Rainer Maria Rilke

Prague / Czech Republic
Rainer Maria Rilke
Prague / Czech Republic

The Panther

Rating: 3.4
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.
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COMMENTS
Ruta Mohapatra 05 May 2018
The poet has a lot of empathy for the poor beast trapped behind bars. We all love our freedom!
1 3 Reply
Arun Bhatdwaj 07 December 2017
What a beautiful ecpression.
1 2 Reply
Jane Urhobocha Ejobofor 15 February 2017
well described.... well penned... thanks for sharing
4 3 Reply
Jozef Neumann 27 August 2016
A very powerful poem. Great work, Rainer Maria.
3 4 Reply
Michael Ryland 28 December 2015
I first encountered this poem while watching Awakenings. Robert DeNiro's character sends Robin Williams to the library to find this and it is used to explain the affliction DeNiro and the other patients are suffering. So, whenever I read these lines, my interpretation is twofold. It is brilliant imagery. One sees the great cat caged and stressed, awaiting a moment for the feeling of freedom to flow over him. It holds a quiet power.
11 7 Reply
Michael Morgan 09 August 2014
Shows what can be gained by focusing beyond the limits of the individual ego- a prison cell, after all.
12 12 Reply
Michael Morgan 09 August 2014
Must really be read in the original. 'Ist wie ein Tanz von Kraft um eine Mitte' is beyond translation, despite many attempts. Achieving the true goal of poetry, the line translates the gist of a great idea into the rhythms of felicitous phrasing and word sonics..
14 11 Reply
Richard Tattershall 25 January 2012
How many millions of us have visited to a zoo and seen that same scene of an animal behind bars, felt a little unease or even a trace of empathy but then did nothing. It takes a very special genius to see what millions of others have seen and say something that while the others sensed it, themselves did nothing.
32 12 Reply
Jacques Van Damme 12 February 2010
A translation by Stephen Cohn: The bars which pass and strike across hisgaze have stunned his sight: the eyes have lost their hold. To him it seems there are athousand bars, a thousand bars, and nothing else. No World And pacing out that mean, constricted ground, so quiet, supple, powerful his stride is like a ritual dance performed around the centre where his baffled will survives. The silent shutter of his eye sometimes slides open to admit some thing outside; an image runs through each expectant limb and penetrates his heart and dies
41 9 Reply
Andrew Hoellering 15 January 2010
Der Panther Sein Blick ist vom Vorübergehn der Stäbe So müd geworden, daß er nichts mehr hält. Ihm ist, als ob es tausend Stäbe gäbe und hinter tausend Stäben keine Welt. Der weiche Gang geschmeidig starker Schritte, Der sich im allerkleinsten Kreise dreht, Ist wie ein Tanz von Kraft um eine Mitte, In der betäubt ein großer Wille steht. Nur manchmal schiebt der Vorhang der Pupille Sich lautlos auf. - Dann geht ein Bild hinein, geht durch der Glieder angespannte Stille - Und hört im Herzen auf zu sein.
23 11 Reply

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