Rilke’s Panther – a translation

The Panther by Rainer Maria Rilke


His gaze has grown so tired from ceaseless

Passing of the bars that it can hold nought else.

It seems as if there were a thousand bars;

Beyond those thousand bars there is no world.


The soft pad of his supple, sturdy pace,

Turning in the very smallest circles,

Is like a powerful dance around a core,

in which a great strength stands stunned.


Now and then the pupils’ veil slides open

Quietly – an image enters, penetrates

The tense stillness of the limbs –

And ceases in the heart.


Translated by Kim Russell

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