Texts & Translation



Malka Lee

Translation by Maia Evrona


By pub­lish­ing this trans­la­tion, I feel that I am giv­ing some­thing of myself away as a writer. I read Mal­ka Lee’s poem Baley­dikt” ear­ly on in my Yid­dish edu­ca­tion, as it was often includ­ed in sam­ples of Yid­dish poet­ry writ­ten by women. I am still enam­ored of its imag­i­na­tive, ethe­re­al lyri­cism and con­cise nine-line form, made up of three triplets. All three stan­zas rhyme with one anoth­er and in the orig­i­nal Yid­dish, the poem has a par­tic­u­lar­ly love­ly, flow­ing musi­cal­i­ty, The music has proven quite dif­fi­cult to trans­fer into Eng­lish, and I’ve allowed myself more lib­er­ties than I often do in my trans­la­tion work. My Eng­lish ver­sion is not a lit­er­al trans­la­tion of the orig­i­nal poem.

I’ve sat on this trans­la­tion for many years, mak­ing the occa­sion­al edit here and there. Even as I haven’t pub­lished this Eng­lish ver­sion of Baley­dikt” how­ev­er, I have adopt­ed it as a mod­el, and have writ­ten or revised a num­ber of my own, orig­i­nal poems into its nine lines. I’ve found the form help­ful for dis­till­ing a poem down to its essence and though I aspire but have nev­er attained quite its lev­el of musi­cal­i­ty, I enjoy exper­i­ment­ing with what one can fit into nine lines, and how. —Maia Evrona 

Mal­ka Lee was born in 1904 in Gali­cia. She wrote her first poems in Ger­man, after spend­ing part of her child­hood in Vien­na, but switched to Yid­dish after arriv­ing in New York in 1921. She pub­lished six vol­umes of poet­ry, as well as a book of mem­oirs and sto­ries for chil­dren. She passed away in 1976.

Click here to down­load a PDF of this text and its translation.


דו האָסט זיך איבער מיר געבױגן —
סאַמעט־פֿליגל זײַנען אָנגעפֿלױגן,
געגלעט מײַן פּנים מיט װיִעס פֿון דײַנע אױגן…

האָבן װײַסע דעכער זיך געװיגט אין שטױבן,
הײַזער האָבן זיך אין װאַסערבערג געבױגן —
אונדז מיט זיך אַראָפּ, אַראָפּ געצױגן.

מײַן קאָפּ איז אױסגעבױגן װי צום שעכטן,
איך בין באַלײדיקט נאָך פֿון נעכטן,
און בעט אױף ס׳נײַ, מײַנע צעפּ צעפֿלעכטן…


You leaned your body over mine —
Suddenly velvet wings took flight,
Stroking my face with the lashes of your eyes. . .

White roofs swayed through waves of powder,
Houses rode through hills of water —
Drew us down, down with them together.

My head is bent as if to be slaughtered,
From last night I am still wounded,
And beg again, my braids untwisted. . .

Lee, Malka. “Wounded.” In geveb, May 2018: Trans. Maia Evrona. https://ingeveb.org/texts-and-translations/wounded.
Lee, Malka. “Wounded.” Translated by Maia Evrona. In geveb (May 2018): Accessed May 26, 2024.


Malka Lee


Maia Evrona

Maia Evrona is a poet and translator.