Thursday, January 29, 2009

The House of Rumour

Picture a space at the heart of the world, between the earth,
the sea and teh sky, on the frontiers of all three parts of the universe.
Here there are eyes for whatever goes on, no matter how distant;
and here there are ears whose hollows no voice can fail to penetrate.
This is the kingdom of Rumour, who chose to live on a mountain,
with numberless entrances into her house and a thousand additional
holes, though none of her thresholds are barred with a gate or a door.
Open by night and by day, constructed entirely of sounding
brass, the whole place hums and echoes, repeating whatever
it hears. Not one of the rooms is silent or quiet, but none
is disturbed by shouting. The noise is merely a murmuring babble,
low like the waves of the sea which you hear from afar, or the last faint
rumble of thunder, when storm-black clouds have clashed in the sky.
The hall is filled by a crowd which is constantly coming and going,
a flimsy throng of a thousand rumours, true and fictitious,
wandering far and wide in a turbulent tangle of language.
They chatter in empty ears or pass on stories to others;
the fiction grows and detail is added by each new teller.
This is the haunt of credulity, irresponsible errorr,
groundless joy, unreasoning panic, impulsive sedition
and whispering gossip. Rumour herself spies every occurrence
on earth, at sea, in the sky; and her scrutiny ranges the universe.
(Ovid, Metamorphoses 12.38-62)

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