Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
News

DER YIDDISH-VINKL February 21, 2003

It is not often that a poem written by an Indian from ancient India is translated into Yiddish and then further translated from the Yiddish into English. But here is an exception to the rule.

Rabindramath Tagore (1861-1941) wrote a poem titled “Why” in which he makes a frustrating psycho-philosophical observation. To be overly protective or overly expectant of anything, be it a light, a flower or a violin string, can destroy the thing we love. In common parlance, it is the danger that “mother love” may often turn out to be “smother love.”

“Mir Trogn a Gezang” appears in Joseph and Eleanor Gordon Mlotek’s compilation of Yiddish songs. This English version is by Gus Tyler.

Far Vos

Far vos iz dos likhtele farloshn?

Ikh hob es gehitn fun vint un fun shturem

Gevolt es zol brenen

Derfar iz dos likhtele farloshn.

Far vos iz dos blimele farvyanet?

Ikh hob es gehitn, tsum hartsn getulyet

Gevolt es zol blien —

Derfar iz dos blimele farvyanet.

Far vos iz di strune tserisn

Ikh hob zi getsoygn alts hekher un shtarker

Gevolt zi zol shpiln —

Derfar iz di strune tserisn.

Why

Now tell me why the light went out.

I shielded it from wind and storm

To keep it burning to the dawn.

And that is why the light went out.

Now tell me why this flower did fade

I held it tightly to my heart

Made sure that it would never part.

And that is why this flower did fade.

Why is it that this string is torn

I tightened it to make it loud

To make its voice sound strong and proud.

And that is why the string is torn.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.