Lübeck: The young man

The young man
The young man

The young man

Der Werlde Lust mi nu smaket,
Du hefst de Tyt ovel raket,
Du kumpst slikende her geghan,
Unde wult mi in din Nette beslan.
De Werlde mi lavet Heil,
Bedrucht se mi, so is se feil.
Wike wech, late mi ruseleren,
Int Older wil ik mi bekeren.

I can taste the temptations of the world now.
You have chosen the time badly.
You come here, sneaking,
and want to catch me in your net.
The world has promised me luck,
and if it disappoints me, then it's deceitful.
Go away, let me have fun,
I my older days, I'll convert.

Death answers the young man

In der Nacht der Deve Gank(1)
Slikende is min Ummewank,
En junk Man sik bi Tiden ker
To Gade, sin [_ _ _ _] dregen her,(3)
Hir is nene blivende Stat,
Haddestu west der Werlde hat,
Were di beter, unde er minne,
Junkvrow, mit di ik danßen beghinne.

In the night the thieves walk.(1)
I walk around sneakingly.(2)
A young man [should ]in [good] time turn himself
to God; his own [lusts] deceive him here.(3)
Here is no continuing city(4).
Had you been hated by the world,
it would be better for you than its love.(5)
Maiden, I'm beginning to dance with you.

Footnotes: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)

Seelmann suggests that this is an apposition. I.e. that "the walk of the thieves" is a another (poetical) word for the night.

I walk around sneakingly . . .: as a reply to the young man's complaint: "You come here, sneaking".

More details about Death as a sneaking thief and the day of the Lord on this page.

Mantels suggests that the missing word is "Luste" — a solution accepted by most (footnote 31).

Baethcke instead suggests: »to Gade van sinen wegen her«, but this would mean that Jacob von Melle should not only have read "w" for "dr", but also have indicated the position of the gap wrongly.

Mantels, Seelmann and Stammler replace "her" with "ser", and Freytag does the same in his translation.

Personally I think, "her" makes perfect sense, since Death immediately proceeds to explain that: "Here is no continuing city" (next footnote).

See also the young nobleman in Des Dodes Dantz, where Death says: »Eyn iunck man schal by tyden leren / To denen gode synem heren«.

Hebrews 13:14, "For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come".

Had you been hated...: This translation may not by correct. We're assuming that Jakob von Melle has made a misreading so that "wen" (shortened: wē) became "unde" (shortened: vñ). This means that "er" points back to the (false) world, just like in the first chapter of Des Dodes Dantz: »de der werlde steruet vnde er valscheit nicht en acht«.

Seelmann has another interpretation, where he reads "er" as "earlier" or "rather" (High German: "eher"): "it would be better for you and rather mercy". To have been hated by the world would rather have been a mercy.

At any rate, it might be an allusion to James 4:4, "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God".