Der Panther ("The Panther")
by Rainer Maria Rilke
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch
His weary vision's so overwhelmed by iron bars,
his exhausted eyes see only blank Oblivion.
His world is not our world. It has no stars.
No light. Ten thousand bars. Nothing beyond.
Lithe, swinging with a rhythmic easy stride,
he circles, his small orbit tightening,
an electron losing power. Paralyzed,
soon regal Will stands stunned, an abject thing.
Only at times the pupils' curtains rise
silently, and then an image enters,
descends through arrested shoulders, plunges, centers
somewhere within his empty heart, and dies.
Keywords/Tags: Rainer Maria Rilke, German, translation, sonnet, panther, cat, animal, nature, extended metaphor, analogy, allegory, freedom, eyes, vision, iron, bar, bars, cage, prison, world, star, light, starlight, stride, orbit, electron, atom, particle, power, will, paralyzed, impotent, abject, pupils, curtain, curtains, image, shoulder, shoulders, heart, emptiness, loneliness, alienation, death, void