From My Brother Gary via the Pen of Gene Wilder, ru in shlum (Rest in Peace)
A Yiddish Poem – by Gene Wilder
If you can understand this, you:
(a) Are probably as old as I am
(b) Have a good worldly education
(c) Are Jewish
(d) Grownup with a Bubbe living with you, or close by…
(e) all of the above
Yiddish was the secret code, therefore I don’t farshtaist,
A bisseleh maybe here and there, the rest has gone to waste.
Sadly when I hear it now, I only get the gist,
My Bubbe spoke it beautifully; but me, I am tsemisht.
So oi vei as I should say, or even oy vai iz mir,
Though my pisk is lacking Yiddish, it’s familiar to my ear.
And I’m no Chaim Yonkel , in fact I was shtick naches,
But, when it comes to Yiddish though, I’m talking out my tuchas.
Es iz a shandeh far di kinder that I don’t know it better
(Though it’s really nishtgefelecht when one needs to write a letter).
But, when it comes to characters, there’s really no contention,
No other linguist can compete with honorable mentshen:
They have nebbishes and nebechels and others without mazel,
Then, too, schmendriks and schlemiels, and let’s not forget schlemazel.
These words are so precise and descriptive to the listener,
So much better than “a pill” is to call someone ‘farbissener’.
Or – that a brazen woman would be better called Choleria,
And you’ll agree farklempt says more than does hysteria.
I’m not haken dir a tshainik and I hope I’m not a kvetch,
But isn’t mieskeit kinder, than to call someone a wretch?
Mitten derinnen, I hear Bubbe say, “It’s nechtiker tog, don’t fear,
To me you’re still a maven, zol zein shah, don’t fill my ear.
A leben ahf dein keppele, I don’t mean to interrupt,
But you are speaking narishkeit…..
And …A gezunt auf dein kop!”