Canon and Merchant
Canon and 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.
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.
Amys of gris: costly 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.
...you must give me your hand
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's dance of death. The canon's cape is made of square pieces of fur laced with animals' tails.
Death makes a comment on the canon's(1)
»Amys of gris« — i.e. his costly grey fur.
Apparently canons often wore fur cloaks. 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.
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).