[Imagine] is anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-conventional, anti-capitalistic… but because it is sugar-coated, it is accepted. John Lennon.
In Paris, in the House of God called St Etienne du Mont,
we join the audience for a concert of children’s choirs.
One by one the small school-groups, colour-coded,
arrange themselves in their appointed order
and sing their chosen songs.
The concert ends with an anthem by the massed choir.
The conductor nods and the piano eddies soothingly
into John Lennon’s “Imagine”.
In English words not quite at home in French mouths,
the innocent voices of children invite us to
Imagine there’s no Heaven.
What? In this house? To imagine no heaven at all?
To imagine that heaven is neither here nor there?
No John. It’s not easy.
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...
I’m distracted by noises behind me.
A parent grumbles and moves to the aisle for a better view -
He can’t see his boy.
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
There’s more shuffling for vantage points
as the music hoists the final triumphal vision like a flag –
And the world will live as one.
And as one we stand and applaud.
We know the argument’s flawed
but are lured by music.
We know there’d be no brotherhood of man
under no heaven.
The concert ends with prayer.
I close my eyes but ‘Amen’ sticks in my throat.
In a side aisle a woman lights a candle,
adds its brief glow to row upon row
of supplicant flames and bows her head.
She too is a dreamer - and not the only one.