FRAGEN by Heinrich Heine (trans. by John Hawkins)

By the sea, by the wild nocturnal sea

stands a young man,

his breast full of sighs, his head full of doubts,

and with melancholy lips, he asks the waves:

"O solve for me the riddle,

the agonizing age-old riddle,

over which by now so many heads have pondered:

heads in hieroglyphic caps,

heads in turbans and black berets,

heads in wigs and thousands of other

poor perspiring mortal heads --

tell me, what is the meaning of Man?

Where did he come from? Where is he heading?

Who lives above there among the golden stars?"

The waves murmur their perpetual murmur,

the wind blows, the people come and go,

the stars blink, indifferent and cold,

and a fool waits for an answer.