This is something I read a long time ago in a volume entitled Great Railway Journeys of the World , commissioned by the BBC and issued as a book subsequently . Ben Okri is one of the writers in this volume and the following poem is from a selection in the book . It's beautiful and could act as a creed for our troubled times if we stopped to think for a while .....
If you are coming to Arcadia
You must bring something with you
You must bring a gift
Worthy of the gods
That rest in mountains and in songs
Don’t bring seven silk parasols
Or a diamond ring
With seven stones
Or a mandolin for a land
That is rich with the music of Pan
Nor must you bring yourself alone
For what you are is not yet the great gift
But an offering which Arcadia
Might perfect into one
And don’t bring the self
That you live with every day
Bring the selves that you’ve
That live and grow in play
Your gift must be rare
It must be the blood and craft
Of your life’s most suffered strivings .
It must be the essence
Of what you have made
From rocks and sunlight and time .
It must be the balsam
And tough fruits that shepherds pulp
As offerings on the divine altar.
Your gift must be
Stranger than love
Richer than suffering
Deeper than death
Riper than happiness
And vaster than the circling
Seas around the mountains
Which are really the forms
Of the sleeping and mighty dead.
Your gift must be one that
Shines though the night of ages
And soothes the traveler
In the storms and lowered thunder .
And one that keeps the heart
Of the child
For ever alive
In a world that dies
With each circling of the distant sun.
If you’re coming to Arcadia
You must bring something with you –
A little star that grows and shines
Beyond the tears and laughter of the shrines.
…. Ben Okri