DER YIDDISH-VINKL January 10, 2003

A WEEKLY BRIEFING ON THE MOTHER TONGUE

Published January 10, 2003, issue of January 10, 2003.
  • Print
  • Share Share

In the closing days of 2002, the Forverts dedicated its page on Jewish poetry to Chaim Grade on the occasion of his 20th yahrzeit. Born in Vilna in 1910, he won recognition by admission to a select literary group that called itself Yung Vilna. In 1948, he came to New York. Although, Grade (pronounced grah-de) dealt with many themes, his great preoccupation was poetry that revolved around the Holocaust as well as the oppression of Jews in the Soviet Union.

In one poem, dealing with Stalin’s execution of prominent Jewish poets, Grade tackles a difficult theme. The victims of Stalin’s antisemitic madness were not outspoken opponents of the regime. They were liquidated despite the fact that they had been accommodating themselves to the exigencies of the moment. Grade seeks in this poem to understand just what kind of men these martyred poets really were. The transliteration is by Goldie A. Gold, and the English version is by Gus Tyler.

Ikh veyn oyf aykh mit ale oysyes fun dem alef-beyz,

Vos ir hot im farnutst tsu zingen hoferdike lider.

Ikh veys fun ayer ayngeredter hofnung —un veys

Fun ayere tseflikte hertser, vi an alte sider.

Ikh hob bay aykh in hoys genekhtikt oyf mayn navenad

Un fun mayn shlof in ayer hoyz hob ikh gehert dos shorkhn

Fun oyfgelebte shotns in a tsayt fun gzeyre-shmad

Gedenk ikh es, vi ayer khesed fun hakhnoses-orkhim.

Vi ikh gedenk dem Rus vos hot derlangt mir broyt baym shvel,

Vi ikh gedenk zayn heymland vos fargeyt in zayne blutn

Mit breytkeyt fun dem step, mit engshaft fun a tfise-tsel,

Mit lider oyf der Volga un geboygnkeyt far knutn.

Deriber hob ikh shtendik nokhgezukht oyf aykh a skhus,

Nit makhmes ayer toyt hob ikh oyf aykh gefunen skhusim

Bay ayer lebn nokh in land fun rakhvesdikn Rus

Hob ikh gevust, as in der tif fun harts zayt ir anusim.

* * *

I weep for you with every letter of the alphabet

The letters that you used to sing your courtly song.

I know about your self-deceiving dreams — you bet,

That do like pages in a crumbling book belong.

In my many wanderings, I did spend some nights with you.

And while I slept there in your home I heard a haunting sound

Of those once forced to change their faith and now must change anew.

So, thanks unto your hospitality that is what I found.

I think about the Russ who handed me a piece of bread

I think about his native home that penetrates his blood

Expansive as the steppes and narrow as a prison bed

Singing on the Volga, lying under whips in mud.

That’s why for you a moral rationale I sought

Your sad, sad death is not enough to make us honor you.

You paid the price, a life of ease and wealth you bought

You were Marranos: goy outside, inside a Jew.






Find us on Facebook!
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?








You may also be interested in our English-language newsletters:













We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.