Naming Of Parts Poem by Henry Reed

Naming Of Parts

Rating: 4.0

Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But today,
Today we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens likecoral in all the neighboring gardens,
And today we have naming of parts.

This is the lower sling swivel. And this
Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see,
When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel,
Which in your case you have not got. The branches
Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
Which in our case we have not got.

This is the safety-catch, which is always released
With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me
See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy
If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
Any of them using their finger.

And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this
Is to open the breech, as you see. We can slide it
Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this
Easing the spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards
The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers:
They call it easing the Spring.

They call it easing the Spring: it is perfectly easy
If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt,
And the breech, the cocking-piece, and the point of balance,
Which in our case we have not got; and the almond blossom
Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards,
For today we have the naming of parts.

Kiana Moradkhani 10 December 2008

This is a beautiful war poem in which the cruelty of war in the foreground comes in contrast with the beauty and fragility of nature in the background. It depicts while the nature is reviving and grolifying in spring, humanbeing is thinking of nothing but killing and destructing life which is really shameful. And in my opinion, the bigger tragedy is when you realize that this poem does not just belong to World War II, the time in which the poem is written. Yet you see the same blood thirstiness in man nowadays everywhere in the world. But its form has changed a little bit and no more. By the way, this poem is a perfect example for juxtaposition.

27 76 Reply
Ian Fraser 02 March 2009

A handful of poets are remembered mainly because of one single, perfect poem. It's too simple to require much comment, but perfectly contrasts the boredom and meaninglessness of much that is everyday life - in this case basic military training - with the wonders of nature and the imagination. Usually - as here - the former wins. In my Top 50.

21 10 Reply
Francois Francois 20 June 2005

This peom is a dialogue between a recruit and an instructor. Utterances of one or the other should be italicised to make this more apparent.

7 23 Reply
Donald Andrews 11 November 2021

No, it is not a dialogue it is stream of consciousness as the trainee hears the instructor's suffocating words being overwhelmed by the sensuality of Spring's renewal of life.

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William 27 December 2021

It's not a dialogue. It is the internal thoughts of the student, as he contrasts the beauty of the world outside with the grim realities of what he is learning inside the classroom.

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Mac Che 31 January 2023

Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards, For today we have the naming of parts. ~ beautiful

1 0 Reply
N J Robson 21 November 2018

I remember this from Form IV English lessons at grammar school, mid 60s.

1 1 Reply
Carolyn wood 08 October 2018

This poem has been in my mind for about 40 years sitting listening to our teacher explaining how the soldier preparing for was just a normal young man who loved nature but was being prepared to go to war. So moving.

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Garth Tomlinson. 02 August 2018

I was never one for poetry. I liked November and Tiger tiger, but not much else.However in Asa Briggs's book on Bletchly Park. Secrer Days. The Naming of mentioned. Something we had to read(no pun intended) whilst starting to learn about Bren guns at the commencement of National Service in 1958.

1 2 Reply
J. Rock 17 July 2018

This is one of those singular poems that once heard/read you never forget. Brilliant, and Reed's name lives by it. Thanks- -

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