"The playful person", a 1938 book by the Dutch historian Johan Huizinga (1872-1945). He coined this term, as against Homo sapiens and other ad-hoc ones like Homo faber (crafting humans), to stress how much the concept of play was central to human exploration of life, and came into our culture, laws, art, science, and so on.

It was one of his last works. He spent his last few years a prisoner of the Nazis. The full title of the book is Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture.

The spirit of playful competition is, as a social impulse, older than culture itself and pervades all life like a veritable ferment. Ritual grew up in sacred play; poetry was born in play and nourished on play; music and dancing were pure play....We have to conclude, therefore, that civilization is, in its earliest phases, played. It does not come from play...it arises in and as play, and never leaves it.

I watch the depthy expanse of the sea,
Shimmer, froth and pattern on her surface,
My shoes are wet, the dye sets tendrils free
Sandy flash of red outlines my presence.

Full pockets of my rounded sunwarmed seeds.
Feel the weight and fit within my fingers.
An arcing arm, the pebble counts to three,
Sliding then to meet a slower purpose.

Three anglers make their play not far from me;
Tidal sages, painted hooks and casting.
Their schools of bright potential flash and weave
Lines twitch taut with corresponding dancing

My game is without useful consequence
Skimming hopes across the patterned distance.

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