Originally written in Russian by P. Mamaychuk in 1943 with music by L. Shokhin, this song was translated to a Hebrew marching song called “There, Far in the Forest,” which was popular with Zionist youth groups. It was translated to Hebrew again by Rafael Klachkin, entitled “In the Plains of the Negev,” and recorded in 1948 by Yaffa Yarkoni, becoming an anthem of the War of Independence. The lyrics, translated to English below, reveal the heartbreaking loss of war and the sacrifice made in order to establish the State of Israel.
In the Plains of the Negev
In the plains of the Negev the dew glitters.
In the plains of the Negev a defender has fallen,
the lad is not breathing, the heart has stopped,
The wind strokes the moon’s forelock. (X2)
Stricken with sadness and a dreadful grief,
An old mother stands and says her piece,
the tears pour from your mother’s eyes,
A bullet of lead came and pierced your heart. (X2)
I weighed my first-born by the waters of the sea,
and I raised you to guard the nation.
They didn’t break me with grief and obstacles
they didn’t make me fall, my son, despite it all.
Then a tall lad strode forward,
and said to her: Mom, do not cry!
Our boys, Mom, in days of command,
face our foes, Mom, like an iron wall. (X2)
Facing an enemy, a bloodthirsty, hostile king,
allow me and I shall be a son to you.
In the plains of the Negev he pressed her hand.
If you will it, friends, it’s no fairytale. (X2)