The Panther

Years ago, I read "The Panther", a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke. I first encountered the poem in a collection given to me by an aunt who was a librarian. I no longer have the collection because it was destroyed when our house burnt down. However, the poem stuck with me. While the poem uses a panther to describe imprisonment, it made me think about Lyn.

Lyn was born with her disability. Her brain has always been damaged. We have gotten to know her capabilities over the years and adjusted our hopes and espectations accordingly. However, there have been moments of such profound and breathtaking insight that we have been surpised by her. At those times, I think back on "The Panther" and find it still rings true to me.

The Panther
- Rainer Maria Rilke

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.

For an interpretation and alternate translations of the poem, please visit The Beckoning.


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