“In Zaltsikn Yam”
About the song
In Zaltsikn Yam (In the Salty Sea, Yiddish: אין זאַלטציקן ים) also known as In Zaltsikn Yam Fun Di Mentshleche Trern (In the Salty Sea of Human Tears, Yiddish: אין זאַלטציקן ים פֿון מענשליכע טרערן), or Tsum Bund: In Zaltsikn Yam Fun Di Mentshleche Trern is a Yiddish poem written by S. Ansky in 1901, that became a popular Yiddish song when music was added to it. The poem and song is dedicated to the socialist, General Jewish Labour Bund.
The Salt Sea (1901)
BY S. AN-SKY
Beneath the salt sea of humanity’s weeping
A terrible chasm abides
It couldn’t be darker, it couldn’t be deeper —
It is stained with a bloody red tide…
So much of this sea has been filled with the sorrows
Endured by the suffering Jews,
But only the tears of the poor ones are bloody,
The rich cry as clear as the dew.
Yes only the worker, the pauper, the beggar
Belong to the bloody abyss.
While those you call “brother,” the rich and the greedy,
Fly high overhead in their bliss.
And thousands of years have created this chasm
Of piety, hatred, and pain,
And for thousands of years all humanity’s weeping
Flows like a limitless rain.
The ocean flows over and floods out the levees,
There isn’t a hero in sight,
Yes where are the ones that will stand at the ready
To dive in the chasm and fight?
And who will at last free the worker from slavery,
Give hunger its final relief?
And who will be guiding the pathway to freedom,
To brotherhood, justice and peace?
The children of wealthy, enlightened, the clergy —
Into Zion they call the Hebrews,
We’ve heard this old story before from our enemies
“A ghetto for the eternal Jew!”
They say that they answer the prayers of our fathers
From deep in their graves, hear them call
While souls who are living in sorrow and hunger —
To them they’re deaf as the wall.
Messiah and Jewry are both dead and buried,
Another messiah’s to come:
The new Jewish worker the banner will carry
To signal that justice is done.
The world will be freed and be healed by this hero,
Who dives to the root of its wound!
In Russia, in Vilna, in Poland all hail now
The Great Jewish Worker’s Bund!
TRANSLATED BY DANIEL KAHN
In Zaltsikn Yam
In zaltsikn yam fun di mentshlekhe trern
Gefint zikh a shreklekher thom,
Er ken shoyn nit tifer, nit fintsterer vern,
Im tseykhnt a blutiker shtrom.
Dem thom hobn toyznter yorn gegrobn
Emune in sine un payn,
Un toyznter yorn, alts tropn nokh tropn
Es gisn zikh trern arayn.
Der arbeter ver vet endlekh derleyzn
Fun hunger un eybiker layd ?
Un ver vet dem veg im tsu frayhayt bavayzn
Tsu brudershaft, glaykhkayt un freyd ?
Der arbeter vet di velt i bafrayen i heyln,
Er vet dergreykhn dem thom bizn grunt,
Zol leben fun Rusland, fun Lite un Poyln,
Der Yidisher Arbeter Bund.