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

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The animals in that country

durer animalsAlbrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528) Mein Buchlein

 

 

In that country the animals
have the faces of people:

The ceremonial cats
possessing the streets

the fox run
politely to earth, the huntsmen
standing around him, fixed
in their tapestry of manners

the bull, embroidered
with blood and given
an elegant death, trumpets, his name
stamped on him, heraldic brand
because

(when he rolled
on the sand, sword in his heart, the teeth
in his blue mouth were human)

he is really a man

even the wolves, holding resonant
conversations in their
forests thickened with legend.

In this country the animals
have the faces of
animals.

Their eyes
flash once in car headlights
and are gone.

Their deaths are not elegant.

They have the faces of
no-one.

 


Margaret Atwood