The Mendele Review: Yiddish Literature and Language
              (A Companion to MENDELE)
Contents of Vol. 08.001 [Sequential No. 140]
14 January 2004

1) About this issue of TMR (ed.)
2) David Fram Centenary Tribute (Joseph Sherman)
3) INVENTORY of the DAVID FRAM PAPERS (Jane Garner and Nathan Snyder)
4) Books Received

  Date:  14 January 2004
  From: Leonard Prager 
Subject:  "Singing with the Silence":  The Poetry of David Fram (Joseph

"Singing with the Silence": The Poetry of David Fram

Joseph Sherman

The passing of David Fram on 10 July 1988, in his eighty-fifth year,
silenced one of South Africa's finest and most enduring Yiddish poets.
It is an honour, in this, the centenary year of his birth, to offer a
biographical and critical overview of his life and work at a time when
the number of Yiddish poets alive in the world grows ever smaller.
Those of us who pursued Yiddish studies in South Africa, and who were
privileged to enjoy the friendship of David Fram, had the rare benefit
of learning from one whose knowledge of the language was as profound as
his love for it, and who, during the course of a long life, had been
associated in friendship and artistic endeavour with some of the
greatest names in Yiddish literature.

London was perhaps the only place outside his cherished birthplace
Lithuania in which the poet, throughout his painfully restless life,
felt truly comfortable.  His late second wife Pamela (nee Grossman) was
a Londoner born and bred, and though circumstances led the couple to
spend the whole of their married life in South Africa, it was always of
London that they spoke, less as home than as happiness.  Yet ironically
it is perhaps as the finest African Yiddish poet that David Fram will
best be remembered.  His verse, like his engagement with the social,
political and artistic life of his adoptive home, reflects those forces
which shaped the turbulence of this rich sub-continent.  Fram's
contribution to South African literature was made through the medium of
his beloved Yiddish, moving testimony to the belief of so many Jewish
immigrants to that country that they might create an African _goldene
medine_.  Subsequent events in South Africa appear rather to mark the
triumph of despair over hope.  These days, and for more than a decade
past, young South African Jews are seeking fulfilment in emigration
abroad.  With one of those breathtakingly painful reversals for which
history is notorious, this country which - like Lithuania centuries
before - had seemingly offered peace and rest to their forefathers has
now become another _alte heym_, recalled, if at all, as the birthplace
of a failed promise.  This ironic repetition of history lends increased
poignancy to that refrain of disillusionment that repeatedly echoes
through Fram's work:

ikh hob gemeynt, az do vel ikh gefinen shoyn mayn ru,
az do veln derfreyen mikh di teg,
az s'vet mikh mer nisht onlokn der veg
tsu voglen vayter, ergets andershvu.

un vider benk ikh mid nokh shtiler, vayser ru.
ikh hob gemeynt, az lib vet zayn mir hige erd.
iz ober fun dos-nay mir vandern bashert
un zukhn nokh a treyst in ergets andershvu.

['I thought at last to find my respite here,
That here the days might bring content,
That now no more the beckoning path would call to me
To wander on again, to somewhere else.
Yet once again with weariness I long for still, white rest.
I thought that local earth might yet be dear -
But destined all anew is wandering for me
To seek another comfort somewhere else.'][1]

Born in Ponevezh on 14 October 1903, Fram received a traditional Jewish
education in his earliest years, supplementing his studies with
instruction from private tutors.  At the outbreak of World War 1, when
the Jews were expelled by tsarist decree from the Pale of Settlement,
Fram and his family were cast adrift in Samara (now Kuibyshev) in
Russia.  There he studied in the Russian gymnasium at Lomanosov, and at
the age of eighteen he published his first poem, in Russian, in a
student journal.  Proleptically, in terms of what would become the
abiding emotional concerns of his later work, it was entitled "Zima"
(Winter).  In 1921, having matriculated at a Soviet workers' school, he
returned to Ponevezh, but since the Lithuanian government refused to
recognise Soviet educational qualifications, he entered the Yiddish
gymnasium in Vilkomir in 1922.  While studying there, he lived in the
house and under the tutelage of the great Yiddish linguist, Yudl Mark,
who exerted a profound literary influence on him.  Pursuing his
determination to write, he had his work accepted in the literary journal
_Kiten_ (Blossoms) edited by David Kot, contributed regularly to Kovno's
Yiddish newspapers, notably _Yidish shtime_, _Nayes_, _Dos lebn_, and
the prestigious Warsaw weekly _Literarishe bleter_.  However, only with
the appearance of his long poem, "Reb Yoshe in zayn gortn" (Reb Yoshe
in his Garden), in New York's _Oyfkum_ in 1927 did Fram truly enter the
international world of Yiddish poetry.  [2]

In 1926 the restlessness that was to characterise his whole life drove
Fram to France, where he joined his four sisters, all long-standing
members of the vibrant Yiddish-speaking community of Paris, in whose
midst writers and artists - Marc Chagall among them - flourished.  To
further his studies, he enrolled at the agricultural college of the
University of Toulouse, but remained there only three months.  He knew
little French, Toulouse was too small for him to fulfil his aspirations,
he yearned for Paris . But even in the City of Lights he could find no
rest, and in 1927 an uncle in Johannesburg sent him a boat fare to join
him.  Thus, almost by chance, Africa gained one of her greatest Yiddish

