Di Lena

The Lena
די לענא

Part of a poem about an exiled political prisoner in Siberia. Words by Abraham Liessin (1872-1938), music is based on a folk melody. The poem originally entitled “Oyfn vaytn tsofn” (In the Far North) was printed by Minsk in 1896.

Illustration of musical notes from the books


In the land where the Lena flows,
that cold and mighty river,
there stands a little yurt,
hidden amid the eternal snows.

It stands there like a toy before the storm,
lost in the middle of a field.
There, in its icy loneliness,
a sick, dying hero languishes.

On and on the winter goes, wildly,
the blind, roaring power;
Darkness in armor – it goes on and on,
the unhearing, eternal night.

In land, vu es kayklt zikh di lena,
In mekhtikn vaser, dem kaltn,
Dort shteyt zikh a kleyninke yurte,
In eybike shneyen bahaltn.

Zi shteyt dort a shpil farn shturem,
Farvalgert in mitn dem feld
Dort shmakht in zayn ayzikn elnt
Der kranker, der shtarbnder held.

Es tsit zikh tseyushet der vinter,
Di blinde, di brumende makht;
Es tsit zikh farpantsert der khoyshekh
Di toybe, di eybike nakht.

אין לאַנד, װוּ עס קײַקלט זיך די לענאַ
איר מעכטיקן װאַסער, דעם קאַלטן,
דאָרט שטײט זיך א קלײנינקע יורטע,
אין אײביקע שנײען באַהאַלטן.

זי שטײט דאָרט אַ שפּיל פֿאָרן שטורעם,
פֿאַרװואַלגערט אין מיטן דעם פֿעלד –
דאָרט שמאַכט אין זײן אײַזיקן עלנט
דער קראַנקער, דער שטאַרבנדער העלד.

עס ציט זיך צעיושעט דער װינטער,
די בלינדע, די ברומענדע מאַכט;
עס ציט זיך פֿאַרפֿאַנצערט דער חושך,
די טױבע, די אײביקע נאַכט.

Song Title: Di Lena

Composer: Unknown
Composer’s Yiddish Name: Unknown
Lyricist: Abraham Liessin
Lyricist’s Yiddish Name: אַבֿרהם ליעסין
Time Period: Unspecified

This Song is Part of a Collection

Songs of Generations: New Pearls of Yiddish Song

The Songs of Generations: New Pearls of Yiddish Song anthology comprises songs that were either never printed before or appeared in rare and inaccessible publications — sometimes in different versions and without proper sources. Most of the songs in this book were submitted by readers of Chana and Yosl’s column “Perl fun der yidisher poezye” (Pearls of Yiddish Poetry) in the Yiddish newspaper Der Forverts (The Forward), initiated in October, 1970. Over 25 years, thousands of songs were collected in correspondence and on cassettes from readers throughout the world, and they represent a veritable national Yiddish song archive. Chana Mlotek, in her introduction, writes, “In the course of years the inquiries, contributions and enthusiasm of these readers have kept our own interest unflagging and have reinforced our dedication to this effort. And in recent years our participants have also been augmented by new readers from the former Soviet Russia, who receive our newspaper there or from newly-arrived immigrants in this country and Israel.”

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