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“Dus geboyrn finem mentshn” Performed by Frahdl Post

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2018 by yiddishsong

 Dus geboyrn finem mentshn / The Birth of Man
Sung by Frahdl Post
Recorded by Wolf Younin 1976, Workmen’s Circle Nursing Home, Bronx

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

Usually on the blog we identify the songs by the first line, but the singer Frahdl Post called this song Dus geboyrn finem mentshn – The Birth of Man – so we will stick with that title. It is an adaptation of the first half of the poem Der malekh (The Angel), a poem by Avraham Goldfaden (1840-1908), a section bearing the subtitle “Di yunge neshome – The Young Soul”. It was first printed in Goldfaden’s poetry collection Dos yidele (Zhitomir 1866). We are attaching in 4 scans the entire poem as it appeared in the 1903 Warsaw edition.

Goldfaden picAvraham Goldfaden

The poem and song are based on the midrash and Jewish folk belief that before birth the soul of the child knows the entire Torah and all about the world. But right before birth the angel flicks his/her finger hitting the lip and the newborn forgets everything as it enters this world. The indentation above our lips, the philtrum, marks where the angel struck the child.

In Goldfaden’s 25-verse poem and Frahdl Post’s 14-verse song, the angel especially points out the evils of money in Jewish society.

Henry Carrey transcribed the song as he heard his grandmother, Frahdl Post, sing it. After listening, I changed some words of his transcription. Some words remain unclear and we indicate alternatives in brackets. I would suggest that one must read Goldfaden’s original poem to make sense of some of the lines in the song.

Post’s northern Ukrainian dialect includes both turning the “oy” to “ey”, (for example “skheyre instead of “skhoyre”), a change we associate with the northeastern Yiddish dialect (Litvish), as well as vowel changes we usually associate with the southeastern Yiddish dialect – “zugn” instead of “zogn”, “arim” instead of “arum”. The transcription reflects the dialect as much as possible.

Needless to say Frahdl Post’s memory in recalling these long songs is very impressive. Thanks for help in this week’s post go to Henry Carrey and David Braun.

TRANSLITERATION

[Ge]shlufn iz ales eyn halbe nakht
kayn shim mentsh hot zikh nit gerirt.
Nor di zilberne levune aleyn
tsvishn di shtern shpatsirt.

Demolt tsit on der shluf mit makht ,
farshlefert di mentshn di oygn,
iz fin dem himl a malakh arup
[Un iz iber di dekher gefloygn.]

Er halt di hent tsugeltulyet tsu zikh;
a yinge neshume getrugn,
“Vi trugsti mikh? Vi shlepsti mikh ?”
heybt im on di neshume tsi zugn .

“Hob nit keyn meyre, neshumele mayns”
Heybt on der malakh tsu reydn,
“Ikh vel dir bazetsn in a hayzl a fayns
Du vest dortn lebn tsufridn [in freydn].”

“Vest onheybn di velt beser farshteyn
Veln mir dir gebn a kameyeh,
Azey aza zakh hostu keyn mol geyzen
Zi heyst mitn nomen matbeye.”

“Mit der matbeye darfstu visn vi azoy tsu bageyn,
Zi iz magnet, zi iz kishef, zi iz gelt.
Zi ken dir gibn di velt tsu zeyn,
Zi ken dir farvistn dayn velt.“

Dortn zitst eyner in zan tsimer
Er trinkt mit im frayntlekh un kvelt,
Zey vi er kikt im [?] same in bekher aran.
Er vil bay im yarshenen zayn gelt.

Dortn shluft eyner in zayn tsimer.
Er shluft zikh git geshmak
Zey vi er shteyt un kritst mit di tseyn
Er vil hobn dem shlisl fun dem gelt.

Dortn firt eyner ganeyvishe skheyre,
Gur farviklt, farshtelt,
Zey vi er hot di skheyre geganvet
Un er vil zi farkeyfn far gelt.

Dortn oyf dem beys-hakvures
In an ofenem keyver oyfgeshtelt,
Zey vi er tsit di takhrikhim arup
Un er vil zey farkeyfn far gelt.

“Okh! neyn, neyn, neyn, neyn, heyliker malakh
Mit aza velt kim ikh nit oys.
Fir zhe mir beser upet aheym,
Ikh ze du kayn gits nit aroys.“

“Shpatsir dir a bisl arim afn brik,
Shpatsir zikh a bisl arim,
Di vest dokh bald darfn kimen karik
Di zolst nit kimen far im [mit keyn grim.][?]”
[Goldfaden: “Zolst kumen aheym on a mum]

Der hun hot gegebn dem ershtn krey,
A kol fun a kimpeturin,
Azey hot men gegeybn bald a geshrey,
“ A yingele! – mit lange yurn.”

[Azoy vi men hot gegeybn dem geshrey.
“Mazl-tov, a yingl geboyrn”]
Der malakh hot gegebn a shnal in der lip
Un iz karik tsum himl farfloygn.

TRANSLATION

Everything is asleep at midnight.
Not a soul was stirring.
Only the silver moon
Went walking among the stars

Sleep covers all with its power
And makes drowsy all of the people’s eyes.
An angel then came down from heaven
And flew over the rooftops.

