You ask what it is this fleeting breath
If I tell (you) the truth about it, it is long
It is an illusion brought to light from the sea
And then it returns to the bottom of that sea


F4 29

Into this Universe, and Why not knowing
Nor Whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing;
And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,
I know not Whither, willy-nilly blowing.

Nic 232

Tu me demandais ce que c'est que cette fantasmagorie des choses d'ici-bas. Te dire à cet égard toute la vérité serait trop long: c'est une image fantastique qui sort d'une vaste mer et qui rentre en-suite dans cette même vaste mer.

P 484

This illusory moment, what is 't? ask'st thou me?
Nay, to tell the whole truth a long story would be.
From a sea 't is a moment apparent become
And next moment gone back to th' abyss of the sea.

Th 318

What is this fleeting life dost ask of me?
Were I to tell, its story long would be.
'Tis but a breath, felt, wafted from some sea,
And then blown back to depths of that same sea!

Wh 271

You ask what is this life so frail, so vain,
'Tis long to tell, yet will I make it plain;
'Tis but a breath blown from the vasty deeps,
And then blown back to those same deeps again!

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