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.
Life goes on even during its painful parts, even during the parts where routine is made to seem ridiculous by the way in which it fails to address tragedy, heartbreak, loss. Life goes on and so do we: routine is for reminding us of the onward force of time, which is indifferent to us and our pain. We go on, we are swept on, we stumble on.
Henry Reed’s much-anthologized poem of World War II, “Naming of Parts,” concerns a British sergeant-instructor delivering a lecture to his green recruits on the various parts of a rifle. The progression of these lessons is as amusing as they are impeccably English: beginning with proper cleaning of the weapon; succeeded by the grocery-list naming of parts; to be followed the next day by ‘what to do after firing.’ Conspicuously missing is a lesson in actual firing.
Henry Reed’s poem resonates in my head comparing the routine and the ridiculous and today we have naming of parts. Poetry is a way of giving our expression different limits like an epiphyte vine entangled with a cherry tree. Relationships are differently percieved and we may extract value from the juxtaposition, which in my case I have not got. Relationships are differently percieved with time and personhood and pain and abrupt changes of topic and today we have naming of parts.
We also have a satire of the poem pointing out the foibles of Wikipedia. The words are fragile and motionless, incompletely reflecting pain and the fullness of the human experience, never letting anyone see any of them shed a tear.
Today we have naming of parts.