Heir to Lithuania's rich creative legacy, and possessed of a delicate
poetic sensibility, Fram was at first dislocated and jarred by the stark
contrasts of his new surroundings.  Gold and sunshine, endless blue
skies, the disturbing and legislatively enforced discrimination between
the opportunities offered to whites and those withheld from blacks, all
reinforced his longing for the soft landscapes and gentle homeliness of
Lithuania.  In the first poem he ever wrote in South Africa, "Vert den
gringer derfun?"  ('Is there any relief?'), the poet expressed a pained
awareness of that brutal inequality between the races which
characterised life under white hegemony in South Africa:

vert den gringer amol, az gebentsht iz dos land
mit a zuniker gob - glaykh an ofener hant,
vos tseshenkt un tseteylt, un farteylt, un tseshit
mit a koyf, on a mos un fun keynem bahit?

un fun shefe un gob, fun tsekvolener erd
iz nisht alemen glaykh tsu genisn bashert,
un der, vos farzeyt un vos shaft un vos boyt -
iz bagrenetst in zun un ba'avelt in broyt .

iz den gringer derfun, az es tsaytikt di troyb,
un es gildert a shtral vu-nisht-vu oyf a shoyb? -
az oyf shoybn a sakh iz farloshn di zun,
vert den gringer derfun?

['Where lies the comfort which sorrow displaces,
To see how the sunlight teems through each day
And gifts with a glow the echoing spaces,
And calls to all nature to join in the play?
And wherever you glance you are filled with remorse -
Men give and men take and still more accrue,
And hands with abundance are swollen and coarse
But meagre the measure to those that it's due.

What balm for the heart if an earlier spring
Ripens vines or illumines some windowpanes
If to many a window no sunbeams cling?
What balm for the heart?...'] [3]

Fram longed for his birthplace, and mourned her in numerous poems.
One of them, later to provide the title of his last anthology, typically
recalled his vanished life on the farm of his childhood:

oyf mayn dakh hot amol nokh getsvitshert a shvalb,
un in shtub hot geshmekt mit tsufridenem broyt,
un in shtal hot der friling geboyrn a kalb,
un in kleyt hot gefoylt nokh faryoriker kroyt .

umetum, yeder trot, yeder eyntsiker shpan
hot gekvoln mit zun un geotemt mit freyd.
oyfn taykh iz gefaln farnakht a tuman,
un mit varemer erd hot fun felder geveyt.

['A swallow once twittered and chirped on my roof,
While the scent of contentment pervaded the house,
In the stable the springtime delivered a calf,
And last season's cabbage decayed in the barn.

Everywhere, every pace, every single footstep
Swelled out in the sun and breathed only with joy.
On the river the twilight was cloaked in a fog,
And the warm scent of earth blew direct from the fields.'] [4]

This preoccupation with times and places past and gone called forth
sharp rebukes from critics in South Africa, notably the strong-minded
Yiddishist Rakhmiel Feldman (1897-1968), who believed passionately that
new immigrants should immerse themselves totally in the life and values
of their new home, and become one with Africa and its challenges.
Though Fram cherished Lithuania and grieved that he had been driven into
another kind of exile, his creative resilience showed itself capable,
when forced, of finding in every new environment in which he settled a
fresh source of creative inspiration, and he was soon able to respond to
the challenge which critics like Feldman threw at him.  He was to spend
the rest of his troubled life, artistically and socially, trying to make
himself one with Africa.

As the poet was steadily drawn into his new milieu, the stark contrast
between the landscapes of Africa and those of his birthplace began to
move him.  Songs of nostalgia were replaced by vigorous responses to
local stimuli, and Fram now earnestly began t o address himself to what
had now become his great ambition:  "To enrich Yiddish literature," as
he told Meylekh Ravitch, "with an entire continent."  [5]

His first anthology, _Lider un Poemes_ ('Songs and Poems') was sponsored
from funds collected by a committee in Johannesburg under the presidency
of the Chief Rabbi, Dr J L Landau, [6] and was published in Vilna in
1931.  From the first, two distinct poetic impulses could be detected in
Fram's work.  His natural talent was lyrical, but he felt a strong
inclination towards the epic mode, moved by a desire to cover the widest
possible canvas with philosophical and sociological speculation.
Perhaps he felt that the lyric was too narrow a compass for the strong
feelings which surged within him:  before him, after all, lay always the
towering example of  Khayim Nakhman Bialik, with whom he
had briefly been in correspondence.  This conflict of impulses, and the
concomitant search for proper poetic expression to which they
continually gave rise, dominated all of Fram's subsequent work, and
never resolved itself.  For Meylekh Ravitsh, he was essentially
"a lyric poet in the fullest sense of t he word."  [7] For another
critic, S. Zaramb, however, "he is essentially an epic poet . Fram has
undertaken the task of re-creating in poetry that which history has
ruined." [8]

Whatever the final judgment might be about which  was truly Fram's
metier, he enriched both with his multi-faceted work, bringing Africa
whole and vibrant into Yiddish poetry for the first time.

His was a talent engendered of the times into which he was born, and
nurtured by his wanderlust.  It was a talent that needed the constant
stimulation of others.  In the 1930s he became a founder member of The
Unicorn, a society of young Johannesburg writers, painters and
sculptors who met every afternoon in the East African Pavilion, a
well-known upmarket cafe, to share ideas about starting their own
magazine and forming a club modelled on Moscow's famous Stoila Pegasa.
[9] Among the regulars at these gatherings were artists who were later
to gain considerable distinction in their different fields in South
Africa:  poets like Vincent Swart and Uys Krige, and visual artists like
Alexis Preller, Lippy Lipschitz and Irma Stern.  Lipschitz sculpted
Fram's bust; Stern painted his portrait and corresponded with him for
some time.[10]

