Copenhagen's Dance of Death, Part 23

Vil nu haffue ende for vden skemt
I din velmact haffde du det glemt

FlowerRidderen Suarer

Hielp Ridder S. Iørgen, mig monne saa suime
aldrig haffde ieg en verre time

The knight

I denne nat vaagede ieg saa lenge
til Kongelig Maiestat ville til senge
Och holt hans naade met lang snack
ath ieg kunde fortiene megen tack
Nu føler ieg den bitter død
O Gud, hielp mig i denne nød

Flower Døden Suarer

Vær strax til rede ath følge mig
Een sorgfuld forlæning giffuer ieg dig

FlowerDøden til Officialen

I Geystlige dommere, oc du Official
i skulle nu i een iemmerlig dal
Ieg steffner eder hid til mig nu alle
ehuad mand eder vid naffn monne kalle
For dommen skulle i alle gaa
Det hielper icke ath haffue voxe næse paa

Flower Official Suarer

Disse ord nu ære fremførd
haffuer ieg aldrig tilforn hørd
Dem ville ieg aldrig tencke paa
icke heller effter Retuished gaa
S. Hans met den røde mund
haffuer forderffuit Retuished i grund

… will now have an end without jest.
In your prime you had forgotten this.

The Knight Answers

Help Knight St. George, I might faint.
I have never had a worse hour.

In this night I watched so long
until his Royal Majesty wanted to go to bed,
and had a long talk with His Grace,
so that I could deserve much thanks.
Now I feel the bitter death.
Oh God, help me in this distress.

Death Answers

Be immediately ready to follow me.
A sorrowful present I give you.

Death to the Official(1)

You ecclesiastical judges and you official,
you shall now to a sorrowful valley.
I summon you all hither to me now
no matter what name you are called.
You shall all go before the judgment.
It doesn't help to wear a nose of wax(2)

Official Answers

These words [that] now are stated
have I never heard before.
I never wanted to think of them,
neither to go for justice.
St. Hans with the red mouth(3)
has spoiled justice thoroughly.

The knight The official Notice that there isn't any picture of the official. This is because he wasn't a part of the dance in Des Dodes Dantz.

Click the little pictures to see the original pages.

Footnotes: (1) (2) (3)

Official . . .: A deputy for the Catholic bishop at the church court.
waxen nose . . .: A nose of wax means swindle. To wear a nose of wax means to be deceitful and to prevaricate.
St. Hans with the red mouth . . .: This reference is quite perplexing. The names Johannes, Hans and John are the same, so Saint Hans with the red mouth probably refers to the Bishop of Constantinople, John Chrysostom (ca. 349 - 407), who earned his epithet ("Chrysostomus"= golden mouth) because of his eloquence. It's less than clear why he's being criticized here.

Meyer suggested that the author might have been thinking of the contemporary Oluf Chrysostomus, the Danish Reformer, who wrote "Kirkens Klagemaal" (i.e. the Church's complaint) and thus started the criticism of the Catholic Church. However, Meyer couldn't explain why he should have "spoiled justice thoroughly" - and besides he was named Oluf, and not Skt. Hans.

Meyer's suggestion was rejected by pastor Holger Frederik Rørdam, who called Oluf Chrysostomus an "outstanding humanist". Rørdam in turn was sure that the red mouth was an allusion to bribery, and referenced unspecified writings from the 16. Century, where the expression "St. Hans with the red mouth must come forth now" meant that words and persuasion were no longer sufficient.
(Kirkehistoriske Samlinger IV pp. 810-812, see also Kirkehistoriske samlinger 1899 p. 134)

Kristoffer Nyrop agreed and referred to a quote from Decameron, where the name Saint Johannes Goldenmouth (Giovanni Bocca d'oro) was used in connection with bribery: »Gli fece, con una buona quantità della grascia di san Giovanni Boccadoro ugner le mani«.

The conklusion was that the name Johannes Goldenmouth had been synonymous with bribery in the Middle Ages. Not because of anything the old saint had ever done, but simply because of his epithet. Nyrop makes a parallel to another saint, St. Blasius: Because of his name there was a superstition on Jutland connecting St. Blasii Day with stormy weather (Danish: blæsevejr).
(Dania; Tidsskrift for dansk sprog og litteratur samt folkeminder 1897 pp. 250-252)


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