Panther, Jardin des Plantes, Paris: May 1996

The Panther
Jardin des Plantes, Paris

From passing always over bars, his gaze
has grown so weary, it admits no more.
For him there are a thousand bars, it seems,
behind those thousand bars, no other world.

The fluid working of his light, firm stride
that turns him in the very smallest circle
is like the dance of force around a center
in which a giant will stands stupefied.

Only sometimes, the veil upon his eye
moves silently aside:--an image enters,
travels through his tense, arrested members,
and settles in his heart to die.

 

by Rainer Maria Rilke

translated from the German
by Chuck Guilford

 

More Rilke poems translated by Chuck