Shlof, Mayn Kind, Shlof Keseyder

Sleep, My Child, Keep Sleeping
שלאָף מײַן קינד; שלאָף כּסדר

A folk lullaby that tells the child of the inequitable conditions that he will encounter in the world. The theme of the poor who build the palaces for the rich and are themselves forced to live in squalor and unhealthy surroundings recurs in the early protest songs of workers. The song was published by Y. L. Cahan in 1912.

Illustration of musical notes from the books


Sleep my child, keep sleeping,
and I will sing you a song;
When you get older, my child
you will know the difference.

When you get older, my child,
you’ll be as good as other people;
Then you’ll come to understand
what it means to be poor or rich.

The most expensive palaces, the most expensive houses,
are all made by the poor man;
But do you know who comes to live in them?
Not he, but the rich man.

The poor man lives in a cellar,
moisture seeps from the walls;
From that he gets rheumatic diseases
in his feet and hands.

Note: “mit laytn glaykh” is an idiom. Not “you’ll be like other people”, but just as good as them.

Shlof, mayn kind, shlof keseyder,
Zingen vel ikh dir a lid;
Az du, mayn kind, vest elter vern,
Vestu visn an untershid.

Az du, mayn kind, vest elter vern,
Vestu vern mit laytn glaykh;
Demlt vestu gevoyre vern,
Vos heyst orem un vos heyst raykh.

Di tayerste palatsn, di tayerste hayzer,
Dos alts makht der oreman;
Nor, veystu, ver es tut in zey voynen? —
Gornisht der, nor der raykher man.

Der oreman, er ligt in keler,
Der vilgotsh rint im fun di vent;
Derfun bakumt er a rematn-feler
In di fis un in di hent.

שלאָף מײַן קינד, שלאָף כּסדר,
זינגען װעל איך דיר אַ ליד;
אַז דו, מײַן קינד, װעסט עלטער װערן,
װעסטו װיסן אַן אונטערשיד.

אַז דו, מײַן קינד, װעסט עלטער װוערן,
װעסטו װערן מיט לײַטן גלײַך;
דעמלט װעסטו געװױרע* װערן
װאָס הײסט אָרעם און װאָס הײסט רײַך.

די טײַערסטע פּאַלאַצן, די טײַערסטע הײַזער,
דאָס אַלץ מאַכט דער אָרעמאָן;
נְאָר, װײסטו, װער עס טוט אין זײ װוינען? —
גאָרנישט דער, נאָר דער רײַכער מאַן.

דער אָרעמאַן, ער ליגט אין קעלער,
דער װילגאָטש רינט אים פֿון די װענט;
דערפֿון באַקומט ער אַ רעמאַטן-פֿעלער
אין די פֿיס און אין די הענט.

Song Title: Shlof, Mayn Kind, Shlof Keseyder

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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