Archive for angel of death

“Der vanderer: Geboyrn bin ikh in tsores un in leydn” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2020 by yiddishsong

Der vanderer: Geboyrn bin ikh in tsores un in leydn /
The Wanderer:
I was born with troubles and suffering
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW), recorded by Leybl Kahn, NYC 1954

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman follows the transcription and translation.


TRANSLITERATION / TRANSLATION

Geboyrn bin ikh in tsures in in leydn
in troyer in in yumer in in klug.
Fartribn bin ekh fin ale mayne freydn.
S’mir nisht lib kayn eyntsiker tug. 

I was born with troubles and suffering,
in sorrow and with tears and misfortune.
I’ve been driven away from all my joys:
Not one day of enjoyment have I had. 

Dus imglik traybt mekh arim iberal.
Es geyt mir oft mayn leybn oys.
Vus fara tug ze ikh in ayn argern fal.
Di hofenung – dus iz mayn malekh-hamus.

Bad luck has driven me everywhere;
Often has my life nearly ended
With each passing day I see something worse.
Hope has become my angel of death.

RefraIn:

Benken, benk ikh nukh mayn heymat shtark
Dortn shteyt mayn vigele, mayn rakh.
Vi lang ken ikh nokh zayn in na-venad.

Refrain:

I long so much for my home.
There is my crib, my realm.
How long can I still wander around?

Oy, di zin, di shants zeyer lib,
Dan sheynkeyt dayn lekht iz a prakht.
Nor mir eyner shantsti nebekh, trib.
ven bay dir iz tug, iz bay mir nakht. 

O, the sun, you shine with great pleasure.
Your beauty, your light is a splendor.
But for just me  your shine is gloomy.
When it is day for you, for me it is night. 

Di derkvikst ayeydn mit dayn frimorgn,
mit shpatsirn, luft in gezint.
Nor mekh eyner derkviksti mit zorgn.
Vayl ekh bin urem, a farvuglt kind.

You delight everyone with your morning,
with walks, air and health.
But for me alone, you “delight” with worries,
for I am poor, a homeless child.

Derkh der hofnung lad ekh nebekh noyt.
Fin alem bestn makht zi mekh umbikant.
Filaykht ervartert meykh der toyt,
Vil ikh shtarbn in man futerland.

On account of hope I suffer hardship.
It has made the best things unknown to me.
Maybe death awaits me,
so I want to die in my fatherland. 

Vayl benkn, benk ikh nukh mayn haymat shtark
Dortn shteyt mayn vigele, mayn rakh.
Vi lang ken ikh nokh zayn in na-venad?
Na-vad.

{Refrain}

I long so much for my home.
There is my crib, my realm.
How long can I still wander around?
Wander around.

The Germanisms in this song can only mean one thing – “Galicia”.  The Jews who lived in Austria-Hungarian Galicia before WWI and in its sister territory Bukovina, where singer Lifshe Schaechter Widman (LSW) was from, were fluent in German, sang German songs, and had no problem with German words in their Yiddish. A Yiddish writer I often associate with Galicia, Fradl Shtok (from Brody?), mentions this song in her story “Komediantn” (Gezamlte dertseylungen, 1919, p. 57.)  There, a street performer sings and plays on the flute – “Benken, benk ikh nokh mayn heymat…”. Unfortunately, she ends the song there.

Chagall-Over-Vitebsk-GettyImages-CROPPED-1843825-5aad718ea474be0019b9d26e (1)“Over Vitebsk” by Marc Chagall, 1914

A printed version of this song, sung by Z. Goldstein, text and music, appears in Shloyme Prizament’s book Broder zinger (pages 163 – 164) with the same title that LSW uses to introduce the song “Der vanderer”. Other than the refrain, the words and music are quite different. The fact that both Goldstein and LSW call it with the same title, “The Wanderer”, indicates, in my opinion, that it is from a play or, more likely, a popular Broder zinger tavern performance (for a recent article on Broder zinger see the article “Broder Singers: Forerunners of the Yiddish Theater” by Amanda [Miryem-Khaye] Seigel).

