1. Rashel Veprinski – Piously

ראַשעל וועפּרינסקי - פֿרום

 Frum – audio

English follows Yiddish.

ראַשעל וועפּרינסקי (1896—1981)
איז געבוירן געוואָרן אין שטעטל איוואַנקאָוו, נישט ווײַט פֿון קיִעוו, אוקראַיִנע. זי האָט עמיגרירט קיין ניו־יאָרק אין 1907 און צו דרײַצן יאָר איז זי שוין געגאַנגען אַרבעטן אין אַ שאַפּ. צו פֿופֿצן יאָר האָט זי אָנגעהויבן שרײַבן פּאָעזיע און האָט דעביוטירט אין 1918 אין דעם זשורנאַל די נײַע וועלט. זי האָט אָנגעשריבן עטלעכע ביכלעך פּאָעזיע: רוף פֿון פֿויגל, 1926, די פּאַליטרע, 1964, צום איינציקן שטערן, 1971 א”אַנד ווי אויך אַן אויטאָביאָגראַפֿישן ראָמאַן, דערציילונגען, און אַרטיקלען און האָט זיך אָפֿט געדרוקט אין ייִדישע צײַטשריפֿטן. פֿון 1920 ביז זײַן טויט אין 1953 איז זי געווען די לעבנס־באַגלייטערין פֿון דעם פּאָעט מאַני לייב.

ווי דאָס ערשטע ליד האָב איך אויסגעקליבן ראַשעל וועפּרינסקיס “פֿרום” ווײַל דער בלאָג נעמט זײַן נאָמען לידערליכט פֿון דער לעצטער שורה פֿון דעם ליד.

פֿרום
ראַשעל וועפּרינסקי

פֿרום האָט מײַן מאַמע געבענטשט אירע ליכט,
איך — צינד די קנויטן פֿון לידער —
די וויִעס באַשירעמט, ס’ליכטיקן פֿינגער,
ליפּן אין פאָרכטיקייט ציטערן ווידער:

פֿאַר פֿרייד און פֿאַר צער,
פֿאַר דעם שׂכל באַיאָרט,
גיב מיר גאָט פֿון דײַן מויל
אין מײַן מויל דאָס וואָרט.

דאָס וואָרט וואָס האָט נאָך ניט געצוויט,
וואָס שלאָפֿט אינעם שטיין, אינעם שטויב אין דער נידער,
וועק עס אויף, לאָז עס אויפֿבליִען פֿריש ווי אין בייט,
אין דער שורה־שניט פֿון מײַנע לידער.

און דעם ווינד־און־וויי, און צער פֿון דער וועלט,
שטעל איך פֿאַר דיר, פֿאַר דײַן אָנגעזיכט —
פֿרום ווי מײַן מאַמע די וואַקסענע קנויטן,
צינד איך מײַנע לידערליכט.
די פּאַליטרע, 1964

Frum

Frum hot mayn mame gebentsht ire likht,
Ikh – tsind di knoytn fun lider –
Di vies bashiremt, s’likhtikn finger,
Lipn in forkhtikayt tsitern vider:

Far freyd un far tsar,
Far dem seykhl bayort,
Gib mir Got fun dayn moyl
In mayn moyl dos vort.

Dos vort vos hot nokh nit getsvit,
Vos shloft inem shteyn, inem shtoyb in der nider,
Vek es uf, loz es ufblien frish vi in beyt,
In der shure-shnit fun mayne lider.

Un dem vind-un-vey, un tsar fun der velt,
Shtel ikh far dir, far dayn ongezikht –
Frum vi mayne mame di vaksene knoytn,
Tsind ikh mayne liderlikht.
Di palitre, 1964

Rashel Veprinski (1896-1981) was born in the town of Ivankov, not far from Kiev, in Ukraine. She came to New York in 1907, and at thirteen she went to work in a shop. At fifteen, she began writing poetry, and was first published in 1918 in the journal Di naye velt (The New World). She wrote several books of poetry, among them Ruf fun foygl (The Call of the bird), 1926, Di Palitre (The palette), 1964, Tsum eyntsikn shtern (To the single star), 1971 as well as an autobiographical novel , short stories, and articles and was published regularly in Yiddish periodicals. From the 1920s until his death in 1953, she lived with the famous Yiddish writer Mani Leyb.

For the first post I have chosen Rashel Veprinski’s poem “Frum” (Piously) because the blog gets it name Candles of Song from the last line of that poem.

