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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Tsores fun a vayb (Trouble with a wife) - in which we see it's better to be a boarder than a spouse. Also "Dos heylike zekele," the song it parodies.

Morris Rund, Yiddish songwriter of the early 20th century on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York CityAs you'll have noticed if you've been following along, Morris Rund was by livelihood a baker but by inclination a rhymester, a lyricist, a bard of New York. He wrote many songs about awful wives; I don't know if his wife was awful or if it's just that songs with that theme were popular with his audience.

Here's my recording of this curmudgeonly and rather daring song:

Rund was particularly obsessed with what the wives do when the husbands are off at work. To be fair, the whole idea of a single man living in very close quarters with one's wife, the two of them home alone while the husband's away ... it might make any husband jealous.

Today's song is both the longest and most explicit of the boarder songs and it brings to mind the dreadful hijinks and rampant romping celebrated in the fiction (and the real lives) of John Updike, Bernard Malamud, and other novelists of the mid-twentieth century.

I've been divorced a long time and this song makes me think perhaps a lonely life is better than the alternative. Rund set his cruel text to the melody of "Dos heylike zekele," which you can find on the Library of Congress Website spelled "Das Heilige Sekele," with words by Louis Gilrod, tune by Otto Motzan, "sung with great success by the universally known sweetheart Mr. S. Hart." (I don't know who that was.) It was a far more serious song!

If anybody wants a recording of this Dos zekele I'll make it, but basically we've seen its ilk many times before - Jews are persecuted, it's so bad one might consider converting, but no, one is faithful to God. Luckily, America is a safer place, but one's eventual goal must be Israel|Palestine|Zion|Tsiyen. See the transliteration below.

So, first, Tsores fun a vayb. The most interesting term in this song is psule|posule hoshana, misspelled, but Larry Gillig figured it out for me and wrote:
Posul is something that is unfit for ritual use. A hoshana is a bunch of five willow branches that is used in a ceremony on Hoshana Rabbah, the seventh day of Succos. The branches are banged on the floor. In order for the Hoshana to be kosher, or fit for use in the ritual, the willows need to be perfect, with no leaves missing or torn. Obviously once they are used they are posul. There is an expression (ikh fil zikh) "vi an oysgeklapte Hoshana" I feel (like a Hoshana that has already been banged on the floor), in other words, totally spent.
Itzik Gottesman added: "I would not rule out the idea that it is a phallic insult." Larry suggested "limp celery" as the translation. Where would I be without Facebook?

Ver iz umshtand nokh azoy fil oyshaltn tsores in der shtil
A tsore a vaybl hot mir Got bashert giftik iz zi vi a shlang
A pisk hot zi vi fayer brent beser volt ikh zi nit derkent
Zi iz a klipe arayn zol zi in drerd zi makht mikh shvakh un krank
A boarder farglust hot zikh mir in shtib
Yetst hert fun mayn vaybl a tayne
Zi shrayt nor gevald oy az zi hot im lib
Un ikh bin a psule hoshane
Koym zog ikh ir: Loz dem boarder geyn!
Krig ikh fun ir in tatn arayn
un tseshrayt zikh bald af di tseyn!

Avek fun mir di tsorele zayn zolstu a kaporele
Farloz mikh bald du alter shkrab du host dokh gor keyn verth
Ver darf dikh itst den hobn kenst geyn tsu alde klogn.
Loz mikh mit dem boarder do gey mayn man mit dem kop in dr'erd!

Farloz hob ikh mayn shlak mayn vayb
Tsuzamen mit dem border Layb
Gelozt hob ikh beyde in di rum aleyn
Un shlogt aykh kop in der vant
Gemoft hob ikh bald in lodzshi
Bay a mises vos zi tsolt mir nokh tsu
Mir felt dort keyn zakh nit dos dent ir farshteyn
Zi git mir not gelt in der hand
Zi shrayt az zi libt mikh zi halt es koym oys
Un ir man tut yetst veynen un klogn
Vi a lemekh dreyt er zikh arum in dem hoyz
Hot moyre a shlekht vart ir zogn
Koym redt er yo a mol ir a vort
Zolt ir nor zen vos es tut zikh dort
Mit der 'broom' traybt zi im zofort!