The song became a beggar’s song at some point. In volume 8, #22 in the CD series Historical Collection of Jewish Musical Folklore 1912 – 1947 produced by the Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine, Kiev,  the singer Yeshaya Khazan, recorded in 1939, sings a similar version to LSW. Khazan refers to this as a beggar song and his emotional performance, punctuated with “oy veys!” bears this out.

A longer printed version of the song, and one that is closest to LSW’s version, can be found in the collection of folk poetry Zeks yidishe folks lider (Six Yiddish folks songs) by  L. M. Graboys (or Groboys), Kishinev, 1900.

zeks cover

Here the song is entitled “Benken benk ikh”. Though the author implies that he is the author of all the songs in the collection, this is doubtful. The first song “Der bal-dover mit dem khoyle”  [the devil and the sick one] is a long version of the old ballad “Der lomp vert farloshn”, (listen to LSW’s version of this on Yiddish Song of the Week posted in 2011) which Graboys/Groboys certainly did not write. 

One word gave me particular trouble in this song. In the refrain, all of the sources except LSW sing “Dortn iz  mayn vigele, mayn rekht”. What is meant by “rekht” in this context? I have heard many suggestions: birthright, citizenship, rights, among them. All are possible, though I have never heard “rekht” used that way with this syntax. LSW sings a different word which I hear as “raykh” (“reich” in German) and translate as “realm”.

During the short discussion after the song between collector Leybl Kahn and LSW, she clarifies that it is not a Zionist song. 

Special thanks this week to Eliezer Niborski.

vanderer1vanderer2

“In mayn hartsn brent a fayer” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2018 by yiddishsong

In mayn hartsn brent a fayer / A fire burns in my heart
Sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman, recorded by Leybl Kahn, 1954 NY

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Another lyrical love song sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) from the Leybl Kahn recordings of 1954.

Katchor1Katchor2Lifshe Schaechter Widman & Leybl Kahn by Ben Katchor

Two similar versions of the song without the melody were collected by Shmuel-Zaynvil Pipe and Oyzer Pipe in Sanok, Galicia and published in the YIVO-bleter volume 11, Jan – May, 1937 in Yidishe folkslider fun Galitsye, page 62. I have mentioned before in this blog that of all the pre-World War Two collections of Yiddish folksong, the Pipe brothers’ Galicia, Poland, collections come closest to LSW’s Bukovina repertory.

Note that LSW sings “malekh- hamus”, which is her dialect form for “malekh-hamoves” (angel of death).

Regarding the comic strip above: the artist Ben Katchor imagined how these 1954 recording sessions might have looked in his advertisement for the cassette Az di furst avek. The strip appeared in the collection Picture Story 2 (NY. 1986, edited by Ben Katchor).

In mayn hartsn brent a fayer / A fire burns in my heart

TRANSLITERATION

In mayn hartsn brent a fayer
nor me zeyt nisht keyn royekh aroys.
Ekh hob gemeynt bist a malekh fin deym himl.
Tsum sof bisti mayn malekh-hamus

Mayne eltern tien mikh freygn,
vus ikh gey azoy arim  betribt.
Vi ken ikh zey mayn shmarts dertseyln,
az ekh hob mekh in dir farlibt.

Az ikh hob mekh in dir farlibt.
hot keyn shum foygl af der velt hot nisht gevist.
Haynt iz a rash in ale gasn,
az indzer libe iz imzist.

Az di libe iz imzist;
Es geyt mir azh un a geveyn.
Far veymen blaybt den di veytik
Az nisht nor bay mir aleyn.

TRANSLATION

A fire burns in my heart
but no smoke can be seen.
I thought you were an angel from heaven,
turns out you’re the angel of death.

My parents ask me
why I go around so sad.
How can I tell them of my pain –
that I have fallen in love with you.

That I have fallen in love with you –
not a bird the world over knew about it.
Today there’s much talk in all the streets
that our love is for naught.

