The Spartans answered him: You ask too soon.
It is the feast of Carneian Apollo,
Our ancient horned god of flock and field,
The field where men are harvesters and harvest,
Where men are yield because they will not yield.
Life for us is debt that must be serviced;
The husbandry of victory is blood,
Blood is the earth’s enrichment, and Man’s fate.
We’re soldiers bred; our orders are to follow,
We are pall-bearers only of the shield:
With it or on it. None, it’s understood,
Returns unless victorious. Too late,
Too late, you say. We answer: you must wait,
As we must wait, the fullness of the moon.
A. E. Stallings
A.E. Stallings is an American poet who has lived in Greece since 1999. She has published three volumes of translation, most recently a verse translation of Hesiod's Works and Days from Penguin Classics and The Battle Between the Frogs and Mice (Paul Dry Books). She is the author of four books of poems, most recently Like, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, from Farrar, Straus and Giroux. She has received grants and fellowships from the NEA, the Guggenheim, and the MacArthur foundations.
Also by A. E. Stallings (see all)
- Afterglow: An Appreciation of Robert B. Shaw’s What Remains to Be Said - September 22, 2022
- Paying (Homage to) the Ferryman - May 31, 2021
- The Poet on The Road to Sparta - October 23, 2018