Lübeck: The Carthusian monk

The Carthusian
The Carthusian

The Carthusian

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Death answers the Carthusian

Nu tret vort, di helpet nen klagen,
Du most din Part sulven dragen,
It sal di wesen swar,
Di mach nicht volghen nar,
Wen dine Werke gut ofte quat,
Din Lon is na diner Dat,
Nemant mach di des vorbringen,
Men kum an, ik wil di singhen.

Now step forward, no lament will help you,
you must bear your fate yourself.
It will be difficult for you.
Nothing can follow you
except your works [be they] good or bad.
Your reward is after your deed.(1)
No one can take this from you.
Man, come here, I will sing for you.

The red area shows the location in the chapel in Lübeck
Location
Lübeck is beginning to show up in the background.
Lübeck #4

This is where the text begins that Jacob von Melle wrote down in 1701. We'll probably never learn, what excuses the Carthusian had for not participating in the dance, but apparently they weren't good enough.

The verse is the first one, if von Melle's text is organized logically, but this first verse is also atypical: »Man, kom here […]«. In all other cases, Death uses the specific title, e.g.: "Mr emperor, we must dance!" or "Mr Curate, give me the hand!".

There is no satisfactory explanation.

Personally, for many years I have had a suspicion that "Men" simply means the same as in Danish, namely "but". Death interrupts his own long speech: "But come here, I will sing for you".

The Low German "men" means "but" four places in the painting in Tallinn, e.g.: "Men dencket wol in aller tyd" and once (more) in the Lübeckian text: "Men it wirde mengen sur". In Des Dodes Dantz, the word "men" means "but" countless places, e.g.: 104. 108. 175. 197. 219. 249. 300. 309. 332. 341. 425. 471.

The disadvantage of this solution is that it breaks the structure, where Death's 8th line mentions the title of the next dancer, but this structure is already destroyed. And this solution does not require letters and punctuation that are not there.

At any rate it's too bad that it had to happen here where the verses are in a wrong order (as we will see on the next page).

Footnotes: (1)

Reward after deed: popular theme in the Bible. Compare with 1st Corinthians, chapter 3,8: "[…] and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour".