DER YIDDISH-VINKL November 19, 2004

On the 20th yahrzeit of Rokhl Fishman, the pages of the Forverts dedicated to “Pearls of Yiddish Poetry” featured this lyrical young poetess and her works. Born in Philadelphia in 1935, she was an activist in the Workmen’s Circle and in Zionist movements. She first began to be published in Der Nayer Dor (The New Generation), and was among the few American-born writers who immigrated to Israel. She was quite prolific, having published four books that contain her works. What follows is her Yiddish original, transliterated and translated by Goldie A. Gold. Since Rokhl Fishman was a pioneer spirit, her poem is titled, quite appropriately:

Ikh Bin a Groyser Onfanger

Ikh bin a groyser onfanger

Un ikh hob shoyderlekh lib

Dem sharfn, grinem, tam

Fun yedn onheyb.

Kh’hob gelernt — un ikh hob fargesn

Dates, lere, gramen.

Nor nit fargesn vel ikh

Di shtralenish

Baym ershtn tog fun nayem shulyor!

O, tomid in a reynem frishn heft!

O, tomid mit a geln frish-farshnitstn blayer —

Fartzeykhenen dem ershtn fakt

Fun a nayem visn!

Ver darf den mer.

Der ershter blits fun farshteyn

Iz der helster

Di ershte koyse farshikert

Der ershter blik —

Un mir iz azoy gefeln

Mayn ersht lid

Az ikh zing es vider —

Tomid tsum ershtn mol!

Ikh bin a groyser onfanger.

Kum —

Lomir gefinen a nayem veg aheym,

Lomir aynshlingen a frishn fakt

Lomir onheybn sheyn shraytn

In a shpigl-reynem heft!

English Version

I Am a Great Beginner

I love to feel I’m starting things

For I do passionately love

The sharp green taste of all that’s new.

I learned and have forgotten

Teachers, dates and rhymes

But I never will forget the radiance

Of the first day of the new school year.

Always with a clean new notebook

Always with a freshly sharpened yellow pencil

To note the first fact of some new knowledge.

Who needs anything more?

The first flash of understanding is the brightest

The first goblet makes one drunk

The first glance.

I was so pleased with my first song

That I sing it again and again

But always for the first time

For, I am a great beginner.

I am a great beginner.

Come, let’s find a new way home.

Let’s swallow a new fact

Let’s begin to write neatly and nicely

In a brand-new notebook.

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DER YIDDISH-VINKL November 19, 2004

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