Adrian Henri – ‘Tonight at Noon’


(No.67 of my favourite short poems)

Photograph – WHB   ©

 

Tonight at Noon  . . .  A Poem by Adrian Henri

Tonight at noon
Supermarkets will advertise 3p extra on everything
Tonight at noon
Children from happy families will be sent to live in a home
Elephants will tell each other human jokes
America will declare peace on Russia
World War I generals will sell poppies on the street on November 11th
The first daffodils of autumn will appear
When the leaves fall upwards to the trees 

Tonight at noon
Pigeons will hunt cats through city backyards
Hitler will tell us to fight on the beaches and on the landing fields
A tunnel full of water will be built under Liverpool
Pigs will be sighted flying in formation over Woolton
And Nelson will not only get his eye back but his arm as well
White Americans will demonstrate for equal rights
In front of the Black house
And the monster has just created Dr. Frankenstein 

Girls in bikinis are moonbathing
Folksongs are being sung by real folk
Art galleries are closed to people over 21
Poets get their poems in the Top 20
There’s jobs for everybody and nobody wants them
In back alleys everywhere teenage lovers are kissing in broad daylight
In forgotten graveyards everywhere the dead will quietly bury the living
            and
You will tell me you love me
Tonight at noon

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Merseybeats

Adrian Henri was born in Birkenhead, near the port of Liverpool, England, in 1932. He described his early philosophy as “If you think you can do it and you want to do it—then do it.”  Along with Brian Patten and Roger McGough, Adrian Henri was the third member of the group who came to prominence in 1967 on the publication of ‘Mersey Sound’, the Penguin anthology of the Merseybeat or Liverpool Poets. 

As an artist of often surreal paintings, this was also at times apparent in his poetry, as in ‘Tonight at Noon’ which I feature above.  There is humour here along with the pathos of the ending where it is realised, but only at the very end of the poem, that the poet is considering all the impossible happenings which would need to take place before his love was likely to be returned.  Henri died in 2000 and is buried in  Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris, France.

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9 thoughts on “Adrian Henri – ‘Tonight at Noon’

  1. I’m so grateful for this wonderful poem Roland, it brought back childhood memories of a ditty my father used to recite:
    ‘one fine day in the middle of the night
    two dead men got up to fight
    back to back they faced one another
    drew their swords and shot each other’.
    He’d rattle it off double quick and smile as I’d laugh with him at first and then “………..hang on a minute dad” as I twigged something was wrong.
    Thank you Roland

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been reading some of his poetry of late Roland as Mrs.D bought me the Mersey Sound 50th Anniversary Edition. Between them I think they changed the perception of what was poetry. There is a lot of social commentary in Adrian Henri’s poetry that still resonates today. Thanks for posting this excellent poem.

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  3. Thank you Roland for introducing Adrian Henry, he is fantastic. I read your selection this morning and started laughing ( a bit like Nigel ) before I was brought up short and realised
    how powerfully Henry showed us the ills in society by fiery by turning everything upside down.
    Yet he finishes so sweetly.
    I am also grateful for the brief introduction to the poet and painter.
    Miriam

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