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פעלד־מעסטען | Feldmesten | Measuring of the Graves, a prayer-poem by Morris Rosenfeld (before 1898)


Source (Yiddish)1898 Transliteration, Leo Wiener (Romanization)1898 Translation, Leo Wiener (English)1914 Rhyming Translation, Rose P. Stokes & Helena Frank (English)
The Measuring of the Graves
Measuring of the Graves
פאָראויס געהט דיא אַלטע מינע
און פון הינטען פּעסיע־צווייטעל,
מינע וויינט און זאָגט דיא תחינה,
און דיא צווייטע לייגט דעם קנייטעל.
Seht — varaus die alte Mine
Un’ vun hinten Peßje⸗Zweetel!
Mine wēint un’ sāgt die Tchine,
Un’ die Zwēite lēgt dem Knoetel.
See! In front is old Minneh
and behind Pessyeh-Tsvaitle!
Minneh weeps and says her prayer,
while the other lays the yarn.
First old Minna, bent and lowly,
Eyes with weeping nearly blind;
Pessyeh-Tsvaitel, slowly, slowly,
With the yarn creeps on behind.
און עס קייקלען זיך דיא טרעהרען
שטיל און װאַרעם אויף דער תחינה;—
כליפּענדיג, נאָר קוים צו הערען,
זאָגט פערקלעהמט דיא אַלטע מינע:
Un’ es keiklen sich die Trähren
Still un’ warem auf der Tchine: —
Chlipendig, nor kaum zu hören,
Sāgt varklemmt die alte Mine:
And the tears roll,
silent and hot, on the prayerbook;
sobbing, but scarcely audible,
old Minneh says, with oppressed heart:
On the holy book of Minna
Fall the tear-drops—scarce a word
(For the heart is moved within her)
Of her praying can be heard.
„שטארקער האַרר פון אַלע וועלטען!
איך דיין דיענסטמאָיד, שװואַך און אָרעם,
מעסט דיא רוהיגע געצעלטען,
דיא צדיקים’ס שטילע קברים.
„Starker Harr vun alle Welten!
Ich, dein Dienstmoid, shwach un’ ārem,
Mest’ die ruhige Gezelten,
Die Zadikim’s stille Kworim.
“Strong Lord of all the worlds!
I, thy handmaid, weak and poor,
measure the quiet abodes,
the still graves of the just.
“Mighty Lord, whose sovereign pleasure
Made all worlds and men of dust,
I, Thy humble handmaid, measure,
God, the dwellings of the just.
„אלע בּערגעלאַך דיא שטומע
מעסט איך, גוטער גאָטט, אַצינדער,
וואו עס רוהען דיינע פרומע,
דיינע הייסגעליעבּטע קינדער,
„Alle Bergelach die stumme
Mest’ ich, guter Gott, azünder,
Wu es ruhen deine Frumme,
Deine hēißgeliebte Kinder,
“All silent mounds
I now measure, good God,
where there rest thy pious,
thy warmly beloved children,
“Speechless here the ground they cumber,
Where the pious, gracious God,
Where Thy heart’s beloved slumber
Underneath the quiet sod.
„וועלכע זינגען דאָרטען שירה
פּאַר דיין שטוהל אין הויכען הימעל,
יעדער איינער פון זיין דירה
דורך זיין אייבּיג זיסען דרימעל.
„Welche singen dorten schire
Var dein stuhl in hōchen Himmel,
Jeder Ēiner vun sein Dire,
Durch sein ēbig süßen Drimmel,
“Who sing the Hymns
before thy throne in the high heaven,
each one from his habitation,
through his eternal, sweet dream.
“They who sing in jubilation.
Lord, before Thy holy seat.
Each one from his habitation,
Through the dream for ever sweet.
„און פון דעם געלייגטען קנייטעל
ועט מיט פורכמיגקייט און מורא
מאַכען ליכט דיין פּעסיע־צווייטעל,
אום צו לערנען, גאָטט, דיין תורה,
„Un’ vun dem gelēgten Knoetel
Wet mit Forchtigfeit un’ Mōre
Machen Licht dein Peßje⸗Zweetel,
Um zu lernen, Gott, dein Tōre,
“And with this measured yarn
thy Pessyeh-Tsvaitle will make candles
in awe and fear, in order,
O God, to study thy Law by it,
“From the yarn with which I measure,
Pessyeh-Tsvaitel, filled with awe,
Wicks will make, to search the treasure.
Nightly, of Thy holy Law.
„אום צו בּעטען דיך מחילה,
אַז דו זאָלסט שוין פּאָרט דערהערען
יעקב’ס אמת’דיגע תפילה
און דערזעהן ישראל’ס טרעהרען !“….
„Um zu beten dich Mechile,
Dās du sollst schōn fort derhören
Jajnkew’s emesdige Tfile
Un’ dersehn Jisrojel’s Trähren!“ . . .
“And to ask thy forgiveness,
that thou mayest, at last, hear
Jacob’s fervent prayer,
and accept the tears of Israel.”
Praying still, by faith sustained:
‘Thou with whom the holy dwell,
Scorn not Jacob’s prayer unfeigned,
Mark the tears of Israel!'”

This is the poem “פעלד־מעסטען” by Morris Rosenfeld (1862-1923) written sometime before 1898. (If you know the date of the earliest publication of this poem, please leave a comment or contact us.) We have transcribed the poem as it was published in Rosenfeld’s collection of poems Gezamelṭe lieder (1906) pp. 135-136. The poem was romanized and translated into English by Leo Wiener and published under the title, “Feldmesten (The Measuring of the Graves)” in Songs from the Ghetto (1898), pp. 46-49. A rhyming translation by Rose Pastor Stokes & Helena Frank under the title, “Measuring of the Graves” was published in Songs of Labor and Other Poems (1914), pp. 70-71. I have set these all side-by-side for the first time ever. –Aharon Varady










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