Fram enjoyed considerable success in his literary work in South Africa.
In addition to his poetry, he scored a minor triumph with two operettas
for which he wrote the book and lyrics; Hirsch Ichilchik and Francis
Boehr were responsible for the music of both:  _A tsigayner fantasia_
('A Gypsy Fantasy') performed in Johannesburg in February 1932, and _Fun
Fordsburg biz Parktown_ ('From Fordsburg to Parktown'), a satire of
upward Jewish mobility, performed a year later in July 1933.  Both
productions were sponsored jointly by Leon Behrman and Rakhmiel Feldman,
and Fram himself made enough money out of them to settle in London a few
years later.  At this time, also, Fram became active as a Yiddish
journalist and editor.  In July 1933 he was appointed Yiddish editor of
Boris Gershman's _Afrikaner Yidishe Tsaytung_ jointly with Arthur
Markowitz as English editor.  This partnership lasted until August 1934
when Fram resigned to join Abel Shaban in the founding of a new Yiddish
newspaper, _Der Yidisher Ekspres_.  This weekly, which appeared
regularly in Johannesburg between 1935-1937, was soon forced into
bankruptcy and closure, but bespoke the enthusiasm and vigour with which
Fram plunged into the artistic and cultural life of South Africa.

His restlessness would not grant him zitsfleysh.  He left Johannesburg
on his first visit to London in 1934, where one of his most interesting
jobs was doing research in the British Museum for Alexander Korda and
Carol Reed who were then working on their f ilm of _Jew Suess_.  Shortly
before the outbreak of Hitler's War, Fram returned to South Africa,
where he passed the black days of the Holocaust.  This terrifying period
produced two of his finest poems, _Efsher_ ('Perhaps') and _Dos letste
kapitl_ ('The Last Chapter'), both published in London in 1947 by the
Jewish Journalists and Authors Association.  _Efsher_ originates in
autobiography, charting that spiritual disquiet of which Fram's physical
wanderings had simply been the outward manifestations.  Most of the poem
deals with South Africa, and describes the growth of white domination,
especially after the discovery of gold on the Reef.  The very title of
the poem expresses the poet's grave doubts about the validity of all
accepted values.  _Dos letste kapitl_, regarded by many as his finest
work, is Fram's sanctification of the martyrs of the Holocaust.  A
lament for the destruction of Jewish life in Lithuania, it recalls an
harmonious - and largely mythic - time when Jew and Christian lived
peaceably in brotherhood.  The reality proved itself shockingly

['O Lithuania, I had looked to you
To help the hunted Lithuanian Jew.
But joining the hunters, with upraised own hand,
You struck down the brother born in your own land.
You allied yourself with the bloody invader,
Transforming yourself into robber and raider.']

The poet, horrified at the destruction of his dream, is torn between
love for the land in which he was born, and the fearful realisation that
its native inhabitants - the very Lithuanian Christians he had longed to
call "brothers" - were enemies of the Jews as implacable as the
Germans, as hateful, treacherous, and murderous.  Now the poet is cut
off from the past to float in a present limbo of eternal pain:

['Of the friends of my childhood, the men I once knew,
Is not left alive one Lithuanian Jew.
What have I there now without Jewish young,
Without Jewish song, without Jewish tongue,
Without Jewish scholars, without Jewish lore,
With no Jewish heart and no Jewish door?
Of my Lithuania there is left to me
Only a desolate vast cemetery.'] [11]

By contrast with the inner turmoil of his troubled spirit, in his public
life Fram always appeared closely in touch with day-to-day realities.
The advent to power in South Africa of the Afrikaner National Party
under D.F.  Malan in 1948 understandably caused the greatest
consternation among South African Jews, because of the violently
anti-Semitic pronouncements before and during the war of Afrikaner
Nationalist leaders, formerly outspoken supporters of Hitler and the
Nazi Party, who now became members of the Cabinet.  When the Afrikaans
poet and journalist Ignatius Mocke wrote to the South African Jewish
Times on 16 July 1948, contending that the Nationalist Afrikaner was not
anti-Semitic, and that South African Jews had nothing to fear from the
country' s new government, Fram responded in a strong letter, which

"We Jews have nothing against pure nationalism.  When nationalism,
however, gets out of bounds and begins to mix with ugly chauvinism, with
racialism, with self-aggrandisement and empty pride, then it becomes a
danger not only to the Nationalist Party itself, and not only to the
suffering victims of ugly chauvinism, but to the country and the people
as a whole." [12]

These two letters generated a vigorous debate, the issues of which,
considerably oversimplified and sentimentalised in his own typical
spirit of hoping against hope, were summarised by the gifted writer
Herman Charles Bosman, then working as a journalist on the South African
Jewish Times:

"...what I regard as of particular significance is the fact that it is a
couple of poets, Mocke and Fram, who have initiated this discussion and
who have displayed a deeper sense of realism (because their approach to
the question has been romantic) than almost any of the Jewish and
Afrikaner politicians have revealed to date.  The artist when he acts in
accordance with his emotions gets pretty near, I believe, in this way,
to the fundamental verities."  [13]

The upshot was that from November 1948, Fram was invited by Mocke to
edit an English section of his apolitical Afrikaans journal _Horison_
which, founded in 1942 with a substantial readership of 22 000, had as
its expressed aim "the ideal of racial tolerance and goodwill" carrying
"articles on the literary and artistic achievement of all South Africa's
peoples - aimed at mutual enlightenment."  Despite the devastatingly
disillusioning experience of Lithuania, Fram retained his idealistic
belief in the possibility of cultural tolerance between Jews and
Gentiles.  In an interview published in the influential Afrikaans Cape
daily, _Die Burger_, on Friday 22 October 1948, he made the comparison,
so often noted by other South African Yiddish writers, between the
struggle for survival of both Afrikaans and Yiddish:

"Afrikaans culture [like that of Yiddish] has a greater attraction for
me than the present culture of any language that I know . In both cases
[in our struggle for cultural survival] we are surrounded by a greater
and stronger culture against which we fight."

