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DER YIDDISH-VINKL December 24, 2004

On the occasion of his 95th yahrzeit, the page of the Forverts devoted to Pearls of Yiddish Poetry dedicated its space to Khaim Alexandrov (1869-1909). He was famous for two of his poems: “Comrades in Arms” and “May Song.”

What follows are transliterations of both poems (songs) by Goldie A. Gold and English versions by Gus Tyler.

May Lid

Vemens shtimen her ikh klingen?

Naye lider zol men zingen!

Al dos beyze iz farbay

Mit dem vinter kaltn, langn

Raykh in farbn raykh in klangen

Kumt tsu geyn der ershter May!

Vemens shtimen her ikh klingen?

Fraye lider zol men zingen

S’nemt a sof di shklaferay

Loyz di klangen, loyz di keytn…

Hel baputst mit frishe kveytn

Kumt tsu geyn der ershter May!

Vemens shtimen her ikh klingen?

Hoykh un munter zol men zingen!

Zol zikh trogn frank un fray

Undzer lid in ale ekn

Tsu a nayem lebn vekn

Kumt tsu geyn der ershter May!

May Song

What’s the voice that I hear ringing?

Newer songs we should be singing

The cold and wind have gone away.

The winter’s over, now it’s gone

Spring is here, and we’re reborn

Hurrah, hurrah, it’s first of May

What’s the voice that I hear ringing?

Songs of freedom we’re now singing

Slavery has lost its sway

Release your voice, release your chains

Let’s celebrate, we’re rid of pains

Because this is the first of May.

What’s the voice that I hear ringing?

High and happy comes the singing.

Let it brighten up the day

Let it reach to every corner

Let it drive off every scorner

Today, all cheers, it’s first of May!

* * *|

Alexandrov’s most famous song is…

Khaveyrim in Kamf

O, brider, liber, mir hobn geshlosn

Oyf lebn un toyt a farband

Mir shteyen in shlakht vi genosn,

Di fone di royte in hant.

Un treft dikh a koyl, mayn getrayer

A koyl fun dem soyne, dem hunt,

Ikh trog dikh aroys bald fun fayer

Un heyl dikh mit kushn dayn vund

Un bistu gefaln a toyter

Di oygn di libe farmakht,

Ikh vikl dikh ayn in der fone der royter

Un fal in der blutiker shlakht.

Comrades in Arms

My comrade, we both have concluded

By life and by death a resolve

In which there’s firmly included

A pact that will never dissolve.

Should a bad bullet e’er hit you

An enemy’s bullet, that beast

I will then rush to your rescue

And turn your pain down to its least.

Should death then end your pains

The final word be said

We’ll wrap your last remains

Within our flag of red.

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