The Ostrich

ostrichThe Ostrich
Presented by his Majesty to the late Merchioness of Londondery and now in the gardens of the Zoological Society

Copper etching by J. Engleheart. Printer: R. Clay. London, 1829


 

At the Edges and the Side

menzel hedgehogsAdolf Menzel (1815 – 1905)

 
The Cage

It tried to get from out the cage;
Here and there it ran, and tried
At the edges and the side,
In a busy, timid rage.

Trying yet to find the key
Into freedom, trying yet,
In a timid rage to get
To its old tranquillity.

It did not know, it did not see,
It did not turn an eye, or care
That a man was watching there
While it raged so timidly.

It ran without a sound, it tried,
In a busy, timid rage,
To escape from out the cage
By the edges and the side.


James Stephens (1882 – 1950)

 

No World

cranachlion

Lucas Cranach the Elder (c. 1472 – 16 October 1553) pen & brown ink


In the Jardin des Plantes, Paris


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
(December 1875 – December 1926)
The Panther
tr. Stephen Mitchell

To See the Rabbit

takeuchi-seiho-rabbit
Takeuchi Seiho (1864-1942)

      

To See the Rabbit
( after Prévert )

We are going to see the rabbit.
We are going to see the rabbit.
Which rabbit, people say?
Which rabbit, ask the children?
WHICH rabbit?
The only rabbit,
The only rabbit in England,
Sitting behind a barbed-wire fence
Under the floodlights, neon lights,
Sodium lights,
Nibbling grass
On the only patch of grass
In England, in England
(Except the grass by the hoardings
Which doesn’t count ).
We are going to see the rabbit
And we must be there on time.

First we shall go by escalator,
Then we shall go by underground,
And then we shall go by motorway,
And then by helicopter way,
And the last ten yards we shall have to go on foot.

And now we are going
All the way to see the rabbit,
We are nearly there,
We are longing to see it,
And so is the crowd
Which is here in thousands
With mounted policemen
And big loudspeakers
And bands and banners,
And everyone has come a long way.
But soon we shall see it
Sitting and nibbling
The blades of grass
In – but something has gone wrong !
Why is everyone so angry,
Why is everyone jostling
And slanging and complaining?

The rabbit has gone,
Yes, the rabbit has gone.
He has actually burrowed down into the earth
And made himself a warren, under the earth
Despite all these people.
And what shall we do?
What CAN we do?

It is all a pity, you must be disappointed,
Go home and do something else for today,
Go home again, go home for today.
For you cannot hear the rabbit, under the earth,
Remarking rather sadly to himself, by himself,
As he rests in his warren, under the earth:
“It won’t be long, they are bound to come,
They are bound to come and find me, even here.”

Alan Brownjohn
1967