From so much eyeing of these bars
The panther’s gone cage-blind
So that it sees a thousand bars,
And not the world behind.
Lithely padding, circling
In movement without cease
It coils its body like a spring
That cannot find release.
And sometimes on its eye within,
The silent pictures start–
That rush through sinew, nerve and skin,
But vanish at the heart.
Rilke drew me in again; I’m not quite sure why. His lyricism? His romanticism? This particular poem’s fusion of imagism and philosophizing that, though it stops well short of banality, is certainly situated somewhere along the obviousness spectrum? Likely enough it was over-exposure to the slavish word-bound accuracy of over-respectful translators who run roughshod over sense and sensibility to turn–for example–this:
Sein Blick ist von Vorübergehen der Stäbe
so müd geworden, daß er nichts mehr hält. (Ranier Maria Rilke)
into this: Continue reading