Durham poem

A Poem by Adrian Henri



Je me souviens. Georges Perec

Walking up the path
of your mother’s garden
I slipped, and the portrait
I was doing of you
under the depth
of the lilac bushes
was pierced.
I remember you
were wearing a turquoise circular skirt
other than that
I remember your face
smiling miraculously out
of the ruin of the picture.

I remember the night train
the electric train
on Saturdays
the old guard train.
Central Station to King’s College
always by a different route.
Most of the pubs now gone. Will Curley,
run by the Bare Fist Champion of Europe,
his pub alongside the market.
In the dim light
pictures of boxers on the wall.
You only drank halves and
they came from the cellar.
They all seemed so big.
Mercer, majestically drunk, waving across
the crowded bun room
two quarts of Newcastle Light Ale
in either pocket
always, I notice

Saturday afternoon in St James’s Park
Haway the lads, “wor Jackie”.
Once, sitting on a train
and a little boy saying to his big sister
“Is Jackie Milburn the Prime Minister?”
Jesmond Dene in the snow,
Euston Road landscapes transported
to the North of England.
Walking to Cullercoats on Sunday morning
to the pub
and coming back in time for lunch.
The little harbour swept clear
and bright by the incoming tide.

Poised on a rock, the cathedral
rising like a reproach
gothic, beautiful, rising
above the waters
gothic, wonderful,
that I could never surmount.
How I envied the rowing boats
and the rowers,
so effortless
beneath the ground.

Finally to come back to the place
where the painting was ruined
in the garden. And, and somehow we both,
and somehow to evoke that time, that place,
that mystery.


       Adrian Henri [1932-2000] was born in Birkenhead, near the port of Liverpool, northwestern England, and studied for a B.A. in Fine Arts at the University of Durham. In 1967 he formed the poetry/rock group Liverpool Scene. He has exhibited paintings both nationally and internationally and has written over 25 books. Henri was one of the Merseybeat poets who emerged from the Liverpool Bohemian scene in the 1960s, the same cultural environment that had produced the Beatles. To him, poetry "had to have a surface meaning;" "it had to mean something immediately." Mersey Sound, a poetry anthology featuring Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten was published in 1967. It became an immediate sensation, selling hundreds of thousands of copies and being included in school curricula, thus forging Henri's influence in literature and poetry circles all over the English-spoken world. Adrian Henri died on Wednesday, December 20, 2000.

         Published under the provision of U.S. Code, Title 17, section 107.



Published December 25, 2000
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