That our love is for naught
keeps me crying.
With whom will stay this pain
if not only with me.

brent1

brent2

brent3

Shmuel-Zaynvil and Oyzer Pipe, Yidishe folkslider fun Galitsye, YIVO-bleter volume 11, Jan – May, 1937:
Pipe-brent

“Mayn lomp vert farloshn” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2011 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

This week’s Yiddish Song of the Week is a performance of the opening verse of Mayn lomp vert farloshn (My Lamp is Being Extinguished), a very old death ballad, by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW). The recording was made as part of the Leybl Kahn recordings of LSW, done in New York City in 1954. Schaechter-Widman was born and raised in Zvinyetchke, Bukovina; for more information on the singer, see previous posts.

The only other recording I know of this ballad is to be found on accompanying DVD to the publication Unser Rebbe, unser Stalin by Elvira Grozinger and Susi Hudak-Lazic, Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden, 2008. This important publication consists of the field recordings of the Soviet ethnomusicologists Sofia Magid and, to a lesser degree, of Moishe Beregovski. The transcription of the words to the song (which is fragmentary), the transcribed melody and comments on text and melody can be found on pages 226 – 230. But a fuller textual transcription done by Beregovski or someone in his research team can be found on pages 539-540.

The singers were a blind mother and daughter, Rivke Verbitskeya, 52 and Esther Verbitskeya 25. Both were members of a Soviet worker’s cooperative (ARTEL) for the blind in Shpole, Ukraine, recorded by Beregovski in 1940 in Kiev (let’s call it the “Kiev Variant”). Their performance, singing the melody together with no harmony, is fascinating. It’s not the kind of song one would usually sing as a duet, but considering that they are blind and have probably sung it together many times to accompany their work or pass the time, it is understandable.

A variant is also printed (without music) in Pinkes (S. Niger, ed.) 1912/13, page 410. in the collection of Khaye Fayn from Podbroze, Vilne region (“Podbroze Variant”)

Another variant can be found in Beregovski’s collection and in S. Z. Pipe’s collection (with music!) of Galician folksongs edited by Dov and Meir Noy, Yidishe folkslider fun Galitsye (Volume 2, Folklore Research Center Studies, Jerusalem, 1971). p. 101 and notes on variants p. 29 (“Galicia Variant”).

Pipe’s collected songs always seem to be the closest to LSW’s Yiddish folksongs from Bukovina, and I think one can safely say that central/eastern Galicia and Bukovina could be considered the same territory in terms of folklore (no great surprise really, since they were both Austria-Hungary before the first World War).

So we have the music to three different variants; a rare treat for an old ballad. Musically the Galicia Variant connects the Kiev Variant to the Bukovina one.

Schaechter-Widman sings it slower and more emotionally (as is her traditional style) than the Verbitskeyas in Kiev and slower than is indicated in Pipe’s collection.

But textually speaking, the richest material on this song can be found in Noyekh Prilutski’s 2nd volume of Yidishe folkslider, Warsaw, 1913, pages 26 – 41, with many long variants from Warsaw and other Polish towns – Tomashov, Srotsk. The song, in classic ballad form, is aways a dialogue usually between the dying person and the angel of death.

The line “mayn lomp vert farloshn” or “der lomp vert farloshn” appears in all of them except one, though it doesn’t always start the ballad.

How old is this ballad? As I might have written before, the only way we can judge this is to look at the variants and see where they were recorded, and in this case, the area covered of where the song was performed is very large – from the Vilna area, to Warsaw to Ukraine , Galilcia and Bukovina. So, as regards the ballad’s age I would say early 19th century, late 18th century.

[Please note: the English transliteration follows the dialect of the Yiddish more closely than the Yiddish-alphabet version]

Mayn lomp vert farloshn
un ikh hob keyn gits nokh nit genosn,
un ikh miz shoyn geyn fin der velt.
Ver vet rakhmunes hubn af mayne kleyne kinderlekh?
Un ver vet zey hitn fin der kelt?


My lamp is being extinguished
and I have not yet had any pleasure to derive,
and I must already leave this world.
Who will have pity on my small little children?
Who will protect them from the cold?