Zu Spinozas Ethik
Wie lieb ich diesen edlen
So einen armen kleinen
Die Höhe bringt
ihm nichts als Frost
Du musst schon
gütig mir verzeih'n
Du denkst sein Beispiel
zeiget uns eben
On Spinoza's Ethics
How I love this noble man
Such a poor small lad
Loftiness offers him
nothing but frost
You'll kindly forgive me
You think his example
would show us
©2007-2008 English translation by Jonathan Ely
Note on Transcription
Several people who looked at the manuscript image suggested variant details in the transcription. The transcription above is that of the translator, Jonathan Ely. Note that he included two lines crossed out in the original manuscript.
This can be compared with the transcription by Max Jammer, Einstein and Religion: Physics and Theology (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999), p. 267. (See also Jammer's partial translation, below.)
stanza 2, line 2: Jammer capitalizes "Du".
stanza 4, line 1 :no apostrophe in "verzeihn"
stanza 4, line 3: no apostrophe in "gediehn"
stanza 5, line 2: Was diese Lehre den Menschen kann geben.
Otherwise, Jammer uses ue instead of ü, but this is just a typographical convention.
Note on Translations
Thanks to Jonathan Ely for the translation above. Charles Senger and Riccardo Pozzo also kindly provided literal translations. I am told the original poem is not very good; still, it is a significant illustration of Einstein's perspective.
A literal translation is offered by Ben Thorn (2007.10.16) as the conclusion of a bulletin board interchange.
Max Jammer, in Einstein and Religion: Physics and Theology (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999), p. 43, provides a translation of the first stanza:
How much do I love that noble man
More than I could tell with words
I fear though he'll remain alone
With a holy halo of his own.
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"Zu Spinozas Ethik", Albert Einstein Archive, 31-018
I love this noble man / Wie lieb ich diesen edlen Mann / Einstein's poem to
Vleeptron_Z, 1 December 2007
Einstein and Religion: Physics and Theology [sample text] by Max Jammer
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