“Der blinder” Performed by Tsunye Rymer
Der blinder (The Blind Man), about a blind beggar, was written by the Yiddish poet Mani Leib (1884-1953, immigrated to the U.S. in 1905) and is included in his volume Lider, NY, 1918. p. 52. The poem is untitled in the original publication.
The poem was set to music by Pinchos Yasinowsky (or Jassinowsky, 1886-1954, immigrated to the U.S. in 1917), who also composed the music for “Mayn shifl” previously posted on Yiddish Song of the Week.
I recorded Isaac “Tsunye” Rymer singing it in our living room in the Bronx in the 1980s, introducing it as a song by Mani Leib. He always sang unaccompanied in this slow, heartfelt way. He was in already in his nineties when he sang this.
Though it is included in at least two Yiddish song collections where it is given two different titles 1) “Der blinder” in Zing mit mir, NY, the 1945 edition, compiled by Mikhl Gelbart 2) “In di vign” in Yiddish Poets in Song – Yidishe dikhter in gezang, NY 1966, edited by Mordecai Yardeini, I have yet to find a recording of the song.
Attached are scans of the song from Yiddish Poets in Song, which include photos of Leib and Yasinowsky. An additional musical arrangement is in the Yardeini book but is not attached.
The poem text plays with the many uses and meaning of “tsu” (to) in Yiddish. In the transcription in Yiddish Poets the line reads „Un baym toyer shloft der blinder‟ (“and at the gate the blind man sleeps”), but in the 1918 collection it reads (and Rymer sings) – „ ligt der blinder‟ (“the blind man lies”), leaving it open whether he is alive or not.
In the cradles, children cry,
mothers rock them along;
Liulinke, lui, lui
Luilinke, lui, lul.
With a sack goes the blind man,
Drags his rest with him;
The blind man knocks in a gate,
But the gate is shut.
Cries the blind man
in his sadness,
God, you at least should hear me,
And at the gate, lies the blind man
The night covers him over.
In the cradles, children cry
mothers rock them along.
Liulinke, liu, liu
Llulinke, liu, liu.