In its columns devoted to Pearls of Yiddish Poetry, the Forverts recently featured Mina Bordo-Rivkin as a poet of faith and hope. What follows is a transliteration of her poem by our colleague, Goldie Gold, and then a translation into English by Gus Tyler.
Mayn tate trogt tsar in zayne oygn
Dos gedenk ikh zayt ikh bin a kind geven
Ikh hob in mayn tatn’s oygn
Dem elnt fun dem Yidn gezen.
Shabes nokh mitog ven mayn tatns gute hant
Hot finger nokh finger geton a brokh —
Itst nokh her ikh ot dem klang
Dem gantsn yidish okh.
Iz mayn tate mir nokh nenter gevorn
Ikh bin dokh fun im gor nit avek
Zayn tsar iz oykh mayner gevorn
Mit freyd gey ikh iber zayn veg.
Ikh vel oyf mayn tatn’s veg nit faln
Mayn veg iz fun zayne oygn gehit.
Zayn tsar iz libshaft in mayne glider
Zayne kneytshn — reyfn mayn gemit.
* * *
My father carries sorrow in his eyes
I knew about this since I was a kid
’Twas in my father’s eyes
I saw the desolation of a Yid.
On Saturday afternoon my father on his hand
Did on his fingers count his many prayers
I still can hear it like some brazen band
Shouting how the poor Jew fares.
With time I’ve grown much closer to my dad
Perhaps I never did from him depart
My sorrows were the ones my father had
And I have come to love them in my heart.
I will not fail my father’s way of life
His sorrows turn to joy and fun in me
I’ve spent my time in endless well-spent strife
So someday I my very dad will be.