The clock’s sounding gently its dreary tick-tock,
The house is so still, the walls are so grey…
It’s achingly dismal, the silence is heavy,
How slowly the hours are slipping away…

The windows start shaking – it is a cart passing,
Accompanied by a cold autumn gale.
It’s dim in the house, in the darkening stillness
You hear a child next door, as it starts to wail.

Weary, Father’s asleep over Talmud,
Mother fretting patches a vest,
Pale pensive Daughter sits hunched in a corner
And writes to a Brother who has long flown the nest:

‘My brother, gladly I’d spare you the truth
And soothe you with lies, for your woe too, is deep.
But lying is hard and I cannot keep secret
The sobs that I stifle at night, robbed of sleep.

Father earns nothing, I’m ailing and broken,
Mother is worn out from bearing the load.
We’re yoked to the wagon and straining to pull it,
Yet cannot reach what we’re aiming for – bread!

It’s true of our neighbour and of every household,
The shtetl is more like a cemetery now.
The shops are all empty, the factory’s idle,
The young folk are restlessly leaving for town…

The clock’s sounding gently its dreary tick-tock,
The house is so still, the walls are so grey…
It’s achingly dismal, the silence is heavy,
How slowly the hours are slipping away…

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