Yidl Mitn Fidl

Yidl with the Fiddle
ייִדל מיטן פֿידל

Words by Yiddish poet Itsik Manger (1901-1969); music by Abraham Ellstein (1907-1963) for the Yiddish film of the same name and starring Molly Picon. The refrain echoes the refrain of an older folksong “Tsen brider” (Ten brothers).

Illustration of musical notes from the books


Over fields, roads,
On a hay wagon,
In the sun and wind and rain,
Two musicians ride.

What a surprise! Tell me who they are?

Yidl with the fiddle,
Arye with the bass.
Life is a song, so why get angry?
Hey, Yidl, fiddle, shmiddle, hey, life is just a joke!

A goat stands in a meadow and bleats sadly. Meh!
To be sad is silly!
So he shakes his beard.
Indeed, it’s silly!

A bird flies: — Good morning to you!
To blaze with sadness and worry!
Laugh at the wind, Yidl, and ride on!

Iber felder, vegn,
Oyf a vogn hey,
Mit zun un vint un regn,
Forn klezmer tsvey.
A khidesh, oy, a khidesh,
Zogt, ver zaynen zey?

Yidl mitn fidl,
Arye mitn bas,
Dos lebn iz a lidl,
To vozhe zayn in kas?
Hey, Yidl, fidl, shmidl, hey,
Dos lebn iz a shpas!

A tsig shteyt oyf der lonke
Un meket troy’rik: me!
Hey, du tsig, du shoyte,
Troy’rik zayn iz fe!
Shoklt er dos berdl:
Take, take, fe!

A foygl flit: — gut-morgn,
Gut-morgn, a gut-yor!
Der troyer un di zorgn
Tsu alde shvartse yor!
Dem vint a lakh in ponem,
Un Yidl, Yidl, for!

איבער פֿעלדער, װעגן,
אױף אַ װאָגן הײ,
מיט זון און װינט און רעגן,
פֿאָרן כּלי־זמר צװײ.

אַ חידוש, אױ, אַ חידוש,
זאָגט, װער זײַנען זײ?

ייִדל מיטן פֿידל,
אַריה מיטן באַס,
דאָס לעבן איז אַ לידל,
טאָ װאָזשע זײַן אין כּעס?
הײ, ייִדל, פֿידל, שמידל, הײ,
דאָס לעבן איז אַ שפּאַס!

אַ ציג שטײט אױף דער לאָנקע
און מעקעט טרױ’ריק: מע!
הײ, דו ציג, דו שוטה,
טרױ’ריק זײַן איז פֿע!
שאָקלט ער דאָס בערדל:
טאַקע, טאַקע, פֿע!

אַ פֿױגל פֿליט: — גוט־מאָרגן,
גוט־מאָרגן, אַ גוט־יאָר!
דער טרױער און די זאָרגן
צו אַלדע שװאַרצע יאָר!
דעם װינט אַ לאַך אין פּנים,
און ייִדל, ייִדל, פֿאָר!

Song Title: Yidl Mitn Fidl

Composer: Abe Ellstein
Composer’s Yiddish Name: אײב עלשטײן
Lyricist: Itsik Manger
Lyricist’s Yiddish Name: איציק מאַנגער
Time Period: Unspecified

This Song is Part of a Collection

Pearls of Yiddish Song Cover with Illustration of musicians playing instruments

Pearls of Yiddish Song

First published in 1988 as Pearls of Yiddish Song: Favorite Folk, Art and Theatre Songs, this anthology contains 115 songs. Some material had never been published, while others, included in rare song collections or sheet music, were largely inaccessible. The songs presented reflect Jewish life in Eastern Europe and the United States and depict childhood, love, family celebrations, poverty, work and struggle. There are also songs from the Hasidic and Maskilic movements, songs of Zion and of America, as well as songs from the Yiddish theater.

The title of this anthology derives from the weekly two-page feature column “Pearls of Yiddish Poetry,” which the compilers Yosl and Chana Mlotek initiated in 1970 in the Yiddish newspaper Der Forvertz (the Yiddish Daily Forward). Hundreds of readers from around the world — including authors, composers, singers, actors — became co-participants in this collective folk project and recalled melodies, lines, fragments, stanzas and their variants of songs, poems, and plays which they had heard in their youth. At first, readers sent in only written material. Later, they also taped songs on cassettes, many of whose melodies had, until then, never been recorded. They also identified and supplied missing information regarding lyricists, poets, and composers and described the circumstances surrounding the songs’ origins, their dissemination, diffusion and impact.

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