After Virgil
A very free version of
Aenidos liber iv, 173-188


Faster-growing than a tumour,
Through the world sped ugly rumour...

She’s supple, smart, light on her toes,
And gains momentum as she goes.
She may start small as weedy mouse,
But soon she’ll overtop the house,
Till, though her feet in muck may stand,
Her head's up in Cloud-Cuckoo-Land.
Rumour is fast. Her huge black wings
Hide fearful eyes, a tongue that stings,
Lungs that can bellow till they burst
And ears fine-tuned to hear the worst.
By night she’ll hiss round that odd place
Nor earth nor sky (What? Cyberspace?)
And through the small hours she will keep
Alert and growing- she won’t sleep.
Come daylight she’ll observe with malice
Events in cottage and in palace.
Then soon great cities shake in fear
At the enormities they hear,
And shudder when they taste the brew
In which she’s mixed the false and true.
Whenever men, fraught with disgust,
Eye one another with distrust,
Great Rumour has her power
She queens it in our
post-truth world!

George Simmers

If you have any comments on this poetic oddity, George Simmers  would be pleased to hear from you.

This version of Virgil's lines was a product of a Poetry Day meeting in Huddersfield, where we read, discussed and wrote about the poetry of Virgil. Thanks to Tim and Ken.

Here is the original Latin:

Extemplo Libyae magnas it Fama per urbes,
Fama, malum qua non aliud velocius ullum:
mobilitate viget virisque adquirit eundo,  
parva metu primo, mox sese attollit in auras
ingrediturque solo et caput inter nubila condit.
illam Terra parens ira inritata deorum
extremam, ut perhibent, Coeo Enceladoque sororem
progenuit pedibus celerem et pernicibus alis,    
monstrum horrendum, ingens, cui quot sunt corpore plumae,
tot vigiles oculi subter (mirabile dictu),
tot linguae, totidem ora sonant, tot subrigit auris.
nocte volat caeli medio terraeque per umbram
stridens, nec dulci declinat lumina somno;       
luce sedet custos aut summi culmine tecti
turribus aut altis, et magnas territat urbes,
tam ficti pravique tenax quam nuntia veri.