And as she tells she spins

AMARU_HN

At last one sister cries, who nimbly knew

To draw nice threads and wind the finest clue,

“While others idly rove, and gods revere,

Their fancied gods! they know not who or where;

Let us, whom Pallas taught her better arts,

Still working, cheer with mirthful chat our hearts;

And, to deceive the time, let me prevail

With each by turns to tell some antique tale.”

She said; her sisters like’d the humour well,

And, smiling, bade her the first story tell;

But she awhile profoundly seem’d to muse,

Perplex’d amid variety to choose;

And knew not whether she should first relate

The poor Dircetis and her wondrous fate.

The Palestines believe it to a man,

and show the lake in which her scales began;

Or if she rather should the daughter sing,

Who in the horary verge of life took wing;

Who soar’d from earth, and dwelt in towers high,

And now a dove she flits along the sky;

Or how lewd Naïs, when her lust was cloy’d,

To fishes turn’d the youths she had enjoy’d,

By powerful verse and herbs; effect most strange!

And last the changer shar’d herself the change.

Or how the tree which once white berries bore,

Still crimson bears, since stain’d with crimson gore.

The tree was new; she likes it, and begins

to tell the tale, and as she tells, she spins.

“In Babylon, where first her queen for state

Rais’d walls of brick magnificently great,

Liv’d Pyramus and Thisbe, lovely pair!

Ovid, Metamorphoses, translated from the Latin by Dr. Garth and others, Vol. I, London: Stanhope Press, 1812, pp. 141-142. This translation by Eusden, corresponding Book IV, 35-55
Illustration inspired by a drawing from the Quechua Andean tradition

Would that it ended there

HN_RUANDA

We are stories.’ It’s a notion so simple even a child could understand it. Would that it ended there. But we are stories within stories. Stories within stories within stories. We recede endlessly, framed and reframed, until we are unreadable to ourselves.

Ivan Vladislavic, 101 Detectives: Stories, Cape Town: Umuzi, 2015, p. 147

Illustration inspired by a traditional drawing from Rwanda 

The easiest part is to write down the story.

Caballo carro

The intellectual nature of a story is exhausted with its text, but the functional, cultural, and pragmatic aspect of any native tale is manifested as much in its enactment, embodiment, and contextual relations as in the text. It is easier to write down the story than to observe the diffuse, complex ways in which it enters into life, or to study its function by the observation of the bast social and cultural realities into which it enters. And this is the reason why we have so many text and why we known so little about the very nature of myth.

B. Malinowski, “Myth in Primitive Psychology”, in Bronislaw Malinowski, Malinowski and the Work of Myth, edited by Ivan Strenski, Princeton: Princeton University Press, p. 89.
Illustration inspired on engravings from a cave in the island of Götland.