Critical and biographical information on Henry Reed, World War II British poet, critic, translator, and radio dramatist — author of "Naming of Parts"
Henry Reed, poet and radio dramatist
The Poetry of Henry Reed Homepage
Shull, Ellen M. "Naming of Nouns." Parody of Henry Reed. English Journal 74, no. 4 (April 1985): 93.

Naming of Nouns (With Apologies to Henry Reed)

Today we have naming of nouns. Yesterday
We had memorizing parts of speech. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have what to do after grammar. But today,
Today we have naming of nouns. Poems—
Shimmer like red wheel barrows in the rain water,
          And today we have naming of nouns.

This is the common noun. And this
Is the upper case proper noun, whose use you will see,
When you are given your Warriner. And this is the verbal noun
Which in you case you have not got. The poets
Mold the poems with singing, eloquent language,
          Which in our case we have not got.

This is the subject, which is usually cast
With a noun. And please do not let me
See anyone using a pronoun. You can choose a noun quite easily
If you do any thinking at all. Poems' shapes
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
          Any of them using parts of speech.

And this you can see is diagramming. The purpose of this
Is to open the breach, as you can see. We can draw lines
Between grammarians and poets: we call this
Tightening the screws. And in lines and stanzas
The writers are assaulting and fumbling with images:
          The call it tightening the metaphor.

They call it tightening the metaphor: it is easily tightened
If you have any ideas in your head: like the parts of speech,
And the breach, and the imagination, and the balance of inspiration,
Which in our case we have not got: and the lyric
Singing in the heart and the poet's lines and stanzas,
          For today we have naming of nouns.

Ellen M. Shull
Incarnate Word High School
San Antonio, Texas




Page last modified: 01 October 2016