Feld-mestn by Morris Rosenfeld
Updated: Dec 12, 2021
Yiddish Poet Morris Rosenfeld, best known for his poems describing the hardships of Jewish immigrants in the US, wrote the following poem about feldmestn, published in his ‘Gezamlte lider’ – ‘Collected poems’ – in New York in 1904. The original Yiddish can be found here https://www.yiddishbookcenter.org/collections/yiddish-books/spb-nybc211745?book-page=164&book-mode=1up
Forward goes old Mina,
And from behind, Fesye-Tsveytl
Mina cries and says the Tkhine*
And the other lays the kneytl.**
And the tears roll quietly down,
Soft and warm onto the Tkhine; –
Sobbing, but with scarce a sound
Utters, filled with grief, old Mina:
Powerful lord of all worlds! I,
Your weak, poor servant maid,
Measure where the wise ones lie,
In peaceful dwellings, quiet graves.
All the silent little mounds
I measure now, oh kind One,
Where are resting, true and sound,
Your fervently loved children.
Who sing hymns there, by your throne,
In the heavens vast and deep
Each one from their own abode
Through their sweet eternal sleep.
And from the wick which here I lay,
Will, full of dread and horror,
Make candles, God, your Fesye-Tsvey,
By which to teach, your Torah.
By which to beg you for forgiveness,
That you should, despite all, hear,
Jacob’s truthful prayer, and witness
Your people Israel’s tears.
*Tkhine - a Yiddish prayer, usually written for and read by women
**Kneytl - candle wick
Gezamlte lider fun Moris Rosenfeld, 1904 International Library Publishing Co., New York, 1904 pp. 135-136. Translation by Annabel Cohen, 2020.