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On the occasion of the 65th yahrzeit of Baruch Charney Vladeck, the Forverts dedicated its page on “Pearls of Yiddish Poetry” to a sampling of his works. This may come as a surprise to some of our readers who recall Vladeck as the longtime manager of the Forverts, chairman of the Jewish Labor Committee, president of the American ORT, elected member of New York City’s Board of Aldermen and an inspired and inspiring orator in both English and Yiddish. A poet, too? Yes, as this brief sample proves.

The transliteration is by Goldie Gold; the English version is by Gus Tyler.

Ikh veys, mayn fraynd, es iz di sho nokh nit gekumen,

Un s’shpilt zikh nokh in veg der tsukunftiker held;

Un s’foyln nokh in dr’erd di kerner fun di blumen,

Vos veln zikh funanderblien in tsukunfts zunik feld;

Un dokh kh’ bin lang shoyn vakh un shtim on hoykh mayn lire

Un shmir mit fetn eyl mayn alt-farrostn shverd.

Vayl kh’veys az s’kreyet der hon shoyn bald zayn morgn-shire

A rozer onzog-nepl shpreyt zikh in der erd.

Ikh vil in nakht nit vartn oyf meshiakhs horn,

Ikh vil nit zayn dervakht fun tsayts farzhavert rut —

Ikh bin far hoykhe lider un far kamf geborn,

Un s’blezlt tomid heys mayn laydnshaftlikh blut.

Aay, shpint zikh, vebt zikh troymen, s’geyt a nayer morgn,

Ikh ze vi oyfn keyver fun di groe zorgn

Firt on di morgnzun a freylekh karahod.

Di shtime vos hot geredt tsu Moyshen un Sokratn

In vistenish baym barg un oyf di mark fun Aten,

Di shtime redt oykh tsu mir,

Un kh’ze di gantse velt un yede zakh bazunder

Un veys az alts iz klor oyb alts iz oykh a vunder,

Un — ofn yede tir.

Un tifer iz mayn vey, vayl vayter iz mayn rie,

Un s’ lokt mikh nit kayn kron, un s’shrekt mikh nit keyn tlie,

Vayl der vos hot geredt tsu Moyshen un Sokratn

Fun midber-himl hoykh un durkh gedikhte gratn

Di shtime ret oykh tsu mir.

I know, my friend, the blessed hour still is not present

The future hero still is on his way.

We know that in the earth are seeds of flowers pleasant

And they will bloom we know some sunny day.

But I am long awake and sing my songs poetic.

And with gentle oil I smear my rusty sword.

Yes, I do hear the rooster crow its song prophetic

As cross the earth the light of sun is poured.

I will not wait all night to hear Messiah’s horn

Or be awakened by some screechy voice in pain.

To sing my lofty songs and to battle I was born.

These are the things that occupy my heart and brain.

My dreams I spin and with them weave a new tomorrow

I see the day that on the grave of human sorrow

We will dance a dance that from the Gods we’ll borrow.

The voice that once did speak with Socrates and Moses

In ancient Athens or in Sinai’s lofty spires

That voice to me its sacred words discloses

The sacred words that all the world inspires.

I see the world at large and everything asunder

It’s all so very, very clear and yet a wonder.

Yes, deeper is my pain for greater is my vision.

No crown upon my head, and, too, no fear of prison.

Because the voice that Socrates and Moses heard

Came and shared with me its wise and worldly word.

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