Piously

Piously my mother blessed her candles,
I – light the wicks of songs –
Eyelashes covered, fingers grow luminous,
Lips once again trembling in awe.

For joy and for sorrow,
For aging wit.
God, put the word of your mouth
Into mine.

The word not yet bloomed,
That sleeps in the stone, in the dust down below,
Wake it up, let it blossom forth anew
As if in the flowerbed,
In the line-harvest of my poems.

And the pain and the woe, and the grief of the world,
I put before you, in your presence –
Piously as my mother the waxen wicks,
I light my candles of song.
Di palitre (The palette), Israel, 1964
Tr. Sheva Zucker

4 thoughts on “1. Rashel Veprinski – Piously

  1. a prakhtful lid fun a poet vos is mir nit bakant. Ikh dank dir zeyer Sheva far dem yidishn original un far dayn gerotene iberzetsung un biografishe bamerkung vegn Rashel Viprinski. Ikh gloib az dayn naye unterneming vet mit hatzlokhe oisgefirt vern..

  2. Pingback: Sheva Zucker: Candles of Song

  3. Dear Sheva,
    What a rich and deep and interesting poem, thank you so very much for bringing it to us.

    It made me think of two things:

    1. When she asks God to give her His Word, from his mouth to hers, it is a very effective and beautiful allusion to Jeremiah 1:9 : “Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said unto me: Behold, I have put My words in thy mouth…”, and perhaps also to Isaiah 6:6: “Then flew unto me one of the seraphim, with a glowing stone in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar; and he touched my mouth with it, and said: Lo this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin expiated. And I heard the voice of the Lord saying: Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then I said: ‘Here am I; send me”.
    It seems to me to equate her, the poet, with the two great prophets, in the sense of having a very grave mission and responsibility, carrying the Word of God, and in the sense of being in a very close and intimate touch with God (His “angezicht”, which I did not find in the dictionary, only found “gezicht” as “countenance”, and I’m curious what that “an” is doing there, besides the rhythmic function… By the way, the presence of God brings to mind yet another great prophet: Moses, who was the only one to be so close to God’s “gezicht”, and who spoke to God face to face). I hope and expect to read more of her poems to see if she really actualized this promise, the prophetic mission, which must bring to the people not only flowery words but also hard truths; and to see the blossoming of her words (how beautiful the analogy of poem-lines and garden-bed lines.)

    2. When she talks of her poems as not yet in full blossom, still asleep in the stone (like the form of a statue before the sculptor chips away the stone around it, which makes her an Artist, not just a prophet) and still in the dust, it brought to my mind immediately a poem I love very much by the Russian poet Marina Tzvetayva, where she too talks about her poems as not yet “in full bloom”, also lying in the dust. Being from the Ukraine, I’m almost sure Veprinski read Tzvetayva, who was only 4 years older than her, and to me, at least, this is almost a response, a very Jewish response, to Tzvetayva’s poem about her budding poetry.
    I’m enclosing the poem below, with a better translation than I could make, which I found on the Internet, with just a few slight changes I made, since I do read Russian, to make it more literally precise (because it shows another parallel between the poems: Veprinski talks of her poems dealing with joy and grief, and Tzvetayeva talks about hers dealing with youth and death).The relevant lines are in red.
    I hope you like the poem and agree with me that it might have some relevance. If not, please don’t hesitate to debate it with me.
    Thank you so much,
    Naomi

    Marina Tsvetaeva, 1913)

    My poems, written so early
    That I didn’t even know I was a poet,
    Which flew off, like drops from a fountain,
    Like sparks from the plume of a rocket,

    Which burst, like tiny devils,
    Into a sanctuary of frankincense and sleep,
    My poems, of youth and death,
    —My poems, still unread!—

    Scattered in the dust in bookstores,
    (Where no one’s bought them, no one buys),
    My poems, like casks of precious vintage,
    Will have their day at last.

    * * *

    Моим стихам, написанным так рано,
    Что и не знала я, что я – поэт,
    Сорвавшимся, как брызги из фонтана,
    Как искры из ракет,

    Ворвавшимся, как маленькие черти,
    В святилище, где сон и фимиам,
    Моим стихам о юности и смерти,
    - Нечитанным стихам! -

    Разбросанным в пыли по магазинам
    (Где их никто не брал и не берет!),
    Моим стихам, как драгоценным винам,
    Настанет свой черед.

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