About:

Documenting the quest to track down everything written by (and written about) the poet, translator, critic, and radio dramatist, Henry Reed.

An obsessive, armchair attempt to assemble a comprehensive bibliography, not just for the work of a poet, but for his entire life.

Read "Naming of Parts."

Henry Reed Henry Reed
Henry Reed Henry Reed
Henry Reed, ca. 1960


Contact:


Reeding:

Cold Comfort Farm: Sensible Flora Poste moves in with her eccentric country relatives.
The Dog Stars: A man, his dog, and an airplane survive an apocalyptic flu.
The Sparrow: A Jesuit-led mission to a newly discovered planet.


Elsewhere:

Books

Libraries

Weblogs, etc.


Posts from December 2004

Reeding Lessons: the Henry Reed research blog

22.11.2014


MeFied

A couple of weeks ago, the site got picked up by Metafilter, in a favorable but undercommented thread. I happen to be member of MeFi, not longstanding necessarily but standing long enough, and I thought it best to lay low and not bring attention to myself. Now, I wish I had.

Interestingly enough, the biggest complaint seems to be that the dramatic, radio version of "Naming of Parts" is jarring to folks who were already familiar with the poem.

«  MetaFilter  0  »


1505. Orwell, George. "Young Writers." Review of New Writing and Daylight (Summer 1943), edited by John Lehmann. Spectator (30 July 1943): 110.
Orwell says of "The End of an Impulse," Reed's criticism of the Auden-Spender school of poetry, 'Henry Reed's essay contains some valuable remarks on the dangers of group literature.'


X-mas Comes Early to the Library

Weeks ago, I put in for an interlibrary loan for a book by W.W. Jacobs, Dialstone Lane. Jacobs was a writer of sea-themed yarns, but he's famous for the classic horror short story "The Monkey's Paw" (Project Gutenberg text). I was only interested in the introduction to this particular book, and this introduction only appears in a 1947 edition. Only a dozen libraries in the world have one, and one of those twelve consented to loan me theirs.

Whether it was the slow-boat holiday season mail, or the less than fourth-class postage libraries use, it took weeks. Weeks of cursing the Ewe-Ess Pea-Ess. Weeks of kicking myself for not requesting photocopies instead of a loan. For not just spending fifteen bucks and buying a copy online, sight unseen. The last few days I would go through the library's mail the moment it was delivered, pawing through packages, lamenting every postmark. North Carolina, no. Maryland, no. Alabama, no! Who the hell requests books from Alabama?

Today, there was a catastrophic power failure to the library server, leaving us with lightning-fast internet connections and no way to do any real work. And today, today my book arrived.

Title page | page v | page vi | page vii | page viii


The book is out of copyright, and Dialstone Lane is available online. But, as I said, I was only interested in the introduction to the 1947 edition. And, unlike Stanford U., I don't have a $125,000 book scanning Swiss robot in the basement of my library.

«  ILL  0  »


1504. Ludwig, Jennifer. "Lessons of the War: Henry Reed." In vol. 2, Literature of War: Experiences, edited by Thomas Riggs. Detroit, MI: St. James Press, 2012. 359-361.
A relatively lengthy assessment of Reed's influences, position, and the impact resulting from his famous sequence of poems, Lessons of the War.


Bumph Palace

I think that I shall never see
A sight so curious as BP,
This place called up at war's behest,
And peopled by the strangely dressed;
Yet what they do they cannot say,
Nor ever will 'til Judgement Day.

For six long years we have been there,
Subject to local scorn and stare.
We came by transport and by train,
The dull and brilliantly insane,
What shall we do, where shall we be,
When God at last redunds BP?

The Air Force types that never fly
Soldiers who neither do nor die,
Landlubber Navy, beards complete
Civilians slim, long-haired, effete;
Yet what they did they never knew,
And if they told it wasn't true.
If I should die think only this of me...
I served my country at BP.

And should my son ask: 'What did you
In the atomic World War Two?'
God only knows and he won't tell
For after all BP was hell.
—Anonymous
I stumbled upon this ditty today, while trying to track down an apparent "Ode to Colossus." There's a paragraph of rather purple prose in Good, Michie, and Timms' General Report on Tunny with Emphasis on Statistical Methods, the 1945 document describing the early computers created at Bletchley Park during World War II to break the German "Fish" codes. This particular section laments the lack of language or skill required to describe the famous Colossus computer sputtering and hacking away at a decrypt like a demented Walter Mitty machine, concluding:
Perhaps some Tunny-breaking poet could do justice to this theme; but although an ode to Colossus and various fragments appeared, all seemed to have been composed in times of distress and despondency, and consist almost wholly of imprecation or commination. (p. 327)
The internets, alas, have not confirmed the existence of the hinted-at Ode.

But I did find "Bumph Palace," on a couple's photo journal of a visit to Bletchley (which includes some excellent shots of props used in the filming of "Enigma," as well as the reconstructed Colossus and bombe machines). The caption states the poem was 'found pinned to a BP notice board during the war' (though it must have been rather near the end, since the poem mentions 'atomic' war after 'six years'). It's a delightful insight into daily life and attitude at Bletchley, and perhaps even one of the comminations mentioned in the Tunny report.

I first thought the title must be a bastardization of some German word or placename. Bumph, I was tickled to discover, is British slang for easily-disregarded official paperwork (of which the Government Code & Cypher School must have had in superabundance), dis-affectionately nicknamed bum fodder. Toilet paper.

«  BletchleyPark Poetry  1  »


1503. King, Francis. Yesterday Came Suddenly: An Autobiography. London: Constable, 1993. 79-80.
Mentions Henry Reed and Angus Wilson making fun of the Bletchley Park Writers' Circle.



1st lesson:

Reed, Henry (1914-1986). Born: Birmingham, England, 22 February 1914; died: London, 8 December 1986.

Education: MA, University of Birmingham, 1936. Served: RAOC, 1941-42; Foreign Office, Bletchley Park, 1942-1945. Freelance writer: BBC Features Department, 1945-1980.

Author of: A Map of Verona: Poems (1946)
The Novel Since 1939 (1946)
Moby Dick: A Play for Radio from Herman Melville's Novel (1947)
Lessons of the War (1970)
Hilda Tablet and Others: Four Pieces for Radio (1971)
The Streets of Pompeii and Other Plays for Radio (1971)
Collected Poems (1991, 2007)
The Auction Sale (2006)


Search:



LibraryThing


Recent tags:


Posts of note:



Archives:


Marginalia: