[Mendele] Mendele Vol. 23.001

Victor Bers victor.bers at yale.edu
Wed May 15 08:47:15 EDT 2013

Mendele: Yiddish literature and language

Contents of Vol. 23.001
May 15, 2013

1) Yiddish Culture Collective (Rose Schimel)
2) "Oyfn veg shteyt a boym" (Elvira Groezinger)
3) "Dona Dona" lyrics (Jane Enkin)
4) "Dona Dona" lyrics (Gershon Freidlin)
5) "Dona Dona" lyrics (Paula Teitelbaum)
6) "Dray tekhterlekh" resume (Helene B. Katz)
7) "Dray tekhterlekh" (Hirsch Wittmann)
8) folg mir a derikhgang (Morrie Feller)
9) folg mir a derikhgang (Matys Velvel Steinbuch)
10) Arkady Gendler (Leonard Fox)

[Moderator's note: Today Mendele celebrates its twenty-third birthday.
Mit mazl geyert

Date: April 26
Subject: Yiddish Culture Collective

Shulem, we have expanded our national Yiddish Chat Line and would like
to invite
everyone to join in! Please sign-up to get ongoing updates. The Chat
Line is usually
every Tuesday!

a dank,
Rose Schimel

Date:  April 28
Subject: "Oyfn veg shteyt a boym"

The author of the text is Itzik Manger, it can also be found on the
internet, among others

Best, Elvira Groezinger


Oyfn veg shteyt a boym,
Shteyt er ayngeboygn,
Ale feygl funem boym
Zaynen zikh tsefloygn.

Dray keyn mayrev, dray keyn mizrekh,
Un der resht - keyn dorem,
Un dem boym gelozt aleyn
Hefker far dem shturem.

Zog ikh tsu der mamen: -her,
Zolst mir nor nit shtern,
Vel ikh, mame, eyns un tsvey
Bald a foygl vern...

Ikh vel zitsn oyfn boym
Un vel im farvign
Ibern vinter mit a treyst
Mit a sheynem nign.

Zogt di mame: - nite, kind -
Un zi veynt mit trern -
Vest kholile oyfn boym
Mir far froyrn vern.

Zog ikh: -mame, s'iz a shod
Dayne sheyne oygn
Un eyder vos un eyder ven,
Bin ikh mir a foygl.

Veynt di mame: - ltsik, kroyn,
Ze, um gotes viln,
Nem zikh mit a shalikl,
Kenst zikh nokh farkiln.

Di kaloshn tu zikh on,
S'geyt a sharfer vinter
Un di kutshme nem oykh mit -
Vey iz mir un vind mir...

- Un dos vinter-laybl nem,
Tu es on, du shovte,
Oyb du vilst nit zayn keyn gast
Tsvishn ale toyte...

Kh'heyb di fligl, s'iz mir shver,
Tsu fil, tsu fil zakhn,
Hot di mame ongeton
Ir feygele, dem shvakhn.

Kuk ikh troyerik mir arayn
In mayn mames oygn,
S'hot ir libshaft nit gelozt
Vern mir a foygl...

Oyfn veg shteyt a boym,
Shteyt her ayngebogen,
Ale feygl funem boym
Zaynen zikh tsefloygn...


Shir Al Etz

On the road stands a tree,
it stands bent and deserted,
All the birds of that tree
have flown away.

Turn toward the west, turn toward the east,
And the rest - turn toward the south,
And the tree is left alone
abandoned to the storm.

I say to momma--"Listen,
If you don't stand in my way,
then, one and two,
I'll quickly become a bird...

I'll sit in the tree
And lull it
during the winter and comfort it
With a lovely tune.

And momma says, "No, child,"
And weeps bitter tears -
G-d forbid, in the tree
you might freeze.

So I say, "Momma, it's a waste
of your lovely eyes,
Because before you know it,
I'll be a bird."

And momma cries: - Itzik, my Crown,
As G-d would want,
take a scarf with you,
Lest you catch cold.

"Put on your galoshes,
It will be a severe winter.
And take your fur hat, too.
Woe is me!

"And take your warm underwear,
put it on, foolish child,
Lest you become a guest
among the dead...

I lift my wing, but it's hard...
Too much, too many things
Has momma put on
her weak little fledgling.

I look sadly straight forward
into my momma's eyes,
Her love did not allow me
to become a bird...

On the road stands a tree,
it stands bent and deserted,
All the birds of that tree
have flown away.

