[Mendele] Mendele Vol. 22.012

Victor Bers victor.bers at yale.edu
Fri Apr 26 17:47:05 EDT 2013

Mendele: Yiddish literature and language

Contents of Vol. 22.012
April 25, 2013

1) "Dray tekhterlekh" (Dina Lévias)
2) "Dray tekhterlekh" (Hershl Hartman)
3) "Dray tekhterlekh" (Joel Rubin)
4) "Dray tekhterlekh" (Al Grand)
5) "Dray tekhterlekh" (Saul Drajer)
6) Epes (Shimke Levine)
7) Dr. Barney Zumoff to be Honored (Fishl Kutner)
8) folg mir a derikhgang (Hershl Bershady)

Date: March 29
Subject: "Dray tekhterlekh"

In response to Helene B. Katz's posting Vol. 22.011 March 28, 2013:

Dear Helene,
Since you invite corrections, here are my two suggestions:

First of all, a grammatical mistake:
A yoke throwed off - the past participle of TO THROW is thrown, not throwed.

And, second, regarding your query about
"vi halt men shoyn bay zey",

I would say, "how dear they are to us".

Dina Lévias

Date: March 29
Subject: "Dray tekhterlekh"

In response to Helene Katz:

Gebirtig's expression "vi halt men shoyn bay zey?" translates (not in rhyme
or meter) as
"when is it their turn?" As for klezmorim cutting, that's a humorous
comparison of a
tailor's work to that of a musician's. In a bygone era, hipsters "cut a

Hershl Hartman

Date: March 30
Subject: "Dray tekhterlekh"

Regarding Helene B. Katz's inquiry about Gebirtig's "Dray tekhterlekh":

This is the version performed by Klara Vaga in the Soviet Union, recorded
1957 and
reissued in my CD anthology Shalom Comrade: Yiddish Music in the Soviet
1928-1961 (Schott Wergo SM-1627-2):

Klara Vaga, voice, acc. S. Muradov, piano, /Dray tekhter/ (Three Daughters)