But, like so much in South Africa, this ideal was never realised.  Lack
of funds prevented the journal _Horison_ from continuing, and subsequent
political developments in South Africa widened, rather than closed that
gap between English- and Afrikaans- speaking whites in South Africa,
the creation of which had from the outset been the avowed policy of the
National Party, which had long detested J.C.  Smuts's policies of
conciliation, and militantly enforced an ideology of Afrikaner hegemony.

Fram continued to write, but his life was as restless as ever.  He dealt
in diamonds and Persian carpets during the war years, enterprises which
made him wealthy for a while and enabled him to become a farmer in the
Hekpoort district of what was then the Transvaal province.  For a time
it seemed as if he might take root there, for Hekpoort provided an
environment nostalgically reminiscent of his grandfather the farmer,
whose life he had celebrated in his long idyll, "Baym zeydn" ('At
Grandfather's').[14] I n a poem of rarely expressed hope, he gladly
exchanged city for country life in an exhausted quest for quietude:

['Thus I cast behind the town,
And in among grass coarse and wild
On mountains rocky-sloped and steep,
Whose summits fume with blue-tinged smoke
Breathed upwards from the ocean deep,
I gladly hid in solitude
And all anew began to love,
Began believing in a God.'] [15]

But his spiritual turbulence could not be quieted.  The farm was sold,
and Fram moved to join his brother in what was then Rhodesia, where he
became a food producer in Salisbury (now Harare).  Throughout this
troubled part of his life, Fram's personal difficulties deepened his
insight into the complexities of life in Africa.  The black man, so
alien in every way to the Eastern European immigrant, is steadily
recognised as the pivot of every thought and action on the vast
continent, and appropriately, he becomes the central figure of Fram's
major poems of this period.  The poet vividly evokes stony soil and
scorching skies.  Such long poems as "Matabela", "Matatulu", and
"Matumba", which first appeared in the South African Yiddish journal
_Dorem Afrike_ in the 1950s, are unique in Yiddish literature, vivifying
there for the first time the bush, the kraal, the assegai, the ankle
ring.[16] All the major actors on the South African stage step boldly
forward in Fram's verse.  His long poem "Boeren" gives a perceptive
portrait of the rural Afrikaner,[17] while the long narrative "Vilyam
Skot" [18] is, for its time, a sensitive tribute to those whites who
were struggling courageously to advance the social and political
development of black majority in South Africa.

The epic always attracted Fram, haunted as he continued to be by the
promise he had given to Ravitsh - to put all Africa in a poem.  At
Hekpoort, in entirely conducive surroundings, he began the great task of
describing the troubled history of blacks and whites in South Africa,
and charting the relationships and interactions of Afrikaners and Jews
with each other and with the majesty and terror of the Dark Continent.
He thought at first to call this poem "Volkns iber Hekpoort" ('Clouds
Over Hekpoort'), but now, what has been written is entitled, quite
simply, "In Afrike" ('In Africa').  Only two sections of a proposed five
were completed, yet the poem as it stands is among Fram's most
impressive and evocative verse, whose surging lyricism powerfully
creates the sight, smells and sounds of the Africa the poet, after more
than sixty years, had come to feel and understand so well:

['Even the bush, dried up and shrunken, got closer and homelier,
and the dense steam that rose then from the red earth
carried the sharp scent of the khaki herb,
the tough African mass of the prickly wag-'n-bietjie bushes,
of the cruel big cactuses and the fleshy little ones,
of the strong scent of the wild mahalula fruit:
and a damp darkness curled up from among the bushes,
and out of the fullness of joy,
Africa was on the verge of tears then.'] [19]

To commemorate his eightieth birthday in 1983, all his poems written
since World War 2, and some earlier uncollected verse, were assembled in
one anthology and published in Johannesburg, by a special jubilee
committee, under the title _A shvalb oyfn dakh_ ('A Swallow on the Roof').
One of the most significant features of this new anthology is the
exquisite lyrical cycle "Lider tsu a froy aza vi du" ('Songs to a woman
such as you'), approximately half of which is published in this
collection for the first time . [20] This cycle of love poems reveals
yet another aspect of Fram at his best - the poetry is alive with that
powerful combination of passion, pessimism and eroticism which typifies
his best verse, and has tempted several new translators:

hot friling farshmekt
mit zayn eydeln tsvit,
s'hot shoyn der orandzh, der milgroym,
der epelboym ergets geblit.
raykh hot der tog zikh tsevaremt,
gegosn, gegosn mit gold.
blien hob ikh in der sho
oykh azoy vi der orandzh gevolt.
blien mit gloybn, mit yugnt,
mit varemer, zuniker freyd, --
shtil nokh gefinen a ru
in dem veykhn geroysh fun ir kleyd,
trinken di psomim farshikert
vos roykhlen zikh fun ire hor,
un oyf a vayl khotsh fargesn
dem emes fun nikhterer vor,
un oyf a vayl khotsh gefinen
a resht fun a zikhern shlof, --
vern bagnedikt fun laydn
vi der farbrekher fun shtrof,
un nokh farnemen di sheynkeyt
fun friling, fun zoybern tsvit.
zi iz gekumen mir treystn
mit laykhte, mit zunike trit.

