The Panther

Essay by RgudovitzCollege, UndergraduateC, November 2011

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Der Panther

Translator: Robert Bly

When a poem is being translated from one language to another, the transition can be the cause for several interpretations. Although the words of one translation to another may not show consistency, the intent is for the audience to understand what the speaker is trying to convey. I chose The Panther because the image of the beast embodies the many prosodic qualities such as form and content that Rainer Rilke tries to express through his work. The poem itself has many translations, but there is a consistent display of the theme of entrapment from reality. This story conveys this existential idea of how a panther is held captive in a cage confined from the reality of nature into a state of limited access. Through the analysis of the poem The Panther, we will learn to understand the position in which Rilke tries to portray through a world where the subjugation of freedom manifests itself into a reality.

Imagine yourself standing before a cage, watching as the panther paces back and forth, knowing no limits in the nature of its state, but slowly its reality is near the beginning of nothing. "From seeing the bars, his seeing is so exhausted / that it no longer holds anything anymore" (1-2 Bly). Although the panther is desensitized from the world outside of its cage, Rilke suggests that from the lack of interaction with its natural environment, the panther has greatly exhausted its means to existence. "To him the world is bars…" (3 Bly) signifies the panther's gradual loss of reality. Over time the grasp of its natural being has deteriorated from being held captive behind bars of a zoo. Rilke wants the audience to position themselves as if they are on the outside looking...