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 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.

by Rainer Maria Rilke

Comments (15)

The poet has a lot of empathy for the poor beast trapped behind bars. We all love our freedom!
What a beautiful ecpression.
well described.... well penned... thanks for sharing
A very powerful poem. Great work, Rainer Maria.
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.
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