The Animal That Never Was

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This poem has long been an inspiration to me and I find myself returning to it often; usually when I am reminiscing about my past and how (once, many years ago) it served as a vehicle to get me unstuck.

Removing the veil from my eyes; placing me back at the epicentre of my own heart; encouraging me – with its story of courage, of patience, of love… to stay there until I had got to intimitely love and respect my inner part – it paved the way for all of the growing and shedding and healing that would follow, forming the stones of my new path.

Read it through slowly.
Repeat this several times.
Take each verse as a separate story and unpick its mystery.

This is the animal that never was.
They didn’t know, and loved him anyway:
his bearing, his neck, the way he moved,
the light in his quiet eyes.

True, he didn’t exist. But because they loved him
he became a real animal. They made a space for him.
And in that clear, uncluttered space, he lifted his head
and hardly needed to exist.

They fed him: not with grain, but ever
with the chance that he could be.
And that so strengthened him

that, from within, he grew a horn.
All white, he drew near to a virgin and found himself
in a silver mirror and in her.

by Rainer Maria Rilke

Now ask yourself the following questions and note down their answers:

VERSE 1:

This is the animal that never was.
They didn’t know, and loved him anyway:
his bearing, his neck, the way he moved,
the light in his quiet eyes.

• Who is the animal in the first verse?
• If that animal were a part of you, which part would it be?

 
VERSE 2:

True, he didn’t exist. But because they loved him
he became a real animal. They made a space for him.
And in that clear, uncluttered space, he lifted his head
and hardly needed to exist.

• What could you imagine into existence?
• How would doing this empower you?
• How would making this imagined thing real change your life?

 
VERSE 3:

They fed him: not with grain, but ever
with the chance that he could be.
And that so strengthened him

• What would you feed this ‘imagined’ animal?
• How would you strengthen it?

 
VERSE 4:

that, from within, he grew a horn.
All white, he drew near to a virgin and found himself
in a silver mirror and in her.

• What does the horn represent?
• How does it change things?
• Who or what is the virgin?
• What is the mirror and what does it symbolise/represent?

 
What have you learned about the poem?
What has it taught you about yourself?
How can you integrate this information, making it a functional part of your life?

 
EXERCISE:

1) Make some time today to sit and meditate on the poem and its imagery.

2) Allow yourself to create its landscape inside the landscape of your head.
    See the ‘animal’; walk up to it, touch it, talk to it, ask it what it wants
   you to know, what it needs from you in order to be realised.

3) Add these revelations to your notes.

4) And then – if you want to, feel inspired, can… write your own poem based on
    all that this poem has revealed to you, encouraging your own ‘animal’ into life.

Above all, allow yourself to enjoy the exercise and to become absorbed in the beautiful energy of this experience and the opportunity for growth it presents.

 
If this article has stirred things up for you or made you realise there are things in your life you would like to resolve, please feel free to visit my contact page or email me me to discuss both these things and the possibility of our working together in the future to accomplish these things.

Or, to book an appointment directly, see my contact page.

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