- Don't Sing, Little Bird
Feygele was a little girl.She sang of the gentle dusk,Like drizzle in autumn trees."Feygele, hush, don't sing little bird," said her mother."The baby is sleeping.He cries day and night.Please be quiet, for silence is golden."
Feygele was a good daughter.She sang of praise and glory,Like a cantor, making cold stone wallsEcho with joy,An exaltation, to honor God."Feygele, hush, don't sing little bird," said her father."We're praying.It is the male bird that sings.You must be still, for silence is holy." [End Page 42]
Feygele was a young maiden.She sang of sorrow and yearning,Sitting with the women in the balcony,Chanting prayers of entreatyIn dusty, shadowy corners."Feygele, hush, don't sing little bird," said her grandmother."We're gossiping—we cannot sing.Learn to be mute, for silence is a virtue."
Feygele was a new bride.She sang a heavenly songTo the angels welcoming the Sabbath twilightOn a winter night, as the candles gleamedAnd the ruby wine sparkled in silver cups."Feygele, hush, don't sing little bird," said her husband."We're studying Torah, my friends and I.Do not make a sound, for silence is perfect."
Feygele was a mother bird,She sang like the thrush in the silver birch,The warbler on the cattail,She cried like the owl in bleak moonlight,As she flew above the fogOver the marsh to her babies in their nest."Mamele, sing," said the babies."We beg you to sing, for we sleep,We pray, we study and learnAt the sound of your voice.Music is life." [End Page 43]
Beth Dwoskin is a catalog librarian, wife of a scientist, and mother of three grown children. She lives and works in Ann Arbor, MI. She has written book and CD reviews for the newsletter of the Association of Jewish Libraries and the online journal, Women in Judaism: a multidisciplinary journal. She also wrote the Guide to the Jewish sheet music collection from the National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg. She is doing independent research on the role of women in Jewish vocal music.