He holds his hands tucked close to himself
A young soul he was carrying.
“Where are you carrying me? Where are you dragging me?”
The soul starts saying to him.

“Do not fear, my dear little soul”
the angel begins to speak
“I will place you in a good house.
You will live there happily.”

“When you begin to understand the world better,
we will give you a charm.
Such a thing you have never seen:
It is called by the name – coin.”

“With this coin you will have to know what to do.
It’s a magnet; it’s magic, it’s money.
It can help you see the world.
It can destroy your the world.”

There sits someone with his friend in his room.
He drinks with him as friends and enjoys it.
Look how looks right in the goblet .
He wants to inherit his money.

Another sleeps in his room,
He is sound asleep.
See how he stands and grits his teeth;
He wants to have the key to the money.

Over there someone deals with stolen goods,
Completely wrapped up, disguised.
See how he stole that merchandise
And how he wants to sell if for money.

There on the cemetery
In an open grave [a body] is propped up.
See how he pulls the burial shrouds off it
and wants to sell them for money.

“Ah no, no, no, no holy angel
I cannot survive in such a world.
It would be better if you took me home.
No good do I see here.”

“Take a walk around the bridge,
take a little walk around.
You will soon have to come back
So that you don’t appear before him with make-up [?].”
[In Goldfaden’s original – “So that you return with no blemish”]

The rooster gave its first crow
The voice of a midwife,
And thus was given the first scream
A boy! May he live for many years.

As soon as the first yell was given
“Mazl-tov! A boy was born”.
The angle gave it a flick on the lip
And flew back up to heaven.
geboyrn1

geboyrn2

geboyrn3

geboyrn4

Di yunge neshome – The Young Soul, as printed in Goldfaden’s poetry collection Dos yidele (Zhitomir 1866):

YungeNewshome1

YungeNeshome4

YungeNeshome3

YungeNeshome2

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“Shtey shoyn af tokhter mayn getraye” Performed by Lifshe Schaechter Widman

Posted in Main Collection with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2011 by yiddishsong

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

„Shtey shoyn of tokhter mayn getraye‟ (“Wake Up My Faithful Daughter”) is the only Yiddish song I know that mentions coffee, and though I drink 3 double espressos daily, I thought I would post this song sung by Lifshe Schaechter-Widman (LSW) for a different reason: a recent interesting article on family violence and Yiddish song written by Adrienne Cooper and Sarah Gordon. Originally published in Lilith magazine, and republished on-line on the Arty Semite blog of the Forward newspaper (in four parts).

In the first song example given in that essay – „A gutn ovnt Brayne‟, the first stanza ends with „zint ikh hob dem merder derkent‟ („Since I‘ve known this murderer‟). As you can also see in the song „Shtey shoyn af tokhter mayn getraye‟, merder/murderer is apparently another way to say „wife beater‟ in Yiddish.

As for „Shtey shoyn of‟ – LSW sings the first verse beautifully, somehow getting off track in the second verse – it‘s a line too short, and the melody changes – and then again getting back on track in the third verse and ending the powerful and sad song with her emotional style.

Musically, listen to the way she ornaments so subtly with „oy‟. Textually – in three short verses with vivid imagery we have a complete, melancholy short story in the classic mother-daughter dialogue form, so common in Yiddish folksong.

I think it‘s particularly touching that the mother has the final word. Perhaps other singers or versions perform additional verses in which the daughter responds; I have not found any, and this version certainly fits into LSW‘s gloomy view of the woman‘s world; a woman recently married, no less. This recording of LSW was made by Leybl Kahn in New York City in 1954.

Oy shtey shoyn af tokhter mayn getraye
dayne lipelekh zenen dir farshmakht.
Shtey shoyn af tokhter mayn getraye
dayn kave zi shteyt shoyn fartik gemakht.
Shtey shoyn af tokhter mayn getraye
Dayn kave, zi shteyt dir fartik gemakht.

O wake up my faithful daughter,
Your lips are so pale; [literally – languished, fading]
Wake up my faith daughter,
your coffee is waiting for you, already made.

Oy mame, oy miter, vos toyg mir mayn leybn af der velt?
Az dem vos ikh hob lib ken ikh nit nemen,
mit vemen vel ikh opfirn mayn velt?
Az dem vos ikh hob lib ken ikh nit nemen,
mit vemen vel ikh opfirn mayn velt?

O mama, o mother, what good is my life in the world?
If I cannot take the one I love
with whom shall I spend my life? [literally – conduct my world]

Oy, dayne bekelekh hobn geblit vi di royte epelekh
far ayn glik hob ikh mir dus forgeshtelt.
haynt, az di bist arayn tsu dem merder in di hent aran.
af eybik hot er farimert dir dayn velt.
di bist arayn tsu dem merder in di hent arayn.
oy, af eybik hot er farimert dir di velt.

O your cheeks were blooming like the red apples,
I imagined this meant happiness.
Now, that you have fallen into that murderer‘s hands,
he has forever saddened your world.