['The spring began to blossom
with the scent of apple and lemon
the orange poured gold
in the golden day.
In that hour I longed to bloom
as the orange blooms
to be drunk with her nectar
tossed in the softness of her hair
and for a moment to forget
and be forgiven
released from my suffering
as a prisoner longs for sleep
and dreams of the beauty of the petals.
She came to console me
With her steps of light.'] [20]

When David Fram's eightieth jubilee anthology appeared, a literal-minded
acquaintance took him to task for its title, on the grounds that
swallows do not sit on roofs.  Although at the time it was easy enough
to counter that on David Fram's roof they do, and always have, the
criticism unwittingly raised the real question about Fram's abiding
poetic concerns.  Are they really the dreams of childhood, the memories
of a Lithuania once loved, now lost?  Surely not.  The real concern of
Fram's verse is pain and loneliness, suffering and incommunicability:

vil ikh zingn mit di shtilkeyt
in mayn soydesfuln heykhl;
efsher vet di nakht mir shenkn
far mayn lid a vaysn shmeykhl.

['I will sing alone with silence
In my deep and hidden temple,
In the hope the night might grant me
For my song a smile of favour.'] [21]

Singing with silence as he does, it is as one of the last voices of
Yiddish romanticism that David Fram will continue to steal silently, and
linger unforgettably, in the poetic consciousness of his language and
his people.


I acknowledge with deep gratitude and valuable assistance given me in my
research by the late Mr Arthur Markowitz z"l, who was a close friend of
the late David Fram from the time of the poet's first arrival in South
Africa until his death.  This essay is a preliminary draft of a fuller
biographical/critical study of the life and work of David Fram on which
I am presently working.  I should greatly welcome contributions towards
and criticisms of this study from all those who knew the poet either
personally or through his work.  I should also greatly appreciate
receiving any new biographical details, personal anecdotes or press
cuttings.  I am also particularly anxious to trace sources of
publication of all of Fram's poetry which was never included in his two
major anthologies.  The strong possibility exists of bringing out a
commemorative edition of Fram's Collected Poems, with a selection of
translations in English, and I should be glad to hear from prospective
contributors to and sponsors of such a project.


1. Fram, D. 'Ikh hob gemeynt az do vel ikh gefinen shoyn mayn ru,' in
_Lider un Poemes_ (Vilna:  David Fram Publishing Committee, 1931). pp.
12-13.  Translated by Joseph Sherman.

2. The Yiddish text of this poem is published in _Lider un Poemes_, op.
cit., pp. 91-99.

3. Fram, D. 'Vert den gringer derfun?' in _Lider un Poemes_, op. cit.,
pp.5-6.  Translated by Amelia Levy, _Jewish Affairs_, January 1949, p.

4. Fram, D. 'Oyf mayn dakh hot amol nokh getsvitshert a shvalb,' in _A
shvalb oyfn dakh_ (Johannesburg:  Kayor, 1983), p.67.  Translated by
Joseph Sherman, _The Jewish Quarterly_, Vol. 31, Nos. 3-4 (115-116),
1984. p.45.

5. Meylekh Ravitch himself quotes these words in his introduction to
_Lider un Poemes_.

6. Other members of this Committee were L. Behrman, D. Dainow, R.
Feldman, A. Lipworth (Chairman), A. Ovidov, G. Rabinowitz, N. Salman and
David Fram himself.

7. Ravitsh, M. Introduction to _Lider un Poemes_.

8. Zaramb, S. 'The Poetry of David Fram.'  _The Zionist Record_. 9
November 1934. p. 20.  Orignally published in and translated from
_Literarishe Bletter_.

9. Leveson, M., ed.  Vincent Swart:  _Collected Poems_.  Johannesburg:
Ad.  Donker, 1981.  Introduction, pp. 11-12.

10.  The Lipschitz bust of David Fram is now in the possession of the
Library, University of Witwatersrand.  I do not know who presently owns
the original of the Stern portrait, but would be very glad to be
informed.  A reproduction of this portrait of Fram, together with
reproductions of five of Stern's landscapes, were used to illustrate
_Lider un Poemes_.  The portrait faces p. 86.

11.  Both of the short extracts quoted are from Fram, D. _Dos Letste
Kapitl_.  London:  The Narod Press, 1947. 68p.  The English translation
is by Joseph Leftwich.  Leftwich translated the whole of this poem into
rhyming couplets in an attempt to imitate the style of the original, but
his English version never pleased Fram, so it was never published in its
entirety.  Leftwich himself revised a small selection of his translation
and published it in his revised edition of _The Golden Peacock_.  New
York:  Thomas Yoseloff, 1961. pp. 631-632.  A copy of the original
typescript of the complete English translation is now in the possession
of the Library, University of the Witwatersrand.

12.  Fram, D. 'An Open Letter to Mr Mocke.'  _South African Jewish
Times_.  Friday 30 July, 1948. p. 6.

13.  Bosman, H.C.  'The Nationalists and the Jews.'  _South African
Jewish Times_.  Friday 6 August, 1948.

14.  The complete Yiddish text of 'Baym Zeydn' is published in _Lider un
Poemes_, op. cit. pp. 147-209.

15.  Translated by Joseph Sherman.  I have not yet traced the original
publication/republication source of the Yiddish text of this poem, and
should be grateful to be informed.

16.  The Yiddish texts of 'Matumba' and 'Matatulu' are republished in _A
Shvalb Oyfn Dakh_:  the former on pp. 85-88; the latter on pp. 89-92.

17.  The Yiddish text of 'Boeren' is published in _Lider un Poemes_. op.
cit. pp. 210-249.

18.  I have not yet traced the original Yiddish publication/republication
source of the Yiddish text, and would be grateful to be informed.

19.  Fram, D. Introduction to 'In Afrike.'  _Dorem Afrike_.
July/September 1983.  English translation by Gerry Resnik.  _Jewish
Affairs_.  February 1984. pp. 22-23.

20.  Fram, D. 'Friling,' in _A shvalb oyfn dakh_, p.9.  Translated by
Marcia Leveson, _Jewish Affairs_ 46:2, September 1991, p.83.

