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DER YIDDISH-VINKL January 31, 2003

In the edition of the Forverts on the occasion of the New Year of 2003, the “Pearls of Yiddish Poetry” page ran four poems by four famous Jewish poets: Morris Rosenfeld, Abraham Liesen, Avrom Reisen and David Einhorn. What follows is an excerpt from an Einhorn poem, transliterated by Gus Tyler with a free verse translation by Joe Hitov of Sarasota, Fla.

In Der Nakht Fun Nay Yor

Vos iz di freyd!

Vos roysht di shtot fun vaytn

S’iz halbe nakht un nay-yor vert gefayert,

Men hot di eybikayt tzemolt oyf kleyne tsaytn.

Un yedes taylkhele betzaykhnt mit a numer,

Un yeder numer vert bagrist.

Un yeder alter oysgekert in mist.

Alts vos men hot durkhn yor gegloybt,

Gehoft, geton, gekholmt, un geloybt,

Alts vos me hot gezogt, gehert,

Iz, kentik , gor nisht vert.

Oy, got tsu dank, der alter yor farshvindt-

Men iz gevorn elter mit a yor.

S’hot der shney sheyn tzugedekt di hor,

Es kumt ober a nayer itst , a kind,

Un vet dos alte onheybn fun s’nay.

Nu, shlogt di tatzn, blost in di trompeytn!

Gist on di bekher un lesht di likht oys!

Es iz di lvaye fun a yor a toytn

Un der geburtstog fun a nayem yor.

New Year’s Eve

What is the joy?

What is the source of the noise stemming from deep in the city?

It’s midnight, and the New Year is being celebrated,

Eternity has been ground up into teeny units of time.

And each one assigned a number.

And every new number is acclaimed.

And every old one is tossed out with the garbage.

Everything during the year that was believed

Hoped for, accomplished, dreamed of and praised,

All that was said and heard,

Is apparently worthless.

Oh, thank God, the old year disappears —

Everyone has grown one year older

The snow has already bedecked the hair.

Now, however, a new one arrives, a baby.

And the aging process will begin anew.

So, clang the cymbals, blow the trumpets!

Fill the goblets, and extinguish the candles!

It is the funeral of a year that has died

And the birthday of a new year.

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