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DER YIDDISH-VINKL December 12, 2003

Most traditional Yiddish lullabies are intended to do much more than rock a child to sleep. As often as not, they are commentaries on the state of the world in which the child will someday find himself or herself. One such lullaby appears in Yosl and Chana Mlotek’s compilation, “Songs of Generations.” It is a folk-lullaby with no known author. The English version is by Gus Tyler.

Shlof Mayn Kind, Shlof Keseyder

Shlof, mayn kind, shlof keseyder

Zingen vel ikh dir a lid.

Az du, mayn kind, vest elter vern

Vestu visn an untershid.

Az du, mayn kind, vest elter vern,

Vestu vern mit laytn glaykh

Dermit vestu gevoyer vern

Vos heyst orem un vos heyst raykh.

Di tayerste palatsn, di tayerste hayzer

Dos alts makht der oreman

Nor, veystu, ver es tut in zey voynen?

Gornisht der, nor der raykher man.

Der oreman, er ligt in keler

Der vigotsh rint im fun di vent

Derfun bakumt er a rematn-feler

In di fis un in di hent.

Sleep My Child, Just Keep on Sleeping

Sleep, my child, just keep on sleeping

I will sing for you a song

When you, my child, are some years older

You’ll know what’s right and know what’s wrong.

When you, my child, are some years older

When you grow up you’ll know for sure

That not all folk are really equal

For some are rich and some are poor.

The greatest palace, finest homes

Are built by people who are poor.

But who resides beneath their domes?

Some wealthy, lazy, snooty boor!

The man who’s poor lives in a cellar

The water dripping from the wall

He ends up one rheumatic fella

All he can do is crawl and bawl.


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