Interwar Yiddish poems by Reyzl Zykhlinsky
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Introduction

Zykhlinsky's lieder are delightfully sparse. They hang suspended and abstract like an overwhelming emotional impression from someone you can't quite recall. The intermediate German translations helped me bridge the gap and bring her words closer.

Autumn

English German Yiddish
The windowpanes are misted Die Scheiben sind beschlagen ื“ื™ ืฉื•ื™ื‘ืŸ ื–ืขื ืขืŸ ืคึฟืึทืจืœืึธืคึฟืŸ
from joy, or from sorrow? von Freude, oder von Trauer? ืคึฟื•ืŸ ืคึฟืจื™ื™ื“, ืึธื“ืขืจ ืคึฟื•ืŸ ื˜ืจื•ื™ืขืจ?
In morning haze the dogs make pairs, In morgendlichen Nebeln paaren sich Hunde, ืื™ืŸ ืคึฟืจื™ืžืึธืจื’ื ื“ื™ืงืข ื ืขืคึผืœืขืŸ ืคึผืึธืจืŸ ื–ื™ืš ื”ื™ื ื˜,
black with white, schwarz mit weis, ืฉื•ื•ืึทืจืฆืข ืžื™ื˜ ื•ื•ืฒึทืกืข,
white with black. weis mit schwarz. ื•ื•ืฒึทืกืข ืžื™ื˜ ืฉื•ื•ืึทืจืฆืข.
The pots of the last greens are bare Arm sind die Becher von den letzten Grรผnen ืึธืจืขื ื–ืขื ืขืŸ ื“ื™ ื‘ืขื›ืขืจืก ืคึฟื•ืŸ ื“ื™ ืœืขืฆื˜ืข ื‘ืœื•ืžืขืŸ
in my garden. in meinem Garten. ืื™ืŸ ืžืฒึทืŸ ื’ืึธืจื˜ืŸ.
Yet bees still come with golden backs Nur kommen Bienen mit goldenen Rรผcken ื ืึธืจ ืก'ืงื•ืžืขืŸ ื‘ื™ื ืขืŸ ืžื™ื˜ ื’ืึธืœื“ืขื ืข ืจื•ืงื ืก
and collide with each other, und stoรŸen sich, ืื•ืŸ ืฉื˜ื•ืคึผืŸ ื–ื™ืš,
collide. stoรŸen. ืฉื˜ื•ืคึผืŸ.
What does the cat with the green eyes want? Was will die Katze mit den grรผnen Augen? ื•ื•ืึธืก ื•ื•ื™ืœ ื“ืขืจ ืงืึธื˜ืขืจ ืžื™ื˜ ื“ื™ ื’ืจื™ื ืข ืื•ื™ื’ืŸ?
Whose secret does he keep Wessen Geheimnis hegt er ื•ื•ืขืžืขื ืก ืกื•ื“ ื”ื™ื˜ ืขืจ ืึธืคึผ
by our door? bei unserer Tรผr? ื‘ืฒึท ืื•ื ื“ื–ืขืจ ื˜ื™ืจ?
We look into each other's eyes, Wir kucken sich in beiden Augen, ืžื™ืจ ืงื•ืงืŸ ื–ื™ืš ืึธืŸ ื‘ื™ื™ื“ืข
deep and long. tief und lang. ื˜ื™ืฃ ืื•ืŸ ืœืึทื ื’.
Clouds over wells, Wolken รผber Brunnen, ื•ื•ืึธืœืงื ืก ืื™ื‘ืขืจ ื‘ืจื•ื ื™ืžืขืจ,
clouds. Wolken. ื•ื•ืึธืœืงื ืก.
And in the eveningโ€” Und abendsโ€” ืื•ืŸ ืคึฟืึทืจื ืึทื›ื˜โ€”
a wagon stands there, steht ein Wagen, ืฉื˜ื™ื™ื˜ ืึท ื•ื•ืึธื’ืŸ,
a horse stands there steht ein Pferd ืฉื˜ื™ื™ื˜ ืึท ืคึฟืขืจื“
in harness. im Geschirr. ืืฒึทื ื’ืขืฉืคึผืึทื ื˜.
Sunken in sun are the horse's forelegs, Versunken in Sonne sind des Pferdes VorderfรผรŸe, ืืฒึทื ื’ืขื˜ื•ื ืงื˜ ืื™ืŸ ื–ื•ืŸ ื–ืขื ืขืŸ ื“ืขื ืคึฟืขืจื“ืก ืคึฟืึธื“ืขืจืฉื˜ืข ืคึฟื™ืก,
half his belly ein halber Bauch ืึท ื”ืึทืœื‘ืขืจ ื‘ื•ื™ืš
and the bottom wheel of the wagon. und das untere Rad vom Wagen. ืื•ืŸ ื“ืึธืก ืื•ื ื˜ืขืจืฉื˜ืข ืจืึธื“ ืคึฟื•ืŸ ื•ื•ืึธื’ืŸ.
In a deserted alley, I take off my shoes Im leeren Durchgang mache ich meine Schuhe aus, ืื™ืŸ ืœื™ื™ื“ื™ืงืŸ ื’ืขืกืœ ื˜ื• ืื™ืš ืื•ื™ืก ืžืฒึทื ืข ืฉื™ืš
and take up the reins in my hand. und nehme die Zรผgel in meine Hand herein. ืื•ืŸ ื ืขื ื“ื™ ืœื™ื™ืฆืขืก ืื™ืŸ ื“ื™ ื”ืขื ื˜ ืึทืจืฒึทืŸ.

