DER YIDDISH-VINKL March 11, 2005

Al Grand is back with us again, with one of his inimitable translations of Gilbert and Sullivan into Yiddish. The Savoyards, so called because their musicals were performed in the Savoy Hotel’s theater, were and are Grand’s passion. His e-mail address is Savoyid. What follows are passages from G&S’s “Pirates of Penzance” in English, which Grand translates as “Di Yam Gazlonim.”

English Original

FREDERIC:

Oh, is there not one maiden breast

Which does not feel the moral beauty

Of making worldly interest

Subordinate to a sense of duty?

Who would not give up willingly

All matrimonial ambition

To rescue such a one as I

From his unfortunate position?

GIRLS:

Alas! There’s not one maiden breast

Which seems to feel the moral beauty

Of making worldly interest

Subordinate to a sense of duty!

FREDERIC:

Oh, is there not one maiden here

Whose homely face and bad complexion

Have caused all hope to disappear

Of ever winning man’s affection?

Of such a one, if such there be,

I swear by heaven’s arch above you

If you will cast your eyes on me

However plain you be, I’ll love you.

However plain you be

If you will cast your eyes on me

However plain you be

I’ll love you, I’ll love you, I’ll love you.

GIRLS:

Alas. There’s not a one maiden here

Whose homely face and bad complexion

Have caused all hope to disappear

Of ever winning man’s affection.

Yiddish Version

FAYVL:

Avu iz do a meydl sheyn

Vos hot oyf mir a kap rakhmones

Un vet bald shenken mir aleyn

Ir gut harts un ir nemones.

Tsi ir zayt gut vi ir zayt sheyn?

Dos ken men zen, s’iz nit kayn frage

Oy helft mir, lozt mikh nit aleyn

Un ratevet mikh fun mayn lage.

Oy ra-te-vet un helft mir aroys

Fun mayn um-glik-er un shver-er lage.

MEYLEKH:

Es iz nito kayn meydl sheyn

Vos hot oyf dir kayn kap rakhmones

Un vet bald shenken dir aleyn

Ir gut harts un ir nemones.

FAYVL:

Gefint zikh do a meydl fayn

Vos hot a zeyer mis ponim

Un keyn mol vet keyn kale zayn

(To audience) Oy trefn zol es mayne sonim!

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DER YIDDISH-VINKL March 11, 2005

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