Apostrophe Now

The Yiddish linguist Max Weinreich said that a language is a dialect with an army and a navy. Had the Yiddish of the Romanian poet Itzik Manger possessed the military might of English, his folkloric ballad stanzas, with their evocative character sketches, teasingly ambiguous narratives and symbolic color palettes would be widely celebrated.

"I am a pretty little gypsy, barefoot, hungry, and happy.
My mother lost me in the steppes; my father was hanged for stealing.
From him I inherited my fiddle.
I play songs of persecution and the chase, songs of staying overnight--and of leaving during the day.
For a threepenny, I'll play for you, anything you like. My sorrow costs you so little.
Oh, my fiddle, my friend, no one knows as you do that always, always red are blood and wine."

Stephen Varney, piano