DER YIDDISH-VINKL April 21, 2006

Once again Joan Braman graces the pages of Der Vinkl with her Yiddish translations of a famous English poems. This week she turns to a selection from a work by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

The Jewish Cemetery at Newport

The very names recorded here are strange,

Of foreign accent, and of different climes;

Alvares and Rivera interchange

With Abraham and Jacob of old times.

Closed are the portals of their Synagogue,

No Psalms of David now the silence break,

No Rabbi reads the ancient Decalogue

In the grand dialect the Prophets spake.

Gone are the living, but the dead remain,

And not neglected; for a hand unseen,

Scattering the bounty, like a summer rain,

Still keeps their graves and their remembrance green.

All their lives long, with the unleavened bread

And bitter herbs of exile and its fears,

The wasting famine of the heart they fed,

And slaked its thirst with marah of their tears.

Pride and humiliation hand in hand

Walked with them through the world where’er they went;

Trampled and beaten were they as the sand,

And yet unshaken as the continent.

For in the background figures vague and vast

Of patriarchs and of prophets rose sublime,

And all the great traditions of the Past

They saw reflected in the coming time.

Der beys-oylem in the Newport

Afile di nemen zeyere zaynen fremd.

Vos zaynen oyf di shteyner oysgekritst

Geshtamt fun alte tsayten un vayte lender,

Alvares, Rivera, mit Avrom un Yakov tsvishn.

Fun Sinagoge zaynen farmakht di toyern

Un tilim hert men zogen mer nit dort.

Keyn rov un kongregatsye leyenen toyre

In dem altn heylikn loshn vort far vort.

Blaybn nor di toyte un der umer,

Ober nit farvorgelozt; a hant umzeyik

Tseshpreyt ir gob iber zey vi a regn in zumer

Un fargrint zeyere kvorim un dem zeykher.

A gantsn lebn, mit ungezeyerte broyt

Un golos-bitere kreytekhts hobn zey dernert

Fun farvelktn harts dem hunger un di noyt.

Un geshtilt dem dorsht mit moror fun zeyere trern

Shtendik mit zey mitgeyn shtolts un shand.

Un bagleytn zey vu nor in dr’velt zey venden.

Tsetroten un tseshlogt zaynen zey vi d’s zamd,

Dokh zey haltn fest vi der grunt fun kotinent,

Vayl fargesn hobn zey keynmol zeyer yikhes,

Di yerushe fun oves un di neviyim,

Der rum fun di kadmnoynishe traditsyes,

Un der gloybn in kumendiker yetsie.

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DER YIDDISH-VINKL April 21, 2006

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