Mors de la Pomme, Princess

Mors de la Pomme, Princess
The empress in Lübeck participates in a long chain dance.

After the long introduction with the Fall, Death's mandate, the three arrows and Bible and sin, the proper sequence begins.

We now get confirmation that "Mors de la Pomme" differs from the traditional dance of death in that the participants are not gathered in one long chain dance (picture to the right), but that each individual is surprised by Death in his or her everyday life surrounded by friends, family and colleagues.

Death points out her intrusion by a play on words: As a noun "entremetz" means one or more side-dishes or desserts. As a reflexive verb it means to mediate or (when you're not invited) to meddle or interfere. Such a rhyme, where a word has two meanings, is called an "equivocal rhyme".


Between you who are seated(1) at the table:
Remember the dessert
that I make for the most notable.
212 When it comes to serving, I meddle.

The princess seems to use puns herself. She says her "serfs" can see her even though there are no thrallbound serfs present. The word "serfs" leads to "asservie" (to enslave), which has nothing to do with serving, but perhaps is a retort to the words of Death about serving at the table. She continues with "those who have served me" and hopes she will be "served by the prayers".

"Asservie" and "servie" is an example of a "rich rhyme" (French: "rime riche") where it's not just the final syllable that rhymes.

    The Princess

Since it pleases God that my serfs see
how I am enslaved by Death,
I pray to those who served me
216 that I am served by the prayers.

As always there's a third verse from a witness who comments on the situation. In this case it's the head waiter, the maître d'hôtel:

    The Head Waiter

Marvelously Death comes
without our seeing her coming.
The calamity that happens here 220
I will remember well.


    La mort

Entre vous qui seruez a table
Souuiengne vous de lentremetz
Que je fais a la plus notable
212 Quant de seruir je mentremetz
Ipsi dispergentur ad manducandum

    La princesse

Puis que a dieu plaist que mes serfz voient
Comment a mort suys asseruie
Je prie a ceulx qui me seruoient
216 Que doroisons soye seruie
Potasti nos vino compunctionis

    Le maistre dostel

Merueilleusement la mort vient
Sans ce quon la voye venir
Du meschief qui ceans aduient
220 Men deuera bien souuenir
Adhuc esce eorum in ore ipsorum erant

Footnotes: (1)

»seruez . . .:« as mentioned, the word servir is used a lot in the speeches of Death and the princess, but in this case I choose instead to follow the Ambrosiana manuscript, where the word is "seés", second person plural of "seoir", meaning to be seated.