Monday, November 17, 2008

The Poems of Things



"The Thinker" may be in sculpture what Mona Lisa is in painting. This is at least true in Turkey. The sculptor of this and many more great works Aguste Rodin died today in 1917. I became interested in his works not by his most famous work, but through Rainer Maria Rilke, his good friend, and one time his assistant. It was he who thought Rilke the power of observation of simple things, and therefore inspired his "Dinggedichte" the poems of things. Such as "The Panther", which in my humble opinion, is the one of the warmest expressions of existentialism:

The Panther
Translated by Ronnie Pontiac

His sight, passing by the bars,
exhausted, sees nothing else.
For him there are a thousand bars,
a thousand bars, and beyond them no world.

His limber lope and powerful pace
ever turning in the smallest circle
dance strength around a center
where a great will stands numb.

Sometimes the veil of his pupil parts
silently an image goes in
past the tense poise of still limbs
only to die in his heart.

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