Liederheym: Rivka Basman Ben-Haim’s new book

Clarification: I have (most unwittingly) done the poet a dis-service by labeling her a “holocaust survivor”. While there is no doubt that Rivka Basman Ben-Haim is a holocaust survivor, and that this experience lurks under the surface at all times, it does not  and should not define her.  Any one who will read the articles in the following posts, listen to the recordings below, and/or read the texts below, will see that Rivka Basman Ben-Haim has done many things since those years.  Her poems are about eveything and anything, and are by no means limited to this one theme.

This winter Rivka Basman Ben-Haim published a new book called Liederheym,

Poem(s)-home.  Below is its front cover

Front Cover Rivka Basman Ben-Hayim’s New Book 2013

Front page of Liederheym


Below is a photo of Rivka reading from her new book at the book launching.

(Photo- courtesy of Bella Bryks-Klein):

photo of Basman at book launching

Here are 10 poems from that book- first a recording, then the Yiddish and the English.  On some screens, the English version is not formatted properly.  If you do not get a properly formatted version for theEnglish translation, click on the hyperlink to get Word file.  If the file still does not appearproperly formatted, you maybe using the Chrome browser.  In that case, use Internet Explorer as your browser, and all will be well.

liederheym page 8 Di Kroyveshaft -recording

Liederheym p. 8 di kroyveshaftHow to explain                                                                         The intimacy                                                                      Between Yiddish and Hebrew?                                       Perhaps the way Yiddish breathes deeply                              Into a Hebrew word,                                                            Warms up the letters,                                                           Gives them a softer step.

And then when Yiddish                                                          Tells Hebrew about                                                                Her tears-                                                                                    Both languages pray                                                              The identical prayer                                                                    To God.

If the English translation above was not properly formatted, click below for a Word document:

Liederheym page 8 English translation

liederheym page 10 Tsu Zikh– To Myself- recording

Liederheym page 10 YiddishFirst be in the poem                                                        Entirely within the poem                                             Immersed from head to feet                                               Then swallow the poem                                                           Like sunny oranges                                                               Bitter-sweet.



If the English translation above was not properly formatted, click below for a Word document

Liederheym page 10 English translation

liederheym page 12 Di Shtekhers The Thorns- recording

Liederheym page 12 YiddishThe thorns                                                                           That’ve withered                                                                       Lose their sharpness,                                                           They shrink                                                                                   And they soften-                                                                        So old age shows                                                          Everyone                                                                                     Its mark.

If the English translation above was not properly formatted, click below for a Word document:

Liederheym page 12– English translation

liederheym page 14 Mit Lider fun Yung Yisroel With Poems of “Yung Yisroel”- recording

Liederheym page 14 YiddishI was fated                                                                                   To inhale your breath                                                                 I was fated to sink                                                                     Into your song-                                                                            An old-young                                                                               A salty-sweet                                                                                A true-dream-like                                                                    And I read your verse                                                            And I long-for and speak to you                                             And am silent.

If the English translation above was not properly formatted, click below for a Word document:

Liederheym page 14 English

liederheym page 15 Nokhn Shturm After the Storm recording

Liederheym page 15 Yiddish

Let the words play                                                                     Let them be happy with a dream,                                      Don’t show them the color of your will,                           Don’t remember past days.

Let them create worlds                                                         Which come with flowers to greet                                          An unmasked reality,                                                                   A reality that’ll never feel pained.

Let the words play                                                                       As calm follows a storm                                                             Your wind-swept will becomes calm                                       Trust those words and believe them.                                                                                                 Let them play.

If the English translation above was not properly formatted, click below for a Word document:

Liederheym page 15 English

liederheym page 17 A Vort A Word -recording

Liederheym p17 better YiddishA word                                                                                        Is an apple                                                                                 A plum                                                                                      And a dream.

A word can drive-out                                                          And bring home                                                                         In peace.

A word                                                                                           Is spring                                                                                  And winter                                                                                And snow.

A word                                                                                                                                                Strokes                                                                                                                                                 And hurts.

A word                                                                                                                                                      Is an apple                                                                                                                                                A plum                                                                                                                                                 And a dream.

If the English translation above was not properly formatted, click below for a Word document:

Liederheym page 17 English translation

liederheym page 19 Di Goldene Keyt recording

The “Golden Chain”

Liederheym page 19 YiddishIt often happens                                                                      That I ride by                                                                             The entrance                                                                                    Of the former “Golden Chain”                                                Where Avrohom                                                                Gathered Yiddish words                                                              As rare pearls,                                                                            And Alexander                                                                         With great dedication                                                      Arranged them on the pages.

Pages of Yiddish words                                                    Smiling and teary                                                           Thought-through by generations,                                  Yiddish words like bees                                                                                                                Which seek a flowering spot.

And on-the-way sting the Hebrew city                                                                                        With a reclaimed,                                                                                                                              Lost                                                                                                                                                 Yiddish word.

If the English translation above was not properly formatted, click below for a Word document:

Liederheym page 19 English translation

liederheym page 22 In Veg On the Road- recording

Liederheym  page 22 YiddishLonely people don’t rush,                                                    Don’t hurry,                                                                           They walk step-by-step,                                                         Let all pass them by,                                                         They’ve time to see a blade of grass                                        A tree, a leaf.                                                                           And they tell the wind                                                         What they once had-                                                                 So the wind lingers a moment                                            And writes it down on the leaves                                          Word for word….

If the English translation above was not properly formatted, click below for a Word document:

Liederheym page 22 English translation

liederheym page 24 A Hunt Hot Mikh Arumgekukt  A Dog Looked Me Over – recording:

Liederheym page 24 YiddishA dog looked me over                                                            Began to accompany me                                                          As though he were searching                                                      Not for me but someone else.

While walking he sensed                                                              I was not that other                                                                   So he lowered his head                                                         And stopped accompanying.

That same thing happened to me                                             I thought it was you                                                                 And with a quiet “oy” asked                                                  How exactly do I get to-

If the English translation above was not properly formatted, click below for a Word document:

Liederheym page 24 English translation

liederheym page 50 In Shpigl In the Mirror- recording

Liederheym page50 YiddishYou are yourself-                                                                        No one else.                                                                         What’s different is the time                                               Which encircles you,                                                             This is you.

The same loves                                                                              Nest in  you                                                                              The same thoughts                                                       Accompany your step                                                            And the same consolation                                               Which comes bloodied                                                        From the struggle                                                                 Writes your poem.

If the English translation above was not properly formatted, click below for a Word document:

Liederheym page 50 English translation

liederheym page 17 A Vort A Word


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One Response to Liederheym: Rivka Basman Ben-Haim’s new book

  1. Nora Yood says:

    My deepest appreciation for this web site and the opportunity to encounter the poetry of Rivka Basman Ben-Haim. Although I am not a Yiddish speaker, your English translation in tandem with the original Yiddish verse and accompanied by the reading by the poet allowed me fully comprehend the subject matter and and enjoy the pleasure of the sound and nuance of the language. It is thrilling and inspiring to hear Ms. Basman Ben-Haim read with vigor and drama and I thank you for the privilege of getting to see and hear her (albeit virtually), as she is today –still a vibrant and productive artist safeguarding and expanding the legacy of Yiddish culture, literature and relevance. I will go back to this web site often, and I look forward to future translations.

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