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Rough Translation of a Song Sung to Me in the Peloponnesus by a Laconian Shepherd near Mystra in 1970

by Kathryn Starbuck

This song is the last one you will ever hear.
You cannot escape my arrow. You are not
a worthy vulture who flies beyond the mountain.
You cannot hunt like the wolf then disappear in
the den. You are only a man and your heart is wet,
your bones leak noises and shiver, your courage
is finished. My quiver is warm and well-stocked
inside the skin of a mountain lion I killed as a boy.

My bow was given me by my father who told
me to destroy you. The eagle gave me his rib
and told me to employ it. This string is made
of goat’s leather. The arrow is not from here. Its
iron tip comes from the monastery near Black Eye.
The death raven’s feathers were given me by
the warrior priest Mavromichaeli himself. Hear this
song: This song is the last one you will ever hear.


Kathryn Starbuck recently completed her second poetry manuscript, Sex Perhaps. Her first collection, Griefmania, was published by Sheepmeadow Press in 2006. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The American Poetry Review, AGNI, The Best American Poetry 2008, and elsewhere. (1/2009)

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