Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Ven men ruft dikh tsurik - Yiddish theater song, with subtitles

I've also seen the spelling Wen men rooft deer tzurik. David Meyerovitz wrote the words and music. This recording from 1918, sung by Morris Goldstein, was under the spelling Wen men rift dich zurik (click below to hear his rendition, with the lyrics and translation):


What is this life on earth and what is mankind's happiness
That everybody is terrified by the idea of going back.
Each wants to live another year, each wants to see tomorrow
You live out your days until you grow old
And then you begin to understand!

Oh, mankind, you are deceived, in vain you worry
In vain all your ceaseless running and flying
Your longing, your striving for happiness!
In vain your drudgery, your cleverness doesn't help either.
What good your earnings, you must lay them aside
As soon as you are called back!

The man sells his friends and his home, he abandons his wife and child
He grabs his pack and blindly runs off into the wide world
And there he does everything, he eats his own skin
And when he succeeds and becomes rich,
What does the world say after his death!

What is a person worth, then, with his earnings and luck?
Does he get more than a bit of earth when he is called back?
His riches stay behind and he goes, he must leave everything
He just gets a burial shroud and laid by his head a little sack of earth and that's all!
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