If you enjoyed "The Panther", you may also like these Rainier Rilke poems:



The evening slowly changes the cloak
held for it by a border of ancient trees;
you gaze: and the realms depart from you,
one bound skyward and one, that falls,

and leaves you not quite possessed by either,
not quite so dark as the house of silence,
not quite so sure of perpetual affirmation
as that which turns to star each night and rises;

and leaves you (to disentangle what can't be spoken)
your life, frightening and ripening and vast
until it is almost defined, almost comprehending,
growing and changing to stone in you and to star.


Hear it:




Early Apollo

Just as a morning that's already
all in spring looks through the unleaved

branches: so there's nothing in his head
to keep the brilliance of all poetry

from striking us almost fatally;
for there is still no shadow in his gaze,
his temples are too cool for laurel still,
and only later from his eyebrows will

the long-stemmed rose garden rise
from which the petals, solitary, freed
will fall upon his trembling mouth

that now is silent, never-used and gleaming
and drinking something only with its smile,
as though its singing floated into him.


Hear it:




Archaic Torso of Apollo

We never knew the shocking head
in which his eyeballs ripened. But
his body still shines like a candelabrum
in which his softened gaze endures

and glistens. Or the curve of the chest
couldn't blind you, and a smile couldn't run
through the delicate turn of his loins
to that center that held generations.

Or this stone would stand deformed and short
under the shoulders' transparent plunge,
not glimmering so like the fell beasts of prey

and bursting out of all its borders
like a star: for there is no point
that doesn't see you. You must change your life.

Hear it:




Whoever you are: go out in the evening
out of your room, where you know it all;
your house lies like the last before the distance:
whoever you are.
With your weary eyes, which can barely
free themselves from the worn down sill,
you elevate a black tree, slowly,
and place it before the sky: slender, alone.
And you've made the world. And it is huge
and like a word that ripens still in silence.
And as your will begins to grasp it,
gently your eyes let it go . . .

Hear it:




. . . translated from the German by Chuck Guilford