Fariber iz monatn fir
Kumt plutsim mayn vaybl tsu mir
Zi fangt on tsu betn mit yomer geveyn
Fartsayen zol ikh ir yetst
Di bist zogt zi mayn man gerekht
Af aza mapole hob ikh mikh nit gerekht
Der kolboynik der border hot mikh gelozt shteyn
Mayn 'jewelry' hot er farzetst
Yetst shver ikh mayn man shoyn tsu zayn a gut vayb
Gloyb mir ven nit zol Ikh brenen
Oysgerisn zol vern ot der border Layb
Ikh vil mer keyn borders nit kenen
Her zog ikh mayn vaybele yetst
Du bizt mir lib un tayer geshetst
Dokh brekh a fis ver tsu zetst!

Avek fun mir du tsorele zayn zolstu a kaporele
Farloz mikh bald oy du shtik shlak du host far mir keyn verth
Ver darf dikh itst den hobn gey un ver bagrobn.
Loz mikh mit der missus do gey mayn man mit dem kop in dr'erd!

Who else has to silently endure such a mess, such troubles?
God chose a real problem wife for me, she's poisonous as a
She's got a mouth on her! It burns like fire. It would have been better if
I'd never met her.
She's a harridan, may she go to hell, she makes me weak and sick.
I wanted us to have a boarder in the house.
Now I hear my wife's complaint:
She shouts that she loves him
And that I'm as worn out as... limp celery.
As soon as I tell her: let the boarder go!
I really catch it from her,
And she screams through her teeth!

Get away from me, my scourge, my albatross,
Leave me, and soon, you decrepit worthless old man!
Whoever wants you can have you. Get lost!
Leave me here with the boarder, and you, husband, go to hell!

I left my old bag of a wife with the boarder, Layb.
I lost both of them, and the room too!
Just beat your head against the wall.
I soon moved into lodgings
With a landlady who pays me!
I'm not lacking anything, you understand...
She gives me money, right in my hand.
She shouts that she loves me, she can hardly hold back,
And now her husband is crying and lamenting.
He drifts around the house like a milquetoast,
He's afraid to say a harsh word to her.
And if he does say something to her
You shouldn't even see what happens then,
She drives him out with the broom immediately!

Four months went by, suddenly my wife comes to me
Crying, she begins asking me to pardon her.
You were right, husband, she says.
I didn't expect such a downfall!
That rascal the boarder dumped me,
He pawned my jewelry.
Now I swear, husband, I'll be a good wife.
Believe me - if you don't, I'll burn.
May that boarder Layb be torn to bits!
I won't get friendly with any more boarders.
"Now, my little wife, listen," I say,
"You are beloved and dear to me,
So break a foot and burst!"

Get away from me, my scourge, my albatross,
Leave me, and soon, you old bag of a wife!
Whoever wants you can have you. Get lost!
Leave me here with the landlady, and you, wife, go to hell!

And now, Dos heylike zekele. It has some grammatical curiosities in it. Also an insistence on spelling palats as palast (it rhymes with more stuff that way). Best is calling Czar Nicholas a vampire.

Di groyse velt iz a palast, zi nemt af yedn vi es past
A yeder lebt zikh tsu fridn in ir nor nit der orimer yid
In der/dem velt-palast in dem
Hot yeder/yedes folk zayn eygene heym
Nor nit Yisrolik, er hot dort keyn plats
Mit im makht men an untersheyd
Es brekht yedes herts fun dem yidns geveyn
A heymele bet er a brekele
Me entfert, "Du kenst nor in palast arayngeyn
Aleyn on dayn yidishn pekele."
Dos yidele blaybt faryomert farklogt
Tsulib zayn natsion vert er geyogt
Dokh geyt er zikh vayter un trogt.

Dos heylike, oy, zekele! Dos yidishe, oy, pekele!
Di tfiln un dos talisl, dos toyrele in dem
Mit libe trogt dos yidele un zingt derbay dos lidele:
Far undz liber gotenyu, tsurik in Tsiyen in undzer heym

Der beyzer tsar, ot der vampir,
Er plogt dem yidn gor on shir
Er tsvingt im tsu lebn farengt un farshpart op gezindert aleyn
Dem yid iz handlen nit derloybt
Fun yedn rekht vert er baroybt
Me drikt im me shtikt im vayl er iz a yid
Es kumt oys tsum shmad nor tsu geyn
Dokh blaybt Yisrolik tsu zayn Got getray
Er hit op dos heylike zekele
Er git af rusland un af Fonye a shpay
Un trogt keyn Amerika dos pekele
Amerika shenkt im a vareme blik
Dokh hoft der yid fun danen mit glik
Tsu trogn keyn Tsiyen tsurik

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