Canon and Merchant

Canon and Merchant.
Canon & Merchant

Dethe to the Chanoun(1)

And ȝe Sire Chanoun / with many grete prebende
Ȝe mai no lenger / haue distribucioun
Of golde & siluer / largeli to dispende
For ther is now / no consolacioun
But daunce with vs / for al ȝowre hye renoun
For ȝe of dethe / stonde vp on the brinke
Ȝe mai ther of / haue no dilacioun
Dethe cometh ai / when men leste on hym thenke.
prebende: prebends(2)

dilacioun: delay

The Chanoun answereth

Mi benefices / with many a personage
God wote ful lite / mai me now comforte
Dethe hathe of me / so grete a-vantage
Al my richesse / mai me not disporte
Amys o[f] gris / thei wille aȝen resorte
Vnto the worlde / surplus & prebende
Al is veyneglorie / treuli to reporte
To dei welle / eche man shulde entende.

wote: knows

Amys of gris: almuce of grey [fur]

each man should intend to die well

Dethe to the Marchaunde

Ȝe riche marchaunt / ȝe mote loke hiderwarde
That passed haue / ful many dyuerse londe
On hors on fote / hauyng moste rewarde
To lucre & wynnynge / as I vndurstonde
But now to daunce / ȝe mote ȝeue me ȝowre honde
For al ȝowre laboure / ful litel a-vaileth now
A-dieu veyneglorie / bothe of fre and bonde
No[ne] more coueite / than thei that haue ynow. must give me your hand

ynow: enough

The Marchaunte answereth

Be many an hille / and many [a] straunge vale
I haue trauailed / with my marchaundise
Ouer the see / do carye many a bale
To sundri Iles / mo than I can deuyse
Myn herte inwarde / ai frette with couetise
But al for nowght / now dethe [dothe] me constreyne
Be whiche I seie / be recorde of the wise
Who al embraceth / litel schal restreyne.

Holbein's dance of death alphabet
Holbein Proofs, Canon
Holbein's dance of death alphabet
Initial L

Death makes a comment on the canon's(1) Amys of gris — i.e. his almuce of grey fur.

Apparently canons often wore almuces of fur. The same thing happens in Copenhagen's Dance of Death where Death notices the canon's grey fur cloak — presumably a coat with grey (Siberian squirrel) fur.

In Holbein's great dance of death, the hunt-happy canon wears a fur-coat fringed with tails, and the same is true for his initial L (pictures left and right) and for the canon in Basel's dance of death.

Footnotes: (1) (2)

Canon . . .: a priest attached to a cathedral. The canons are so called because they lead a rule bound life, "vita canonica".
Prebend...: A stipend allotted from the revenues of a cathedral or a collegiate church to a canon or a member of the chapter (thank you, Mr. Webster).