Set Design for Henrik Ibsen’s “Ghosts” by Edvard Munch

From Mame-Loshn/ Mother Tongue

I. Di rayze aheym/ The journey home
1. Der fentster/ The window
She looks out the window.
All is present.
The shadows of the past
fall elsewhere.

This is the wilderness
she thinks.

And our tongues have become
dry the wilderness has
dried out our tongues and
we have forgotten speech.

She looks out the window.
All is present.

2. Vider a mol/ Once again
Vider a moI
she tries
to rise above circumstances.

Too much is at stake
this morning
yedn frimorgn
every morning
to see what can be wrenched
from the unconscious
crowded darkness
fun ir zikorn
of her memory.
It is there
di gantse geshikhte
fun folk
the entire history
of the people.
Vider a mol
she reaches out
and tries to hold on
like a drowning
to a flimsy plank.
Ober der yam iz groys
but the sea is vast
un di velt
and the world
afile greser
even larger
                              afile greser.

3. Ziflit/ She flies
Zi flit
vi a foygl

like a bird
ibern yam

over the sea
iber di berg
over the mountains. 

tsurik back
and settles
oyf a boym
on a tree
lebn a moyer
near a wall
a moyer
fun a beys-oylem
a wall
                              of a cemetery.

4. A beys-oylem/ A cemetery
Der moyer
the wall
oyf der zayt
on this side
un oyf der zayt
and on this side
Oyf beyde zaytn   on both sides.
Oyf der zayt
a keyver

on this side
a grave
                             oyf der zayt
                             a vistenish
on this side
 a wasteland.
Der moyer
a beys-oylem
oyf der zayt

                             un oyf der zayt.

5. Kashes/ Questions
In velkhn yor?
 in what year?
Mit vemen?
with whom?
Di sibes?
 the causes?
Der rezultat?
 the outcome?
di geshikhte
the history
fun der milkhome
 of the war
fun dem sholem
of the peace
fun di lebn geblibene
 of the survivors
tsvishn fremde
among strangers
oyf der zayt
on this side
                          tsvishn meysim
among ghosts
                         oyf der zayt
on this side.

6. Zi shemt zikh/ She is ashamed

Zi shemt zikh.                   

She has forgotten
alts fargesn

forgotten it all.
Whom can I speak to?
                         she wonders. 

di mame            the mother
der tate              the father
di bobe              the grandmother
der zeyde          the grandfather

di oves              the ancestors
alts fargesn
forgotten it all
                          di gantse mishpokhe
                          the entire family
dos folk
the people
 Mit vemen
ken ikh redn?
Whom can I speak to?

di meysim farshteyen
mir afile nit

even the ghosts
                do not understand me.

7. In der fremd/ Among strangers
Vi azoy?          how
she wonders
                        should I speak?
                             Velkhe verter
which words
should I use
in der fremd
among strangers?
bloyz dem emes
                          only the truth
kayn lign nit
no lies.
Zi gedenkt
She remembers
di lektsies
 the lessons
di printsipn
 the principles
                       un zi shvaygt

and she remains

8. Di tsung/ The tongue

Zi shvaygt.

Di verter feln ir
she lacks the words
and all that she can force

is sound
unformed sound: 

der klang
 the sound
dos vort
 the word
di tzung
 the tongue
dos loshn
 the language
di trern
 the tears. 

9. Di rayze aheym/ The journey home
she flies
vi a foygl
 like a bird
vi a mes
like a ghost
iber di berg
 over the mountains
ibern yam
over the sea.
tsurik back
In der fremd
among strangers
iz ir heym
                  is her home.

ot do
 right here
muz zi lebn
she must live.
Ire zikhroynes
    her memories
             will become monuments
ire zikhroynes
will cast shadows.