come into Heaven.
There they'll receive benefit for their good [deeds]
The other leads the evil [people] to the torment,
Hell, which will also last forever.
Therefore I advice you earnestly
that you avoid idle deeds.
For time is short in this life
then there'll be "alas and alack"
through the double Death(3)
that brings the idle [people] in distress
when - with the screeches of his fife -
he brings all into his dance.
Then the wise [men] will be forced
to spring with the fools.
Like these painted figures,
are a perfect image to mourn over.
I have moved the preacher in the pulpit to the beginning of the dance — because this is where he's placed in other versions of the Oberdeutscher vierzeiliger Totentanz.
In the book he's placed at the end of the dance — but this is probably an error that happened when the 7 booklets were bound into one volume. On the other hand, Susanne Warda points out (page 213) that the preacher is looking to the left. If he was meant to be the preacher at the beginning, he ought to look to the right.
The speech scroll says »dy gnade unsers«, and Hammerstein (page 190) believes this to be a quote from 2 Corinthians 13,13: "The grace of our [Lord Jesus Christ]". Combined with the chalice standing behind the priest, Hammerstein concludes that this picture was produced after the Reformation and thus must be newer than the rest of the series.
One might argue whether the object behind the preacher is a chalice or an hourglass, but it's hard to see why a chalice should characterize the priest as a Protestant. It is also hard to see why the three words, »dy gnade unsers«, should point to 2 Corinthians 13,13 and not to the ca. 10 other places where the phrase is employed. In particular because the word »unsers« / "our" doesn't even appear in 2 Corinthians 13,13 (Martin Luther added the word, but it's not in the Greek text). Hammerstein also fails to explain why a pre-Reformatory priest would be unable to quote 2 Corinthians 13,13.
As with the apothecary I also have a hard time agreeing with Hammerstein here: A woodcut is used for mass-production of images, but demands great work, especially when cutting the letters. If an owner felt his book was lacking a proper image of a preacher, it would be far easier to make a drawing and add a handwritten text instead of cutting a block.
Footnotes: (1) (2) (3)
The allusion is clearer in the Latin text, where Cpg 314 has »huius mundi sapientes«, the same three words that end 1 Corinthians 1:20 in the Vulgate: »Ubi sapiens? ubi scriba? ubi conquisitor hujus sæculi? Nonne stultam fecit Deus sapientiam hujus mundi?«
In the next line, The Double Death becomes personified.