21.  This cycle was written in the early 1930s and some of the poems
were first translated from Yiddish into German by Arthur Markowitz.
These translations were never published.  The full cycle comprises some
60 poems, not all of which were themselves originally written for
publication even in Yiddish.  Many were satiric and erotic exercises,
perhaps even jokes.  [Personal communication:  Mr Arthur Markowitz.]

22.  Translated by Joseph Sherman.  I have not yet traced the original
publication /republication source of the Yiddish text of this poem and
should be grateful for assistance.

  Date: 14 January 2004
  From: Jane Garner and Nathan Snyder

       Benson Latin American Collection.  Rare Books and Manuscripts
       INVENTORY DAVID FRAM PAPERS, 192? -- 1984
       Prepared by Jane Garner and Nathan Snyder /  December 1996

Used by permission of The General Libraries, The University of Texas at

Biographical Sketch

Yiddish author David Fram was born in Panevezys, Lithuania, on Oct. 14,
1903 and died in Johannesburg, South Africa, on July 10, 1988.  Having
been exiled to Russia during World War I, he returned to Lithuania in
1921.  He emigrated to South Africa in 1927 but also lived for many
years in London and Rhodesia.  He took a four-month trip beginning in
Nov. 1946 to Paris, Basel, Antwerp, and New York in order to meet with
other Yiddish writers and to discuss his writings.  He began publishing
in 1923 in Yiddish newspapers and journals in Kovno, Lithuania.  He
published two anthologies of his poetry - _Lider un poemes_ (Vilna:
Johannesburg, 1931) and _A shvalb oyfn dakh_ (Johannesburg, 1983) - as
well as two long poems, _Efsher_ and _Dos Letste Kapitl_ (both London ,
1947).  A significant amount of his work remains unpublished.

Scope and Contents Note

The collection of David Fram consists of correspondence, drafts (many
incomplete) of his literary works, clippings, and publications.  The
time span is the 1920s to 1980s.  Most of the collection is in Yiddish,
but some items are in English or French.  Correspondence to Fram
includes business colleagues; family members; Hebrew writer, Yossi
Gamzu; Yiddish writers, H. Erlikh, Yudl Mark, Nachman Mayzel, Chaim
Sacks and David Wilkin; P.E.N.  South African Centre; Dorem-afrikaner
Yidishe kultur-federatsye (South African Yiddish Cultural Federation)
and Yidishe kultur-federatsye, Cape Town, South Africa (Yiddish Culture
Federation).  Correspondence from Fram includes business colleagues;
family members; Jewish artists, Alva and Bencjon Benn; Fram's
translator, Joseph Leftwich; Yiddish writers, Meylekh Bakalczuk-Felin,
Jonathan Batnitzky, Leah Benson-Rink, Leon Bernstein, Benjamin Jacob
Bialostotzky, Hirsh Bloshtein, Jocob Botoshansky, Richard Feldman, Jacob
Glatstein, Itshe Goldberg, S.J.  Goldsmith, Chaim Grade, Za lman Levi,
Chaim Sacks, Israel Jacob Schwartz, Levi Shalit, M. Tabatznik and David
Wilkin; P.E.N.  South African Centre; and Dorem-afrikaner Yidishe
kultur-federatsye (South African Yiddish Cultural Federation).  His
literary works include poetry, prose and literary criticism.


The collection is arranged in three series:  Correspondence, Literary
works, Biography and assorted.  Correspondence is arranged
chronologically.  Literary Works are arranged by genre as correctly as

Container List

Box 2

Series 1. Correspondence

Folder  Description

         1 Correspondence, 1920s
         2 Correspondence, 1930s
         3 Correspondence, 1940s
         4 Correspondence, 1950s
         5 Correspondence, 1960s
         6 Correspondence, 1970s
         7 Correspondence, 1980s
         8 Letters from Fram to Jacob Botoshansky (Mar. 11, 1948; Sept.
           26, 1964)
         9 Letter from Jacobo Denker and Dorita Windler (Buenos Aires,
           Argentina) to Zisle Tabakavitsh (Johannesburg, South Africa,
           Jan. 21, 1982)
        10 Correspondence, no date or no year

Series 2. Literary works by Fram

        11 Poem "Diamonds"
        12 Poem "In Afrike" (chapters 1--3)
        13 Poem "In Afrike" (p. 2--7, various copies)
        14 Poem "In Afrike" (p. 1--2, unnumbered [unable to correlate])
        15 Poetry (Yiddish)

Titled poems are in quotation marks.  Untitled poems are without
quotation marks.

1. [Recto] Avade vi s'kukt oys vet men shoyn zen groyse glikn
    [Verso] Gots viln mit got

