Texts & Translation

צוויי לידער

Two Poems

Miryam Ulinover

Translation by Mindy Liberman


Miryam Hir­sh­beyn (1888÷18901944) was born into an obser­vant, mid­dle class fam­i­ly in Łódź, Poland. Sholem Ale­ichem encour­aged her to write when vis­it­ing Lodz in 1905. In 1912 she mar­ried Volf Uli­nover, a mer­chant from a Hasidic fam­i­ly; they had two daugh­ters. She wrote first in Pol­ish, Ger­man and Russ­ian but even­tu­al­ly only in Yid­dish, pub­lish­ing in Yid­dish news­pa­pers and jour­nals from 1915 on. She pub­lished a book of poet­ry, Der bobes oytser (Grand­moth­er’s Trea­sure,) edit­ed by poet and crit­ic Dovid Frish­man in 1922. It was well received, but it remained her only pub­lished book. Sev­er­al of her poems were includ­ed in Ezra Korman’s anthol­o­gy Yidishe dikhterins (Yid­dish Women Poets) Chica­go, 1928. Five hand­writ­ten poems were found in the War­saw Ghet­to Ringel­blum Archives. They are includ­ed in Poet­ry in Hell: Yid­dish Poet­ry in the Ringel­blum Archives, trans­la­tions by Sarah Trais­ter Moskovitz. She had appar­ent­ly sent them to Itsik Manger at Haynt, a War­saw dai­ly, where some were accept­ed for pub­li­ca­tion. Uli­nover men­tored younger poets, host­ing a lit­er­ary cir­cle in her home. She and her fam­i­ly were interned in the Łódź ghet­to in Feb­ru­ary 1940. She con­tin­ued to hold the lit­er­ary evenings until deport­ed and mur­dered in Auschwitz, August 1944. It was thought she had man­u­scripts with her, but none were found. Der bobes oytser was reprint­ed in Jerusalem, 1975, edit­ed by Dov Sadan. with Hebrew trans­la­tions by Yehoshua Tan Pai, A com­plete col­lec­tion of her poems appeared as Un Bon­jour du Pays Natal, edit­ed and with a schol­ar­ly intro­duc­tion by Natalia Kryn­ic­ka, with French trans­la­tions by Batia Baum, Paris, Bib­lio­thèque Medem, 2003. Her work is dis­cussed in A Ques­tion of Tra­di­tion by Kathryn Heller­stein, Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2014.

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אַ שבת־גרױל

שטום געלעגן איז אַ מידער
שבת־פֿרידן אומעטום,
אין דער לופֿט אַ שבת־ניגון
איז געגאַנגען ציטריק אום.
פּלוצלינג בלאָזט אַ װינט אַ קאַלטער,
ס׳װאַקסט אַ יאָמער, גרויס, אַלץ גרעסער;
ס׳האָט אַ ייִד געקױלעט ס׳װײַבל
מיט דעם שבת־מוציא־מעסער!...

A Sabbath Horror

Silent and peaceful everywhere
Lay a weary Sabbath calm,
In the air, vibrating gently
Came a tender Sabbath song.
But suddenly a cold wind blows
A loud lament swells up and grows:
Someone has killed his little wife
Using the challah-blessing-knife!...

צו מאָרגנס

און שבת צו מאָרגנס װערט ליכטיק און שײן,
קאָנסט װוּנדער פֿון טײַטש־חומש הערן און זען,
װען פֿון באָבעס װערט בײַ אונדז אַרומגערעדט,
װי די מאַמע שׂרה לאַכט זיך אױס אין בעט
אין איר שענסטן קאָפּטוך, גליקלעך, שטאָלץ ביז גאָר,
אַז מלאָכים־צוזאָג איז געװאָרן װאָר...
און פֿון גאָלד׳נעם מיזרח שטראָמט אַ זיסער דופֿט,
און דאָס סעדל באָדט זיך אין באר־שבֿע־לופֿט,
און די הימלען שמײכלען נסימדיק און בלאָ:
אין די באָבע־יאָרן ג׳האַט אַ זונעניו !

In the Morning

And Sabbath morning dawns under sunlit skies,
Wonders of the Bible dance before our eyes,
When we gossip about grandmothers we knew,
How Mother Sarah, her best scarf on her head,
Proud as she could be, the angels’ words came true,
Laughed with merriment right out loud in her bed . . .
And from the golden east wafts a sweet perfume,
And the Be’er Sheva winds bathe the orchard blooms.
And the blue skies smile, such miracles, such joy:
In her grandmother years, a small baby boy!

Miryam Ulinover. “Two Poems.” In geveb, June 2020: Trans. Mindy Liberman. https://ingeveb.org/texts-and-translations/two-poems-ulinover.
Miryam Ulinover. “Two Poems.” Translated by Mindy Liberman. In geveb (June 2020): Accessed Feb 20, 2024.


Miryam Ulinover


Mindy Liberman

Mindy Liberman is the translator of Falik and His House, a novella by Jacob Dinezon, published by Jewish Storyteller Press in 2022. She has translated articles and other material relating to Dinezon, as well as poems by Miriam Ulinover. Mindy grew up in Montreal and was a librarian at the Glendale (California) Public Library for many years.