Unless we reinvent the past
we’ll be forever doomed to dwell
upon a stage where we’re the cast
of stories other people tell.
The stories other people tell
about our past are also those
that tend to hold us in their spell
as holy, though we never chose
to be the villains in their story;
so if our choice is liberty,
not paths that others took to glory,
we must create a fantasy
not only about what we are
but also of the dies once cast
by ancestors who never were,
we say, role models for our past.
But wait; there is one major tense,
the present, we can’t reinvent.
However much it makes no sense
we have to give it our consent.
‘The job of the paleontologist is to reinvent the past.
There could be no task more demanding of the scientific imagination.’
John Noble Wilford, NYTBookReview 11/19/2000, reviews
Richard Fortey’s ‘Trilobite! Eyewitness to Evolution’.