Der Panther

Sein Blick ist vomVorübergehn 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.
Poem by Rainer Maria Rilke
The Panther

His sight from ever gazing through the bars
has grown so blunt that it sees nothing more.
It seems to him that thousand of bars are
before him, and behind him nothing merely.

The easy motion of his supple stride,
which turns about the very smallest circle,
is like a dance of strength about a center
in which a will stands stupefied.

Only sometimes when the pupil’s film
soundlessly opens — then one image fills
and glides through the quiet tension of the limbs
into the heart — and ceases and is still.
Translation by C. F. MacIntyre
The Panther

His gaze those bars keep passing is so misted
with tiredness, it can take in nothing more.
He feels as though a thousand bars existed,
and no more world beyond them before.

Those supply-powerful paddings, turning there
in the tiniest of circles, well might be
the dance of forces round a center where
some mighty will stands paralyticly.

Just now and then the pupil’s noiseless shutter
is lifted — then an image will indart,
down through the limbs’ intensive stillness flutter,
and end its being in the heart.
Translation by J. B. Leishman
The Panther

His gaze has been so worn by the procession
Of bars that it no longer makes a bond.
Around, a thousand bars seem to be flashing,
And in their flashing show no world beyond.

The lissome steps which round out and re-enter
That tightest circuit of their turning drill
Are like a dance of strength about a center
Wherein there stands benumbed a mighty will.

Only from time to time the pupil’s shutter
Will draw apart — an image enters then,
To travel through the tautened body’s utter
Stillness — and in the heart end.
Translation by Walter Arndt
The Panther

From seeing the bars, his seeing is so exhausted
that it no longer holds anything anymore.
To him the world is bars, a hundred thousand
bars, and behind the bars, nothing.

The lithe swinging of that rhythmical easy stride
which circles down to the tiniest hub
is like a dance of energy around a point
in which a great will stands stunned and numb.

Only at times the curtains of the pupil rise
without a sound — then a shape enters,
slips through the tightened silence of the shoulders,
reaches the heart, and dies.
Translation by Robert Bly
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.
Translation by Stephen Mitchell
The Panther

The pacing past the bars, the steady stare
A tiredness grown so nothing holds him here
Of a thousand iron bars he seems aware
A thousand bars, no world beyond this sphere.

With supple strength, with soft and gentle mode
He turns in smallest circles about his flank
It's like a dance of power around a node
His great volition standing stunned and blank.

Sometimes his eyelids rise so he can sense
A picture enter in the moment's part
Descend through limbs of sinew, silent, tense
And thinning, fading, cease within his heart.
Translation by Gerald Duffy
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