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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Af a shteyndl (Yiddish version of the Russian folksong Я на камушке сижу aka Ya na kamushke sizhu)

I heard this song in Yiddish on Charles Goldszlagier's online radio station Yiddish pour tous and immediately recognized it as a close translation of the famous Я на камушке сижу - here's a recording of the Russian folksong sung by Сергей Лемешев (Sergei Lemeshov):


The song I heard on the Yiddish radio station was sung by the magnificent Netania Davrath and it's available on her cd Netania Davrath Sings Russian, Yiddish & Israeli Folk Songs.

Davrath was born in Russia in 1931 and moved to Israel with her family in 1948. Her voice has been described as "tender, strong, nasal, arch, shy, abandoned, free from vibrato, pure and clean and distinctly un-operatic." She died in 1987.

So here's her recording of this Russian folksong translated into Yiddish as Af a shteyndl (or Af a shteindel as it is on the cd)




Words and translation of the Russian and the Yiddish into English after the jump

Here's the Yiddish as Sheva Zucker and I heard it (we had to fudge a bit, if you can hear better than we did please be in touch):

1. Af a shteyndl zits ikh mir un a hekl halt ikh mir
2. S'iz a hak in hand bay mir shnits a shtek in a tsam far dir
3. Un a gortn flants ikh, mit a flor farzets ikh
4. Ver es hobn nit farflantstn kroyt: iz mayn gortn fartik greyt
5. Mit a shpan iz kum arayn lomir beyde gertners zayn
6. Same as verse 4

And the translation of that would be:
I sit on a stone and hold an axe
It's an axe in my hand, I whittle a stick into a fence for you
And I plant a garden, I plant it with a flower
Whoever hasn't planted cabbage: my garden is ready
Come in with a bucket, let's both be gardeners

Here's the Russian as I learned it in the USSR in 1972:

Я на камушке сижу,
Я топор в руках держу
Аи, ли, аи, люди,
Я топор в руках держу

Я топор в руках держу.
Вот я колышки тешу.
Аи, ли, аи, люди,
Вот я колышки тешу.

Вот я колышки тешу,
Изгород горожу,
Аи, ли, аи, люли,
Изгород горожу.

Изгород горожу,
Я капусту сажу,
Аи, ли, аи, люли,
Я капусту сажу,

Я капусту сажу
Да все беленькую
Аи, ли, аи, люли,
Да все беленькую

Да все беленькую,
Я кочаненькую,
Аи, ли, аи, люли,
Я кочаненькую.

У кого нету капусты,
Прошу к нам в огород.
Аи, ли, аи, люли,
Прошу к нам в огород.

Прошу к нам в огород,
Во девичий хоровод.
Аи, ли, аи, люли,
Во девичий хоровод.

A translation of the Russian might be:
I sit on a stone, I hold an axe in my hand.
I hold an axe in my hand, I let the wood chips fly (I whittle pegs?)
The wood ships fly, a garden fence
A garden fence, I plant cabbage
I plant cabbage, it's all white
It's all white, little heads of cabbage
And whoever doesn't have cabbage, come to our garden
Come to our garden, into the girls' dancing circle

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