Shvartse Karshelekh

Black Cherries
שװאַרצע קאַרשעלעך

Folk song, parts of which were published by Y.L. Cahan in 1912; a similar version was published by Mikhl Gelbart in 1938. The stanza about black cherries was traced to the 16th century by the folklorist Y.L. Cahan. It is also part of a children’s song that was once a love song: “Kumt der liber zumer shpiln mir in zamd” (When summer comes, we play in the sand).


From David Forman, English translator:

Vurke = Warka. A small town in East-Central Poland
Shilets. Several places in Poland have this name (now typically spelled Solec), including a village in the same region as Vurke.

Illustration of musical notes from the books


Black cherries are picked
and the green ones left alone
Pretty girls are taken
and the ugly ones let go.

Oh, woe is me,
and my few years full of woe
I had a love
for all of three or four years.

What use are the polka and mazurka to me
when I don’t dance those dances,
What use to me is the girl from Vurke,
when she does not love me?

What use is the new waltz to me
when I don’t dance to it,
What use to me is the girl from Shilets,
when she does not love me?

Shvartse karshelekh rayst men,
Un grine lozt men shteyn;
Sheyne meydelekh nemt men
Un miese lozt men geyn.

Oy, vey iz tsu mir,
Un vey tsu mayne por yor,
A libe hob ikh gefirt
Felike dray fertl yor.

Vos toyg mir di polke mazurke,
Az tantsn tants ikh zi nit,
Vos toyg mir dos meydele fun vurke
Az libn libt zi mikh nit.

Vos toyg mir der nayer valets
Az tantsn tants ikh im nisht,
Vos toyg mir dos meydele fun shilets,
Az libn libt zi mikh nisht.

שװאַרצע קאַרשעלעך רײַסט מען,
און גרינע לאָזט מען שטײן;
שײנע מײדעלעך נעמט מען
און מיאוסע לאַזט מען גײן.

אױ, װײ איז צו מיר,
און װײ צו מײַנע פּאָר יאָר,
אַ ליבע האָב איך געפֿירט
פֿעליקע דרײַ פֿערטל יאָר.

װאָס טויג מיר די פּאָלקע מאַזורקע,
אַז טאַנצן טאַנץ איך זיך ניט,
װאָס טויג מיר דאָס מײדעלע פֿון װוּרקע
אז ליבן ליבט זי מיך ניט.

װאָס טױג מיר דער נײַער װאַלעץ,
אַז טאַנצן טאַנץ איך אים נישט,
װאָס טויג מיר דאָס מײדעלע פֿון שילעץ,
אַז ליבן ליבט זי מיך נישט.

Song Title: Shvartse Karshelekh

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