Nadirisms 39-42: On the Problems of Happiness, (Yiddish) Poetry, and Evil
The writer Wedekind once wrote to his mother: “Mother dear,” he wrote, “you’d have me write false books and exchange them for money, only to exchange that money for happiness? But wozu der Umweg,” he wrote in German, “when does it end? What is the point of exchanging falsity for gold, and gold for happiness, when I am already happy when I write what I want?”
Der dikhter vedekind hot a mol geshribn tsu zayn mamen: mamesih, (hot er geshribn) du vilst ikh zol farfasn falshe bikher un oysbaytn zey af gelt, un dernokh dos gelt oysbaytn af fargenigns? Ober votsu (shraybt er af dayth) votsu der umveg? Tsu vos oysbaytn falshkayt af gold, un gold af--fargenign, az ikh hob bald mayn fargenign ven ikh shrayb vos ikh vil?
I write my poems
Like someone writing
Reviews in a hurry.
As for glory
As for eternity
It’s not much of a business.
Ikh shrayb mayn lid
Vi eyner shraybt
Ikh hob mit rum
I would hardly want the world to be rid of all evil, then my charming hatred (of all our world’s evils) would, God forbid, lose it’s literary merit!
Ikh volt nit gevolt, az dos gantse shlekhts zol oysgeramt vern fun der velt un az mayn gratsyeze sine tsu al-dos-shlekhts zol farlirn ir literarishn vert.
Death is given like a prize to every artist. They don’t see you when you’re alive, and, if they do, they throw shit at you. But if you so much as drop dead--aha! They sing like songbirds, eulogize you like Caesar, and put on a hero’s funeral--it hurts a little. A Yiddish writer must be made of iron to resist the temptation to stick their head in an oven or throw themself off a tenth-floor editor’s office.
Der toyt vert gegebn far a premye tsu yedn kinstler. Baym lebn zet men dikh nisht, oder men warft af dir blote. Gist nor a shtarb--aha! Men tsezingt zikh vi shpilfeygl, men makht dir gvaldike hespeydim, a grouse levaye, setutsakh (סעטוצאַך) a bisl. A yidisher shriftler darf zayn fun ayzn, baytsushteyn dem nisoyen fun aynotemen gaz oder aropvarfn zikh fun tsentn shtok fun a redaktsye
By Moyshe Nadir
Translated by Corbin Allardice