From seeing the bars, his seeing is so exhausted
that it no longer holds anything anymore.
To him the world is made of bars, a hundred thousand
bars, and behind the bars, nothing.
The lithe swinging of that rhythmical easy stride
which circles down to the tiniest hub
is like a dance of energy around a point
in which a great will stands stunned and numb.
Only at times the curtains of the pupil rise
without a sound, then a shape enters,
slips through the tightened silence of the shoulders,
reaches the heart, and dies.
RAINER MARIA RILKE
Translated by Robert Bly
Reprinted from SELECTED POEMS OF RAINER MARIA
RILKE, translated by Robert Bly, Harper & Row, New York, 1981.
Used with his permission