by I.L.Peretz (translated from Yiddish)
Don’t think the world is a tavern – created
For fighting your way, with fists and with nails
To the bar, where you gorge and you guzzle, while others
Look on, glassy-eyed, from a distance
Swooning from hunger, and swallowing spit
Drawing their swollen cramped bellies in tighter
Oh, don’t think the world is a tavern.
Don’t think the world is a market – created
So the stronger can prey on the tired and weak
And purchase from destitute maidens their shame,
From women, the milk of their breasts, and from men,
The marrow of their bones, from children their smiles
That infrequent guest in the innocent face
Oh, don’t think the world is a market.
Don’t think the world is a wasteland – created
For wolves and for foxes, for spoils and for booty
The heavens – a curtain, so God shall not see!
The mist – so that no one might look at your hands;
The earth is to soak up the blood of the victims.
Oh don’t think the world is a wasteland.
Translated by Jeffrey (Shaye) Mallow