In the Eyes of a Dumb Beast

In the eyes of a dumb beast
I glimpsed deep peace,
nature’s impartial feast
offered without surcease.

To fear all creatures respond.
Yet animals know how
on the hunt to browse
on the here-and-now
which tastes of nothing beyond.


Translation from Rilke’s French, below.

“Dumb” in the sense of silent, since Rilke clearly thought that humans might be better off without the metaphysical yearnings which burden them with the illusion of something beyond.


After Rainer Maria Rilke (original in French, Vergers n° 54 Pléiade p. 1007)

J’ai vu dans l’œil animal
la vie paisible qui dure,
le calme impartial
de l’imperturbable nature.

La bête connaît la peur ;
mais aussitôt elle avance
et sur son champ d’abondance
broute une présence,
qui n’a pas le goût d’ailleurs.