Biography of Morris Rosenfeld
Morris Rosenfeld (Moshe Jacob Alter) (December 28, 1862 in Bokscha in Russian Poland, government of Suwałki – June 22, 1923 in New York) was a Yiddish poet.
His work sheds light on the living circumstances of emigrants from Eastern Europe in New York's tailoring workshops.
He was educated at Boksha, Suwałki, and Warsaw. He worked as a tailor in New York and London and as a diamond cutter in Amsterdam, and settled in New York in 1886, after which he was connected with the editorial staffs of several leading Jewish newspapers. In 1904 he published a weekly entitled Der Ashmedai. In 1905 he was editor of the New Yorker Morgenblatt. He was also the publisher and editor of a quarterly journal of literature (printed in Yiddish) entitled Jewish Annals. He was a delegate to the Fourth Zionist Congress at London in 1900, and gave readings at Harvard University in 1898, the University of Chicago in 1900, and Wellesley and Radcliffe colleges in 1902.
Rosenfeld was the author of Die Glocke (New York, 1888), poems of a revolutionary character; later the author bought and destroyed all obtainable copies of this book. He wrote also Die Blumenkette (ib. 1890) and Das Lieder Buch (ib. 1897;English transl. by Leo Wiener, Songs from the Ghetto, Boston, 1899; German transl. by Berthold Feivel, Berlin, and by E. A. Fishin, Milwaukee, Wis., 1899; Rumanian transl. by M. Rusu, Iaşi, 1899; Polish transl. by J. Feldman, Vienna, 1903; Hungarian transl. by A. Kiss, Budapest; Bohemian transl. by J. Dchlicky, Prague). His poems were published, under the title Gesammelte Lieder, in New York in 1904.
Morris Rosenfeld Poems
In The Factory
Oh, here in the shop the machines roar so wildly, That oft, unaware that I am, or have been, I sink and am lost in the terrible tumult;
I have a little boy at home, A pretty little son; I think sometimes the world is mine
A Tear On The Iron
OH, cold and dark is the shop ! I hold the iron, stand and press ; my heart is weak, I groan and cough, my sick breast scarcely heaves.
Not always as you see us now, Have we been used to weep and sigh, We too have grasped the sword, I trow,
Creation Of Man
WHEN the Lord created our wonderful world, He asked nobody's advice, and did as He pleased,
From Dawn To Dawn
I bend o'er the wheel at my sewing; I'm spent; and I'm hungry for rest; No curse on the master bestowing,-- No hell-fires within me are glowing,-- ...
Work with might and main, Or with hand and heart, Work with soul and brain, Or with holy art,
Farewell to the feast-day! the pray'r book is stained With tears; of the booth scarce a trace has remained;
No rest--not one day in the seven for me? Not one, from the maddening yoke to be free? Not one to escape from the boss on the prowl,
All the striving, all the failing, To the silent Nothing sailing. Swiftly, swiftly passing by! For the land of shadows leaving,
Atonement Evening Prayer
Atonement Day--evening pray'r--sadness profound. The soul-lights, so clear once, are dying around. The reader is spent, and he barely can speak;
Again I Sing My Songs
Once again my songs I sing thee, Now the spell is broken; Brothers, yet again I bring thee Songs of love the token.
A Tree In The Ghetto
There stands in th' leafless Ghetto One spare-leaved, ancient tree; Above the Ghetto noises It moans eternally.
No, not from tuning-forks of gold Take I my key for singing; From Upper Seats no order bold Can set my music ringing;
No, not from tuning-forks of gold
Take I my key for singing;
From Upper Seats no order bold
Can set my music ringing;
But groans the slave through sense of wrong,
And naught my voice can smother;
As flame leaps up, so leaps my song
For my oppressed brother.