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