In this folk song (textual variant published 1901 by S. Ginzburg and P. Marek, text and music published in 1925 by M. Kipnis, the troth that the girl pledges her sweetheart who is leaving for the army, has been variously rendered “before God and people,” and “by my shears and iron.”
From David Forman, the English translator: *The expression, sher un ayzn, “shears and iron” can mean rather literally, “the tools of the trade”. When it is said of a person or people it means something like, “Salt of the earth”. The working masses: Dependable, unpretentious and morally sound. As a vow, it might be equivalent to “on my honor as a reliable working person.”
Let us be lovers,
Let us be a destined match.
I swear, by my iron and shears*
that I will wait for you for two or three years.
Two or three years, I will wait for you,
even five years is worth it, too.
I will send money to you in your regiment
and toil on my own as a seamstress.
As a seamstress, I will toil
and live here in great poverty.
And when you return from military service, one day,
do not say I’m an old maid.
Lomir beyde a libe shpiln,
Lomir beyde zayn fun got a por.
Shvern, shver ikh dir bay sher un ayzn,
Az vartn vel ikh oyf dir tsvey-dray yor.
Tsvey-dray yor vel ikh oyf dir vartn,
Afile finf yor iz oykh keday.
Gelt in polk arayn vel ikh dir shikn
Un aleyn zikh mutshenen bay shnayderay.
Bay shnayderay vel ikh zikh mutshen
Un do lebn in groys noyt.
Un az du vest a mol fun sluzhbe kumen,
Zolstu nit zogn, kh’bin an alte moyd.
לאָמיר בײדע אַ ליבע שפּילן
לאָמיר בײדע זײַן פֿון גאָט אַ פּאָר.
שװערן, שװער איך דיר בײַ שער און אײַזן,
אַז װאַרטן װעל איך אױף דיר צװײ-דרײַ יאָר.
צװײ-דרײַ יאָר װעל איך אױף דיר װאַרטן,
אַפֿילו פֿינף יאָר איז אױך כּדאַי.
געלט אין פּאָלק אַרײַן װעל איך דיר שיקן
און אַלײן זיך מוטשען בײַ שנײַדערײַ.
בײַ שנײַדערײַ װעל איך זיך מוטשען
און דאָ לעבן אין גרױס נױט.
און אַז דו װעסט אַ מאָל פֿון סלוזשבע קומען,
זאָלסטו ניט זאָגן, כ’בין אַן אַלטע מױד.
Song Title: Lomir Beyde A Libe Shpiln
First published in 1972, Mir Trogn A Gezang: Favorite Yiddish Songs was reprinted six more times (in 1977, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 2000) due to popular demand. The songs in this anthology represent a sampling of beloved folk and well-known Yiddish songs, many of which are scattered in various song collections; some appear in very rare and inaccessible collections; and some were never before published. Folk songs comprise about a third of this volume and were selected mainly on the basis of popularity and sometimes for their historic significance. Needless to say, they are only representative of the vast, rich treasure of Yiddish folk material. The selection was made not only on the basis of personal preference, but in the knowledge they are favorites of many who sing these songs. Most of the songs represent the repertoire that was sung at Yiddish summer camps, May 1st demonstrations and at social gatherings. Many songs were introduced to American Jewry by Jewish immigrants who came to the United States after World War II, for whom these songs had been favorites in Poland and other East European communities destroyed by the Nazis.