Klezmer Men – Rosalind Adam

Klezmer Men – The Music
Listen. It’s the music from der heim.
Taste the smoky shtetl night.
Marvel at the warbling clarinet,
the wailing violin,
the pounding double bass.
They’re travellers passing through,
lightening the dark.

Throw them a zloty or two,
offer them a crust of bread, a free bed,
just for the night.
and they’ll touch with their song
like sirens at sea, like the nigun,
those wordless Chasidic melodies
that roll round the mouth – ai ai ai ai ai.

Their dissonant notes echo sounds
of ancient priests and prayers,
of celebrations and simchas,
of Bubbes and Zaidas,
hunger and fear, pain and pogroms.
Their music, it says, “Forget, oy oy, forget.
Tonight, why would we not dance?”

Klezmer Men – The Dancing
The Klezmer men are here to cheer.
Their rhythmic beat will heat your feet.
While strings are strummed
with calloused thumbs
there’s hora dancing, frehlikh prancing
through the shtetl streets.

No tears of pain are soothed or salved
by solemn, sombre, sober songs
or praying, swaying, oy-veying,
but hoots and toots of lively flutes,
those rollicking, frolicking Klezmer sounds
through the shtetl streets.

Besheiteled wives are baby hugging, kinder tugging,
bare-foot schlepping, tapping, clapping
cheering on the men with men,
their arms entwined, legs kicking high,
their tsitsits flicking to the sky
through the shtetl streets.


Rosalind Adam is a writer living in Leicester, UK. She has had three children’s books published and her poetry has appeared in a number of anthologies. In 2018 she won the G. S. Fraser poetry prize for Fresh Canvas and, in the same year, she was awarded a distinction for her MA in Creative Writing at The University of Leicester.