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Recovering Yiddish Culture in Los Angeles

Caroline Luce, Author

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Lune Mattes: On the Street Corner (1922)

Oyfn rog gas - On the Street Corner (1922)
As appears in ed. Amelia Glaser and David Weintraub, Proletpen
Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2005, p. 52-53.
Translated by Amelia Glaser

A beggar on the corner is blind and bent over:
a foygl* with smiling-summoning eyes.
He flaps his wings of poverty
and depravity.
And sealed into a quiet corner,
a poor boy with twitching shoulder
shivers from cold, from hunger and pain,
and over them
sacred cupolas sing out in their bell-voices
"Ding-dong, ding-dong."
Contented kneelers
and God up a praise song.

אויִגן ראָג גאַס

,אַ בעטלער אויִגן ראָג אַ בלינדער אײגעבויִגן
און אַ "פֿויִגל" מיט שמײכלענדע־רופֿענדע אויִגן
פֿאָכעט מיט פֿליגלען פֿון אָרימקײט
.און זנית
און אין אַ װינקעל שטיל פֿאַררוקט
,אַן אָרים־קינד מיט די אַקסלען צוקט
.ציטערט פֿון קעלט פֿון הונגער און פֿון װעה
און איבער זײ
קופֿאָלען הײליגע רופֿען מיט זײער גלאָקען־שטים
"קלינג־קלאַנג, קלינג קלאַנג"
,און צופֿרידענע קניהען
.שיקען צו גאָט אַ לויִב־געזאַנג

*Foygl: bird in Yiddish; in addition, this word has the connotation of a pretty, or weak, fellow. It is sometimes used as a derogatory term for a homosexual.
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