The empress

The empress in Tallinn
The empress

The empress

Ich wet my ment de doet
was ick ny vor vert so grot
Ik mende he si nicht al bi sinne
bin ik doch junck unde ok ein keiserinne
Ik mende ik hedde vele macht
up em hebbe ik ny gedacht
Ofte dat jement dede tegen mi
och lat mi noch leven des bidde ik di

Death means me. It must be so.
Never have I felt such woe.
I fancied fault in his address
For I am young and emperesse,
and thinking I was powerful
I’d spared no thought to Death at all,
For what harm could come to me?
I beg you, spare me: now I see.

Death answers the empress

Keiserinne hoch vor meten
my duncket du hest myner vor gheten.
Tred hyr an it is nu de tyt
du mendest ik solde di schelden quit
Nen al werstu noch so vele
du most myt to dessem spele
Unde gi anderen alto male
holt an volge my her kerdenale

Empress, you insolent display,
It seems you’d thought not of this day
For you amaze now I appear.
I won’t spare you, but no fear.
In the grave you soon will find
Your fate is shared by all mankind.
Join this play, then, step in, fall!
And you, follow, Cardinal.

English version © Jack Freckleton-Sturla, 2021. The following is a more literal translation:

The empress

I know, Death means me!
I was never terrified so greatly!
I thought he was not in his right mind,
after all, I am young and also an empress.
I thought I had lots of power,
I had not thought of him
or that anybody could do something against me.
Oh, let me live on, this I implore you!

Death to the empress

Empress, highly presumptuous,
methinks you have forgotten me.
Fall in! It is now time.
You thought I should let you off?
No way! And were you ever so much,
You must participate in this play,
And you others, everybody --
Hold on! Follow me, Mr Cardinal!

The red area shows the location in the chapel in Lübeck
The red area shows the location in the chapel
The painting in St. Mary's Church in Lübeck.
Lübeck #2

The empress breaks the overall rule that the participants alternate between clergy and laity. But the empress should rather be seen as a duplicate of her husband. She represents all married women, like the maid represents all unmarried women.