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30 July 2010

The poem of a Shopkeeper

In his book The Jews of Ireland: from Earliest Times to the year 1910, Louis Hyman shares a poem written by Myer Joel Wigoder (1856-1933), who was a settler of Dublin about 1890. I think it tells a story common to so many of our ancestors.

When first in Dublin I arrived,
I shed hot bitter tears,
Penniless in a foreign land,
I faced the coming years.

Upon a frugel scale I lived,
So as to pay my way,
How hard I toiled that I might earn,
A few shillings each day.

I did not scorn to carry a bag.
And deal in humble wares,
My back bent low, I carried on,
Heedless of stones and stares.

In such a way I struggled on,
Scarce knowing what to do,
I changed my trade a score of times,
Ever trying something new.

Still, my spirit was unconquered,
And my confidence survived,
I forgot my previous failures,
And as a shopkeeper thrived.

Pictures, frames or writing paper,
I have all one may require,
Come to me and get your custom,
If things you do desire.

His work in the picture framing business must have finally paid off for him, as we see in the 1911 census, he had eight children living with him. He was at this time a Russian born widower.

The records of this family are in The Jews of the British Isles.

1 comment:

  1. I recently heard his words sung by an Irishman of note, Manus O'Riordan, who had added a few more lines, including some in Yiddische. This was at the the 100th birthday celebration of Max Levitas, Born Dublin 1st June 1915. Such a moving tribute and thank you for posting the original words.
    Vince Quinlivan, Whitechapel, London.