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Imagine: A Comment

"Imagine" was John Lennon's second major release apart from the Beatles. Released on Sept. 9, 1971 (US). It has remained John's most commercially successful album. It was recorded primarily in John's home studio which turned out to be the last time he would ever record in England. I had just arrived in Australia at the time, recruited to teach in a primary school in South Australia--from my home in Ontario Canada. That was 36 years ago, more than half my life. I have thought a good deal about this song and I post here my prose-poetic reflections:

I was 27 when I first heard this song. I was living in Whyalla South Australia, had been married and graduated from a Canadian university--for 4 years. 'Imagine' seemed to me to embody the hopes of a western and secular world--the one I lived and worked in. Although originally credited solely to Lennon, the contribution of Yoko Ono's has become more widely acknowledged in recent years. Yoko Ono said that the lyrical content of Imagine was "just what John believed—that we are all one country, one world, one people. He wanted to get that idea out."1 And he did--very successfully.

In the book Lennon in America, written by Geoffrey Guiliano, Lennon commented that the song was "an anti-religious, anti-nationalisitic, anti-conventional, anti-capitalist song, but because it's sugar-coated, it's accepted."2 The song's one world philosophy had been part of my personal ethos for a dozen years by 1971 after another six of a slow introduction to this message in the fifties through the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith whose one world message is at its core. -Ron Price with thanks to 1Imagine, Rolling Stone, Retrieved on 12 March 2006 and 2 Wikipedia.

What your simple secular utopianism
back then when I was young in '71
and had just left Canada--has become
for humanity some desperation to
believe that through some fortuitous
conjunction of circumstances it will
be possible to bend the conditions
of human life into conformity with
prevailing human desires, John...
surely you don't still believe that
after 35 years of more unimaginable
horror, do you John, from your new abode
wherever that may be?

Such hopes are illusory and miss the
meaning of the great turning point
through which our world has passed,
its magnitude of ruin, its catalogue of
horrors and the blight of what has
become an aggressive secularism,
a religious obscurantism and the
smouldering fires of an animosity
that is the slough of despond....

Are you still hopeful, John, now that
you are in that Undiscovered Country
that the poet Shelley wrote of and from
which no man or woman ever returns.
I wish you well, John, I wish you well.

Ron Price
6 December 2006
Updated 14/6/07