2. Bay Dolke Masmazshnik flegt men zikh dervisn (4 unnumb. pp.)

3. "Beronis"
4. Di breter fun di klotskes hiltserne...
5. Dervayle hot di kar dergreykht shoyn yene felder,
6. Dos alts hot er gehat oyf zikh (verso also contains text)
7. Du bist gevezn ongeton in shvartsn... (6 p.:, p. 6, 7, 15, 59-61)
8. Di dzshongls un di shtet, dos khaye un der mentsh (3 p.: p. 2-4)
9. [Recto] Er hot aropgekukt keseyder arunter
   [Verso] Genug tsu zingen vegn shneyelekh un blumen
10. Es zaynen ergets-vu fargangen trit- (3 p.: p. 1, 3, 1 unnumb. p.
    earlier version of p. 1)
11. Farshparte in tfises, vi hilfloze shof (2 p.: p. 2, 3)
12. Flekhtlekh, klotslekh, lekelekh (other text on verso)
13. Fun destvegn (verso contains marked out lines)
14. Fun vaytn hot an alte vasermil geklapt, nokh kloymersht
15. Der gantser tararam- dos shtupenish. Der lyarem
16. "Gemeynt hob ikh"
17. Got iz zikh gezesn bay zayn alte shtibke, (verso also contains
    marked out lines)
18. Di hint arum di farmers hobn zikh kayn ort (3 unnumb. p.)
19. Hot men take teykefdik derlangt zikh a loz (10 p.:  p. 3-6,
    8-10, 13-18)
20. Hot men zikh take yetst ? genumen
21  Hot opgeshla??? er nokh a Bur (version contains text)
22. Hot yeder gehat a shteyger vos tsu zogn
23. Ikh bin oyf mider erd an umetiker geyer (2 p.: 2 variant cops.)
24. In mitn fun der nakht hot mitamol
25. Ir libe brent zikh teykef oys punkt vi a bintl shtroy (verso also
    contains text)
26. Der kalter naser vint hot im a shmits
27. Karta hot geshlofn sheyn in tsveytn kheyder
28. Khe khe, a vunder mamesh iz mit im geshen
29. Dos kleyd in velkher Lina iz gegangen tsu der levaye fun ir man
30. Di lid iz ongeshribn far mayn fraynd un zayn froy--Yaakov Zibuts
    (6 p.)

Folder 16

31. "Matebele" (A kapitl fun der poeme)
32. Me ret, men makht a trunk. Men heybt dem kos--"mi-shir-mi-shir"...
    (2 p.: p. 2-3)
33. Men bet dokh oytsres gold haynt far a shtikl karka (erd)...un erd
    vert nisht farfoylt, (version also contains text)
34. Men hot gepruvt zey oyssamen, tseshtirn...
35. Men hot zikh vider mit a mol dermont fartsveyfltn...
36. narish im hot zikh nokh alts gedukht
37. Mir tretn in blut (4 p.: 2 cops. p. 1)
38. Mit heln, loykhtndikn farb fun frishe kreyter (1 p.: p. 4)
39. Mit yorn nokh tsurik--in Kovne vu er iz dan geven (1 p.: p. 2)
40. Nisht makhmes...
41. Nor hilfloz es zaynen di shvartse milyonen (14 p.: p. 4-7; variant
    cop., 6 p.)
42. Nor hot geduld un vart, kh'hob oykh vos tsu dertseyln -
43. Nor mit a mol derlangt um Yakub zikh a shtel fun h?tn bank (verso
    contains marked out lines)
44. Oys???n un potur di shedim
45. Oysgeloshen ale menores
46. [Recto] Punkt vi men volt gevolt aroys
    [Verso] Ot take davke zayn, ven farmers
47. "Samara" (2 p.)
48. Tsi vel ikh far ayn mentsh zingen (2 cops.: 1 handrwritten,
    1 partially typed)
49. Tsu tantsn un loyfn teykef nokh di tents tseefenen di vaser (verso
    also contains text)
50. Un s'iz der vayser himl (verso contains marked out lines)
51. Un yor nokh yor...(2 p. [may be separate poems]: p. 8, 1 p. unnumb.)
52. Ven ikh kum tsurik nokh yorn no ve nod
53. Ver zogt dos, Afrike, az du bist mir dervider (3 p.: unnumb. p.:
    variant copy of p. 1)
54. Vi s'volt
55. Volt ikh shoyn fun im do aleyn a derleyzter (1 p.: p. 29)
56. Vu s'tript dos heyse blut fun zayne negl oyfn groz, (2 p.: p. 3-4)
57. Zay flegn mir farshafen freyd...
58. Zay flegn vi ganavim bafaln veyte farmers aropknaydn le-moshl fun
    (partial letter on verso)
59."A zelner"
60. Di zun iz shayn geshtaynen hoykh in himl (1 p.: p. 18)

Folder 17 Poetry (English)

1. "First girl" (1 p.)
2. "Gypsy Song" (1 p.)
3. "The Last Chapter" (translated by Joseph Leftwich) (4 p.: pp. 1, 2, 3,

Original Yiddish edition published as:  _Dos Letste Kapitl_ (London:
Narod Press, 1947).  Revised selections from the translation published
in The Golden Peacock (New York:  Thomas Yoseloff, 1961, pp. 631-632).
A copy of the typescript of the complete English translation is located
in the Library of the University of Witwatersand (South Africa)

       English translation                      Yiddish edition

        p. 1                        p. 5-7
        p. 2                        p. 12-15 (line 2), p. 19 (line 13)-20
                                       (line 6)
        p. 3 (lines 1-3)            p. 20 (lines 7-8)
        p. 3 (lines 1-14)           p. 22 (line 7)-23 (line 2)
        p. 3 (lines 15-19)          p. 23 (lines 15-22)
        p. 15 (lines 1-2)           p. 64 (lines 10-11)
        p. 15 (line 3)              p. 65 (line 9)
        p. 15 (lines 4-6)           not in Yiddish
        p. 15 (line 7)              p. 65 (lines 10-11)
        p. 15 (lines 8-9)           p. 65 (lines 12-13)
        p. 15 (lines 10-11)         not in Yiddish
        p. 15 (line 12)             p. 65 (line 16)
        p. 15 (lines 13-14)         not in Yiddish
        p. 15 (lines 15-16)         p. 66 (lines 5-6)
        p. 15 (lines 17-20)         p. 66 (lines 9-14)
        p. 15 (lines 21-22)         p. 67 (lines 4-5)
        p. 15 (line 23)             not in Yiddish
        p. 15 (line 24)             p. 67 (line 5)
        p. 15 (lines 25-26)         p. 67 (lines 6-7)
        p. 15 (line 27)             p. 67 (line 13)
        p. 15 (line 28)             p. 67 (line 14)
        p. 15 (lines 29-31)         p. 67 (lines 15-16)
        p. 15 (line 32)             p. 68  (lines 1-2)
        p. 15 (line 33)             not in Yiddish
        p. 15 (line 34)             p. 68 (line 10)

4. "Scott" (2 versions. Version 1: p. 2-7. Version 2: p. 6-10)
Yiddish version serially published in Dorem Afrike v. 8 no. 4-11
(Dec. 1955--July 1956).

