Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Dos pastukhl (The Shepherd Song) from Avrom Goldfadn's Bar Kokhba

Somebody was listening to Dem Bekers Laydn, a parody written to the melody of this song, and they wrote me asking for the original song. It is not the (much more famous) folk song Iz geven a mol a pastukhl.

I couldn't find it anywhere (maybe it's hiding under a strange spelling) so I did my own today.

As Shalom Goldman said, this is all five books of the Pentateuch mapped out onto five short verses. It's also a reflection of romantic Zionism. Abraham Goldfaden wrote Bar Kochba, about the early hero whose rebellion failed, following Russian pogroms in 1881.

The first verse and chorus in the video are a sample of transliteration of the period. The rhymes were a challenge, because they do not rhyme in klal Yiddish and in fact I suspect them of being inconsistent in any dialect.


Text and translation after the jump.




A pastukhl iz geven a mol in dem land Kenaan
Shof un rinder on a tsol flegt zayn handl zayn
Az er iz raykh gevorn hot er gehandlt korn
Un hot zayn gelt farlorn, s’iz im gegangen shlekht
Abi keyn broyt tsu betn flegt er tsigl knetn
Gemoyert hayzer, kleytn, gearbet far a knekht

Yo, s’iz sheyn, yo mole kheyn, dertseyl un her nit of
Yo, s’iz zis, yo, gornit mies, dertseyl undz biz in sof

Reb Moyshe geyt durkh umgerikht un hot im bald derkent
Yenkele, dos bistu, a knekht? Brekht er mit di hent.
Hobn aza tatn, der raykhster fun magnatn,
Un zayn azoy fun vaytn, zolst gor knetn leym?
Dayn tatns lender flisn fun milkh un honig zisn,
Un du zolst nit genisn? Oh, kum tsu im aheym!

A simen az du megst gloybn mir, di tsen verter leyen
Vos dayn tate shraybt tsu dir mit zayn hand aleyn!
Di verter zolstu gloybn, un in hartsn zi farklaybn,
Kedey zolst kenen lebn in der groyser velt!
Un mit a fayerdikn vogn iber viste yamim geyogn
Hot er ir gebrakht tsutrogn in zayn tatns getselt.

Az a pastukhl a yold heybt on tsu geyn nit shlekht
Hot er zikh fargesn bald az er iz geven a knekht
Kohanim koyln lemer, vayn gist men mit emer
Un leviim mit klezmer, tantsn arum im
Raykh iz men – a meylekh! Lebn lebt men freylekh!
Hot er fargesn pamelekh zayn tatn Eloykim

Do hot zikh zayn tate shtark tsehitst fun kas tsehakt di vent!
Im fun zayn stot aroysgeshmitst un zayn hoyz farbrent!
Im aroysgetribn, fremde zaynen farblibn
Un hot zey firgeshribn, im farfolgn gor on tsol
Derfar zet men im haynt yogn tsu zayn tatn veynen un klogn
Er zol im shoyn mer nit shlogn, im shenken nokh hayntiks mol!

There was a shepherd once in the land of Canaan
He worked with lots of sheep and cows
When he got rich, he dealt in grain
And he lost his money, things went badly for him.
So as not to beg for his bread, he molded bricks
Built houses, shops, worked as a slave.

Yes, it's pretty, it's charming, tell it, don't stop
Yes, it's sweet, it's not ugly, tell it to the end.

Reb Moses came through unexpectedly and quickly recognized him
"Yankl, is that you, a slave?!" He wrung his hands.
"With a father like yours, the richest of magnates,
And being from so far away, now you have to mold clay?!
"Your Father's lands flow milk and sweet honey,
And you don't get to enjoy it? Oh, come home to him!"

A sign that you can believe me: read the Ten Commandments
That your Father wrote for you with his own hand!
You should believe in the Commandments and keep them in your heart,
So that you'll know how to live in the great world.
And with a fiery wagon rushing over desolate oceans
Moses brought him back to his Father's tent.

As things started to go better for this shepherd, this chump,
He soon forgot he had been a slave.
The priests killed lambs, pails full of wine flowed,
And the priests and the musicians danced around him.
He's rich, a king! He lives happily!
So, slowly, he forgets his father, God.

So here his father gets very heated up and breaks the wall into tiny pieces.
He smites the shepherd out of his city and burns his house!
He drives him out, strangers remain.
He tells them to obey him without limit.
Therefore, today you see him rushing to his Father, crying and lamenting,
That He should not beat him, he should forgive him still these days.

For sheet music and/or performances contact me: jane@mappamundi.com

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