Tallinn’s Danse Macabre

January 2021

English version of the Low German poem found in Tallin’s Danse Macabre, in collaboration with Martin Hagstrøm, drawing from his own English translation, Elina Gertsman’s, and the original text.

The full text for this version can be found at dodedans.com.

Creatures of reason, rich and poor,
Young and old, each and all
See the mirror laid before
And think that Death is bound to call
To everyone, as you will find.
We become one with the Lord
By doing good, so keep in mind
Your every deed has its reward.
And I advise you, children dear,
Do not lead your flock astray,
But before your Death appears
A good example do display.
To this dance I bid you all.
Pope and Emperor, everyone,
Rich and poor man, great and small.
Tears are useless! Step in, come!
At all times be sure to bear
Works of good, and make it so
You are free of sin and care
Before you join our merry show.
Highest of this graded line,
Let us lead, your hand in mine.
You who stood in stead of God,
An earthy father, praised and awed
By all mankind: follow me,
And become this face you see.
The bulls you bound are sealed and fast
But your highness could not last.
Oh dear God, what use is station?
Reached the peak of my vocation
I become, for so I must,
Like yourself, Death, earth and dust.
In rank and wealth no use I find
Now I leave all things behind.
Take example, future host,
You who’ll bear the weight I lost.