Merke Levine Performs “Mayn harts, mayn harts”

Mayn harts, mayn harts / My heart, my heart
Sung by Merke (Mary) Levine, recorded by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman
Bronx, July 6, 1991

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

The singer Merke (Mary) Levine was from Belarus and came to NY after the first world war. She lived in the Bronx and was active in the Yiddish left, and later in life was a board member of the Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center in the Bronx. Her husband Tevye Levine was a teacher in the Arbeter ordn folkshuln.

merkeMerke (Mary) Levine

This love song Mayn harts, mayn harts is found twice in the YIVO Ruth Rubin on-line collection. There it is sung both by Golde Fried and her husband Israel (Sruli) Freed with the same melody and only minor textual differences.

In terms of  Yiddish folksong poetry, what stands out is the line “Mayne gedanken – ahin, aher”, which I translated as “My thoughts – any way you look at it”.  The expression “ahin-aher” or “hin-her” can also mean “after long discussion”, or “to get to the point”


Mayn harts, mayn harts veynt in mir.
Ikh darf zikh sheydn itst mit dir.
Mayne gedanken – ahin-aher.
Mit dir tsu sheydn iz mir shver.

Vu forstu mayn zis lebn?
Vu forstu fun mir avek?
Vu vel ikh dir darfn zukhn?
Zog zhe mir in velkhn veg?

Fun yedn shtetele, fun yedn derfele,
a brivele shraybn zolstu mir.
Betn, bet ikh dir mayn zis lebn,
nit fargesn zolstu mir.


My heart, my heart cries in me.
I must now part with you.
My thoughts – anyway you look at it: [lit: this way, that way]
to leave you is hard for me.

Where are you traveling my dear love?
Where are you traveling and leaving me?
Where will I have to search for you?
Tell me in which way?

From each town, from each village
you should write me a letter.
I ask of you, my dear love,
please not to forget me.

mayn harts yiddish

5 Responses to “Merke Levine Performs “Mayn harts, mayn harts””

  1. Hershl Hartman Says:

    (Yi)Srulik Freed (Freid), in addition to possessing a vast repertoire of Yiddish songs, was the managing editor of the Communist *morgn** frayhayt *(and a distant relative by marriage). Before the iconic African-American singer/actor/activist Paul Robeson fell ill, he was working with Srulik to prepare an entire lp recording of Yiddish songs in addition to the four he had included in concerts for decades — most famously, *zog nit keynmol*.

    Hershl Hartman

    On Wed, Jun 27, 2018 at 8:46 AM, Yiddish Song of the Week wrote:

    > yiddishsong posted: “Mayn harts, mayn harts / My heart, my heart Sung by > Merke (Mary) Levine, recorded by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman Bronx, July 6, > 1991 >” >

  2. itzik gottesman Says:

    Two versions of the song, words and music, are found in Emil Saculet “Cintece populare evreiesti” Bucharest, 1959.

  3. Itzik Gottesman Says:

    A version with four verses, music and text, is found in the book “Lomir ale zingen” p. 62 NY 1956 published by the Jewish Music Alliance, NY

  4. itzik gottesman Says:

    A seven verse version is found in the article “Yidishe folkslider fun Galitsye” Oyzer and Shmuel Zanvil Pipe, YIVO bleter vol. xi, 1-2, 1937. also has annotations for more parellels.

  5. Itzik Gottesman Says:

    In the work by Hugo Weisgall “The golden peacock: seven popular songs from the Yiddish for voice and piano” , 1980,pages 18 – 20, there is an arrangement of this song.

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