Shteyt a bocher, shteyt un tracht,
tracht un tracht a gantze nacht.
Vemen tsu nemen un nit far shemen,
vemen tsu nemen un nit far shemen.

Tumbala, tumbala, tumbalalaika,
Tumbala, tumbala, tumbalalaika
tumbalalaika, shpiel balalaika
tumbalalaika - freylach zol zayn.

Meydl, meydl, ch'vel bay dir fregen,
Vos kan vaksn, vaksn on regn?
Vos kon brenen un nit oyfhern?
Vos kon benken, veynen on treren?

Narisher bocher, vos darfstu fregn?
A shteyn ken vaksn, vaksn on regn.
Libeh ken brenen un nit oyfhern.
A harts kon benkn, veynen on treren.

A young lad is thinking, thinking all night
Would it be wrong, he asks, or maybe right,
Should he declare his love, dare he choose,
And would she accept, or will she refuse?

Tumbala, tumbala, tumbalalaika,
Tumbala, tumbala, tumbalalaika
tumbalalaika, play Balalaika,
tumbalalaika - let us be merry.

Maiden, maiden tell me again
What can grow, grow without rain,
What can burn for many years,
What can long and cry without tears?

Silly young lad, why ask again?
It's a stone that can grow, grow without rain,
It's love that can burn for many long years,
A the heart that can yearn and cry without tears.

Translator's note:
Tumbalalaika is an old traditional Yiddish song from Russia or Poland.
It is a love song about finding a clever wife for marriage, who knows answers to all questions.

Languages on this page:
Yiddish - Hebrew - English - Swedish - Dutch - Russian - Portugese

LYRICS Folksong
MUSIC Russian folk tune
SINGER Various
CD Theodore Bikel's Treasury of Yiddish Folk & Theatre Songs


Words sent in by Mirjam Zach of Berlin, Germany
Portugese translation by Helena Wajsfels Zins of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Song chords and words from Folksongs and Footnotes pages 57-59
scanned with the permission of Theodore Bikel
Contact the publisher of Hebrew Songs.com

Hebrew English translation
Mah oseh, oseh hechalutz,
Ksheh hu bah, hu bah lekibutz?

Bah lekibutz, rotseh le'echol
Ro'eh bachurah - shocheyach hakol.
What does the pioneer do
When he goes to the kibbutz?

He comes to the kibbutz, wants to eat,
sees a young woman - and forgets everything.
Swedish Translation of Swedish version
Text Roland V Malmborg
// Tumbala, tumbala, tumbalal a ika,// a E 7 / - a
// tumbalalaika, s pela balal a ika. // -F a / d E 7 a

1. En yngling vandrar sakta i t a nkar. E 7
Hela natten hans hjärta b a nkar. a
Ska han våga a tt henne fr å ga?   F a
S ka han v å ga visa sin l å ga?       d E 7 a

// Tumbala, tumbala, tumbalal a ika,// a E 7 / - a
// tumbalalaika, s pela balal a ika. // -F a / d E 7 a

2. Flicka, flicka, får jag dig fråga: a E 7
Vad kan brinna utan låga?         a
Vad utom plogar är det som fårar? F a
Vad kan gråta utan tårar?          d E 7 a

// Tumbala, tumbala, tumbalal a ika,// a E 7 / - a
// tumbalalaika, s pela balal a ika. // -F a / d E 7 a

3. Kära du, så du kan fråga!       a E 7
Kärlek kan brinna utan låga.        a
Ensamheten ansiktet fårar,          F a
Hjärtat kan gråta utan tårar.         d E 7 a

1. A young wanderer deep in thoughts
his heart beating all night
shall he dare to ask her?
shall he dare to confide in her?

2. Girl, girl, may I ask you
what can burn without firewood
what can row without oars
what can cry without tears

3. My dear, yes, you may ask,
love can burn without firewood
loneliness can row without oars
the heart can cry without tears
First verse in Dutch with the last sentence in French, second verse in Afrikaans
Ned. Tekst: Ed Jansen en Kees Verhaar

´s Avonds als het kampvuur weer brandt
Het meer, het bos, het vochtige zand
Sterke verhalen, zang en muziek
Allerlei talen, C´est (tr è s) magnifique

Tumbala, tumbala, tumbalalaika
Tumbala, tumbala, tumbalalaika
Tumbalalaika, play balalaika
Tumbalalaika, play balalaika

´s Ochtends vroeg, het kampvuur gedoofd
Voor iedere tent een slaperig hoofd
Nieuwe verhalen in het verschiet
Niet langer dralen, nog een nieuw lied


Not a translation of the Yiddish but a different version to be sung to the same melody.
It speaks of friends in the ghetto, of Umschlagplatz, Appell etc.

(Thanks to Theo Bikel for the explanation)
Portugese Translation direct from the Yiddish
O rapaz está quieto, quieto e pensando.
Pensa e repensa a noite toda em
como se declarar sem passar vergonha
como se declarar sem passar vergonha.

REFRÃO: tumbala, tumbala, tumbalalaica
tumbala, tumbala, tumbalalaica
tumbalalaica, toque balalaica
tumbalalaica - e seja feliz.

Garota, garota, quero te perguntar
O que pode crescer, crescer sem chuva?
O que pode queimar sem parar?
O que pode ter saudade, chorar sem lágrimas?

Rapaz tolo, prá que perguntar?
Uma pedra pode crescer, crescer sem chuva.
O amor pode queimar sem parar.
Um coração pode ter saudade, chorar sem lágrimas.

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