Chicago; L. M. Stein, 1952. Item #30557
(FT) Publishers cloth. 8vo. 125, XXXV pages. 22 cm. First edition. In Yiddish; with preface and introduction in English. English title page: “Selected songs and Poems. ” Edited and with a preface and introduction by Alfred T. Reingold, and a critical and biographical essay by A. Margolin. Bound in elaborate decorative cloth and boards, with frontispiece portrait of the poet and eleven pages of music notation. Dual Yiddish-English book of Isaac Reingold’s works compiled by his son, Alfred T. Reingold, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of his father’s death. “When Isaac Reingold died one hundred years ago in Chicago, he was mourned as ‘the greatest Yiddish poet in the west. ’ As a pioneer folk poet and lyricist for the theater, Reingold wrote during the same era as the proletarian poets David Edelstadt, Morris Winchevsky, Joseph Bovshover, and Morris Rosenfeld. Although Reingold’s name is almost completely forgotten today, his songs were among the most popular of his time. Reingold was born near Luck [known as ’Lutsk’ in Yiddish], Wolyn, Poland, in 1873. His real name was Toomim. In 1890 or ’91, he came to America with his father and worked hard in the sweatshops of Baltimore, Milwaukee, Chicago, and New York. In Chicago, he was known not only as a poet, but also as a singer of labor and folk songs. He would perform at gatherings and in concert halls, and the songs were heartily embraced, especially by working folk. Over time he also became well-known in the theatrical circles. He wrote an opera, ‘By the Rivers of Babylon, ’ that was successfully staged in Chicago. At about 30 years of age, his life was cut short. He was a victim of the proletarian disease—tuberculosis. Reingold’s songs focus on social motifs. As N. B. Minkoff writes, ‘His songs are, for the most part, imbued with humility, melancholy, and tears. His mood is that of an innocent, downtrodden person. His tone is quiet and gloomy. ’ He called himself a ‘poet of tears’ and wrote about the difficult and bitter condition of the worker in the sweatshop. ‘The worker only creates goods for others; for himself, he is left with poverty and grief…’ One of the best-known of Reingold’s songs is ‘Two Friends, ’ which tells of Shmulik and Azrielik [this name later changed by singers to Gavrilik], who played together when they were growing up, ‘with horses, with swords, in the sand and in the dirt—Shmulik is the lasher, Azrielik, the horse. ’ They arrive in the Golden Land and are no longer friends. Shmulik becomes a ‘little boss, ’ a ‘landlord, ’ and Azrielik becomes his ‘hand’ and lives in ‘the basement, in the gutter. ’ Even in Heaven, it’s the same: ‘Shmulik is the lasher, Azrielik, the horse. ’ For Reingold, the end to all the troubles will come when Jews return to the Land of Israel: ‘Live on, Jew. Your country, your old Palestine, the old Mother Zion, can once again blossom and become fertile, as once upon a time…’ Reingold wrote on historical motifs, among them a eulogy for the cruel, hateful Tsar Alexander III, upon whom he pours curses. He wrote on national motifs, such as the song ‘I Am a Jew, ’ concerning Jerusalem; ‘Judah Maccabee, ’ regarding Jewish holidays; and even in praise of Jewish food, as in his ode to a favorite dish, concluding, ‘Oy, long live the Jewish kugel! ’ One of his famous songs, sung in the play, ‘Khokhmes Noshim’ (The Wisdom of Women) , is ‘A Year After the Wedding, ’ in which a wife bewails her lot; how, in the course of a year, she has become a wife and a damale, a servant and a mamale. She swears that it’s better to remain a moyd—an old maid. Reingold also wrote Yiddish lyrics to American popular songs of the 1890s. [Often cheated, he received little or no payment. ] His songs were unique and beloved by the public. Played on simpatico accordions, they matched the moods of his readers and listeners. His nationalist songs awakened a Jewish consciousness, and his rhyming couplets brought rare moments of relief and pleasure to the toiling immigrants of that era. Isaac’s widow, Anna, lived until 1950. She and their three children made their homes in the Chicago area. Only the late Alfred, a scientist, took the name Reingold. The late Bess Toomim Weinstein, a music lover, lived in the Ravinia area of Highland Park. Her daughter, Jean, is a professional musician now living in London, England. The late Phillip Toomin was a LaSalle Street lawyer who resided in Glencoe. (He changed the last letter of the family name. ) His son is Appellate Judge Michael P. Toomin, First District, 5th Division. ” (Isaac Reingold, “The Greatest Yiddish Poet of the West” by Bev Chubat, in Chicago Jewish History, Vol. 33, no. 4, Fall 2009) . Subjects: Yiddish poetry. Light wear to edges of cloth, otherwise fine. Very good condition. (ART-18-1).