A kalte nakht a nepldike finster umetum,
shteyt a yingele fartroyert un kukt zikh arum.
Fun regn shitst im nor a vant,
a koshikl halt er in hant,
un zayne oygn betn yedn shtum.
Ikh hob shoyn nit keyn koyekh mer
arumtsugeyn in gaz, hungerig un
opgerizn fun dem regn naz.
Ikh shlep arum zikh fun baginen,
keyner git nisht tsu fardinen,
ale lakhn, makhn fun mir shpaz.
Kupitye koyft she, koyft she papirosn,
trukene fun regn nisht fargozn.
Koyft she bilik benemones,
koyft un hot oyf mir rakhmones,
ratevet fun hunger mikh atsind..
Kupitye koyft she shvebelakh antikn,
dermit verd ir a yosiml derkvikn.
Umzizt mayn shrayen un mayn loyfn,
keyner vil bay mir nit koyfn,
oysgeyn vel ikh muzn vi a hunt.
Mayn tate in milkhome hot farloyrn zayne hent,
mayn mame hot di tsores mer oyshaltn nisht gekent.
Yung in keyver zi getribn,
bin ikh oyf der velt farblibn,
ungliklekh un elnt vi a shteyn.
Breklekh klayb ikh oyf tsum ezn
oyf dem kaltn mark,
a harte bank iz mayn geleger in dem kaltn park.
In dertsu di politziantn, shlog mikh shvern kantn,
z'helft nit mayn betn, mayn geveyn.
Ikh hob gehat a shvesterl, a kind fun der natur,
mit mir tsusamen zikh geshlept hot zi a gants yor.
Mit ir geven iz mir fil gringer, laykhter vern flegt
der hunger, ven ikh fleg a kuk ton nor oyf ir.
Mit amol gevorn iz zi shvakh un zeyer krank,
oyf mayne hent iz zi geshtorbn oyf a gazn-bank.
Un az ikh hob zi farloyrn, hob ikh alts ongevoyrn,
zol der toyt shoyn kumen oykh tsu mir.
A cold night, foggy, and darkness everywhere
A boy stands sadly and looks around.
Only a wall protects him from the rain
He holds a basket in his hand
and his eyes beg everyone silently:
I don't have any strength left to walk the streets
Hungry and ragged, wet from the rain,
I shlep around from dawn.
Nobody gives me any earnings,
everyone laughs and makes fun of me
Buy my cigarettes!
Dry ones, not wet from the rain
Buy real cheap,
Buy and have pity on me.
Save me from hunger now
Buy my matches, wonderful ones, the best,
and with that you will uplift an orphan.
My screaming and my running will be for naught.
Nobody wants to buy from me-
I will have to perish like a dog.
My father lost his hands in the war
My mother couldn't bear her troubles anymore
And was driven to her grave at a young age
I was left on this earth unhappy and alone like a stone
I gather crumbs to eat in the *c*old market
A hard bench in the cold park is my bed
and on top of that, the police
beat me with the edges of their swords and sticks
my pleas and my cries are of no use.
I had a little sister, a child of nature
Together we shlepped around for an entire year.
When with her, it was much easier for me.
My hunger would become lighter when I glanced at her
Suddenly she became weak and sick
died in my arms on a street bench
And when I lost her I lost everything
Let death come already for me, too.
Bulgarian folklorist Professor Nikolai Kaufman cites a Bulgarian song with the same melody as an example of songs sung to Romanian urban melodies and popularized in Bulgaria by the circus _kupletist_ [singer of (usually satirical) cabaret songs] Dzhib, whose real name was Iakob Goldshtain. "The melody," Professor Kaufman wrote, "like all his other melodies, came from Romania, his birthplace. He came to Bulgaria around 1919.... Dzhib sang all his songs to Romanian, or rather Romanian-Jewish melodies.... Yablokoff's song 'Papirosn' [written in Kovno in 1922, but not popularized by Yablokoff until some ten years later] probably had the same origin as Dzhib's songs---his own text set to a familiar Romanian-Jewish melody." (from Mendele archives, http://shakti.trincoll.edu/~mendele/files/vol07/vo l 07.008.txt
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Added June 29th, 1999