DER YIDDISH-VINKL March 24, 2006

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.

Don Kikhot

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

Don Quixote

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.

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DER YIDDISH-VINKL March 24, 2006

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