The Mayor

The mayor

With the mayor we now meet the citizens of Lübeck, and we begin to see the city's skylight in the background. To the right of the mayor's head are the twin towers of the cathedral.

The author, Nathanael Schlott, abandons the dialogue in that Death ignores his victim, the mayor, and instead addresses the citizens of the city: »Ye citizens, […] ye cannot longer keep«. The same thing happens when Death speaks to the poor, who may now share the curate's purse, and to the young maids, who admire the young man: »Ye maids, that lov'd this sprightly youth«.

Ludewig SuhlThomas Nugent

    der Tod
Ihr Bürger zürnet nicht, wenn durch des Höchsten Schluß
Der Bürgermeister selbst mit an die Reihe muß,
Der zum gemeinen Heil das Recht so oft gesprochen,
Sieht über sich den Stab durch meine Faust gebrochen.

    XXII. Death to the Burgomaster.
Ye citizens, forbear to weep,
Because ye cannot longer keep
Your chief; behold, fair heaven's decree,
From which no mortal man can flee,
Has call'd him from this judgement seat,
Where he appear'd so good and great,
To praise his name for evermore,
The Lord supreme whom all adore.


    der Bürgermeister
Es war fürs Vaterland mein Leben abgenützt,
Und Stadt u. Bürgerschaft mit Rath u. That beschützt.
Ich fürchte nicht den Tod, denn wenn ich hier erkalte
So weiß ich daß ich dort das Bürgerrecht erhalte

XXIII The Burgomaster's answer.
My heart has been devoted to
My country, ever just and true;
Promoted all the public good,
To serve my friends did all I could;
Receive me, heav'n, adieu to care,
trust I'll be a freeman there.

Suhl has some variants in the text that follow Jacob von Melle and Nathanael Schlott but are contradicted by later sources. Death's first line: »Sieht über sich den Stab durch meine Faust gebrochen« should according to later sources (like Mantels) be: »Wird doch durch meine Faust zuletz der Stab gebrochen«, which is confirmed by the photos of the painting.

Suhl, Schlott and von Melle render the mayor's second line as: »Und Stadt u. Bürgerschaft mit Rath u. That beschützt«, but the later sources (and the painting itself) say: »Den Ruhstand dieser Stadt und Bürger=Recht beschützt«.