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DER YIDDISH-VINKL March 18, 2005

On his 50th yahrzeit, poet Yosef Rolnick was featured in the Forverts on the pages devoted to Pearls of Yiddish Poetry. Rolnick’s poems were the works of a man whose life was crammed with loneliness, sorrow and sentiment. What follows is his most famous poem, “Zun in Mayrev” (“The Sun in the West”), as transliterated by Goldie Gold and translated into English by Gus Tyler.

Zun in Mayrev

Zun in mayrev zetst zikh gikh

Vos darf nokh a mentsh vi ikh?

Lider, kleyne lider.

Groyse shtet un naye lender

Bin a durkhgeyer, a fremder,

Noent zaynen lider.

Nisht faranen oyf der erd

Nokh a freyd, vi di, vos vert

Oyfgevekt fun lider.

Nor eyn vuntsh iz mir geblibn:

Volt a gantse nakht geshribn

Nisht-geglikte glider.

Ver veyst morgendikn tog?

Lider… alts vos ikh farmog

Zoln blaybn lider.

Got, mayn shitsung un mayn vant…

Leyz mikh oys fun fun shniters hant

Leyz mikh oys mit lider.

The Sun in the West

The sun sets quickly in the West

For folk like me, that is the best

Songs, just little songs.

Giant cities and new lands

I’m just a stranger on new sands

Surrounded by my songs.

There’s nothing really on the earth

To make me feel a rare rebirth

Awakened by my songs.

There is one wish that still remains

Through all the night pour from my brains

A flood of silent songs.

Who knows just what tomorrow brings

All I own are tunes one sings

I’m happy with my songs.

Oh, God, with you I take my stand

Please keep me from the reaper’s hand

Keep me alive with my sweet songs.

A Correction for the Record

Several weeks ago, a column by Stanley Siegelman on Viagra had a major misprint. The closing line of this poem should have read Zey valgenen zikh nit arup fun bet. The word “nit” was omitted.

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