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DER YIDDISH-VINKL December 17, 2004

Profound insight into human relationships and destinies sometimes can be revealed in the simple experiences of two childhood friends, as in a poem by Isaac Reingold (1873-1903), written about Shmilik and Gavrilik, that first appeared in the Forverts on May 9, 1897. The transliterated text that follows is taken from the compendium “Mir Trogn a Gezang” compiled by Eleanor Gordon Mlotek. The English version is by Gus Tyler.

Shmilik Gavrilik

Shmilik, Gavrilik, khaveyrimlekh tsvey

Shpiln zikh beyde, keyn glaykhn tsu zey

In ferdlekh mit shverdlekh, in zamd un in erd —

Shmilik der shmayser, Gavrilik der ferd.

Shmilik, Gavrilik,. zey vaksn gikh oys

Kumt zey in zinen: Amerika iz groys

Gekumen tsu shvimen tsu der goldener erd —

Shmilik der shmayser, Gavrilik der ferd.

Shmilik, Gavrilik, in goldenem land

Shmilik a bos, Gavrilik zayn hant

Shmilik in himl, Gavrilik in d’rerd —

Shmilik der shmayser, Gavrilik der ferd.

Shmilik, Gavrilik, keyn fraynd shoyn nit mer

Shmilik a “landlord,” a yakhsn iz er

Gavrilik, zayn shokhn, in “beysment,” in d’rerd

Shmilik blaybt shmayser, Gavrilik blaybt ferd.

English Version

Shmilik, Gavrilik, two childhood good friends were they

They used to play games in their own most inimitable way

A game in the sand about riders and horses they played

With Shmilik the rider and Gavrilik the horse that obeyed.

Shmilik, Gavrilik, they swiftly to manhood did grow

They want to leave home and unto America to go

To do so, an ocean they both had to cross over, of course

But in the new land our Shmilik was rider, Gavrilik the horse.

Shmilik, Gavrilik, at home in the richest of lands

Shmilik’s a boss and Gavrilik’s just one of his hands

Shmilik’s in heaven, Gavrilik’s in Hades, of course

For Shmilik’s the rider, you guessed it, and Gavrilik’s the horse.

Shmilik, Gavrilik, good friends the two are no more

Shmilik’s a landlord so rich that he can’t keep the score

Gavrilik, his tenant, he puts in a basement most coarse

For Shmilik’s the rider, Gavrilik still is the horse.

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