Friday, March 23, 2012

Rainer Maria Rilke

 The Panther

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.

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)

image: Black Panther Prints

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, The Calamus Poems (4)

These I, singing in spring, collect for lovers,
(For who but I should understand lovers, and all their sorrow and joy?
And who but I should be the poet of comrades?)
Collecting, I traverse the garden, the world -- but soon I pass the gates,
Now along the pond-side -- now wading in a little, fearing not the wet,
Now by the post-and-rail fences, where the old stones thrown there, picked from the fields, have accumulated,
Wild-flowers and vines and weeds come up through the stones, and partly cover them -- Beyond these I pass,
Far, far in the forest, before I think where I get,
Solitary, smelling the earthly smell, stopping now and then in silence,
Alone I had thought -- yet soon a silent troop gathers around me,
Some walk by my side, and some behind, and some embrace my arms or neck,
They, the spirits of friends, dead or alive -- thicker they come, a great crowd, and I in the middle,
Collecting, dispensing, singing in spring, there I wander with them,
Plucking something for tokens -- something for these, till I hit upon a theme -- tossing toward whoever is near me.

Here! lilac, with a branch of pine,
Here, out of my pocket, some moss which I pulled off a live-oak in Florida, as it hung trailing down,
Here, some pinks and laurel leaves, and a handful of sage,
And here what I now draw from the water, wading in the pond-side,
(O here I last saw him that tenderly loves me -- and returns again, never to separate from me,
And this, O this shall henceforth be the token of comrades -- this calamus-root shall,
Interchange it, youths, with each other! Let none render it back!)
And twigs of maple, and a bunch of wild orange, and chestnut,
And stems of currents, and plum-blows, and the aromatic cedar;
These I, compassed around by a thick cloud of spirits,
Wandering, point to, or touch as I pass, or throw them loosely from me,
Indicating to each one what he shall have -- giving something to each,
But what I drew from the water by the pond-side, that I reserve,
I will give of it -- but only them that love, as I myself am capable of loving. 

Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

photo Fulden May 2006: grethe bachmann