October

English German Yiddish
In October people speak In Oktober reden Menschen ืื™ืŸ ืึธืงื˜ืึธื‘ืขืจ ืจืขื“ืŸ ืžืขื ื˜ืฉืŸ
more quietly, and subdued. stiller und gedรคmpft. ืฉื˜ื™ืœืขืจ ืื•ืŸ ื’ืขืคึผืจืขืกื˜.
The water becomes heavier, Schwerer wird das Wasser, ืฉื•ื•ืขืจืขืจ ื•ื•ืขืจื˜ ื“ืึธืก ื•ื•ืึทืกืขืจ,
the vessel wider. breiter der Krug. ื‘ืจื™ื™ื˜ืขืจ ื•ื•ืขืจื˜ ื“ื™ ืงืจื•ื’.
From water springs shadows Aus Trinken sind Schatten ืขืก ื˜ืจื™ื ืงื˜ ื–ืฒึทืŸ ืฉืึธื˜ืŸ ืื•ื™ืก
over the old tree. รผber den alten Baum. ื“ืขืจ ืึทืœื˜ืขืจ ื‘ื•ื™ื.
The well schleps the deepest in Der Brunnen schleppt dem tiefsten ein ื“ืขืจ ื‘ืจื•ื ืขื ืฉืœืขืคึผื˜ ืื™ืŸ ื“ืขืจ ื˜ื™ืคึฟืขื ื™ืฉ
down under, herunter, ืึทืจืึธืคึผ,
me mich ืžื™ืš
and you, und dich, ืื•ืŸ ื“ื™ืš
a ripened dream. gereifter Traum. ืฆื™ื™ื˜ื™ืงืขืจ ื˜ืจื•ื™ื.

In the evening

English German Yiddish
In the evening every leaf wills Vornachts will jedes Blatt ืคึฟืึทืจื ืึทื›ื˜ ื•ื•ืึธืœื˜ ื™ืขื“ืขืจ ื‘ืœืึทื˜
to be a bird. ein Vogel sein. ื’ืขื•ื•ืึธืœื˜ ืึท ืคึฟื•ื™ื’ืœ ื–ืฒึทืŸ.
I go around with jug in hand Gehe ich herum mit einem Krug in der Hand ื’ื™ื™ ืื™ืš ืึทืจื•ื ืžื™ื˜ ืึท ืงืจื•ื’ ืื™ืŸ ื“ืขืจ ื”ืึทื ื˜
and bear their tears within. und tragen ihre Trรคnen ein. ืื•ืŸ ืงืœื•ื™ึทื‘ ื–ื™ื™ืขืจืข ื˜ืจืขืจืŸ ืึทืจืฒึทืŸ.
On the river the trees' shadows have already embraced, Am fluss haben Schatten von Bรคumen sich schon umarmt, ืื•ื™ืคึฟืŸ ื˜ืฒึทืš ื”ืึธื‘ืŸ ืฉืึธื˜ื ืก ืคึฟื•ืŸ ื‘ื™ื™ืžืขืจ ื–ื™ืš ืึทืจื•ืžื’ืขื ื•ืžืขืŸ ืฉื•ื™ืŸ
and brought their heads together at rest. und still die Kรถpfe zusammengebracht. ืื•ืŸ ืฉื˜ื™ืœ ืฆื•ื ื•ื™ืคึฟื’ืขืœื™ื™ื’ื˜ ื“ื™ ืงืขืคึผ.
Soon the hounds will shriek, and pierce the silence Bald werden die Hunde schreien, und das Schweigen abschneiden ื‘ืึทืœื“ ื•ื•ืขืœืŸ ื”ื™ื ื˜ ื–ื™ืš ืฆืขื‘ื™ืœืŸ ืื•ืŸ ืื•ื™ืคึฟืฉื ืฒึทื“ืŸ ื“ืึธืก ืฉื•ื•ืฒึทื’ืŸ
with long swords up to the heavens. mit langem Messer bis zum Himmel. ืžื™ื˜ ืœืึทื ื’ืข ืžืขืกืขืจ ื‘ื™ื– ืฆื•ื ื”ื™ืžืœ.
Soon the hounds will shriek soโ€” Bald werden die Hunde so schreienโ€” ื‘ืึทืœื“ ื•ื•ืขืœืŸ ื”ื™ื ื˜ ื–ื™ืš ืฆืขื‘ื™ืœืŸโ€”
the jug quivers in my hand. zittert der Krug in meine Hand. ืฆื™ื˜ืขืจื˜ ื“ืขืจ ืงืจื•ื’ ืื™ืŸ ืžืฒึทืŸ ื”ืึทื ื˜.

Bibliography

"Yiddish Dictionary Online." yiddishdictionaryonline.com

Zykhlinsky, Reyzl. "Autumn," "October," and "Dusk." Anthology of Yiddish Poetry of Poland between the two World Wars (1918โ€“1939). Translated by Miriam Leberstein (2010). www.yiddishpoetry.org