Yiddish Transliteration

Makh tsi di eygelekh
 
Lyrics: Isaiah Shpigl
Melody: David Beyglman
 
Makh tsi di eygelekh
Ot kimen feygelekh
In krayzn do arim
Tsikopns fin dayn vig.
Dus pekl in der hant,
Dus hoyz in ash in brand,
Mir lozn zikh, mayn kind,
Zikhn glik.
 
Di velt hot got farmakht,
In imetim iz nakht –
Zi vart of indz
Mit shoyder in mit shrek.
Mir shteyen bayde du,
In shverer, shverer shu
In veysn nisht vihin
S’firt der veg.
 
Men hot indz naket, bloyz
Faryugt fin indzer hoyz.
In fintsternish,
Getribn indz in feld,
In shturem, hugl,  vint
Hot indz bagleyt, mayn kind,
Bagleyt indz inem opgrint
Fin der velt.   

English Translation

Close Your Eyes
Lyrics: Isaiah Shpigl
Melody: David Beyglman
 
Close your little eyes,
Little birds are coming,
Circling around
The head of your cradle.
Baggage in hand
Our home in ashes
We are setting out, my child
In search of luck.
 
God has closed off the world
And night is all around
Waiting for us,
Full of horror and fear.
The two of us stand here
In this difficult, difficult, moment
Not knowing where
The road leads.
 
Naked and bare
We were chased from our home
In darkness,
Driven into the fields;
And storm, hail and wind
Have accompanied us, my child
Accompanied us into
The abyss of the world.

'Makh tsi di eygelekh'  (Close your eyes)  was composed for the ghetto theatre, and performed in the ghetto by the singer Ella Diament.  The song was written by Isaiah Shpigl, a writer-poet-essayist-teacher who survived the Łódź ghetto and Auschwitz (1906-1990) and by the composer-conductor Dovid Beyglman (1887-1944).  None of the survivors interviewed by Gila Flam for her book on songs of the Łódź ghetto could recall the song.  The songs was published in several collections, including the collection of Shmerke Kaczerginsky (1948:92), and the recording here was also made by him for the Munich Historical Committee of 1946.  The reason that survivors of Łódź could not recall the song is because Rumkowski censored the song, and Isaiah Shpigl was threatened with deportation. The song was not performed again. 

The song is a lullaby, which was one of the most popular song genres of Yiddish folk and theatre music.  In a typical Jewish lullaby, the mother soothens the child to sleep with promises of pleasant times to come.  The father is usually absent, off making money for the child’s education; his return, however, is said to be imminent.  Shpigl’s composition, turns this concept upside down: father will never come home.  The child lies down to sleep in an open field at the mercy of the elements, his parents’ house been burned to the ground.

This is one of the hopeless songs composed for a public audience in the Łódź ghetto.  Nature does not smile, God has brought night into the little boy’s world, and wind and hail accompany the child and the singer into the depths of the earth.  

The music is a rare form of musical hybrid, a tango-lullaby.  Evidently, tango melodies were very popular during the period, and the contrast between the horrifying lyrics and the sweet melody make the song even darker and more frightening.