The Panther

His gaze, forever blocked by bars,
is so exhausted it takes in nothing else.
All that exists for him are a thousand bars.
Beyond the thousand bars, no world.

The strong, supple pacing
moves in narrow circles.
It is a dance at whose center
a great will is imprisoned.

Now and again the veil over his pupils
silently lifts. An image enters,
pierces the numbness,
and dies away in his heart.

— Rilke, New Poems

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