A Hungarian poem

By Tibor Hartel (thanks to Laura Sutcliffe for proof-reading the translation!)

Around 10 years ago I read an exciting essay of the great Hungarian ecologist and thinker, Juhász-Nagy Pál. He quoted a verse from a poem of the Hungarian Nobel Price winner Albert Szent-Györgyi ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Szent-Gy%C3%B6rgyi ), called Psalmus Humanus. It has taken me some weeks to get the whole poem and effectively copied by hand the whole poem (common practice at those times) to have it with me as kind of “intellectual food” for a life journey. In the past few days I thought to share some verses with you, in this blog. Since I find no English translation I translated some verses myself. Here I apologize if the translation is not perfect – still I feel it gives back well the fears and concerns of Szent-Györgyi quite well.

Beyond hard core science and Impact Factors, this can be a way to influence thinking, feeling and reflection about us, our life, our trajectory and our place in this beautiful planet.

Szent-Györgyi Albert: Psalmus Humanus

Lord, who are You?

My strict Father,

Or my loving Mother?

Whose womb bore the Universe?

Are you the Universe itself?

Or, the Law, which dominates it?

Is the only reason you created life to untie it again?

Did you create me or did I create You?

To escape from my loneliness and my responsibility?

God! I don’t know, who you are,

But I cry to You in my great troubles,

Frightened by myself and my fellow men!

Maybe you don’t even understand my words,

But perceive my speechless song.

First Prayer: God

Lord, you are more powerful than your creation.

And your home is the Universe.

I perceived you like myself,

Evil, greedy and vain,

Who yearns for glorification and sacrifice from me,

Who avenges my minor sins,

To whom I should build a temple,

Whilst I leave my brothers homeless?

God! Let me praise You with

The enhancement of that tiny point,

Entrusted to me in your Creation.

Shower light on this earthly existence,

Warmth, goodwill and happiness.


Fourth prayer: Power (energy) and speed


You revealed to us the secret forces of materials,

To ease our burdens and beautify our lives.

You thought us to fly faster than our own sound,

That distance must no longer separate people.

We strive to concentrate its powers into projectiles,

And wing them to the farthest corners of the Earth,

To draw our human fellows in misery and destruction.

Leaving a scorched, lifeless earth behind.

God! Do not let us destroy the temple of life,

Allow me to use my skills for my own benefit and

Sanctify life with it,

Giving dignity to my existence.

Fifth prayer: the Earth

Lord! You gave this beautiful Earth as our home,

You have hidden immeasurable treasures in its depths,

You enable us to understand your work,

To ease our life, banish hunger and disease.

We dig out the treasures to waste them,

To create formidable instruments of destruction,

To destroy with them what other people are building,

While they do not turn against me and kill me and

my children.

Lord! Let us to be your companion in creation,

To understand and beautify the work of Your hand,

To make our planet the secure home of peace,

Abundance, joy and beauty.

One thought on “A Hungarian poem

  1. ps: the HU version itself is a translation (by Csillag Veronika) but i) I dont know from which language and ii) I dont find an (the?) English version on the net.

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