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William Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets were first published on this day in 1609. While you may know how popular translations and performances of Shakespeare’s plays were with Yiddish speakers, his sonnets were also translated multiple times. Here we present two side-by-side translations of the famous Sonnet 18 (“Shall I compare you to a summer’s day?”).

Zol ikh dikh tsu a zumer-tog farglaykhn?
Bist milder, liblikher in yedn zin;
Durkh Frilings blitn roye vintn shlaykhn,
Un kurts iz fun dem zumer der termin:
Oftmol tsu heys dos oyg fun himl laykht,
Oft iz zayn goldener glants fartunklt gor,
Un oft dos sheyne fun der sheynkayt vaykht
Durkh tsufal, enderung fun der natur:
Dokh eybik lebn vet dayn zumers prakht,
Un vos du sheyns farmogst vet eybik vayln;
S’vet toyt nit hobn iber dir keyn makht,
Vayl bist fareybikt in di eybike tsayln;
Vi lang nokh mentshn otemen, oygn zen
Lebt mayn gedikht, un du vest nit fargeyn.

-A. Asen, 1944

Zol ikh farglaykhn dikh tsum zumer-tog?
Du bist dokh shener fil un mer geshtelt,
S’vet liber may-blit roy fun vint geyogt
Un zumer-tsayt vert oykh tsu shnel farvelkt;
Oft shaynt tsu heys dem himls oyg antbloyzt,
Amol fartunklt zikh zayn goldikayt,
Un alts vos sheyn fun sheynkayt tsert zikh oys,
Baroybt fun tsufal tsi natur-farbayt!
Nisht velkn, eybik vet dayn zumer zayn,
Un nit farlirn vet zayn prakhtikayt,
S’vet toyt nisht zogn: geyst in shotn mayn, —
Vayl shpanst in shoyres eybike tsu tsayt.
Biz mentshn otemen un s’zet der blik,
Lebt oykh mayn lid – un du bist lebedik.

-B. Lapin, 1953

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimm’d:

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st,

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Listen to a recitation of the original English sonnet by the great Shakespearean actor Sir John Gielgud.