On the 40th yahrzeit of poet Nokhem Yud (1887-1966), the Forverts devoted its column Pearls of Yiddish Poetry to this prolific and profound writer. His collective works filled 700 pages. One of his favorite subjects was Don Quixote, the “Man of La Mancha.” What follows is his poem on Quixote, transliterated into the Roman alphabet by our collaborator Goldie Gold and translated into English by Gus Tyler.
Tsu kholemen fun sheynkayt nit geborener
Un aleyn in yiesh ziftsn in der shtil,
O Don Kikhot! Oyf vegn a farlorener,
Vi noent undz iz dayn gefil
Host nit gevolt a lebn kleyn un vokhedik —
Vos toyg a velt on sheynkayt un on glik?
In hayzer alte, kretshmes halb-tsebrokhene
Farvandlt hostu in palatsen mit dayn blik
Dokh hostu in dayn hoykhkayt zikh nit opgetsoymt
Un shtarker nokh gefilt hostu dem tsvestns payn!
Host oykh aleyn dayn Dolsineya oysgetroymt
Far doyres in der vaytenish arayn.
O Don Kikhot, du vunderlikher vanderer
Host fun dem mentshen tsu fil shoyn bagert
Un dokh dayn kholem trogn itster andere
Un haltn oyf di sheynkayt oyf der erd
To dream of beauty that is still unborn
And in despair to sigh and sigh alone
Oh, Don Quixote, who trod paths unworn
We share with you a painful mournful moan.
You did not want a life that was a bore
A life that lacked both beauty and some joy
You went from homes and inns and by the score
You brought great cheer unto the hoi polloi.
And in your greatness you did not withdraw
You always shared the other person’s pain
Created Dulcinea, whom he saw
As a woman he could love and not in vain.
Oh, Don Quixote, wanderer at large.
From people you expected much too much.
It seems, however, you were one in charge
Of keeping many folk with you in touch.