The Animal That Never Was

This is the animal that never was.
They didn’t know, and loved him anyway:
his bearing, his neck, the way he moved,
the light in his quiet eyes.

True, he didn’t exist. But because they loved him
he became a real animal. They made a space for him.
And in that clear, uncluttered space, he lifted his head
and hardly needed to exist.

They fed him: not with grain, but ever
with the chance that he could be.
And that so strengthened him

that, from within, he grew a horn.
All white, he drew near to a virgin and found himself
in a silver mirror and in her.

— Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus II, 4

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