Eyder Ikh Leyg Zikh Shlofn

No Sooner Do I Lie Down to Sleep
אײדער איך לײג זיך שלאָפֿן

Lament of the seamstress published in 1912 by Y. L. Cahan. This is one of the workers’ folksongs that Cahan designated as part of the older folksong repertoire, in which the singer is an individual, rather than the collective “we” of later workers’ songs (see Cahan, Shtudyes).

Illustration of musical notes from the books


By the time I can lie down to sleep,
I have to get up, already,
with my sick bones
to go to work.

I will weep before God
with a great cry:
“Why was I born
to be a seamstress?”

I come to work late,
it’s a long way,
they dock my wages
for half a day.

Needles break,
fifteen a minute,
stabbing my fingers
until the blood runs from them.

I suffer from hunger, constantly,
I have nothing to eat.
When I ask for money,
they tell me to forget it.


Eyder ikh leyg zikh shlofn,
Darf ikh shoyn oyfshteyn,
Mit mayne kranke beyner
Tsu der arbet geyn.

Tsu got vel ikh veynen
Mit a groys geveyn:
Tsu vos ikh bin geboyrn
A neytorin tsu zayn

Kh’kum shpet tsu der arbet,
S’iz vayt der veg,
Shlogt men mir op
Far halbe teg.

Nodlen vern tsebrokhn
Fuftsn a minut,
Di finger vern tseshtokhn,
S’rint fun zey dos blut.

lkh layd shtendik hunger,
Kh’hob nisht vos tsu esn,
Vil ikh gelt betn,
Heyst men mir fargesn.

אײדער איך לײג זיך שלאָפֿן,
דאַרף איך שױן אױפֿשטײן,
מיט מײנע קראַנקע בײנער
צו דער אַרבעט גײן.

צו גאָט װעל איך װײנען
מיט אַ גרױס געװײן:
צו װאָס איך בין געבױרן
אַ נײטאָרין צו זײַן!

כיקום שפּעט צו דער אַרבעט,
סיאיז וײַט דער װעג,
שלאָגט מען מיר אָפֿ
פֿאַר האַלבע טעג.

נאָדלען װערן צעבראָכן
פֿופֿצן אַ מינוט,
די פֿינגער װערן צעשטאָכן,
ס׳רינט פֿון זײ דאָס בלוט.

איך לײַד שטענדיק הונגער,
כיהאָב נישט װאָס צו עסן,
װיל איך געלט בעטן,
הײסט מען מיר פֿאַרגעסן.

Song Title: Eyder Ikh Leyg Zikh Shlofn

Composer: Unknown
Composer’s Yiddish Name: Unknown
Lyricist: Unknown
Lyricist’s Yiddish Name: Unknown
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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