I. Impotence

“It seems to him there are A thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.”

You try to break out of your cage
In a feat of fearsome strength. You pace
Behind the bars, and, in your rage,
You try to break out of your cage.
You’re in an unforgiving age;
Society will not embrace
You. Try to break out of your cage
In a feat of fearsome strength, then pace.

II. Power

“The movement of his powerful soft strides is like a ritual dance around a center”

Ignoring bars, in cyclic scope
He plots his path, pursues his prey.
Though never a breath of tight held hope
Escapes the bars. In cyclic scope
He circles with a steady lope.
His eyes, on fire, would like to flay
Offending bars. Instead, to cope,
He plots his path, avoids decay.

One thought on “Contrasting Thoughts on Rilke’s ‘Der Panther’

  1. I have read several translations of this on the web. I liked Steven Mitchell’s translation, with the exception of the use of the word “ritual. Those of you who know German, whcih word was he translating, and what’s the closest English equivalent.

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