Inspired by Tylor, Edward Burnett. “Chapter III: Survival in Culture.” In The Origins of Culture, 70–111. Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1958.
I. History survives in leisure,
pastimes carry the weight of tradition;
Children are bearers of the past,
their games recall the ancient ways.
Our histories, trivialized and forgotten,
remembered but not headed,
children should be our wisemen:
For in youth they are sacred and just,
while we are prudent, profane.
II. Scorned, we leave wisdom to the children.
Survival by ancestral authority in the very teeth of common sense—
and we gnaw at innovation
economizing each synthetic remedy and
abandoning the old acumen that says
this—this is the way—
but now we are making money,
making ways to make money, and when
those ways need patching
we economize the acumen
of our forebears for profit.
III. A stream once settled in its bed will flow for ages
and it will twist and turn, and carve new paths for itself.
So we tell our fathers what they meant, and
what they should have believed.