Der Kremer

Part of a 25-stanza poem by Abraham Liessin (1872-1938); music attributed to Pinchos Jassinowsky

[See lecture: Kings and Queens

Zitst zikh a kremer in kreml,

A shopkeeper sits in his shop,

Der hundertster kremer in gas,

The hundredth one on the block,

Er zitst un er trakht fun a koyne,

 He sits and dreams of a customer,

In droysn iz fintster un nas.

 Outside it's dark and wet.



Es vayzn zikh zeltn di koynim,

 He hardly ever has any customers,

Er zitst un er shoydert far kelt,

 He sits and shudders from cold,

Un genetst un kholemt khaloymes,

 He yawns and daydreams,

Un trakht zikh mekoyekh der velt.

 And thinks about the world.



O, volt ikh gehat nor dem koyekh!

 O, if only I had the power!

Di erd voltn sonim gekayt,

 My enemies would eat dirt,

Un take a melukhe geshafn,

 And I would establish a kingdom

Un take fun undzere layt!

 Of our people!



A yidishe melukhe, raboysay,

 A Jewish kingdom, people,

Tsi kent ir dos gruntik farshteyn?

 Do you realize what that means?

Dos heyst dokh a melukhe fun geoynim,

 That means a kingdom of geniuses,

A melukhe fun mlokhim aleyn.

 A kingdom of kings.



Nor plutzling bavayzt zikh a koyne,

 But suddenly a customer appears,

Azoy vi an arbes di groys,

 As big as a bean,

Un bet far a kopike hering

 And asks for a penny's worth of herring

Un shlogt im fun dimyen aroys.

 And shakes him from his dreams.



Derzeen dos fun vaytn dem pidyen

 Seeing the paying customer from afar,

Di hunderter kremer fun gas,

 The hundreds of shopkeepers on the block

Zey fresn im oyf mit di oygn,

 Devour him with their eyes,

Mit oygn fun kine un has.

 Eyes full of envy and hate.