The Merchant
Heidelberg's dance of death, Merchant

Death to The Merchant

Her kawfman was hilft euch ewir irwerben
Dy czeyt ist hie das ir must sterben
Der tot nympt wedir gut noch goben
Tanczt mir noch her wil euch haben
Mr. Merchant, was does your money-scraping help you?
The time is here that you must die.(1)
Death takes neither goods nor gifts.
Dance after me - he(2) will have you.
 
Ich hette mich czu leben vorsorgit wol
Das schrein vnd kasten weren vol
Nu hot der tot meyne gobe vorsmach
Und mich vmb leib vnd gut gebroch
In life I had provided well,
that chest and [money]box were full.
Now Death has disdained my gift(3)
and have separated me from life and goods.

The text is pretty much the same as in Basel's dance of death.

Footnotes: (1) (2) (3)

"irwerben" and unexpected Death . . .: It sounds like a reference to the apocryphal Book of Syrach:
Sirach 11,17: The gift of the Lord remaineth with the ungodly, and his favour bringeth prosperity for ever.
Sirach 11,18: There is that waxeth rich by his wariness and pinching, and this his the portion of his reward: (German: doch verwirkt er seinen Erwerb)
Sirach 11,19: Whereas he saith, I have found rest, and now will eat continually of my goods; and yet he knoweth not what time shall come upon him, and that he must leave those things to others, and die.

A few hundred years later, Jesus recycled the story:
Luke 12,16: And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
Luke 12,17: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
Luke 12,18: And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
Luke 12,19: And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
Luke 12,20: But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
Luke 12,21: So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

he will have you . . .: A very revealing line. It's usual for Death to be spoken of in the third person: "Death takes neither goods nor gifts", but here it's said as clear as it can be said, that the corpse coming to fetch the merchant is not Death himself: "Dance after me - he will have you".

See Death's Dance, or Line of the Dead?.

Now Death has disdained my gift . . .: Notice on the picture, how the corpse takes the merchant by the hand so he drops the money sack.

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