One of the magic centres
Of the world;
One of the world's
Dreaming places.
Ought to point the way
To the world.
Here lives the great music
Of humanity
The harmonisation of different
Histories, cultures, geniuses,
And dreams.
Ought to shine to the world
And tell everyone
That history, though unjust,
Can yield wiser outcomes.
And out of bloodiness
Can come love
Out of slave-trading
Can come a dance of souls,
Out of division, unity;
Out of chaos, fiestas.
City of tradition, conquests,
And variety;
City of commerce and the famous river,
Tell everyone that the future
Is yet unmade.
Many possibilities live in your cellars.
Nightmares and illuminations.
Boredom and brilliance.
Tomorrow's music sleeps
In undiscovered orchestras,
In unmade violins,
In coiled strings.
Spring waits by the lakes,
Listening to the unfurling daffodils.
Summer lingers with the hyperborean worms,
Awaiting an astonishing command
From the all-seeing eye of Ra.
Tomorrow's music sleeps
In our fingers,
In our awakening souls,
The blossom of our spirit,
The suggestive buds of our hearts.
Tell everyone the idea
Is to function together,
As good musicians would
In undefined future orchestras.
Let the energy of commerce flow.
Let the vision of art heal.
Technology, provide the tools.
Workers of the world
Re-make the world
Under the guidance of inspiration
And wise laws.
Create the beautiful music
Our innermost happiness suggests.
Delight the future.
Create happy outcomes.
And while Autumn dallies
With the West wind
And the weeping nightingales
And while Winter clears its sonorous throat
At the Antipodean banquets
Preparing for a speech of hoarfrost
And icicles conjured from living breath,
I want you to tell everyone
Through trumpets played with
The fragrance of roses
That a mysterious reason
Has brought us all together,
Here, now, under the all-seeing eye of the sun.

Ben Okri

Lines in potentis


(b. Minna, northern Nigeria 1959)

Poet and novelist Ben Okri was born in 1959 in Minna, northern Nigeria, and grew up in London before returning to Nigeria with his family in 1968. At the age of 19 he returned to London; “I went to London because, for me, it was the home of literature”. Much of his early fiction explores the political violence that he witnessed at first hand during the civil war in Nigeria, and later turned to African mythology for inspiration. In 1991 Okri was awarded the Booker Prize for Fiction with his novel The Famished Road and in 2001 was awarded on OBE. He continues to read, write and live in London.