Oyfn Veg Shteyt A Boym

The Bent Tree
אױפֿן װעג שטײט אַ בױם

Text by ltsik Manger. (see note to Eynzam). Like many of the songs by Itsik Manger, this one is also based on Yiddish folk songs. Its opening phrase comes from a folk song expressing longing for Zion: “Oyfn veg shteyt a boym, shteyt er ayngeboygn / Fort a yid keyn erets-yisrol mit farveynte oygn” (On the wayside stands a bent tree; a Jew is leaving for the land of Israel with weeping eyes), as well as from a love song: “Dortn oyf a bergele shteyt nokh a beymele / Dos beymele iz shoyn lang ayngeboygn” (Over there, on a hill, stands a bent tree).

A century earlier, this same theme was also treated by the Yiddish folk poet S. Bernshteyn in his poem “Di Treyst” (published in 1880); “Um vinter, zet, vi dos beyml shteyt nebekh ayngeboygn / Ir vet es koym derkenen, feygelekh zaynen derfun avekgefloygn. / Vey iz mir, klogt es far dir, vuhin mayn griner shal? / Mayn zun, mayn glik, mayn sheyne muzik, mayn ziser nakhtigal!” (In winter see how the poor tree stands bent. . . the birds have flown away. “Woe is me,” it cries. “Where is my green shawl, my sun, my joy, my beautiful music, my sweet nightingale!”)

Illustration of musical notes from the books


By the wayside there stands a tree
it stands there bent over,
all the birds, from the tree
have scattered.

Three to the West, three to the East,
and the rest – to the South,
and the tree is left alone
abandoned before the storm.

I say to my mother: “Listen,
only don’t hinder me,
I will, Mother, just like that,
turn into a bird…

I will sit in the tree
and will rock it
through the winter, and comfort it,
with a lovely melody.”

Says Mother, “No, child,”
and she weeps tearfully,
“You will, heaven forbid, in that tree
become frozen (to my woe).”

I say, “Momma, it’s a shame
your lovely eyes,”
and before you know it,
I am a bird.

Cried Mother, “Itsik, my crown,
look, for God’s sake,
take a shawl with you,
you could still catch cold.

Put on your galoshes,
it’s a biting cold winter
and take your fur hat,
oh woe and wind is me!

And take your winter shirt, too,
put it on, you fool,
unless you want to be a guest
among all the dead people.”

I lift my wings, it’s too heavy for me,
too many, too many things
my mother put on me
her little bird, the weakling.

I look sadly at myself
in my mother’s eyes.
Her love did not allow
me to become a bird.

Oyfn veg shteyt a boym,
Shteyt er ayngeboygn,
Ale feygl funem boym
Zaynen zikh tsefloygn.

Dray keyn mayrev, dray keyn mizrekh,
Un der resht – keyn dorem,
Un dem boym gelozt aleyn
Hefker far dem shturem.

Zog ikh tsu der mamen: — her,
Zolst mir nor nit shtern,
Vel ikh, mame, eyns un tsvey
Bald a foygl vern. . .

lkh vel zitsn oyfn boym
Un vel im farvign
lbern vinter mit a treyst,
Mit a sheynem nign.

Zogt di mame: — nite, kind —
Un zi veynt mit trern —
Vest kholile oyfn boym
Mir farfroyrn vern.

Zog ikh: — mame, s’iz a shod
Dayne sheyne oygn,
Un eyder vos un eyder ven,
Bin ikh mir a foygl.

Veynt di mame: — ltsik, kroyn,
Ze, um gotes viln,
Nem zikh mit a shalikl,
Kenst zikh nokh farkiln.

Di kaloshn tu zikh on,
S’geyt a sharfer vinter
Un di kutshme nem oykh mit —
Vey iz mir un vind mir. . .

— Un dos vinter-laybl nem,
Tu es on, du shoyte,
Oyb du vilst nit zayn keyn gast
Tsvishn ale toyte. . .

Kh’heyb di fligl, s’iz mir shver,
Tsu fil, tsu fil zakhn,
Hot di mame ongeton
Ir feygele, dem shvakhn.

Kuk ikh troyerik mir arayn
In mayn mames oygn,
S’hot ir libshaft nit gelozt
Vern mir a foygl. . .

Oyfn veg shteyt a boym,
Shteyt er ayngeboygn,
Ale feygl funem boym
Zaynen zikh tsefloygn. . .

אױפֿן װעג שטײט אַ בױם,
שטײט עֶר אײַנגעבױגן,
אַלע פֿײגל פֿונעם בױם
זײַנען זיך צעפֿלױגן.

דרײַ קײן מערבֿ, דרײַ קײן מיזרח,
און דער רעשט — קײן דרום,
און דעם בױם געלאָזט אַלין
הפֿקר פֿאַר דעם שטורעם.

זאָג איך צו דער מאַמען: — הער,
זאָלסט מיר נאָר ניט שטערן,
װעל איך, מאַמע, אײנס און צװײ
באַלד אַ פֿױגל װערן. . .

איך װעל זיצן אױפֿן בױם
און װעל אים פאַרװיגן
איבערן װינטער מיט אַ טרײסט,
מיט אַ שײנעם ניגון.

זאָגט די מאַמע: — ניטע, קינד, —
און זי װײנט מיט טרערן —
— װעסט חלילה אױפֿן בױם
מיר פֿאַרפֿרױרן װערן.

זאָג איך: —- מאַמע, ס’איז אַ שאָד
דײַנע שײנע אױגן, —
און אײדער װאָס און אײדער װען,
בין איך מיר א פֿױגל.

װײנט די מאַמע: — איציק, קרױן,
זע, אום גאָטעם װילן,
נעם זיך מיט א שאַליקל,
קענסט זיך נאָך פֿאַרקילן.

— די קאַלאָשן טו זיך אָן,
ס’גײט אַ שאַרפֿער װינטער
און די קוטשמע נעם אױך מיט —
װײ איז מיר און װינד מיר. . .

— און דאָס װינטער-לײַבל נעם,
טו עס אָן, דו שוטה,
אױב דו װילסט ניט זײַן קײן גאַסט
צװישן אַלע טױיטע. . .

כ’הײב די פֿליגל, ס’איז מיר שװער,
צו פֿיל, צו פֿיל זאַכן
האָט די מאַמע אָנגעטאָן
איר פֿײגעלע, דעם שװאַכן.

קוק איך טרױעריק מיר אַרײַן
אין מײַן מאַמעם אױגן,
ס’האָט איר ליבשאַפֿט ניט געלאָזט
װערן מיר אַ פֿױגל. . .

אױפֿן װועג שטײט אַ בױם,
שטײט ער אײַנגעבױגן,
אַלע פֿײיגל פֿונעם בױם
זײַנען זיך צעפֿלױגן. . .

Song Title: Oyfn Veg Shteyt A Boym

Composer: Unknown
Composer’s Yiddish Name: Unknown
Lyricist: ltsik Manger
Lyricist’s Yiddish Name: איציק מאַנגער
Time Period:20th century

This Song is Part of a Collection

Mir Trogn Song Book Cover with Illustrations

Mir Trogn A Gezang: Favorite Yiddish Songs

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.

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