The Panther, Rilke


One of my all-time favorites. This German-to-English translation was written by my beloved, Bart Odom:

The Panther

From going through the bars, his gaze has become so exhausted
that it holds nothing anymore.
To him it is as if there are a thousand bars,
and beyond the thousand bars, no world.

The easy swinging of that lithe, potent stride,
which turns in on itself in ever-smaller circles,
is like a dance of power around a center
in which a great will stands benumbed.

Only at times the curtain of the pupils
rises silently – then an image goes in,
goes through the tightened stillness of the limbs,
enters the heart and is no more.