The Panther

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 behinbd 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.

R.M.Rilke
Adapted by Stephen Mitchell

Der Panther

Im Jardin des Plantes, Paris


Sein Blick ist von Vorübergehen 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.

For purists: Here you find a selection of translations and adaptations. Interestingly, Stephen Mitchell – without even speaking German, comes closest to conveying the mood of the poem. But more and more I am coming to the conclusion, that it is virtually impossible to translate a poem with all it has got…

About Michaela

I am a wanderer and a wonderer, like you are. I love our journey and to walk in the company of friends – to learn, experience, share, laugh, cry and above all I simply love this marvelous, magical, mysterious life. I have no plan (cannot believe I am saying this) and my only intention is to be truthful to myself and others.
This entry was posted in Books & Poetry, Rilke's Reality and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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