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My Little Boy

From the Harrisburgh Telegraph, February 27, 1914. Translated by H. W. Ettelson, from the Yiddish of Morris Rosenfeld.

I have a boy, a little boy,
    He is a youngster fine!
Whenever I catch sight of him,
    I think the world is mine!

But of him, precious one, awake,
    I’ve seldom, seldom sight.
Most times I find him fast asleep,
    Just see him in the night.

The workshop calls me early out,
    And late I leave the place;
Ah, strange to me my flesh and blood,
    Ah, strange my own child’s face.

I come through pall of darkness home,
    Fagged out and in a daze.
And my pale wife to cheer me, tells
    Of baby’s cunning ways.

How sweet he talks, how cute he begs;
    “Please mamma, tell me, do,
When is dear daddy going to come
    And bring me a penny, too.”

And hearing this, I dart away,
    For so it needs must be.
The father-love flames passionate;
    “My child must, shall see me.”

I stand beside his tiny crib,
    I see and ah, I hear,
The little lips ask in a dream:
    “Where is my daddy dear?”

I kiss his eyelids tenderly
    They open wide—sweet sight!
They see me now, they see me now,
    But soon again shut tight!

“Here’s father now, my one, my own.
    A penny for you, there!”
The little lips ask in a dream:
    “O where is Papa, where?”

I stand there stricken, deep-distressed,
    And speak in accents sore;
“Sometime you’ll wake my child, alas,
    And find me here no more!”

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