Poetry Challenge #717/06/2012


I really am not sure what this poem is about. It may be stressing the banality of war. Making fun of the strict and absurdly worded weapons manuals ? The constant botanical references who knows. I do not  fully understand this poem but it is a very well known one, so I shall enter it here on my poetry blog.



To-day we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And to-morrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But to-day,
To-day we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens,
And to-day 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, and 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 to-day we have naming of parts.

Henry Reed and Frank Duncan reading “Naming of Parts”:


Henry Reed (22 February 1914 – 8 December 1986) was a Britishpoet, translator, radio dramatist and journalist.

He was born in Birmingham and educated at King Edward VI School, Aston, followed by the University of Birmingham. At university he associated with W. H. Auden, Louis MacNeice and Walter Allen. He went on to study for an MA and then worked as a teacher and journalist. He was called up to the Army in 1941, spending most of the war as a Japanese translator.

After the war he worked for the BBC as a radio broadcaster and playwright, where his most memorable set of productions was the Hilda Tablet series in the 1950s.


Poetry Challenge #7 is to create a journal of links and your reactions to poems by established (living or dead poets.) Details are here.  Example response is here. Mr. Linky for Challenge #7 is directly below:

Good bye to Mum

photo credits google image

She leaves no footprints in the sand as from the sparkling sea to the dunes she walks, a bouquet of seaweed in her hand. Eyes so bright are aquamarine set in the most beautiful face you have ever seen. Lips so red like a healthy heart expose gleaming teeth when in a smile they part.

Sitting in the dunes she waits and watches stars in the sky letting her mind relax. Breathing in the scene while inside her heart zooms and flies.

Then in the moon light she sees him coming, ahead of him their young son running. She rises and runs to greet them. Once year she comes here to meet them.

Man and child stop at the shores edge they have come to throw her a red rose as on that night the man had pledged. Ten years now since on a whim she had taken that fatal midnight swim. She had not meant to hurt any one she only wanted to have some fun. They had been partying late that night and no one noticed her get cramp, no one realized her plight.

He had not noticed until too late that she was struggling, he tried to reach her but he could not challenge fate. So no matter how he tried, how he fought, she was lost and she died. So in reverence and in love each year on this night when the moon is up above. He comes to stand on this spot, this beach, sometimes, as now with his son and with their love and loss they honour on this beach.

Gently now she hugs and kisses, tells them how they have been missed. They can only feel the breeze they cannot hear her blessings and her pleas. Tired so tired on the sand she kneels watching them, unable to tell them how she feels, she cannot make them understand. Weeping gently she watches as they throw her roses in to the sea. Her beautiful boy and her man  who had been true to her and the best father he can.

Then walking up the beach she sees a woman coming into view a splinter in her heart, hurts anew. The woman smiles as she draws near causing in the wife’s heart a shard of new fear. Sitting watching the two become a three, she realizes what it is she sees. Her husband has finally found someone to love him and who is a friend, already to  their son.

It is as if a burden has been lifted she can finally rest. Her husband and her son have found someone  who can give them happiness.

photo credits google image

Smiling now she watches them talking as they watch her roses float out to sea. Tired she feels so tired sitting on the sand watching them she realizes that her soul is at last free.

Looking out into the sun set she hears a voice calling her home. Time to rest now knowing her husband and her son are safe now in the love that with this new woman has grown.

Gently as reaches the horizon the three on the beach watch the last rays of the sun, all three know that she is resting now they know her love for them will go on may her spirit rest now at last, good bye to Mum .

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