Date: April 28
Subject: "Dona Dona" lyrics

I'm still puzzling through the question of the lyrics to Dona, Dona, in
preparation for a May 5 recording date.

There is a version on line that is similar to the one in "Pearls of
Yiddish Song" but with
many differences.

The Hebrew University Anthology of Yiddish Folksongs version is quite
different from
the one in Pearls of Yiddish Song.

Is there some way to figure out which is the original?

In some cases, I fear, the online version has typos and errors:

For example, the online version says:
Freyt zikh, dreyt zikh hint nokh tsrik

The HU anthology says:

Flit un dreyt zikh hin un tsurik.

"Pearls of Yiddish Song" says:

Freyt zikh, dreyt zikh hin un krik

This leaves me guessing that "hint";is a typo.

Any thoughts?

Jane Enkin

Date: April 30
Subject: "Dona Dona" lyrics


Might not "hint" here be a variant of "hintervaylekhs"?

Gershon Freidlin

Date: April 30
Subject: "Dona Dona" lyrics


Not only is "hint" a typo, but "nokh" is also a mistake.

The other variations seem like a natural result of the folk process.

Paula Teitelbaum

Date: April 29
Subject: "Dray tekhterlekh" resume

Dear Mendalyaners,

A few weeks ago, I asked for the meaning of the expression "vi halt
men shoyn bay zey"
in the song "Dray tekhterlekh" by Gebirtig.

As I had a lot of different answers (thanks a lot to everybody, and
also for other
corrections), I thought it might be useful to make a "resume" for
future Mendele readers.

The general sentiment is expressed by Jack S. Berger:
"This conveys the sentiment of hoping to live long enough to see the other
two married, and implies an impatience to see it happen."

And here are the various suggestions:
- How beloved, or fond, they are.   (Norman Eisenstadt)
- How is going with them - how do they fare?    (R. M. Fishbein)
- How dear they are to us.   (Dina Lévias)
- When is it their turn?      (Hershl Hartman)
- How do we manage their fate?     (Joel Rubin)
- Here the singer is expressing his impatience about the girls still to
marry. What's holding them up?     (Al Grand)
- When will I be able to see them under the khupe?     (Saul Drajer)
- Where do we stand with them? i.e., how far along are we in terms of
marrying off the other two daughters.  (Leybl Goldberg)
- When will come their time [to marry]?     (Haim Levy)
- When will we already hold by them? It's a wish. Hopefully will live to do
that as well, about the girls still to marry.    (Chaim Werdyger)
And, in French:
- Comment faire pour les deux autres  (pour les marier), il nous reste
encore les marier. (Samy Staro)

Helene B. Katzhttp://rama01.free.fr/yidlid

Date: April 28
Subject:  "Dray tehkhterlekh"

"Vi halt men shoyn bay zey (zey=di tekhterlech)"

The verb "haltn bay" means "to keep, to hold on to" and poetically "to
behold." The
sentence without the "shoyn" translates as: "How does one hold on to
them (one's
daughters)". The word "shoyn" is a sentence particle of mood, the same
as Yinglish
"already". So, the sentence reads now after inserting the mood: "How
already does one
hold on to them (one's daughters, when it is so much more fun to give
them away)."

Hirsch Wittmann

Date: April 27
Subject: folg mir a derikhgang

First of all, the correct expression is "folg mikh a gang." This
expression is defined in the
new Comprehensive Yiddish-English Dictionary as follows:

(1)  That's a long way to go !

(2)  It's no mean task !

I hope that this is a satisfactory explanation.

Morrie Feller

Date:  April 29
Subject: folg mir a derikhgang

I asked my father a couple of times what "folg mir a gang" meant and
his usual answer
for these kind of idiomatic expressions was "azoy zugt men" ("that's
what they say") -
which I think is a funny response in itself. As for "derikh," this is
merely "durkh" -
(German and Yiddish) for "through" - and it's just tacked on to the
front of "gang." The
closest to the literal meaning of the phrase "folg mir a gang" might
be "follow my path"
but that doesn't even begin to get close to how it's used, which is I
think sarcastically.
Suppose I tell you something you find hard to believe or I bug you to
do something you
really don't want to do - you might respond with "folg mir a gang"  -
" Sure, show me the
way" - "I'm not going that way" - "That's too far for me to go" -
(stop bugging me).
That's my take

Matys Velvel Steinbuch

Date: May 8
Subject: Arkady Gendler

Yiddish music fans (who have not already seen it) will find this
article from "Tablet" of
considerable interest:

Leonard Fox

End of Mendele Vol. 23.001
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