Wise Poets – Rainer Maria Rilke – The Panther

Rainer Maria Rilke (December 04, 1875 – December 29, 1926)

His vision, from the constantly passing bars,
has grown so weary that it cannot hold anything else.
It seems to him there are a thousand bars;
and behind the bars, no world.

As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
the movement of his powerful soft strides
is like a ritual dance around a center
in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

Only at times, the curtain of the pupils lifts, quietly.
An image enters in,
rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is gone.

Translation by Stephen Mitchell


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