By Rainer Maria Rilke
In the Jardin des Plantes, Paris
His gaze has from the pasing of the bars
grown so tired, that it holds nothing more.
It seems to him there are a thousand bars
and behind a thousand bars no world.
The supple pace of powerful soft strides,
turning in the very smallest circle,
is like a dance of strength around a center
in which a great will stands numbed.
Only sometimes the curtain of the pupils
soundlessly slides up—. Then an image enters,
glides through the limbs' taut stillness—
and in the heart ceases to exist.
Translated by Edward Snow
From 'New Poems '