On this page there are links to all the song settings. For each song there is the music, any links to performances, and the text in Yiddish, as well as a transliteration and translation. Unless stated the translations are mine.
Mayn Harts iz ful mit shrek
מײַן האַרץ איז פֿול מיט שרעק
My heart is full of dread
This is a song cycle of eleven songs composed during the lockdown in 2020 with texts from Gebirtig’s posthumous collection Mayn Fayfele.
Most of the poems, all of which were unpublished in Gebirtig’s lifetime, were probably written as he was recovering from heart trouble in 1907 or 1908, when he was around 30 years old.
The cycle can be performed as a whole or in parts.
The first song of the cycle shows the poet concluding his life was all a childish game.
Six weeks in bed and he feels like a rich child – but he needs to return to the dusty workshop.
The poet’s heart is full of dread – a small spot will become a cloud and then a storm.
The poet speaks to a old gravedigger to ask him to warm his grave with a hot tear
His heart is like a fish in a brook; but soon the brook will dry up and the fish won’t swim.
There is a black border around his heart – his heart and the night are still.
If you known what life would bring when you were born, you would go back quickly.
The sun will soon go down – but he has made good use of his day
He is up half the night thinking – until the candle burns down
We will not cheat death – but he wishes that someone would discover eternal life.
Enough sad songs. He will now sing a little march and you will laugh until you cry.
Other songs by Gebirtig
In a wood when winter comes, it is as if one king replaces another.
When winter comes the tree is bare and a big cat scrambles up it and mews plaintively.
After all the horrors the world has seen, when Jews pray to God they will not find him
A plea for unity on the fragmented Polish Jewish Left between the wars.
A song about property speculation in the Cracow of the 1930s
Avreml the poor carrier feels like a king at the seder – until he remembers the cart needs fixing
Passover is coming and the poor tradesman needs to buy food and clothes – but the rain and snow won’t stop
Gebirtig’s first published song – from 1905 – imagines a general strike
The sun is shining ! Leave the factories and celebrate May Day !
Our goal is far away – but the journey will be worth it
In a poem written in the ghetto, the lead plates at the Rom Press in Vilna are to be used to make bullets
Settings from Sutskever’s collection Lider fun Togbukh
A funeral during the day, a concert at night, misfortune balances luck like a pair of milk pails
Do I belong to me or to you ? Only when I count your hairs one by one do I belong to everyone
It will soon rain – a piece of paper will get wet – but the sun comes out and says it was all a joke
Our songs will sound sad to a future generation – they were composed in secrecy hiding from the enemy