Folder 18 Prose Essays

1. "Berele Hagai--der bavuster hazan fun Nyu York in Dorem Afrike" (2
2. Northcliffe (1 p.: p. 2)

 Short stories

2. "Dorem Afrike fun der vaytns: ayndrukn un shtimungen" (9 p.: p. 1-9)
3. "Derveyl iz ongekumen Margo" (3 p. : p. 2, 3, 11)
4. "Gevis vays ikh vegn geshikhte" (4 p.: p. 1-4)
5. "Hot in Fortrn's" (1 p.: p. 12, 2 cops.)
6. "Ikh ze Got" (36 p.: p. 1-36)
7. "Mayn Got, iz dos Karmen?!..." (1 unnumb. p.)

19 Literary criticism

1. A. Liski (2 p.: p. 1-2, 2 cops.)
2. Malka Locker, b. 1887 (1 p.: p. 3)
3. Chaim Sacks (1 p.: p. 4)
4. M. Tabatznik, 1894-1895
          A. "Der dertseyler" (2 p.: p. 1, 2 copys.)
          B. "Der mentsh, der dikhter, un zayn arum. Fun dem bukh
Yidishe sharlatans un gute mentshn, vos ikh hob getrofn in Dorem Afrike:

(5 p.:    p. 1, 4, p. 1, 2 cops.)
          C. "Kalmon Bulan" (4 p., p. 1-4)
          D. No title: about Kalmon Bulan (2 p.: p. 2-3)
          E. "Un zayne bikher" (version 1:  2 p.:  p. 1, 2 cops.;
              version 2: 2 p.:  p. 1-2)
          F. No title: about Tabatznik's writings (1 p.: p. 2)
5. David E. Wolpe (1 p.)

Series 3. Biographical and Assorted

Folder   Description

20 Biographical information on Fram

21 Assorted items

1. _Dorem Afrike_ (July--Sept. 1982 issue)

2. Hirsh Osherowitch.  "In payn gelayterte dikhtung:  vegn bukh A Volkn
un a veg fun Dovid Volpe (photocopy from _Di goldene keyt_, Tel Aviv:  7
3. Simon Weber. "Di 'mysterye' arum der petire fun Hayyim Grade, a. h."
  ( photocopied clipping from _The Jewish Daily Forward_, New York,
  1982, 2. p.)
4. "Hulle skoonheid vergaan nie" (with picture of Adele Kruger)
   (photocopied clipping, 1 p.)
5. Sol Liptzin. Book review of _Shtile vegn_ (Silent roads) by H.
   Ehrlich (1p.)
6. Unknown English language reviewe of Fram's _Dos Letste kapitl_
   (London,1947 p. 2 only)
7. Examples of Hebrew forms of address for letters
8. Grocery list (on paper fragment)
9. Scrap sheet from Editor of _Dorem Afrike_.

                                 End of Box 1

             Oversize (not filmed)

10. Newspaper: _Keneder odler_ (Montreal) (2 issues: Sept. 19, 28, 1952)
  Date:  14 January 2004
  From: Leonard Prager <

Subject:  Books Received:  a. Lomir hern gute psures; b. _Jiddistik
Mitteilungen_ 30 + Beilage

a. Yoysef Guri, _Lomir hern gute psures; yidishe brokhes un kloles_.
Yerusholaim:  Hebreisher Universitet, 2004 [ISBN 965-90250-2-5] [English
t.p.:  Yosef Guri.  _Let's Hear Only Good News; Yiddish Blessings and
Curses_.  Jerusalem:  The Hebrew University, 2004.  This latest of Yosef
Guri's specialized four-language lexicons is no less usefully and
attractively compiled than its predecessors (see TMR 3.017 and
6.006), making it accessible to laymen and scholars alike.  The
profusion of indexes makes it a research tool; its subject matter and
illustrations make it a fun -- but not only a fun --book.  Distributed
by Magnes Press.  P.O.  Box 39099.  Fax 972-2-5633370, Jerusalem 91390,
Israel.  E-mail:  Website:

b. _Jiddistik Mitteilungen_ Nr. 30 (November 2003).  The lead essay of
this new issue is Reinhold S. Ruf's "Ein frueneuzeitliches Zeugnis
juedischer Gerichtsbarkeit in jiddischer Sprache aus dem Thueringischen
Staatsarchiv Meiningen."

c. _Jiddistik Mitteilungen_ Beilage zu 30/2003.  The composite index to
issues no. 1 to 30 of this journal covering "Jiddistik in
deutschsprachigen laendern" will be welcomed by Yiddish scholars all
over.  It is organized into three discrete lists, the first a list of
articles divided into seven categories:  Sprach; Literatur;
Handschriften, Druckwesen, Bibliographie; Juedische Kultur und
Geschichte; Tagungen; Jiddisch-Unterricht, Forschung und Lehre;
Nachrufe.  Items are numbered consecutively from 1 to 129 and are
alphabetically ordered in each group and subgroup.  The second list,
numbered 130 to 185 and alphabetical, covers reviews; the third list is
an alphabetized register of authors and gives the numbers of articles
and/or reviews. Very useful indeed.
End of The Mendele Review Vol. 08.001
Editor, Leonard Prager
Associate Editor, Joseph Sherman

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