A Very Yiddish Take on the Star Spangled Banner

How Stars and Stripes Became Farfl and Lokshn

Seeing Stars and Pasta: In the early part of the 20th century, poet Abraham Liessin used the expression fafl un lokshn to refer to the American flag.
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Seeing Stars and Pasta: In the early part of the 20th century, poet Abraham Liessin used the expression fafl un lokshn to refer to the American flag.

By Philologos

Published May 26, 2013, issue of June 07, 2013.
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Liessin’s poem concludes, picturing the banquet:

Un treft men afile a biznes-
agent —
Azoynem vos klept zikh bay im tsu di hent,
to vet men nit makhn shoyn kayn tararam;
men iz shoyn statetshne! Un zidlt men on
a klasn-faynt ye shoyn, to falsh iz der ton —
nito shoyn di hitz un der kvitsh un der tam.

One might even sit next to a businessman-gent,
the hand-pumping kind who claims he’s one’s best friend —
that’s no longer such a big deal.
One’s respectable now! And even if one
still calls for class warfare, it’s done in a tone
that lacks the old heat and old zeal.

To hot men es itzt, mit gemiter mit shvere,
gevolt in perzon fun der khaverte Sereh
der linye der foriker opgebn ere.

It hurts one to do it and nothing’s unfairer,
but a banquet in honor of our Comrade Sereh
lines one up with the line of which she’s been the bearer.

One would love to know who Sarah or Sereh was. Does anyone out there have any idea?

Questions for Philologos can be sent to philologos@forward.com


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