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Einstein's poem to Spinoza's Ethics

  1. Aug 2, 2006 #1


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    Einstein's poem On Spinoza's Ethics

    does anybody have a link to a legible online text of this poem?

    I would like a legible text of the German original and also
    a complete English translation if one exists.


    Maybe the poem is not so very good---at least to our contemporary ears. It was written around 1920 I think.
    But it shows Einstein liking Spinoza's ideas very much.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2006
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  3. Aug 2, 2006 #2


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    here are more links

    see page 6 for a couple of lines both in orig. German and in English translation.

    see also reference [13] of the above PDF article.

    a couple of lines is not enough, I think.
    would anyone be willing to type it in, if you happen to have a copy of the complete poem?

    here is another link I have not tried yet


    tried it, just the same handwritten MS

    here is something

    this is Chapter 1 of Jammer's book. PUP offers it as a free sample to get people to buy the book
    Here is the TOC

    Acknowledgments vii
    Introduction 3
    CHAPTER 1 Einstein's Religiosity and the Role of Religion in His Private Life 13
    CHAPTER 2 Einstein's Philosophy of Religion 65
    CHAPTER 3 Einstein's Physics and Theology 153
    Appendix 267
    Index 26

    the text of the poem is in the Appendix. But is it nowhere else on the web?

    Could this be a really really bad poem by Einstein. So bad that human decency prevents people from posting copy?
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2006
  4. Oct 16, 2007 #3
    Marcus - discovered your query while researching Spinoza. It's now a year later. If you're still interested in the English text & translation of Einstein's Spinoza poem, email me & I'll get them to you. - Ben
  5. Oct 16, 2007 #4
    Time is relative.
  6. Oct 16, 2007 #5
    So it is, waht. Somebody's out there, so here 'tis. The translation is mine, so beware:

    To Spinoza’s Ethic

    Wie lieb ich diesen edlen Mann
    Mehr als ich mit Worten sagen kann.
    Doch fuercht’ ich, dass er bleibt allein
    Mit seinem strahlenden Heiligenschein.

    So einem armen kleinen Wicht
    Den fuehrst Du zu der Freiheit nicht[.]
    Der amor dei laesst ihn kalt
    Das Leben zieht ihn mit Gewalt[.]

    Die Hoehe bringt ihm nichts als Frost
    Vernunft ist fuer ihn schale Kost[.]
    Besitz und Weib und Ehr’ und Haus
    Das fuellt ihn vom oben bis unten aus[.]

    Du musst schon guetig mir verzeihn
    Wenn hier mir fellt Muenchhausen ein,
    Dem als Einzigen das Kunststueck gediehn
    Sich am eigenen Zopf aus dem Sumpf zu zieh’n.

    Du denkst sein [replaces crossed out: ‘Spinozas’] Beispiel zeigt uns eben
    Was diese Lehre den Menschen kann geben[.]
    [crossed out original conclusion:
    Mein lieben Sohn, was faellt dir ein?
    Zum Nachtigall muss man geboren sein!]
    Vertraue nicht dem troestlichen Schein:
    Zum Erhabenen muss man geboren sein.

    To Spinoza’s Ethic

    How I love that noble man
    More than I can say with words.
    Though I’m afraid he’ll have to stay all alone
    Him with his shining halo.

    Thus a poor little dwarf
    Whom you do not lead to Freedom.
    Your ‘love of god’ leaves him cold
    Life drags him around by force.

    The high altitude brings him nothing but frostbite
    Reason is stale bread to him.
    Wealth & Women and Fame & Family
    That’s what fills him up between dawn and dusk.

    You must be good enough to forgive me
    For I can’t help thinking of Munchhausen just now,
    The only one ever to pull off the trick
    Of hoisting himself out of the cesspool by his own hair.

    You think his [Spinoza’s] example shows us
    What human teaching has to give.
    [My dear son, what’s gotten into you?
    You have to be born a Nightingale!]
    Don’t trust the comforting mirage:
    You have to be born to the heights.

    That's it. I was a bit, well, stunned by it at first.

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