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DER YIDDISH-VINKL February 10, 2006

Regular readers of this column are familiar with Dr. Joan Braman’s translations of English classics into Yiddish. Once more she graces Der Vinkl, with a translation of Leigh Hunt’s “Abou Ben Adhem.

Abou Ben Adhem

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)

Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,

And saw within the moonlight in his room,

Making it rich and like a lily in bloom,

An angel writing in a book of gold:

Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,

And to the presence in the room he said,

“What writest thou?” The vision raised its head,

And, with a look made of all sweet accord,

Answered, “The names of those who love the Lord.”

“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”

Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,

But cheerily still, and said, “I pray thee, then,

Write me as one that loves his fellow men.”

The angel wrote and vanished. The next night

It came again with a great wakening light,

And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,

And, lo! Ben Adhem’s name led the rest.

* * *|

Yiddish Version

Der Rebe Ben Avrom (alevhasholem)

Hot zikh oyfgekhapt eyn nakht fun a ruikn kholrm;

Der tsimer hot geshaynt mit a heler likht

Azoy vi blumen hobn geblit dort gedikht

Zet er vi a Malekh zitst oyf a zayt

Un halt in di hent a bukh un er shraybt

Gemakht dos bukh fun goldenem parmet

Halb farshlofn, hot Ben Avrom nit geshemt

Un hot gefregt, “Vos shrabt ir in dem bukh?”

Der Gayst heybt oyf dem kop un git im a kuk,

Un in a zisn kol hot im heflikh geentvert,

“Di nemen fun di vos zaynen gebentsht.”

“Un iz mayner oyf der liste?” Der entfer: “neyn.”

Zogt Ben Avrom: “Ikh veys az ikh bin nor gemeyn

Ober ikh bet aykh mir farshraybn

In dem sefer vi eyner vos hot gehaltn tayer

Dem mentsh un ale lebedike zakhn.”

Avek is der Gayst un Ben Avromiz geblibn trakhtn.

Iber a nakht kumt der Malekh tsurik…

Un vekt oyf dem Avrom mit zayn himlisher likht

Un vayst im in bukh di nemen fun di gebentshte

Un ot! Ben Avrom’s iz geven der ershter.

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