Der Kranker Shnayder

The Sick Tailor
דער קראַנקער שנײַדער

Words by playwright and ethnographer Sh. Ansky, pen name of S. Rapoport (1863-1920), author of the famous Yiddish play The Dybbuk. The melody published here has been sung by Nekhama Lipshutz, Ben Bonus and Emil Gorovets. It was transcribed from Gorovets’ recording.

Illustration of musical notes from the books


The room is small, the room is old
in every corner, garbage and filth.
It’s dark, lonely and cold
a sick tailor sits and sews.

The tailor sews
the needle moves
his head whirls,
his hardship is great.
There is no bread, no bread at all.

His face is yellow, despondent, preoccupied,
the needle bobs up and down, day and night.
From time to time, a hacking cough
stops his hand, tears at his breast.

The room is lonely and empty.
From the cradle — a sigh, from the bed — a cough.
A small lamp burns weakly.
A thin rain beats on the roof.

“Tailor, what are you doing on this earth?”
“I am alive…” A horrible chill
seizes one’s heart. Damned poverty!
If this is living, then what is death?

Di shtub iz kleyn, di shtub iz alt,
In yedn vinkl mist un koyt.
S’iz fintster, umetik un kalt,
A kranker shnayder zitst un neyt.

Der shnayder neyt,
Di nodl geyt,
Der moyekh dreyt,
S’iz groys di noyt,
Nito, keyn broyt, nito, nito keyn broyt.

Dos ponim gel, fartsogt, fartrakht,
Di nodl rudert tog un nakht,
Fun tsayt tsu tsayt a puster hust
Halt oyf di hant, rayst oyf di brust.

In shtub iz umetik un pust,
Fun vig a zifts, fun bet a hust.
A kleyner lempl brent zikh shvakh,
A drobner regn klapt in dakh.

— Vos tustu, shnayder, oyf der velt?
— Ikh leb… — A shoyderlekhe kelt
Nemt on baym harts, farflukhte noyt!
Az dos heyst lebn, vos iz toyt?!

די שטוב איז קלײן, די שטוב איז אַלט
אין יעדן װינקל מיסט און קױט.
ס’איז פֿינצטער, אומעטיק און קאַלט,
אַ קראַנקער שנײַדער זיצט און נײט.

דער שנײַדער נײט,
די נאָדל גײט,
דער מוח דרײט,
ס’איז גרױס די נױט,
ניטאָ, ניטאָ קײן ברױט, ניטאָ, ניטאָ קײן ברױט.

דאָס פּנים געל, פֿאַרצאָגט, פֿאַרטראַכט,
די נאָדל רודערט טאָג און נאַכט,
פֿון צײַט צו צײַט אַ פּוסטער הוסט
האַלט אױף די האַנט, רײַסט אױף די ברוסט.

אין שטוב איז אומעטיק און פּוסט,
פֿון װיג אַ זיפֿץ, פֿון בעט אַ הוסט,
אַ קלײנער לעמפּל ברענט זיך שװאַך,
אַ דראָבנער רעגן קלאַפּט אין דאַך.

— װאָס טוסטו, שנײַדער, אױף דער װעלט?
— איך לעב. . . — אַ שױדערלעכע קעלט
נעמט אָן בײַם האַרץ, פֿאַרפֿלוכטע נױט!
אַז דאָס הײסט לעבן, װאָס איז טױט?!

Song Title: Der Kranker Shnayder

Composer: Unknown
Composer’s Yiddish Name: Unknown
Lyricist: Sh. Ansky
Lyricist’s Yiddish Name: ש. אַנסקי
Time Period: Unspecified

This Song is Part of a Collection

Pearls of Yiddish Song Cover with Illustration of musicians playing instruments

Pearls of Yiddish Song

First published in 1988 as Pearls of Yiddish Song: Favorite Folk, Art and Theatre Songs, this anthology contains 115 songs. Some material had never been published, while others, included in rare song collections or sheet music, were largely inaccessible. The songs presented reflect Jewish life in Eastern Europe and the United States and depict childhood, love, family celebrations, poverty, work and struggle. There are also songs from the Hasidic and Maskilic movements, songs of Zion and of America, as well as songs from the Yiddish theater.

The title of this anthology derives from the weekly two-page feature column “Pearls of Yiddish Poetry,” which the compilers Yosl and Chana Mlotek initiated in 1970 in the Yiddish newspaper Der Forvertz (the Yiddish Daily Forward). Hundreds of readers from around the world — including authors, composers, singers, actors — became co-participants in this collective folk project and recalled melodies, lines, fragments, stanzas and their variants of songs, poems, and plays which they had heard in their youth. At first, readers sent in only written material. Later, they also taped songs on cassettes, many of whose melodies had, until then, never been recorded. They also identified and supplied missing information regarding lyricists, poets, and composers and described the circumstances surrounding the songs’ origins, their dissemination, diffusion and impact.

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