Di Dray Neytorins

The Three Seamstresses
דרײַ נײטאָרינס

Words by Y. L. Peretz (1852-1915); music by M. Shneyer (1885-1942). Published by M. Kipnis in 1918. The composer’s name was kindly furnished by musicologists lssachar Fater and Meir Noy, Tel Aviv.

Illustration of musical notes from the books


Their eyes red, their lips blue,
not a drop of blood in their cheeks,
pale foreheads, covered with sweat,
their breath irregular and hot —
three girls are sitting and sewing.

The needle gleams, the linen like snow,
and one of them thinks, “I sew and sew!
I sew by day, I sew by night,
I haven’t sewn my wedding dress,
what’s the point of my sewing?

I do not sleep and do not eat…
if I give to Meyer Bal-Nes*,
maybe he will trouble himself for me;
Even a widower for a groom, an old man
with a lot of children!”

The second one thinks: “I sew and stitch
and all my stitching amounts to are grey braids!
My head burns, my temples are pounding,
and the machine bangs to the rhythm:
Ta-ta, ta-ta, ta-ta.

I understand that man’s wink.
Without a wedding, without a ring,
it would be a game, a dance,
a love affair for one whole year!
And after that? Then what?”

The third one coughs up blood and sings:
“I am sewing myself sick, I’m sewing myself blind!
A twinge in my chest with every stitch —
And he got married this week!
I wish him no harm.

So, (I’ll be) forgotten more and more
The Jewish community will provide me with a shroud
and a tiny bit of earth
where I will rest undisturbed.
I will finally sleep, sleep!”

*A charity named after an early sage, said to work miracles.

Di oygn royt, di lipn blo,
Keyn tropn blut in bak nishto,
Der shtern bias, badekt mit shveys,
Der otem opgehakt un heys —
Es zitsn dray meydlekh un neyen!

Di nodl — blank, di layvnt — shney,
Un eyne trakht: ikh ney un ney!
Ikh ney bay tog, ikh ney bay nakht,
Keyn khupe-kleyd zikh nisht gemakht!
Vos kumt aroys az ikh ney?

Nit ikh shlof un nit ikh es. . .
Ikh volt gegebn oyf Meyer Bal-Nes,
Efsher volt er zikh gemit;
An almen khotsh, an alter yid,
Mit kinderlekh a shok!

Di tsveyte trakht: ikh ney un shtep
Un shtep mir oys nor groye tsep!
Der kop — er brent, di shleyf, zi hakt
Un di mashin — klapt tsu tsum takt:
— Ta-ta, ta-ta, ta-ta!

Ikh farshtey dokh yenems vink,
On a khupe, on a ring,
Volt geven a shpil, a tants,
A libe oyf a yor a gants!
Nor dernokh, dernokh?

Di drite shpayt mit biut un zingt:
— lkh ney mikh krank, ikh ney mir blind!
Es tsvikt di brust bay yedn shtokh —
Un er hot khasene di vokh!
Ikh vintsh im nisht keyn shlekhts!

Et, fargesn vos a mol!
Takhrikhim vet mir gebn kool,
Oykh a kleyntshik pitsl erd,
Ikh vel ruen umgeshtert,
Ikh vel shlofn, shlofn!

די אױגן רױט, די ליפּן בלאָ,
קײן טראָפּן בלוט אין באַק נישטאָ,
דער שטערן בלאַס, באַדעקט מיט שװײס,
דער אָטעם אָפּגעהאַקט און הײס —
עס זיצן דרײַ מײדלעך און נײען!

די נאָדל — בלאַנק, די לײַװנט — שנײ,
און אײנע טראַכט: איך נײ און נײ!
איך נײ בײַ טאָג, איך נײ בײַ נאַכט,
קײן חופּה־קלײד זיך נישט געמאַכט!
װאָס קומט אַרױס אַז איך נײ?

ניט איך שלאָף און ניט איך עס. . .
איך װאָלט געגעבן אױף מאיר בעל־נס
אפֿשר װאָלט ער זיך געמיט:
אַן אַלמן כאָטש, אַן אַלטער ייִד,
מיט קינדערלעך אַ שאָק!

די צװײטע טראַכט: איך נײ און שטעפּ
און שטעפּ מיר אױס נאָר גרױע צעפּ!
דער קאָפּ — ער ברענט, די שלײף — זי האַקט
און די מאַשין — קלאַפּט צו צום טאַקט:
— טאַ־טאַ, טאַ־טאַ, טאַ־טאַ!

איך פֿאַרשטײ דאָך יענעמס װינק,
אָן אַ חופּה אָן אַ רינג,
װאָלט געװען אַ שפּיל, אַ טאַנץ,
אַ ליבע אױף אַ יאָר אַ גאַנץ!
נאָר דערנאָך, דערנאָך?

די דריטע שפּײַט מיט בלוט און זינגט:
— איך נײ מיך קראַנק, איך נײ מיך בלינד!
עס צװיקט די ברוסט בײַ יעדן שטאָך —
און ער האָט חתונה די װאָך!
איך װינטש אים נישט קײן שלעכטס!

עט, פֿאַרגעסן װאָס אַ מאָל. . .
תּכריכים װעט מיר געבן קהל,
אױך אַ קלײנטשיק פּיצל ערד,
איך װעל רוען אומגעשטערט,
איך װעל שלאָפֿן, שלאָפֿן!

Song Title: Di Dray Neytorins

Composer: Moyshe Shneour
Composer’s Yiddish Name: משה שניאַר
Lyricist: Yitskhok Leybush Peretz
Lyricist’s Yiddish Name: יצחק לײבוש פּרץ
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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