Archive for Mordkhe Gebirtig

“Blumke mayn zhiduvke” Performed by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman

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Commentary by Itzik Gottesman.

In the late 1970s, Beyle Schaechter-Gotetsman (BSG) made this recording of Mordkhe Gebirtig’s (1877 – 1942) song Blumke mayn zhiduvke, which is based on a Russian folk motif/theme. She sang it into her cassette recorder in preparation for an afternoon program of Gebirtig songs at the Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center in the Bronx. The song, written as a duet, is one of the lesser known of Gebirtig’s songs and, it seems, has only been recorded twice, both relatively recently – by Manfred Lamm in 2006 on the album Mayn traum/Mayn cholem, and by the singers Mariejan van Oort and Jacques Verheijen in 2003 on the album Mayn Fayfele (click here to hear van Oort and Verheijen’s version).

220px-GebirtigMordkhe Gebirtig

“Blumke” was the first name of Gebirtig’s wife (Blume Lindenbaum). The words and music were reprinted in most of the editions of Gebirtig’s songs, but only in the table of contents of the original edition of his volume Mayne lider  (Krakow 1936) does it add the information: “Rusishe folksmotiv; baarbet fun M. Gebirtig” – “Russian folk motif /theme adapted by M. Gebirtig.” (Thanks to Jeff Warschauer and Deborah Strauss for access to that volume).

BSG learned this song in Chernovitz, Romania, in the 1930s and only a few words in her performance are different from Gebirtig’s original text, so we are attaching the original Yiddish text and melody from the NY 1942 edition of Mayne lider. The Yiddish, the transliteration and the translation will be based on BSG’s slightly different lyrics.

The song has some Polish words: zhiduvka – Jewess/Jewish girl, kruvka – little cow, bozhe – O, God.  The song is briefly discussed in the article “The Relations between Jews and Christians as Reflected in the Yiddish Songs by Mordehaj Gebirtig” by Elvira Grozinger, Scripta Judaica Cracoviensia, vol. 8, 2010.

Blumke, mayn zhiduvke
Okh, zay fun Got gezegnt.
Hostu efsher mayne tsigelekh
ergets vu bagegnt?

Kh’hob zey liber Stakhu,
in ergets nit getrofn.
Akh, vet dikh dayn beyzer tatke
haynt derfar bashtrofn.

Oy, vet dikh dayn beyzer tatke
dikh derfar bashtrofn.

Gekholemt fun dir, sertse,
gezen in feld dikh lign.
Plutslung kuk ikh, akh, vu zenen
mayne vayse tsign?

Efsher, liber Stakhu
S’iz andersh nit tsu klern.
Zenen zey in vald farkrokhn –
oy, dort voynen bern!

Bozhe! Okh, mayn Blumke,
vos zol ikh itst baginen.
Nisht gehitn mayne tsigelekh;
dikh gehat in zinen.

Zay keyn nar, mayn Stakhu,
nit far dir iz Blumke.
Liber nem aroys dayn fayfl,
shpil mir oyf a dumke.

Kh’vel mayn tatns kruvke
un alts vos kh’hob farkoyfn.
Lomir beyde, sheyne Blumke,
Ergets vayt antloyfn.

Zay keyn nar, mayn Stakhu,
Nit farkoyf dayn kruvke!
Zukh dir oys in dorf a goyke –
ikh bin a zhiduvke!

Roytlekh shoyn der himl.
Di zun fargeyt, pavolye.
Akh, vu zent ir, mayne tsigelekh,
kumt baveynt mayn dolye.

Blumke, my Jewish girl/Jewess
O, may God  bless you.
Have you, perhaps,
seen somewhere, my little goat?

I have not, dear Stakhu,
seen them anywhere.
Oh, your mean father
will punish you today for this.

I dreamed of you, my dear,
lying in a field.
Suddenly I look – oh,
where are my white goats?

Maybe, my dear Stakhu –
There can be no other way –
they wandered off into the woods
oh no! Bears live there.

My God! dear Blumke,
Where do I begin.
I did not guard my goats,
I was thinking of you.

Don’t be a fool, dear Stakhu.
You are not destined for Blumke.
Take out your flute
and play for me a dumka.*

I will sell my father’s little cow
and sell all that I have.
Let us, pretty Blumke,
Run away somewhere.

Don’t be a fool, my Stakhu.
Don’t sell your little cow.
Find yourself a non-Jewish girl in the village
I am a Jewish girl.

The sky is reddish,
the sun sets slowly.
O, where are you my little goat,
Come lament my fate.

*diminutive of “dumy” – epic ballads sung by Ukrainian kobzars. In the late 19th and early 20th century Slavic classical composers such as Dvorak were inspired to create classical dumka, “a type of instrumental music involving sudden changes from melancholy to exuberance” (Harvard Concise Dictionary of Music, 1978).

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