Max Slevogt (1868-1932), Schwarzer Panther
Etching (with three extra panthers as drypoint remarques), 1914
Jardin des Plantes, Paris
His barred eyes have grown so tired
of pacing, they have emptied out.
As if there were a thousand bars
and beyond those thousand bars, a hollowness.
The supple flexure of his paws,
revolving in an ever-tightening gyre,
creates a passionate dance around
the still centre of his fierce, numbed will.
Just sometimes, the shutter of his lens
lifts, without a sound.
An image enters, pulses through the coiled spring of his sinews,
and winks out in his heart’s great silence.
translation © copyright Neil Philip 2014