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Published: Wed Jul 1 2009
Art by Jin Suk
Rough Translation of a Song Sung to Me in the Peloponnesus by a Laconian Shepherd near Mystra in 1970

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’s poetry collections are Sex Perhaps (Sheep Meadow, 2014) and Griefmania (Sheep Meadow Press, 2006). Her poems and essays have appeared in Poetry, AGNIThe New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, The New Republic, Southwest Review, Harvard Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. They have been anthologized in The Best American Poetry and Poetry Daily, and reprinted in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and in textbooks. She has received a 2016 poetry prize from Bellevue Literary Review. She edited, with Elizabeth Meese, two books of poems by her late husband George Starbuck. Southwest Review awarded her its 2011 McGinnis-Ritchie Award for nonfiction. (updated 5/2016)

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