Thursday, November 20, 2008

For Your Reading Pleasure

A poem we read in Yiddish class - the translation is mine, so bear with me...

By the White Tables, by Mani Leib

By the white tables I sat for a long while,
And looked into eyes, and talked, talked,
And in those eyes I forgot myself,
Until the old waiter said into my ear,
With a good smile and with a soft voice,
Apologetically told me: It's late...

OK, bye!... Tomorrow I will return.
Streets. Night. A fog blew, blew.
Streets. And from out of the fog emerged
Eyes. Those eyes, light and teary,
And like moving, shining stars,
They accompanied me, insignificant me, homeward.

Manny Leib, born Manny Leib Branhinsky in 1883 in Nizhn, a small town not far from Kiev, arrived in America at the age of 22. He worked in shoe factories in New York, where he eventually contracted tuberculosis from their poor working conditions. Leib began his poetry career by translating Ukranian and Russian poetry into Yiddish for the Yiddish daily newspaper, the Forverts. He wrote poetry for adults and also for children, and is known for having brought a formal complexity to Yiddish poetry, consisting of tight rhymes and soft, polished sounds. He was a leader and founding member of the American Yiddish poetry group Di Yunge (the Young Ones). (The information above I mostly found at the NYBC website).

By the way, thanks for the teddy bears and well wishes. I am on the mend.

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