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The Panther


After Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 -1926)

At my first glance, I see he’s done with bars.
So weary is he now he cannot halt.
To him, the only things he sees are bars,
Beyond the bars, there is no grassy veldt.

The steady pace of that most supple stride
Turns silently in circles like a dance
Of massive strength and half-lost regal pride.
Benumbed and dull, he’s moving in a trance.

And then, the curtains of his pupils part.
A shape appears before his watchful eyes.
It passes through the suddenly taut limbs,
Goes to the very inmost heart, and dies.

© Alice Park 2005

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