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DER YIDDISH-VINKL January 24, 2003

Poverty! How does one sing a lullaby to an infant born in poverty, living in poverty and growing up in poverty? The answer, according to some Yiddish lullabies, is to enlist the powers of love. One such fireside song at dusk is “In an Orem Shtibele,” a work popular during the 1930s with words by Moyshe Korman (1884-1928) and music by Michl Gelbart (1889-1966). The full text with music appears in “Pearls of Yiddish Poetry, a compilation by Eleanor and Joseph Mlotek. The English version is by Gus Tyler.

In an Orem Shtibele

In an orem shtibele

Ovnt-tsayt baym koymen;

Shpint a libe muter

Far dem kind irs troymen;

Zingt zi im a lidele,

Patsht er mit di hentlekh;

Zingt dos gantse shtibele,

Zingen mit di ventlekh.


Patshe, patshe, kikhelekh,

Oytserl, mayn sheyner;

Tate’t koyfn shikhelekh

Zunele, mayn kleyner.

Tate’t koyfn sfikhelekh,

Mame’t shtrikn zeklekh;

Tate’t koyfn ferdelekh

Mame’t onton gleklekh.

Ot azoy in shtibele

Hersht i glik, i freydn,

Zayt bay zayt mit oremkayt

Voynt dort a gan-eydn.

Greser iz di libe dort,

Greser iber ales

Shtarker iz di libe dort

Shtarker fun dem dales.

In a Poor Little House

In a poor and tiny house

Evening at the fireside,

A mother spins her pretty dreams

It’s for her child, her love and pride.

She sings to him a little song

And he keeps time with clapping hand

The happy walls do sing along

Together they’re a happy band


So clap your hands and fill the air

Mama knits you socks, a pair

Papa’ll buy you shoes most fair,

My lovely child, without compare.

Papa’ll buy you shoes so fair

Mama’ll knit you socks, a pair

Your dad will buy a horse most rare

And I’ll add bells to give them flair.

And so ’twill be in our small house

Though we’re as poor as starving mice

Side by side with poverty

We make our private paradise

Greater is the love we share

Greater than all else you see.

With love there’s nothing does compare

For love can conquer poverty.

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