On Paul Verlaine’s 172nd birthday…

imagesselma_portrait…here — via the very useful Lyrikzeitung & Poetry News — is a translation of Verlaine’s most famous (& famously untranslatable) poem Chanson d’automne into Yiddish by Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger.
Born in Czernowitz in 1924, this young woman, a cousin of Paul Celan’s (they would on occasion meet and sing together & talk poetry at Celan’s grandfather’s brother house on Sabbat evenings), wrote poetry in German and died at 18 of typhus in Michailovka on the Bug river, in the same labor-camp, in which Paul’s parents were held and also died. As recounted here, “poignantly, in 1968, Paul Celan would permit a German press to include his masterpiece “‘Todesfugue” in an anthology only if Selma’s “Poem” was published next to his. Thus Celan paid tribute to his cousin and was responsible for Selma’s first published verse.”

Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger


(lid fun pol verlen ibergesezt funem franzejsischn*)

a lang gewejn,
fidlen alejn
s’gejt scho noch scho
fun benkschaft blo
un fartracht.

derschtikt das glik
kuk ich zurik —
schohen gejn
ch’se jene teg,
sunike teg —
un ich wejn.

ich loß sich gejn
in wint, alejn —
schwer un mat.
a mide asa
asoj wi a
tojt blat.

*) Poem by Paul Verlaine, translted from the French F.

Paul Verlaine

Chanson d’automne

Les sanglots longs
Des violons
De l’automne
Blessent mon coeur
D’une langueur

Tout suffocant
Et blême, quand
Sonne l’heure,
Je me souviens
Des jours anciens
Et je pleure

Et je m’en vais
Au vent mauvais
Qui m’emporte
Deçà, delà,
Pareil à la
Feuille morte.

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