music and text: Mordkhe Gebirtig; 28771/3, recorded 19573:33

/Ven mit mazl, gezunt un lebn/

/S'eltste tekhterl veln mir oysgebn,/

/Veln mir tantsn: hop--hop --/

/Arop an ol fun kop./

/Veln mir tantsn, oy, veln mir tantsn --/

/Arop an ol fun kop./


/Oy, shpilt, klezmorim! shpilt mit lebn --/

/S'ershte tekhterl haynt oysgegebn!../

/Nokh geblibn undz meydlekh tsvey,/

/Vi halt men shoyn bay zey?../

/Ay, shpilt, klezmorim -- ir darft farshteyen!/

/Zol di gantse velt mit undz zikh freyen!/

/Fun undzer simkhe veyst nor eyn got,/

/Un der vos tekhter hot!../


/Ven kh'vel zen shoyn dos tsveyte meydl/

/Ongeton in vaysn khupe-kleydl,/

/Un mir veln zu der khupe geyn --/

/Arop fun harts a shteyn!/

/Oy, vel ikh trinken, oy, vel ikh trinken --/

/Arop fun harts a shteyn!../


/Oy, shpilt, klezmorim, me darf zikh sheydn,/

/S'tsveyte meydl gebn mir oys in freydn!/

/Nokh dos mizinkele hobn mir,/

/Vi halt men shoyn bay ir?/

/Oy, shpilt, klezmorim, far mekhutonim --/

/Zoln a leb ton amol kabtsonim!/

/A kind oysgebn, oy, gotenyu, /

/A meydl nokh dertsu!/


/Ven bay dos drite kh'vel shpiln hern,/

/Epes troy'rik vel ikh shoyn shteyn un klern:/

/S'letste tekhterl shoyn oykh avek,/

/zol zayn mit glik ir veg!/

/S'letste tekhterl, s'letste tekhterl,/

/zol zayn mit glik ir veg!/


/Shpilt, klezmorim, bazetst di kale --/

/Tsugenumen bay undz di kinder ale!../

/Shver geven mit di tekhter dray/

/Shverer nokh on zey.../

/Shpilt, klezmorim, oysgis mit trern,/

/S'letste betl vet haynt leydik vern.../

/Mir tsvey alte, mir aleyn --/

/Ver kon nokh undz farshteyn?../

/When we marry off our eldest daughter we will dance -- a burden will be
Klezmorim, play full of life, for our eldest is getting married today. We
still have two
girls left, how do we manage their fate? Play klezmorim, you must
understand, the whole
world should be happy with us. Only God and the man who has daughters can
our joy. When I'll see my second daughter in her wedding dress, and we'll
escort her to
the wedding canopy, a burden will be lifted, and I will drink. Play
klezmorim,we have to
part, we're giving our second daughter away in joy. We still have the
youngest one, how
do we manage her fate? Play klezmorim, for the in-laws,let the poor folks
also a have a
nice time once in a while. To marry off a child, and a daughter to boot!
When the music
plays for the wedding of my youngest daughter, I will sadly think: the last
daughter's also
gone, may her road be paved with happiness. Play klezmorim, seat the bride,
taken away all our daughters. How hard it was with three daughters -- it
will be worse
without them. Play musicians, pour it out with tears, for the last bed will
be vacant
tonight. Just us two old folks, all by ourselves, who can understand
based on variant in Mlotek 1977: 210-211.)

Joel Rubin

Date: March 30
Subject: "Dray tekhterlekh"

I am responding to Helen B. Katz's inquiry regarding the lyrics of
Gebirtig's song "Dray
tekhterlekh."  Although I am surely the least qualified Mendele subscriber
to offer a gloss
on Yiddish usage, I am hopeful that my years-long love and devotion to
Gebirtig's deeply
moving songs will transcend any academic shortcomings.  Ms. Katz is puzzled
about the
line: shpilt klezmorim, heybt on shnaydn! and asks "Why would the klezmorim
anything"?  I'm certain that Gebirtig is using the word shnaydn
metaphorically and
poetically to indicate the rhythmic back-and-forth motion of the
violinist's bow which
sort of resembles a carpenter using his handsawsawing through a wood
plank.  She also
wonders what the expression vi halt men shoyn bay zey? means when the lyric
refers to
the unmarried daughters. Here the singer is expressing his impatience about
the girls still
to marry. Vi halt men shoyn bay zey could be loosely translated as "What's
them up"?  Gebirtig's songs often bring a lump to my throat and "Dray
always makes my tears flow.

Al Grand

Date: March 29
Subject: "Dray tekhterlekh"

About the questions posed by Helene B. Katz regarding "Dray tekhterlekh"
the meaning
of "vi halt men shoyn bay zey" is "when will I be able to see them under
the khupe."
About "shpilt klezmorim, heybt on shnaydn," it is a reference to the
fiddler (maybe the
most important instrument in a klezmorim kapelye). This image equates the
motion of a fiddler with that of a butcher cutting meat with his knife. It
is a not infrequent
expression in popular Yiddish.

Best regards,

Saul Drajer

Date: March 29
Subject: "Epes"

To Helene Katz:

"Epes" is not the equivalent, is almost the opposite, of "very."  It serves
to soften the
adjective, whereas "very" strengthens it. Although neither is an elegant
translation, "I
will stand there sort of sad / a bit sad"  would be closer to the sense of
the Yiddish. ("vel
ikh epes troyerik shteyn un klern")

Shimke Levine

Date:  March 28
Subject: Dr. Barney Zumoff to be Honored

The International Association of Yiddish Clubs, will present the Yiddish
Lifetime Service
Award to Dr. Barney Zumoff at the upcoming 15th IAYC conference in
Pittsburgh, PA
April 26-29, 2013.

Dr. Zumoff is an internationally renowned teacher and researcher in the
field of
Endocrinology and  has had a distinguished career in Yiddish cultural
activities. Barney
has been President of the Forward Association; long-time co-President of
the Congress
for Jewish Culture; V.P. of the Folksbiene; V.P.. of the Atran Foundation,
and President
of the Arbeter Ring. He is a prolific translator of Yiddish literature.
Barney is an IAYC
Board member and a popular conference speaker.

Philip "Fishl" Kutner

Date: March 29
Subject: folg mir a derikhgang

Dear Mendelyaners,

Now that I'm in my dotage, certain expressions my father used come
fluttering back to
me.  One of these, which I translate as best I can phonetically, is: folg
mir a derikhgang.
I mutter this under my breath when my late teenage grandson asks me to do
that I consider quite complex, but that he, of course, dashes off without
hesitation.  I think
the expression literally means 'follow me through this passage, and is
meant to be ironic.
Is this a correct interpretation?

Many thanks,
Hershl Bershady

End of Mendele Vol. 22.012

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